The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Archive for the category “Danish Beer”

2 in Copenhagen

Last week I wrote a long recap of Californian beers imbibed over the past 3 years. One of them was Moylans Ryan Sullivans that we found and drank in Copenhagen, on my birthday-trip-turned-beer-pilgrimage sort of thing. 5 cold winter days, many many beers in all the hot spots in this compact city – Mikkeller, Mikkeller & Friends, Lord Nelson, Fermentoren, Søernes Ølbar, Høkeren, Nørrebro Bryghus, Taphouse to mention a few. We had a good listing of cocktail bars too, but after all this beer we only ended up having a couple at the Brass Monkey and then at Mikkeller’s mixology venture, Mikropolis. Will definitely visit the Ruby next time.

I have the first edition of The Book, from 2008, published right around the time of the great Danish craft beer boom.Only 12 Danish beers are there, two of them are Carlsberg’s crafty experiment Jacobsen. I believe that the second edition has a better and longer listing of Danish beer. Anyway, since Copenhagen is Mecca and friends travel there often, I had tried most of the Danish beers that are in The Book, and had only 3 left to try. Jacobsen Sommer Wit is no longer in production – if anyone who’s reading this has an old bottle to spare, I’ll be happy to trade. I’ll also happily trade for Søgaard Julebuk that’s as far as I know is still in production, but is seasonal, and we were in Denmark 2 weeks too late. However, we got to drink Amager IPA – fresh bottle at the brewery, thanks to the lovely  Henrik Papsø, head of communication at Amager Bryghus, an avid ratebeerian and a really nice guy, who gave us a tour at the premises, on a dark and stormy evening.

Amager IPA

This is an old school Amager beer. Still in the making, still good. Dark amber with yellowish head. Fruity hoppiness and a little sweet roll aroma, bitter, dry, some sweet maltiness in the mouth. Some minerals towards the end, medium body, mild bitter finish. but the brewery – a Danish brewery that owns and operates stainless steel tanks all by itself – is heavily into experimenting and collaborating and running small batches. They are worth checking out.

On our first or second night in Copenhagen we met fellow ratebeerian Desverger and his partner Dorthe at the Mikkeller bar, for tasting and trading. Desverger ordered a glass of  N’Ice Chouffe from draught, 2010 vintage. I was really surprised to find out that I’ve never rated this beer! Not only is it available in Israel, but there’s a Chouffe bar right in our neighbourhood, like a two minute walk from our flat! We were offered a taste of this wintery Nectar, that was pretty awesome: very dark red with a deep,  a little vinous aroma with notes of  ripe summer fruit like plum and date. Deep alcoholic taste, cherry and vinous. Full body, almost flat, rich, spicy, nutmeg finish. Quite amazing.

Just a random pic from Mikkeller Bar

Just a random pic from Mikkeller Bar

Had to try this limited edition of Four Roses Small Batch that was sitting on the shelf at the Mikkeller Bar.

Had to try this limited edition of Four Roses Small Batch that was sitting on the shelf at the Mikkeller Bar.

Amager IPA and N’Ice Chouffe are beers #460 and #461 I Must Try Before I Die. 540 more to go and thanks again Teva Boy, for doing the math!

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From… To…

mikkeller

Today I’m gonna write about Mikkeller’s Fra Til. It’s too hard to find, like so many other beers in The Book. When The Dead Swedish Girl. The Actuary and REL went to CBC last May, and brought back a bottle of Mikkeller X-mas Porter 2012 Fra Til Via (From To Via) Tequila. This will do as a replacement for retiered or really hard-to-find beer, I guess. Pours black with a nice tan head. A little vinous, some cocoa beans in the nose, dry, ash, a little wood, then wine and cocoa in the mouth. Didn’t sense the tequila at all. Smooth, full-bodied, a little ash finish. Very good.

I’m gonna drink plenty of Mikkeller next week. The Secret Agent is taking me to Copenhagen for my birthday – wonder if this birthday trip yealds blog entries; last year’s weekend in Prague hasn’t (yet.)

Perhaps I’ll also find a repleacement for Jacobsen’s Sommer Wit that’s also in the book and also retired. We’ll see. I actually consider visiting Carlsberg Brewery. I love big brewery tours.

Mikkeller X-Mas Porter 2012 Fra Til Via Tequila is beer #383 I Must Try Before I Die-ish.

Water for Elephants

elephant_carlsberg

When O moved to London’s scummiest squat in the mid-90’s, she and her friends were all gushing over Special Brew, Carlsberg’s cheap, strong and nasty lager that did its job properly – got poor people drunk easily. When I moved to England a couple of months later, I tried this too. It WAS nasty, too nasty even to the old self-destructive moi, so I picked another, friendlier poison that is white cider.

Years passed. O is still rocking only now with a PhD on Bats in her tattooed hands, I’m not too keen on ciders – be them artificial and poisonous  or crafty ones. And once again, I’m up to drinking strong brew by Carlsberg. I’m told I must try this before I die, see?  Carlsberg Elephant Beer is not as strong as 9% abv. Special Brew, it’s only 7.2% alcohol. This fine drink was originally exported to West Africa but due to its popularity domestic marketing followed. The elephant on the label has nothing to do with Africa, though. Life- size statues of elephants adorn the entrance to the old brewery in Copenhagen, inspired by the Jacobsen’s family Subcontinental expeditions.

How’s the beer? Interesting. Interesting as in why the hell is it in the book whereas other mediocre commercial lagers are not.

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Jacobsen Saaz Blond is another story, though. While not a great beer, it is definitely a beer to try: Husbryggeriet Jacobsen is Carlsberg’s crafty branch. Lower volumes,  smaller distribution and more experimental than expected (see last entry about Blue Moon), all packed in a big, sharing-friendly and elegant bottle. The Dead Swedish Girl picked a Jacobsen Saaz Blond at the airport, on her way back from Copenhagen Beer Celebration.  This is an attempt at Belgian-style beer with plenty of Czech Saaz hop and angelica extract. All this info is taken from the book, but my tasting notebook tells me that the beer I had in my glass smelled of cleaning detergent and plastic blue and tasted bitter and weird, but I couldn’t point out the weirdness. It didn’t make much sense but nevertheless, it’s something to try. Jacobsen will be available in Israel soon and I’ll probably try the Saaz Blond again, as well as their Sommer Wit that’s also in the book.

Elephant Beer and Jacobsen Saaz Blond are apparently beers #226 and #227 I Must Try Before I Die

Last Call

Mikkeller says hi.

So… we’re flying to Switzerland for the weekend.

Ain’t the above sentence sounds, well, European? A featherlight getaway, one in a few that The Secret Agent and I take every year. Not as exciting as the tracks in Vietnam or the parties in Ibiza, but still fun and necessary break.

Of course, being Israelis who struggle for every shekel that enters our bank account, this weekend getaway is anything but obvious: we are going to The Young Gods’ show at the Rote Fabrik, a silver jubilee of their first album. Needless to say, we plan to cram the weekend with as many beer tastings and hunting as possible, although neither Basel nor Zürich seem like big beer cities (you can buy  Mongolian beer there  and we know enough people who consider this fact a good enough reason to visit a town but still…).

Before heading to the Land of Expensive Brews, we stopped in Jaffa, at REL’s parents’ lovely apartment, for a short tasting in Riedel glasses, with a smaller group than usual and a smaller variety of beer than usual. Yet, there was a variety. We brought 4 beers from the book and Teva Boy, a lucky bastard who has just returned from a business travel to Copenhagen, provided two more listed beers.

We started the tasting with Boag, James Boag’s Premium Lager. A mediocre lager that traveled from Tasmania to Tel Aviv via New York, and spent too much time in metal containers for its own good. I find it hard to believe that there was anything special about this beer when it’s fresh. Apparently there was a clash of kings between the Late Michael Jackson to Boag’s brewery owner regarding the nature of Australian beer. You may call it hubris, but as opposed to The Beer Hunter, I cannot praise this generic pale lager.

Next followed Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor that Alma7 brought back from her visit to Bruges and Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, both from breweries I appreciate, both I was looking forward to drink.Unfortunately, both were rather disappointing. You’d expect a beer named Hopsinjoor to be hoppy. Well, there were *some* hops in the aroma and there was *some* bitterness in the mouth, but the general feel of this Belgian Stong Ale was of yeast. It’s an OK beer, but I find it a case of false advertising. Blanche de Chambly was disappointing in a different level. A Belgian-style white beer/ witbier/ wheat beer this one’s supposed to be, but instead of bold coriander and citrus aroma and taste, we drank a delicate, almost tasteless, peach-coloured and peach smelling brew that was very drinkable but that’s about it. There’s nothing to this beer besides drinkability.

The one good beer we shared was Green Flash West Coast IPA. Its mild skunkiness can be attributed to age, but I can live with that. Piney hoppiness, green, grassy bitterness and light-to-medium body.

Other than the 4 bottles we brought, we should thank Teva Pharmaceuticals for sending Teva Boy to try out machinery in Denmark. He brought a bottle of recently retired Nørrebro Bryghus Bombay Pale Ale. As the name indicates that’s an IPA. A retired beer, it’s waaaay past its prime. The one we shared was skunky and watery and smelled of yeast, malt and cleaning detergant. What a shame.

[Edited to add:

We actually drank Nørrebro Bombay Pale Ale (Økologisk) which is a new, all-organic version of ye olde BPA, launched last November. This makes it even sadder that the beer was off. Thanks, DSG, for yet another correction.]

Luckily, the other bottle Teva Boy shared, Limfjord Dark Porter, a baltic porter with an unattractive label, was superb. Roasty, woody, a little port and fenol in the nose, apparent barrel in the mouth and all in all an interesting and good beer.

To sum up this tasting, no heights but not true lows. Just beers  #142, #143, #144, #145, #146 and #147 I Must Try Before I Die.

Famous Five

Not quite sure how we came to mention Enid Blyton‘s series, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven (my favourite) and The Adventurous Series at this week’s tasting that took place in our place, but the Famous Five opening theme has been stuck with me ever since. Not going to embed the clip here, mind you, but the association is clear: out of the 15  bottles shared in our small living room, 5 are on my list. There are always bottles from the list in the  group tastings, because The Secret Agent and I mind the list when we shop, order and share. We provided two out of the five, 2 coincidentally popped up and another one was shared by The Beer Greek who was list-minded on his business trip to Copenhagen a few months ago.
We opened our contribution quite early on the tasting, as they were significantly lighter than most of the stuff we had.

First we had Unibroue Éphémère Apple, which is Unibroue’s summer fruit beer, followed by cassis, cranberry and peach – a fruit beer for each season. That’s the only one in the series that appears in the book but one out of the five that are represented in the 1001 Beers book. The label shows a fantastic drawing of a faery goddess that I find fascinating and at the same time cheesy. This is a white ale that’s brewed with apple must. It’s hazy greenish gold in colour and its white head dissolves quickly. I smelled ripe apple, oranges, blue cheese and something green and fruity and tasted sweet fruitiness and bubblegum. The beer had a medium body and sweet and sticky finish. It was quite alright and I’m tempted to get my hold on the other three seasonal fruit beers, although it means getting distracted from my mission.

Our bottle of Rogue Mocha Porter has been cooling in the fridge for a couple of months now. It got shoved to the back and I’m glad we found it and got to share it with the crew. With a label portrays a blue collar, mullet-sporting guy. The mocha porter is the love child between his morning diner drink and his after-work drink at the bar. Ugh, how’s that for a Bruce Springsteen cliche’? The beer pours reddish black with a small tan head and definitely smells of mocha. Other than mocha I sensed roastiness, chocolate sweetness and hints of sherry. Taste-wise the Rogue Mocha Porter is bitter and hoppy, but not too heavy and towards the end of the sip the malt is revealed. It has a medium body and a slightly dry finish. Quite a success.

The Covert Beer Tycoon (we’ll see if this nick works) brought an old bottle of Trappist Rochefort 10. That’s the second beer The Secret Agent and I drank on Belgian ground last October, at Le Bouffon Du Roi in Namur (the only place in our trip that served us glasses of tap water free of charge, kudos to them!). According to the notes in my travel journal we smellled chocolate and yeast and tasted an almost-winey sweetness. We prefered the first beer we had there, which was Trappist Rochefort 8. Back then, less than a year ago, we weren’t used to taking tasting notes, hence the lack of details. This week’s Rochefort 10 poured cloudy brown with a bubbly light tan head. and smelled of chocolate liquor. It tasted like sweet and heavy wine and had a full body and sweet aftertaste. Although it’s an expired bottle I pretty much enjoyed it. The crew agreed that aging beer is pretty much impossible in Israel coastal line. Well, comparing this week’s notes with lines written in a busy bar in the brewery’s proximity, it seems that the beer kept its basic traits despite its age and location.

Midtfyns Imperial Stout is probably the last bottle that the Beer Greek got from the list I sent him. I loved it. how can I not like a beer that pours black? Most of them are good. This one also had a tan film on top. The creamy chocolate aroma with the hints of cherry and wood was great and so was the taste: sweet, a little wood and cherry, deep and complicated. The beer has  full body and a very soft carbonation. I could have finished half a bottle by myself but there were 8 other tasters around the table and I was the last in the round anyway.

Fifth and last for this entry was De Molen Hemel & Aarde Bruichladdich Barrel. There was a controversy as to whether I should cross it off my list. Dead Swedish Girl, who is more conservative said I shouldn’t. She believes I should hunt the classic Hemel and Arade and list it. Others based their decisions on previous entries, like the *rum cask* Innis and Gunn, Ola Dubh *40* and Brewdog Paradox *whichever*. Naturally, I took the others’ side, hoping to drink the original version one day. This one was shared by The 9th, who brought it from Amsterdam, I think. It pours opaque, almost black with a tan film and bears an amazing smoke, burnt, iodine aroma. It tastes sweet, burnt-ash-dry with soft hints of vanilla. It’s a heavy beer. No carbonation. no need for them either. Texture is sleek and its finish bears wood and is slightly burning. This is the bottle that closed the session. I could’ve spent an evening with this bottle all by myself, it is THAT amazing.

Those were beers #101, 102, 103, 104, 105 I Must Try Before I Die. Hey, That’s past 10%!

Midi Bear and Troubles doing the Kelly and Brenda thing.

 

Are You Ready For Some Darkness?

Two distinctive stouts met my throat recently. The first is a beer I’ve been expecting to drink since The Beer Greek bought a bottle upon my request; the second – I thought would take begging to my surfer cousin or pulling other dodgy strings in order to get a hold on, but The Actuary, a devoted beergeek, took care of business and ordered a bottle.

The First beer is Mikkeller Black, the second – Sri Lanka’s Lion Stout. Drunk in two different sessions, this blog’s current state is all about filling gaps and catching up. Writing about these two uber dark beers just seems appropriate.

Mikkeller Black, an Imperial Stout that comes in an elegant bottle, was the last bottle sampled in a tasting we hosted, that followed 16 other bottles and cans. With 17.5%abv. it couldn’t precede anything. The name sums up the look – it’s a black, black beer with a light brown head. Its main trait is black coffee: sugared espresso aroma (as well as some alcohol) and tastes as sour as sometimes strong espresso tends to be. Further sipping reveals burnt and bitter flavours, again, coffee-like. It has a full body and sour-hot finish. I like this beer. It’s extreme and challenging but in a good way. However, I would’ve never drank a bottle by myself, as it’s too much to cope with on one’s own, though that’s something The Actuary did a week before the tasting at the Beer Temple in Amsterdam.

I was looking forward to drink Lion Stout for two reasons: first is marking another beer in my list, second is conquering beer from another beera incognito. I didn’t know about this beer and I wasn’t expecting anything. The editor of 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die tried to include brews from as many countries as possible and thus mediocre beers from far away places took space that otherwise might have been used to list a good beer from a well-covered country.

Lion Stout pretty much in the middle. Also in the picture: some other beers that will be reviewed soon(er or later) and The Actuary.

It was nice to read and realize that since this stout was hunted by Michael Jackson, it gained an aura among beer lovers and a quite justified aura. Opened by British colonialists in the late 19th century, Ceylon Brewery is the contractor of Carlsberg’s Lager and Special Brew but continues to brew and bottle its own creation. The bottle that the Actuary brought made quite a trip around the world: from Columbo to New York to the dusty suburbs of Tel Aviv, but all this didn’t make it too weary. Coffee, some wood and liquor in the nose, bitter and a little dry in the mouth, long finish, medium body and a warm feeling that stayed for a while, at least until the following round.

So, were you ready for some darkness?

Mikkeller Black and Lion Stout were beers #98 and #99 I Must Try Before I Die.

Beer in the Suitcase

I’ve been trying not to feel guilty about the infrequent updates, about falling behind and about pretty much neglecting one of the main reasons I started this blog: writing about Israeli craft beer. It’s not like I report to anyone but myself or get paid to run this project and some important stuff’s been going on lately, like failing statistics, a new semester, busy busy schedule at work and some social life. I’m not the only one. It’s summertime and people are busy. Unlike yours truly, who’s been developing arthritis, overusing the calculator, The Beer Gatherer’s buddies have been breathing recycled airplane air, hunting for beer in more attractive locations than the filthy streets of Jaffa in the middle of the heat wave.

A couple of weeks ago we met at Midi-Bear’s place. Him, The Peaceful CEO and The Long Distance Runner returned from the American Homebrewers Association conference in Seattle; Troubles is a regular on TLV-Rome route; The Beer Greek, poor him, was sent to a beer marketing conference in Copenhagen not too long ago and The Guy With The Oh-So-Fluid Nickname has just returned to Israel. There were plenty of good bottles on the table, as well as some horrendous ones, and not-quite-by-accident, a bunch of them are listed in the book.

The Secret Agent and I shared with the bunch a bottle of Black Hawk Stout brewed by Mendocino Brewing Company from Hopland California. Now a beergeek can’t just mention that a brewery is from a place called Hopland and move on, so I wikied the place, population 800, and learned that Mendocino’s brewpub in Hopland was the first of its kind in California.  And yes, “The town gets its name from the fact that from the 1870s to the mid-1950s, much of the region’s economy was based on the growing and drying of bitter hops” – cool! Black Hawk is categorized as dry stout and dryness is apparent in its long, coffee-like finish. It pours reddish brown with an off white head and smells like sweet-chocolate and soy. Some soy is also apparent in the mouth, which is dominated by bitterness and roast that I’m always happy to meet. It was a decent beer.

The Beer Greek keeps bringing to the tastings stuff from the list I had emailed him while he was in Denmark. He shared a bottle of Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast that he bought in Barleywine, a craft beer shop in Carlsberg Land (here‘s The Beer Greek’s  Hebrew blog about the place. Also, google for pics – looks so bright and inviting with those white, IKEA(-like?) shelves). Mikkeller beers are almost a staple in our tastings, but it seems that most of the crowd hunts for the rare and special edition stuff, so it was extra nice of The Beer Greek to bring a “generic” Mikkeller. This one was drier, darker and more condenced than the Black Hawk Stout, roasty all over and fun. A great beer.

Bear Republic is a brewery I’ve been getting to know and like in the past couple of months. We drank  Racer 5 and Pete Brown Tribute Ale not too long ago.  In the latest tasting Midi Bear opened a bottle of Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, that was hoppy with grapefruit and evergreen aroma, dry and bitter taste and a little alcoholic finish that did ruin the beer. I loved this one.

When The Guy With The Oh-So-Fluid Nickname (oh my, by the time I finish the 1001 mission, he’ll have 2000 different nicks probably! Matching him with a permanent nick is one of this quarter’s missions) returned, he asked me if Innis and Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer is in my book. Well, the book lists the standard  Innis and Gunn Oak Aged Beer, but special editions count too and they are even better, especially special edition that have rum in their title and had rum in the barrels. I love rum. This is my other alco-love. The Secret Agent and I actually drifted to beer because rum is even less available in Israel than beer, let alone decent rum-based cocktails. Now this beer’s a gem: clear dark brown with beige head and fun, fun, fun aroma: butter, vanilla, cask, wood, sugar and cherry are what my receptors caught. The beer’s sweet and alcoholic and matches the aroma and light for its 7.4% abv.

Tomorrow we’re hosting another tasting, launching our new air-conditioner. Meanwhile, these were beers #87, #88, #89, #90 I Must Try Before I Die. I predict #100 will be drank in the next 2 weeks.

Another recap, oh no!

It’s this time of the year again, the end of the semester and the realization that unless I wake up – literally – I’ve been developing narcolepsy, I swear! –  doomsday is near. Between sleep, work, procrastination and study, I get to drink beer but not to write about my imbibing adventures. Thus, here’s another long list of cool stuff I drank and ticked.

I’m glad I got to drink Stone Smoked Porter again. I actually tried it in a blind tasting that took place in the winter, but the listing in the 1001 book went under the radar. I have a thing for smoke and perhaps because I knew what I was drinking I liked it better. Context is a huge thing and it’s stupid to ignore or deny its existence. So, smoke, wood and a little peat aroma, soft smokey bitter taste, Bitter, alcoholic finish, medium body, soft carbonation. How can this go wrong? It can’t.

I tried to score a bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale from my colleague, The Witch from Zamość. She took her son on a trip to London last April and I provided her with a list of bottle I assumed are widely-distributed. She looked for Fuller’s Vintage, shopkeepers looked at her, puzzled, and her search was cut by a sprained ankle. Small batches of this beer have been produced annually since 2005, with the recipe slightly changing each time. A fine beer it was, that 2010 vintage.  Pours reddish nutmeg, cloudy with a white head. Berry, honey and cherry aroma and a bitter, somewhat dry taste. Body is medium, finish is malty and carbonation is soft. Perhaps next time  The Witch from Zamość visits the British capital I’ll get a newer batch (hint hint).

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale comes in a can which is cool. An APA, it pours clear and golden and has a delicate peach, flower and citrus aroma. The beer is very bitter, but rather soft and not dry. Body is light and finish is strong and bitter. Not bad at all.

Pilsener is not what people seek after when shopping for beer in the US. We tend to look for IPA’s or heavy stuff like imperial stout or sour ales, but since I’m on a mission, I take what I can. Since the mission called for Stoudt’s Pils, I got a hold on a bottle and shared with the gang.  The beer pours murky pale golden with white film and barley, flowers, honeysuckle aroma. It’s a really, really light beer. So light that it hardly has any taste at all. Then, suddenly, it becomes toasty. Texture is smooth, finish is light. I liked this beer. I wonder whether I would’ve liked it if was shared by someone else. Our tasting buddies weren’t too crazy about it.

When the Beer Greek flew to a beer marketing conference in Copenhagen, I asked him to fetch some bottles from the book. And so he did, on the last few hours before the flight home. One of those beers was Little Korkny Ale from Nørrebro Brewery. Barley wine with a deep sweet heavy taste (and cherry), and aroma that bears wine, yeast, a little alcoholic, berry and dried figs. It’s a heavy beer, with a long finish  that ends with cherry. One bottle is sure to put you to sleep.

Back in May we drank Goose Island Sofie, a mildly-sour Saison. Matilda is a Belgian ale, Sofie’s sister. Matilda is also sour, but whereas Sofie leans towards sweetness, Matilda bears some bitterness instead.

Not only Belgian-style ales did we drink. We finally opened De Struise Black Albert, a bottle bought in a small, shady shoppe in Brugge last October. In fact, this is the beer that inspired my 1001 Project. Last year, while ticking beers in the Hebrew blog on an almost-daily basis, I stumbled upon this blog, an attempt to follow the book that apparently went on hiatus after 133 beers. I hope they get back to writing, though. Beer #125 was Black Albert, which label stunned me. I had it on my mind on our trip and without knowing anything about De Struise I bought a bottle, in case I’d embark on this journey. This is one great beer: black, opaque, alcoholic and somewhat burnt. Wood and sweetness in the mouth. I’m so glad there are more De Struise beers down the road. It’s a great to have an excuse to hunt them.

Bear Republic is another brewery we sampled two beers from within a month. Pete Brown Tribute Ale was rich and awesome, with a beige head, aroma that reminded me of soy sauce, plum and chocolate and overall sweetness in the mouth. Bear Republic Racer 5, the brewery’s IPA, is fun and bears both citrus and pine in the nose. It’s a bitter beer, of course, but its bitterness is soft, almost muddy. It has a citrus finish, and hoppy aftertaste.

2011 edition of Anchor Brewing Company  Our Special Ale was alright. I can’t compare it to earlier editions, but the bottle we shared contained murky brown liquid with a yellow-beige head, wintery aroma of sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and clove, and dry, sweet taste that wasn’t too amazing.

Who brought a bottle of Brewdog’s Paradox Jura? Isle of Arran and Smokehead has just been tasted not too long ago. Jura must be my favourite though. Smoke, peat, salt in the nose, woody, bitter, metallic in the mouth, oily texture and smokey finish. Doubt I could drink this regularly, but it’s a wonderful sipping beer for special occasions, and a good reminder that last time I’ve been to Scotland was 12 years ago. About time to return, isn’t it?

I’m reaching 1000 words so I’ll stop here. Racer 5, Our Special Ale, Black Albert, Stoudts Pils, Little Korkny Ale, Fuller’s Vintage, Stone Smoked Porter, Dale’s Pale Ale and Matilda are beers #76, #77, #78, #79, #80, #81, #82, #83 I must try before I die.

TBC.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

It is not a bottle pic if there's no beergeek in the back. Thanks DSG for the photo.

Pardon my absence.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a sick leave and was more on the mood of exploiting the wonders of streaming, something I’ve never done before than into blogging.  Drinking and tasting? Yes, moderately, but been too caught up with liver-unrelated health conditions. But I feel better now, busy emptying the fridge before another beer batch arrives. I also have the time to catch up and finally write about the second Sour Beer tasting I invited myself to.

It started the same as the first sour beer tasting crashing: I heard about the plan and asked DSG to look at the beer list. Only this time 5 out of the 12 bottles were on my list. DSG said it would be stupid not to stay for the entire tasting and thus, on Sunday evening before Passover, I stopped by at a small but great Tel Avivian bakery and bought fresh, crisp loaves of sourdough bread, in lieu of the bottles that I could not contribute to the tasting.

Despite my instinctive disliking of sour beers, I tried to be as open-minded as possible, and even managed to enjoy a couple of the brews.

The highlight of the tasting, at least for me, was Liefmans Glühkriek, that we first sampled cold and then heated. I love Christmas wine (spiced wine is one of the few forms that I enjoy this drink) and whereas Cherry beer is far from being my favourite, it worked well here. When cold, cherry dominated the aroma and the taste was sweet, spicy and tangy. Warming the liquid brought out winy, spicy-allspice aroma and soft, deep, just a little sour taste. No carbonation and wine-like finish.

Lindeman’s Faro Lambic was also not the hardcore beer I expected: smells like champagne, tastes rather sweet and delicate with some sourness in the back and an oily texture.. I think I kinda like it.

Next we proceeded to an unrateable bottle: Achziv, spontaneously-fermented beer brewed by my buddy Captain Nimrod at his home, in the very heart of Tel Aviv. Hazy golden in colour, no head, dominant smoke due to the malt used (and not to the fact that Dizengoff 100‘s beers are brewed in 100 Dizengoff st, where you eat smog and bus fumes for breakfast, lunch and dinner). It tasted a little sour but not in a lambic-y way and was quite weird altogether.

New Belgium Lips of Faith’s Beer de Mars was not to my liking. Cloudy orange in colour, orange and clove in the nose and white orange peel in the mouth, it is a light beer, rather flat and unimpressive. The label was pretty though, and that’s a statement you’d never hear or read about Orval, the next in line. You’d think that a trappist beer has no place in a sour tasting session, but had this bottle been a human being, it’d be a 4th grader now. Bottled in March 14th 2002, it poured cloudy with particles floating and sinking, and minimal foam. It smelled yeasty, stinky and limestone-like and tasted poisonously sour. A little burning finish, flat, heavy body and hard to drink, Orval doesn’t age gracefully, although there was something I liked in the taste and the smell.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is not a beer tasting if there’s no Mikkeller in line. This time, Spontancranberry: violent, raw sourness, hard to swallow and rather flat, with cloudy orange colour and cranberry aroma. I didn’t detect the manure aroma that others have sensed. Not sure if I’m glad about missing it or not.

Oude Beersel Oude Geuze is listed in the book and was one of my least favourite in this session. Cloudy piss colour with white head, with a delicate dust and grease aroma, it tasted sour and stingy and had a salty finish. Girardin Gueuze Black Label smelled of garlic (one of my favourite aromas in the whole world, just not in beer) and piss and was hardcorely sour: burning sensation, green olives in the mouth and a sweetish finish that was left in my mouth when the flat liquid went down my esophagus.

Like Mikkeller and beer tasting, it seems like it is not a sour beer tasting if there is no Cantillon on the table. The Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio is blond, almost flat and cloudy, that sports dairy aroma (brie in particular) and some apple. It tasted hot and, well, sour and had a light body and dry, flat finish. 3 Fonteinen Zwet.Be was pretty cool: dark porter brewed with lambic yeast. It poured dark opaque brown, had tan head and smelled like marmite and grapes. Zwet.Be had a hint of sour, but unlike the other drinks sampled this one reminded me of beer with its slight bitterness. Light body, light carbonation and pretty decent.

Russian River Temptation was one of the better parts in this tasting: Clear blond with a slim white film of foam, it sported  a condensed pungent aroma and while there was a little bitterness, sour dominated the taste buds. Light body, oily with light carbonation, it was a little like wine.

We finished the tasting with De Dolle Special Reserva Oerbier, 2008 edition. Cloudy brown in colour, muddy, then alcoholic, then cherry aroma, unpleasant hot, sour and acidic  taste and fizzy body.

It was an interesting tasting and I am glad I was welcomed. 6 beers were crossed off my list: Orval, which I’ll probably taste again in a fresher mode, Oude Beersel Oude Geuze, Girardin Gueuze Black Label Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio, Russian River Temptation and De Dolle Special Reserva Oerbier are beers # 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42  to try before I die.

Where’s #43, you ask? Well, I made a mistake earlier  and Young Double Chocolate Stout is NOT in the book, so there.

Passover is Almost Over

We had planned to host a couple of Israeli craft beer tasting on Passover week, but they were cancelled for different reasons. All for the better, though. Had more time for myself and didn’t need to clear the living from from any evidence of math. I wasn’t afraid to lose my coolness, mind you; I honestly fear of my precious notes.

We did get to attend one tasting, though. It was a small-scale due to the absence of some of the regulars, who either observe Passover or spent time with their families, but The Secret Agent and I met a new guy, who brought some Czech beers that we haven’t tried before and will most likely not try again in the future. Some nations should stick to their traditional recipes and methods, I guess.

We did get to sample a few interesting beers in this session. The Dead Swedish Girl brought a couple of dark brews that are worth mentioning: Danish Liquorice porter by Det Lille Bryggeri that although smelled of liquorice was much ti my liking. There aren’t many tastes and aromas that repeal me, but anise/ liquorice is one of the few.  It also had malt and some chocolate to balance the smell, and a bitter, somewhat dry taste. Well carbonated, full body and all in all – pretty good.

The second bottle The Swedish brought was St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout by Montrealian brewery McAuslan that had a sweet chocolate liquor aroma with hints of plum and a sweet-bitter-alcoholic taste that was nice altogether. Unlike the Lakrids Porter, this one had hardly any carbonation, but again, it was nice. Also, it was nice to discover that it appears in the 1001 book.

Our contribution to the tasting were also part of the 1001 challenge, but sadly, they weren’t on the awesome side of the scale:

Shipyard Fuggles IPA, that pours clear dark golden had an apple and malt aroma and tasted sweet. It was weird, not the kind of IPA you’d expect from an American craft brewery. Victory Hop Devil was also somewhat a disappointment. I believe it’s an old bottle. We’ve sampled this brewery before and liked what we had, but this IPA, despite having the “right” fruity aroma and the bitterness, was quite insignificant.

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA, that does not appear in the book, was the highlight of the tasting, not only for me but also for Big Bear Host, who specifically requested it. With a hazy amber colour and a creamy head, it poured beautifully. Its aroma was grassy, a little skunky and the taste was dry, grassy and bitter. Also, There’s a Frank Zappa song that shares title with this IPA:

Look! Beers #35, 36, 37 out of 1001 I must Try Before I Die!

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