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 “IPA”

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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6-months planning

A very intense week came to a sweet end with booking our plane tickets to the US. We’re only taking off in April, but the itinerary is pretty much set: Beer, cocktails and niece in Southern California, cocktails, beer and nephew in New York, deep south, cocktails, beer and bourbon in between. Early booking means low airfare and six months to dream and plan. Next thing I did after closing the Expedia tab was to google map Port Brewing (10 minutes from Escondido and the niece), and the Bruery (tap room is open til late – we can drop by on our way from the airport, if we’re not too knackered.) Both brew Book Beers, of course, only Orchard White by the latter is now retired. Another reason to live forever, or better, drop this mission. Or maybe, check out the second edition of this stupid publication.

Booking is a good excuse to recap Californian beers I drank and haven’t blogged about yet. Like Lost Abbey 10 Commandments, that’s brewed in the above-mentioned Port Brewing. I had it in late December 2013 (and I’m afraid that’s not the worst backlog in this blog), from friends who brought it back from a beer festival in Italy, if I’m not mistaken. 10% abv. of Belgian Strong Ale. My sample of this 2012 vintage bottle poured murky brown and had a dark tan head. I smelled raisins, hyssop and turmeric,and after a while – a little alcohol. It tasted very fruity, dark and heavy, with a little alcohol in the mouth too. Full-bodied, Belgian-like, deep, spicy finish. Very complex, heavy and difficult to drink.

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Another old one is Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale that we shared at a tasting at The Dancing Camel pub in Florentine, Tel Aviv, in December 2013. Wintery IPA with 6.8% abv. Last time I checked the empty bottle was still adorning the bathroom over there. Clear amber. Slightly spicy, christmas cake aroma, bitter, hoppy, fruity taste, medium-bodied, a little burnt finish. Nice. – these are my tasting notes for this beer.

REL, Dead Swedish Girl and The Actuary, that brought the 10 Commandments, also shared FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout – from FiftyFifty Brewing. Looking at the date it was sampled, they must have brought it back from Copenhagen Beer Celebration. Eclipse is an imperial stout that aged for ~7 months in oak barrels and  released once a year, in December. Our purple wax-sealed sample was aged in Elijah Craig barrels and was pretty awesome: black with tan head. A little vinous, wood, vanilla. Deep sweet taste and a little spicy. Smooth, syrupy, no carbonation, a little alcoholic aftertaste.

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Next, Green Flash Le Freak – 9.2% Belgian Strong Ale from San Diego. I loved this one. Hazy gold-amber with white head. Fresh, hoppy aroma, grapefruit and pine. Grassy, skunky green taste. Medium body, relatively carbonated, hoppy and floral finish.

Another Californian Imperial Stout is Moylans Ryan Sullivans. we bought the bottle in Høkeren, a cute bottle shop in Copenhagen, in January, because there is no better way to celebrate one’s birthday in a cold and windy city filled with beautiful people. We shared the bottle at Mikkeller & Friends with our ratebeer/untapped buddies Ruben and Dorthe. Black, with a big tan head. Dark chocolate and espresso aroma, rich bitterness, coffee and a hint of sourness in the mouth, full body, very bitter finish, no carbonation. Nothing experimental here, just a nice and solid imperial stout.

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It was Teva Boy who shared The Bruery Saison Rue in early 2014. Quite awesome and heavy on alcohol saison – 8.5% here. Cloudy amber with white head. Bretty, fruity, apple, some toffee and pepper aroma, mildly sour but very drinkable – a little alcoholic too. Full body, slightly alcoholic finish. Very good.

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I believe I had Russian River Supplication sour ale on more than one occasion, but my tasting notes are from a tasting at Teva Boy, of a bottle shared by Sparrow Brewery’s owner and brewmaster Dror, from February 2013(!) Pours clear-to-hazy rusty with white ring. Apple vinegar, air freshener, rose-water aroma, delicate sour taste. Medium body, very fizzy, ciderish finish. I gave it 3.3/5 – that’s around my average rating. I wonder how much I’d give it today.

This ends the Californian backlog. Lots more to drink from The Golden State – the ones from the book that are still available and hundreds more. We have only 5 or 6 days in SoCal before heading to Austin – we’re gonna work hard.

Lost Abbey 10 Commandments, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout, Green Flash Le Freak,  Moylans Ryan Sullivans, The Bruery Saison Rue, Russian River Supplication, are beers #453, #454, #455, #456, #457, #458, and #459 I must Try Before I Die (and thank you Teva Boy!)

English Beer Recap #4 – The hidden Gems of Bradford

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As soon as we decided to take a beer trip to Northern England, we knew we’d stop at Bradford. A place known better for its curry, riots, and the 1989 burning of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, Bradford is not a top-of-mind beer destination. However, it has a special place in my personal history. As far as beer history goes, this is the first place I learned about CAMRA. It was in 1997 and I was at the 1in12, where the punks and anarchists hung out. Didn’t know shit about beer and used to drink “lager” – that’s what my boyfriend used to order – and apple flavoured Hooch, a horrendous alco-pop. Not being a social animal, and that’s an understatement, I was happy to find a small zine, similar to any punk publication of the day – cut and paste, photocopied – with the tagline Campaign for Real Ale, whatever that was. The one thing I remember reading there – and that’s quite something, considering it’s been 18 years of booze and B12 deficiency and an OD of written material – is an op-ed against my drink de jour, aka Hooch and the likes – how they destroy the industry, ruin young people’s appreciation of real ale, whatever that was, and so on. It stuck with me.

This CAMRA publication is of course not a good reason to visit the city, but seeing the place where I lived, and walking in Lister Park, and eating a decent curry are, so after a short sightseeing tour and some beer in Manchester, we drove to Bradford. We opted to drive through towns, so instead of 30 minutes on the highway it took us about an hour to get there.

After a brief tour of the neighbourhood, which felt tamer than it was – is it distance and defamilarization or is it for real? – we went drinking. The Secret Agent picked 2 CAMRA-recommended pubs to visit before heading to a night in Huddersfield, old-school real-ale pubs that I must have seen before, but never went in, because the ex had his own local, Scruffs and Snobs. I looked for it online before our trip. It’s not there anymore. First place we visited was The New Beehive Inn, not far from the city center, as the area code BD1 indicates. The inn was built in 1901,  and has tons of features we love in a place, such as stained glass windows, a painted sign and all sorts of knick-knacks. We arrived quite early in the evening and it was quite dark inside. Apparently this pub is known for its use of gas-light and is recognized by CAMRA as one of Britain’s Real Heritage Pubs. The Beehive serves locally-brewed ales and we sampled two of them. Black Sheep Best Bitter was the first. Our itinerary was quite flexible and on the first day of the trip we didn’t know we’d make it to Masham, to visit Black Sheep and Theakston breweries, so we drank this one as soon as we saw it. The name Best Bitter is quite accurate – it is one of the best bitters I have ever tasted. Clear golden brown with white head. Toffee, nutty, earthy aroma, full, robust, toasty bitterness, medium body, long, bitter, earthy finish. Next comes Saltaire Blonde, from the nearby town Shipley, home of Shipley Glen, the location of many yesteryear adventures. 4% abv. blond ale that’s also available in bottles in the area. Clear blond with white head, Fruit, faint citrus, floral aroma, bitter, slightly hoppy finish. Soft, medium body, bitter, a little dry finish.

We had to make it to Huddersfield that night and satisfy the craving for curry before, so we left after a single round and headed to The Fighting Cock. Located in the Lister Hills neighbourhood, pretty much in between the area where my ex’s friends used to live and the 1in12 club where they used to hang out, I had to slap myself when entering the place. The 19-year-old me would’ve had it so much better had she hung out there! It’s in a street corner, near a discount supermarket, with 2 or 3 rooms (been a while, so I forgot), all bustling with decor and awards and people! Lots of them! It was busy and we couldn’t find a vacant table, but two locals who saw us wandering immediately invited us to sit with them. You can get foreign bottled beer there, but we were there for the real-ale, and as local as possible. We started off with a Book Beer – Timothy Taylor’s Landlord from Keighley. a 3.5% abv. bitter, it pours light gold with white head. Pumpkin seeds and jasmine aroma, very little butterish taste, a little burning and mildly bitter. Medium body, long, nettle-like finish. The burning sensation in the end is very untypical, that’s for sure.

Next we had Geeve’s Smokey Joe. It’s a stout from Barnsley, and I couldn’t skip a beer with such a name, of course! Its aroma was great, with notes of chocolate, wood, old chocolate liquor and delicate smokiness. It’s a pretty good beer, however, despite the smoky notes in the mouth, neither the taste nor the body matched the awesomeness of the nose. Then, another local, Rat Against The Machine, an IPA from Rat Brewery from Huddersfield, yup, the following destination. Pretty good beer, with great citrus aroma and some grainy notes in the mouth. We continued with Bobs White Lion, an ok blond ale from Ossett, and since we had so much fun, we stayed for a third round. We had Copper Dragon Golden Pippin blond ale from Skipton – quite alright and very malty, and abother Book Beer – Pendle Witches Brew by Moorehouse’s. Coming from Burnley, Lancanshire, 26 miles south west of The Fighting Cock, this almost feels like a foreign beer. But I cannot blame the distance nor the pub for its poor performance. Judging from the 5 other pints and half-pints we had there, beer’s well-kept in that place; and 26 miles is practically around the corner, so the buttery, popcorn aroma and taste is, well, the beer. What a shame. We washed down the off flavour with delicious vegan portions at Punjab Sweet House, as recommended by our table buddies and headed to check out the pubs in Huddersfield.

 

Black Sheep Best Bitter, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Moorehouse’s Pendle Witches Brew are beers #404, #405 and #406 I Must Try Before I Die.

English Beer Recap Pt. 3 – Scottish and Manx from Cask!

I should be studying for tomorrow’s exam and I would be studying, had the builders not drilled and hammered the flat downstairs, where the hoarder who turned our lives into a nightmare for the better half of the past decade used to reside. So today’s entry is not procrastination, but rather an attempt to make the most of junk time. Anyway, English Beer Recap is becoming interesting, as I’m leaving the bottles behind and get to write about beers I drank from cask – which means that I’m finally getting to share anecdotes and images from the Real Ale Trail The Secret Agent and I took in September 2013.

A little background – 3 months into my new job at the time, launching a huge campaign that involved emails and phone calls during weekends, Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, lack of sleep and loss of vitality, The Secret Agent bought us tickets to Manchester. Initially he wanted us to go to Scotland, a long time dream of ours and back then – relevant more than ever, as I was managing both The Glenlivet and Chivas brands in the local market; however, due to the little time I had for proper holiday, we “settled” on Yorkshire. A peek at CAMRA website revealed that a festival in York was taking place at the time we were visiting, Good Beer Guide 2013 indicated that there are good pubs in Huddersfield, and thus an itinerary was constructed.

Let’s keep the personal mode here. I lived in Yorkshire in the 90’s. Fell in love with an English boy I met in Philadelphia, where his touring band was playing – I went backpacking from coast-to-coast, from record store to punk show – and moved in with him in Bradford. It was as intense as only first love can be – full of drama and with amazing background music. To stay within the blog’s realm, C and I drank cheap lagers in the local pubs and I discovered Hooch – the alcopop. I also discovered CAMRA then. Found a zine on the counter at the 1in12 – the local club/ anarchist community space/ info-shop – and picked it up. Had no idea what a Campaign for Real Ale meant, or what Real Ale is (though they served some at the 1in12 – I’m almost certainly sure!), but there was a heartfelt diatribe against the favourite beverage category of 19 y/o me – alcopop. I vaguely recall something about irresponsible drinking and lack of tradition, but maybe it’s adult me who thinks she remembers.

Back to the trip. Hotel rooms/ B&B/ Air BnB in Manchester, Huddersfield and York were booked and so was rental car, and some destinations were marked on the map: Bradford, of course, cos I haven’t been there since 2000, and cos I wanted The Secret Agent to visit the location of so many stories from my formative years; Masham – cos of Black Sheep and Theakston; and the Coast. Coast with capital C, because of the brilliant BBC series that we always get back to and never have enough from. As ambitious and thorough as a documentary series gets. Prior to the trip we watched the relevant episodes and decided that Scarborough and Whitby are a must. Rarely in the past couple of years do we decide on destination first and look for watering holes second, but In Good Beer Guide Book And App We Trust. Oh, and some Yorkshire Dales and Moors and country pubs were also on my wishlist.

Before we went, I went through my list of beers from the book. I was determined to drink most of the beers who were listed, but into the second day of our trip I realized that it’s not gonna happen; cask ales distribution depends on so many factors such as pub owners (free house or chain-bound?); regional distribution is a big thing in the world of casks; and ever-changing selection is also something that characterizes good pubs.

This introduction took too much beer-text space, so let’s get rid of the non-English cask beers from the list. Deuchars IPA hails from Caledonian Brewing Company in  Scotland. I found it in a small pub named Ye Dolphin, a small pub in the small coastal town Robin Hood Bay – as picturesque as it gets and one of our favourite spots in this amazing trip. Narrow and steep streets that lead to the foot of the sea, quaint alleys and the end of the English coast-to-coast trail.

coast-to-coastye dolphin robin hood bay

You can see that there’s a seating area outside, and although the weather that day was t-shirt friendly, beergeeks tend to be indoor patrons, where it’s easier to focus on the brew and dwell in the atmosphere. According to the 2008 Book, Deuchars is Scotland’s best-selling cask ale. Book states it’s a 4.4% abv., ratebeer begs to differ and indicated 3.8%. Our beer was clear, golden and had white head. Its aroma was fruity, like preserved fruit, exotic fruit syrup like Monin Passion Fruit, and also had some piss notes. Mild bitter, English hops were apparent in the mouth. Light body, oily, malty finish. deuchars_robin_hood_bay

Second non-English Beer in this English beer recap is Dr Okells IPA from the Isle of Mann. We had it in Old Bell Tavern in Harrogate, a busy place in a location that used to be a toffee shop that also carries a large varieties of bottled and imported beer in a marvelous spa town. We were too busy drinking beer to visit the baths – next time. Last summer someone brought a bottle of this beer to a tasting. It was mediocre at best; however, from cask it was delicious! Clear pale gold with a frothy white head. Slightly citrusy aroma, beet and fresh cut red apples. Bitter and grainy and robust. Medium body, a little carbonated and bitter finish – perfect English India Pale Ale, or Manx, in this case. There are two more beers from Okell’s in the book and I hope to get to drink them soon.

old bell tavern

Dr. Okell IPA and Deuchars IPA are beers #398 and #399 I Must Try Before I Die. More of the Real Ale Trail beers to come 🙂

Let the Bell’s Ring

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Still in a recap mood, there are three beers from Bell’s Brewery in the book. It took me quite some time to hunt the first two and then suddenly, beers by the Michigan-based brewery started appearing in our tasting sessions. Broader distribution? Maybe.

I got Bell’s Amber Ale and Bell’s Cherry Stout via trade last year. Judging from the number of ratings on Ratebeer, Bell’s Amber Ale is one of the brewery’s most popular brews. First brewed in 1985, it’s a veteran craft beer we got here. I shared my bottle at a tasting we held at the pub at work with Nachum, our beer training manager and a legendary figure in the community and the industry alike. Bell’s Amber ale pours murky amber (duh!) with a quick dissolving head that turns into a ring. Sweet, cooked apples aroma, very bitter and a little yeasty taste. Light-to-medium body, faint finish. Drinkable but past its prime.

Next, from the same trade, is Bell’s Cherry Stout, with Michigan cherries added to the brew. The result? very dark and opaque beer that has light cherry aroma, slightly sour taste accompanied by cherry sweetness. Full body, smooth texture, slightly sour finish. Nice.

Finally, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Though widely available, the bottle I got was a little old, which doesn’t do much good to IPA’s. Hazy orange with white ring, floral and a little baby barf aroma, a little floral-honey sweetness with soft bitterness. Medium body, long finish.

I like the cherry stout the best out of the three, and like Bell’s Porter and the Golden Rye Ale better.

Bell’s Amber Ale, Bell’s Cherry Stout and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale are beers #347, #348 and #349 I Must Try Before I Die.

Here’s Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Let the Bells Ring, cos it’s a beautiful song.

No Sleep Til Dunno When.

I always make an effort to Get Things Done on Saturday morning, before The Secret Agent wakes up, in the sense of catching up on personal emails, updating both blogs, reading books and magazines (if “reading books and magazines” is synonymous to scrolling down Facebook) and making time to further weekend activities and studying. But I was so exhausted last Saturday that I couldn’t bring myself to turn on the laptop. Instead, I was sitting on the couch for the better part of the day, slowly studying, doing something that has no relation to alcohol consumption, documentation or marketing – something different, for a change.

Writing during the week is difficult these days as well. New job, so much to learn, so many things to do. I come back home at dusk and just want to eat something and go to sleep, that is if nothing keeps me outside til midnight. Things aren’t gonna get easier anytime soon, but I believe that in a couple of months, when I get a better grip on work, quick updates during the week will come easier.

So what’s with this weekday update? Oh, I spent the day in the field, meeting our customers and learning what they need. Got to soak some sunlight, sat on the passenger’s seat, arrived early and now I’m all charged with energy to report last week’s tasting’s 1001 Beer Book’s samples.

???????????????????????????????It’s a bad picture, taken in the end of the session. First arrow to the right is Thirsty Dog’s Hoppus Maximus that is actually not in the book, but its label is so atrocious, it should be shared:

WTF Label of the Year Award

WTF Label of the Year Award

It’s a good beer though. Bottle was quite old but it still felt fresh and hoppy.

Next – Poperings Hommelbier from Belgium, 7.5% abv. of Belgian aleness, cloudy amber with a yeasty, somewhat medicinal-bitterness aroma and fun taste that reminds me of bubblegum and marzipan. It has a rather refreshing hoppy bitter finish and a light body, considering the alcohol volume – but it works well for this beer.

Meantime India Pale Ale came from a trade I did with a Kansas beergeek. Imagine the journey this bottle made! From the London Brewhouse to its US distributors in Texas, to the Sunflower State to the Land of Rape and Honey. That’s a way more radical journey than the England-Subcontinent route that IPA’s were designed for. The 1001 book tells us that brewery’s founder Alastair Hook’s first ambition was to recreate 19th century style IPA and porter. He conducted historical research, loaded the IPA with Fuggle and Goldings hops and recommends to age the beer in a cellar for a few years. I think this tri-continental journey is enough for one beer. It’s an unpretty cloudy orange with a bitter, leafy and grassy aroma that also had notes of the liquid used to store gherkin and it tastes bitter and rather stale. With a medium body, soft fizz for IPA’s as we usually know them and a long, bitter finish, this is an OK beer, but nothing more. Meantime Coffee Porter, however, was really good with a delicious ash-dry bitterness and coffee taste that has that nice sweet undertones. Its nose matches the mouth, with coffee, cocoa and ash. It has a medium-to-full body that’s easy to drink and smooth coffee texture – delicious!

Finally, Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery that’s located in Orkney Island – a place that’s on our destination map because of the wind and the whisky and, well, the beer. Up to this date all the Orkney Brewery’s beers I’ve drank were in the awesome-amazing spectrum. Sadly, especially because of its name that gives the beer automatic awesomeness points, Skull Splitter is rather dull. Too sweet – cookie-candy in the nose, sweet, a little stale with alcoholic bitter undertones in the mouth. It’s drinkable – . 8.5% and goes down quickly, but there’s nothing amazing (or, ignoring the name, awesome) about this beer and it’s just too alcoholic. Maybe I just don’t get the Scotch Ale thing?

Poperings Hommelbier, Meantime India Pale Ale, Meantime Coffee Porter and Orkney Skull Splitter were beers #261, #262, #263 and #264 I must Try Before I Die

Bye Bye Brewdoggie

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This is the last mandatory Brewdog entry here in this beer blog. Over the past year+ this blog’s been online we drank stuff from this all-too-hyped, ever innovative Scottish brewery in many occasions, the most memorable of which was a thorough Brewdog tasting that included goodies such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Abstrakt 08. This brewery has 4 representatives in the book and in the first few months of this blog we drank 3 of them. Last October friends brought me the missing bottle and we kept it for the right opportunity. We returned from Romania with three bottles and decided to open all 4 in one meeting. When I shared my plan with The Beer Greek, he told me I should get in touch with Maor of Herzl Beer (who is in the process of opening a licensed, rebranded brewery in Jerusalem in like a month from now – yay!); he had some new bottles someone bought for him. Maor was kind enough to join our Brewdog-focused tasting and we were happy to have him over. Sadly, The Beer Greek’s kids were sick and we sure felt his absence.

Here are the beers we sampled:

Dead Pony Club is a pretty awesome American Pale Ale. Very aromatic and citrusy, in the mouth and the nose alike. It feels juicy and it kinda is, with only 3.8% abv. It’s a great summer beer, if Scotland even needs one.

El Dorado is from the brewery’s IPA Is Dead series of single hop brews. I both smelled and tasted mint, something quite unusual. Other than mint I sensed tropical aroma and piney taste. With a light, lager-like body, this also can be a summery thirst-quencher.

Barrel Aged 7.7 Lager is a 7.7% abv. that’s well, aged in barrels. Is this a version of the 77 Lager? Sounds like, although 77 is a standard 4.9% abv. beer and a really good one, too. The Barrel Aged one isn’t. Wine and raisins in the nose, sweetish petrol in the mouth. Medium body, very fizzy, long, white wine finish. It’s just not working, OK?

The Secret Agent and I drank Dogma in Basel last winter. It was good the first time we tried it and it was good on the second time around too.

Libertine Black Ale is a kick-ass name for a kick-ass beer, a rich, interesting black IPA. Dark purple with beige head, slightly smoky aroma and also bears liquor, chocolate and withered flowers. It tastes bitter, smoky and a little salty and has a smoky finish, full body and very mild carbonation. What more can one ask for?

From the back of Dr. Troubles’ fridge came Bashah, a retired Brewdog-Stone collaboration that was bottled in 2009 and resulted in an American Strong Ale that’s blacker than black and smells of liquor and a little iodine.  It tastes very dry and bitter, has full and heavy body, and smooth texture that ends in a long, dry, liquor-like finish. I liked it, yes I did.

We opened a bottle of Paradox Smokehead that many if not all of us drank before but it is one of those beers I can never get tired of but the highlight of the evening, mission-wise at least was of course Brewdog Tokyo*, an Imperial Stout of 18.2% abv. With this high volume, drinking alone is not even an option. This brew, flavoured with jasmine and cranberry and aged on French toasted oak chips is a sipper. A sipper that after sipping I felt a slight regret for being impatient and not aging it for several years. This is a cloudy-to-opaque muddy brown beer with dark tan head. When I first sniffed my sample I smelled smoke and cranberry but then came lots of fruit, jasmine tea and then – ink. It is a heavy beer, sweet, a little alcoholic, liquor-like and perhaps a little soy tasting. Its texture is syrupy and smooth, full-bodied and non-carbonated. Complex and very digestif-y.  If you can get a hold on a bottle – buy it cos its worth it. Just be wiser and keep it for a few years, ok?

Tokyo* (spelled Tokio* in our edition) is beer #232 I Must Try Before I Die. Bye Bye Brewdog, til next time 🙂

Morning Pale Ale

LC Brewing LogoFriday morning, half an hour before I have to go to class. This is enough time for a short post. Let’s start with Little Creatures Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale from Down Under. New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are going to be the toughest nuts to crack in this 1001 mission due to their unavailability outside their countries and the travel plans The Secret Agent and I have.

Thanks to a beer buddy in Northern California we got a bottle of this one, amber in colour and a complex aroma that begins with burning piney sensation that evolves to grass and has some mango undertones too. It tastes bitter, a little dry and herbal and I could even sense basil. Light body and a refreshing grassy finish – a beer you’d like to try too. This beer seems to have a broad distribution, so keep an eye on the label and the cutesy name.

DrakesIt’s 21 minutes before I have to go, so let’s write about another cool beer I got from this beer buddy: Drakes IPA from California, that is very piney in the nose, and hoppy, dry and bitter in the mouth and has a fruity finish. Not too many words for one of the better IPA’s we have sampled lately.

 

Gotta be out in 10 minutes so that’s it for now. Little Creatures Pale Ale and Drakes IPA are beers #217 and #218 I Must Try Before I Die – you should try them too.

 

3 Continenets, 4 Beers, 1 entry

It is time for another random list of beers tasted in a number of occasions over the past few months. Other than basic ingredients the following don’t have much in common, but whatever.

Goose Island India Pale Ale is a pretty much ass-kickin’ IPA. It is amber in colour and has a smooth, peachy aroma with some hints of grass. The taste indicates that the bottle we shared with our friends was a little old but it was still tasty – fruity and mildly bitter. Medium-bodied, fruity finish and pleasing.

5 Barrel Pale Ale from Odell Brewery that resides in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado, is the first beer in the book. It has a beautiful label that looks a little like block-print. Sadly, the beer itself didn’t stand up to the beautiful label. I believe it’s due to age but it was rather stale and tasteless. The aroma was alright though, mango and asian persimmon (also known as sharon fruit) were dominant.

Dragon Stout hails from Jamaica, a country whose rum we love. This stout is high on alcohol, 7.5%, and its recipe includes both corn syrup and sugar. The result: sticky-sweet aroma and an indistinguishable fruity sweetness in the mouth. The beer is not good and its thin body adds to the disappointment.

Sinebrychoff Porter is one of the three Finnish representatives in the book, but the only one that’s actually available outside Finland. However, its source is a Finnish beergeek that traded with the Dead Swedish Girl and Troubles. This is a decent Baltic Porter, black-bodied and tan-headed with roast, raisins and a little wood in the nose. It tastes dry, wooden and bitter and finishes roasty too. It is a decent beer .

As usual, I save the best for last. Tusker Lager is one of the worst beers I have tasted up to date. Seriously. This Kenyan Pale Lager “is best drunk for refreshment – rather than taste” says the book. Writer Tim Hampson actually admits that there’s nothing to this beer, so why must I try it before I die? To witness how shitty it is? I can sure live well without trying yet another piss-looking liquid, especially one that smells like rotten fruit and has no taste at all yet still manages to be disgusting. It has a light body and a watery finish. Now, remember the rotten fruit aroma? Apparently it was a hint to the garbage juice aftertaste. It’s a disgusting beer, I’m telling you. There’s another Tusker beer in the book: Tusker Malt Lager. I’d like to say that I’m not looking forward to drink it but shamefully I do, because beergeekness sometimes equals masochism.

Indeed, Goose Island India Pale Ale, Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Dragon Stout, Sinerbrychoff Porter and Tusker Lager are beers #190, #191, #192, #193 and #194 I Must Try Before I Die.

Somebody Put Something in My Drink

Water, yeast, malt and hops are fun, but an unexpected ingredient (that is NOT Special-K) can take the beer to new and interesting directions. Over the past year we drank a bunch of beers with fun additions,  here are a few of them:

The first on the list is Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA that Dagan brought back from AHA that took place in Seattle, Elysian Brewing Co.’s hometown. This is a beer flavoured with jasmine flowers. It tastes bitter, but in a jasmine tea sort of way (assuming you don’t add sugar to your herbal tea; if you can tolerate bitterness in beer, you should enjoy your tea as is), very mild. The beer smells like white tea with jasmine and that sweetish soda aroma. The truth is that I didn’t like it that much.

Hell or High Watermelon Wheat by 21st Amendment is the brewery’s summer beer – a wheat beer brewed with 200 lb. fresh watermelon. Not sure whether they add whole watermelon or if they get rid of the rind and only add the red fruit, but its aroma reminded me of the inner part of the rind, the white part. It’s a bit tarty, a bit fruity, slightly bitter and quite refreshing. Note the beautiful, detailed illustration on the can.

Pietra is a Vienna lager from the island of Corsica, France, where chestnuts grow and milled into flour. Chestnut flour is added to Pietra’s mash and provides a unique, local twist as well as fermentable sugars. The result is quite pleasing, with chestnut aroma and sweet, nutty taste. Yet there’s something very ordinary in this beer and despite the unusual ingredient Pietra is a decent session beer.

The book lists a beer brewed by California’s Nectar Ales: Hemp Ale. Here, sterilized, THC-free hemp seeds are added to the mash. You won’t get high drinking this beer, but nevertheless you may face difficulty when searching for it. The label on my bottle reads Humboldt Brown, with a secondary title in small typeface “ale brewed with hemp”. The six-pack package proudly states the original name. Maybe it’s a regulatory/ moral compromise? Anyway, this beer is far from being a gimmick. It has a rich malty, cocoa aroma and tastes hoppy and sweet at the same time with chocolate finish.

And lastly, a beer I’ve been looking forward to try since I opened the book for the first time. Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer. Garlic, tomato, oregano and basil in a liquid form? Hell yeah! We sampled it in a ‘specialty beer’ tasting in December. This beer has light body and its special ingredients are very apparent: garlic and oregano aroma and dominant spicy taste that doesn’t leave much room for beer itself. No hops, no malt. It’s a cool gimmick, but not much.

Finally, a much-appropriate song:

Avatar Jasmine IPA, Hell or High Watermelon Wheat, Pietra, Hemp Ale and Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer are beers #182, #183, #184, #185 and #186 I Must Try Before I Die.

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