Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Asam Aleikum

Christ... So a fair bit's happened happened since my last post. To be honest I found writing about my holiday a little trying...

I had a really amazing time as you may have gathered, but I don't like feeling that I must to write something and one of the original intentions of this blog was to publish writing and tasting as I am doing it... With hilarious consequences!

So I'll get back to that eh...

I've been damn busy recently, if you've not been to Leeds recently then you've won't have seen our festival and you won't have seen me sweating cobs over a shit load of Belgian beer at North.

I'm really happy with the way the whole thing went down, it's amazing how people have become so much more receptive to new beer in the last few years and it's great to now be in a situation where some of these weird and wonderful examples of the brewing art aren't such a hard sell as they used to be.

That said and thoroughly ... and flying in the face of such a wonderful experience, I'm just getting down some German beer.

Weltenburger Kloster - Asam Bock

My fucking christ what a beer.

Smooth as hell, like being thrown down some 'block o flat' stairs whilst wrapped in a duvet. It has bumpy caramel malt like nothing else and deep hops, god knows, perhaps they are hallertau... I don't right know but I've reached a point in German beer where I'm starting to marvel about the nutty, tawny, fruitgum flavours that seem to run through so many beers of so many styles....

This is one of the best beers I've ever had.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Brooklyn Brewery Part 2: Blast & Wild 1!


NYC is really leading the world in terms of beers and bars. FACT, whatever you think of the US they embrace variety and quality more than anyone else. The service is second to none and an experimental attitude is ingrained in the craft beer industry across the board.

Most of the bars I visited also had 15+ beers on tap and the majority were over 5%. They were also innovative and engaging venues and the staff were really knowledgeable and more importantly friendly and engaging.

Barcade in Williamsburg

The Black Rabbit in Greenpoint

Of course my view could possibly have been tainted by the fact that I went to all the best places dahling... Aged beer night at Barcade anyone? A bar full of 80's arcade machines, 15 aged imperial IPA's, Imperial Stouts and Barley wines on draught aged Gonzo, Brooklyn intensified coffee stout?... Come on now.

Britain and British beer are of course my first love but we're only very slowly waking up in this country - I'm sick of hearing about the "cask ale revolution". It's a fucking "revival!". In the past there were masses of beers on offer in pubs of varying strengths and compositions. It's only since pale cask conditioned ale came back into fashion that modern British brewers have started to delve in to the past. The "Great British Public" are slow to pick up on the diversity of ale available.

As such we're getting there but resting on our laurels is something we do in this country all too often.

As such Brooklyn beers in the UK have taken a while to take hold, whereas in the US everyone seems to be sampling the many and varied delights of Mr Oliver and his brewing chums! So lets think back a little to a couple of weeks ago... Through the mists of drunkenness to Williamsburg and the Brooklyn brewery.... diddley doo... diddley doo... diddley doo

One of the first beers we tried with Garrett Oliver was Brooklyn Blast! A US double IPA that really exemplifies the style. US IPA was the first time for me that I was convinced that the US has a style to call their own, extremely bitter, dense and sweet with a complex depth of flavours.

Blast is a wonderful honey orange beer with big big hops. The hoppiness is on the floral side and for me that's something you don't get so often with US beer. Garrett had a lot to say about balance in ale, he's schooled in the UK you see and that subtle approach has translated in to something quite profound in the US - full flavoured, distinctly American beer with a nod to the past. So Blast! is choc a bloc with tropical flavour, sweet malt and flowery cannabis-y goodness. It also has a notable dry finish which make it super moreish...

I was also incredibly privileged to try a beer called Wild 1. This is a bit of an experiment that has been kept within the brewery and is not available to the public! OH! In simple terms it's Brooklyn Local 1, wine barrel aged with brettanomyces added. Oh god how we love the wild yeast - it does something like no other to beer. Wild 1 has a nose like nothing I ever smelt before; full, dusty, winey, sour and utterly spectacular! The beer is ultra complex and intense with spice and citrus alongside fuller black grapey, raisiny, woody notes. A bit of a Willy Wonka beer.

I suppose you'd call it a double saison or something then... Cheers Garrett!

'Representing' in the Brewery

This is exactly what many US brewers did from the word go but then they had a bit of catching up to do I suppose.