Beers of the week – Telenn Du & Sant Erwann

Flag_of_BrittanyDemat dit (hello)!

Continuing with the Breton theme of last week’s post, I thought this week I’d share my views on two more brews from the Brittany region – Sant Erwann and Telenn Du.


Telenn Du

Hmm…. dark ale. Not normally my first choice of beers. With such a distinctive name however, I decided to take a chance and try Telenn Du, a dark buckwheat beer brewed by Brasserie Lancelot. Unlike other dark ales which I’ve tried, Telenn Du is actually quite light and easy to drink. In terms of flavour, there’s quite a bit going on, with notes of coffee, chocolate, spices and caramel. Despite my initial hesitancy, I was quite impressed with this beer and would certainly have it again.

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Telenn Du

 

Me with Telenn Du beer

Enjoying my Telenn Du in Concarneau

Sant Erwann blonde
With a deep golden amber colour and a shallow frothy head, Sant Erwann blonde was one of the more memorable beers I encountered during my week in Brittany.  Brewed by Brasserie Artisanale Du Trégor which is situated in the Côtes-d’Armor department, Sant Erwann can be found widely in bars and restaurants in the towns and villages around Brittany. It has a deep, distinctive aroma of yeast and herbs and a flavour to match. Overall, the taste is quite bready and sweet with notes of banana and spices. A good beer to go with a barbecue – as I discovered!

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Sant Erwann blonde

Yec’hed mat! (cheers!)

Brews in Brittany!

I’ve just returned from a week’s holidays in Brittany on the west coast of France where I was staying with my fiancée and her family. It was not my first visit to France’s famous Celtic region, but on this occasion, I thought I’d recount some of my experiences of the marvellous array of beers, food and culture which can be found there.

Alors…….. first lets talk a bit about the beer.

Lancelot Duchesse Anne Triple
I found this beer on sale in many bars and cafes in the towns and villages around Brittany. As you might expect for a triple, Duchesse Anne is quite a full bodied beer with a deep amber colour and a rich flavour, with notes of caramel and honey. Left to linger on the tongue, you’ll also detect hints of various fruits like banana and pear. Duchesse Anne is brewed by Brasserie Lancelot which describes itself, quite modestly, as one of Brittany’s ‘premier breweries’. I only came across Duchesse Anne in bottles, but apparently you’ll also find it on tap.

Me with Duchesse Anne beer

Enjoying a Duchesse Anne triple

 

Lancelot blonde
Produced by the same brewery is Lancelot blonde (pictured below, left). Lancelot blonde is a mild, slightly sweet, slightly hoppy lager with a deep amber colour and a decent frothy head. The taste isn’t quite as pronounced as its sister beer Duchesse Anne, but it is a good quality blonde nonetheless and well worth a try.

 

 

Crêpes
Crepes are to Brittany as fries are to Belgium. You’ll find a abundance of ‘creperies’ wherever you go, each serving a wide selection of both sweet and savory crepes for about 7 or 8 Euro apiece. They are, incidentally as I discovered, a great snack to have alongside a beer. Whilst on a visit to the very picturesque port town of Concarneau, I tried the crêpe saucisse de bretagne, followed by the crêpe chocolat noir maison, both of which were very tasty!

Crepe sausage

Crêpe saucisse de bretagne

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Crêpe chocolat noir maison

 

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A typical creperie in Concarneau, Brittany

 

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Concarneau, Brittany

Yec’hed mat! (cheers!)

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Craft beer in Cambridge

Cambridge is a charming city, full of impressive architecture, green spaces and of course, the world-famous University of Cambridge. Being only an hour’s train ride from central London, it is the perfect place to escape the big city on a hot day and that’s exactly what my fiancée and I decided to do yesterday.

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Crowds in Cambridge

If the weather is pleasant, it is well worth punting down the River Cam which meanders through the city, including past some of the main university buildings. If you’ve not encountered a punt before, it is a shallow wooden boat driven by someone holding a very large stick (see pics below).

Cambridge’s architecture is both impressive and beautifully preserved. It is perhaps unsurprising therefore that it draws so very many tourists.

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Cambridge architecture

After wading through crowds of camera-clicking, selfie-stick waving tourists, it was a relief to take a pit-stop in what Google reliably informed me was one of Cambridge’s most trendy craft pubs. I wasn’t disappointed.

Cambridge Brew House & Microbrewery
The Cambridge Brew House is centrally located, only a few minutes walk from the main shopping thoroughfare of Sidney Street. The decor is what you’d expect of a microbrewery, with casks for seats and beer paraphernalia adorning the walls.

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Cambridge Brew House

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Watching the world go by

 

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Beer making the old way

Cambridge Sweet Chariot IPA
I tried one of the house brews, the ‘Sweet Chariot‘ IPA and it was just the thirst-quencher I was looking for in 28C of heat! Sweet Chariot is a well rounded IPA, with a hoppy, citrus flavour and a bitter aftertaste as you’d expect for a good IPA. The colour is a golden amber and the aroma has hints of peach and grapefruit. Well worth a try.

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Cheers!

Cheers!

 

Beer of the Week: King of Hearts

I’ve played a bit of poker from time to time. Always with plastic chips mind, never for real money. If I were playing for beer, now that would be a different matter entirely…..

King of Hearts

King of Hearts

I spotted King of Hearts on a shelf one afternoon recently in Soho amongst many other enticing brews and it was undoubtedly the distinctive eye-catching label which drew my attention.

It has sat in my fridge for a couple of weeks amongst a large booty of birthday brews kindly provided by my friends, but last night I decided to crack it open.

King of Hearts has to be one of the smoothest and most refreshing beers I’ve had for quite some time. It has a crisp, citrus flavour with hints of lemon and orange and a bitter, hoppy aftertaste. If you let it linger on the tongue, you’ll also detect notes of peach and apricot which give this beer an all-round fruity flavour and therefore make it a great option for a hot summer’s day – of which we’ve had plenty so far this year in London!

As with all good beers, the pour is key to perfection; if poured properly, you’ll get a hazy golden colour with a thin foamy head – as can be seen in the photo above.

Who brews it?
King of Hearts is brewed by Wild Card Breweries, based in Walthamstow, London. They have a selection of other card-themed brews, which I’ll hopefully get around to trying at some stage soon.

Thanks for reading!

If you’ve got a spare minute, check out some of my other recent brew reviews:

De Koninck & White Riot

White Ales from Japan

 

 

Beers of the week: Big Wave, De Koninck & White Riot

June has been a month of blistering summer heat here in London. Lucky for me however, I discovered some great beers to help keep me cool on the long summer evenings!

Big Wave
This brew is native to Hawaii, and it’s what I call a summer beer. Right from the first sip, Big Wave is refreshingly smooth and fruity with a hoppy aroma. The dark golden colour is apparently down to the use of caramel malt.

Big Wave (Hawaii)

 

De Koninck
An old favourite from my days living in Belgium. Not quite as light and refreshing as Big Wave, this beer is nevertheless rich in flavour as well as colour, with hints of caramel, toffee as well as a note of fruits. The aroma is quite yeasty.

De Konnick

 

Uprising White Riot
Last but not least, we have White Riot, a pale ale from Windsor & Eton Brewery. The taste is crisp, zesty and hoppy with a bitter aftertaste. The aroma is fruity with a distinct hint of orange. In case you are wondering, the bottle opener gadget was a gift from my fiancée who recently visited the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.

White Riot pale ale

 

Cheers!

Camden Brewery Tour (2) – Sampling the Beer

Last week I wrote about my recent tour of Camden Town Brewery. This week, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the beers they have on offer. At the end of the tour, my group was invited to sample five of the brewery’s most popular beers – Pils, Wit, Unfiltered Hells, Ink and IHL. The secret ingredient in all five is, according to our tour guide, London water!

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Camden IHL
Camden describes its IHL (Indian Hells Lager) as ‘the brewer’s beer’. The IHL is unmistakably hoppy and lacks some of the sweetness of the Pils. It keeps its head and has a distinct aftertaste with hints of lemon. Camden’s website describe the process of brewing this beer as ‘stuffing loads and loads of hop pellets into our hop tornado, which circulates them at high pressure though the beer’. Well, if you want a seriously hoppy beer that’s as spicy as a madras curry, then this is the one for you.

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Camden Ink
Stouts. The marmite of beer. You either love ’em or hate ’em. Personally, I’m quite partial to a stout, but only at the right time of day or in the right climate. For instance, there’s nothing quite like drinking a freshly poured pint of stout whilst sitting in front of a fireplace on a cold winter’s night in an old fashioned pub. The Danes would call this hygge. Whilst Camden Ink wouldn’t be my stout of choice, I think  the brewery have made a pretty decent stab at developing a stout with a personality of its own. As you’d expect, this beer is creamy and has quite a bitter taste, with hints of caramel/coffee/chocolate. A decent beer, but I’d struggle to drink more than two in a single night.

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Camden Pils
Given the huge range on the market, its oftentimes hard to make a particular brand of pils stand out. Made with American hops, Camden Pils is a pretty decent beer, with a cloudier appearance than you might expect for a typical pils and a floral aroma. It keeps its head and has a noticeably zesty aftertaste.

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Camden Unfiltered Hells
This is Camden’s take on a kellerbier (or cellar beer) i.e. a beer with the original brewing yeast left in. This brew has a noticeably smoother and more full-bodied flavour than the more commonly found Camden Hells. As you’d expect for a kellerbier, the appearance is cloudier and distinctly more hoppy. All round it is tasty and worth a try.

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Camden Gentleman’s Wit
Last but not least, the white ale. However you term it – wit, white ale or blanche – this type of beer is and always will be, a summer beer. It’s not normally my beer of choice, even in summer time, but Camden Wit is as tasty as any white ale I’ve tasted so far. Distinctly zesty and aromatic, the beer is dry and has a crisp finish. It lacks the overpowering sweetness you’ll find in some continental wheat beers and consequently is a little easier to drink.

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And that’s it…… cheers!
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Camden Town Brewery (1)

For my birthday last year, my fiancée surprised me with a tour of Camden Town Brewery which is located in the lively and trendy Camden area of North West London. For various different reasons, it took many months before I finally got around to taking the tour, but last Saturday, my good friend Peter and I made the trip out to trendy Camden to see for ourselves the magic that goes on inside the fermentation tanks. If you know your London beers, you may already be familiar with Camden Town; it is appearing in more and more pubs not just in London, but apparently overseas too, as far afield as Sweden.

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Camden Town Brewery

I’ve been on a couple of brewery tours and on first impression, Camden Town Brewery is on the smaller end of the scale as breweries go. However, whatever it may lack in size, it certainly makes up for in character – that is, both the brewery itself and also the staff working there.

A Liquid Tour
What’s the one thing that tops talking about beer? Why drinking beer of course! So what better way to learn about beer than to sample it while you listen! Right throughout the tour, our super-enthusiastic and very knowledgeable guide invited us to try the different brews on offer, from Camden Hells to Camden Pale to Camden IHL. 

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Tasting and listening

Inside the brewery
For a beer lover, stepping inside a working brewery is a bit like stepping inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. OK, you won’t find oompa loompas tending to a giant river of beer (what a thought, eh?). You will however, often find equally eccentric people who are just as passionate about their craft. The plaque below says it all……

Inside brewery

A look inside the brewery

The Secret Ingredient?
After watching the fermentation tanks in action, it was intriguing to hear about the efforts the brewery goes to just to secure the right hops, yeast and other ingredients to make the beer taste great.

And the secret ingredient according to our guide…? London water! That’s right, the key to a great beer is apparently flowing right through the city from Gloucestershire to the Thames Estuary.

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Some of the various types of hops used in Camden beer

 

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Where the magic happens…..

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Camden Pale

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So good it requires eye protection…..

More beer tasting!
After our tour finished, we were invited to take part in some further beer tasting. Five different brews, each with their own quirks. However, that warrants a blog post of its own which will follow very soon!

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Beer tasting

 

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Picked up a couple of beers for the fridge back home…..

Cheers!