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Deschutes Obsidian Stout

19 Jan

Obsidian Stout

This is a pretty special beer for me, as I’ve always read about Deschutes and their amazing stouts and porters. The main trouble being they didn’t export outside of the US. Well now I have one! The Obsidian Stout. Kindly brought back to the UK by an American friend for me. It pours black with a lively tan head, and has an interestingly original aroma. More coffee than I’d expect from a non-imperial stout but still those familiar dark, burnt malts. The taste is very nicely balanced between a dark malty sweetness, reminiscent of dark fruits like cooked plums, and a dry bitterness, from those hops and the burnt, coffee-like aspect of the malts. The beer has quite a wholesome yet drinkable mouthfeel, the dryness leaving you craving more.

I love this beer, and I love Deschutes.

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Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

17 Jan

Marzen

Schlenkerla are a famous Bamberg brewery, specialising in smoked beers (rauchbiers). This particular rauchbier is a take on the marzen style, a fairly strong lager with it’s origins in Bavaria. The difference this beer has is that the brewers have used smoked malts rather than pale ones, to give it a darker, heavier and smokier feel and flavour. You can definitely see that as it pours a lovely dark brown colour, with a great aroma reminiscent of German smoked cheese. The smoke is a constant, in the background as you drink, complimenting the dark, nutty, and malty-sweet flavour of the beer. I could definitely go for a few more of these.

(Belated) Golden Pint Awards 2012

7 Jan
Best UK Draught Beer
Timothy Taylor “Landlord” – a classic hoppy pale ale. There’s no real ale quite like a well cellared pint of this, served at perfect temperature (a few degrees below room temperature). Drank in the Pen & Wig, Cardiff.
Runner up – Arbor Ales “Full of Beans” Mild
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
Tiny Rebel “Hot Box” – a “Smoked Indian Ale”. This was a one off brew but I sorely hope they make it again, if possible adding it to their regular line-up. “Hot Box” to me was the epitome of balance, it was smokey, malty and hoppy, all working in perfect harmony to create a truly brilliant beer.
Runner up – Brewdog “Hops Kill?” Red Ale
Best Overseas Draught Beer
Boon “Kriek” – not a particularly rare or sought after beer, but this was my first kriek (cherry lambic) and I really loved it.
Runner up – Southern Tier “Unearthly” IPA
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Westvleteren 12 – the one and only, argued by many to be the best beer in the world. It was certainly a very complex beer, and very tasty. Though I have to say though, that perhaps the hype surrounding this beer usually results in a hint of disappointment when you drink it. I much preferred the Quad made by Struise – “Pannepot”, which I had in 2011.
Runner up – Ayinger “Brau Weisse” Hefeweizen
Best Overall Beer
Would have to be “Hot Box” for me.
Best Pumpclip or Label

Cwtch

Best UK Brewery
The Kernel, London – the most consistent brewery I know. Great pale ales and brilliant stouts.
Best Overseas Brewery
Struise, Belgium. For Black Albert, Pannepot and Ignis et Flamma.
Pub/Bar of the Year
Cask Pub and Kitchen, Pimlico – tied with Euston Tap.
Supermarket of the Year
Sainsburys for making a vague effort with their annual beer festival.
Independent Retailer of the Year
Discount Supermarket, Cardiff – tied with The Bottle Shop, Cardiff. Both excellent in their own respects.
Online Retailer of the Year
Beautifulbeers.co.uk – gets hard to get Dutch and Belgian offerings, prompt service and reasonable prices
Best Beer Blog or Website
Here obviously! No, for me it would be http://www.camrgb.org/ which has a really good, simple and objective outlook on beer drinking.
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year
Real ale in sausages. Made by the giggly pig company in Essex, they were the best sausages I’ve ever had.
In 2013 I’d most like to…
Visit Belgium for at least a day trip – get some bottles from Cantillon, go to the Struise shop in Brugge, and generally have an orgy of Belgian beer and food.

Poppyland “On the Edge” Dry Hopped Saisons

3 Jan

Poppyland
Poppyland is a new brewery in Cromer, Norfolk, which started up in the summer of 2012. Though still quite a small establishment, the brewer, a Geologist (or should I say former Geologist now he’s brewing?) named Martin, has produced some excellent looking beers. Luckily for me I have been able to get my mits on two of them! They are both of the saison style, a popular Belgian type of beer usually made from pale malts and fruity yet dry hops, brought together with earthy and tart yeast. One of my favourite styles as they are normally thirst-quenching served cold, so perfect for the summer months. A superb example of the style is Saison Dupont, available all over the place. Now, let’s get drinking!

Beer #1 – “On the Edge” Dry-hopped with Cascade and Hallertau-Hersbrucker
On the Edge #1
This beer is quite unusual for a saison, being dry-hopped at the end of the brewing process. The two different hops used are Cascade, perhaps the most famous American hop, and Hallertau-Hersbrucker. Cascade is a variety from Western America, which should give it a nice and big hop punch, akin to that of American IPAs, while Hallertau-Hersbrucker hops are from Bavaria in Germany. These should be slightly more subtle, adding to the bitterness while developing a less aggresive fresh and floral aspect. Now, onto the good part: the tasting!

Pours a light amber colour, with an excellent head and great lacing. Smells very fresh and grassy, with maybe a hint of sweetness, possibly honey. Tastes quite light, fresh and flowery at first, with the hops building up in bitterness and coming through quite intensely at the end, along with a hit of booze, also increasing the texture of the beer, making it feel a bit fuller. Fairly dry though not unpleasantly. Lovely stuff.

Beer #2 – “On the Edge” Dry-hopped with Bobek

Again, this one is dry-hopped, this time with Bobek, a Slovenian varity of hop. Bobek hops are apparantly “mild, excellent, coupelet (sic) with moderate bitterness”, so I’m expecting quite a reduced hop presence, principally due to the absence of the Cascade in this one.

The pour is pretty much the same as before in colour, with a significantly reduced head, though still retaining good lacing. Smells quite sweet and fresh, with a hint of nuttiness. The sweetness is almost fruity. The taste is more subtle and subdued than before, with much less bitterness on the finish, as well as lacking the thicker mouthfeel and some of the dryness. There is still a lingering, pleasant bittersweet taste on the palette after the swallow. This beer also has a bit more of a malt presence, with a subtle caramel sweetness coming through. Finally, worth a mention is how this beer has an insane level of drinkability. It’s thirst quenching yet flavourful and balanced. I hope it’s still for sale when it gets warmer!

Poppylands beers can be purchased from beautifulbeers.co.uk. Whilst fairly pricey, it’s definitely worth a go. Read more about the Poppylands Brewery at their website, as well as the brewers own blog.