Fyne Ales is an excellent little brewery located near the tip of Loch Fyne in Argyll, Scotland. I’ve visited their shop and their beers are sold in pubs and restaurants all around the area, so I’ve tried quite a few of their standard brews; Jarl is probably my favourite though. This came from a little 5 litre mini-keg I got for Christmas, as a gift from my partner. It’s rather low in alcohol content (3.8% ABV) which makes it quite refreshing and drinkable - a session beer, and a good one for hot summer days. It definitely tastes like a real ale, very little carbonation and best served not too cold. It’s got a good amount of citrusy hop flavours - lemon and tangerine - with enough malt to balance it out but not overpower. The first few pints poured a nice clear, bright hay colour, but towards the end of the barrel the pours got hazier and yeastier with more of a honeyed colour as a result. A “fine” beer indeed to start the year with! Keep an eye out for it if you’re in the west of Scotland, or even in a few other places around the country (I’ve seen it at the Euston Tap and Utobeer in Borough Market in London).
Right, so last year’s “Photo-A-Day” project was a pretty miserable failure. It was fun for a while, but I just couldn’t keep it up! This year I’ve decided to try something which I think will be a bit easier to manage - A Beer A Day In 2013! I’m aiming to drink 365 different beers within the year. This doesn’t necessarily mean one beer every day (I may drink a few beers in one day and none for the next few) or only beers I’ve never tried before (which would rule out hundreds). I just want to drink and record a different beer for each day this year - preferably with photos and notes on where I had it and what I thought of it. I hope this will encourage me to try many more new and different beers, help me develop my palette, and expand the language I use to describe beer. Wish me luck!
#MixDog Entry Number 3: The Grim MargarIPA
I’ve always wanted to spend some time wastin’ away in Margaritaville. But the actual drink just gives me heartburn, and frankly I prefer beer anyhow. This drink is the best of both worlds. Quite passable for a proper margarita, it’s got a real tequila-and-lime kick without overpowering the taste of the beer. The sugar helps tie everything together, and the wee bit of chili powder gives it a little something extra. Definitely the most accessible and drinkable (not to mention practical) of my MixDog entries!
1 Bottle of Punk IPA *
Juice of 1 lime
Juice and pulp of 1 passion fruit
1 tspn icing sugar
1 good pinch of chili powder
60 ml tequila
Rub the rims of two glasses with lime juice, then dip into salt to coat; set aside. Pour the beer into a blender. Sieve the lime and passion fruit juices into the blender to remove any bits. Add the tequila, chili powder, and icing sugar, and blitz very briefly to blend and add some froth to the mixture. Pour into the prepared glasses, and garnish with lime slices. Serves two.
* This drink also works well with Dead Pony Club - substitute to make a ‘Smashed Piñata’ instead! The lime juice works better with the Punk IPA, and the Passion Fruit with the Dead Pony Club, so mix and adjust according to your tastes.
#MixDog Entry Number 2: Jura Affo-Growl-O
Part Ice Cream Float, Part Affogato. Part Jura, Part BrewDog. Completely Awesome.
This was a mix of happy coincidences. I was thrilled to bits when BrewDog announced Paradox Jura - a collaboration between my favourite brewery and my favourite distillery, what’s not to like? I stocked up. Fast forward - I’ve just bought an ice cream machine, and BrewDog have announced the MixDog competition. I started thinking …
What I came up with was very flavourful - rich, woody, and slightly sweet but also a bit bitter with strong whisky flavours. Not a session drink, but something to be tasted at least once. Well worth all the effort! It packs both a caffeine jolt and an alcohol kick - the ice cream is actually rather boozy, which on top of the high strength of the beer makes for a surprisingly adult treat.
1 bottle (330ml) Paradox Jura, room temperature *
2 shots freshly brewed espresso
2 scoops Jura Whisky ice cream **
Divide the Paradox Jura between two latte glasses - pour it vigorously, you want some head on it. Top each with a scoop of Jura Whisky ice cream. Into each glass pour a shot of fresh, hot espresso over the ice cream. Serve with spoons for stirring. Makes two drinks.
* I bet this would be good with Tokyo as well, or any of the other Paradox brews. But I wanted to be a Jura purist, so this is how I made it.
** Yes, I made Jura Whisky ice cream, specifically for this recipe. It’s one of the things that really made it a success. Putting the full recipe here would be quite long, and it would also be plagiarism. If you really want to know, I suggest you buy this Kindle Book
#MixDog Entry Number 1: “I and Aye” Rip Tide Punch
This is my take on a classic Jamaican punch typically made with another mass-produced Irish stout which shall remain nameless. It’s thick, sweet, and has a real kick - but the flavour of the Rip Tide still comes through. The addition of whisky (I used Old Pultney 12 year old) ups the Scottishness of the drink - but beware, it packs a real “punch”! Traditionally I’ve seen it made with rum but when I tried that the drink curdled, and coconut rum just tasted artificially fruity.
1 330ml bottle Rip Tide
4.5 fl oz (135ml) sweetened condensed milk
2 fl oz (60ml) evaporated milk
2 fl oz (60ml) single malt Scotch Whisky
2 drops vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg
Have all liquid ingredients well chilled. Mix liquid ingredients well with a whisk and pour into serving glasses. Top with freshly grated nutmeg. Serves two.
March 18th, 2012. I joined another London Photo Walk this month, this time to Battersea Park. I have to admit, I didn’t get too many shots I was thrilled with - I wasn’t really feeling very inspired, and it took me a little while to get into any sort of ‘groove’. Towards the end of my walk I came across the Peace Pagoda in the park, and walked around it a bit to try to find something interesting to shoot. I noticed a flower had been placed high up on the top tier, up where the public isn’t meant to climb. Thanks to the handy articulated LCD screen on the back of my Panasonic Lumix 3G I was able to reach up and frame this shot. The colour and saturation have been tweaked rather heavily by my favourite new toy - a Mac app called Camera Bag 2 - and I love the richness of it, and how the centre of the flower echoes the gold colouring of the Buddha.
Photo Info - Date: 18/03/2012 13:42:46 GMT, Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-G3, Lens: LUMIX G 20/f1.7, ISO 800, Focal Length (35mm): 40mm, Aperture: f/2.8, Shutter Speed: 1/1300, Latitude: 51.481971° N, Longitude: .158599° W, Altitude 29m (95 ft)
March 10th, 2012. There’s a photo competition running at work, and I’ve had a particular shot in mind for a little while now as one of my entries. Yesterday was a really nice spring day in North London, so we struck out for Hampstead Heath to try and create the image - which I’ll post later. This is a random shot I snapped as we were leaving the park. The sky looked so nice, the composition of the backlit trees in the frame really appealed to me, and I had to act quickly while there was only the one man walking up the hill. I jumped over a muddy ditch at the side of the path to snap a few photos, and I’m really pleased with the results. We’re really lucky to have such a great park practically on our doorstep, and I’ll have to make a point of taking advantage of it this year for more photo walks!
I’ve also been playing around with GeoTagging my photos. I wish my camera had built-in GPS, but it doesn’t. So instead, I’ve been using an app on my iPhone and Mac called myTracks. When I’m out shooting I record my GPS tracks with the app on the phone, and when I process the photos later in Aperture I can export them to the myTracks app on the Mac and stamp them all with GPS data. The iPhone app can really drain the batteries on long walks - I might pick up a dedicated GPS device later. But for now this seems to be working quite well, and I really like the idea of knowing exactly where all my photos were taken.
Photo Info - Date: 10/03/2012 16:15:54 GMT, Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-G3, Lens: LUMIX G 20/f1.7, ISO 160, Focal Length (35mm): 40mm, Aperture: f/4.5, Shutter Speed: 1/2000, Latitude: 51.565122° N, Longitude: .159442° W, Altitude 78m (256 ft)
February 27th, 2012. On Monday I took the camera with me to our “new” offices on Queen Victoria Street, and took it out at lunchtime for a walk around Southwark Bridge. As I took the steps down the side of the bridge I noticed that the building next to me had a very reflective polished granite surface. I started to play with using it to create mirrored images - I took several photos this way, but the one here on the left is my favourite of the lot. This really set the tone for the rest of my walk - looking for interesting reflections in glass windows, metal surfaces, and granite building facades. Just before the end of my walk, as I was waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street, I turned around and noticed the cherub in the photo on the right being reflected in a polished stone engraved with a building’s name. The final image really appeals to me - it’s not a perfect mirror image and I think that’s part of its beauty.
Photo Info 1 ( Bridge Reflection) - Date: 27/02/2012 13:33:11 GMT, Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-G3, Lens: LUMIX G 20/f1.7, ISO 160, Focal Length (35mm): 40mm, Aperture: f/1.7, Shutter Speed: 1/640
Photo Info 2 (Angel Reflection) - Date: 27/02/2012 114:00:55 GMT, Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-G3, Lens: LUMIX G 20/f1.7, ISO 800, Focal Length (35mm): 40mm, Aperture: f/11, Shutter Speed: 1/20
So, it’s obvious that my well-intentioned Photo-a-Day Tumblr project has failed miserably. I’ve actually been taking a lot of shots. It’s just that most days I can’t be arsed to edit them, touch them up, upload them, and write a blurb. It’s a shame really, as I enjoy doing it when I had them time. There’s an argument to be made for “making the time”, though, so I’ll have to redouble my efforts. I’ve been taking my camera into work in the City with me regularly, I’m doing a Street Photography workshop this weekend, and on the 18th there’s another London Photo Walk in Battersea (where I’ll be watching for pigs on the wing). All of this means that there will hopefully be some interesting shots worth posting in the near future. Just don’t expect anything daily!
January 23rd, 2012. I’m slightly infatuated with The Shard. I lived in New York City for so long that I really got used to the sense of height present in so much of Manhattan. London has a very different feel, and I guess that’s true of many other cities - not constrained for space as an island, it has been free to grow outward rather than needing to grow upward. To be fair, Manhattan is also blessed with a nice solid bedrock base, something London doesn’t have as much of. There are plenty of high rise buildings around London though (Canary Wharf in general, Heron Tower, The Gherkin, etc.) and their numbers are increasing (The Shard, The Pinnacle, 122 Leadenhall, 20 Fenchurch … the list goes on). I like how the skyline is constantly evolving, and I always appreciate having very tall navigational cues - although it’s not as useful here as on the street grid of New York City!
I think this shot really emphasises how the Shard dominates the skyline around it. And I thought it was interesting how The Shard inhabits a gloomy and darker part of the frame, giving it a sinister air as it looms over poor old Tower Bridge, which looks so tiny down there in its brighter corner.
Photo Info - Date: 23/01/2012 15:26:02 GMT, Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-G3, Lens: LUMIX G VARIO 45-200/f4-5.6, ISO 160, Focal Length (35mm): 90mm, Aperture: f/8, Shutter Speed: 1/125