Having been invited to a craft beer appreciating friend’s house for catch up and some beer related chat over the weekend I jumped at the opportunity to do a mini beer tasting across a few different styles of beer. After a visit to Great Grog Bottle Shop (http://www.greatgrogshop.co.uk) in Edinburgh I managed to pick up a few good options from some great UK brewers. To top it off I also managed to grab a growler full from the “Hop Cannon” at BrewDog Aberdeen.
The beers we had, and my thoughts on each, are as follows:-
India Hells Lager | Camden Town Brewery
A hoppy lager sitting at 6.2%abv, this is really easy to drink. The hops give it a light/medium citrusy flavour and add body. It tastes like a typical IPA, but with a much lighter mouth feel due to being a lager. The finish is light and fruity and it really doesn’t feel like it’s sitting at 6.2%, which makes this a really good, sessionable lager; and due to the fact it comes in a can, I reckon this would be perfect for summer barbecues. Definitely one for a beer cooler on a sunny day.
Long White Cloud | Tempest Brewing Co
A new world inspired pale ale brewed in the borders of Scotland. Tempest is quickly becoming known as one of Scotland’s most respected breweries and their recently ‘rebranded’ line of beers are some of the best around (in my opinion). Long White Cloud sits at 5.6%abv and is a really solid, very drinkable pale ale. It pours clear straw gold, quite light, and the citrus notes are foremost in the aroma. It feels quite light for a pale ale too, but still has a kick of hops and flavour. Easy to drink at the start of a session, and really refreshing. I really like the Tempest beers, and this to me is one of their best.
Sourdough | The Wild Beer Co
A sour beer (or is it? see www.draftmag.com/stop-calling-beers-sours for discussion on this point!) from a really great, innovative, experimental brewery. The Wild Beer Co range of beers is large and eclectic. They seem to be collaborating with just about everyone and I’ve yet to taste a beer of theirs I didn’t like. Their Madness IPA is a standout IPA for me. Anyway, back to Sourdough… this beer sits at 3.6% and is based loosely on a berliner weisse style using 58 year old sourdough yeast sourced from Hobbs House Bakery. It is light and extremely refreshing, with a reasonable level of carbonation. It has been likened to a cider, but to me it has a broader range of flavours and aroma than any cider I have tasted. It is very light yellow in colour, like a fresh lemonade, and has a very light mouth feel. Any sourness, or tartness, is mostly seen in the finish, but it is neither unpleasant nor off-putting. This is an ideal introduction to sour beers for those of us who typically drink IPAs or other ales; it is not unpleasant in any way, and is another beer here I would recommend for the beer cooler! Although, it should ideally be kept upright and carefully poured to avoid a glass full of the yeast left in there for bottle conditioning!
Smog Rocket | Beavertown Brewery
A smoked porter at 5.4%, this is lighter than other smoked porters I have tasted recently, and I’d suggest it is possibly better for it. Beavertown are renowned for making great beers and this one is no exception. A solid porter, with a lighter mouth feel and lots of malt & dark chocolate flavours; it really opens up as it warms up so not a beer I would recommend is ever super chilled. Not a beer I would be able to drink more than 1 or 2 of in any one sitting, but I find that with most stouts and porters, so I tend to go back onto pale ale after a porter or stout. This is a really decent beer, and would be great for having along with or after dinner. Highly recommended.
Pilot Brew 002 with vanilla & cocoa nibs | BrewDog
This coconut and cherry imperial porter at 9.3% was a big gun to start with, but after being infused with vanilla and cocoa nibs and spending some time in the “Hop Cannon” at BrewDog Aberdeen it was a monster! A really solid imperial porter brewed on the pilot brew kit at the BrewDog brewery, this is an experimental brew I hope becomes a more regular release. Lots of sweet, malt, chocolate flavour and a thick, coffee like mouth feel. Slight bitterness and a hint of the alcohol on the finish. This beer is a perfect one to have along with, or in place of, a dessert after dinner. The closest beer I’ve had to this is the Bounty Hunter coconut stout which was recently released by BrewDog, but this one takes that and ramps it up to another level. If you can find it, have it.
All in all, a really decent beer selection and not a bad one among them. My favourite beer of the night was probably the Pilot Brew 002, closely followed by the Sourdough, and I will definitely be trying out a few more sour beers throughout the summer.