Tag Archives: CAMRA

Some interviews and things

So recently I’ve been asked to do a few interviews on some SFF blogs and website. People all over the world are starting to discover Battlemage, and alongside reviews it’s nice to get a bit more info from the author and try to work out what the heck was going on his brain when he wrote it and what is coming next. Or sometimes they just want to know what I like to drink, which is also cool.

Below are some links to the interviews, plus below that a few more photos of Battlemage out there in the wild.

Mogsy interviewed me over at the Bibliosanctum, which was very kind of her. We talk about characters and magic and my chances of survival during a zombie apocalypse.

João also interviewed me over at Fantasy Literature where they are doing a giveaway if you are in the UK or USA. We talked about the origin of the book plus my influences, a little bit about what is coming next in in Bloodmage, the second book in the Age of Darkness trilogy and also my favourite kind of drink.

Someone in Sydney, Australia sent me a tweet saying they’d just finished reading Battlemage, which was super cool, but a good buddy and cartoonist, Luke Foster, sent me a photo of the book in Manchester, Connecticut, which is the furthest away  from the UK I’ve seen. If you can beat that, let me know!

Another really awesome was a lovely bookseller called Vicki in Waterstones in Swindon, put my book alongside Neal Asher and Andy Weir’s Martian on the recommended table. So thank you very, very much to Vicki for that.

If you’re somewhere further west in America than CT or somewhere in Europe and you’ve seen a copy of Battlemage in your local bookshop, then take a picture and let me know!

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Real Ale: Kraftwerk – Revolutions Brewing Company

Mid-brown beer hopped with noble German hops. Medium-bodied, moderate levels of bitterness and a balanced finish. Somewhere between English brown ale and German Alt-Bier.

kwThis 4.5% beer comes from the Castleford based, Revolutions Brewery, where they pay homage to music from the analogue age, before digital and downloads. All of the names of their ales also come from music and they produce special brews to help promote brands. As it says on their website, love music, love beer.

This is definitely not your usual real ale and as mentioned above it does taste a bit like a German beer, but is dark and tasty without tasting like a stout, as it’s only 4.5%. So it’s not a heavy drink at all and it has a very mild bitter aftertaste. It’s very tasty and something rather special in my opinion.

Another thing I really liked about it is the more real ale I drink, the more I think about brewing as a science. To me the brewers are wizards or chefs, conjuring up the perfect pint, with a drop of this, a pinch of that, and two spoonfuls of something else. I know there are real ales like this one out there, and as a fan of dark ales and ruby ales I’m going to come across all of them sooner or later, but even so, they will be slightly different. This is because the brewery has approached it from a slightly different angle, and even with the same ingredients two brewers would produce something slightly diffferent.

Anyway, Revolutions Brewery has some great real ales and they love their music, so if that sounds like your sort of thing then check them out.

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Real Ale: Riders on the Storm – Kelham Island Brewery

A golden amber ale combining the best British malts and a combination of British and American hops which mingle together for a fragrance of fruits and spices. The addition of crystal malt gives a fulfilling equilibrium of sweetness and body.

This 4.5% pale ale is from a brewery I’ve not tried before, Kelham Island Brewery, which is based in Sheffield.The history of the brewery is quite interesting as its first beer was in September 1990, making it the first new independent brewery in Sheffield in almost 100 years. That’s pretty remarkable as breweries have been popping up across the Yorkshire region for many years, and yet it had been quiet in Sheffield until Kelham Island.

Another interesting aspect of Kelham is there is a link on their website which talks about working with local artists on the pump clips. Coming up with the name for a new ale is always going to be difficult, as it needs to be something catchy and interesting, but like so many other things, the packaging has to be eye catching. Most, not all, real ale is produced in the same sort of brown glass bottle. So the label, or if you’re in a pub, the clip, has to be something special. This isn’t a side of the process that usually gets a lot of coverage, so it was fascinating for me to have a behind the scenes look. There are some really interesting designs on the Kelham Island website here.

Anyway, about the beer itself. The name and the label caught my eye first, and the description above made me keep reading. I’m not a fan of ales that have a strong citrus edge, but a flavour of fruit and spices sounded interesting and worth a try. It was a very clean and crisp drink, a little bit of fizz, but not too much that I was burping a lot, which can happen when they’re too gassy. It was a little sweet, but also very mild in flavour. So while it was nice and I did enjoy it, some might find it too mild and want more of a kick in the taste buds, but if you like something smooth then I’d recommend it. The beer was also very light, as I drank a bottle and didn’t feel bloated or heavy afterwards. Colour wise it’s almost amber, but I believe it’s still classed as a pale ale.

More information on all of Kelham Island Brewery’s beers can be found here on their website. If you’re in the area you can arrange to take a tour and find out where they’ll be appearing at any events and all of their latest news is on their blog.

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Real Ale: Ilkey Black – Ilkley Brewery

I’m a real ale drinker. Have been for ages and ages. Given the opportunity I’ll always pick an interesting local ale over a standard pint of something from the pump. I don’t know my wine or my whisky, couldn’t tell you the difference between a single malt and a blended. I’d need to be guided through what I was looking for, with a glass of each in either hand. I’m not going to claim to be an expert in real ale either, but I know what I like and don’t, so for a bit of variety amidst the writing and other posts, I thought I’d start doing some real ale posts.

There are approximately 100 breweries in Yorkshire alone, so that’s a lot of pints and a lot of different ales to try, plus many of the breweries have seasonal ales, special ales, competition ales. So I don’t think I’m going to run out of things to dry and talk about, and that’s just on my doorstep, never mind nationwide.

Ilkley Black

ibThis traditional dark mild won the bronze medal at the SIBA Northern region beer competition 2010 as well as being voted the winner in its class at Bradford beer festival 2010. The blend of 5 malts used in the mash give a smooth, mellow easy to drink malt flavour with a hint of liquorices in the finish.

I’m a fan of blonde pale ales, but I really really enjoy ruby and also dark ales that are not bitter or stout. Years ago in the Czech Republic I tried a delicious local beer called Kozel, which they’ve been brewing for about 130 years and it’s surprisingly light at about 4%. I think that was the first time I’d tried a dark beer and since then I’ve been seeking them out.

Ilkley Black is a really smooth drink. Barely a whisper of any bite and what there is leaves a small taste of liquorice in your mouth. To be clear, I’m not really much of a fan of liquorice, and yet I really enjoyed this pint, so the taste is very mild. Not too frothy, very little fizz, nice and chocolately and not at all bitter. In some ways it sorted of reminded me of salted caramels, if that makes any kind of sense. A real tasty ale.

More information on all of Ilkley Brewery’s beers can be found here on their website, or you can order a wide variety of Yorkshire Ales from this special Yorkshire ale website and shop.

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