Thursday, 5 March 2015 0 comments

De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis

De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis
Style: Imperial Stout
Alcohol Content: 10%
From: Bodegraven, Netherlands
Purchased from: Beer Geek, Prague, Czech Republic

Brouwerij De Molen is a small craft brewery, distillery and restaurant located in Bodegraven, the Netherlands.The brewery, whose name means "The Mill", is located inside a historic windmill building called De Arkduif, which was built in 1697. Having started out as a homebrewer, and after stints at several small breweries, head brewer Menno Olivier worked professionally at Stadtsbrouwerij De Pelgrim in Rotterdam prior to founding De Molen in 2004. The capacity of the brewing system is 500 liters per batch, with annual production averaging a total of 500 hectoliters.The subject of this review is their Imperial Stout, aptly named Hel & Verdoemenis (Hell and Damnation). Lets hope I survive to tell the tale. 

Hel & Verdoemenis

Colour: Pours a thick, oily black topped beautifully by a thin layer of tan coloured foam. Once settled, this foam soon disappears into the murky depths below. 

Aroma: Most imperial stouts ozees notes of dark chocolate and bitter dark chocolate. Whilst the dark chocolate notes are definitely present, Hel & Verdoemenis presents not one single note of coffee. This surprises me greatly as I love the blending of those two elements in an imperial stout. Oh well you can't have it all! After a few minutes in the glass, the chocolate notes begin to fade and hints of smoky peat and sweet molasses begin to appear. This drink smells divine! I can not wait to jump in and try this beer!   

Body: As you would expect, this Hel & Verdoemenis is extremely viscous. It's almost like drinking a pint of silky chocolate sauce. This thickness encourages you to drink this stout very slowly and ensures you savor every last sip.

Taste: Well, this has to be the most rounded Imperial stout that I have ever drunk. The nose translates into the taste with the dark chocolate notes blending perfectly with hints of rich, sweet molasses. Here the coffee notes finally make an appearance, offering a mellow bitterness to help cut through the sweetness slightly. The aftertaste reminds me slightly of oak aged Bourbon as its quite warming on the tongue. That being said, the high ABV is very well hidden and it could be quite deadly given the size of the bottle (750ml). Perhaps I should of shared this bottle with Emma (or perhaps not as its far too nice to share). A lovely drink that I will return to again and again.

Hel & Verdoemenis

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Tuesday, 3 March 2015 0 comments

Craft Beer Rising 2015

Craft Beer Rising 2015

After two years of failing to attend Craft Beer Rising, I made it my mission to attend the 2015 event. So last Saturday both Emma and I rose early from our bed to make the fateful trip across London. As Brick lane is located in East London, we decided to purchase day event tickets which ran from 11am to 5pm. After a long train journey, we arrived just as the doors opened. After being handed our beautiful glassware, we firstly walked around the venue in order to get our bearings. After a quick scout to locate our favorite breweries, we settled down on one of the picnic benches in the main hall. We both decided that we would open the festival with a beer from one of London's finest breweries; Beavertown. 

Kevin: Beavertown Moose Fang Imperial Brown. Rating 8/10.
Emma: Beavertown Appleton Bramley Apple Saison. Rating 7/10.

After such a strong start to the day (both of Beavertown's beers where over 7 per cent ABV), we decided (rather foolishly) to continue in the same vein. Since we are going to States in April, we decided to visit some of favourite US breweries; Lagunitas and Founders respectively. 

Kevin: Lagunitas Brown Shugga. Rating 9/10.
Emma: Founders Backwoods Bastard Scotch Ale. Rating 9/10.

After such a high ABV start to the festival, I know we needed to stop for a bite to eat. Fancying a lighter bite, we both plumped for a couple of sausage rolls. Now, I don't normally eat sausage rolls, but oh my god, these were absolutely delicious!  The only thing stopping me buying any more was the sky high price of £4 a roll. That's more than most of the pints of beer on offer at the festival! Daylight robbery I say!!

Shifting gears, I fancied a fruit IPA whilst Emma liked the taste of my last beer so much, she treated herself to some.

Kevin: Bear Hug Hibernation White IPA. Rating 5/10.
Emma: Lagunitas Brown Shugga. Rating 8/10.

It was here that I realised that Emma was starting to get very sqiffy. She had just consumed three halfs of very strong beer in under an hour, so we agree to stop for lunch. Emma plumped for beef brisket sandwich whilst I stuck to one of my festival staples; Bratwurst. Wanting to try a new brewery, I popped over to the Kiwi craft collective stand to try a Earl Grey IPA, whilst Emma (obviously wanting pudding) tried a sticky toffee flavoured beer from Young's.

Kevin: Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA. Rating 9/10 (Beer of the Day).
Emma: Youngs Sticky Toffee Pudding. Rating 7/10

It was at this point that Emma began feeling the effects of the alcohol churning through her system so she decided to skip the next couple of rounds.

Kevin: Glastonbury Ales Equinox Black IPA. Rating 7/10

Kevin: Hop Stuff Amarillo Mild. Rating 6/10. (Emma loved the fact that this brewery used a Arsenal style cannon in thier logo).

Finding a Second wind (or possibly fueled by more sausage rolls and beer sticks), Emma decided she was ready to try a few more brews. She plumbed for a Christmas Ale from Williams brothers, whilst I decided to try Vedett's new IPA.

Kevin: Vedett IPA. Rating 7/10.
Emma: Williams Brothers Sprue Nollaig. Rating 8/10.

Kevin: Saltaire South Pacific Pale. Rating 5/10.
Emma: The Wild Beer Co. Millionaire. Rating 7/10.

It was at this point I realised that Emma had had a little too much to drink and we decided to make for home. Needless to say, the journey home was very eventful and my shoes will never be the same again!

In summary, I really enjoyed Craft Beer Rising. The range of beers on offer was excellent and everyone attending the event was in excellent spirits. I do have a couple of niggling gripes however. Firstly, when we arrived we were told that we could pay in cash for beer rather than use the tokens. Whilst this held true to a few stands, some would only accept tokens. This would often lead to you leaving your pint at the bar and walking to the token booth. Secondly, at most stands you could buy bottles or cans to take away. Wanting to cash in on this opportunity, I asked a few of the bar tenders to sell me an unopened bottle. Some where more than happy to oblige, whilst others flatly told me no. All we ask for is a little bit of consistency guys. Who knows, we may even review the beers we take home......     
Friday, 20 February 2015 0 comments

Camden Town Brewery Indian Hells Lager

Camden Town Brewery Indian Hells Lager
Style: Lager
Alcohol Content: 6.2%
From: Camden Town, London, England
Purchased from: Real Ale Shop, Richmond Upon Thames

To reference a piece of cocky rhyming slag, I am cream crackered. Work has been tough since the turn of the year. Perhaps it's just the growing pains of a new role, but my real job has forced me to (temporarily) cut back on writing this blog. Personally, this pains me greatly as I find writing very therapeutic and extremely tasty.

Time; where does it go? It feels like only yesterday I was telling you all about my three beer resolutions. This weekend, Emma and I plan to make good on one of these resolutions by attending Craft Beer Rising this Saturday. Currently in its third year, CBR is considered to be one of London's premier craft beer festivals. However, after reading though the excellent list of breweries showcasing at this event, I can't help but notice some notable absentees. London based Kernel and Partizan are no where to be seen along with one of my favourite breweries Siren. Whilst I am naturally disappointed by their absenteeism, I have a plethora of new and exciting breweries to explore. Names such as Bear Hug Brewing and Saltaire wet my taste buds the most. Naturally, I will try an remember what I had and give you all a little write up next week.

Now onto this weeks tasting, Camden Town Brewing Indian Hells Lager or IHL for short. This beer appears to of taken the London Craft beer scene by storm. Every blogger worth their salt seems to be raving about its hop heavy drink-ability. Should I believe the hype? Let's find out.

A little bit of the back story behind the brewer: Jasper Cuppaidge is the grandson of Laurie McLaughlin, who ran the McLaughlin’s Brewery (Mac’s) in Rockhampton, Australia between 1910 to 1960. When Laurie past away he past on all his recipes to his daughter Patricia, who in turn then passed them onto Jasper. On Patricia's 50th birthday, Jasper decided to try and recreate one of Laurie's beers in the cellar of Horseshoe and that’s when it all started… Eventually the brewery moved from the cellar into several converted railway arches in Camden town and they opened for business in the summer of 2010. Camden Town are now considered to be one of London's premier craft beer breweries offering a range eight core beers and a range of seasonal offerings.

Colour: Pours a bright copper/orange topped with a tightly packed, pure white tight head. After a few minutes in the glass this reduces down to a heavy dusting of foam which laces the glass perfectly on every sip you take. Initially Indian Hells looked slightly cloudy once settled. However, I would attribute this to chill hazy as I drank this straight from the fridge. Looks like a lager so far!

Aroma: As soon as you open the can, your nostrils will be bombarded by notes of fresh pineapple and lychees. It's like a big tropical hop bomb has just exploded in my nose (just a lot less painful). There is so much sweetness rising from the depth that you will forget that this is meant to be a lager.

Body: One of the remarkable features of this beer is ability to trick your palate. Whilst the nose suggests a thick, sweet IPA style body, Indian Hells drinks almost like a soft german Pilsner. The delicate body tickles your taste buds before the resinous hop notes clog you throat and slow your drinking pace. What a pleasurable drinking experience!

Taste: Indian Hells' nose successfully translates into the taste. The juicy pineapple and lychee notes return but this time bring some back up in the form of a delicately tart lemon. This rich sweetness playfully mixes with a crisp malt base to help bring this drink to a beautiful crescendo. This beautiful beer hides its ABV extremely well, so be careful it doesn't creep up on you. Truthfully, this drinks more like a pale ale than a lager (or perhaps all this style blending has eroded all of my senses, I'm not sure). To paraphrase the immortal rap group Public Emeny, Do Believe The Hype!
Do believe the hype!

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Tuesday, 10 February 2015 0 comments

Mikkeller Mexas Ranger

Mikkeller Mexas Ranger
Style: Flavoured Porter
Alcohol Content: 6.6%
From: Copenhagen, Denmark
Purchased from: Real Ale Shop, Richmond Upon Thames

Mikkeller is a so-called "phantom" or "gypsy" microbrewery founded in 2006 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The brewery was founded by two homebrewers, a high school teacher Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and a journalist Kristian Klarup Keller, with the intention of bringing their home-brewed beer into public awareness, and to "challenge their beer friends with intense new tastes". The two also found some inspiration for their widely-varied, edgy brewing approach from the American breweries that "aren't afraid to play and break all the rules". In craft beer circles, the Mikkeller brewery is considered to be one of the innovative and well thought of breweries in the world. During its history, unlike many other microbreweries, Mikkeller has brewed over 600 different beers in a wide variety of styles.  As of 2013, their annual output is 8,500 hectolitres of beer. This is a review of Mikkeller's Mexas Ranger. A porter made with a whole host of additional ingredients including Almond Milk, Chillies and Avocado leaves.

Colour: This porter pours ink black topped with a dark tan coloured head. Like a black hole, no light can penetrate thought this temptingly thick beer. Truth be told, this has to be the most beautiful looking porter I have ever seen before. I cannot wait to dive into its mucky depths!

Aroma: Just like its appearance, the bouquet of this beer also oozes quality. Served in two halves, bold notes of cocoa and coffee dominate before giving way to a combination of sweet lactose and a subtle smokiness mixed with a warming chilli spice. This beer is literally begging me to have a sip, so what's the point in waiting any longer.

Body: The thick and smoky body will wash over your palate like a tidal wave. As the swell dies down, a slightly odd drying sensation will remove all the moisture from your mouth. This will naturally force you to have another sip as the feeling can be a little unpleasant.

Taste: Finally the Pièce de résistance, the tasting! Upfront notes of dark chocolate playful mix with the additional almond milk. This milky sweetness soon gives way to hints of bitter coffee and a slight herbal flavouring. It climaxes with a finish that is very dry yet slight warming due to the addition of chillies (cascabel, de arbol, guajilo, mulato and pasilla to be more precise) to the brew kettle. Whilst these chillies will not blow your head off, you certainly know they are there. Personally, I feel that the chillies help to dial down the sweetness and help to round out the beers flavour profile perfectly. In summary, this is an excellent porter that blends the traditional Fab Four ingredients with some playful new additions. You can certainly never say Mikkeller's beer are boring!

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Monday, 2 February 2015 0 comments

London Fields Brewery Love Not War

London Fields Brewery Love Not War
Style: Red Ale
Alcohol Content: 4.2%
From: Hackney, London, United Kingdom
Purchased from: Nobel Green Wines, Hampton Hill, United Kingdom

London Fields brewery is a brewery based in the London Fields area of Hackney East London. The brewery was founded by Julian de Vere Whiteway Wilkinson (longest name ever!) and Ian Burgess around the same time of the devastating London Riots of 2011. Like most London based craft breweries, they set up home in some railway arches (either these arches are extremely cheap to rent or the brewers are secret train spotters I can't tell). The brewery has flourished during the past four years thanks to the success of their six core beers and array of seasonal offerings. However, clouds seem to be gathering on the horizon as in late 2014, co-owner Julian was arrested for suspected tax evasion. Fingers crossed this all gets straighten out and the brewery can look forward to a bright future. 

Here I will review one of London Fields Core beers called Love Not War. This beverage has an interesting story behind it as it was initially first brewed whilst the brewers where barricaded in due to the London riots. With those steamy, danger driven days behind them, the team at London Fields emerged with a peace offering to the people of Hackney. A hoppy red ale which they aptly named Love Not War. Let's see if it will calm my nerves after a difficult day at work shall we?

Love Not War

Colour: Pours a warming reddish brown topped off with a off white head. The head soon dies down to a generous dusting of foam that lingers for the duration of this beer. 

Aroma: As soon as you pop the cap your nostrils will be bombarded with heady notes of pine and sweet caramel toast. As the aromas settle, hints of summer fruits and crush hob nob biscuit begin to shine though. All smells very tempting I must admit.

Body: This beer is surprisingly deceptive. The level of sweetness provided by the taste should translate to a relatively thick mouthfeel. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Love Not War feels rather thin in the mouth and is more thirst quenching rather than full bodied. Perfect, after a long summers day at work, but not one for those short, cold nights in January. 

Taste: As soon as this beer hits your tongue, the upfront notes of caramel malts will provide a moorish sweetness which begs you to drink more. As the beer slides towards the back of your palate, hints of pine, grass and pineapple begin to shine though eventually leaving you with a finish that is oily on the tongue and mildly bitter. As a fan of Meantime's Yakima Red, I was hoping this beer would match the perfect blend of malts and hops that Yakima Red provides. Sadly, this beer does not quite meet these standards as I personally feel it's a little to thin on mouthfeel. However, that being said the low ABV allows Love Not War to fall into the category of a session beer which I would certainly return to before the next Arsenal game. 

Love Not War

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