First month done: big tick

Last day of the first month of the Beer for the Year 365 challenge today. It has been a pretty good month. Including the beer that I will have later courtesy of BeerBods, Stringers Dry Stout, I will have had 43 different beers in January, 12 beers ahead of a beer a day. As a Scientist, I know that my fellow Scientists, particularly the Biologists, love statistics. So I thought for this post I would prepare and show some stats for the last month.

Number of new beers tasted: 25/43         58%

Number of beers tasted before: 18/43     42%

Most number of beers in one night:          5

Number of lagers: 10/43                               23%

Challenge progress: 43/365                        12%

Favourite new beer: Saltaire’s Triple Chocoholic

Favourite old beer: Youngs Winter Warmer and Abingdon Bridge

Reflecting on the last month of beer and the availability of beers, I really cannot see that there will be a problem getting hold of and trying 365 different beers (well, another 322). There are plenty to be had at local shops and supermarkets or in local pubs. A weekend away to another place in the UK or abroad will give plenty of opportunity to try beers from other places. Then there is the Beer festivals, the holy grail of getting to meet new beers. An article I was reading the other day said that there were around 1000 regular breweries in the UK serving around 5000 different kinds of beer.  That is a lot of beer. So with that in mind I cannot imagine where I could go wrong!

Rich beer pickings

Beer festivals, the favourite friend, the indispensable companion, the partner in crime, the brilliant ally, the undisputed best mate of 365 beer challenges. You get the point. Where better to sample many different kinds of beer, all in one place, to help increase the beer count in the 365 beer challenge. The first beer festival of 2013 (the first of many, I hope) was attended by myself and Conchi on Friday night. The festival in question was the Winter/Dark Ale Festival at the Turf Tavern. The choice was good, 12 porters, stouts, milds and dark ales to choose from. Now, I am not really keen on dark ales, at least not the real dark ones like porters and stouts but I thought I would give them a go (my friends Carol and Andy would be proud, my parents? not so much). I am partial to a good mild though and this festival had a few. Thanks to rule 6 (the rules I made up for this challenge), I was able to try five beers without producing a hangover on Saturday morning i.e. by having 1/2 pints! I get a hangover fairly easy these days and 5 pints would definitely push me over the edge.

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Favourite beer of the night: Lurcher: I know, a stout! But it was a bit fruity,  a bit chocolaty, well-balanced with hoppy flavour and nice and smooth.

Best Mild of the night: Burton Bridge Mild: Very nice flavour, nice and mild, not too bitter, slight taste of chocolate.

After this first proper foray into the world of dark beers, maybe I am coming round to the thought of sampling and drinking a few more of them. Maybe the next time that I am at a beer festival, I may be more easily persuaded to try a bit more of the dark stuff (Carol and Andy make a note of this info). There is no doubt that a few more beer festivals will be visited this year. I will be frequently keeping an eye on the Oxford CAMRA festival diary for the next one that I can attend.

Beer #21 Chocolatey beer

In my quest to find different beers to fulfil this quite momentous task that I have set for myself, I have signed up to a website called BeerBods. In a nutshell, you pay your money and BeerBods send 12 different beers to your door every 12 weeks. Great! Then on Thursday of every week BeerBods say to you which beer you have to drink that week and have a live twitter tasting. Everyone drinks the same beer and, if you feel like it, you can make a comment on the website rating it. I am not sure about this part as it does seem pretty weird to me *he says writing about beers on a blog entitled ‘Beer For The Year’*. I signed up to this last Sunday (13th January) and by Tuesday afternoon I had in my possession 12 excellent new beers, 11 of which I had never seen or heard of before. I say excellent but I have only sampled one. Last night was the first Thursday after the delivery and BeerBods dictated to me that I should drink the Triple Chocoholic stout by Saltaire Brewery.

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Apparently this beer came to life as a result of a bet, trying to be more chocolatey than Youngs Double Chocolate Stout. Now I like chocolate a lot (I know, what a surprise that I have said that) and I like beer a lot (again, what a surprise) but I was not sure about Triple Chocoholic. Currently, I am not a big fan of stouts or very dark beers, although I am sure that will change, and have to change, if I am to make it through to 365 beers. So when I tried this beer, I was pleasantly surprised. It is made with chocolate malts, real chocolate and chocolate syrup but does not taste too sweet, in fact a very balanced taste. The beer is not heavy at all, very smooth and comes without the dark beer bitterness that you normally seem to get with dark beers. So I am a fan of this first beer that I have tasted with BeerBods and shows promise for the rest of the beers. Although BeerBods send an email on Thursday to tell you the next beer to drink, their website shows the beers for the subsequent three weeks. The next beer in the queue is Pure UBU. I am looking forward to trying this one again.