Tag Archives: hops

Hops, Haze and Hype.

 

Hops + Haze = Hype, or so it seems currently. The hype surrounding UK beers maybe isn’t the same as, for instance, the insane queuing (or “standing in line” as they would say) that some crazy cats do over in the States, as recently reported by the NY Times regarding Brooklyn’s Other Half’s limited can releases. I mean, apparently you can actually hire someone to queue for you. I love it. Or you could just drive 6 hours there and back as someone does on a regular basis. I’m not sure whether this happens to Cloudwater, who are releasing the most sought after beers right now in this country. Something makes me doubt it.

I’ve had each incarnation of Cloudwater’s DIPAs since v2. That’s not supposed to be an accolade nor an achievement, and it shouldn’t be. It’s just a way of me comparing. This latest one is different in at least the way that it’s the first in a can, and being a can that holds 440ml, it means there’s a third more beer. Not a bad thing in my book. PS: I’m also not a snob about aluminium cans vs glass bottles: more a celebrator. And so, here we are. I’m sitting here writing this to introduce two of them: Cloudwater’s DIPA v12, and their Birthday DIPA. v12 goes first.

The first sentence on the back of the can starts with: “Mosaic takes the lead” -and I am indescribably happy at the number of beers popping up at the moment showcasing Mosaic hops. They’re my favourite, as I mention ALL THE TIME TO EVERYONE. The aroma is huge. One of those “I can smell the can opening” ones. Pineapple, mango, orange in a big, fruity hit. Resinous, pine notes in the back. Cloudwater have a knack for getting their beers to taste like they smell, and this isn’t really an exception. It’s medium bodied with a lovely mouthfeel, low carbonation (a big yes from me) and a lasting bitterness that leaves an aftertaste that reminds me of that of a pineapple and orange juice. The drinkability of this is silly, but I’m never one to shy away from a strong beer, and 9.0% like this is could be dangerous for some. This could well be my favourite so far. Big words, huh? I can almost hear the echoes of “But… what about v3?!” ringing in my ears…

Birthday DIPA was gifted to me from a very generous friend, and for that I am grateful. It was only sold at the brewery (a mere 4.5 hour drive each way -nothing!) and on Eebria, where you’d have to buy several cans to make it worth it. Unless you’re happy to pay the same amount for the can as for the delivery, which I passed up on. It was made to celebrate Cloudwater’s 2nd birthday: the fact that this brewery is churning out beer this good after only 2 years is just insane, and is little surprise to me that they were recently in the Top 10 breweries in the world.

It’s a super hazy orange colour. Like, think of the “iceman pour” photos of The Veil, Other Half and Omnipollo beers (for the record, I think it’s ridiculous) that you see on Instagram and Untappd. It’s got that “glass of orange juice” look about it, which I suppose is pretty apt. The aroma is all tropical: lots of mango, pineapple and maybe a hint of passion fruit. It’s got that amazing tropical taste following through (again, as it smells) with a decent hit of bitterness at the end. That tends to resonate through at the back of your throat for a little while, with the fruity sweetness lingering, too. It’s a fantastic beer. It really is. It’s two weeks old today, and it’s probably the best it’ll be. To quote the bottom of the can, “Hypey Bday”, Cloudwater.

 

 

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Beer-vent Days 9&10 -Going Stateside.

*Star Spangled Banner starts to play*

Mikkeller hitting it out the ballpark with this classic American-style IPA. Stateside packs a punch at 6.9%, and has a big citrus and pine aroma. I wish this was a little fresher (it’s been sitting around in my stash for at least 4 months) but is tasting pretty good still, considering it’s in middle age for an IPA. 

More of the same citrus and pine coming through but with some booziness at the end. I’d grab one again. Especially if it was new.

Time for one of the actual American beers I have -this is a blackberry sour from Black Market Brewing Company in California.

The smell of it reminds me of cough syrup. Sweet, fruity and artificial.  It’s not got that E-number quality to it that you can get with beers (or any consumables, really), and tastes like sour Ribena. It’s decently sour without making your face feel likes it’s melting, and leaves an aftertaste not too dissimilar to a red wine. At the same time, it feels like I’m drinking a tart cider. There’s nothing I can really pick out that I dislike, but it’s not blowing me away.

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Fuck Lager: This Is Beer.

To Øl. Those brilliant Danish brewers with an affinity for unusual concoctions and fantastic branding. Chances are, if you have to pick up the bottle to see who it’s by, it’s likely to be one of theirs. Previous bottle artwork has included: hamburgers, rainbow watercolours, and the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang. That’s right. The North Korean monstrosity features prominently on their Fuck Art: This is Architecture bottle.

I’ve been unable to write anything substantial recently due to my ridiculous 7 day working week. However, I’m having a much needed break this weekend to Copenhagen, where I will absolutely be paying a visit to the new To Øl brewpub. So, in honour of that, here’s a little write-up of three of their badass brews I had recently.

First up, with a 100 rating on RateBeer, is Black Malts & Body Salts. This coffee IIPA is a heavy hitter at 9.9%, although I found it very drinkable and not heavy at all. It’s got a big coffee aroma, with the hoppiness coming through underneath. Full-bodied, and the right amount of carbonation. Really gorgeous stuff.

On the opposite end of the scale is Berry White: a white ale brewed with blueberries and blackberries. At 5% it’s very easygoing, for me, and this was lovely and tart rather than sweet, which I was happy about. It’s a beautiful pour, and it was like I was drinking some sort of mildly alcoholic raspberry juice. Although I have to be in the mood for a beer like this, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lastly, but certainly the least, is the Sur Citra. There’s a range of their sours, and this is, rather obviously, the citra edition. At 5.5%, it was again very drinkable. It’s a fantastic example of what a sour beer is like, and the wonderful citrussy notes coming through prevent it from being too overpowering. It’s super sour at first, but finishing with the hop flavour. As the weather gets warmer, I’m definitely having more of these. Really thirst-quenching, and better than knocking back the DIPAs…

Black Malts & Body Salts and Sur Citra should still be in stock at Bison Beer, where I got them from, along with a whole bunch of other To Øl beauties. The Berry White was from Trafalgar Wines, who have recently got the Sur Mosaic in stock. That’s definitely one on the wish list.

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Crafted Crate Part 2: Sussex(ish) Edition.

With over 50 breweries in the Sussex area now, we’re spoilt for choice down here, so it came as no surprise that out of the 12 beers in this month’s Crafted Crate, 5 were from Sussex. Vibrant Forest are actually from Hampshire, but they’re honorary Sussex members for the sake of beers grouping nicely together in my posts. (Sorry not sorry).

Gun Brewery in Sussex only recently came to my attention, and I had thus far only tried (well-executed) classic beers from them, such as their gorgeous milk stout, Parabellum. I was excited to try this out, and it did not disappoint. This was huge on flavour, but not overwhelming at 4.7%. The initial smokiness really hit you, before giving way to a whole complexity of flavours. Rye beer has dry, spicy characteristics, and this is paired perfectly with the smoked malt. It’s surprisingly not too heavy, and has a wonderful lingering smoky finish. Great stuff.

I’ve been getting more into white beers recently, and when they’re as tasty as Vibrant Forest’s Belgian Wit, it’s more than worth it. At 4.4%, it’s a great session beer, and this is packed with flavour. It’s got massive carbonation, which can take a little adjusting to at first. The typical orange and coriander tastes are there, but coupled with almost creamy banana notes. Refreshing and enjoyable.

Proving their versatility, it’s back with Vibrant Forest in the form of their 6.5% Kaleidoscope IPA. The aroma is intense hops and bread, which gives way to an almost herby, citrusy taste alongside caramel malts with a dry bitterness on the finish. Tasty, and the ABV is fairly well hidden. This Hampshire based microbrewery was also in fact for responsible for brewing the very first batch of…

Bison Beer’s See Side APA. Only previously been available in bottle, this is the first canned batch of their signature brew, See Side. This is the Citralicious edition: made with a hop oil derived from Citra hops, which are currently in global short supply. The result is a hoppy, easy-drinking brew, with a whole canful of flavour. You can really smell the grassy hops in it, and that follows through to a bitter finish. It’s a little light bodied, but overall, a great session beer.

I love supporting the smaller breweries and discovering others, which is exactly what Crafted Crate are about. It’s great to see more and more great beers from my beloved county, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

 

 

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When The Kernel took over Brighton.

On Thursday April 14th, the beerilliant The Kernel took over the Craft Beer Co. in Brighton with 15 taps of deliciousness. It’s pretty well established that Kernel are one of the very best breweries in the UK right now, which is saying something considering the strength of competition. Excellent beer is turned out, one after another. And, of course, no two batches are the same. Different hops are used, and different brewers produce each set. I’ve had countless Kernel pale ales over the years, from a tiny village in Wales to one of the top restaurants in London. The consistent fantastic quality of them all are what sets them apart from the rest.

There are certain beer trends around at the moment -everyone seems to be dabbling in the beer du jour: the double or even triple IPA. I have no complaints whatsoever about this, naturally, but Kernel haven’t seemed to announce a similar brew. I got talking to one of the brewers about what to expect next, and I was amused to hear that no, they will continue to tread their own path as to what they brew and not base it on current trends. So, sadly, don’t expect a mindblowing Kernel DIPA coming any time soon. However, with the likes of Cloudwater and Kernel neighbours Brew By Numbers coming out with some of the best beers I’ve ever had in the form of their DIPAs, I’ll settle. Instead, Kernel will apparently be focusing on saisons, and judging what was on offer at the takeover, I have no problem with this whatsoever. Of course. We spoke briefly about their famous Table Beer, and how flavoursome it is for a beer with such a low ABV. I’m pretty sure I haven’t come across a beer like it that is so unanimously liked by everyone who tries it, and that in itself is something special.

Sadly, the beer that I first asked for, the Pale Ale Galaxy/Mosaic/Simcoe/Centennial had just gone. As anyone I’ve ever had a remote conversation about hops knows, I ❤ Mosaic. It’s just got a beautiful tropical fruit quality to it. No such luck, so I went for the IPA Citra/Nelson Sauvin/Galaxy instead. I wasn’t intending to go headfirst into a 7% beer before I’d had anything to eat, but this seems to be an unintentional trend of mine. Anyhow. Super hoppy, with a beautiful citrus flavour, obviously, from the Citra. It went down very easily.

That lead quickly onto the Biere de Saison Barrel #30. I was too busy talking while drinking it to note down much, but this was a lovely saison: lemony without being too tart. More of this from The Kernel is nothing to complain about.

They’re not only experts in producing beautiful pales, as proven by their Export India Porter. It’s a lovely beer: dark and rich with roasted coffee notes, but not heavy like a lot of dark beers. Exactly what you’d want from a porter.

I finished on an India Pale Ale Simcoe. It was outstanding, and I wish I didn’t have to down half of it to run down the road to make the bus home. 7.1% of hoppy, tropical fruit deliciousness.

To conclude? Kernel produce amazing beers. No surprises there. They will continue making pale ales that really set the standard for others, in my opinion. Everything about The Kernel is simplistic: the name itself -a kernel is a piece of barley, in a very simple sense; the label did just used to be a stamped piece of brown paper and now still looks the same; the pump clips were and I believe still are pieces of cork; and the head brewer/founder Evin O’Riordain doesn’t like the term “craft beer”, which is somewhat amusing for someone widely regarded as a purveyor/leader/guru (rightly, I’ll add) in the industry. But when you’re making beers this good, you don’t need to be anything else.

 

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What’s that noise? It’s the Yeastie Boys!

The Yeastie Boys of New Zealand have been around for a little while now with their multi-multi-multi award-winning Pot Kettle Black Black IPA, but have recently become a lot more prominent, due to a nice little agreement with Brewdog to brew three of their most popular beers for them up in Aberdeenshire (the rest are still coming out of New Zealand -it will say on the bottle). The Scottish beer-lords have previously done something a little similar with Mikkeller, but gained exclusive import and distribution rights rather than a brewing arrangement. While the demand of Mikkeller rose sharply, no doubt because of the massive publicity that any association with Brewdog brings, I can see this partnership being even more lucrative.

Prior to 2015, Yeastie Boys’ Digital IPA was a highly rated 7% beer. It’s now been taken down a notch or two to a more widely-palatable 5.7%. It’s probably a smart business move, and I could see it becoming the “new” Punk IPA. To have a commercially-viable beer is a good way to gain ground, especially if you’re putting it out there in somewhere like Brewdog -a place that you know will have decent beer, but also has something to cater for your Heineken-drinking mates. Yes, it’s a nice little IPA, but there isn’t really much else to say about it. Something of a decent quality to have a few of and not pay much attention to.

Stairdancer is their 4.4% Pacific Ale. I don’t want to be lazy, but it’s a little more of the above. The label describes it as a “lawnmower beer” and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s got a good malty flavour to it, and is very refreshing, but it falls a little flat at anything more.

I always like a bit of an odd beer, and so I was looking forward to having Gunnamatta, their Earl Grey IPA. I’ve always been interested in teaspired beers since Fyne Ales did a limited edition green tea beer, which was lovely. I don’t recall ever having had Gunnamatta, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s got a lovely floral, fruity flavour, which develops into the tea notes at the end. I don’t think it’s one for everyone, but I like that. Not everyone has to like everything you brew.

A few years ago, around 2011, Dark Star ran their anti-Hophead campaign. It was to encourage people to not drink their own beer, because they had so many other fantastic, not-just-another-IPA beers. I can’t actually find anything pertaining to the exact logic behind it and I’m just relying on my own memory, because it seems to have been deleted from their archives. On one hand, I feel like something similar should be encouraged against the overload of 4-5.5% pales currently that are often indistinguishable from one another. On the other, the influx of DIPAs from the likes of Cloudwater v2 and the upcoming v3, the aforementioned Beavertown Double Chin and Skull King and BBNO 55/01 are more than making up for it. I guess I’ll settle.

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Tinnies – Part Two.

 

Beavertown recently celebrated their 4th birthday. They threw a much discussed birthday bash, and brewed their latest addition to their Barbarian Series – a collection of limited edition double and triple IPAs. A collaboration last year with Boneyard resulted in the first beer of this collection, Power of the Voodoo: an outstanding triple IPA, and one of my favourite beers of 2015. Naturally, I was very excited to get hold of Double Chin, a double version of Neck Oil, their very first beer.

I know I’ve said it several times, but the can is literally a piece of art. It’s a beautiful vessel for a beautiful beer. The complex blend of 7 different hops lends it a tropical, fruity flavour and at 8.5%, it packs a punch. It’s a wonderfully balanced brew, and I’d highly recommend it, if you can get hold of a can. Two wishes for Beavertown: 1) Make this is a permanent addition. Actually, throw Voodoo in, too, while you’re at it. 2) I want this as framed artwork.

Fine. I’ll stop talking about the damn can now…

Moving on.

Mosaic hops are my favourite, and so I chose a can of Bibble by Wild Beer Co. purely for that. It’s a session IPA, coming in at an easy 4.2%. “Bibble” apparently means “to drink regularly” in Somerset, and I can see where they’re going with that. It’s not a statement beer by any stretch, but one you could knock back without trouble.

Grapefruit. Seems to be everywhere. I tried the Magic Rock offering in the form of High Wire Grapefruit a little while ago. Lovely, as can be expected from Magic Rock, but subtle. I picked up a bottle of Siren‘s Pompelmocello, which was nice, but the grapefruit lending more of a sourness to the IPA than really hitting home. I’ve always liked Brewdog, and so was intrigued by their take on it: Elvis Juice.

My God. The smell of the stuff. It’s amazing. There’s certainly no question about the grapefruit notes. I personally like it, but then I love grapefruit. It’s more about the fruit than the beer itself, which I think is where it would be unfavourable to some beer drinkers. It’s certainly refreshing, and stupidly easy to drink. At 6.5%, that could start being a problem for some. As for the name? Who knows.

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East Street Tappin’.

Something always seems to be changing in Brighton, and East Street is no exception. The Bison Arms will soon be opening, Geishas has become Dirty Blonde (where I recently had the weirdest Negroni ever), and The Fishbowl is now the East Street Tap. I decided to check it out on Saturday night.

It promised to be an East Coast American influenced craft beer joint. While it was a generally great bar, I’m not sure it’s really hitting the mark with its identity. I mean, the 8 kegged craft beers on tap included three from Brighton alone. The only American brews were the magnificent Falco by Evil Twin (unsurprisingly and unfortunately totally sold out), and a Brooklyn APA. Thinking about it, I’m not sure Evil Twin can even be classed as that, seeing as they’re originally Danish. Sure, they had a decent bottle selection, but from what I could see, aside from the pretty varied Flying Dog selection and the ubiquitous Brooklyn Lager, it was mostly British. As a side note, these are all in fridges behind the bar, and I don’t think there were any bottle lists, which would’ve been a good addition. There’s some fantastic stuff coming over from America at the moment, and I feel that they’re doing the Land of the Free a little disservice. No lite beer in sight which is, y’know, absolutely fine.

What I did have:
Two Tribes Nitro Milk Stout (5%) – I wanted to give this a go straight off, partly because I was drinking their Island Records Session IPA the other day, and partly because I love a good milk stout. Or stout in general. This was beautifully smooth.

Two Tribes Weekender Pils (5%) – Again, because of the brewery. I wouldn’t normally go for a Pilsner, but the honey notes of this make it very drinkable.

Bison Beer Beast Street IPA (5%) – solid IPA from the guys across the road. Hoppy, citrus notes, dry finish.

Time and Tide Calista IPA (6.1%) – Super-hoptastic! Haven’t ever had anything from these guys in Kent, but I would definitely keep a look out in future.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch (8.3%) – Belgian style IPA. The only American beer I had. Fantastic stuff from these guys as usual. Dangerously easy to drink.

Northern Monk New World IPA (6.2%) – This was a lovely, safe bet to end the night with. It’s made with some American hops. Maybe that half counts. Leeds is a long way from NYC, though.

I’d go back, for sure. The bar had a great atmosphere, the beers that were on were decent, the staff were lovely and it’s open til 4am. But it’s another nice beer place, not an East Coast homage.

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