January Beer tasting

I thought since I was catching up reading my beer emails I would talk about the beer tasting I went to about a week ago. I was hoping for Drew to put the list up on FB like he has done previously as it was scandi breweries with weird spellings but I haven’t seen it so far. This was not a battle of the brewers but just a showcase of beers from a particular area, in this case Scandinavia. Well the first was Omnipollo’s Leon, Belgian pale and was a good beer to start off the night it. It was light and didn’t taste of bananas which is always a plus in my book. I have had this one before when the Omnipollo first came in so it was nice to refresh my memory of what it tasted like. This has a keyhole with blue characters in it and doesn’t say Leon on it. Omnipollo are Swedish and it means all the chickens?

Although actually I was drinking Founders Flipside Rye IPA before we started as there was debate about whether you could have a tasting with three people not including Drew who was hosting or Gywn who was manning the bar for anybody who happened to turn up. I like red/rye ales and I drink Siren‘s Liquid Mistress quite a lot when I just want to take it easy on the beer front and also after the tasting and a couple days go I had the Beavertown Rye IPA 8 ball. These are good standard ales and its also nice when you have had a break from alcohol and you start again, to have something that you can really appreciate and depend on.

Now back to the tasting, I have been invited to many on FB and in person by Drew and the one I turned up to before didn’t happen as you can’t run it with 2 people it happens. I also like that you don’t have to pre-book, you can just turn up and that they are now doing 10% off beers while you are there. Drew’s pronunciation of some of the beers was quite funny as unlike Stefan he didn’t really know and most of us wouldn’t either so good attempt for trying. All jokes aside as Drew likes to make the terrible literal ones that I do, it was a pleasant enjoyable evening even with 2/3 guys that I initially didn’t know much about.

The 2nd/4th beer was Omnipollo’s 42 and as all geeks know this is the answer to life, the universe and everything according to Douglas Adams. This was also a magic label series beer which you can immediately tell on the shelf as they have no front labels. As to the taste of the beer It was a good palate cleanser as it tasted very refreshing and was a passionfruit and key lime beer. This is very surprising as I don’t normally like passionfruit. It was also a Belgian wit beer and I only sometimes like them.

3rd was magic number 411 by Omnipollo. This is the number in America for directory enquiries which is why it is associated with information. I have no idea what that has to do with a wild strawberry/rhubarb milk beer. Drew said it was supposed to taste like a sweet but didn’t really taste of much to me. It was a huge disappointment. I got a bit of the fruit flavour but not anywhere near enough for me to buy or recommend it.

Dugges made some beer we drank as there was debate about how to pronounce it. This is why next time a scandi tasting happens Stephan should do it as he will be able to tell you more about the breweries etc. Its not that your bad Drew its just he has more knowledge in this area so will be a better fit.

I perhaps have forgotten what order the beers were drank in as I have sequencing issues. Maybe it was Leon, 42, 411 then Nebuchanezzar and I’m forgetting 2 second half beers as I can only remember Kosacken and Baronen. I have no idea what Dugges beer we drank but I have a feeling that the 7th beer was a dunkel. 8 out of 10 beers isn’t bad even though the tasting beers were thirds. I’m also being too perfectionist wanting to include every last detail!

There was a gap between the first 4 beers and the second 4 beers as we were getting through them quite quickly and you don’t want to be hammered before the end as you won’t be able to taste them and therefore defeat the purpose of a tasting. Drew also gave us some Henderson’s Yorkshire sauce crisps to help out in this respect. I wouldn’t technically call Sheffield and that kind of area Yorkshire even though its South Yorkshire. This also helped to illustrate the difference between the lighter style and colour of beers with the darker more potent beers to come.

The 4/5th beer is the Omnipollo Nebuchadezzar which is another geek reference as its the name of Morpheus’s ship in the Matrix. It is also the name of the really big bottles of champagne and 2 kings in ancient times. This was a double IPA. This was quite a nice beer but I’m not quite sure it deserves such a grand title. It makes you expect a lot more and then you just get a normal beer so it should really be drunk by people who don’t know what the title means or just have a normal title. Omnipollo don’t like to put words on there labels but instead have pictures like a white and black greek style flag on this particular one.

Now we get into really tricky pronunciation territory as Drew mostly skipped saying it and who could blame him its 6 syllables in the Nordic tongue. Hantverksbryggeriat. The next couple of beers are by this brewery. They were quite nice 6th Kosacken a Russian imperial stout and 8th Baronen, a raisiny barleywine that was very nice and a good beer to end on. This was another surprise as I wouldn’t have thought I would have liked this style having always being advised against it due to it not being my kind of thing. Now there is one missing but not having the sheet in front of me I don’t know what it is. Afterwards I got to finish off my catchup with Gywn.

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My night as a beer guru

That was a pretty cool thing to be awarded that title by a nice guy that I met last night called Ben Byford. I was also helping my husband in his beer choice. It was unusual for me that I was so decisive yesterday but last week I had been so indecisive that I missed out and didn’t want that to happen again.

I had decided earlier what I was going to drink and what I was having first although that did kind of go out the window as soon as I got there because beer is best fresh so the selection constantly which is good. I was going to be lazy and drink beers that I knew were good but I drank beers that I had heard about online/liked the breweries etc instead.

First beer at the Bottle Shop was Siren‘s Haunted Dreams. This is their attempt at a pumpkin beer. It just has pumpkin spices, no pumpkin but that didn’t matter as there tend to be three categories of pumpkin beer, 1 with pumpkin, 2 with spices and 3 with pumpkin and spices.

It was a nice chocolate porter with hints of spice. I thought it tasted like a chocolate ginger sweet even though I don’t remember ginger normally being used in pumpkin pie. My husband got the spices later on as there quite muted so its a smooth drink. We couldn’t detect most of the other spices but we had already had an Artesian Light beer from Asda (Shepherd Neame boo) before we came out and some Black Sheep Beer. For dessert I had a sample of port with my mince pie and stilton after my spaghetti bolognese which my husband proclaimed to be one of my best ever.

Next was a recommendation from Lucy that we sample the beer on tap and that was a Brew by Numbers golden ale. That was quite nice and fruity and led on nicely to another recommendation, Weird Beard’s Hacienda. This is a black saison with oranges. I made the mistake of having it cold and it hid most of the orange taste but it didn’t taste anything like a saison usually does as it was a lot darker than usual hence black saison. Good for people that are not keen on saison and good on Weird Beard for adapting a summer style to suit the winter.

Afterward I wanted to try the Out of Office coffee ipa also by Weird Beard as Sam had that one but didn’t rate it very highly. (Nothing beats Mikkeller’s Brunch Weasel). I came to the same conclusion.

My husband had one of his favourites at the moment which is the Founders Breakfast Stout. He sways more towards the american side of things in his drinking. He recommended that to our padawan. He also had the Buxton Rainshadow which is quite dark, alcoholic and disappointing. We shared it between the three of us and had an interesting debate about the merits of carbonation in beer. Different beer styles suit different carbonation levels. There is no one level fits all gauge although mass beer producers would have us believe this.

As to my padawan, I helped him choose the Weird Beard Something Something Dark Side which is quite floral in this present incantation which makes it really nice. Much nicer than usual. I suggested some of the Brewdog beers like Cocoa Psycho but he didn’t have that one. They haven’t got the Christmas Brewdog‘s yet but they will soon I expect. He did have a Brunch Weasel as his last beer but I’m not sure he was as sold on it as we were. Since we were drinking lots of dark beers as its that time of year, we also had a chat about Dark Star as they have nice beers in Brighton when we visit my brother/ in law. Apparently, one of the brewers has left to form his own company which is how Dark Star came into being in the first place, a branch out from another brewery.

It was at this point that I was getting a bit hammered so three glasses of water followed by the final beer a Broken Dream by Siren. This is always very nice and since all I needed was something simple and reliable that fit the bill quite well.

My husband brought home a Kernel as I was thinking of drinking that earlier but in the end didn’t really have any as it wasn’t necessary. He also got Evil Twin‘s Lil B as he didn’t try that when he was in America. This is for later sampling but we did however share a Batemans Mocha beer that I got from Sainsburys earlier. If you go up to Lincolnshire as I did recently these are really awesome dessert beers and there is a 4 pack that is quite cheap and really nice. Sadly I haven’t seen them in these parts. When I next go to the Shire I shall have to ensure there is room to bring some back.

Musings on the changing seasons

I have thought that since the usual refresh rate of the bottle shop has slowed down quite considerably recently that all the brewers must be brewing like mad due to the change in weather. Stephan was not sure about that but it may also have something to do with people prepping for Christmas so slowly down the consumption or just the fact since its now work/school time they have less free time. Another possibility could be that there is not much good beer out there as Wetherspoons has upped its range of craft beer recently to keep up with the recent trend however its just not as good as the bottle shop. We had the Lagunitas IPA which was a Stephan recommendation and it was quite good but the others we tried like the Crystal Rye IPA or the Devil’s Backbone just didn’t match up. This could just be something to do with the fact that even if you bring over us people, hops and malt, the water is going to be different as well as the climatic conditions so your never going to get exactly the same beer due to the very nature of craft beer.

After Spoons we went to the Bottle Shop and I had the golden ale from Brew by Numbers 02/12. It wasn’t anything special to me but Sam liked it. We also got to have a nice chat to Alex about his landlord issues. We also met a new guy called Simon and chatted about how people can sometime look like there name or that if you knew a person with a certain name and you didn’t like them then that sometimes colours your view of future people with that name.

We got the chance to drink the Mikkeller Brunch Weasel which is an imperial oatmeal stout with coffee at 10.9% and that is so good. Its £9 for 330 ml bottle but its made with civet coffee hence the price tag. Its totally worth it though. Nothing dark after that is going to taste as good so I had the mead that they have in which tastes of comb honey and little bit appley like the bees had been visiting apple trees almost exclusively.

Just a side note ages ago I had the Brewdog Jack Hammer and the Omnipollo 
Magic 8 Ball. The Jack Hammer is quite a nice big beer but I didn’t like the 8 ball at all. Its pineapple and mint so quite sour but then it is a Belgian Witbier and I have realised that as well as Weiss beer I’m not fond of wit biers since they are essentially the same. I’m also moving away from saisons as its getting colder so you need sturdier beers.

Surprise, Surprise

That is what happened to me yesterday as some friends turned up at the Indian that my husband had booked for dinner which was nice. He did it just for the look on my face as I had no idea and was feeling quite bored and lonely. Unfortunately since they were both coming down with colds they couldn’t stay and left the next morning after breakfast.

We did go to the bottle shop but just to pick up beers and my friends were not interested in beer even though I introduced Manveen to Belgian beer last year at my hen party at La Trappiste and Bottle Shop have Belgian beer. Best not to drink if your unwell though. I had the Buxton red raspberry rye which is a Berliner Weiss style beer that’s sour but not too sour as it has oats in it as well. Most Berliner Weiss beers are quite sour as that’s just the style. Sam bought some Kernel beer the India Porter and the Export Stout London 1890 as well as an IPA the Ella Apollo Simcoe I believe. He had some Cobra at the restaurant too. The Ancient Raj is a very nice authentic curry house in Canterbury that we go to occasionally. Its the best one that I know of but haven’t tried any others as when you know the best why bother with the rest?

He had the Weird Beard holy hopping hell batch 4 and the Victory Dirk Wolf as they have a new batch in. He thought that the 3h4 was not as good as it had been but that the dirk wolf was spot on. He had the Kernel IPA the next day along with Ella, Citra, Apollo, Simcoe.

A Quiet Night Out with a dark beer standoff

This may seem like a contradiction on terms but it is completely possible. We went to Wagamamas as we hadn’t been there for ages and wanted Asian food but having been to both Supernoodles and Tamago relatively recently that was a cheap option. It was really noisy and they kept trying to give us the wrong drink. First an extra peach ice tea turned up, then a green tea and finally 2 cokes. Also we were really hungry and even though we had a duck gyoza to start with my husbands meal came a long time before mine so I was left looking mournfully at his chicken ramen while waiting for my chicken teriyaki donsai to turn up. He did share thankfully and both dishes were nice but it was a bit confusing with the numbers written on the sheet and the amount of times. We had to wait for a second water as that was forgotten. My husband had to remind our server Nicky. So in conclusion we will not be returning anytime soon to Wagamamas.

Thankfully the beer from you guessed it the Bottleshop was much better. I had a ginger beer first to counteract the quickness that I had eaten my dinner with while Sam tried the Brewdog Zeitgeist which was on tap. This is a black lager that some say is too lagery for there tastes but it tastes more dark to us. I later went on to have a half pint of this as it has nice roast tastes to it.

“For those that want to know its a portmanteaux of 2 German words meaning time and spirit. It relates to anything that is significant of a particular part of time. E.g. cult movies are pinnacles of their time.”

There was also a debate on the qualities of darker beers that have been in recently with the Victory Storm King, the Brewdog Cocoa Psycho, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout and Weird Beard Double Perle all in the running. I have had them all and while I like them there is a definite ranking. However this varies depending on who you talk to. Me, Sam and Stephan who was on all agree that Brooklyn was bottom but while Sam would put Victory first with Brewdog second and Weird Beard Third I would say at the moment its Weird Beard first then Victory just edging out Brewdog. However these beers are not all of the same style so its not a true comparison as Double Perle is a milk stout, where as the others are just stouts. As far as I remember Stephan had the Brewdog first then Victory and Weird Beard. That night I had the Double Perle while Sam had the Cocoa Psycho to assist in the rating war. He would most probably had a Storm King if there was any left.

We had a nice chat to Andrew about inheritance tax as he is a mathematician and then took home a Brew by Number 05 03 which is Amarillo and Mosaic. I think this is payment for the brewer were going to see on Monday for a demonstration.

Mikkeller

This is a Danish brewery that was started by a chemistry teacher Mikkell along with his child friend Kristian Keller hence the name. They make very nice beers that are quite popular even in the UK.

I have had the Citra Michiti Coffee IPA which was really nice and I was talking about yesterday to Gywn who had the job of washing up lots of glasses for the tasting. I’ve also drank the collab with Brewdog I hardcore you and the collab with Tool Underall Galaxy. Mikkeller are a gypsy brewer as they don’t actually have any premises but just use others equipment to make really interesting unusual beers. This must be quite difficult for shipping, staff and everything else that is required to run a business but I guess its the equivalent of only selling online and not having a store.

They have had lots of Mikkellers in the Bottle shop and I have also had the Breakfast which is really nice but I missed out on the Bacon. They might have had the Vanilla Shake in too but I didn’t get to that one in time either. In fact I missed most of them because they went so quickly. A while ago I had the Texas Ranger which was a very nice smoky beer.

Mikkeller also are curious people and have made an 20 single hop beer series for scientific purposes with varying IBU’s (International Bittering Units) to see how the different hops age etc. These all have the same amount of hops in them so that it will be a fair experiment. There is another series of 15 beers also but this time all the beers have 100 IBU’s and this is done from a drinking point of view as lots of people my husband included like big hop filled beers.

Canterbury Green hop festival and the atmosphere of the Bottle Shop

For three days a year Fri-Sun in late September as part of the Canterbury Food and drink fair sometimes called the Euro Fair, there is a green hop festival. Green hops are hops that have been freshly picked and made into beer very quickly. A lot more quickly than usual as the beer usually has time to develop its flavours and can be hopped at various stages, have special ingredients added or put in special barrels.

They had quite a few beers (approx 30) available to try most of which were pale ales due to the short time frame but there was the odd amber, saison, IPA, red and even a stout. Most of the local breweries were represented here, Goody Ales, Westerham, Wantsum, The foundry/Canterbury Brewers, Mad Cat, Caveman, Larkins, Pig and Porter, Gadds, Shepherd Neame. I sampled the porter from Pig and Porter which is Alex of the Bottle shop’s dad. It was quite nice. I drank the red which was very dark from Caveman and reminded me of a Beavertown Smog Rocket. I had a beer from Larkins earlier on but it wasn’t very good and I had the Gadds beer first which was quite nice. Sam had some of the other beers which were ok but were not really his thing which is odd as he likes intense powerfully hopped beers but with American not EKG (East Kent Goldings) as they were calling it. Shelley had some too but was disappointed that they ran out of the one that she wanted to try.

While we were there we met up with some of the brewers from the Canterbury Amateur Brewers Society. They had there own beer brewed with there own hops which was very smooth and had an apple taste to it which was quite bizarre as they didn’t intend that at all. It was a bit like a cross between a beer and a cider. I still intend to meet up with them on Wednesday to see them all but whether that will happen I don’t know. At least I can talk to them about Computer Science being that there interested in Raspberry Pi and writing code for Android.

I also also saw Zoe 2 days running at the Fair who works in the Childrens Trust Charity Shop. She is not feeling too well so hopefully she will be better soon.

On a sidenote about the food me and Shelley had some very nice curried goat from the Seychelles stall and Sam had chilli balls and a chicken wrap. We also got to watch a rather intoxicated lady have a massive argument with what I believe to be her partner. They was no reasoning with her so security escorted them both out. Proper Jeremy Kyle style entertainment.

At the Bottle Shop we were joined by student Sam as we call them to differentiate him from my husband and he had an in depth chat with Shelley about Anthropology as that is what she studied at Kent University. We also chatted to Stephan who was working but since the Bottle Shop now finally have 4 picnic benches outside to sit down on, it wasn’t as much as usual. One of our Bristol friends was there although he comes from Canterbury and was telling Sam and Shelley about his business that he runs with his friend Ashley. Alex the veg man was also there and we had a conversation about books and beards. Andy was there too and joined in our conversations.

As to the beer we had, I have found that since fresh beer is the best you have to keep switching the beer and breweries that you have to follow the trends that the breweries are into at the moment. Also there is a beer for every mood and moment. I said previously that I wasn’t interested in the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout but I drank it and it was actually very nice. Stephan recommended it too. I had Weird Beard Black Perle which is a coffee milk stout at 3.8% which was a very good idea considering the amount of beer we had even though it was spread out over quite a long period of time with food and water. I also did a new thing which was going back to light after you have finished the dark. This is possible if the dark is not that flavourful and there wasn’t any other darks available as they don’t have any coffee IPAs at the moment due to the fast turnover. The beer I shared with my hubby was Kernel IPA Citra and Chinook. He really does excel himself sometimes that Kernel as it was lovely and fruity. I wouldn’t have thought that from the hops especially since there is no Mosaic in it. Sam had another 2 Weird Beard Holy Hoppin’ Hell batch 4 and bought Kernel Export Stout which we haven’t drunk yet and we did overdose ourselves on beer a bit so maybe Monday drink this when Bottle Shop is closed. Shelley had her favourite Pressure Drop Wu Gang chops the tree so 4 over the weekend and Weird Beard Mariana Trench and Brew by Numbers 11/02 Saison amarillo and Orange. She has similar tastes to Lucy possibly because they both smoke.