Sunday, 20 November 2011

"Higham on the Hill, Stoke in the dale; Wykin for buttermilk, Hinckley for ALE." - Shakespeare.

Inkymole and Factoryroad sponsored an ale apiece at this year's CAMRA Real Ale Festival. We've never done it before, but what an adventure. You see, you don't know what ale or cider you're going to be allocated…till you get there, dry throated, with tokens and £2 beer glass in hand.

Mole's beer could not have been more perfect. Holden's Old Ale is brewed 'by a woman' (to the handlebar-moustachio'd barman's shock and awe!), and it was dark, slightly rough and chocolatey - and a whopping 7.2%. Had I been that woman who'd brewed it, I couldn't have designed a more perfect spec. Not a good one to start off with though - had to have a volumetric climb-down with a 6% and 4% to follow. Either that or roll home uphill, blind. Check the cheesy pun on the cask - (my own literary skilz) and the fact that they left off my logo!

The Factoryroad beer was disappointing and weak, with a funny after taste. Its rubbish taste though was slightly offset by the magnificent punuendo in the name of the beer, so all wasn't lost. Check Factoryroad's label. Again the creators had clearly been on the sauce while they got the labels printed out, sat no doubt at a creaking PC with one eye on their glasses, mis-spelling, as they did, the word 'how' and casually inverting the logo so it sat in a weird black box.

Still, we're not (for once) here to crit the visuals. Who cared once the first couple were sunk?

If you want to find a real ale event where you live, you'd do no worse than to look here:

Holden's Brewery:
An alphabetical list of real ales and independent brewers in the UK:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Booze for free.

I've just got a copy of this book I did the cover for earlier this year, by Andy Hamilton.

We're a long way from self-sufficiency, but we're working on it - we've had the gas disconnected and we heat the house and water with wood instead. We've been buying our vegetables from a farm half an hour down the road for the last ten years or so, always organic, always amusingly miss-shapen,  always delicious, we did the biodiesel thing for years, and I make my own skin cream…well, like I said, we're not there, but we try to make the right moves in that direction!

The book tells you how to make intriguing-sounding brews such as Broad Bean Wine, Pine Needle Cordial and Nocino, an Italian green walnut cordial. None of them are complicated, or fussy; you just need to focus, keep your kit clean (most of which you'll have at home) and most importantly have some space at home to store the fermenting oceans of potential goodness. Our friend Simon' does this already, and his recent birthday cider was impressively cloudy and delicious, needing maybe a little longer in hibernation, but certainly a shouder-softening testament to what can be done with some foraged apples, water and patience.

Here's the artwork for the book, along with an alternative version which didn't make the cut, and a place to buy it!

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