BeerRitz Welcome

Welcome to our "social media hub". From here you can reach all of the different bits of the BeerRitz empire.

For all mail order, you can use our online shop You can also follow the mail order service on Twitter here, and you can like the Facebook page so updates will appear in your timeline. You can email the mail order service using this form, or you can call us on 01423 359371 (9.30am-4.30pm, Monday-Friday)

Our shop, BeerRitz, in Headingley, Leeds, is open from midday to 9pm, 7 days a week. You can follow the Leeds shop on Twitter here, and you can find the shop's Facebook page here. Their phone number is 0113 275 3464, or you can email them here.

The blog below is a general summary of what is arriving on a weekly basis. The things we mention below will appear online fairly quickly, then get to the Leeds shop the following week, usually on the Thursday.

Monday, 9 August 2010

We're Hiring!

Live in Leeds? Fancy a job at one of the best beer shops in the UK? Then get in touch.

We have a vacancy coming up soon at our shop in Headingley, Leeds. We need someone to take on around 35 hours a week, over 5 days. The work will be mostly evenings and weekends. We may also have a vacancy for a part-time worker, mainly for Sundays, but also for occasional filling-in.

The shop is open midday til 9pm, 7 days a week, and there isn't much idle time in those hours. If you're not selling beers, wines and spirits to our customers, you'll be re-filling the shelves from the cellar, or taking deliveries. It's a physically demanding job, especially so at Christmas, when things go mad for a few weeks.

A good knowledge of beer (especially) and wine (preferably) is useful, but some training will be provided. And when we say training, we mean access to a decent library of beer books, a generous staff discount that we hope compensates for the long hours, hard work, and indifferent rates of pay. Oh, and having an award-winning beer writer as a boss.

Sounds like something you'd enjoy? Drop us an email with a bit of info about yourself - beerritzleeds (@)

The American Retreat

Well, if you were one of the 67,000 people who atteneded the GBBF (as we did), no doubt you'll have had a great time (as we did).

The huge crowds everywhere in the festival were a testimony to the renaissance of beer, both domestic and imported. And the scenes around the Bieres Sans Frontieres bar were reminiscent of a rugby scrum. So much so that all of the surplus bottled beer that we'd hoped to purchase was bought by happy festival-goers!

So anyway, now we know we won't be offering these, we'll get back to normal service. If the sun comes out, we'll be doing a blog about that much-maligned beer style - lager. What does it mean, is it all boring, and is any of it worth drinking? We'll be updating you shortly.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The American Invasion

If you're a regular attendee of the Great British Beer Festival, then you'll know all about it - basically, Earls Court turns into a huge pub for the week, and 50,000 people visit. If you're a bit more of a beer geek, you might be aware of the Bieres Sans Frontieres bar, which showcases the best of the rest of the world's beer. There are always treats from the USA, Scandinavia, Germany and Holland, plus a few bits from everywhere else. You can have a look at their beer lists here.

It's a line up beers to make anyone envious, and in fact when we attended the festival last year, we were so envious that we thought 'hmm, I wonder how we can have a slice of this action?'. The good news is that after a few months of negotiation, it looks as though we will be buying a portion of the left over beers from the Bieres Sans Frontieres bar.

We're not totally sure that this is a done deal, and we're not totally sure how we're going to sell the beers when we get them - some will go into our Leeds shop, and some will be available through our mail order service. But it's all looking set to work - the only flaw might be that there aren't enough bottled beers left over to make up a full pallet. But with any luck, next month we'll be holding our own mini World Beer Festival - please do check back for updates, as it will go live first here.

And of course, don't forget to check out our usual huge online beer offering here.

Monday, 5 July 2010

American Independents Day

This is a bit of a mammoth video - in fact, it's a two-parter - but it seems that there is so much great beer in the United States that Zak couldn't stop himself!

It's true that some of the most exciting beers in the world are brewed in the USA. But there is still a huge resistance to that idea by British drinkers. But from the easy drinkability of good quality 'gateway' beers like Sam Adams Boston Lager, Anchor Steam and Brooklyn lager, to the bigger-bodied hop hits of Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head and Flying Dog. In fact, Sierra Nevada is a beer that so wonderfully drinkable that in about 4 years, we've only met one person who tried it and didn't like it.

This mixed case is a great collection of beers. Brooklyn Lager, Boston Lager and Anchor Steam are great to drink on their own. The Sierra Nevada, Dogfish 60, Hop Devil and Goose Island are all better with food - nothing too fancy, just good Tex-Mex, or maybe even Indian or Thai curry. The Dogfish 90 and Raging Bitch are strong beers, and are a sheer indulgence on their own, or again, great with any rustic, spicy food.

If you like the look of the mixed pack, you can buy it from our online shop here. The selection is: 2 x Anchor Steam, 2 x Brooklyn Lager, 2 x Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, 2 x Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, 1 x Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, 2 x Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale, 2 x Flying Dog IPA, 1 x Flying Dog Raging Bitch, 2 x Goose Island IPA, 2 x Sam Adams Boston Lager, 2 x Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 2 x Sierra Nevada Torpedo, 2x Victory Hop Devil IPA.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Sensational Sens-Session-Ale!

Session ales are a peculiarly British phenomenon. A session ale is a low-strength beer, designed to be supped in reasonable quantity - to put it simply, a beer that you have a bit of a session on without taking on too much alcohol.

These beers are naturally lighter in body, and have a delicacy to them that you don't realy get from any other sort of beer. They have all the soft malt character of a good ale, usually overlaid with a reasonable amount of hops. As Zak says in the video, they are the traditional ale-drinkers summer choice, having the refreshing lightness of a good quality lager, and the classic softly-wound complexity of a classic ale.

The beers featured in the video are just the tip of the iceberg. We have more than a dozen great ales between 3%abv and 3.9%abv - to see those listed, you can click here. Incredibly, there are another 80 beers listed between 4%abv and 4.5%abv, which you can see by clicking here. But 80 beers isn't really narrowing down the search, and there are also a few darker beers in there too - good for drinking at barbecues, but not to everyone's taste. So with a little bit of playing around with the search boxes, we can narrow the mixed case down to around a dozen pale golden session ales - click here to see the selection, and mix yourself a case from these summer session ales.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

BrewDog's Core Range: No Bull, Just Great Beer.

Amid all the hoopla of one-off conceptual beer brands (the Abstrakt range), world's strongest beers (formerly 32%abv Tactical Nuclear Penguin, now 41%abv Sink The Bismarck), and authority baiting "intergalactic fantastic" imperial stouts (18.2%abv Tokyo*), it's easy to lose sight of what BrewDog do best - brew really high-quality, exciting and drinkable beers.

To underline this fact, our resident beer expert Zak Avery has tasted a few of their core beers, and gives his verdict on them. Punk IPA, Trashy Blonde and 5am Saint are all currently available, although 77 Lager is out of stock (there is a supply problem at the brewery). If you want to mix a case of 24, we suggest you add 3 of BrewDog's black lager Zeitgeist, and 3 of their Hardcore IPA. You can see Zak's video below.

Hardcore IPA recently won gold at the World Beer Cup, giving a Glasgow kiss and a hearty Bronx cheer to the 68 other beers entered in the same class (Imperial India Pale Ale). So you can get a bottle of world class beer for less than the price of a pint of ordinary lager at the pub. If that's not a great deal, then you can use our eye sockets as bottle-openers.

Peruse our BrewDog selection by clicking here, and welcome the Dandy BrewPunks of Fraserburgh into your life.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Marble Brewery, Manchester.

We're very excited to have struck up a new relationship with Marble Brewery in Manchester. We've been stocking their beers for a while at the shop in Headingley, but we are just about to start taking larger deliveries from them straight into our warehouse. This means that the beers will also be offered through our mail order service, as singles rather than the mixed case that we are currently offering.

The brewery started out as a brewpub, but they have recently moved to a new brewery a few hundred yards away. This has allowed them to increase their output somewhat, but as with all good things, there's a bit of a catch. They are fanatical about making their beer as good as it possibly can be, and this includes giving all their bottles an extended period of conditioning at the brewery before release. This means that the quality is consistently high, but supplies can be a little hit-and-miss, although this is likely to ease as production slowly increases.

You can have a look at our latest tasting video below. Resident beer geek Zak Avery emerges from the cellar to taste his way through the three Marble beers that make up our mixed pack. You can watch him, work up a thirst, and then buy the pack by clicking here:

Monday, 26 April 2010

Beer and Food - Aparagus and Belgian Tripels

Much to our delight, the first English asparagus is now in the shops. Bigger, fresher and more flavoursome than any imported asparagus, this is something of a turning point in the food calendar. Winter is behind us, and summer is on its way. Sure, there might be a lot of rain to put up with until summer really hits, but it's coming.

Asparagus is a pretty versatile vegetable - you can steam it, fry it, bake it in a quiche or make soup from it. It's quite a grown-up pleasure, as it has a characteristic herbal bitterness to it, but bitterness is something that a mature palate can appreciate. Of course, bitterness is also to be found in beer, provided by the flowers of the hop plant. If you can see where we're going with this, it won't come as a surprise to hear that asparagus and beer are a great match. But which beer?

The best match that we've found is with the abbey and Trappist tripels of Belgium, those strong, pale beers with a herbal hop edge. Top of the tree in terms of matching with asparagus is Westmalle Tripel - there is something herbal in the beer that matches perfectly the flavour of the asparagus, and in fact if you watch the video below, you'll see a great way to cook it, and a few beers to try with it. As Zak shows in the video, there are plenty of other beers that will match griddled asparagus: tripels from Maredsous, St Bernardus, St Feuillien, and La Trappe. Or if you want to have a look at the range, click on one of the two spellings the word: tripel or triple.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Purple Moose Brewery, Porthmadog, Wales

We operate a few beer swaps with other retailers in the north of England. Recently we had the opportunity to get a few beers in from the Purple Moose Brewery, Porthmadog, Wales. It's a brewery that Zak visited last year, when he was writing a round-up of the Welsh brewing scene, and he was impressed by the beers then, but until now, we didn't have the connection to get any. But now we've put that right.

Purple Moose is the brainchild of Lawrence Washington, who wanted to set up a small craft brewery with a distinct identity, and brew the beers that he liked. At the time, one of the beers that was a massive influence on him was Harviestoun's Bitter & Twisted, a pale beer with a notably dry, grapefruity edge. By coincidence, at the time he was looking to found the brewery on it's current site, Harviestoun's old brewplant came up for sale. Lawrence bought it, and on an unusual kerbside location on a backstreet in Porthmadog, Purple Moose was born.

As you might expect from the above, Purple Moose's beers are modern, clean and fresh, with an emphasis on hop character, and are definitely in the "session ale" category. We're only carying a couple of cases of these at the shop in Headingley, so if you'd like a taste of Porthmadog's finest, we suggest you get yourself down here a bit sharpish.

Monday, 19 April 2010

"The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease"

A bit of a confession to make this week - we'd previously made a total pig's ear of pricing the whole range of Dogfish Head beers held at our Leeds store. While he may be a dab hand at talking about beer, Zak certainly took his eye off the ball for a moment there, pricing them according to a previous import list, when they were much more expensive. After being flogged with a cat o' nine tails improvised from an inflatable vinyl Desperados bottle, Zak admitted his mistake and repriced the whole range.

Actually, we're being kind. It wasn't until a regular customer pointed out that the whole Dogfish Head range was priced differently on the website that Zak took a look, despite being told about it by staff at the shop. Anyway, the beers are now all repriced, and might even be termed affordable. Certainly for great beers from one of the pioneers at the 'extreme' end of the American craft beer movement, they seem well priced to us. Have a look at the reviews for the 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA, and you'll see that these are very well-regarded beers - classics, even.

Yes, we know they're priced differently on the website compared to the shop. The overheads are different - let's just leave it at that.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Mixed Case Selection: Highland Brewing Company

Once again we've asked our resident beer expert to select some beers and say a little bit about them. Over to you, Zak:

The brewery I've chosen for this mixed case is The Highland Brewing Company, based on Orkney. Not content just with being on Orkney, they are on the most northerly part of Orkney Mainland, at Swannay - have a look where they are on Google maps. That's an odd place for a brewery, no? You'd think there are some logistical problems with that, and you'd be right. But it's worked in Beer-Ritz's favour - no-one else is distributing these beers south of Inverness, which means pretty much the whole of the UK.

These beers aren't well known, but they should be. I poke fun at their tendency to use the phrase "world class ale" on their own labels, but I also think it's refreshing to see a brewery having complete faith in their beers, and showing a bit of chutzpah too. If it was an American craft brewery saying the same thing, we'd all trust their self-belief, so why not? Their beers (except the porter) all have a brilliant hop character, but they never sacrifice character for drinkability - these are classic British ales with a modern twist. I like them a lot, and I think you will too.

Their Orkney Porter is a delicious drop of strong, dark goodness. It's a sipping beer, and that's why they put it in small bottles - 275ml rather than the nip (one third of an imperial pint, or 189ml) I claim in the video. You could either drink it now, or squirrel it away for next winter - the extra 9 months in the bottle will see it soften and mature a little.

Anyway, here's the video. I hope it persuades you to try these little known beers - you can buy them by clicking here. If you need more information, please do have a look at the brewery's website and some reviews on notable beer blog Beer Reviews. Cheers!

STOP PRESS: It seems as though they might be getting the Guernsey brewplant after all. Lewis Hill (Rob's son) tells us in an email: "Forgot to mention before, we might actually be getting the Guernsey kit soon! Someone has persuaded someone else to convert the listed building into flats, which means we can retrieve the kit. Take it with a pinch of salt, naturally, but Dad tells me the kit is capable of a 100brl brew length - that's a pretty huge capacity!"

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Easter Beer

It seems odd that there isn't a huge tradition of Easter beers - I mean, we have beers for almost every other festival and season, so why not Easter?

I'm diabolically playing devils advocate of course, and somewhat disrespectfully, given the Christian nature of the festival (please note: other deities and pagan rituals are available). Of course there are still Easter beers, but we don't get to hear about them very much. The Belgians (and when it comes to beer, it's always the Belgians, isn't it?) still have a tradition of paasbier, although it's hard to say that this refers to any particular style. It fits in with the tradition of brewing festival beers that something special might be created, but does it fall into a defined style? Does it 'eck as like (as we say in Yorkshire).

Scandinavia has its paaskol, and Germany has its osterbier, but again, these don't refer to particular styles - they can be anything from pale lagerbiers to dark ales. What might go well at Easter in the UK? You may as well ask what goes well with chocolate eggs.

One of the great matches is Belgian kriek (cherry) beer. A lot of connoisseurs can be a bit snooty about the more commercial offerings from Lindemans, Mort Subite, St Louis and Timmermans, but the key here is the sweetness. To match a beer to a dessert, it needs to be a bit sweeter to work well. We can gaurantee that the blend of sweet cherry beer (it doesn't work so well with the unsweetened artisanal offerings) and chocolate is enough to convert any sceptic.

If you think that fruit beers are somehow a bit sissy (you're wrong, but we'll move on), then let's go to the other extreme - chocolate stout. Both these beers have the rich, smooth taste of chocolate, but only one is made with it. The Wells & Youngs beer actually has chocolate added to the brew kettle, the Brooklyn version is a heavy imperial stout, although has a rich, sweet drinkability to it. If pairing it with chocolate sounds like too much of a good thing, then serve it accompanying any creamy dessert - creme brulee is perfect. Or if you fancy something even more outlandish, put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in your beer for a grown-up version of a Coke float. Watch out though - the carbonation in the beer will make things get quite lively! You can see how it works in this video from Zak Avery, recorded a couple of years ago:

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Wensleydale Mixed Case

We're delighted to announce a new feature on our mail-order website. Zak Avery, manager of our shop in Headingley, Leeds, and author of the recently released "500 Beers", has agreed to start selecting mixed cases of beers for us to offer on our website.

His first selection is a range of ales from the little-known Wensleydale brewery, based at Leyburn in North Yorkshire. Wensleydale do a range of great pale session beers, as well as some darker and stronger ales - a perfect combination for the mixed weather we seem to be having at the moment.

Please do check out his video of the selection on our mail-order website - you can either buy these beers for yourself, or send them as a gift to anyone in the UK*.

Over the coming months, Zak will be putting together selections of beers that he thinks are interesting, seasonal, and simply good to drink. Some will be from well-known breweries, others will be from smaller microbreweries, either in the UK or abroad. As well as picking out the beers, he'll be talking a little bit about why he likes them.

*PLEASE NOTE the UK excludes the Republic of Ireland, and there is a surcharge for Northern Ireland and some parts of the Scottish Highlands

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Zing into Spring!

There's no denying that the UK has just had a long hard winter, but it's finally starting to soften into something approaching spring. The tail-end of the cold weather always suggests mild to us - although CAMRA insist that May is mild month, there's something about the soft, sustaining quality of a good mild that seems fitting for this time of year. Maybe it's a gentle transition from hearty winter beers towards lighter coloured fare.

Of course, you don't have to gradually wean yourself from one style to another. Sometimes it's good to just take a deep breath and throw yourself in at the deep end. There's something very spring-like about the zippy, zingy lambic beers of Belgium that suggests a wake up after a long sleep. In fact, if you're talking about the more traditional unsweetened versions, that's pretty much what they do to the palate - a big, tart blast of fruity acidity shakes the palate awake. That's what you get with the tarter, more grown up beers from the likes of Boon and Cantillon, Hanssens and Oude Beersel. We even have a limited stock of 3 Fonteinen and Girardin held at our shop in Leeds - we can arrange mail order for these if required, although it may take up to a week to arrange for despatch.

Of course, not all lambic beers are tart and zippy. While some of the traditionalists frown on them, a sweetened fruit beer is a great refresher. The fact that they tend to be lower in alcohol is all the better - weighing in as low as 2.5%abv, Lindemans beers are great quaffers for a weekend afternoon. And if you need any more encouragement to try something new, with Easter just around the corner, the combination of (dark for preference) and Mort Subite Kriek has to be experienced to be believed - even seasoned non-beer drinkers have been converted by this combination!

For a quick run-through of what lambic beer is, and a fairly graphic illustration of the differences in flavour between sweetened and unsweetened versions, please do check out the video below by Zak Avery, a.k.a The Beer Boy - his reaction to the unsweetened version makes us think that he should have tried the Cantillon version first, then the sweetened one!