Monday, 31 October 2011

Spooks Ale (Shepherd Neame)

Spooks Ale (Shepherd Neame)
Name: Spooks Ale
Label: "The official ghost brew for All Hallows - Drink if you dare - Gall of Shepherd, Slip of Neame, Silver'd in the Kents moon dream - Double double boil & bubble, hops brown & barley stubble"
Brewery: Shepherd Neame
ABV: 4.7%

Rating: "A classic beer of true quality, Spooks Ale is characterised by its huge biscuity malt palate, derived from three traditional roasted barley malts used in the mash, giving a glorious deep red hue. The excitingly complex malty flavours are wonderfully balanced by a huge citrussy, hoppy bitterness and aroma from a particularly fruity hop added at four stages in the brewing process. The memory of this beer will haunt you forever!" Scarily delicious.

Game: After this beer I'm off back to Arkham City as I have a Halloween date with Calendar Man apparently.  Not sure whether it'll work or not but he seemed to be saying that if I go and visit him on the 31st of October then something will happen. It sounds like nonsense to me but I'm curious so I've not checked the internet for clarification lest the surprise be spoilt. I'm just going to turn up to the date, hopefully for a candle-lit meal followed by a good rom-com.  I remember getting an achievement on Call of Juarez 2 when I had a duel at high noon (that's 12 o' clock our time) so anything's possible.

Pumpkin Ale (Saranac, Matt Brewing)

Pumpkin Ale (Saranac, Matt Brewing)
Name: Pumpkin Ale
Label: "The spirits of the Adirondacks - Ale brewed with pumpkin spices and other natural flavours"
Brewery: Saranac, Matt Brewing Company
ABV: 5.0%

Rating: "In celebration of the fall harvest, here's an autumn favourite that's as enjoyable as pumpkin pie. This hearty ale is brewed with cinnamon all spice, cloves and vanilla. Look for a full body and amber color. We're sure you'll enjoy this special brew!"  I've never had pumpkin pie. If it's anything like the beer though I'm sure it's positively ace.

Game: Finally got round to finishing Portal 2... with zero help from the Internet. Ok it's not that great an achievement I guess, it's not like rocket science or brain surgery or anything. It's more like creating portals to hard to reach places and then walking through them. But as far as puzzle games go, it's been the best one I've ever played. It definitely had me stumped for periods of time too which makes beating the game all the more satisfying. My rating: 8 out of 10.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hobgoblin (Wychwood)

Hobgoblin (Wychwood)
Name: Hobgoblin
Label: "Brewed with roasted malts for a well balanced, rich, smooth taste packed full of mischievous character - The Unofficial Beer of Halloween"
Brewery: Wychwood
ABV: 5.2%

Rating: Halloween is just around the corner and the pumpkin's getting fat. The Halloween branded bottle of Hobgoblin is becoming an annual event. Different on the outside, but the same great taste!  Here's last years bottle.

Game: Boring FIFA 12 post alert. Kept getting beaten but finally managed to stop conceding so many goals and started a unbeaten run towards the end of the season finishing in the respectable(ish) tenth spot on Professional difficulty.  So with all good intentions starting my second season at the helm with Liverpool, I've vowed to play far better. So in my first two pre-season friendlies I'm on the wrong side of a 4 - 0 drubbing followed by a 3 - 1 defeat.  This is FIFA 12 telling me I suck at FIFA 12.  The Chief Exec has told me to finish top of the league too. Things are destined to end badly.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

St George's Glory (Batemans)

St George's Glory (Batemans)
Name: St George's Glory
Label: "What legends are made of"
Brewery: Batemans
ABV: 4.1%

Rating: "A blond English ale full of succulent English hops and malt.  Put some fire in your belly. It would be unpatriotic to drink anything else. Goes well with Dragon Steaks." I didn't have any Dragon steak so I had Unicorn rump instead. The beer is magical.

Game: Today is a bit like the morning after the night before. I woke up thinking, "Ar yeah, can't wait to play Batman tonight!", then the realisation slowly dawned on me through the sleepy beery stupor that I'd finished it last night. I'm pretty sure I did most of the side-missions too so it seems quite a short game. However I have played it every night for at least two hours since last Thursday... and all day Friday. I say all day Friday but it was probably equivalent to a working day interspersed with what every male does when they're alone at home: folding clothes, hoovering and stacking the dishwasher. So, although it seems a lot, I've probably put about eighteen hours in and with only 40% of the entire game completed according to the stats screen, there's still plenty to be done such as Riddler trophy collection, side-missions and combat rooms. So it's looking like very good value for money if you've yet to get your wallet out.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Elsie Mo (Castle Rock)

Elsie Mo (Castle Rock)
Name: Elsie Mo
Label: "Full-bodied & irresistible. Blonde & beautiful.
Brewery: Castle Rock
ABV: 5.0%

Rating: "Elsie Mo is named after the Low Colour Maris Otter Malt that gives our favourite golden girl her beautiful body and complexion.  With a distinctive, yet delicate blend of hops, she's not only full bodied and desirable but totally irresistible." Without trying to sound sexist the lady on the bottle is quite attractive, for a two dimensional drawing that is...

Game: Checked my stats for Batman: Arkham City and noticed I've completed 75% of the main storyline. I nearly wept. I want it to last for years, it really is that good. There have been some reported issues with the Catwoman DLC - this is the DLC available to those that buy the game new. Luckily my code checked out ok and for the record, the Catwoman chapters are absolutely sublime. Her playable chapters slot into the main storyline perfectly and as far as video games go, she is quite possibly the sexiest character you'll ever er... use. Her stealth takedowns are something to behold, it's all long legs wrapped around necks and fancy acrobatic positions. She cat wees all over Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer and leaves them crying into their litter trays, that's for sure.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Tom Fool (Jennings)

Tom Fool (Jennings)
Name: Tom Fool
Label: "A Classic Amber Ale for the Foolish of Heart"
Brewery: Jennings
ABV: 4.0%

Rating: "Said to enjoy the odd tipple, Thomas Skelton - the ghost of Muncaster Castle is still fooling around today. His favourite beer named after his good self, is a golden amber ale with all the characteristics of a true traditional English beer." Ghosts like it, so it must be ace.

Game: So Batman: Arkham City went straight to number 1 in the UK All Formats Chart. Who saw that happening? Everyone, that's who. The game is quite simply stunning, both in looks and more importantly, gameplay. Some key points of note so far: there are an amazing amount of characters all inter-woven throughout the story via the main plotline or side missions, spanning the history of Batman and Detective Comics. As with Arkham Asylum, there are a wealth of upgradeable gadgets and combat moves. The combat is great. I start to struggle when surrounded by more than ten enemies at once as my feeble brain struggles to keep up, but now theres double counters, several special takedown moves and evasive moves to give Bats a serious ass-kicking edge. I did experience one glitch a few hours in where... nah never mind, it was only minor and I don't want to say anything negative about this masterpiece of a game.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Ruby Red Ale (St. Peter's)

Ruby Red Ale (St. Peter's)
Name: Ruby Red Ale
Label: "Our beautiful flask-shaped oval bottle is a faithful copy of one produced c. 1770 for Thomas Gerrard of Gibbstown, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. The original is now kept at St. Peter's Hall and is a rare example of an oval Eighteenth Century beer bottle."
Brewery: St. Peter's
ABV: 4.3%

Rating: "A rich, red ale with subtle malt undertones and a distinctive spicy hop aroma from Styrian Goldings. Brewed with skill and patience in one of Britain's finest small breweries."

Game: Can't stop playing Batman: Arkham City at the moment. Still to play/finish: Transformers: War for Cybertron, FIFA 12, Portal 2 and Dark Souls.  I did manage to take a break from gaming earlier in October to go on a course to work towards the much sought after Abbot Beer Diploma. After four gruelling modules, years of revision, and that "medicine" in Mass Effect that makes you clever at exams, Gaming Ales is proud to announce a "Pass with Merit" and has been inducted into the Abbot Alumni:

Abbot Beer Diploma

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Glencoe Premium Wild Oat Stout (TSA)

Glencoe Premium Wild Oat Stout (TSA)
Name: Glencoe Premium Wild Oat Stout
Label: "Triple filtered for added purity - Brewed and bottled in Scotland using pure Scottish water with malted barley, whole hops and yeast"
Brewery: Traditional Scottish Ales
ABV: 4.5%

Rating: "Tasting notes: Deliciously rich and full bodied stout with the characteristics of toasted oatmeal and chocolate."  I don't drink stout much, but when I do I always think 'Wow, I should drink stout more.'

Game: I can't discuss Batman: Arkham City because I'm literally lost for words for how amazing it is. Like I said on Twitter, why can't Rocksteady now make ALL superhero games, as they've done something incredible with Batman. Imagine them developing a Superman game? Or Marvel-ling it up with Spider-Man, X-Men or Hulk?

In other news, following my post on Inside Xbox Monday Musing, I also managed to get on last Tuesdays Tweetbate (18/10/2011) somehow!  The question: "What's the furthest you've gone in order to earn an achievement." My response: "I've been exercising like a madman trying to get all the UFC Personal Trainer achievements. I weigh about 3 stone now though."  It wasn't the winner, which I guess technically makes me a loser. To get on Tweetbate, check the Xbox dashboard (Inside Xbox Tweetbate panel) and tweet your answer to the question @IXTweetbate.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Lincolnshire Best Bitter (Batemans)

Lincolnshire Best Bitter (Batemans)
Name: Lincolnshire Best Bitter
Label: "A blend of English golding hops & maris otter pale & crystal malts that give a peppery, biscuity flavour. Sweet with notes of caramel".
Brewery: Batemans (brewed exclusively for Marks & Spencer)
ABV: 4.9%

Rating: Batemans beers are great, that's all we need to know. We also need to know that Batemans Brewery site is built around an old windmill that dates back to the 19th century and sits beside the River Steeping in Lincolnshire.

Game: Starting early tonight, Batman: Arkham City has arrived!  Check out my very first unboxing video on youtube.  Here I show you all the amazing things about the game during the unboxing, the snazzy 3D effect lenticular sleeve, the shiny new instruction booklet and, bizarrely, a voucher for a free burger! It's not as in-depth as I'd have liked because I was keen to get playing the game.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Yorkshire Best Bitter (Hambleton)

Yorkshire Best Bitter (Hambleton)
Name: Yorkshire Best Bitter
Label: "Malty with a nutty character & dry finish - this has a malty character with a hint of nuttiness from the crystal and roasted barley. Balanced with both Northdown and First Goldings Hops this ale is a true Yorkshire Bitter"
Brewery: Hambleton Ales (brewed for Marks & Spencer)
ABV: 4.3%

Rating: It's got a picture of cricket on the label. I don't like cricket, oh no. I love beer, oh yeah. I don't like that song, oh no.

Game: Currently playing Transformers: War for Cybertron. It's been a bit stop start though and played mainly during breaks from Dead Island before I'd finished that, and now because I'm genuinely too scared to put Dark Souls on. I'm giving T:WfC 7 out of 10. The missions are pretty dull irrespective of what faction you play as; shoot some enemies, press a button to open door / activate lift, shoot at bigger enemy and so on. The visuals are great though, if a little samey - it's all on Cybertron you see (which is a big metal planet) but the environments are vast, complete with awesome looking cityscapes. The story is what lifts the experience, getting to play as Optimus before he becomes a 'Prime' and seeing Iacon, the Autobot's capital city. Playing as Megatron as he tries to control a wayward Starscream before officially becoming leader of the Decepticons. It's all good stuff if you have even a passing interest in the subject matter. Energon cube, anyone?

Monday, 17 October 2011

Cheshire Chocolate Porter (Unicorn)

Cheshire Chocolate Porter (Unicorn)
Name: Cheshire Chocolate Porter
Label: "Based on an original recipe from 1899 created with the collaboration of renowned chocolatier Simon Dunn - Full bodied with ripe malt & velvety smooth chocolate taste"
Brewery: Brewed for Marks & Spencer by Frederic Robinson Ltd at the Unicorn Brewery
ABV: 6.0%

Rating: 'Renowned chocolatier Simon Dunn' gets around doesn't he, check out his other excellent beer related work here.  Chocolate doesn't agree with me so he's like my arch nemesis or something, but if you're normal and you like chocolate and beer, you should be drinking this by the gallon.

Game: Dead Island finished. Time to get that rotting corpse of a disc out of my Xbox and onto the trade-in pile. That sounds derogatory doesn't it, but it isn't meant to be. The game is brilliant and definitely worth an 8 out of 10. My only issue was whenever I found a vehicle I seemed to have the uncanny ability of getting it stuck on stuff or wedged between stuff and then having to abandon it. That might just be because I suck at driving though. Who needs vehicles anyway, mowing the zombies down in a jeep made things way too easy. Thrashing wildly about with only the "Feeble Wooden Spoon" equipped whilst completely surrounded by zombies is how it's meant to be played, right?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Old Crafty Hen (Morland)

Name: Old Crafty Hen
Label: "Vintage Ale - Crafted by the Master Brewer of  'Old Speckled Hen' - Gold Quality Award Winner 2009 - Superior Fine Ale"
Brewery: Morland
ABV: 6.5%

Rating: "This strong fine ale combines a distinctive malty taste with a satisfying, smooth raisin finish. Brewed with a blend of the famous old 5X, which is aged using our vintage oak vat maturing method, this delicious dark amber ale is perfect for indulging yourself and your friends."

Game: Less than a week until Batman: Arkham City and the reviews are bigging it up as the best game ever invented.  No longer is it just the best superhero game, it's the best game, 'period'. And I want it 'stat' (whatever this means, presumably 'at once').  Now trying to avoid reading anything more about it, lest it be spoilt by over-zealous reviewers.  Skyrim is now less than a month away too and what better way to whet the appetite than a read of the following post from Games From the Void about all the awesome improvements and changes since Oblivion. I'm going to need a sabbatical from work this autumn.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Old Golden Hen (Morland)

Old Golden Hen (Morland)
Name: Old Golden Hen
Label: "Refreshing crafted beer - A refreshing golden beer with tropical fruit notes"
Brewery: Morland
ABV: 4.1%

Rating: "Crafted by the Master Brewer of Old Speckled Hen, this light golden beer delivers both flavour and refreshment. Brewed using the finest pale malts and the rare Galaxy hop to give a light golden colour, subtle tropical fruit notes and a deliciously smooth finish."

Game: I found out today that Batman: Arkham City for Xbox 360 has appeared on various torrent sites. This must be soul destroying for the developers and all who worked on the game at Rocksteady.  I can't understand how people try to justify illegal downloads, whether it be movies, music or indeed, video games.  It's just inherently wrong in my opinion. Just because you can make digital copies an infinite amount of times doesn't automatically make it OK to have stuff for free. Yes, games are expensive, that's why I only buy the ones I really really want.  And when I'm skint and can't afford a game I go without.  Anyone who downloads it is categorised as "thieving scum" in my book. Shameful.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Poacher's Choice (Badger)

Poacher's Choice (Badger)
Name: Poacher's Choice
Label: "Notes of Damson & Liquorice"
Brewery: Badger
ABV: 5.7%

Rating: "The wily poacher knows the temptations the lush Dorset countryside has to offer. Just like the Badger, the Poacher craftily seeks out its treasures and makes the most of sumptuous local ingredients. This rich, smooth brew has softly spiced sweetness with dark liquorice notes and a fruity damson aroma. A gutsy ruby ale that is well matched with hearty game pie or a tangy mature cheese." I think my Badger collection with revamped labels is complete now... *hic*

Game: You're no doubt aware that Dark Souls is a pretty tough game. You should definitely know now as I've just told you in that surprisingly informative preceding sentence. Whilst unboxing Dark Souls I could see the control-pad start to cringe at the prospect of being launched through the telly in a fit of game-rage. The telly is just glad the game's not Kinect enabled as potentially I could be launching myself through the telly in a fit of game-rage. Fear not though my little beige controllery-type device and slightly aging HDTV. Its true, the game is absolutely and horrifically solid, however upon death there's more a sigh of resigned inevitablility than a bout of full on anger. You're supposed to progress a little bit at a time as you get better. Last night I got killed by a massive dragon, then some ghosts, then I fell down a hole a bunch of times and got absolutely nowhere in the process. So I put Dead Island on and mashed some zombie heads for an hour. Love it! I will master Dark Souls though, mark my words...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Abbot Ale (Greene King) - in an Abbot Ale tankard

Name: Abbot Ale
Label: "Bury St Edmunds - Gold Quality Award 2010"
Brewery: Greene King
ABV: 5.0%

Rating: "Brewed for quality of the highest order in the heart of Bury St Edmunds where brewing in the town's great Abbey can be traced back to 1086. Brewed longer to a unique recipe creating a full flavoured, smooth and mature beer. This irresistible ale has masses of fruit and character. A malty richness and superb hop balance".  Notice my swish new Abbot Ale tankard in the picture? Thanks Abbot Ale / Greene King!

Game:  I saw perhaps one of the crappest video game related play on words / jokes ever on Twitter the other day. It's either rubbish or I just don't get it, or both.  It referred to the CVG article EA shuts Australian Dead Space studio regarding yet another game studio closing and the resulting job losses etc. The "joke" on Twitter quoted verbatim was, "Shocking News! Ea shuts Australian in Davy Jones' treasure chest Space studio. (Dead Space studio)".  I'm no expert on comedy but that is just shit. Sorry.  I don't know why, I honestly don't, but just reading it again makes me feel confused and angry.  I had to unfollow them in a vain attempt at catharsis.  In other, happier, news I want Dark Souls and Rage. A lot. I will resist though until I've finished Dead Island. Don't forget, Batman is out in two tiny weeks, woo!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Scarecrow (Wychwood)

Scarecrow (Wychwood)
Name: Scarecrow
Label: "Organic Golden Pale Ale"
Brewery: Wychwood
ABV: 4.7%

Rating: "Organically grown English Barley Malt & whole leaf Target Hops combine to evoke lazy, hazy days of summer in this serenely satisfying golden harvest brew." It's an Indian Summer at the moment too so get the Scarecrows in!

Game: Well that’s Gears of War 3 done. I’m at a loss for words to describe how great the single player campaign is. It’s a brilliant ending to round off an exceptional trilogy. Even the end credits are good, especially the music. I was wondering who wrote and performed the song that plays over the credits. After a seemingly futile search, up stepped @TheElderlyGamer who scoured the whole of the entire Internet in search of an answer and found out within about five minutes (the clever so and so). Body Count and Ice ‘mother f*ckin’ T are in the house! 

Never enough – WE WANT MORE
Body parts and brains
Blood on the floor


Here are the complete lyrics. Body Count are great, rap infused thrash metal way ahead of its time, For. The. Win.