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Sam Newson

Sam’s Beer Blog: Vegan Beers

In 2018, breweries must accommodate for several dietary requirements, should they wish their beer to be consumable for everyone. More and more people are seeing the benefits of going vegan, which in the past would have limited the range of beers that they would be able to drink. Nowadays the amount of beers that are indeed suitable for vegans is vast, which is surprising, as not all breweries advertise the fact that their beers are vegan friendly.

Unfortunately, the only vegan friendly draught lager that we stock at all times is Amstel. We regularly stock Hop House 13 on draught, which is vegan friendly. We’re also going to be swapping the Noble for Birra Moretti, which is suitable for vegans, in the near future. Elsewhere, Aspalls Harry Sparrow cider is vegan friendly, as is Guinness, which is a recent occurrence.

Our two longest serving bottled lagers: Corona and Peroni Nastro are both suitable for vegans, as are Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the Brewdog range, of which we stock Punk IPA, Vagabond (which is also gluten-free), Elvis Juice (grapefruit-infused IPA), Slot Machine (red rye IPA) and Clockwork Tangerine, which is a delicious tangerine-infused pale ale.

If a vegan is looking for something non-alcoholic, we offer Brewdog’s Nanny State, as well as Bitburger Drive, which even has isotonic effects if you are on a health kick.

Now on to my prized section: the canned beers. The entire Brewdog core range is vegan friendly, of which we stock Neck Oil, Gamma Ray, Lupuloid, Smog Rocket, as well as the new Bloody ‘Ell, which is a very tangy blood orange IPA. The Magic Rock selection is suitable for vegans: High Wire (pale ale), Common Grounds (coffee porter) and Fantasma (gluten-free IPA). Brewboard beers are also vegan friendly: Turmoil (light copper IPA), Cardinaldred (interesting amber ale) and Lakota, which is a 5.1% American pale ale that just so happens to be our craft beer of the week.

Elsewhere on the canned-beer front, we have the ever-popular Adnams Dry-Hopped Lager, Charlie Don’t Surf which is an American style wheat beer” more refreshing than the smell of Napalm in the morning”, the notorious witbier Hoegaarden, Meantime’s Yakima Red and Dutch brewery Kees’ Citra Pale Ale, all of which are vegan friendly.

As I previously explained, a surprising amount of beer is suitable for vegans; the breweries just don’t shout about it enough. The extensive range of beers we stock is now complimented by our new vegan Barrel & Stone pizzas too. Hopefully this Beer Blog has provided you (should you indeed be a vegan) with a wider range of choices down your local.

Sam’s Beer Blog: Stouts and Porters

Last week, I held a craft beer tasting session with the other site managers, to give them the opportunity to sample our tremendous range of beers. A point of interest emerged from this session: people who thought they didn’t like dark beers, actually really like dark beers.

In my experience, people can be a bit hesitant of stouts and porters. Folk have this picture in their heads of senior citizens sitting in a working men’s club drinking Mild. In 2018, that mental image is unfounded. At the Portland, we have a varied range of dark beers to suit any taste.

Take Champion from Jocks and Peers. Brewed in Cambridge, this is a dark and roasted stout with a coffee aroma. No funny business. At 4.1%, it’s a beer you could stay on all night and not get bored of.

One of the bottled beers we have stocked for a long time is the Belhaven Scottish Oat Stout. This is one of Hayley’s favourites. At 7%, this stout is rich in flavour. It describes itself as “intense, yet approachable”. Coffee and chocolate notes compliment the thick texture. This beer often gets overlooked; I highly recommend you give this one a go.

“Everything is better when it’s brewed with chocolate” is the slogan of the beer simply titled “Chocolate Porter”, from Kees Brewery in the Netherlands. It’s hard to dispute that claim when you try this beer. When it arrived and I tried it for the first time, I expected it to be as thick as treacle. It isn’t. This porter is surprisingly drinkable. At 6.2%, it isn’t ridiculously strong, so it isn’t necessarily a night-ender. It’s got just the right viscosity; I would happily drink a couple of these in the middle of a session.

If you’re after something a little sweeter, I totally recommend the Dark Neapolitan, which is an ice cream porter from Northern Monk Brewery. “Tastes like strawberries dipped in chocolate”, quipped Hayley during our taster sesh. The clue is in the title with this beer. Much like the Chocolate Porter from Kees, it’s 6.2% and it isn’t too thick, however it is far richer than the above. One of my personal favourites.

Finally, we come to a beer called “You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Stout is About You”. This is a collaborated effort between Alphabet Brewery and Kees Brewery, so you know it’s going to be a good’n. It’s a salted caramel imperial stout which, unlike the other beers in this blog, is rich and suitably thick. At 11%, what else would you expect? It’s the most expensive beer that we stock, but the price never puts customers off. Carly Simon would be proud.

I hope reading this has inspired you to come out and try more stouts and porters. The Portland staff’s product knowledge is excellent so if you would like a recommendation, please just ask. Cheers!

Sam’s Beer Blog: ‘Low and no’

Here’s an interesting statistic: the number 6 best-selling craft beer in the UK right now is Brewdog’s Nanny State. It’s a surprising fact considering it boasts an ABV of 0.5%.

The “low and no alcohol” market has exploded over the past year, with record sales over January due to the amount of people going dry for the month. A couple of years previous, drivers had gotten used to Becks Blue being their only option for non-alcoholic beer. Nowadays there are so many great low-alcohol beers on the market that Becks Blue has almost faded into obscurity.

At The Portland we are very proud of our “low and no” range. The first addition to our shelf is Erdinger Alkoholfrei. It’s a smooth weißbier with an ABV of <0.5%, but what sets this beer apart is its isotonic properties. Erdinger Alkoholfrei contains vitamins B9 and B12, which have positive effects on the human body. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you could drink this beverage after a work-out.

Bitburger Drive is a light non-alcoholic beer with an ABV of 0.05%, which also boasts isotonic effects. It’s low in calories with an intense citrus flavour. It’s a popular beverage due to its similarity in taste to “real beer”.

Now, onto the previously mentioned Nanny State. The Brewdog brewery grows more and more every year. Their Punk IPA is wildly popular, especially with gig-goers (I will do a Beer Blog dedicated to Brewdog beers in the near future). The Nanny State sells so well at the Portland that we struggle to keep it in stock. At 0.5%, it’s a copper coloured beer, packed with hops. I honestly think a lot of people don’t actually realise the low-alcohol content. Either that or they don’t care; it tastes that good.

These 3 beers, along with the 0% Kopparberg Mixed Fruits cider, J20s, Appletiser, Fentiman’s Ginger Beer, etc, mean that drivers are no longer limited to Coke, orange juice or lime and soda. I will be looking to extend the “low and no” range in the future; I’ll be sure to keep you guys informed. Until then, drive home safely.

Sam’s Beer Blog: Beavertown

The craft beer market exploded in 2017. This was due to people wanted something new, with more flavour, something that usual suspects like Fosters, Kronenbourg, Greene King IPA, etc didn’t offer. Branding had a lot to do with it too.

The hipsters over in Camden were attracted to brands with visual appeal. In my opinion, the brewery that capitalised on this trend most is Beavertown.
As you can see from the picture, Beavertown tins are unbelievably eye-catching. The designs totally set them apart from everything else in the fridge. The respective tastes are unique and full of flavour.

Take the Holy Cowbell India Stout: a dark, malty, almost chocolate brew at an inoffensive 5.6% ABV; very different from the Lupuloid IPA which is a far stronger 6.7%. Lupuloid is exceptionally pale and much hoppier. Totally refreshing; a trait I find rare in stronger beers.
Neck Oil and Gamma Ray are far and away the most popular tins in our fridge. Neck Oil is a session IPA at 4.3%, extra pale and very drinkable. We have sold more Neck Oil than any other tin since we started stocking Beavertown beers.

Gamma Ray is an American Pale Ale with a 5.4% ABV and is the hoppiest of the bunch. American Pales are my jam! Gamma Ray is packed with citrus aromas and is an absolute pleasure to consume. If a customer offers to buy me a drink, Gamma Ray is generally what I will choose.

In the past we have also stocked Beavertown’s 8-Ball Rye and Black Betty. The 8-Ball is by far the best Rye beer I have ever tasted. Black Betty is a black IPA which isn’t too bitter and at 7.4%, it goes down way too easy. Both are definitely worth checking out.

I expect to have these two tins back in stock in the near future.

© Pelle Pub Co LLP