Barrel Aged Sour Brown Ale – American: Russian River Supplication

The beer for this slightly later posted article this Wednesday is quite special. Supplication by Russian River. I’ve always heard that Sours from Russian River are always Saught after, and Moe from Craft Beer Kings/Plaza Market in El Monte, California was kind enough to hook me up with some Supplication!

Let’ start with Russian River’s description of the brew:

Brown Ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. It is aged for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to each barrel. Flavors from the cherries, Pinot Noir and oak balance each other nicely with a little funk from the brett.

Already this sounds like a very interesting beer, I like the brief description of the flavour. A beer like this should never have a detailed description of how it should taste. I’m liking how local barrels are used from the prolific California Wine scene and as soon as I saw this I was interested. I’m a huge fan of Red Wine and Cherries, and wondered how it would work in a Sour.

The recipe for this one was semi-easy to find out. I had the honour of talking to Vinnie Cilurzo (The Head Brewer and Owner) when I asked him what temperature to drink this one at. After telling me, we were conversing about the recipe for a little while which I really appreciated. The Malts in this one are 2-Row, Vienna, Crystal 40L and Carafa III Malts. I think there’s possibly a little bit of Wheat because the head on this one is crazy, more on that soon! As for the Hops, this is a Sour Brown Ale so they aren’t that prominent. I think Saaz and Hallertau are used. This is then aged in Oak Pinot Noir barrels and Sour Cherries are added to it with Brettanomyces Yeast for 12 Months. After this, it’s re-fermented in the bottle with Belgian Yeast.

This beer pours an Amber/Ruby colour with impressive carbonation and big head! The head doesn’t really recede as you drink, until you’ve nearly finished the bottle and leaves foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. It has one of the best head retentions I’ve seen in a while. On the nose there’s Tart Cherry, a touch of Wine notes, Oaky Tannins with some Belgian style funky notes and a touch of Bretty sourness. When you taste this beer, it truely is complex, up front there’s Pinot Noir and Tart Cherry notes with a big, bready and Oaky backbone. You really can taste the Oak Barrels in this beer in the backbone, which was a huge surprise. There’s also some sweeter Cherry notes in the background, some Belgian funk and a little bit of Nutty undertone towards the finish creating a salty feel. The beer is very well bodied for a Sour and very well carbonated. It finishes dry.

If you can get your hands on this, trading, going to California or asking a friend there to get you one I really recommend it! I’ve posted this article today as Russian River have just released a new batch of Supplication! If you’re visiting in the very near future or you have friends there, I definitely recommend getting a bottle of this.

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

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Blended Saison/Sour – English: Wild Beer Co. Zintuki

This week’s beer is Zintuki from the Wild Beer Co. in Somerset, England. It’s a blend of a beer I’ll be writing about later this year (Ninkasi) and a beer from their core range – Somerset Wild. I was really interested in this beer, as I’ve always liked blends from other Brewers and think that they need to be more widely recognised. A good example is in the Wine world, where a blend can make two Wines taste even more incredible.

Let’s start with Wild Beer Co‘s description of the brew:

“More lessons in the art of blending from Wild Beer Co. This project sees the combination of Ninkasi and Somerset Wild creating a beer that is sour, hoppy, and acidic with an immaculate effervescence and super dry finish.”

A short but sweet description for Online, however it goes into way more detail on the back. There’s not a lot to say about this shorter description really, apart from that it’s straight to the point. It’s a blend, it’s sour, it’s hoppy and it’s pretty fizzy with a dry finish – more on that later.

As for the recipe with this one, with Wild Beer Co. Beers it’s very difficult as they’re always a little bit “out there” This one’s a blend of two of their beers. Somerset Wild, which I’m quite sure uses Sorachi Ace and Mosaic hops, White Wheat and Pilsner Malt. Ninkasi, on the other hand is little more complicated, they use Local Somerset Apple Juice, Wild Yeast and Hops from New Zealand to make this one, judging by the flavour I think these are Riwaka, Nelson Sauvin and possibly Southern Cross. After this, it undergoes a secondary fermentation with Champagne Yeast meaning it’s very bubbly indeed. After these beers are fermented, they are blended and some Lactobacillus is added. It’s always hard to decipher Wild Beer’s brews, which is always a good challenge for me.

When you pour this beer, it pours a cloudy and straw yellow with a medium white Head. The Head retention on this one is really good, probably because both the blended beers have Wheat in and the Champagne yeast keeping the carbonation going. It fades to a thin head and eventually a cap on top of the brew but it doesn’t disappear all together. On the nose there’s Apple, Lime, Wheat and some Belgian Funk. On the Palate there’s a nice Bready, Wheat backbone that carries throughout tasting, on top of this there’s Sour Apple, Lemon, Lime, some Floral Notes and some nice Belgian Funk. I was expecting this one to be a lot more sour, but it’s mild on terms of Tartness and it’s a very complex brew. It’s very full bodied for a sour beer with high Carbonation. It finishes Medium Dry.

This one’s definitely a refresher for the nice weather, and I recommend it.

You can buy Zintuki at:

Beer Gonzo

Beer Ritz

Both places are IN STOCK at the time of writing!

EST. CALORIES: 219   ABV: 7.3%

Smoked Rye IPA – Welsh: Celt Experience Celt Brigid Fire

This week’s beer is Brigid Fire, brewed by the Celt Experience. I haven’t featured a beer from Wales before, and I’ve heard good things so I thought I’d give this one a go! The beer is brewed in South Wales in a town called Caerphilly. Smoked Rye IPA sounded like something I would definitely like – and I never post beers I don’t like so this seemed like the one to try!

Let’s start with Celt Experience‘s description:

A gripping spice backbone held by a piney bitterness. Brewed with oak smoked wheat and borrowed Biere de Garde yeast.

Through eternal flames, wisdom has become conscious. St Brigid was seen as a rousing healer.

I like how the Brewery named the Yeast they’re using, a lot of Breweries keep their Yeast secret when in actuality you can get it from any Homebrew shop. Hints at the flavours and the recipe too, which is always nice when you’re shopping for a beer you want to clone at some point. It seems all the Celt Experience Beers have the mystical names, which is understandable seeing as Wales is full of Celtic history and legend. Afterall, their Flag even has a Dragon on it!

Let’s start with the Malts in Fermentables in this one. I’ve managed to get hold of some of the recipe, but other parts I’ve put together judging by taste. There’s the Oak Smoked Wheat and Rye as Fermentables, on top of this I think 2-Row and a touch of Carapils Malts are used. As for the Hops in this one Brewers Gold, Citra, Marynka and Nelson Sauvin (Dry Hop only) are used. This is then Fermented with a yeast from Flanders, often used to ferment Saisons which is quite interesting!
When you pour this beer, it pours a Cloudy Dark Orange with a Medium bright white head. It dissipates quite quickly leaving a white ring around the glass and a thin White Cap on top of the beer that lasts the duration. There was quite a lot of Lumpy sediment in my one, so be sure to pour this carefully! On the nose hints of Citrus, Toasty Rye and a little bit of Smoke from the smoked Wheat. On the finish there is a slight hint of Pine. On the palate, you get a big initial hit of Smokey Wood flavour and toasty Rye. After this some Spicy hop notes and Citrus. As the hop flavours come through, the Smokey and Toasty malts carry them throughout. It’s well carbonated and Medium-Bodied. It finishes Dry. I can imagine this beer would be a perfect companion for some slow cooked Steak on a Wood/Charcoal BBQ, or indeed any BBQ’d meats. I definitely recommend you try this one during the summer!

You can buy Brigid Fire in the UK at:

Eebria

Beer Gonzo

EST. CALORIES: 189   ABV: 6.3%

The Craft Beer Guide to Aberdeen – May 2015

For those going to the Brewdog AGM this weekend!

beerglasshalffull

Given the fact that one of the UK’s largest and most successful craft breweries, BrewDog, was founded and operates a few miles north of Aberdeen, Scotland’s third largest city, it may be surprising to many that the availability of quality craft beer, in the form of craft beer bars or stockists, in the city at first appears to be relatively limited, particularly when compared to Edinburgh and Glasgow. There are however some gems in the city in terms of both quality bars and some reliable stockists. My particular favourites are as follows:-

Bars:

Brewdog

17 Gallowgate, Aberdeen AB25 1EB

http://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk/aberdeen

The flagship BrewDog bar, opened in 2010, effectively kick started the craft beer scene in Aberdeen. The decor is typical BrewDog; exposed brick and steel, comfortable booths and larger group tables, all with the usual boardgames to keep craft beer drinkers entertained between intellectualised debates about hops, yeast and label…

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IPA – American: Lumberyard Flagstaff IPA

This week’s mid-week beer is one I got in America during my visit to Lumberyard Brewery in Arizona. I really enjoyed my visit to the brewery and decided to grab their 4 pack can sampler as I left. This is the last one I had left, as I wanted to include it on here.

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

Silver Medal Winner at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival. Bronze Medal Winner at the 2010 World Beer Cup. This ale is medium bodied with higher bitterness. The blend of English and American hops make this copper colored ale especially pleasing for pale ale lovers.

A few awards, which are always nice to mention when trying to get people to try your beer. I also like how they don’t hide the fact they’ve mixed British and American hops, which sometimes people don’t like. The recipe however, is pretty secret and I had to guess the entire thing! More on that shortly. I like how they don’t say “IPA Lovers” or “Hop Heads” and concentrate on the fact that it’s an India Pale Ale!

Right, the recipe in this one. It’s shrouded in secrecy it seems! I’ve had to guess on flavour alone. So, seeing as there’s a blend of English and American hops I’m going to go for Fuggles, Cluster, Challenger, Centennial and Cascade. As for the Malts, I’m going to go for 2-Row, Caramel Malt and Carapils. I’m not sure what type of Yeast Lumberyard ferment with, but it’s quite different from the usual American yeasts that are clean. I have a feeling it’s an English Ale Yeast.

When you pour this beer, it’s a Amber/Copper colour and has a Medium white head. It dissipates slowly leaving a thin white ring around the edge of the glass as you drink. On the nose there’s some Citrus, Pine and Floral Aromas with no Malts detectable. There’s a touch of Tropical Fruit in the background but it’s very mellow. When you taste this beer, you get an initial hit of Spicy Hops and Pine, then comes the wave of Citrus and Floral notes followed by a touch of Cracker from the Malts used in the brew. It’s quite a Mellow IPA, but it makes a change from a lot of the IPA’s at the moment which can be refreshing. The beer is quite full bodied for the style, however and ends Medium-Dry with Medium to Low carbonation.

Unfortunately you can’t get Lumberyard IPA in the UK. But, if Americans are interested in trying this brew as it is quite close to an English IPA then give it a go! If anyone is visiting Arizona, I 100% recommend a visit to Lumberyard as it’s a great brewery with some fantastic beer and food.

Sour – English: The Kernel London Sour

This week’s beer is from The Kernel Brewery in London, one of London’s up and coming breweries. I’ve been meaning to review a beer from The Kernel in a long time, as whenever I turn up with a bottle people always comment on how good the branding is. The Beer’s good too, so I thought I’d turn my attention onto whats in the bottle.

The Commercial Description is as follows:

The Kernel Brewery, London. London Sour. Keg and Bottle.

I don’t think there’s anything really to write about that, I like it though. It sort of says “Hi, We’re the Kernel, we’re from London and this Beers gonna be Sour” and that’s it. The rest is up to you. Maybe one day they’ll add a short description, maybe they won’t. It doesn’t really matter and people love Kernel beers it seems!

So, after that brief Analysis let’s get on to the recipe for this one! It’s been hard to figure out what’s in this one but I’ve given it a good go! I think the Malt base is a Sour mash of Wheat and Pilsner malt which is left the Sour for that Lactobaccillus and other Wild Yeasts and Bacteria to do it’s magic. After this, it’s added to a bill of Wheat, Pilsner and a touch of CaraHell malts. As for the Hops, judging by the flavour of this one I think Citra and Sorachi Ace have been used. It is fermented with a Clean Yeast after, although it is already infected with Lactobaccillus, a yeast notorious for stripping nearly all the Sugars out of Wort and creating a very Sour, Tart tasting brew.

When you pour this beer, it’s Yellow like a cheap Lager with a very fizzy white head which dissipates very quickly leaving no trace of a head being there. Bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass at a fast rate, almost causing a Champagne effect. On the nose there’s a hit of Wheat and Sour Notes followed by Lemon, Gooseberry and a touch of Passion Fruit too. It’s not as tart on the Palate as expected for a Sour, but there’s definitely some tart Gooseberry and Passionfruit with some nice Lemony Citrus and Wheat notes. There’s also a Bready yeast tone to this one, almost like Bakers Yeast. I feel as though it carries the Tart Fruit flavours well throughout the brew. It’s well carbonated with and Medium-Dry on the finish.

Unfortunately, London Sour seems to be Out of Stock online at the moment. Probably because of the Sun we’ve been having. You can pick it up at Sourced Market in St. Pancras station, or if you’re willing to wait you can grab it online at the following:

Eebria

BeerMerchants

BeerHawk

EST. CALORIES: 114   ABV: 3.8%

IPA – American: Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

This week’s beer is one of Sierra Nevada’s latest offerings – Hop Hunter IPA. I was lucky enough to try this beer whilst in California, and knew I had to feature it on here. Hop Hunter is apprently coming to the UK soon, and I’m personally looking forward to it a lot.

Let’s start with Sierra Nevada’s Description of the brew:

Hop Hunter IPA harnesses the complex flavors of just-picked hops through an all-new method of steam distilling wet hops before they even leave the fields. This revolutionary technique captures and intensifies the natural flavors, creating a unique and intensely aromatic beer. Our custom process gathers pure hop oil which, when combined with traditional whole-cone hops in the brew kettle, makes for an incredible IPA experience.

I like how this description focuses on the process, as far as I know another brewery haven’t attempted this feat yet. The hops are grown in Sierra Nevada’s farms, which is a nice touch. I think the description really understates the process utilised to get the Oil out of the Hops and distilled. The brewery use a piece of machinery previously used to extract oil from Mint leaves, the Hops are put into huge trailers and the machine steams them, collecting the vapour, cools it and distills it. The process captures the pure Hop Oil. Five Thousand Pounds of Hops go into just 100 litres of Hop oil. Impressive!

So, with that lets get onto which Hops are used. In the kettle we have Bravo, Cascade, Crystal and Simcoe. The Hops used to make the Hop Oil are Cascade, Centennial and CTZ. The Malts and Fermentables in this brew are interesting, I haven’t seen Flaked Oats used in an IPA in a while but they are in this one as well as 2-Row and Caramel Malts. This is then fermented with Sierra Nevada’s house Ale yeast.

When you pour this beer, the first thing you notice is the Golden colour of the brew and the excellent Clarity it has in the glass. A nice Medium White head forms and sticks around for most of the time you drink this one. The lacing drips down the sides of the glass whilst you drink and does not stick. The nose of this beer is incredible, Floral notes combined with big juicy Citrus and Tropical notes with Pine lingering in the background. On the Palate, you get an initial hit of bitter Pine coupled with nice Bready malts, there’s also some big Citrus notes in there. The Malt backbone carries this IPA well throughout, but the Hop notes are definitely not understated. Seeing as there is Flaked Oats in this one, the mouthfeel is quite light for an IPA. It finishes Crisp, Bitter and Dry.

I can’t wait until this one is available in the UK. Until then, ask your American friends to send as many to you as possible!

EST. CALORIES: 186   ABV: 6.2%

Fruit IPA – American: Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

This week’s beer is the legendary Grapefruit Sculpin, and although you can’t buy it in the UK it’s something I had to include on this blog. I’ve always wanted to try this beer and luckily got my fair share in California. Ballast Point is located in San Diego, they brew the legendary Sculpin IPA and decided one day they’d add Grapefruit to it to complement the already Citrusy flavours of the brew.

Let’s start with Ballast Point‘s description:

Our award-winning IPA, with a citrus twist.
Our Grapefruit Sculpin is the latest take on our signature IPA. Some may say there are few ways to improve Sculpin’s unique flavor, but the tart freshness of grapefruit perfectly complements our IPA’s citrusy hop character. Grapefruit’s a winter fruit, but this easy-drinking ale tastes like summer.

A brief description, but I guess if you’ve heard of Sculpin IPA it needs no introduction and Ballast Point have confidently capitalised on that fact. However, I didn’t know that Grapefruit was a Winter fruit. I guess you learn something new every day! No indication on flavour, which is nice but “Grapefruit” is a big hint anyway!

It was hard to determine and research the recipe for this one, but eventually I managed it. The hops in this brew are Amarillo, Warrior, Magnum, US Hallertau, Columbus, Crystal, Centennial and Simcoe. Quite an impressive Hop bill! It’s Dry-Hopped with Amarillo. The malts are 2-Row, Caramel, Carapils, Cara and Acidulated Malt. The Grapefruit Zest is added during the boil and then during Secondary fermentation to really get those Grapefruit flavours in there!

When you pour this beer, it’s Golden with a Medium White head, it eventually dissipates leaving very sticky dotty lacing and a thin White Head that lasts throughout. On the nose, there’s tonnes of Grapefruit, Orange Rind, Citrus and a little bit of Pine in the background. The Grapefruit really has taken hold of the Aroma on this one! When you taste this one, you’re immediately hit again by lots of Grapefruit notes, Citrus, Blood Orange and a touch of Pine. However, at the back of your Palate that impressive Malt Bill provides a nice Sweet, Caramel like backbone which is very welcoming. This is quite a complex IPA, but also so brash with the Hops and Grapefruit at the same time. It’s like an onslaught on your Palate. For an IPA the body is quite light with medium Carbonation. It finishes Medium-Dry. I can see why Ballast Point brew this one – it’s absolutely perfect for San Diego weather and Summer!

Unfortunately, this is another one you can’t get in the UK but if you can get your hands on it I really recommend. I’ll be back next Friday with something a little more available in the UK!

UPDATE: Bier Deluxe sells Grapefruit Sculpin and ships to the UK! Although I’m not sure of the freshness, click here for the page.

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

IPA – American: Bells Two Hearted Ale

This Mid-Week beer is one I enjoyed very much in America. The infamous Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. A very popular beer amongst the online beer community and I had to see what all the fuss was about! Also the fact that this beer comes from a place called Kalamazzoo appeals to me in a strange way. Anyway, back to beer!

Let’s start with Bell’s description of this brew:

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.

I like this description, very confident, lets you know a little about the recipe and it’s to the point. It also gives you a hint on flavour but doesn’t tell you how it should taste which is always good. I like how they’ve stuck to one Hop for this one, a bold statement for one of your flagship beers and something I respect. With so many good breweries in Michigan though, Bells were set to get noticed for brewing some great beers!

As you know already, this beer is hopped exclusively with Centennial. Luckily, I dove a little deeper and found out the method of hopping, and the malts! During the boil, after 1 minute with Leaf Hops, after 5 Pellet Hops, 20 Pellet Hops and 60 Pellet Hops. After this it’s Dry-Hopped for 7 Days with Leaf Hops. The Malts in this beer are 2-Row, Vienna, Caramel and Carapils. After this it’s Fermented with a fruity yeast, but I wouldn’t say use a Belgian Style one.

Now, on to the drinking! When you pour this beer, it pours Golden with a nice Medium White head with great retention. I also noticed the Lacing in this brew is crazy, big foam sticking to the sides of the glass. On the nose, lots of Grapefruit and Pine Needles with a Bready Malt smell in the background. What’s nice is often the Malt aromas don’t come though but in this beer they do. On the Palate, first you get a big rich Malt kick with Caramel, Bread and Biscuit. Following on from this, the hops come into play with an aggressive Pine and Grapefruit bite. It’s so well balanced, and even whilst it warms the Hops don’t come and really kick you in the face due to them having a solid Malt backbone. The beer is Medium bodied and finishes slightly dry. This one definitely lives up to expectation.

Unfortunately Two Hearted Ale is not distributed in the UK, but if you know someone in America or you’re visiting I really recommend this one!

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

Porter – Anspach and Hobday Table Porter

This week I’m reviewing a great mash up of a Table Beer (like a Table wine – Low ABV) and a London Porter from Anspach and Hobday – a relatively new brewery in Bermondsey. I tried their beers at the Winter Brew Fest and thought they were amazing. It’s nice to see them better distributed in London now!

Let’s start with Anspach and Hobday‘s description of the brew:

Best described as like an Iced Coffee (no coffee beans used), this interesting beer is a nod to the Table Beers of old London when water was more dangerous than beer. A David of the beer world, The Table Porter (2.8%) packs lots of flavour for its ABV and it also pours over vanilla ice-cream to create a great flow.

I like the description of this one, it gives you a hint of what it’s going to be like and gives you a little history behind it. I’ve never tried it over Vanilla Ice-Cream, but that might be something I’ll have to try another time. A porter with Ben and Jerry’s?! Tempting seeing as this brew is only 84 Calories… so hey! It doesn’t matter about the Ben and Jerry’s, right?!

The key to the Low-ABV in this one is to reduce the amount of 2-Row and Pale Malt but keep the specialty Malts at the same level as a normal brew. I think the specialty Malts in this one are Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Black Patent and Caramel 120. As for the hops, I got a little Citrusy tone from this one when I opened the bottle, so I’d say a subtle addition of Amarillo or Cascade could do the trick nicely!

The beer says pour carefully on the side, and I swear I did! It pours Black with an impressive Tan coloured head! It takes a good while to go down, I’ve had this experience with Table Beer before and I think it’s because of the lower ABV not annihilating as many proteins and therefore getting an impressive head. On the nose some faint Citrus, Cocoa Chocolate and Coffee. Smells like a decent, heavy Porter! I think the taste of this one is the most impressive, bundles of Roasted Malts, Coffee, Caramel with that slightly fruity Citrus kick at the end blending into some Dark Fruits. It tastes exactly like a 7.4% Porter, but you can drink it all night! The body isn’t really affected too badly for a porter, either with Medium carbonation. It finishes slightly dry. I really recommend this brew, all year round! It’s a great change from a session IPA and it’s a very tasty brew indeed.

You can Buy The Table Porter Online in the UK at:

Craved

Beer Merchants

Eebria

EST. CALORIES: 84   ABV: 2.8%