Craft beer advent calendar 4: Oakleaf Piston Porter

I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what porter is. I presume it’s a type of relatively strong ale (I don’t know why I assume that) but I couldn’t be sure. A google would tell me for sure but for now I just want to try the day’s craft beer: another one from the Oakleaf Brewery, who brought us the (not very highly rated) Heart of Gold.


This porter describes itself (via the label; the beer doesn’t speak) as a dry, rich Porter (yes, they capitalise the P) with initial chocolate and toffee flavours, that finishes with a liquorice and dry roast taste, leaving a lingering brightness. This immediately makes me a bit suspicious, as I feel like they’re trying to make you think of these things so you’ll say “oh yes, I can definitely taste dry roast.”

On raising it to my nose I can’t get any of those flavours (I don’t actually know what dry roast means), although there is something vaguely chocolatey about the aroma. It reminds me of the sweet – I think they were eclairs? – which were kind of chocolatey, but kind of caramel-like. There are definite burnt toffee notes on tasting. A few more sips in and I enjoy it more. It’s got a bitter sweetness to it, and a decent amount of body without feeling like you’re drinking treacle. Definite positive – I give this a 7/10.

Kat’s thoughts:

It’s darker. I can’t tell if it has less of a strong beery taste or if I am just becoming more immune to the taste of beer. It’s actually quite pleasant. It’s less bitter – to me the bitterness is a more unpleasant thing.

Craft beer advent calendar 3: Andwell Ruddy Darter

We happen to be travelling at the moment, so I had to plan ahead to ensure that we adhered to the advent calendar publishing schedule. So I bring this review to you from the comfort of the Felix hotel in Cambridge.

Today’s beer is the Andwell brewing company’s ‘ruddy darter ruby ale’, apparently a “rich ruby ale brewed in Hampshire”. It comes in at 4.6% and has a design which is evocative of country walks and jolly farmers with red faces.

The first flavour that comes immediately to mind was coffee there was something incredibly malty about this beer. It’s warming and flavoursome but it is really dominated by that one flavour which isn’t particularly subtle. That said, I could see myself having one or two at the bar – just not much more.

So I’d give this one a 6 which puts it below the Meantime but above the Golden.

Kat’s thoughts

 It smells stronger and less fruity than the last one. It’s less fizzy too. It tastes more bitter but I prefer it to the Meantime even though I’d have thought I’d like a lighter fruitier one.

Craft beer advent calendar 2: Heart of Gold

Well, it got a bit late on day 2 of the advent calendar but the wait was worth it. Time for my next craft beer. This one got into the fridge for a couple of hours before drinking.


The beer was called a golden ale and though the picture doesn’t do it justice, it was golden. The aroma was rather sweet – honey or lychee, and rather inviting.

The first taste was rather watery, though. This was confirmed on second and further tastings – it never felt like it had much body. There was no hop to it but it wasn’t unpleasant, either. I just couldn’t get away from the feeling that I was being served watered down beer.


Reading the label, it was a 3.8% CAMRA-approved ale by Oakleaf Brewing. This wasn’t a brewery or a beer I’d heard of before, and unfortunately it’s not one that I’m going to seek outagain. It could have used some hoppy bitterness or some deeper barley flavour, but overall this wasn’t as good as the Meantime from yesterday. Still glad I tried it! I think I’ll wait until tomorrow’s beer before starting scoring.

Edit: After a couple more days, I’m giving this a 5/10.

Kat was absent from today’s tasting.

Craft beer advent calendar 1: Meantime London Pale Ale

So I was given a lovely (and slightly daunting) present for my birthday – a craft beer advent calendar. My aim isn’t to make a big deal with long posts, or I won’t do it, but it was a fun idea and so I’m going to record my thoughts for the blog.


As a bit of background, I do like craft beer, and I have tried a good few, but I don’t consider myself to be particularly knowledgeable. I like the taste of a decently strong ale, but I don’t consider myself to have been exposed to a lot of variety.

So today’s advent calendar ale is Meantime London Pale Ale. I’ve had this one before (I think in rather trendy bars and restaurants). It describes itself as ‘brewed with Cascade, Centennial and Kentish Golding’, which are apparently hops. I like that the bottle doesn’t do anything else in a self-aggrandising way.img_20161201_200118-copy Read More