Thursday, 31 December 2009

Brew-I unofficial religion, join the facebook group now!

To all wishing to follow the brewing force officialy by joining the unofficial religion of Brew-I, join my facebook group here. And to all followers of the force, a happy new year.

Monday, 28 December 2009

An unexpected gift

Behold its presence, the black viscous headless liquid clinging to the glass as you swirl it. It took a good couple of hours to finish this one, and a couple or so mouthfuls to start enjoying it to its full. Most of you are probably awair of Brew Dogs Tactical Nuclear Penguin, at 32% abv the new worlds strongest beer, and one monster of a beer too. Before you know it its commin at ya with immensely rich malt balancing brisk, chalky, woody, oak charred intensity like some kind of beer-Islay malt hybrid. The drinking experience is like flying through dark fictional realm of Mordor, on a dark windy night, with He-mans arch enemy skelator by your side, listening to Decapitated, on the back of a giant winged Loch Ness Monster...

Well that's what I though anyway.

But there was more to Christmas than this one beer, and a few other great ones were found. The Belgian Brasserie Ellezelloise Hercule Stout paired great with Christmas pudding Flying Dogs Gonzo Imperial Porter went even better with some leftovers of my chocolate heavy wedding cake (a truly sublime pairing). The enjoyment of this was heightened by listening to this years excellent Christmas number 1 in the pop charts (probably the best Christmas number 1 I've ever heard) whilst kicking back and chilling out with family and friends. All beers are set for new year now. Cantillon Iris has been moved forward for this event, alongside a bottle of something rather interesting I found in San Francisco, a very famous IPA called Pliny the Elder. Till then a happy new year to all.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Honeymoon in Hawaii

Greetings all and I have to say it’s good to be back. A few of you are probably aware that my honeymoon was (for the most part) in Maui, one of the Hawaiian islands. A Day or two was also spent in San Francisco but this wasn’t nearly enough and we vow to return sometime. Anyhow from what I have noticed (could be wrong here) no beer bloggers I know of to date have covered Hawaii, and it is a rather pleasant place so I thought it would be great to cover it. The reasoning behind our decision to go to Maui was firstly that Helen wanted to go to somewhere sunny, preferably an island where a beach was present, I wanted somewhere to hunt beer and since Hawaii is part of the USA I thought bingo, there’s bound to be some craft brewers.

Beer in Maui

I must first of all mention that 90% of the craft beer available in Maui I found was from ether one of two breweries. These were Kona brewing (from the big island of Hawaii) and the Maui brewing company based in Maui.

Maui brewing company:

The three seemingly core brands are available virtually everywhere on the island on tap or in rather neat sized cans. Apart from these many more quality beers can be found at the Maui brewing company brewpub including the silky smooth chocolate stout, crisp citrusy Puao Pale ale and the liquorishy, Dunkel lager. Another interesting find was the PIA HALE mild ale, which technically could be called a mild, but just seemed a bit wrong served so cold and keg conditioned.

Me and the wife at Maui brewing company brewpub.

Bikini blonde lager.

Bikini blonde lager is great as your everyday session beer, and I did have allot of this stuff. Notably it’s a Helles, and probably the best ive tried. Straw colored and quaffable yet soft and flavorful Bikini blonde offers lush floral herbal hops to the nose leading to a palate of fresh smoothly rounded creamy malt and delicate herbal grassy hops with a slight lime/citric hint. This one went nicely with seafood chowder.

Big Swell IPA.

A bold, brash mouthful of hops is the easiest way to describe this one, with big sappy malts balancing. Pretty orthodox but well crafted American IPA, this one served well with a Hula cheeseburger and Maytag bleu cheese. With a little tobasco sauce this proved a rater intense combination.

Coconut porter.

Coconut porter is a very intriguing interpretation of the style. The first time I tried this one I found the coconut flavor seemed to build into it as you drank. But it is rather balanced with lots of coffee-chocolate, bready, roast malt notes harmonizing well with the obvious coconut dominated flavor profile. It seemed to pair well with allot of island cuisine, nicely with Kona coffee cheesecake and exceptionally well with banana bread and Pineapple upside down cake.

Kona brewing company.

Sadly I don’t have as much to report on Kona. The amber hued full bodied Fire Rock pale is worth a try, and Longboard lager comes across as a decent clean cut pilsner, but the magic of Maui brewing company beers just wasn’t there. Then again I never got hold of any of the famous Pipeline porter.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

That would be an ecumenical matter.

Most people are aware Christmas has some religious roots, and those who know me know I am a religious man. I know what your thinking, and although I was lead vocalist for a death metal band in my university days I am not a Satanist. For my religion I decided to combine the well known and respected religion and discipline of Jedi with the discipline, art and science of brewing. I call it; Brew-I.

As I am a follower of the brewing force I myself am obliged to conduct rituals to follow it. These include brewing, enjoying great beer and reviewing it in my personal notebook, assisting brewing activities at work, as well as educating those less strong with brewing force about the wondrous world of beer. Alongside me are masses of followers of craft brewing, many of them at one with the brewing force. But these unknowing followers can be broadly categorized as ether followers of the force (ones working in the brewing industry or pub trade, or simple beer advocates), High priests (those who write or speak publicly about the beauty of beer), or Warriors (brewers and head brewers). Here are some examples of these righteous ones.

Brew-I followers: Beer Nut, Dave (Daleside No1 Dray), Gus Odlin (John Bull, Alnwick)

High priests/orators of the brewing world: Pete Brown, Melissa Cole, Jeff Evans, Mark Dredge etc.

Brew-I warriors: These include the practitioners of the brewing art; Martin Dickie (Brew Dog), Craig Witty (Daleside), Randy Mosher (also classed as a priest), Ed, John (more hops) Mayer (Rogue), Alistair Hook (Meantime), Woolpacker Dave, and the artist formally known as Wurst.

Ok I suppose Brew-I isn’t a real organized, established religion, but arguably it almost could be. In my quest so far I’ve read so much material from enthusiastic young (and old) bloggers and beer writers, been to events such as Beers of the World, GBBF, and discovered hundreds of diverse, well crafted beers brewed by brewers skilled and passionate about their craft. On some occasions I have even been lucky enough to meet the brewers themselves, and have the autographs to prove it. But lets not forget amongst all these hero’s, that at the centre stage of all this culture, history, tradition, passion, science, art and new wave radical brewing revolution pandemonium, are our friends…… The yeast.

But the thing is with this whole star wars/brewing world comparison is that its almost explainable. You can almost see the similarities between Darth Vader and his powerful empire trying to conqor the galaxy against the rebel alliance just like how InBev-AB dominating global beer markets against the groups of smaller rebel craft brewers. Then most fittingly you have CAMRA (the Wookies), the great Michael Jackson beer hunter (Yoda), and Obi Wan Kenobi (Randy Mosher) alongside many other comparable figures I could probably think of if I thought hard enough.

But I suppose in real life things arn’t so black and white. Like Pete Brown once mentioned the beer industry needs big brewers, small brewers, governing bodies, consumer movements and so forth. It’s all part of the natural balance of the force. It seems that most are in agreement that the real evil lies with the governments tax hiking reaction to binge drinking thinking it will solve something (or just make it look like they are tackling the problem whilst getting more revenue in the process) and the neo-prohibitionists who feed off statistics directly influenced by young chavs getting boozed up on cheap supermarket pap.

So to conclude let us say a prayer…

Our lord Jackson, who art in heaven, beer hunter be his name. Give us our daily beer…

That is all on my religious views, may the brewing force be strong with you.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Currently on Honeymoon

Greeting all. By the time you read this I will be In Hawaii hunting out beers from the Maui brewing company on my Honeymoon. Strangely they seem to like their beer in canned form which im not used to but I suppose its the beer not the package that matters.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Urbock 23

Ok this is it folks, my last blog entry as a single man. The hours tick away and I’m still pondering on which beer to have as my official last beer as an unmarried man. The nightcap before the big day, something to see me off so to speak. From what’s available (most of which is scheduled up in ‘operation winter beaver’) The Thornbridge Alliance Madeira cask reserve looks a tempting option. But anyhow, here is a short beer review for the meantime.

From the Castle Brewery in Austria comes this rather elegant golden UrBock 230(The term Ur indicating originality), a smooth and warming lager at 9.6% abv. The nose brings up front dried spiced fruit and warming alcoholic notes, whilst the palate follows with warming cognac/sherry like notes, creamy malt and well integrated peppery dried fruits and herbal hop notes that continue nicely into the finish. Great stuff, and thanks to Drayman Dave for bringing this one back from Austria. Very drinkable stuff for the abv, with a cleanness of texture from the yeast, maturation and filtration that really brings a touch of elegance. Good job I have another bottle tucked away for next year.