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 “Porter”

4 in 1

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The night before I flew to my Austro-Hungarian holiday, we’ve been to a tasting at the training room in my old workplace. There were 4 Book Beers in this tasting, a rare thing these days because it’s harder to get a hold on the remaining several hundreds, and moreover, people are more thrilled looking for new and fancy beers than the ones in the book. Cannot blame them really. However, The Beer Greek was kind enough to buy a bottle of Timmermans Framboise Lambic, that everybody, including him, and probably including me, has already drank, as it was distributed in Israel in the past. It’s a lambic with some additives, that pours clear-to-hazy reddish-brown and smells  sugary and of raspberry syrup. Tastes sourish, lots of fruity sweetness. Light body, soft fizz, long sweet finish. Tastes like children’s syrup.

Sailor Tom, who’s been spending most of his time in Ireland now, and always brings cool stuff, shared a bottle of Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale and by that I finished all Irish beers from The Book. Yay! Not only that, but about a month early, Sailor Tom brought Northern Ireland’s representative – Clotworthy Dobbin. Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is actually an APA, but the bottle was probably a wee bit old, and the main motif of my tasting notes was “old hops”. Not too bitter, on the fruity side of things. Clotworthy Dobbin, by Whitewater brewery, was a pretty decent porter. No novelty, no gimmicks, but tasty and balanced. Sweet and nutty aroma, with a little chocolate as well. Nutty taste, slightly bitter and toasty, then sweet. Lightish body, chocolate and nutty finish.

More from the British Isles, a bottle of Exmoor Gold, a golden ale from Somerset, regionally distributed, got it from a trade. Clear golden with a white head. Paper and a little moldy aroma, sweet and old taste. Light body, stale and sweet finish. Not too amazing.

I also shared a bottle of Smuttynose’s Doppelbock, S’muttonator, that my brother got for me in California, I think. Hazy brown with a beige head. Old grapes and dark fruit aroma, sweet, dark fruit taste. Full body, very fizzy and boozy finish.

When we finished the tasting we visited the new brewery. I worked there for almost 2 years and was always too busy or stressed out to go any further from the soft drink bottling line, that was a shortcut to the canteen. So I took a picture:

tempo_tasting02

Timmermans Framboise Lambic, Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, Clotworthy Dobbin,Exmoor Gold and Smuttynose S’muttonator, are beers #439, #440, #441, #442 and #443 I Must Try Before I Die.

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Portering with REL.

general_washington_tavern_porterGeneral Washington’s Tavern Porter by Yards Brewery from Philadelphia is inspired by a recipe that George Washington shared with his officers during the War of Independence. Some may find it hedonistic and inappropriate, to talk beer during war-time, but here in Israel we have a long history of generals and politicians who busy themselves raping, robbing archeological finds, gambling, bribing and befriending the mob, so beer drinking in wartime is peanuts. REL brought a bottle from a trip to the US, and shared it with us. It’s a good beer. Black with tan head. Malty, slightly roasty aroma with prune and date and caramel. Quite alcoholic bitterness as well as molasses in the mouth, smooth, medium-bodied, long, caramel finish. Rich and quite tasty.

drayman_porterFrom the same trip REL also brought a bottle of Drayman’s Porter by Berkshire Brewing Company, that was even better than Yards’. Black with tan head. Dryish malty aroma, like dry toast. Also dry in the mouth, good roastiness and dark fruit. Full-bodied, mildly carbonated with roasty finish. I love me some roastiness in big, robust porters. Thanks buddy!

General Washington’s Tavern Porter and Drayman’s Porter are beers #423 and #424 I Must Try Before I Die.

Past Deadline

When I returned to work after the long Rosh HaShana weekend, The Beer Greek remarked that I flunked the deadline I gave myself. 300 ticks by Rosh Hashana, then by the end of the holiday. I know. I had life to attend to. What can I do?
It’s the morning of Yom Kippur now, time for me, non-observant, to catch up on all sorts of things, from laundry to travel plans to work (cos Paris and London and New York and Dublin don’t care much about Yom Kippur and neither does the tight schedule I’m on in real-life) – and to blog. So here it is – the 300 count-up!

Love this ad.

Love this ad.

Yesterday evening The Secret Agent’s metalhead cousin dropped by. Other than rum educational we opened our bottle of beer #289 – Estrella Damm Inedit. It’s a magnum bottle and we were looking for an opportunity to share it with someone. I fondly remembered this Belgian-style wheat beer, but last night’s bottle was a little oxidized. Hazy golden with a frothy white head – looks as elegant as the bottle – sweet, fruity aroma and sweet taste. Estrella Damm Inedit was created for El Bulli restaurant that was since closed but the beer is still in production. Sexy bottle, if there ever was one, but that’s it.

Then we opened another big-ish bottle, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, beer #290. I love Stone beer and so do the 1001 Beers book editors, as there are 4 beers from this brewery in the book. This American Strong Ale is both very hoppy, fruity AND chocolatey and no, it isn’t cacophonic at all.

this must be tattooed on more than one shoulder

this must be tattooed on more than one shoulder

Blixa and the first beer for the Jewish year

Blixa and the first beer for the Jewish year

Last week, in Rosh Hashana morning, right after I blogged, I opened a bottle of Fuller’s Honey Dew. Timing for beer #291 was perfect, as honey is a traditional new year food – for a sweet start. I try to avoid honey but beer is somewhat of an exception for everything in life.  The UK’s first organic beer pours honey-gold and smells like honey that was left standing and became sweeter and thicker. Honey also dominates the mouth but this is definitely a beer, and a good one, too, with nice maltiness, full body, and a lingering, honey-bitter finish.

Later that day we drank beer #292: Svyturys Ekstra – good-for-a-hot-day-on-the-beach kind of helles that smelled a little corny, even though it contains rice. The Secret Agent and I are not the target audience for beach beer .

Let’s move on – just before Rosh HaShana 4 of us gathered at the Dancing Camel Pub for a small tasting/ rating/ untapping/ ticking session. The Secret Agent didn’t join me, so I brought bottles that he could care less about, i.e. ‘exotic’ (i.e. nasty) lagers from Tahiti and Laos. Yup – after months of searching I finally found a bottle of Beerlao Lager – the light one, which is beer #293, another ricey beer. Hazy golden it poured – and I was expecting clear beer – corn and petrol aroma and unpleasing bitter sensation in the mouth. Ugh. Things got better when Dead Swedish Girl schlapped beer #294 – Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter. We’ll be in Yorkshire next week, but our beer sampling agenda is full already so I’m glad I got to taste this lovely roasty-smoky goodness. It tastes a little alcoholic and has these really cool hints of sausage that I’m a real sucker for – guilty pleasure for a 21 years vegetarian…  Beer #295 was a real tread – Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA from Eugene, OR. It’s a good one. Orange, clear-going-hazy with a big white head, faint hoppy aroma of onion peel and floral, oniony bitterness and a little dry – tasty and refreshing. Thank you Baseball Tom for getting your friend to bring it!

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5 more til the 300th beer in this project and I’ll stick to American beers, that dominate the book. Widmer Brothers Hefe Weizen is beer #296 and it is a disappointment: tasteless, aroma-less. This is probably yet another case of getting old bottles to the beer desert we live in, because seriously, our bottle was like a homebrew gone wrong and it can’t be the case. Earlier this year we sampled their Reserve Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout that was wonderful, so I’m sure it’s not the beer or the batch, but rather shipping, storing and handling of this specific bottle. Next.

Great Lakes Brewing Company from Cleveland’s been caught our attention lately, with curious beers such as Elliot Ness and Rye of the Tiger. They have 2 beers in the book: Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold is beer #297 and the second helles/ Dortmunder in this entry. As opposed to the Lithuanian beer above, this stuff is good: A little pickle juice, sweet and a little plastic aroma, sweet  and then bitter taste, pickly too. Medium body, fizzy and yet smooth, bitter finish. Nothing too complex, but something I’d be happy to drink again. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald got its own entry in the best beer blog I’ve ever seen: Beer Labels in Motion on tumblr- whata wonderful homage to a wonderful porter, that is beer #298: very dark ruby-red with tan head. Slightly roasty aroma with a little wine and condensed coffee, tastes roasty and bitter with a little cucumber(!) Medium bodied, slightly roasty finish, robust.

Last two beers in this loooong entry/list are brewed by Avery Brewing Co. from Colorado: beer #299 is Ellie’s Brown Ale is nice and complex: chocolate and warm carrot juice aroma, chocolate and malt taste. Medium body, soft chocolate finish. Avery The Maharaja is the second Double IPA in this post and it is also the very random beer #300 I Must Try Before I Die. It’s a hoppy beer with pine, many flowers and lychee notes that tastes a little old, yet bitter and hoppy with some almond bitterness too. Full body, long and bitter finish.

And now what? 701 more beers to try before I die. Got a couple more that I drank and haven’t written about – hopefully I’ll get to it in the next holiday, around Tuesday-Wednesday, a bunch of bottle in the fridge, an upcoming trip to Northern England and a long journey ahead. At least The Beer Greek won’t scold me tomorrow at work.

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

Monday Morning Blues.

I don’t suffer from Monday Morning Blues, simply because work week in Israel starts on Sunday. Today’s different as the semester begins. Soon I’ll take the bus to work, where a load of missions are awaiting on my desk. Then, in the evening, school begins. A full semester, a re-test in 4 weeks from now. I kinda wanna kill myself or drop out and enjoy carefree afternoons with The Secret Agent, but I still haven’t won that ambitious devil that’s sitting on my shoulder, whispering “study hard and get a degree”.  For lack of a better topic, here are two beers I drank that the only things they have in common are their  their country of origin and their appearance in the 1001 book.

Lost Coast Brewery Downtown Brown, a brown ale with a cubist-like label was sampled at a tasting that was held at the Dancing Camel brewpub. I’m writing this because until recently DC also had a beer named Downtown Brown. Well, ‘downtown’ and ‘brown’ rhyme and it’s not a surprise that 37 different downtown browns are listed on Ratebeer, but Lost Coast’s is the serious/ popular/ widely available of them all. I swear that sharing our bottle on that location was coincidental though. Anyway, the beer pours dark brown with a tan head, as expected from the name and type. The exotic fruit aroma, derived from hops, sweet fruitiness and very delicate bitter undertones in the mouth are far from what was promised in the tasting notes shared in the 1001 book: where’s the nutty aroma? The coffee bitterness? Not in my tasting notes, though looking at the ones my tasting mates shared – nut, caramel, coffee and malt sure met their orifices. Beer had a considerably light body with a nice fizz and long finish where the hops appear with faint bitterness. It wasn’t a bad beer and I certainly wasn’t tuned-in.

Yuengling Dark Brewed Porter hails from the US’ oldest brewery, located in Pottsville, PA, an old coal mining town. There’s a good chance that The Secret Agent and I will visit the brewery one day, as it’s only a 30 minute drive from Centralia (click for vintage-net). In my personal 1001 places I must see before I die, there’s a page dedicated to Centralia (mental note: finish reading Donald Harington’s Let Us Build Us A City by the end of the year. Are there any breweries located in lost/ ghost towns?). This brew is made with lager yeast and is bottom fermented, a method said to be traditional but in today’s perspective is quite unique – it has a light body for a porter and it’s easily drinkable – not at all a bad thing. Yuengling Dark Brewed Porter pours dark opaque brown and smells like the combination of coke and Rosh HaShana honey cake, which in my family it means clove-loaded. It’s a slightly bitter beer that tastes a little like coke. Malty finish and fizzy and fun to drink.

Lost Coast Downtown Brown and Yuengling Dark Brewed Porter were beers #123 and #124 I Must Try Before I Die and now I’m heading off to work and then school. Fall Semester starts today. Guess I should be grateful for the weekend-long semester break I had, ugh!

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.

 

Fulfilling Fuller’s

Tuesday night.  The flat is dusty. A new air conditioner, more potent, less energy consuming was installed earlier. I’m back from work, The Secret Agent is knackered after minding our place and cleaning as much as possible. I jump in and start wiping dust. We are hungry. He wants to go out, to Porter & Sons, for beer and pasta. Comfort night food, after a long, hot day. He takes a shower and we go out. I order London Porter, because they have it on tap and I haven’t drank it in months. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a Fuller’s beer, what there’s not to like? Coffee, toffee roast, wood and even bonfire potatoes in the nose, bitter and chocolate in the mouth. Medium body and a rich chocolate finish – this is a comfort drink, just what we needed.

#91/1001

Temple of the Dog

I’ve been completing an Excel sheet to help me tracking down my progress through the 1001 book, and while transferring data I couldn’t help but notice the relative abundance of breweries that are either called Dog-Something, or have dogs on the label, or call specific beers after dogs.

In the world of Fat Dog, Alpha Dog and even Dogfish Head, there is one dog that makes beergeeks drool like a rabid British Bulldogs: Scotland’s favourite son, BrewDog, that is.

Tomer, owner of the Goose Pub in Kibbutz Ein Shemer, whiskey aficionado and also a BrewDog shareholder, mail ordered a stock of BD stuff. Shachar got a hold of a couple of other Scottish brews. Dagan donated his wife’s scrapbook store and bought bread and spreads, us laypeople schlepped the Geld and thus a tasting was born.

The bottles and our charming host Dagan. thanks DSG for the pics.

We started with a soon-to-be-marketed in Israel lager by Harviestoun, that carries the catchy name Schiehallion. Clear, golden bubbly liquid that bore crisp orange aroma and malt and has a bitter, fruity taste with a sweet finish. It’s a decent beer and one I’ll sure drink again once it’s commercially available here.

Some cases of Butcombe Brunel IPA made their way to Israel. We got to sample this decent clear copper liquid that has a sweet malty aroma that bore some hints of honey and rich, delicate bitter taste – malty and round.  Those nice, potentially everyday drinks, preceded the evening’s real deal, that started with a bottle of BrewDog 77 Lager, Equity for Punks version. Don’t think there’s a difference from the regular other than the EFP logo on the label. The Secret Agent and I drank it before and actually liked it much better before. Whereas in January I was raving about rich, fresh bitter taste, this time I sensed sour and mellower bitter. also, didn’t smell much besides some lemon. It’s a good beer, it was good in this tasting, just not awesomely amazing. We then shared another bottle, that smelled of sweet old malt and tasted better – no sourness this time, but still, far from being awesomely amazing.

Trashy Blonde was better. Cloudy, almost opaque golden in colour, I smelled marjoram and evergreen and tasted delicately bitter ale with a light body and lively fizz. 5 A.M Saint is another beer that I wish was commercially available here – a great beer for everyday drinking. Clear dark copper in colour, light tan head, with pineapple and evergreen aroma and sweet, pineapple undertones beneath the bitter taste. Light body, balanced with an abrupt bitter finish.

Alice Porter was the first BrewDog beer in this tasting we haven’t drank before. Dark purple-black in colour, dark tan head, it has a chocolate liquor with faint smoke aroma and a nice bitter taste. Its body is light, texture is sleek, carbonation is mild and was nice overall. After that, back to the familiar realms of Hardcore IPA, an old bottle, then new. I liked them both, but the new bottle was better: Clear copper in colour, as opposed to the cloudy honey of the old drink, green, hemp, evergreen aroma as opposed to apple cider notes I smelled in the old, better taste, sweet, then bitter, a little more carbonation and sweet finish.

At this point the tasting turned into the event we were all waiting for and the interesting bottles were popped open. Abstrakt 08, bottle #1081 out of 6500. Clear dark golden in colour, with sweet roast, bonfire, potato aroma and taste that alternates between alcoholic and sweet bonfire smokiness. Faint smoke aftertaste, oily texture and light body. Thoroughly enjoyable. Then we made another turn from BrewDog, this time to Belgium. Embrasse Peated Oak Aged (Whiskey-Cask) by De Dochter van de Korenaar comes wrapped in delicate pink-red paper wrap. that hides aggressive aromas and gentler tastes. Tasting notes are similar to those you’d read in anything related to Islay distilleries: fuel, peat, smoke, salt. Texture is smooth, carbonation – delicate. This beer made me happy.

I drank Paradox before. Don’t remember which, but do remember I loved it. In this tasting we had both Isle of Arran and Smokehead – collaborations with two distilleries, cask-aged beer. Arran reveals black, opaque, headless liquid with dry, somewhat smokey aroma and dry bitter taste with hints of wine and faint smokiness. Smooth, sweet finish, no carbonation and good, but not as amazing as Paradox Smokehead. The latter is opaque dark brown in colour, with a condensed tan head that smells of smoke and burnt tires and tastes bitter, like liquid smoke. It’s a smooth brew, with smokey finish and light carbonation. I know next-to-nothing about whiskey, but I’m easy to buy with beer that shares features with distilled barley.

Smokehead must have been my favourite in this session, but the tasting wasn’t over: Tactical Nuclear Penguin, Paradox’ hardcore, nasty cousin, was poured to our tasting glasses and goblets, after being aged, iced, bottled and shipped: Headless opaque beer with brutal tearing tar and miso aroma that brought tears in my eyes. Taste was umami more than anything else – sweet, salty, a little chocolatey, very alcoholic and weirdly amazing. Smooth, oily, very mild carbonation and so, so good.

It was a long tasting and quite a heavy one. Thank you Tomer for your generousity and for bringing me one step further to the finish line. Paradox and Schiehallion are both in the book. #46 and #47 beers I must try before I die.

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!

Smokey America

I spent the first day of Passover vacation studying statistics and reading blogs. Caught up on many months of my beloved The Lope – a must-read to anyone fond of Americana, read a tumblr about food sampled on a Route 66 road trip that took place in December 2010, browsed a motel postcards blog that sometimes also publishes transcriptions of the notes scribbled on the back of the cards and even paid a visit to the Tiki Forums I have neglected in the past year due to beer overtaking my free time. I was in my Great American Road Trip Mood, a mood that rose from the ashes as of late, since The Secret Agent and I have began discussing a trip to be taken place in Summer 2013. A short, 4-6 weeks one that will be focused on people – friends and family who are living the American Dream.

At the moment we are still in the talking stage, no real plans, just a very, very rough itinerary that includes Texas. The Secret Agent and his family visited the Lone Star State in the early 90’s; us two drove through the Panhandle when we did Route 66 in 2007, but (other than friends) we know that there’s more to Texas than what we’ve encountered so far.

what, more than Bradley Kiser 1930 66 Super Service Station in Alanreed?

We know that at least there’s some good beer brewed in San Antonio. Tonight, when the Secret Agent came home, we opened a bottle of Ranger Creek Mesquite Smoked Porter, that I got as a birthday present. I said it before, I’ll say it again – I  ♥ ♥ ♥ smoked beer!

Ranger Creek brews beer, distills whiskey and sells the products in some points in Texas. The Mesquite Smoked Porter is described – both on the label and on the website as influenced by the classic Bamberg rauchbiers. I drank Bamberg rauchbiers both in Bamberg and at home and rauch-wise this one is way more gentler than the German stuff. The beer is dark brown and opaque and pours an impressive big, foamy tan head. The aroma starts sweet and nutty and then smoke appears. Delicate smokiness, that is. Also, I sensed hops, grassy hops.

Mouth was interesting: wooden, smoky, bitter, hickory and a little bittersweet chocolate.

Hickory reminds me of Missouri Hicks in Cuba, Missouri. Being vegetarians, we satisfied our craving a month or so later, munching on vegan jerky in Eugene, OR.

It’s a full-bodied porter, carbonated-to-measure with some malty finish. One of the better beers I have tasted recently.

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