Guinness Original Extra Stout

With the weather getting frostier and the evenings growing darker, it is starting to feel more wintery by the day. For me, this means that stout season is definitely upon us.

I’ve always associated stouts with autumn and winter. Among the great family of beers, the darker stuff is not ideal as a thirst quencher on a hot summer’s day. Leave that to pils and wheat beers, I say. But when the colder weather arrives, there’s nothing quite like sipping a pint of creamy stout while sat in front of a big roaring fire either in a traditional pub or at home. The Danes might call this Hygge.

Sadly, as I lack a fireplace in my relatively modern apartment, a YouTube virtual fireplace must do.

Guinness Original Extra Stout

A vintage pint of the black stuff
I love a pint of Guinness and like the many others who are partial to the ‘black stuff’, I’m very particular about the two-part pour, the perfect bubble-free head and all the rest of it. Guinness Original Extra Stout is notably different to its contemporary counterpart which you’ll find on tap in any decent pub around the world.

Before you take your first sip, you’ll notice a slightly sweeter aroma. The head is more akin to a lager, lacking the thick creaminess of a modern day pint. The taste is more nutty and bready and slightly more bitter. Original Extra Stout is, apparently, a modern approximation of how a pint of the black stuff would have tasted in the earlier part of the 20th Century. It is definitely worth a try if you’ve not yet come across it.



Berlin – Prost! (2)

Last week, I reviewed some of the excellent beers that Berlin has to offer. This week, I thought I’d recount some of my culinary experiences in this great city.

Currywurst if you’ve not yet experienced this particular German delicacy – is perhaps the most ingenious, yet simple snack ever invented. It is up there with Belgian frites and the hot dog. As the name suggests, currywurst involves little more than a German sausage or bratwurst smothered in curry ketchup. It is normally quite spicy and often served with a big piece of bread as shown below. It isn’t much to look at, but take my word for it, you are in for a tasty treat! A currywurst can be enjoyed any time of the day, so long as it is served with an ice-cold German pilsner.


Currywurst (SMALL)

Currywurst and beer!


The schnitzel is best associated with Austria, but it in fact originates in Hungary or so I’m led to believe. Like currywurst, schnitzel is in fact quite a simple dish – a piece of meat (normally pork or veal) hammered until it is very thin, coated with breadcrumbs and then fried in oil. A schnitzel can be served with bratkartoffeln  (fried potatoes), or oftentimes with spätzle which is a kind of egg noodle as seen below. Schnitzel is served with a wide variety of sauces; one of my particular favourites is schnitzel with mushroom sauce – known as jaegerschnitzel. 

Schnitzel and beer

Jaegerschnitzel with spätzle

In Berlin, you’ll find an endless array of bakeries selling all manner of delicious pastries. For me however, there is one particular pastry which really stands out and that is the humble Schoko-Wuppi. Little more than a hunk of bread with chocolate chips, this is nonetheless the perfect snack to eat on the go and I enjoyed many of them during my trip to Berlin. You’ll find the Shoko-Wuppi on sale in Kamps, a German bakery with branches all over the city and beyond.



World clock













Berlin – Prost!

Me with bear smallWie gehts?

Last month, I spent three memorable days in Berlin. I’m due to get married next year and so my great friends decided to take me on an adventure filled weekend in Germany’s legendary capital city.

Over the course of the weekend, we got to see the many awesome sights the city has to offer, from the Reichstag to the Brandenburg Gate to the remnants of the Berlin wall. Needless to say, we also managed to sample quite a few of Berlin’s brews!

Over the course of my next couple of posts, I will recount some of the beers we sampled during our Berliner Ausflug.

Berliner Kindl
The staple beer of Berlin. You’ll find it anywhere – bars, shops, supermarkets restaurants, street food stalls, vending machines. As mass-produced lagers go, this one isn’t too bad, either as an immediate thirst quencher or as a session beer. It’s by no means exceptional, but it deserves a mention all the same.

Berliner Kindl (2)

Berliner Kindl

Maisel’s Weisse
Brewed by Brauerei Gebrüder Maisel, this is exactly what I would have expected for a German wheat beer. Medium-bodied, fruity, creamy texture, frothy head with a hint of spice in the aftertaste. It’s a bit too heavy for a session beer, but certainly one that can be enjoyed at a steady pace.

Maisel's Weisse (SMALL)

Maisel’s Weisse

Holy Shit Ale
With a name like this, how could you not be curious to give it a go? Brewed by Brauhaus Südstern, this imperial IPA definitely packs a punch at 10% ABV.  Full-bodied and extra sweet, this beer needs to be sipped slowly. Worth a try, but I probably wouldn’t have two in a row.

Holy Shit Ale (small)

Holy Shit Ale


Me with stein (SMALL)



Guys with beer

A great bunch of guys!




Holy Grail – Black Sheep Brewery

A good friend of mind picked this one up during his recent trip to Yorkshire. The Black Sheep Brewery produces quite a number of excellent beers and Holy Grail is no exception.

Once it’s had a chance to settle in the glass, you’ll get a lovely reddish-ginger rusty colour with a modest frothy head. Allow it to linger beneath your nose for a second or two and you’ll detect a fruity aroma with hints of caramel. The mouthfeel is very smooth and velvety; almost to the point of creaminess. The taste is fruity and biscuity, sweet and earthy.

The aftertaste is crisp, slightly bitter, and gingery. An all round solid beer from Black Sheep Brewery.

Holy Grail


Murphy’s – Another great Irish stout!

This week, I thought I’d indulge in a bit of nostalgia and write about a beer which takes me back to my days as a student. For my masters’ degree, I moved to Ireland’s second largest city, Cork, which is situated right in the south of the country. Cork is a fantastically vibrant city with a great range of traditional pubs,  historic food markets and a plethora of festivals throughout the year.

Cork is also home to one of the country’s oldest universities, University College Cork, better known as ‘UCC’. It was during my years as a history student at UCC, that I first discovered and developed a lasting love for Murphy’s stout.

‘Less bitter’
When you think Ireland and stout, the first thing to come to mind is probably going to be Guinness right? Murphy’s doesn’t have nearly the same level of international brand recognition as its long-time competitor, but anyone who’s had a couple of pints of Cork’s own ‘black stuff’ will tell you that it has a distinctive flavour which puts it in league with the very best of stouts.

Noticeably less bitter than Guinness, Murphy’s is smooth with a nutty, roasted flavour and an aftertaste which has hints of coffee and caramel. Like any good beer, the pour is all important and if done by a bartender who knows his craft, you’ll get a thick, creamy, bubble-free white head which will last most of the way down the glass.

Murphy's (SMALL)

You will find Murphy’s on tap in any truly authentic Cork pub, as well as in plenty of others outside of the city. A personal favourite of mine from my student days was Tom Barry’s on Barrack Street. It’s a bit out of the way if you’re only visiting the city centre, but during my university days, this pub was a favourite haunt for students and lecturers alike.

I’ve struggled to find Murphy’s stout on sale anywhere outside of Ireland. Last week however, I was delighted to see it on sale in my local Asda and so I decided to pick up a few cans for old times’ sake!

Murphys (3 cans)

Murphy’s stout – on sale at Asda!


UCC campus

University College Cork (UCC) – my old alma matter

UCC (bridge)

UCC campus

Bath Ales: Gem Amber Ale

The first thing to grab me about this beer was the aroma. Allowing my nose to linger for a few seconds, I was reminded of freshly made toffee or even candy floss. After it settles in the glass, the colour is deep rusty red.

The mouthfeel is quite smooth, medium bodied and moderately carbonated. After the first sip, Gem Amber Ale is quite bready and smokey, with again that hint of toffee coming through.  The taste is to some extent similar to that of a Belgian brown ale; a beer to be sipped and enjoyed slowly rather than a session beer.

The finish was mildly bitter and hoppy.

Bath Ale Gem (SMALL)

Bath Ales: Gem Amber Ale

Bath Ales produces a good selection of other beers from bitters to porters to stouts. Looking forward to giving some of these a try soon!



Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

I’ve always associated stout with winter. There’s nothing quite like sipping a creamy pint of stout sitting in front of a roaring fire with a gale howling outside the window.

However, my good friend Peter picked up this particular number for me during his recent holiday in Yorkshire and I was curious to brake it open and give it a go. Stouts are not everyone’s beer of choice. Fortunately, I do enjoy a stout; might have something to do with being Irish?

The first thing that will strike you about Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is the aroma. When I closed my eyes and allowed my nose to hover for a few seconds, the first thing that came to mind was hot chocolate or a rich flavoured coffee. After it settles in the glass, the colour is deep dark and the head is frothy and brown like the sea foam you’ll find washed up on a beach in rough stormy weather.

The mouthfeel is smooth and silky and the taste is quite biscuity and sweet; you can definitely taste that oatmeal coming through. The aftertaste is mildly bitter, with a hint of coffee and even a mild note of whiskey. All in all, this is a well-rounded and tasty stout and definitely worth a go.


Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout (SMALL)

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout