A Long Train Journey

Firstly I want to apologise as it has been far too long since my last post! Life’s been hectic but hey – here are a few different beers below that I’ve got to tell you about.

It was time for a short break in London with my other half. I was excited about spending time in the capital, and it was my first experience of seeing all the wonderful decorations for the festive season. Unorganised as ever, I found myself hurrying to pack my bags at 7.30 in the morning on the day of travel. I like to leave things to the eleventh-hour… (well, doing the task in advance appeared such a chore at the time) but regardless of the last-minute dash I managed to successfully pack the suitcase and wolf down breakfast (cereal – not beer) prior to jumping into a taxi.

It had been a stormy night prior to leaving, but the forewarned snow never appeared in the local area, so I was optimistic about our approaching journey. We got to the station about 10 minutes prior to our scheduled departure and heard the overhead announcement that destroys the souls of passengers: “the 9.40 blah, blah, blah, to London Euston has been cancelled!”. Distraught travellers flocked towards the train, as if this was going to suddenly reverse the cancellation decision, to question train officials about why the journey was cancelled and how they could continue on their travels. Luckily enough, 2 train services were merged into one, so we got on a train quite soon after, though there were frustrating announcements telling us to expect further delays of unknown length.

The journey was underway, but unfortunately we were on edge as it was made clear that there was no estimated arrival time. Despite the minor hiccup at the beginning, we made it past the border during the first hour of the trip and approached the train’s first point of call – Carlisle. Five minutes prior to reaching the station, another announcement was made (I’m starting to not like announcements by now……) and it was made clear that this train wasn’t going any further.

We got kicked off the cancelled train and were told that the next train was the best part of an hour away. As a result, we headed to the station pub “301 Miles From London”, (which I thought was a great name for a train station bar) for a sit down and a few rounds of cards. As my partner went to the bathroom, a steady queue formed and from picking out comments from conversations, it was clear that the majority of the pub’s customers were from my cancelled train! I joined the queue and noticed the people in front ordering bacon rolls, coffees etc – typical breakfast items. I glanced at my watch; it was only 10.45 and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get a pint of beer. Then, standing alone at the left side of the bar, I saw a man with a pint of golden lager – it had a fresh white head and I gave a little chuckle of joy (potentially out-loud). I then scanned the selection of draughts on offer, knowing there would be a few local varieties that would be new to my Scottish taste buds.

I settled on Wharf IPA, by Harvey’s Brewery. IPAs are usually a safe option for me and knowing that this is probably going to be the first and only time I ever drink here – may as well try and make it a good beer! I bought the beer and sat back at the table; my partner was slightly more reserved than myself – an Americano. Don’t worry – I’ll tempt her to the dark side soon enough! Having a morning ‘going-away pint’ when travelling at the start of a holiday is always great and allows me to slip into the vacation mood! This was no exception – the beer was different to similar brews I’ve tried. From the oldest independent brewery in Sussex, formed in the 1790’s, this IPA started with a contrasting sharpness, almost cider-like, before a smooth bitterness typical of an IPA followed. I didn’t get long to sample this beer, as before I knew it, the conductor was alerting passengers to head back to the platform as our new train was heading into the station. Rushing for the second time that day, the second half of the pint was gone in one big gulp!

Wharf IPA by Harvery Brewery
A cool, refreshing pint, the first of the holiday!

 

Rating: 2.25/5. Wharf IPA had a sharpness that was a bit too much for me, but the setting of the bar was great and exactly what was needed at that time!

Back on the train, seats sorted, including a table, we had finally resumed heading southwards towards our destination, London. Further delays were expected but I was just glad to be back on the tracks. Seeing as I had consumed a beer already it seemed only appropriate to move onto my next brew! When travelling long distances on a train I always come prepared with beverages and snacks. I had a variety of pre-planned beers in my carry-on luggage; a few bottles and some carefully selected cans I had been saving especially. The best part? With the temperatures at freezing point outside, the beers were still nice and cold! The first can of the day was back to a familiar, local, brewery called Fallen Brewing. Plucked straight from the Grunting Growler fridge as soon as I saw it. This beer was actually perfect for this journey – its name was “Platform C”. It was labelled as an IPA, Indian Pale Ale. The can lid was opened and poured via a new toy; I had recently purchased a “portable pint” specifically for this journey. I personally don’t like drinking beer out of a can, so thought this could be a great alternative. It is a foldable (telescope-like) plastic glass, which elongates and locks in place with a twist in order to create a pint glass.

Platform C by Fallen Brewing

A deep amber was poured into the glass as I tried to keep a steady hand whilst the train wheeled round a large turn in the tracks. A large head was produced and bright tropical scents came from the liquid. Having recently sampled Fallen beers, I had checked out their website to find out their complete selection; this was one of the beers that I made a mental note to keep a look out for. I took a big first mouthful of the IPA, looked at my partner and said, “Oh wow, that is good!”. Subsequent tastes of the beer provided the full flavour profile. At 6.3% this beer provided typical citrus flavours that I strongly associate with west coast beers, but this was then rounded off by a perfect balance of toffee notes with a true IPA bitterness. Boom, my tongue was almost tingling with excitement and I was reminded of why I try lots of different beers. To find little gems like this, which I will definitely have again.

Rating: 3.75/5. Platform C by Fallen Brewing awoke my senses on a delayed train. Great all-round flavour with a fantastic balance. Unfortunately you will have to look hard to find them, but it will be worth the wait. If I am even fortunate enough to find this on draught, at least one pint will be consumed!

 

I’d started drinking… so I couldn’t really stop, particularly when there is approximately 2 and a half hours (I think we had managed to pass the worst of the delays) of the train journey left. We’re playing Munchkin Shakespeare (which is a great game!) on the train table and I’m trying to steal treasures from my partner and slay monsters with Shakespearean items as a Munchkin character. I kept the cards in my left hand in order to crack open another chilled Fallen Brewing can with my right. Co-incidentally, the ABV of these beers continued to rise (this was quickly becoming the best-worst train journey ever). Why do I always have issues with public transport though? Look here for my airport experience.

This beer was going to be big. The formal name was also its complete description – DIPA. At 8.5%, the juicy-ness and bitter edge that I adore of the IPA category was going to be backed up with a big alcohol warmth. I took the pocket pint and lifted it to get the full scent of the beer. Unsurprisingly from the outside the beer looked near identical to the previous one. On taste, I got the familiar flavours from Platform C, but it was backed up with an oozing warmth that lingered on my palate. It was a lovely mix of brightness, strength and bitterness. This wouldn’t be an ‘every-night’ kind of beer – or one that you would drink for the entirety of an evening either… Ok well it may be!

The Big 1 by Fallen Brewing
Boom!

Rating: 4.0/5. DIPA matches its flavour intensity in combination with its strength. It is what it states – a stronger version of their lovely IPAs. Well done Fallen Brewing! , Fallen is a very special brewery for me (for some other Fallen beers – check here)

 

So we were making good progress and there was now only one stop between ourselves and the end destination – Euston, London! Having had two lovely cans, it was time to open a bottle. I was able to pop the cap with the base of the pocket pint – which was sturdier than I expected. Lid aside, I noticed that my co-incidental increase of each beer’s ABV was continuing as I poured Mr President (no links with Trump!), which is a Double IPA by BrewDog.

Mr President by BrewDogA deep amber, slightly cloudy liquid lay within the pop-up pint glass. The percentage was a staggering 9.2% ABV. I have sampled this beer many times before. I knew what to expect and I always adore the first sip of this beer on every single occasion. It is a strong, deeply satisfying IPA (DIPA technically) that provides a big hit on flavours similar to a deep toffee which I adore in strong pale ales. This is then replaced by sharp mango and pine notes, with a smooth layer of bitterness flowing through at the end. I’ll always go back to this beer, it’s a major player in introducing what great beers can taste like.

Rating: 4.5/5. Mr President is a fantastic double IPA that I can’t recommend enough to novice DIPA consumers. It gives great strength but doesn’t forget about bold flavours which some others in this category can be guilty of.

Rating: 2.75/5. Pop Up Pint Glass, purchased from Tesco, has good qualities – primarily the ability to avoid having canned beer out of its original vessel since I’ve never liked drinking beer straight from a can and the portability of the it (along with the addition of a solid, reliable bottle opener on the base). Negatives relate primarily to the fact that it doesn’t create the most reliable seal, allowing beads of beer to slip down the side. There are many varieties out there, so for a few £, it’s a good novelty gift particularly when travelling.

 

So there you have it. A new draught beer, a further selection of Fallen beers and a revisit to an old favourite BrewDog. I promise it won’t be 6 weeks before my next update!

Dr Beer

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