Is this a beer i see before me?

Got a spot of midweek ‘guh’ today. A few late nights catching up with me i suppose. Still am looking forward to going to Berlin at the weekend, and had the idea today of using some travel vouchers i got for my 30th to visit a friend in Aberdeen, and maybe pay a visit to the Brewdog bar that recently opened there.

Have played Shugo Tokumaru’s Port Entropy a few times this week. He’s a Japanese singer-songwriter, and this is his fifth album. It reminds me a bit of Jim O’Rourke’sEureka or Gastr Del Sol’s Camofleur, both of which are favourites of mine. There’s some nice unexpected sounds on a few of the tracks, and it’s arranged really well. Anyway, i recommend this album. I won’t try to over-describe it. As someone wise once said – writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Instead, listen/watch:

Coming home tonight i was held for something like 20 minutes outside Oxford Circus tube due to overcrowding on the platforms. I get caught out by this about once a week, and it’s getting pretty tiresome. The whole area is being renovated, dug up, pulled apart and fucked with in new ways every day it seems. Just when i thought the journey from work to the tube couldn’t get any more annoying, they’ve recently dug up the road by Topshop, narrowing the usable pavement on that stretch in the process, and causing a bit of a scramble to get to the tube past Topshop. Anyway, while stuck outside the tube, i noticed it actually looked pretty dangerous, with quite a lot of people spilling onto the roads while waiting. There’s a crossroads there and it does seem if this continues, someone will probably get hurt. Not cool, Boris. Hurry it up! I also noticed that when you’re standing there at the top of the stairs waiting to go down into the tube, a lot of people, i assume mostly tourists and amateur photographers, think it’s ok to take pictures of you waiting. I felt i was a creature in a zoo for a moment. Deep breaths.

Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal StoutSo after an annoying journey home tonight i fancied a beer, and Laura and i shared a 22 oz. bottle of Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout (6%abv). says this is the sixth best stout there is. I’ve had the fifth best (Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout), and i have to say that was pretty delicious, if a touch heavy.  I’d had the Rogue bottle for quite a few months, and was a bit worried it might have spoilt. Decided not to drink the last centimetre of beer in the bottom of the bottle. Probably needn’t have worried, all seemed fine when i poured it. It’s a very dark brew, almost black and opaque, with just a little dark brown at the edge of the glass. The head was a lightish brown that popped away, before dwindling a bit, remaining in some form until the last couple of sips. This isn’t a beer with a whole lot going on in terms of aroma, or at least i didn’t get a lot from this bottle (possibly the age, or perhaps it was served a touch colder than it should have been). Chocolate was definitely dominant in what i did smell, and i detected some roasted malts, some sweetness (almost treacle-like), and just a tad of alcohol. Dark chocolate was certainly the main flavour when first tasting the stout. Also some nice malts and coffee-like bitterness, and just a touch of sweetness. It had quite a thick mouthfeel, but it also had a pretty lively carbonation. I think i’d have preferred less carbonation actually, but overall this was pretty tasty, and not too heavy. I’d like to compare it to a younger bottle some time. There seem to be a few more online places stocking Rogue beers now, so shouldn’t be too difficult to get hold of. I love Rogue Dead Guy Ale, so i think i’ll pick a few bottles of that up too. Win!


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Alice Porter

I’m reading Henning Mankell’s The Troubled Man at the moment. I’m a big fan of the Wallander novels, and read them quite obsessively a while back. Am about two thirds of the way through this one, which only came out a couple of weeks ago, and am wondering where i’m going to get my fix when i’m done, as i’ve read all the others and this is supposedly the last one? If you can recommend a good crime novel series, or any good music books, beer books or anything as good as American Psycho (still my favourite novel), please let me know. I will NOT read the metro/Evening Standard on my way to/from work. No, no, no.

Had a driving lesson as soon as i got home today. Not as good as the last few. Bit tired and couldn’t really concentrate. Also, there are way too many roundabouts in Stevenage. Maybe i need to move to America or Milton keynes where such things are practically banned.

After the driving, had a nice bit of pasta with tuna and garlic bread. Just what i fancied. Followed that with the Brewdog Alice Porter received in the post yesterday. Brewdog have risen to prominence pretty quickly. There was definitely a Brewdog-shaped hole in the British beer market, and it’s good to see and be able to buy craft beer in Tescos. You can get Punk IPA in cans now. That, to me, pretty much means they’ve broken into the mainstream beer world. Exciting times!

Brewdog Alice PorterThe Alice porter was a really dark brown, nearly black, colour, with some red showing when i held the glass up to the light. It had a nice off white, almost beige head that remained almost to the end of the glass, and overall looked pretty good. It’s supposedly a vanilla porter. I did get a bit of vanilla in the taste and smell, but i don’t think it took centre stage. Maybe the flavours in my particular bottle weren’t quite in balance. The aroma had coffee, roasted malts, maybe chocolate, a hint of dark fruits, currants and vanilla, and just the tiniest suggestion of booze. Flavour-wise, there was a creamy coffee thing going on to begin. Further sips brought some vanilla, caramel, roasted malts, a light hoppy bitterness, raspberry, Christmas pudding and figs to the mix. A lot going on. Add to that moderate carbonation (which some would say was a little much for a porter – not me, i think it works) and you have a pretty good, drinkable beer. I probably wouldn’t drink more than a couple, just due to the strength (6.2% abv), but this can hold it’s head high alongside the likes of Fullers London Porter, which seems to be a benchmark porter for a lot of people. Give it a try!

We’re off to Berlin this weekend. Will be researching good beer shops over the next couple of days. Will report back on that at a later date.

This looks worth watching…

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Ale in the Mail!

Received the first of three online orders i’d been waiting on today. I’ve used quite a bit, and have to say it’s got a great range of beers, and much of what i’d usually be looking for, plus the occasional hard to find brew. This time i picked up just a few choice ones:

  1. Sierra Nevada Hoptimum – 10.4% abv – American double IPA
  2. Brooklyn Pennant Ale – 5.1% – English style pale ale
  3. Stone Levitation Ale – 4.4% abv – amber ale
  4. Brewdog Alice Porter – 6.2% – porter

Aside from the Stone Levitation, a favourite fridge beer of mine, i’ve not tried any of these before, but all four are from breweries from which i’ve enjoyed pretty much every beer i’ve tried, so am optimistic about them all. I’ll review beers here as i drink them. I was in the mood for something familiar tonight, so let’s start with Stone Levitation ale…

Stone Levitation Ale

One thing i really love about Stone Levitation Ale is that it tastes like a stronger beer than it is, in that it has a bit of the flavour complexity i’d associate with strong IPAs, but has a sensible amount of alcohol in it. Don’t get me wrong, i enjoy big crazy beers as much as the next beer geek, but i don’t necessarily want one every night with my dinner. This amber ale looks super-appetizing in the glass. It has a dark amber colour and foaming off white head. There’s some floral hops on the nose, maybe a bit of citrus and some burnt sugar. The taste is not mega hoppy, as you might expect from Stone, the flavours are pretty balanced, with just moderate hoppy bitterness backed up with some nice sweet malty flavours and citrus. With a freshness that makes it really drinkable, this makes a good session beer, but it’s it’s interesting enough to be savoured as well, if you’re not in a chugging down several beers kind of mood. I had it on tap at the Rake (Borough market) when London was roasting hot last year, and it ranks as one of the most satisfying beers i can remember drinking. It seems to be available in a few more places these days. Definitely worth a try if you spot it.

Mikkeller/Three Floyds Oatgoop

Mikkeller/Three Floyds Oatgoop

On Sunday i was moved to open and drink a special beer i’d been saving. Not only was it the first sunny weekend of the year (reason enough to celebrate by cracking open a beer or two), some of our closest friends announced they were having a baby, and invited us over to a barbecue. I’d been gardening for much of the day and deserved a beer after digging out a difficult shrub too. The beer – Mikkeller/Three Floyds Oatgoop is a barley wine style (actually an oat wine, which i don’t believe i’ve ever encountered before) weighing in at a muscular 10.4%. There was a lot going on in the aroma, loads of sweet malty, almost maple syrupy notes, but also some fruit, and piney hops. It poured a hazy golden amber colour, with a nice off white, foamy head, which receded to a thinner head fairly quickly. The taste was dominated by an amazingly complex, malt-fest. Loads of fruit and some hops in there as well, and a super-smooth mouth feel. The thing that struck me was how dangerously drinkable a barley wine it was, with only the fainest hint of alcohol. Three Floyds and Mikkeller are rightly revered as two of the best brewers the world has to offer, so i was expecting big things. Definitely not disappointed. The only downside is i’ll probably never find it again.

Finally, check out this video, which was posted on the Mikkeller website. I love Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. Good to see their going to such extreme lengths to get it on the shelves.

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