For the fifth year running, the London brewer will be releasing Jack Frost a 4.5% abv ale that is available in cask and bottle. Jack Frost is described as being "perfectly balanced both malty and smooth, but benefitting from a distinct fruitiness provided by added blackberries, which complement the refreshingly hoppy finish". The other brew is Vintage Ale, which has been around since 1997 and has an abv of 8.5%. Although it has been produced for the past seven years, each vintage always has its own distinctive flavour because of variations in the blend of yeast and malt. The use of Challenger, Target and Northdown hops, together with Fuller's own unique yeast, is credited with giving Vintage "a nose bursting with fresh citrus and pineapple aromas". Fuller's advised that as the beer will only be a few months old at Christmas, it will still have a malty sweetness that will balance the bitterness of the hops. As the beer ages, the aftertaste will get longer and the final sensation, like whisky and brandy, should be a warming glow from the alcohol that is ideal for the winter months. Fuller's reckoned Vintage should last for around 10 years and improve with maturity, but regulations dictate that there has to be a best-before date on the bottle that does not exceed three years. * * * * * Liverpool brewer Cains is rolling out its Fine Raisin Beer after it won the Autumn Beer Challenge run by supermarket giant Tesco. The 5% abv beer, which is available in 500ml bottles, is brewed using American raisins and Goldings hops. Cains' joint managing director Sudarghara Dusanj said the brew was "excellent with cheese, red meat or game, making it fantastic for any meal time". Cains described Fine Raisin as: "A rich, seductive fruit and amber ale enhanced by the infusion of succulent Californian raisins. A selection of premium British malts and late hopped with choicest Goldings give the ale its depth, density and complexity." * * * * * Wicked Wych will be the November seasonal ale from Oxfordshire brewer Wychwood. The canary yellow-coloured brew is made from 100% Goldings hops and a blend of three different cereals malted oats, malted wheat and Maris Otter pale malt. Head brewer Jeremy Moss commented: "This is a super-natural brew from the home of the Goblin and we have tried to really stir it up for November by mixing the flavours, aromas and textures of three different malts'. The resulting potion, I hope, is full of mysterious complexities and drinks well above its 4.2% abv. Magic." * * * * * Herefordshire-based Wye Valley has appointed a new head brewer to help expand production at its Stoke Lacy site. Jimmy Swan, whose previous experience includes running the pilot brewery in Nuffield, Surrey, for the Brewing Research Foundation and four years with Hall & Woodhouse brewing Badger ales, joins Wye Valley one year after the brewery quit its former home at the Barrels pub in Hereford and relocated to larger premises 10 miles away. Chairman Peter Amor, pictured on the right, said of Swan's appointment: "After having committed the material outlay for our new site and brewing plant, we have now made an intellectual investment in our business for the future." * * * * * One of the country's most famous beers has been re-labelled to increase its shelf appeal and give more information about the brew. William Worthington's White Shield now has a "back-to-front" label that brand director Scott Wilson described as having "all the interesting bits you'd normally expect to find at the back of the bottle, like descriptor and pouring notes, are round at the front". Brewer Coors said nothing had been changed with the 5.6% abv brand apart from the label. White Shield, which was first brewed 174 years ago, is now available in 275ml and 500ml bottles, together with 320ml stemmed glasses. It was awarded the gold medal in the bottle-conditioned ale category at the 2003 International Beer Competition. * * * * * Young's popular seasonal beer Winter Warmer makes its return this week. The 5% abv ale is available in cask and 500ml bottles and will remain in production at the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth until next spring. Winter Warmer is a rich, ruby-coloured beer that almost looks red in bright light and is made with pale ale malt, crystal malt, Young's special mix sugar, together with Fuggles and Goldings hops. It is described as full-bodied, with a powerful mouth-coating flavour, leading to a bittersweet vinous finish, with a complex fruity nose that contains hints of candy. Winter Warmer won a gold medal at the 1998 Brewing Industry International Awards. * * * * * Carlsberg has started brewing its first rye beer, which is being viewed as a perfect accompaniment for cold buffets. Winter Rye has an abv of 6.5% and is brewed from four different varieties of malt pilsner, rye, chocolate rye, and caramel rye. American Cascade hops are used. German rye beers are produced with top-fermenting yeast, however Carlsberg has decided to brew with its own bottom-fermenting yeast. Master brewer Jens Eiken explained: "We wanted to allow the aroma of the rye and the Cascade hops to come through, so we used a bottom yeast, which adds less taste than a top yeast." Using bottom yeast also removed some of the problems encountered with rye beers, which can become viscous and difficult to filter. Eiken described the copper-coloured, slightly cloudy brew as: "A forthright, refreshing, crisp and perhaps slightly masculine beer, delicately balanced between bitterness and sweetness. It has an aroma of rye, lemon, spicy flowers, toast and roasted almonds." Winter Rye forms part of Carlsberg's Semper Ardens beer brands division that specialises in developing niche and speciality beers that emphasise the wide range of tastes possible with different brewing methods. Winter Rye is only being made available in Denmark at present. * * * * * Cains has embarked on a novel partnership deal with Liverpool's Rawhide Comedy Club whereby the brewer's former stables will be converted to become the new venue for the club. Rawhide has helped launch the careers of comedians Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas, but the existing venue had become too small, hence the decision to relocate to the disused stables. Cains' joint managing director Sudarghara Dusanj, pictured below left, said: "The stables are ideal they quite clearly aren't needed for our business any more and, at night, there is ample parking for visitors. With Cains beers on sale inside, everyone can enjoy a liquid taste of Liverpool culture while they see some of the best acts around." Keven Fearon, right in our picture, founded Rawhide in 1995 and hoped conversion of the stables would be complete in time for the new venue to open by April 2004.