Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Arizona

On the way back from the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Flagstaff. Whilst there’s actually quite a few breweries after you cross the train tracks, I’d heard a lot about Lumberyard and we were on a short schedule. There was also another reason, the fact they do amazing BBQ food. For the starter we got the Nachos, which came with a generous amount of delicious Guac, Salsa and Chicken that had been cooked in the smoker with Tequila marinade. These were probably the most delicious Nachos I’ve had. As for the beer, I grabbed their Big Rapid Imperial Red Ale. Ruby in colour with a good, medium head. On the nose there were nice piney hops with sweet malt in the background. The taste was much the same, a big hit of caramel from the malts and a little bit of burnt sugar with a piney hop hit. For the main course, I went for the Santa Fe burger with believe it or not – Baked Beans! However, these were done in the smoker, and had a distinctly smoky flavour that I really enjoyed. The burger was great, very fresh Sliced Avocado, green chilies, salsa verde and pepper jack cheese.

After this I got another beer exclusive to the brewery, their Imperial Porter with Vanilla Pods and Coffee Beans. This poured pitch black with a small tan head, lots of roasty notes and a touch of vanilla on the nose. On the palate, a bit initial Coffee hit with subtle Vanilla notes, finishing with the Roasty malts. A very nice brew indeed. On the way out, I picked up the taster pack of 4 cans, their Flagstaff IPA, Lumberyard Red Ale, Knotty Pine Pale Ale and Diamond Down Lager. Out of these cans, the Flagstaff IPA was the best and I’ll be reviewing it soon.

The next day we were back in Phoenix, and on our way to a brewery I’d been looking forward to visiting for a long time – Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. Arizona Wilderness don’t bottle or can their beer but managed to be the best New Brewery in the world last year which is quite a feat!

I went for the I got a flight with the De Kofa Extra Belgian Pale ale, Gilbraltar Gose, the critically acclaimed Refuge IPA, Signal Mountain Stout and Woolsey Wit. These were all absolutely fantastic beers. The De Kofa Pale is the nearest Amber coloured one above, with a peppery, clove but nicely sweet aroma and flavour. A nice English style Spicy Bitter finish on this one. The Gibraltar Gose is the closest one in this picture, A big Sour Funk aroma, with Lemon Juice, Light Coriander and Sea Salt. On the palate, a hit of Coriander, Salt and an intense Sourness on the end. Excellent Gose that I really enjoyed. Next, was the Woolsey Wit (one in the middle) On the nose lots of Orange Peel, Coriander, Citrus, Oak soaked with White Wine. On the palate some intense sourness with some great Grapefruit, Orange and Herbal characters. Next was the Refuge IPA. This one is incredible and I really thought it was going to be my favourite of the night, on the Palate and Nose loads of Resinous Pine and Citrus with great sweet notes of Ripe Apricots and Caramel. For a bold American IPA this went down so smoothly. Finally, my favourite of the night – the Signal Mountain Milk Stout. On the nose Milk chocolate milkshake and caramel notes. Big Milk chocolate and caramel hits on the palate to start followed by a surprising fruity element in the middle. The Vanilla and Lactose Sugar comes out at the end as well as the Nitro body, bringing that nice Milkshake character to this beer.

It was time for a bit of food for us, and a couple more of the Signal Mountains, Refuge and Gibraltar Gose. Chicken Patty, Red Pepper Salsa, Sauteed Rocket, smoked gouda, Avocado on a Brioche bun and a lot of Hot  Sauce! This was served with Brewery-Cut fries, cooked in Duck Fat and sprinkled with Rosemary and Sea salt. Both of these were absolutely delicious and I can’t really fault the Beer or Food here. Unfortunately, it was time for us to leave.

The next, and final day we decided to walk 5 minutes from our Hotel to the Scottsdale Beer Company for some food and to try their beers.

I went for the Kettle Monster Double IPA, Old Town Hoppy Brown, Texas Tea Double Chocolate Imperial Stout, Uncle Rico’s Red Ale and Orangedale Wheat Ale. The Kettle Monster was a great IPA, tonnes of resinous Pine on the nose and big Citrus hits on the Palate. Very bitter, but in a great way! The Old Town Hoppy Brown was very Toffee and Caramel orientated on the nose, but when you tasted it the Citrus hops soared above the Toffee and Caramel backbone. Different for a Brown Ale, but very welcoming! Next was the Texas Tea, the aroma had huge Chocolate and Roasty notes. When you taste it, it offers nice silky Chocolate to begin with, going towards Roasty malt and a little Coffee on the finish. The Uncle Rico’s was a very well balanced Red Ale with nice Caramel hits with a little resinous Pine in the background. Finally, the Orangedale Wheat Ale, this one’s definitely a warm Weather beer! Pilsner style aromas, with some Orange Peel and Clove on the Palate. Very light bodied and would be perfect for those hot summers in Arizona. As I’d had quite a bit of lovely Southwestern Food during the day, I had the Chicken Chop Salad. Chicken, Black Beans, Corn, Avocado, Tomatoes, Spring Onion, Cucumber, Red Bell Peppers, Queso Fresco and Coriander-Lime Vinaigrette. This was such a fresh, tasty Salad and very nice on a warm evening.

My trip to America was over, I visited some great breweries and had some amazing beers. Every Brewery does absolutely incredible food, and I think that’s really helping the Craft Beer boom there.

Until next year, where I’ll be visiting San Diego for a much longer time!

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Milk Stout With Chocolate and Peppermint – American: Twisted Manzanita Enlightenmint

This weeks beer is something I enjoyed thoroughly in San Diego, and was one of the highlights of the trip. Twisted Manzanita Enlightenmint – A Milk Stout with Chocolate and Peppermint. I enjoyed this beer in their Pacific Beach Taproom, a must visit and something I included in my post earlier in the week.

Let’s start with Twisted Manzanita‘s description of the beer:

– Memorable like your favorite holiday treats; Big chocolate with a peppermint burst.
– Flaked barley gives it a creamy, robust body that supports the delicate flavors to the finish.
– Full-bodied and dark as night for maximum enjoyment on a winter evening.

Short but sweet description, which I’m always a big fan of. There’s hints at the flavour, and even the recipe which is always good, but then the real tasting notes are left up to the drinker – which I always find enables you to enjoy the beer more. Although it’s suggested that it’s enjoyed in winter, I had this beer on a warm evening in San Diego and have no regrets!

As for the recipe, let’s start with the malts and fermantables. 2-Row, Crystal 60, Special B and Chocolate Malts are used, with Flaked Barley as a fermentable to add a little body and make it a bit creamier. The hops are Kent Goldings or Mt Hood, as they don’t take a front seat in the brew. Cocoa and Peppermint are added during the boil and Peppermint and Lactose (Milk Sugar) are added during Primary Fermentation. Essentially, this beer is Dry-Minted!

This beer pours Pitch Black with a good sized Tan Head that retains well, leaving a little bit of spotty lacing. On the nose there’s a huge hit of what I can describe as Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate notes, even more Peppermint, Caramel and Cocoa Powder. When you taste this beer, it’s incredible how much the Mint has worked it’s way into the flavour, lots of Peppermint, Cocoa Powder, Chocolate Ice Cream, a little bit of Nut and finishes with some more Sweet Peppermint. This beer grows on you even more as you drink, you can’t tell it’s 8% at all. This beer has a good, creamy sticky body and finishes medium with a touch of bitterness. I’m definitely going to be bringing back more than one bottle of this next time I visit!

Currently, the best way to get this beer is by stocking up on a visit or if you have friends in California, ask them to send you some of this lovely stuff! I’ll definitely be trying to get my fair share!

EST. CALORIES: 240   ABV: 8%

Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Southern California Pt. 2

After trying more than my fair share of Beers at Stone the night before, it was time to go to Ballast Point Taproom and Kitchen at India Street, San Diego. Everyone told me that this is the best of the Ballast Point Taprooms, so I chose this to sample some of their beers and get some grub to line the stomach from the day before! The Taproom and Kitchen do fantastic food, we shared some Crispy Duck Nachos (Blue Cheese Sauce, Duck Confit, Pickled Onion, Arugula (Rocket) and Port Reduction) and as I was in San Diego, I went for the Fish Tacos. Both dishes were absolutely delicious, and very reasonable. As we had to drive back to LA (luckily I wasn’t doing the driving) later on in the day, I decided to try as many beers as possible before we had to go.

I started with a Sculpin IPA, the classic Ballast Point brew, which in my opinion is the IPA it’s hyped up to be and then moved on to a flight of Grapefruit Sculpin, Habanero Sculpin and the Black Marlin Porter. The Grapefruit Sculpin is coming up in my reviews next month but is a truly a World Class beer. The Habanero Sculpin was interesting, as I’m a self confessed Chilli Head I had to try it and I absolutely loved it. The nose is full of Citrus Fruit, Orange Peel and some resinous Pine in the background. On the Palate, there’s a nice initial Citrus and Pine from the hops with the Habanero building in the background. The Chilli isn’t for the weak hearted, but is a nice burn that builds as you drink. The Black Marlin was an equally good Porter, with Big Roasty notes on the nose with Raisins, Stone Fruits and a touch of Citrus on the finish. On the palate, a big Roasty Chocolatey note, with Caramel and Brown Sugar. Fantastic Mouthfeel on this one. Next up, I had a Ginger Big Eye IPA and the Sour Wench Berliner Weiss with Apricot and Peach. On the Nose the Sour Wench has a huge Apricot and Peach Aroma, with a little bit of woodiness from the stones of the Fruit and that familiar funky wheat and Lactobacillus Sour odor. This one is very tart to start off with, followed by the Sour Peach. Apricot lingers on the finish. As for the Ginger Big Eye – where do I start? Big Eye IPA is just as legendary as Sculpin. On the nose there was a big Ginger hit, with Grapefruit, Citrus and a little Soapiness. Although this has a huge hit from the Citrus, Grapefruit and Pine from the Hops, the Ginger is very prominent and compliments the Fruitiness from the Hops.

After this, we headed down to Pacific Beach to visit a smaller Brewerys Taproom – Twisted Manzanita. I got a flight here as time was running by and tried the Gillespie Brown (Brown Ale), Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Stout with Ancho and Habanaro Chillis), Rustic Horizon (Red Ale), Prospect Pale (Pale Ale) Iron Mountain (IPA), Enlightenmint (Milk Stout with Peppermint). I started with the Brown Ale, it pours with a Small Head but with great lacing. On the nose some Pine Nuts and Roasted Malts, when you taste it, it’s warm and boozy with Rasins, Piney Hops and a touch of Chocolate. Apart from the Enlightenmint, which I’ll be posting about on Friday, the Hot Chocolate was my favourite. It’s black as night with a tan coloured ring around the glass. On the nose you get big Chocolate and Coffee aromas and the Chilli is hidden very well, very sweet. On the Palate is where the Chilli comes into play, first a nice smooth Chocolate note that carries all the way through, then the Chilli kick, lots of Citrusy and Hot Spicy notes. Finishes smooth and spicy. The Rustic Horizon was a standard, well balanced Red Ale with Big Pine Notes and a nice Caramel Malt Backbone, The Prospect Pale was very well balanced also, with big Citrus aromas and a bready Malt Backbone. I’ll be Posting about the Enlightenmint on Friday, as it was probably my favourite of the entire San Diego trip!

I really liked Twisted Manzanita Taproom’s vibe, the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable and the decor was quite industrial and basic. The music in this place, and Ballast Point were the best of the entire trip. Although it was a short visit, it was time to leave San Diego.

The next day we made the long drive up to the Central Coast to Visit Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks in Buellton. Unfortunately due to the famous California Traffic, we missed our tour which was a shame. Luckily, Firestone Walker have a Taproom and Restaurant attached and we thought we’d take full advantage. By this time we were really hungry, and there was a table free for us straight away. I dived straight in with the Spicy Chicken Drumettes as an appertizer and a small measure of Velvet Merkin – a barrel aged version of their Velvet Merlin stout. Though I’d had it before when they came to visit in London, it really is a great beer and I wanted to try it fresh.  It’s Jet Black, and the Aroma was a little different. Lots of chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted bread. The Palate had big brown Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Cocoa, Coffee, and Fig notes. There’s a distinct woody finish on this one. 

It was time to order the main course, and I went for the Sirloin Coulotte Steak with Shallot Butter, Fried Fingerling Potatoes and Chili-Lemon Broccolini and an Union Jack IPA. I must say again, that the food is truely delicious in this place and I really recommend having some if you visit. As for the Union Jack IPA, it was just as good as I remember. On the nose there was lots of Earthy Pine, Grapefruit, Citrus and a touch of sweet malt. The taste really is what makes this beer, some Pine Sap, Citrus, Grapefruit, Tropical Fruits with a great Malt Backbone riding throughout. What an IPA. I decided to skip dessert and go for an Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale and a Velvet Merlin on Nitro next.

The Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale was interesting, the fact it’s unfiltered really changes the aroma of this. Loads of Oak on the nose with Nutty Malt and a little bit of Vanilla Spice coming through. It tastes a little different too with big hits of Vanilla and Oak as well as the lovely Pale Malt backbone and fresh Bread Dough notes. What a great, simple beer! Next up was the Velvet Merlin on Nitro, I’ll start unusually by commenting on the Mouthfeel. The Nitro really improves this beer! The mouthfeel was like a Guiness, but this has way more flavour and aroma. On the nose there’s Roasty Coffee, Chocolate and a Milky Sweetness. The Palate is a tiny bit tart and dry, but with big hits of Milk Sweetness, Coffee and Chocolate. What a great way to end. After this I popped into the Barrelworks shop and picked up a bottle of the well known Parabola, which I’ll be reviewing in the future after it ages a little while!

Last, but definitely not least, we visited the Libertine Brewpub in Morro Bay which was Excellent. Unfortunately I was driving, but still managed to taste one of their Sours along with two other very good beers. I started with the Libertine Framboise, a beer I’d wanted to try for a long time. The Sours Libertine make are famous, if not notorious with people that have tried them! On the Nose a lot of Belgian funk and Sour Strawberry, the taste was great. If you haven’t tried a Sour, I wouldn’t recommend this as the first one, but it is delicious. Lots of Sour Strawberry and Funky Lacto notes with a great Wheaty backbone throughout. A great beer, I witnessed someone else try it and pucker. The Barman pointed at the sign above the Bar – “Ya, We Know It’s Sour.”

Next up, we decided to share a small measure of the Lost Abbey 10 Commandments – As you can see above, it’s got Honey, Raisins and Rosemary. Lost Abbey make Belgian inspired beers, and this one is a 12% Dark Strong Ale. It pours Jet Black, on the nose Chocolate, Molasses, Ginger, Honey, Coriander, Light Coffee and Nutmeg. The Flavour on this one is so complex, Raisin, Caramel, Gingerbread, Thyme, Molasses, Pink Peppercorn, some toasted Rosemary notes and a touch of Anise.

Finally, we shared a Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, a Black IPA I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Partly because of the name, and partly because Firestone’s IPA’s and Maltier offerings are great and I was interested on how they’d do a Black IPA. It pours Jet Black with a Tan Head, on the Nose plenty of Roasty Notes with Pine and Citrus coming from the Hops. They must’ve put a lot of Hops in this one, because they really cut through! There’s also some traces of dark fruits. The Palate on this one is lovely, it starts with a big Roasted Malt kick and as it fades into the background the Clean Citrus tones from the Hops come through, building up to a Roasty, Bitter finish. What a great beer!

That’s it for California. I had a great time. The vibe in all the beer-centric places I went were amazing, the food’s great even if you’re trying to eat healthily and great Beer is everywhere. Join me next week for my adventures in Arizona. Sorry this post was late, we had some Computer trouble!

IPA – American: Stone Enjoy By 4/20/15 IPA


This week’s beer is something I picked up whilst in California. Stone’s Enjoy By series is quickly becoming a very sought after beer, and I was happy to sample a few and bring a couple back.

Stone’s idea was to make an IPA that doesn’t really last, which means you definitely need to drink it by the “Enjoy Date.” What better way to advise people than to plaster it on the front of the bottle as part of the name? I picked up the Enjoy By 4/20/15 (20/04/15), also lovingly called “Enjoy by 420” by lover’s of Hop’s naughty cousin.

Let’s start with Stone’s Description of the beer.

You have in your hands a devastatingly dank double IPA. Freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, hoppy IPAs – but we’ve taken it further, a lot further, with this one. We brewed this IPA specifically NOT to last. We’ve gone to extensive lengths to ensure you get your hands on this beer within an extraordinarily short window, and we’ve sent a very clear message in the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right NOW to enjoy this IPA!

I’m enjoying the Stone bravado on this description and the fact they changed “fresh” to “dank” in the description. Dank is a word that’s used to describe Hops as well as the “other hop” so it’s a good play on words. As I said, the date is plastered on the front of the bottle as part of the name, and I don’t think another brewery could do it and get away with it like Stone do.

Let’s start with the Hops on this one, as there’s a lot! Centennial, Warrior, Amarillo, Northern Brewer, Simcoe, Cascade, Motueka, Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy are used. It seems like Stone threw their whole store of Hops at this one, excluding a couple and it definitely shows. As for the malts in this beer, we’ve got 2-Row and Maris Otter Pale. A nice basic base for a lot of hops. After this it’s Dry hopped for around 7 days whilst it ferments with a good, clean, hardy yeast like San Diego Super.

This beer pours a nice translucent Orange with a Medium white head. The retention on this one is great, especially for a 9.4% brew. When it starts to dissipate, it leaves rings around the glass as you drink down. On the nose, wow, you can really tell there’s a lot of hops in this one. Mango, Pineapple, Orange and Tropical Fruits hit first, with a touch of Pine and Sweetness from the Malt on the finish. Whilst drinking this beer, the first thing you’ll notice is the bitterness from the word go. On the Palate lots of Pine, Citrus Peel and Tropical Fruit. This is definitely an IPA for warm weather, although it could also work in the colder months as that Alcohol is detectable but not overwhelming. On the finish there’s a few Grapefruit notes and a touch of sweetness from the Malt. The beer is surprisingly smooth, and although starts bitter and dry, finishes sweet with good carbonation. If you can get your hands on this one, I really recommend you do!

Your best bet to find Stone’s Enjoy By IPA’s in the UK are in Brewdog bars across the country, you could always import from Quality Liquor Store or Craft Beer Kings if you really want it! Alternatively, if you have friends in California, ask them to send you some of the next iteration!

EST. CALORIES: 282   ABV: 9.4%

Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Southern California Pt. 1

I recently visited some friends over in California and Arizona, and thought I’d have a look at as many beer places as possible. Naturally, there were a few food places on the way too! After getting over my jetlag (and shamelessly drinking a 6 pack of Ballast Point Sculpin’ IPA the night before) I decided to go down to Plaza Market, also known as Craft Beer Kings to see Moe, one of the managers as he kindly had some beers saved for me.

Plaza Market’s Extensive Fridges

The shop is located in El Monte, which is North LA close to Pasadena and East Los Angeles at 2400 Peck Road. It’s quite easy to get to, just make sure you avoid the hideous LA traffic as best you can. It’s quite modest looking from the outside, and even sells usual stuff American Liquor Stores do, but do not be mistaken. Once you walk to the back of this place, you know what it’s all about. Rows and rows of Fridges with Craft Beer from all across the US and the rest of the world. I was pleasantly surprised to see a good offering of Belgian and British beers too. As well as the fridges pictured, there’s great beer dotted all around this shop, and another isle for beers that don’t need to be kept as cold with glassware to match. I was just about to ask for Moe, when he stepped out of the office as he recognised me. From my experience, bottle shop managers aren’t always the friendliest types but Moe was very welcoming and it was nice of him to save me some great bottles of beer from the likes of Russian River, Firestone Walker, Avery and more (look for these in reviews soon). He was even nice enough to gift me a bottle of Founders KBS, which has long been sought after. Review on that soon! After looking around I selected some more bottles and a glass for Review purposes (I wish I could bring it all home!) Moe was nice enough to give me the glass for free. It all totaled around $100, which was not bad at all. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you really need to give this place a visit!

Golden Road Brewing

As we were a short drive from Glendale, we thought we’d visit the Golden Road pub for a bite to eat and a beer or two. I must say, I really enjoyed the brewery’s location in an industrial area next to a train track with the backdrop of the Verdugo Mountains. The entire complex is quite large, but it’s nice to think that they started in one building and slowly bought the others while expanding.

Inside Golden Road’s Pub

As it was quite busy, we opted to sit outside but made our way to the bar first. We ordered a Carry On Citrus Ale and a Trouble Ahead Red Ale. I like how most of their beer names rhyme. My favourite out of the two was the Carry On Citrus. It’s a Hopped up American Pale Ale with Local California Citrus added. The Citrus really carried through in the beer, although it wasn’t overpowing and well matched with the hops and malt. The Trouble Ahead Red was great too, just enough hoppiness to assert it’s American brewed source, but the Caramalt and speciality malts made a very balanced brew.

Outside at Golden Road’s Pub

I enjoyed sitting outside with the omnipresent California sun bearing down on us sampling the beers, then as one of the Golden Road staff came over, I remembered another great thing about drinking in America… table service! I opted for the Avacado Tacos and the popular 2020 IPA. The food arrived pretty quickly and was fresh and delicious, the 2020 IPA washed it down well with hints of Citrus as well as a big Pine Character which was very bold. Not a bad day all in all!

Windward and Pacific Ave.

The next day, we stopped off in Venice Beach to have a walk around. Venice is a pretty damn crazy place, but it’s worth a visit. Whilst we were there, my good friend said we should check out the Venice Ale House. I’m not one to turn down a beer, so off we went!

The Venice Ale House is a small place right on the Boardwalk, with a big selection on their “Almost Always On Tap” list. I opted for a Smog City Brewing Groundwork Coffee Porter. I was saving my “Hoppy” Palate for the visit to Stone later on in the day and there’s nothing wrong with a Porter whilst enjoying good weather. The beer was really crisp with a huge Coffee Hit! Venice Ale house have a really good food menu as well as a great beer list, and I recommend a visit! After this, it was time for the long drive to Escondido to get to the well-known and loved Stone World Bistro and Gardens.

Stone World Bistro and Gardens, Escondido. Click the picture for more pictures!

As soon as I got to Stone, it was a long drive from Venice and the only thing on my mind was the food. Which is lucky, because Stone World Bistro also do some World class food as well as World class beer! I opted for the starter of Hummus and Crackerbread and for the main, Peruvian Chicken. Both really hit the spot, and were cooked and spiced to perfection! Now for the beers. I tried to go for stuff I couldn’t usually get my hands on and started with the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA Aged in Red Wine Barrels. It arrived a Murky Orange with a decent head on it with pretty good retention. On the nose there was some funky Belgian yeast, some nice woody tones and a touch of Citrus and Tannic Red Wine notes. On the Palate it was much the same, but with the well balanced flavours of the original beer coming through with some Sour Notes which was welcome. Probably my favourite of the night. Next up was the Cali-Belgique in White Wine barrels, which was on cask. Personally, this one wasn’t my favourite but still very well balanced. This one was a little boozier, with more of the Grape flavours coming through. Also, there was definitely more of a yeast note as the beer was unfiltered as well as cask – an admirable feat! After this I had the usual, Stone IPA, Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Pale Ale, Stone Ruination. All in fine condition as expected. I then tried the Go To IPA and the Delicious IPA side by side and enjoyed the Go To IPA a lot more. The Delicious was more like a sweet hop tea. Not my thing. After this, time was getting on so I went for the heavy hitting Enjoy by 420 IPA which I’ll be blogging about this Friday and the Chai Spiced Russian Imperial Stout. The Chai Spice was spot on, but I forgot how much this beer isn’t an easy drinker and it took me a while to drink! Don’t get me wrong though, the beer was fantastic, not much head apart from a caramel coloured ring around the glass with tonnes of Roasty Coffee, Rich Dark Chocolate and Chai on the nose. On the Palate the Chai Spice and Coffee are definitely the main flavours first, leaving a creamy chocolately bitterness behind with a hint of booze.

The Atmosphere at Stone was absolutely incredible, they have a huge Garden out the back with it’s own stream, waterfalls, wildlife and more. It’s a must visit if you go to California. It really is a beautiful place.

That’s it for Part 1. Join me next week for Part 2, with a visit to Ballast Points Tasting room, Twisted Manzanita, Firestone Walker Barrelworks and more!

Sour – Collaboration: English: Wild Beer Co. New Zealand: Good George Beer English: Burning Sky Shnoodlepip

Well, I’m back and trying to fight my jetlag whilst writing this, I think that’s why the picture I took of this one looks extremely sinister (a complete accident). But what better way to cure Jetlag than a great Sour Beer and a bit of Sunshine?

This Friday’s beer is Shnoodlepip. A collaboration of Wild Beer Co from Somerset, Good George Beer from New Zealand and Burning Sky in Sussex. What I admire about Wild Beer Co is that they really push the boundaries of beer, and teaming up with these other craft brewers meant that there definitely wouldn’t be an exception to the regular schedule, if you can call their brewing schedule regular!

Let’s start with the online description of the beer:

A collaboration of three brewers, three nationalities and six ideas brought together to learn, experiment and enjoy. Made by Kelly Ryan from Good George Beer in NZ, Brett Ellis (originally from the US) from the Wild Beer Co, and Mark Tranter from Burning Sky Brewery. This beer explores new ideas, techniques, ingredients, combinations and processes.

Using all three brewers combined knowledge and experiences to create an incredibly unusual and complex beer, this utilises every opportunity to take advantage of amazing ingredients and try alternative techniques.

Full body, gentle-sweet spiciness, a dry depth with oak undertones, and tropical fruit character, all finished off with tangy Hibiscus flowers – this is one shnoodlepippin beer!

I like this description, it’s very light hearted, gives you an insight into how the beer was brewed and the story of the collaboration. What’s also great about it, is that it doesn’t give too much away and although flavours are mentioned, it leaves it open to the “beerholder” (a phrase I learnt in the United States last week!)

Let’s start with the hops in this beer, I believe that the New Zealand influence is definitely on the Hop front and New Zealand Pacifica Hops have been used. As for the malts, I think Two-Row and Caramel Malt have been used, using the Sour Mash method along with Somerset Sharpham Farm Spelt. During Secondary Fermentation in Red Wine Barrels, the Pink Peppercorns are added. Later on, it’s “Dry Hopped” with the Hibiscus and Passion Fruit for a little longer to ensure the flavours come out in the final product. It’s fermented with Brettanomyces Yeast to really get the residual sugars out and create even more of a sour flavour.

When you pour this beer, it’s a very colourful Orange with a medium head which dissipates very quickly. I’d also say it’s as fizzy as Champagne. On the nose there’s lots of Brett Yeast aromas, Spelt which is similar to Wheat in the aroma, Passion fruit and some peppery notes with hints of Honey and Summer Berries. On the Palate it’s a little less complicated, but still delicious with a lot of Sour Brett Notes with Passion Fruit and a light Peppery note in the background, malty sour mash flavours carry throughout. It’s quite a thin feeling beer in the mouth but, as I said the beer is very fizzy and the bubbles more than make up for the body and bulk it up a little. I often find that Sours that have a little more bubbles always go down very well. It finishes dry.

This is a perfect Spring beer, if you can get your hands on it!

You can buy Shnoodlepip in the UK at:

Amazon (out of stock)

The Pint Shop, Cambridge

Bottledog, London

EST. CALORIES: 195   ABV: 6.5%

Barrel Aged Scotch Ale – Scottish: Brewdog Bourbon Baby

This week’s beer is a Barrel Aged beer that you could actually determine as a Session Beer. Bourbon Baby, by Brewdog. The beer starts life as a Scotch Ale, and is then Barrel Aged. Quite an interesting concept, and definitely one I wanted to write about.

Let’s start with Brewdog‘s description of the beer:

Bourbon Baby is a baby Scotch ale which we’ve gone on to age in bourbon barrels.

The Scotch ale base is light bodied and low ABV, and brings toasted shortcake and blossom honey flavours; the barrel ageing adds a demonic, dark vanilla twist. Rich brown sugar, hints of smoke, spiced fruit, chocolate and raisins are just some of the multitude of flavours that have developed.

Our aim was to showcase barrel ageing in a lower ABV beer and we felt the malty scotch ale base was the perfect way to do this. The body remains light, yet there is a complexity quite unlike anything you would normally expect in a Scotch ale.

Bourbon Baby is a small batch beer and is available in limited quantities in bottle and draft, and will cope with further ageing in the bottle but is best suited to drinking fresh. 

Not the usual Gusto-Fueled description we’ve come to expect from Brewdog, but I find that quite refreshing. They also don’t claim that they’re the first ones to create a beer like this. There’s a lot of hints about the flavour, but that’s to be expected of them.

Now for the recipe, and as I’ve said before the key to a Scotch Ale is the boil, it’s is a lot longer than a normal beer leading to caramelisation of the malt. The malts in this beer are 2-Row Pale, Caramel Malt, Munich Malt, Peat Smoked Malt and Chocolate Malt. There’s less 2-Row compared to usual to make sure the flavours from the specialty Malts are prominent without the ABV being boosted. Also, Wheat is added for good head retention. The hops used in this brew are First Gold, Willamette and Mt Hood. After this it’s aged in Bourbon Barrels during secondary fermentation.

The beer pours a nice Dark Ruby colour with a Tan head that has great retention. It stuck with the beer for the entire time I was drinking it, which is quite a feat for a Barrel Aged beer! On the nose there’s fantastic Caramel, Brown Sugar, Coffee and Bourbon notes. When tasting this beer, initially there’s a wave of Coffee and Caramel which carries through the beer. Hints of Vanilla and a big Bourbon flavour ending with a nice Chocolate crescendo. The beer is as crisp as a lager, with medium carbonation. It finishes Medium Dry. This beer really is great, wether you’re enjoying a bottle of it or want something a bit different to session. I’d say it’s another great Spring beer, given how crisp and clean it is.

You can buy Bourbon Baby at Brewdog’s store.

EST. CALORIES: 174   ABV: 5.8%