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 tag “Brewdog”

Bye Bye Brewdoggie

Brewdog_tastin2013

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 🙂

A Weekend in Switzerland Part I: Beer on the Go

The Secret Agent and I spent the last weekend of November/ First weekend of December in Switzerland. Sort of an early birthday getaway and making my latest biggest wish come true: seeing The Young Gods Live. I wrote about going to Switzerland and returning from Switzerland before, but it’s about time I actually write about the trip. I’ve already written a detailed account about the trip in our Hebrew blog, focusing on date and location, providing travel and (vegan) food tips to the readers. Since the nature of The Beer Gatherer is more geeky, I decided on a different approach for this blog.

First, some background and disclaimer: We spent 4 days in Switzerland, in Basel and Zurich. With 12 Swiss beers in my book, we were also mission-oriented. Naturally, tourists tend to generalize and get a somewhat superficial impression of their travel destination, and despite doing the best research Ratebeer, Google and Bov’s website provide, there’s a good chance we missed stuff or just didn’t get the essence of things due to a language barrier and general cluelessness. Having written that and making this introduction useful in a way, let’s begin with some shopping tips

Actually, in order to get your beer fix to Switzerland, all you need is one tip: Drinks of the World. A small chain that carries, well, drinks from around the world. If the store’s called *Drinks* of the World, it probably means that you can get there all kinds of whine and rum and tequila and scotch, but the truth is, we didn’t notice, because the two branches we visited, in Basel and Zurich, are so loaded with beer that we were almost blinded by the choices we had to face. But first thing first. A small chain, right? It has 5 branches at the railway stations of Zurich, Basel, Bern, Luzern and Winterthur. Unlike other places in the world, Switzerland’s railway stations are well-lit, safe spaces with a thriving commercial space – quite the opposite of Tel Aviv’s Central Bus station, to those who are familiar with the lovely scenery.

We read mediocre reviews about the stores and its selection, but since we compare it to what we know from home, we were thrilled. Europeans, there’s a nice, small selection of American beerP Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Kona, Anchor and Flying Dog (and also some Coors, Miller and Colt 45 if you insist). Americans – there’s a decent selection of European Beer. Good German stuff, Belgian ales, French stuff, English beer and also BrewDog. Everybody, there’s a vast selection of Swiss beer, including gift packs for the indecisive, and also a fair bunch of (mostly) pale lagers from “rare” countries: we couldn’t resist and despite being well aware that we’re taking room from good quality beer we bought bottles from Morocco, Mongolia and Cuba (did read this, Americans? Cuban beer).

Although we decided to leave beer shopping to the end of the trip, we bought a couple of bottles before getting on the Train from Basel to Zurich. We are target-oriented and used the 1 hour train ride to drink Schneider Weisse Original that we bought at the store in Basel. Cold from the fridge, this refreshing, full-bodied wheat beer was pleasing to drink, but since we had to look after our suitcase and share our seats with other passengers and, we decided to give up on the other bottle we bought, and take it home with us.

beer on the train

beer on the train

We visited the zurich store right before getting on the train back to Basel, the night before our flight back home. We bought a bunch of bottles to take home with us and since we had a night to kill at the airport before the morning departure, we decided to make the most of our free time and picked some beer to taste in the vacant airport. Here’s what we drank:

Ratebeerians are everywhere!

Ratebeerians are everywhere!

These were selected from the fridge. Vollmond is domestic, brewed only on full moon for mystical aura and promotional reasons, I guess. It’s a regular lager with a nice label and a nice story behind it, that’s all. It has funky piss-like as well as cooked-veggies aroma and that mediocre pale-lager bitterness, or in other words, almost tasteless. Why is it in the book? Probably because of the full-moon story. The other beers we drank in that nightly airport session were better, with Brewdog’s Dogma being the highlight of the tasting: rich tastes of wood and roast, bitter, a little sweet and a little coffee-like sourness and wood, espresso and acetone aroma.

Schwaben Bräu Das Echte Märzen was quite alright too, malty and balanced, and Schlösser Alt was just great: simple, robust, very drinkable although a tad bit on the sour side. Meanwhile at home we already opened our bottle of Trois Dames IPA from Brasserie Trois Dames, one of Switzerland’s new microbreweries. It’s a huge difference from most of the beer we tastes on our weekend, and that’s a compliment. Murky amber in colour with dry and fruity aroma and dry, fresh bitter taste, it is a good, refreshing beer.

Suffice to say that being true beergeeks, we didn’t only rely on these two chain stores. Paul Ullrich in Basel is another good source for beer and drinks in general. There we also explored the other shelves and let me tell you, their rum section is to die for, with great editions from classic and contemporary distilleries alike. Beer Planet in Zurich has a smaller selection than Drinks of the World, but it’s worth mentioning, because sometimes you can get harder-to-find domestic brews over there. We got a bottle of Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien 2011 there, a beer I didn’t even imagine finding in the German canton.

Stay tuned for more Swiss musings. Meanwhile, Schneider Weisse Original, Vollmond and Trois Dames IPAare beers #155, #156 and #157 I Must Try Before I Die.

trois_dames_IPA

Quadruple IPA

IPA Day in Tel Aviv, poster by Big Bear

How did you celebrate World IPA Day? The Secret Agent and I sampled dozens cups of homebrew in Samuel Adams Longshot Finals event that took place in Herzliya Marine. We drank some IPA’s – I think but I cannot remember – and on Friday joined the local beer fans to celebrate Israel’s humble-yet-fun  hoppy party that took place at Porter & Sons in Tel Aviv. I think that every IPA that is commercially available here was poured on Friday. We focused on new locals, Og Ale Kayzi (Og Summer Ale) by Golan Brewery and 2 new HaDubim and overlooked the small selection of imported beer. Friends who mentioned the so-so taste of the Worthington White Shield reminded us of the bottle we bought a couple of months ago, suck in the back of the fridge and pretty much forgot about. Later in the evening, at home, in front of one of the final chapters of Boardwalk Empire Season II we opened it. It poured murky nutty reddish amber with a tan head and bore flowery aroma with hints of honey. Taste was very bitter and sharp so we let it warm a little; beer was in the back of the fridge. After a while drinking became more pleasant. The bitterness remained but fruitiness came along. Medium body, bitter finish and and overall sense of mediocrity. It felt more like PA than IPA.

The following day, still at home, we opened a bottle of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. We followed The Actuary’s advice, who said we’d better drink it as fresh as possible. This is a generally good advice, that becomes more acute with IPA’s. Torpedo smelled of tropical fruit and a little like candy and tasted bitter and somewhat dry. Its texture was sleek and the finish was dry and long. A great beer but not something I could drink on a daily basis, had I drank anything except for water and malt beverage on a daily basis. Despite its rather light body and despite drinking only half a bottle, the sensation of 7.2% abv. appeared rather quickly.

another IPA we drank recently was Rouge Imperial India Pale Ale that Midi Bear brought from his travels. It smelled OK but not as awesome as other Rouge brews we have tasted;  butter, candy, honey and ripe fruit and tasted sharp, bitter and alcoholic. OK but not the Greatest Rouge Ever (have you seen their Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale? The bottle and the combination almost made me regret being vegan. Almost).

Those who follow this blog may remember that we already drank Brewdog’s Punk IPA. Drank and loved it. A couple of weeks ago we got to sample a milder, 5.6% version of the beer (as opposed to the original 6%), from a can that The Actuary brought from a city getaway in Amsterdam. Well, as much as I like lighter beers or at least the idea of lighter beer, the reduction did not improve this one. Quite the contrary: bitterness was softer, carbonation was softer, aroma is flowery. I liked the old school version better, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?

White Shield, Torpedo and Imperial IPA are Beers #92, #93 and #94 I Must Try Before I Die.

Another recap, oh no!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TBC.

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.

Old Punks Don’t Die – They Just Smell That Way.

Today we opened our bottle of Best Before December 14th 2011 Brewdog Punk IPA. My fault. The Secret Agent has been campaigning for this beer for months, but because of the 2011 beer mission (see this blog’s About page. There’s a link in the header) Beers that aren’t commercially available in Israel weren’t on top of my list. Working in a full-time job and going to school, my schedule, drinking schedule and otherwise, is not as flexible as self-employed Secret Agent’s and more often than not I have to reject his offer for another beer. There is so much Macroeconomics one can digest after drinking more than one bottle of beer.

I liked Brewdog’s Punk IPA before I drank it and even before I saw the bottles in real-life. How can an old punk with a long-time affection for anything Scottish remain indifferent to Scottish beer called Punk IPA (and Hardcore IPA too, for that matter)?

I liked it just as much after I drank it. Pours cloudy amber with a minimal white head, the beer still reeks of orange and flowers – yes, despite the bottle’s age, the hop is still there! Obviously, this is a very bitter beer. I felt citrus on my tongue as well. However, there’s more to it than just bitterness – it’s got body and substance and we enjoyed it.

So, punk. Scottish punk. An obvious finale’ to this entry would’ve been The Exploited’s Punk’s Not Dead. Screw that. Here’s Ex-Cathedra instead:

10/1001 Beers One Must Try Before One Dies.

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