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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Winter beer

This is usually darker, thicker, richer, more alcoholic but also spiced. I have been drinking Siren’s Haunted Dreams a lot recently, but yesterday I had Weird Beard’s Smoke and Fire. Both Smoke and Fire are smoked beers in a german style that I had not had before. Rauchbier which I’m reliably informed by Google literally means smoke beer. I would have thought that this was against the german purity laws but apparently not in Baumberg Germany where it is from. I’m thankful that all german beer is not lager as that would be rather boring. Anyway, Smoke is very smoky and tastes and smells a lot like bacon due to the smoked malts used inside it. There is no bacon although in another beer I had recently Buxton and Arizona Wilderness’s Dragon Tips, this does have bacon but its less pronounced. Its a strange quirk that a beer without bacon tastes more like it does than one with it in. Dragon Tips also has chipotle chillies and the difference with Fire is that it tamps down the smoke by adding chillies. This is a lot more subtle than in Dragon Tips. Some people saying that adding bacon, maple and chillies to a beer is outrageous, I don’t think so at all. Mind you I am a bit of an outrageous person at times so maybe it fits.

Recent beery activities

I had some Evil Twin Disco Beer as well as some Bible Belt Even More which is a collab between Prairie Ales and Evil Twin. I liked the first but I couldn’t get the complexity of flavours that my husband was experiencing so I let him finish it as he really liked it. We both really liked the second one as it was stunning. It was an imperial stout with coffee, chocolate, chillies and vanilla. That is the order in which I tasted the ingredients and there strength in the overall drinking process. This is a 13% stout but you wouldn’t know it. I look forward to tasting the bomb from Prairie Ales as that is the other half of this mix up. Even more jesus is an awesome beer as I have previously said. This one was chosen specifically for me whereas the first was more for himself. These were from Craft Beer Company in Brighton.

At our latest rendezvous at the Bottle Shop we decided to have some IPAs as we had been drinking a lot of stouts and porters recently. I had Kernel Mosaic Zeus where he had Kernel Cascade Citra Simcoe I believe. There both really good as usual but I think mine was just a bit better. Since we were having more vibrant, lively beers in terms of fresh flavours I then had a rye IPA Rysing Tides from Siren. I had sampled this when it was on tap recently and was really good but something went a bit wrong in this particularly bottle as it didn’t taste right. Sam remarked a couple of times as we were sharing beers that it tasted skunky or of weed. We drank it but put it down to the fact that this one must have gotten oxidised somewhere along the line and it was well within its sell by date having only been produced in October and valid till next October. I thought about having the Weird Beard Something Something Darkside next but the last beer affected me more than I expected and was off putting so I don’t think we had anymore and went home since it was a quiet night and part of the reason of going to the Bottle Shop is to get out of the house and talk to people. Company is a good thing to reassure you that your not going crazy or turning into an alcoholic thinking, reading, writing and drinking this much beer.

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.

The excitement that comes with new beer

I was very happy at all the new beer at the bottle shop when I returned recently. So happy that I was even more indecisive than usual and just looked at it while talking to the people we know there. I had the new batch of Something something dark side from Weird Beard which is one of Sam’s favourites and this one is quite floral which makes it taste quite innovative. I thought it was quite delicious and we had one each. He also had the Nitro stout from left hand brewing although that was later on from Mouton Rouge. Another american beer but I don’t remember having any of it since he drinks faster than me. I do want to try the Rain Cloud from Buxton but we haven’t got round to that yet and it will most likely be next week now as the weekend is more or less over and we didn’t get any earlier.

I did however finally get to try the Brixton Porter from Brewdog as that is part of there standard range but for some reason Sainsbury’s don’t stock it. It was good but not as good as others they make which is to be expected I guess. I also finally got to try the Ryesing Tides by Siren which is a really good Rye IPA. Sam has had a couple of pints of that as its been on tap.

American vs English beer

Now since my husband came back from america I have been drinking some of the samples that he got and when that ran out as some is saved for Christmas we went back to Mouton Rouge and the Bottle shop to compare the English beer again. There is not much to compare to a Kernel IPA. It is in a class of its own. The american IPA‘s while nice are a different style and not entirely to my liking. Apparently coffee, chocolate stouts and porters are quite difficult to get hold of at least in Colorado where he went. He did however drink a lot and went far and wide when he was not hunting elk. So maybe the lack of representation was due to hazing but also the space consideration. He wasn’t sure what he would find as he brought some gifts over too. It is also interesting to drink american beers in the UK and compare them to the same thing brought over from the US. When I go over there next year I expect my appreciation of american beer to increase phonemically.

I drank the Sierra Nevada porter yesterday as I wanted to try an american attempt at a porter and while it was a pretty standard porter it was nothing special. I had a Founders coffee chocolate oatmeal stout afterwards and this is usually the style that I love but it didn’t seem all that good especially after Sam raved about it but then he was a little drunk that could account for that. He is far more into american beer than I am but he has had several trips to acclimatise himself to it. I had the Espresso stout from Dark Star when I got home and that was much more to my liking. Should have not been curious and stuck to my guns and drank Siren‘s Broken Dreams or Brewdog‘s Cocoa Psycho but I can never make up my mind over new and unknown vs old and known. I lost valuable drinking time on Thursday and Friday due to my indecision.

On an aside Brewdog is quite hard to get hold of in the US at the moment so is expensive and we will most likely take some out with us next time. On Friday had the U Boat which is a porter collab with Victory that make the Storm King and it seemed more Victory than Brewdog but that was pretty good. The Evil Twin is a lot cheaper in the US than the UK and they have such beers like Yin and Yang. They even do it mixed. I would like to try them separately and the Molotov cocktail again. The Yeti versions I would also like to sample as Great Divide are a good brewery. Not tried them here yet although will they survive the journey?

Saturday night fever – Coffee IPA’s

Ah ah ah staying alive – thankfully I thought on Sunday.

We went back to the bottleshop the next day to talk to Stephan about life, the universe and everything. Turns out it amounts to 42 who would have known?

First beer was Citra, Ella and Centennial IPA from Kernel. It took me a while to decide what beer I wanted to have but also because Ella is a hop that has a new name. It used to be called Stella but Stella Artois filed a suit against this in July 2012 so its new name is Ella. This is a nice beer that tastes similiar to a Nelson Sauvin (NZ) flavoured beer because Ella is a aussie hop. It has a flavourful, wine characteristic. Citra and Centennial complement Ella nicely.

Next one I had was the Victory Storm King Imperial Stout. Now this is an extremely high rated beer on Rate Beer and it is quite deserving of high marks. It has your sterotypical stout tastes of coffee, bitterness, chocolate, I thought there was a little bit of spice in there. Its a good looking beer as well.

Next one hubby had was the Siren Americano Coffee IPA. I have had this a couple of times now. Intially it was really nice, an introduction to the style but then as I had more it dropped down the rankings. My current favourite is Mikkeller Koppi Coffee IPA Citra & Michiti.

I also had the Kernel India Porter which is also a nice, easy going beer. The IPA and the porter coincide in the glass nicely. Its not too heavy on either side which is good.

By the way on Rate beer regardless of whether a beer is a normal IPA or a coffee IPA they still come under IPA which doesn’t always help when writing articles later. Same for smoked ales. Whether its a pilsner i.e. the Cowboy by Evil Twin or a porter i.e. Smog Rocket by Beavertown there the same category. I guess they thought 76 was enough because it could possibly be subdivided a lot more. Also what I would call an IPA like the above Kernel or the Mariana Trench from the previous article is an american pale so who knows. Darkstar‘s american pale is however nice.