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 “ESB”

English Beer Recap part 1.

Over the past year and a half I’ve accumulated a bunch of English beers I drank (along with some Welsh, Manx and Scottish ales). Some were shared by friends, others I shared with friends, plenty The Secret Agent and I drank in our real-ale trail in Yorkshire, in September 2013. I’ve been meaning to write about this trip but cannot seem to get to it. I procrastinate, beer adds on, and it’s freaking me out. The only way to take control over the British beer list is, well, a recap. I will try to write about all the cask ales we drank in the trip together, but for starts, here’s a list of stuff we shared and shared with us at tastings here in Israel.

Gales Prize Old Ale, wax-sealed and corked, brewed in 2001 and shared in Marched 2014 by the Actuary. Pours muddy brown. Cherry Heering and chocolate milk aroma. Vinous, sour taste, full-bodied, no carbonation, sourish finish. It was interesting to taste, but I wouldn’t be able to finish a whole bottle by myself, even a 275ml. one.

I shared a bottle of Batmen’s Combined Harvest at a tasting. Not sure how I got the bottle, I guess it was shipped from the US. Pours Murky honey-brown, with a fruity, oxidized and some cardboard aroma, oxidized fruity taste with some honey. Medium-bodied, no carbonation and sweetish finish. Something went wrong along the way, that’s for sure – manufacturing? storage?

We definitely brought a bottle of Marston’s Old Empire from our trip. I remember getting it at a supermarket. Nice skunkiness in the nose, Bitter skunkiness in the mouth with grainy undertones. Slightly carbonated, light-bodied, herbal finish. Nice, in its particular skunky way. I kinda liked it.

St. Austell Tribute, it’s another one we brought and shared at a tasting in the training pub in my old work place. Clear golden. A little fruity hoppiness and limestone in the nose, stale bitter taste – like English bottled beer. Light body, slightly malty and dry finish. A decent bitter, for sure.

Also from St. Austell brewery is Proper Job, shared by Sailor Tom. A fairly decent APA that pours clear dark gold with white wave. Honey hoppiness, floral aroma. Bitter, slightly dry with fruity undertones. Mildly carbonated, sweetish hoppy finish.

Finally, Thornbridge Hall Bracia – REL, The Actuary and The Dead Swedish Girl brought it together, maybe from Rome, and it’s a kick ass beer! Black with tan head. Wine, ink and gouache paint aroma, inky, bitter, slightly dry and slightly roasty in the mouth, full body, sleek, light carbonation and a little roasty finish.

 

Gales Prize Old Ale, Bateman’s Combined Harvest, Marston’s Old Empire, St. Austell Tribute and Proper Job and Thorbbridge Hall Bracia are beers #388, #389, #390, #391, #392 and #393 I Must Try Before I Die. Getting closer to 400!

Some Random Ticks

With 90+ beers to catch up and not enough energy for detailed entries about beer trips and such, jotting down about random beers is a good way to tackle the problem. So…

ayinger-ur-weisseAyinger Ur-Weisse – a bottle bought in New York by my Excellent Little Brother. I like this Bavarian brewery very much. Their Doppelbock, Ayinger Celebrator, is one of the first beers I reviewed here, almost 3 years ago. It was beer #26 – time really does fly. Ayinger Ur-Weisse is a dunkelweizen, dark wheat beer, and a very pleasing one! It pours cloudy dark amber-to-light-brown with a frothy white head, has an aromatic honeydew scent with caramel-toffee, a little clove and ripe banana. How does it taste? Like a very ripe cantaloupe, sweet, but not burdening on the tongue. Full-bodied, very carbonated, a little spicy ending – all this with only 4 ingredients, Reinheitsgebot in its best.

firestone_walker_DBAFirestone Walker is another brewery that’s not new to this blog. Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA was reviewed here in November 2012, and now it’s turn for Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale or DBA. It’s a hazy bronze-brown ESB with 5%abv. Some nuts, some caramel, a little earth in the nose, Earthy taste that’s mildly bitter,  full-bodied and fairly carbonated with a long, nutty finish. Quite nice.

Firestone walker has another beer listed in the Book – Anniversary Ale. It was retired but I’m the lookout for it. If anyone’s got a clue or a bottle to share/ spare/ trade, please drop me a note.

kodiak brown aleAnother beer my Excellent Little Brother got for me is Kodiak Brown Ale from Midnight Sun brewery in Alaska. It’s a decent beer that pours murky brown with a cute yellowish head. It smells a little dry with notes of nutmeg, prune and figs and some other nuts too,  and tastes sweetish – more malty than bitter. Medium-to-full-bodied, fairly carbonated, with some more nuts in the aftertaste.

 

 

schumacherLast one for today is Schumacher Alt, an Altbier that The Dead Swedish Girl shared at a tasting. I’ll cover the other altbiers that crossed my path in the past year some other time, but this, by far, is one of the better ones, if not the best to date. Clear bronze-brown with a quick dissolving white head. Full, grainy aroma. Fresh, bitter taste, very grainy with apparent hops. Light-bodied, carbonated, long-grainy aftertaste. Really good.

 

 

Ayinger Ur-Weisse, Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Midnight Sun Kodiak Brown Ale and Schumacher Alt are beers #362, #363, #364 and #365 I Must Try Before I Die.

Telegram Sam

North Yorkshire Brewery Samuel Smiths has 5 beers in The Book and I drank them all. Already blogged about Taddy Porter and Nut Brown Ale, and now I’m closing the gap with the other three. Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Pale Ale is an organic ESB with 5%abv. that I shared with friends last September, before our big Real Ale Trail that one day I’ll find the time to write about here. Murky amber, white film. Ripe fruit and cooked pear and plum and then some spices in the nose, oxidized taste – fruity and old and sweet. Medium-bodied, long fruity finish and carbonated.

Next, Samuel Smiths Yorkshire Stingo, an English Strong Ale with 8 or 9% abv. (our bottle was 8%). We bought our bottle in an awesome craft beer shop in Manchester called The Beermoth – highly recommended if you visit this great beer city. Beer pours clear dark brownish gold with white film, has an alcoholic, apple aroma, with a sweet, cherry thingy in it. Bitter, alcoholic taste, medium body, slightly carbonated. Not too bad.

And last, the crown jewel, Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout, a robust brew with only 7% abv. – not a lot with a style that’s been raising the bar all the time. Not sure for how long we kept our bottle in the fridge, but it was a few good months between receiving it and sharing. Black with tan head. A little roast, slightly vinous aroma. Slightly bitter and faintly sour in the mouth. Full-bodied, nice roasty finish.

 

Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Pale Ale, Samuel Smiths Yorkshire Stingo and Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout are beers #359, #360 and #361 I Must Try Before I Die.

Getting Things Done

I promised to myself I’d tick 300 beers by Rosh HaShana. Due to circumstances, aka long shifts at the coal mines, allow me to extend my deadline til Saturday. Got 19 more beers to write about so the upcoming posts are going to be as much down-to-earth lists as possible.

First is last – last night’s last drink at the last spot in the pub crawl we joined after the holiday dinner. Vova from Laughing Buddha beer was posting pictures on Facebook, we returned to town, I switched to flats and we hopped along to the last 3 pubs in their rounds. It was 3 a.m when we hit Florentin 10 in Florentin neighbourhood in Tel Aviv and the Murphy’s Irish Stout I ordered was decent than the previous rounds. Taps weren’t infested, keg was relatively fresh. Not big fan of commercial stouts, it was fine: less creamy than Guinness, caramel and faintly roasted.

We drank De Koninck for the first time in Antwerp a couple of years ago and then a couple of months back on a lazy Saturday afternoon at home, in front of an episode of Mad Men, before the mediocre 6th season hit us. Bottle.  Faint berry jam,sweet malty aroma, pleasing bitterness with a sweet notch and a biscuity finish make a nice, refreshing beer.

Het Kapittel Watou Prior is nice as well, but far from being refreshing and fun, with 9% abv. It is a full-bodied beer with dried fruit, burnt rubber and raisins aroma, bitter, fruity, yeasty, plastic-y and spicy taste,  and spicy finish.

Another Belgian beer we drank recently is Gulden Draak, 10.5% abv, Belgian, of course. Cookiedough, spices and a little alcohol in the nose, sweet, alcoholic, spicy but not offensive in the mouth. It was a rather pleasing beer and the high alcoholic volume wasn’t too apparent

going through my list of to-blog beers, I see that Adnams Broadside was neglected. Troubles shared it a long time ago. As we’re getting ready to our short English expedition, I’m getting all excited about ales and  such, but my notes say that this beer wasn’t that exciting: candy and black pepper aroma, sweet taste with bitter undertones, medium body and smooth texture. It was probably a little old when we tasted it.

Another one from a tasting of yore is Ringwood Old Thumper from Portland, Maine. I believe we had an old bottle, as its aroma, other than being floral and sweet was a little mold-ish. It tasted bitter and had some honey notes too, and a syrupy finish. Not good, again, probably old.

Let’s finish this entry with a German beer. Köstritzer Schwarzbier, the bottle that Tumblr Jenna brought us, was familiar. We first drank it with Jenna 10 years ago, when we first met her in Berlin. Can’t find anything symbolic about drinking it again in Israel, but whatever – it’s a good beer. Malt, some sugar, chocolate – like a fresh malt beverage –  and some grass in the nose. Taste is sweet and a little more bitter than malt beverage. Dryish malty finish, medium body. Easy to drink and quite nice.

The above were beers #282, #283, #284, #285, #286, #287 and #288 I Must Try Before I Die. I really don’t have time to look for pictures and stuff because I have a beer trip to England to plan, so take it text-only this time.

Bye Bye.

Romanian Beer Adventures Pt. III: Craft Beer Bars in Bucharest

What's the time? Why, it's Beer O'clock!

What’s the time? Why, it’s Beer O’clock!

Our good friend Shmupi is an avid Foursquare user. He is also a big fan of Belgian blond ales. And he is Romanian – born, raised and with grandparents in the homeland. His Facebook updates from Beer O’clock answered the first question we asked ourselves when Family Agent started planning the trip to Romania, which is, of course – the state of craft beer in the nation. Besides following Shmupi’s check-ins we visited Ratebeer.com and thus built a short but sweet beer itinerary for Bucharest: Beer O’clock, Beer O’clock 2 and La 100 de Beri. 3 bars, conveniently located within a few meters of each other, in the city’s old town, some 1o minutes walk from our hotel. The latter prides itself with 100 beers on the menu. The former’s website counts 165. Way more modest number than Delirium Cafe’s menu, much more extensive than any bar in Israel. We figured we’d find plenty of new things to drink there without being overwhelmed. Moreover, these places focused on being beer bars and not tourist attractions, or so it seemed from Shmupi’s check-ins and the reviews we read – suit us just fine.

My fave spot on the bar - behind the taps.

My fave spot on the bar – behind the taps.

The first bar we visited was La 100 de Beri. Just like everywhere else in Romania, the place is smokers-friendly and breathers’ enemy. No proper ventilation, but there’s a spacier room in the back that has more air and is more tolerable. Several beers on tap, including hand-pumped English ales and German and Czech representatives. The inventory does not necessarily corresponds with the menu – many beers were missing so after the 3rd attempt we just asked to look at the refrigerators, that stocked plenty of stuff that’s not on the menu, for example Engel Aloisius from Germany or Wychwood fruit beer. The staff is helpful and knowledgeable – they were nice enough to tolerate our beergeek idiosyncrasies: taking pictures, writing notes, peeling off labels and collecting caps. This is our favourite bar in Bucharest and after our initial visit on the first night of our trip we sat there twice more when we returned to Bucharest in the end of the trip. The staff recognized us on the third time; too bad we had to fly back just when we started to be regular customers. 3 visits, two heavy drinkers and one Californian Agent who joined us in our last session there – that means plenty of beer. In order to make this short and sweet, here are the beers that are listed in the 1001 book that we drank there:

 

Rychtar Premium 12 – a bottle of generic Czech pils; Stiegl Goldbrau – Austrian lager, fresh and bitter; Shepherd Neame Bishops Finger which was both beautiful and tasty; Orkney Dark Island – one of the few Orkney brews we sampled in the trip – robust, salty, roasty Old Ale with sausage, iodine and dried fruit taste; and König Ludwig Dunkel that obviously had gone bad (BB date April 2013) but tasted fine by me – grainy and chocolatey.

On the first night we headed to Beer O’clock after leaving La 100 de Beri. Bigger space, broader selection. The extensive menu includes rarities such as aged bottles of Trappist ales and Brewdog’s expensive editions such as Abstrakt and Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Despite the inviting menu we only stayed for one round: the place reeks of cigarette smoke in such a way that The Secret Agent’s eyes reddened and I had to go out to the cold street in order to smell my beer. I drank De Ranke XX Bitter, a fine Belgian Ale that we enjoyed a couple of years ago in Belgium and were happy to drink again and enjoy its toffee and citrus notes. We bought a bunch of bottles to drink in the following days and take home and left.

A fridge to die for

A fridge to die for

After traveling all over –  in pastoral villages, touristic cities, small towns where the family’s from – we returned to Bucharest. On the first afternoon The Secret Agent and I split from the family and checked out Beer O’clock II, which is located in a small alley, filled with cafe’s and shisha lounges. At 4 or 5 p.m. the door was closed but the place was just opening. Sleazy heavy metal in the background, same extensive menu but due to the early hour and the fact that we were the first customers – no smoke. This bar is smaller than the mother ship, with a bar on the first floor and tables in the gallery. Looks less shiny but we liked it better because of the cleaner air. We hung out for a few rounds and drank a couple of beers from the book: Oakham JHB from England, tropical hoppiness and bitter with nettle-like finish that I liked alot, liked enough to order Oakham Citra that didn’t disappoint either. La Caracole Nostradamus is a pretty good Belgian Strong Ale that is very fruity in the nose and and tastes sweet and spicy. We ordered a couple of German beers that we enjoyed and Primator Double 24, a nasty, 10.5% abv. Czech Doppelbock that I simply couldn’t finish; it tasted like overly sugared coffee and alcohol.

So, what have we got here, count-wise? The bold-marked ones are beers #270-#278 I Must Try Before I Die. Noroc!

Popular for a Reason

Recently we drank two beers that’s been around for quite a while. I’ve been busy chasing rare brews, scamming bottles from my family and hustling my friends that the easily available beer is. Take Duvel for example. Not Duvel Triple Hop or Duvel Single Fermentation that’s making its official draught debut here in Israel. Simple bottled Duvel that’s available all over: at stores, in bars and in restaurants. The Secret Agent drank a bottle on his birthday dinner at the trendy Abraxas North resto-bar, we see it every time we go out, but it took a giveaway that we got at the fancy launch of Duvel Single at the residency of Belgium’s ambassador in Israel for us to drink, rate and write about the beer; we wanted to compare the classic devil beer to the new, lighter version. Well, it pours beautifully: cloudy blond with a big, frothy white head. The aroma is sweet with hints of cookie dough. In the mouth the beer is chewy and bitter, alcoholic and a tad bit dry. It finishes sweet with an alcoholic aftertaste and its body is full. I like Duvel alot, but really, for me drinking a whole glass of the beer is challenging.

duvel

Also Wytchwood Hobgoblin. This beer’s quite popular as well: its bottles are sold in one of the supermarket chains, a few bars serve it on tap. Not only is Hobgoblin a popular beer, The Secret Agent and I quite like it, as well as the other Wytchwood products available here, especially Scarecrow and yet, we needed a PR tasting to give this great beer the time of the day and the few lines here. Hobgoblin pours deep bronze with a slightly murky, cream-coloured head.  It smells nutty, toasty  with hints of caramel and  tastes lightly bitter and pleasing. Light carbonation, medium body, smooth texture with bitter finish, it is a really enjoyable beer and one I’d tend to order in a bar.

Hobgoblin

These two beers are #160 and #161 I Must Try Before I Die. You don’t have to but if you don’t know these two, they are highly recommended.

Four on the Go

For the first time in many weekends I can say I had a rest. Between high productivity and task-ticking and beer tasting and nuts going I had a blissful 10-hour sleep, ate a hearty breakfast, watched 2 episodes of Breaking Bad and snuggled with the cats. I still can’t upload our notes from the trip to Basel and Zürich because the photos haven’t been photoshopped yet. The Secret Agent’s been insanely busy since we came back, but it shall come. Meanwhile, to thin down the ever-growing beers to blog about list, here’s a bunch of beers we tasted recently. No particular order, no weird story, no anecdotes, just thinning down the list.

marston_pedigree   I rarely hit the stores these days as we’ve been getting our fix from deliveries and gifts, but last month I stopped by the neighbourhood alco shop on my way home from the bus or something and that’s where I bought a bottle of Marston’s Pedigree. As usual, when The Secret Agent is not around, I forgot to look at the best before date and thus got a bottle that in a normal country would have not been sold. Expired in May 2012, its presence on the shelf shouldn’t surprise those who are familiar with the players in the local industry, importers and merchants alike. It’s a country of scammers.

I can only blame myself: I was too lazy to go out and return the bottle (or just couldn’t bear listening once again to the local salespeople’s catchphrase used when faced with dated beer: “oh, it’s alcohol, it never goes bad”. Yeah, especially in the great storage condition, by your southernmost window). Anyway, we drank the beer that felt old indeed. Bready and fruity in the nose, soft bitterness in the mouth with hints of fruit, like suckling on a peach pit. No rich maltiness remained and that’s a shame. Although the beer wasn’t bad, it was clearly not what the brewmaster had in mind.

ohara_irish_redAnyway, the O’Hara’s Irish Red I bought at the same store was good, date-wise. It was also good beer-wise. A little on the light side, sweetish, with caramel aroma and flavour and also some wine. A decent beer that I enjoyed and The Secret Agent enjoyed less, because for him it was too sweet.

IPA Samuraj by Czech Brewery Kocour was poured (from a plastic bottle!) at a recent tasting. Shachar, who has a link to my list, brought it from Beer and Beyond’s latest trip to the Czech Republic. An American-style IPA, from a Czech brewery, poured from plastic bottle. The disastrous potential was gone as soon as my nose met its aroma, which was grassy and skunky, but in a good way. It tasted green and bitter and almost dry and had a delicate fizz and a long finish. Not the best IPA I have ever had and it probably would have not made it too the book had it not come from the Land of Saaz, but nevertheless it’s an OK brew.

IPA-Samurai

The last beer in this list is Sprecher Hefe Weiss from Wisconsin. What is supposed to be a German-style wheat beer ended up being too spicy and too bitter for a hefe. We didn’t like it in General and didn’t find anything German in it in particular. That’s quite disappointing. sprecher-hefeweiss

Marston’s Pedigree, O’Hara’s Irish Red, IPA Samuraj and Sprecher Hefe Weiss are beers #150, #151, #152 and #153 I Must Try Before I Die.

England’s Dreaming

Compared to other Big Beer Countries, aka Belgium, Germany and the US, I don’t drink as many English beers and I’d like. The reason behind it that not too many English beers are imported here and that England is not a destination my beer contacts frequent (I’m not even gonna talk about The Secret Agent and me, who as a couple visited the Land of Crass a miserable visit once in 2005). To us Israelis, England* is a more distant and more expensive travel destination than mainland Europe.

So compared to American, Belgian, German and even Danish beers, we don’t get to taste too many English brews. Thus, tasting 4 English beers at a tasting that took place a couple of weeks ago at The Beer Greek’s new and cool pad was quite a rare occasion. The fact that 3 of which are listed in the 1001 book just added to the joy.

We were in charge of Old Peculier that’s brewed by Theakston from Masham, North Yorkshire. That’s 40 miles from where I lived for a year or so, back in the 1990’s. You can read about the history of Theakston Brewery and the origins of the beer’s name here. I hope you’ll also be willing to give it a try if you haven’t done so already, because this old ale style beer is good!It’s clear-brown in colour and has a thick, cream-colour head and has a smooth honey, malt, caraml aroma and sweetish malt and molasses taste. Delicate carbonation and bitterness that’s revealed in the finish, along with the long-lasting maltiness.

Troubles began working with an English client and took the trouble to look for a beer from my list on his visit to a local supermarket: Wells Bombardier by Wells and Young. You can get some Wells and Young stuff in Israel: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, McEwan’s shows up here sporadically, Wells Banana Bread Beer… Bombardier used to be sold here but its marketing stopped a while ago. This ESB pours clear bronze, has a rich malty aroma, tastes bitter but also slightly sweet. It’s a fun, drinkable brew indeed.

isn’t it one of the coolest labels you have ever seen?

The Third English beer on my list was Meantime London Stout, courtesy of REL’s parents. It’s quite different from the Guinness-influence brews and that’s not unintentional – note the London in London Stout. One of the dominant smells I sensed, along with coffee and roast, is that of a rotten egg.It was strange and unpredictable, but not as disgusting as it sounds – quite the contrary actually. Lightly carbonated, roast and coffee tasting, it’s a a good and interesting beer. There are a couple of other Meantime Brewery beers listed in the book and I’m looking forward to try them all. We should start thinking about a UK beer tour.  Late 2013? 2014?

There was an American beer we shared in that tasting that’s worth mentioning here: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. is a Californian brewery, but they named their India Pale Ale Union Jack IPA so there you have it. An award winning beer, the bottle we got was probably a little old and therefore suffered from some skunkiness along with the bitter taste and the fruity, ripe melon aroma.

 

Old Peculier, Wells Bombardier, Meantime London Stout and Union Jack IPA are beers #137, #138, #139 and #140 I Must Try Before I Die.

 

*by England I mean London, of course. Few are the Israelis – and I assume that tourists in General – who take a Megabus outside the capitol, where everything is actually relatively cheap. I lived in England and it’s not THAT pricey once you leave central London.

The Big Recap

Over the past few weeks we have accumulated dozens of tasting notes. The thought of turning all of them into an entry makes me cringe, so here’s the dozen that’s also in the book. Chronology makes no sense in this sort of entry, so stuff is sorted out according to the 1001 Beers You Must Try  Before You Die chapters: Amber, Blond, Dark and Special. Arbitrary, sort of, but if it works, it works.

We got our bottle of Alesmith IPA from The Secret Agent’s parents, who visited the Californian branch back in February. We loved this beer. Pours hazy amber  with a frothy white head, papaya, lime and hemp aroma and an extremely, bitter, green taste. Medium body, soft carbonation and a nice bitter finish close one of the best IPA’s I’ve tasted to date.

Before the start

Left Hand Sawtooth Ale has one of the ugliest labels I’ve seen in a long while. Like a scary number of fellow beergeeks I am a left-handed and thus have a soft spot for the brewery’s name. My default sympathy didn’t really help the beer, which was ok, but not too thrilling. Orangy copper colour, hazy, little light tan head. Hoppy aroma – light evergreen, flowery. Delicate bitterness in the mouth. Smooth texture, medium body, delicate finish.

The (very soon to be) Texan got his bottle of Grottenbier in the strangest trade of all: beer for mini copies of Hebrew-printed Psalms book. Yes he did. Was it worth it? In my opinion it was. A pretty decent beer for some useless pieces of paper. It’s a decent beer that  poured dark brown and had a cloudy, off-white head. Sweet spicy aroma – clove and nutmeg, Mildly sweet and spicy taste, a little anise. Heavy-medium body, lively carbonation, long, tangy finish.

Gearys Hampshire Special Ale was quite a disappointment. We all agreed that there was something wrong with the bottle. Murky honey colour, aroma that reminded me of pink Bazooka Joe bubblegum and band-aid. It tasted sweet, then weirdly bitter. Pretty ugh.

The Actuary’s wife went to Cyprus with her work, and brought back a bottle of Leon, a shitty Cyprian beer, and three bottles of Brasserie Du Bocq’s La Gauloise.  La Gauloise Blonde, so I have discovered while flipping through the book, is there, surprisingly enough in the Blond category. Cloudy pale golden, bubbly white foam. Candy, caramel, conserved peach aroma and bitter-sweet taste. Light body, smooth finish. Drank better Belgian ales in my life, but fair enough.

The BeerGreek, before the tasting and just before becoming a dad for the second time,

I have recently created a Google Docs spreadsheet to help me follow the mission. The Dead Swedish Girl asked me to share the list with him. He went through and spotted Birra Moretti Baffo D’Oro that The big Bear’s dad brought from Italy. We drank it at a beer tasting I have already written about, but overlooked it on my list. Not much to write about. It’s a generic pale lager. You drank one, you drank most.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale is another story though. A little skunky aroma and overall hoppy bitterness in the mouth and finish, this one was decent beer.

We drank a bunch of cool dark beers, too: Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX Stout was one of the better bottles opened in a small, homey tasting The Secret Agent and I hosted last week. Rich smokey, peaty aroma accompanied by berries and a smokey, acetic, bitter taste. I live for smoked beer.

Saranac Black Forest was quite disappointing as well. I like Schwarzbier but this one wasn’t more than fair: Velvety wine-grapes aroma, grainy, somewhat sweet malt taste.

But I loved, loved Victory Storm King! Black liquid, frothy tan head, soft, bitter taste and a rich wine and chocolate liquor aroma. Well-carbonated, pretty easy to drink despite the 9.1%abv. My only complaint is the too-short finish.

I think it was Middie Bear who fixed us with a bottle of Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout. Don’t know how this HopHead put his paws on this one, but I sure don’t complain; roast was everywhere: in the nose (along with some alcohol and liquor), in the mouth (accompanied by bitterness) and in the finish. Texture was oily, beer was great.

one of the cutest beer-label dogs around 🙂

How does AriHell find people who deliver him exotic and obscure beer is beyond my comprehension, but that’s a skill I’d like to learn. He is the one who brought Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere to the table (along with another dog-endorsed label).  It’s a mild-tasting Saison, sour in the mouth and  pissful litter-box aroma. Pretty hardcore with complementary cloudy golden colour.

So that’s it for now. Attended a festive tasting last night and again crashing into a sour tasting tonight, so more posts are on their way. Meanwhile, those were 12 more beers I Must Try Before I Die: 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73.

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