Thursday, May 21, 2015

Yapton Beer Festival 2015

Oh happy day, for 'tis Yapton again... my how the time flies... was the last one really a year ago??

I have mentioned it before, and I still no idea how they do it, but despite the grey, cold, rainy weather earlier in the week, the festival was again warm, sunny, cloudless and damned hot...

As ever an excellent selection of ales was on offer, with most beers seemingly cheaper per half than last year, or my sums are wrong - I think we were paying £1.60/£1.70 a half last year, I reckon it was more like £1.50/1.60 this year...  another development this year was that they were also offering beer in a third of a pint at a cheaper rate again - a welcome change if you want to try some of the stronger one's, or just have a couple of good slurps of a beer you've never heard of before.

Piccie courtesy Twitter...  this is the main bar - there's another one behind the person taking the piccie...
So without further ado here's the ales.....

Brewery Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Titanic Iceberg 4.1% ..."combination of Maris Otter pale malt and fine wheat malt, give this refreshing beer real zest. Add refreshing Yakima Galena and Cascade hops and what you get is a fantastic wheat beer..." This was a lovely hoppy bitter of surprising flavour, and lowness of gravity..  slipped down far too quickly!
Titanic White Star 4.5% .."A light refreshing distinctively hoppy beer with a freshness that belies its strength" ...you've probably noticed the breweries theme by now... Buoyed by our obvious and unseemly enjoyment of the Iceberg, some of us rushed for the other offering from Titanic, but having tried it, I have to say that it definitely wasn't as nice..  little bit insipid as I remember
Goldmark Vertigo Craft Lager 4.8% "An authentic German style pilsner using the best German malts and hops. A long fermentation and a twelve week lagering, ensures a full, smooth, crisp taste.  Sophisticated Esters entwine around the malt sweetness and hop bitterness." You know how it is - you get chatting to some bloke you've never met before and he raves about this beer he's just tried, so you try some....  and then wished you hadn't....  I gave it a quarter of a pint and ditched the rest - 'sweet and a little cloying' my tasting notes say... 
Revolutions Go-Go American Pale 4.5% "An American influenced pale ale that is packed with Cascade, Chinook & Centennial hops for a citrus finish" Hell yes - this was lovely - slightly hazy, but hoppy, bitter and one of my top beers of the festival
Windsor and Eton Windsor Knot 4% "a Pale Ale brewed with two specially selected hops, Sovereign and Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand.  The combination of these hops produces an intense and distinctive tropical fruit aroma including Mango, Lychees and Passion Fruit to deliver an easy drinking and refreshing beer." OK, but my tasting notes indicate this was a bit of a disappointment after the previous beer...  "OK, not outstanding, bit thin"
Dancing Man Big Casino IPA 5% "A very hop forward IPA...
Smell : Grapefruit, citrus, brioche
Taste : Juicy piney Hops, dry, slight caramel sweetness, long bitter finish"
My sisters favourite brewery, and this was the second of my top beers of the afternoon... not so sure about 'brioche' but the tasting notes sum it up completely...
360 Degrees Wet Coast Pale 5% "Using solely American hops, a contemporary Pale Ale, heavily hopped to produce intense tropical fruit flavours and a long bitter finish." American hops are fashionable at the moment, but just for once I have no issue with the fashion, as the hops (like for example my favourite, Citra) give a very citrus'y bitter flavour... this was the third of my top beers of the afternoon...
Hastings BreweryDown Under IPA5.8%"An American-style IPA - but with Australian and NZ hops only".Later into the session so the strengths are going up a little - Hastings seem to make beers I like as one of theirs was one of my favourites last year as well..  this one was superb  very bitter and very hoppy... but for the strength this was easily the festival winner for me.....
Kissingate Chennai IPA 5% "Notes of sweet oranges, grapefruit, lemons, resin, pine with a floor roasted malt backbone to carry a lasting bitter sweet finish." Like alcoholic orange squash - hideous - two mouthfuls and it went the same way as the Craft Lager....
Mallinsons Cascade Waimea 4% "One of our dual hopped ales, using Cascade for bittering and Waimea hops for aroma. This is a pale gold beer with a floral fruity hop aroma. The taste is bitter and tart with an intense dry bitter finish." Huge bitter notes - almost made you want to have a drink of water after - very nice...


...and that was it - wended my way home for a snooze on the sofa...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Goodies on their way...

...it's looking to be a bumper year on the book release front...! 

Oh yes, the return of Stryker - difficult to believe that this one isn't going to push me even closer to that English Civil War project..


...now this one looks interesting - Simon Scarrow steps away from Rome and into WWII - and set in the Greek islands as well - this one will be going with me on holiday....


..Uhtred again, but it's still a Cornwell....  



I've been looking forward to this one ever since I read the first book in the series back in 2013 [clicky]; I've long had an interest in Samurai era Japan and the first book was a blinder....  this will be going on holiday with me as well......


....after a very definite improvement in the second book [clicky] I shall look forward to this one...


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Love hate thing .. Part 2....


....and after last posts negativity it's time to spread the love... So what are the top five things that have kept me in this hobby of ours for over 40 years??

Most of these are in no particular order but number one on the list is..

1/. Featherstone...as in the Don...  I think I must have started wargaming in about 1972 or '73 and while I don't remember the specifics of how I came to it, I do remember I had a mate at the time who was in to military history  (I remember a lot of drawing of crusader knights with made up heraldry ) and I also used to make and (badly*) paint Airfix model planes so I would assume he introduced me to gaming with soldiers ... after that it was a steep and downward slope, and I remember long dusty afternoon's in Cosham Library reading the military history reference books (the one you couldn't borrow) but most of all borrowing Don Featherstone's books..  I must have had them on almost permanent loan for years...  more than any of the old masters, Don resonated with me, I think it was his writing style, which was quite conversational and inclusive...  I of course read Charles Grant (senior), and I even read the Brigadier, but I always returned to Don... it's thanks to him that I still have this interest after all those years...  I'm only pleased I managed to meet him before he died and tell him what pleasure I'd had from the hobby he introduced to me...

*plus ca change...

Little did it know way back then what was occurring in the reference section...
2/. Blogging Steve the Wargamer is not by nature a clubbable fellow, and membership of a wargame club has never been something I actively sort out, so the onset of Blogger and the web has been a huge enjoyment to me. I liken it to being a member of a huge virtual wargame club where you don't have to talk to the weirdo's  and social misfits, but can just congregate in the corner with the cool dudes... the blog world is an endless source of inspiration, information, and a few good chuckles...

3/. Military history The number one lesson that Don taught me, the whole ethos, the very bedrock, the foundation of our hobby is the history (and that may be why I've never really been interested in fantasy/science fiction gaming in a big way). I was, and remain, absolutely fascinated by it...  I remember at age 12 getting Cyril Falls's book "Great Military Battles" one Christmas (I still have it, and I still hook it out to read every now and again) and since then I must have read hundreds of books, and will hopefully read many hundreds more.. over the years my interests have focussed more to specifics, on tactics and eyewitness accounts mainly, but a military history book still has the potential to launch me on a whole new period... it's a dangerous thing reading a book...

I spent hours looking at the cover picture...


4/.Will McNally's AWI Rules (Sorry to embarrass Will ) A long time ago when I started the American War of Independence project I was using a set called "Minute Man" which ever really quite hit the sweet spot (I seem to remember a lot of chance/event rolls that jarred) but by then, like most gamers, I'd already based my figures to suit the rules, so I was looking for something with a similar basing style, but which more met my understanding of the conflict...  at which pint step in the free wargames rules website (now sadly gone) and therein I found Will's AWI set and never looked back... I've been playing them since about 1990/'91 now, and when I started the Marlburian project I used his (similar) Seven Years war rules as a basis for a little conversion to the earlier period.. at the heart of my liking of these rules is the particularly clever (to me) firing mechanism that includes the moral effect as part of the outcome - it resonated, and I've enjoyed games with them ever since.. they are also very simple to play but with enough nuances to make it period specific, they're also eminently tinker'able for specific scenario's or even different periods (I even wrote a WWII set once).. I would guess they're not for everyone (I think DG would like a little more complexity ) but for me they sum it up nicely, a tactical challenge where you don't need a PhD to understand how you meet the challenge..

5/. Black powder wargaming despite having dabble in many periods over the years I have always had at least one or two black powder wargame projects on the go - when I started wargaming it was Napoleonics (I could only afford Airfix so the table was filled with the French line infantry and whole regiments of Highlanders - I nearly died and went to heaven when they brought out the British RHA, the Hussars, and British line ). I also played American War of Independence using the Airfix Americans for both sides, and an infeasibly large number of Grenadiers...

Since then we've had English Civil War in 6mm (passed to DG but there's unfinished business for me there and Bluebear Jeff [clicky]is not helping my disciplined approach.. ), Marlburian, and I don't rule out a return to Napoleonics at some time in the far future (I would like to do an Egyptian campaign project)...

So what is it about the period? Basically, it is for me the summation of all I wargame for - brave men,  in recognisable battalions, in colourful uniforms, flags, understandable tactics, manageable weapon ranges, not huge (on the whole) battlefields...  perfect.


Look forward to hearing from other of my fellow "cool corner dudes"... 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Love hate thing....

Buoyed by an enjoyable read on Big Andy's blog [clicky] where he documented his five loves, and five hates, of wargaming, I thought I'd have a go and do my own...

"Hate" (bit strong really - 'dislike' is probably more accurate; hating something to do with wargaming is kind of a first world problem ) :

1. Hex and grid based "wargames" Without a doubt top of my list of dislikes is ...  I've blogged about this previously, so no surprise....  for the record though, they aren't wargames, you're playing a board game...  Afficianado's of the milieu (hark at me!) will say that it means you don't have to argue about measuring distances for firing or movement...  I say if you are arguing about that then you aren't playing the right opponent....  DG and I have been playing games for longer than I care to remember and we have never, ever, in all that time had an argument in a game about measurement of a move or firing distance... at heart my opposition is the appearance on the table, but also the fact that my brain doesn't seem to be able to work out distances when using hexes (a source of some amusement to DG - he was forever counting hexes for me)

Even the mug understands....


2. 6mm and/or 1/300 figures - they're not figures - they're board game pieces... (there's a trend here..  ) I speak as someone who has had WWII and ECW forces in the scale (both now passed to DG) so I have tried to like them...  for me, wargaming is about the figures, and I need to see the detail, so 6mm just doesn't hack it (I even had a WWII GHQ army, and they are about the most detailed 6mm's you can get)...  Afficianado's of the milieu (too good a phrase not to slip into the post again) say there is nothing like it for showing the panoply and scale of large battles, but over and over, all that happens is that they paint a unit with the same number of figures as they would have in a larger scale unit, but it's on a smaller base... if you're going to do it you don't want 24 tiny blobs on a tiny base, you need to use the same size bases as you would for a 15/20/25mm game, but absolutely fill it....... 

Nice brushwork - but I'll take the one on the right, please...

3. Painted eyes on miniatures - just weird..  it would keep me awake at night thinking about all those staring eyes in the loft....  following you about as you move round the table....  look at someone across the office...  any more than 50 feet and you can't see their eyes....  "don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes"

This is the way to do it... from the incomparable brush of Scott MacPhee



4. Ultra modern wargame periods - some of you may remember my recent hissy fit about the ISIS range of figures being marketed by the numb nut in the US (and that's not a xenophobic statement I hasten to add, there are numb nuts everywhere.... ) One of the interesting thing about that post was the realisation that most of my fellow gamers have their own historical high water mark, and that it can differ from gamer to gamer.....   in my case Vietnam (old hippy).... 

5. Plastics - I am at heart an old school wargamer brought up almost solely on Featherstone, Wise and Grant (the Brigadier kind of passed me by.. I think I may have read him at the time, but thought it was a "little old fashioned")... anyway, back in the day the sheer range of scales/figures/periods/manufacturers just didn't exist...  the old masters hacked Airfix figures around and added plasticine covered in banana oil (no green stuff or Miliput then) to cover the deficit, but it was implicitly understood that these were no more than a stop gap until someone bought out a suitable range in metal....  metal figures are aspirational for me, I have erred slightly on the side of Zvezda for 15mm vehicles (just lovely...) but I can't see me every buying another plastic figure - not the least because you have to assemble the damn things as well these days, whereas at least Airfix came ready assembled.... 

Bear with...  the "Love" thing will be along imminently....  feel free to blog your own likes and dislikes..  it would be quite entertaining to see how my fellow bloggerati's minds work....