Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eye, Nose and Throat Specialists

In a couple of weeks I am going to Bicester in Oxfordshire as Mrs Velkyal has a conference to attend in Oxford, and I fancied a jolly. Being a good and dutiful husband I having been looking for restaurants and the like to eat in during the days when we are in Oxford itself, the reason we are staying in Bicester is that my brother lives there and we can combine the conference with seeing some family. Being a good and dutiful drinker of beers, I have have been looking for pubs that serve real ales and traditional British food, this is also good for Mrs Velkyal as she can discover the delights of steak and ale pie, chicken in a basket and fish n' chips - honestly this is for her benefit and not to satisfy my cravings for British food.

Anyway, back on track - in the course of my searchings I have been reading a lot about the brewers in Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties, several of which I have made mental notes to try when I am there. One of the brewers I came across was Everards, who brew in Leicestershire but have a single pub in the centre of Oxford. One thing that I found particularly interesting about Everards is that they created the Cyclops Tasting Notes, which you can see below - this one describing Everards Tiger Best Bitter.

Although I have been drinking beer for nearly 15 years now, it is only in the last 3 that I have started to drink craft beers and I have to admit that sometimes I try a beer and wonder what am I supposed to be smelling and tasting - while it may taste great to me, is it what the brewer intended? That is really a secondary question, because if it tastes great then I don't give two hoots what the brewer wanted to do, what he did was good.

Being something of an anorak - I guess hunting out pubs wherever you go is the beer drinker's equivalent of standing on the platform of Crewe railway station on a wet Wednesday in October videoing trains coming and going (I have seen it done!) - I love the fact that Cyclops lists the primary malts and hops which have gone into the beer. It is more than knowing what I am drinking, it is learning to recognise the flavours of the ingredients in the beer, thus making me more knowledgable. As I am a number 5 according to the Enneagram of Personality, this is hardly surprising - I am just thankful it is beer and brewing I am fascinated with rather than the glue on the back of a stamp.

From the Cyclops description of the Tiger Best Bitter I am looking forward to hunting down the Royal Blenheim and having a swift pint. I would love to see Czech brewers adopting this system as a way of educating drinkers here.


  1. Picking out hop and malt varieties used in certain beer is a skill I need to further hone. Boak and Bailey actually mentioned that on their blog as well in a previous post.

    There's a beer called Double Simcoe IPA from Weyerbacher, which is in Pennsylvania. The featured hop is evident from the name, and now I feel I have a firmer grasp on what Simcoe is all about. However, mix that with one or two other types of hops, or in a maltier beer, and I may not have a clue.

    It's great to see more brewers going the educational route with their products. That concept could help us out here in the States when it comes to our attitudes on alcohol...

  2. My name is Mark Tetlow and I am the brewer at Everards who developed the cyclops system. Its great to see that it iss getting people taking about beer and enjoying the discovery of new flavours. If you ever get to Leicester give me a ring, I'd be happy to show how we brew our award winning beers,and of course give you the chance to try a few.

  3. I like the Cyclops system too. I think it's better than trying to do it by styles.


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