Siren Odyssey 001

yelling at clouds

Photo 12-09-2014 20 59 59

This is one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. Pours black with a coffee coloured head. The coffee theme continues within the taste together with chocolate and malts which combine to create a perfect blend. Its strong but not too strong and the bottle design is ace as well. Nothing at all wrong with this beer.

Found:Bitter Virtue, Southampton

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Smoked Beer – American: Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers

As the weather is turning cold, but still crisp and people are heading towards darker beers, this week I’ve picked Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers. I think this beer is a great go-between between the summer sun and the Autumn months. This is a smoked porter, brewed with Chipotle Peppers. Smoked Porter is a fusion of the English Porter style and the German Rauchbier (Smoked Beer) style. Malt used in the mash is first roasted on an open flame, imparting some smokey flavours.

Let’s start with Stone Brewing‘s description of the beer:

In 2006, Chris Carroll, a longtime member of Team Stone, took that adage literally, proposing that we produce a one-off version of our venerable Stone Smoked Porter made spicy from the addition of chipotle peppers. We gave it a shot and found that those smoked jalapeños melded quite naturally with the smoldery peat-smoked malt that gives the beer its flavor and moniker, creating a deep, roasty quaff with a carefully restrained tingle of tasteful capsaicin heat in the finish. The marriage of ingredients was so nice that it has become an annual summertime staple, released each May in honor of Carroll’s initial idea that Stone Smoked Porter w/Chipotle Peppers serve as an artisanal alternative to the industrialized adjunct-laden cerveza billed as the perfect fluid accompaniment to the sunny season. Cheers to variety and a quality alternative to mediocrity.

A nice sarcastic style description from Stone as usual, with a little bit of a dig at Corona it seems. It’s to be expected of Stone, and this is one of the little things that separates them from the rest. Although drinking in Summer is suggested, I personally think this time of the year in the UK is perfect.

After trawling through the internet and doing some research (as well as taste research!) I think Stone went all out American for this brew, using Pale 2-row Malt, Peat-Smoked Malt (as we said earlier, but this malt was smoked with Peat like a Scotch Whiskey giving a distinctive flavour), as for the hops, although Stone have let the Chipotle Peppers and Malts sing in this one I think they’ve used Columbus and Mt. Hood. These hops give it a bitterness as well as that American hop aroma buried in there that we have all grown to love over the recent years.

When you pour this beer, you get the usual dark Porter colouring and a lovely tan head. The head has great retention… maybe there’s wheat in this beer but I’m not sure! You can’t smell this beer until you first put it to your mouth, you get a lovely amount of sweet malts, a little cigar smoke and a hit of spicy Chipotle peppers. With the taste, first you get a nice smokey kick from the peated malt, next the sweet portion of the chilli peppers, some fruity flavours brought on from the hops and the peppers and finally the heat. Initially it’s strange having a bit of Chilli heat in a beer, but once you get used to it it’s actually a great addition to this already great porter. The mouthfeel is silky, smooth and finishes sweet and spicy. Once you’ve got over the heat from the peppers, you’ll notice all the subtle flavours from them. I appreciate this beer probably isn’t for everyone, but it’s great on a cool, crisp afternoon to remind you of summer past.

You can buy Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers in the UK at:

Bottledog Kings Cross (The only place I’ve found it!)

If any of your friends are traveling to America, I seriously recommend you ask them to hunt this beer down for you.

Unfortunately, Stone do not distribute properly to the UK at the moment, but for anyone that would like to stock their beers I’d contact Beers Of Europe as they usually have a great selection.

EST. CALORIES: 177   ABV: 5.9%

Hefeweizen – American: Sierra Neveda Kellerweis

This week’s beer is in true classic Bavarian Style – Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, a Hefeweizen.

Hefeweizen is a traditional German “Weissbier” style. Weissbier means “White Beer” and it is called this because at the time of it’s invention, most German beers were dark in colour. The Hefeweizen is a term that means “Yeast White” as this is the beer in it’s truest form, unfiltered traditional form. Although this is an American version, it’s a great example of the style with it’s open fermentation and top fermenting yeast (required by law in Germany in order to call the beer Hefeweizen.) Anyway, enough history, let’s have Sierra Nevada‘s description:

Untamed, unfiltered, and unafraid.

Inspired by traditional Bavarian techniques, Kellerweis is a true artisan experience. With Kellerweis, we brew in open fermentation tanks—a process rarely seen today—to let the ingredients truly shine. The result is a hazy wheat ale—untamed, raw and alive. With a full, fruity aroma and notes of spicy clove and banana bread, Kellerweis is a truly unique brew.

A great description from Sierra Nevada as always, giving a brief bit of history along with how you should expect it to taste then there’s a few marketing bits in there. Sierra Nevada have always been quite grown up when it comes to their take on beer, so there’s no digs at “corporate yellow fizzy stuff” which sometimes can be funny, but sometimes it can get a bit tiresome.

After looking around, and realising that Sierra Nevada now put most of their recipe on their website I found this beer uses Two-row Pale Barley, German Wheat and Munich malts. I like how this is kept quite traditional, but uses the American Two-row pale malt also. It’s rumoured that occasionally Pilsen malt is also used in the brew depending on availability. Perle hops were used in this particular brew, which seems quite traditional to me as they are of German origin but sometimes Sterling hops are also used. This gives the hop profile a nice clean, noble profile with a hint of spice allowing the flavours created by the Hefeweizen ale yeast to shine through. I like it when breweries are more open with their recipes, some people won’t be interested but if breweries share their recipes it means if anyone wants to have a go, they can! Or even use it as a base for something else. Props to Sierra Nevada, one of the few breweries that give their recipe. Afterall, a lot of what makes brewing a good beer is the method anyway!

Moving on, when you pour this beer you’ll notice the fact it is unfiltered straight away, it pours a golden yellow that is very cloudy with a thick white head due to the fact it has a lot of wheat in. The initial smell is brown sugar and clove, banana and a little bit of wheat. This really does smell very inviting and refreshing. The taste is very much like the smell, but better. Lots of Banana, Strawberry and other summer fruit with a slightly pine bitterness at the end reminding you it’s American. The yeast does 99% of the work in this beer and it really is intriguing. After the pine flavours fade you get a bit of wheat and a nice smooth sweet finish. The head deceives as the carbonation is mild to medium and also takes a long while to dissipate. This truly is a refreshing beer – especially in this humid September weather.

All in all, a very refreshing beer from Sierra Nevada and one I will always purchase time and time again.

Kellerweis is a year round offering from Sierra Nevada and you can purchase in the UK at:

Beers of Europe

Beautiful Beers (In Stock at time of writing!)

For any bars or shops that would like to stock Kellerweis, James Clay import Sierra Nevada beers in the UK.

EST. CALORIES: 144   ABV: 4.8%

Fruit IPA – English: Pressure Drop Nanban Kanpai

Although the weather is getting worse, I’m going to crack on with a few more warm (or humid and cloudy) weather beers that I think are great. This week a Wheat Beer/IPA/Fruit Beer mash up from a local brewery, Pressure Drop (Hackney, London). This is a wheat IPA brewed with Oranges and some other citrus fruits. This one is a serious refresher, and seems to be a limited edition or rotating brew as it isn’t even mentioned on the brewery’s website.

Let’s start with Pressure Drop’s description:

Wheat IPA brewed with Yuzu, Orange and Grapefruit

An extremely short description of the beer from Pressure Drop, but they are always a company that leave the tasting notes to you and the rubbish about evil corporate brewers behind. I always get the impression that they don’t bother themselves with anything apart from brewing some good beers.

After doing a little bit of research and talking to their representatives at London Craft Beer Festival I discovered a little bit about the recipe. First, we have the malts which I believe to be, 50% Pale Malt and 50% Wheat Malt. As for the hops, I think they have used Citra and Riwaka hops to go with the Yuzu, Orange and Grapefruit. The hops and fruit really compliment each other and it’s a great choice for this recipe. Whoever came up with this recipe know what they’re talking about!

When you pour this beer it seems quite flat and doesn’t leave much of a head, but it’s an impressive cloudy bright orange. The next thing you notice is a crazy citrus and tropical fruit smell coming from the glass which is unlike any other smell I’ve had from a beer before. You also get some gooseberry, a strange tropical juice and blood orange. This is truly a unique brew before you even taste it! After tasting, initial notes of grapefruit and orange rind, some lychee finishing with lots of tangerine and grapefruit reminiscent Yuzu fruit. As I said this beer isn’t really that carbonated, but it has just enough to make the flavours sparkle. It finishes very sweet but with sour undertones. I can imagine drinking this beer on a beach out of a pineapple! This really is a beer for beer lovers, and one to introduce cocktail lovers to what beer can really be like!

Overall, this is a truely unique brew and I recommend you try it!

You can purchase Nanban Kanpai in the UK at:

Bottledog, Kings Cross

Eebria

Alesela

As I said, it is a limited/rotating release so I’d recommend checking back occasionally if it’s out of stock.

For any bars/shops that would like to stock Pressure Drop beer, I’d recommend contacting the brewery directly. But please be aware, they don’t have barcodes on the bottles!

EST. CALORIES: 195   ABV: 6.5%

8 Ball rye IPA by Beavertown

Great local brew!

Mind Jots and Brain Crumbs

8ball_1_1000

The beer is Beavertown’s ‘8 ball’ rye IPA. Son of the Led Zeppelin frontman, Logan Plant is more importantly founder of this newish Hackney based brewery. The brewery feels very much like a project with its heavily brand-conscious and seemingly rootless style; This is a man who thought, ‘Hell, I want to have a brewery, and I want it to be cool.’ And it was. Kudos to him, he’s good at what he does. Touring the States with his 70’s style psychedelic band he discovered beer in a barbecue joint, experienced that sacred American harmony. “The romance of a brewery, a brewer, of good times” appealed to him and he started up Duke’s BBQ in Beauvoir Town. The beer wing soon expanded, the name came from the location and the all-seeing eye from Plant’s masonic reading material at the time of his logo-search. With their self-acclaimed American influences they remind me…

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Pilsner – American: Oskar Blue’s Mama’s Lil Yella Pils

This week with the sun slowly making it’s way out from behind the clouds, I’ve chosen a great example of a Pilsner by Oskar Blue’s Brewery. Although this one is a summer brew, even if the quintessential British weather sticks around you can still enjoy it. Oskar Blue’s are from Colorado, and often their weather can have a schizophrenic turn as much as ours! The fact that this a year round brew confirms the fact that this is a beer that can be enjoyed all year round as well as when the sun is shining.

Let’s start with Oskar Blue’s description of the beer:

Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils is an uncompromising, small-batch version of the beer that made Pilsen, Czech Republic, famous. Unlike mass market “pilsners” diluted with corn & rice, Mama’s is built with 100% pale malt, German specialty malts, and Saaz hops. While its rich with Czeched-out flavor, its gentle hopping (35 IBUs) and low ABV (just 5.3%) make it a luxurious but low-dose (by Oskar Blues standards) refresher.

 

Quite an informative description that gives a little bit away about the recipie and also slates Adjunct Lager. As I’ve noted before in previous posts, Pilsner is one of the original lager styles and is definitely one of the more “premium” styles of lager. This one is no different and is confirmed in it’s description. I also quite like the fact that it says “czeched-out” as there’s nothing wrong with a Dad joke in a description!

I had to taste this one a few times before I came up with what I think is in the recipe. From the description you’ve got the nice floral, clean Saaz hops, but also I think there’s a little bit of Bravo hop in there too adding a little bitterness and even more floral flavour. The reason I say this, is because this beer is seriously floral in taste compared to the Summerfest I wrote about the other week. For the speciality malts, I think Pilsen Malt, Munich Malt, Crystal 20L and American Wheat Malt are used. This really helps the Pilsner flavour and the Wheat, as always helps the head rentention. I don’t usually comment on yeasts, as it’s always a brewery’s secret but the common one for beers like this is SafLager Weinhenstephan. Judging by the description, I think this is the one Oskar Blue’s most probably went for with Mama’s Lil Yella Pils.

When you pour this beer, it comes out of the can just as described – yellow. It pours with a nice fluffy medium white head that maintains excellent retention and leaves a sticky pattern on the glass as it settles. The first thing you notice is the incredible sweet, bready and floral smell coming from the glass tempting you in. There’s also a little hint of freshly cut grass which is a nice addition. On tasting this beer, the floral aromas really come out in the taste leaving behind sourdough and sweet bready malt tastes. When you think it’s over the floral kick comes back and ends with a subtle bitter and medium dry finish. The beer is quite carbonated, as a lager should be but doesn’t leave you feeling bloated and bogged down. This really is an excellent American Adaptation of a pilsner, and one of my favourites so far. It’s a very smooth, crisp, refreshing brew and excellent for after (or during!) a hard days work. I reccomend drinking it outside, even if it is colder that usual!

Overall, a great example of a Pilsner with an American twist and something I would most definitely recommend as one of my favourite examples of the style.

You can purchase Mama’s Lil Yella Pils in the UK at:

Beers of Europe (In stock at time of writing!)

Hippo Beers

Bottledog Kings Cross (ask before travelling!)

Unfortunately, Oskar Blue’s do not have set distribution in the UK but for bars and shops wanting to stock it I would recommend contacting Beers of Europe as they may be able to help you out.

EST. CALORIES: 159   ABV: 5.3%