And onto the second flight of IPAs in this eight-beer blind taste test. For some reason, lots of the really interesting ones are on this second paddle...
5) Nicely hoppy with an interesting sweetness and a malty backbone. Very very nice in the context of beer generally, only to be wiped out by the following three...
6) Holy cow, this is astonishing. All sorts of weird sweet creamy stuff going on, making it easily the most complex beer of the eight so far. However, if we're doing a comparison test, in-your-face hoppiness will win over complexity for me most of the time.
7) And this is another really strong-tasting IPA - I'd assumed our tastebuds would have been hammered flat by now, but apparently not. It's another complex mix of flavours, but with not quite as much going on as in 6).
8) And then last but not least we get this, a combination of mad fruity-yet-sour insanity which is my second favourite of the day behind 4). The BBG, meanwhile, says this is her favourite, with number 1) in second place. If we had to make guesses, we think from previous experience this might be WeirdBeard, which could suggest they've just numbered these things in alphabetical order. Is that true? I'll let you know when they tell us...
25th Apr 2015, 18:20
8 IPAs enter: 1 IPA leaves. They're doing a thing at BrewDog Shoreditch today where eight London breweries are collaborating in a blind tasting of their IPAs. Without any knowledge of which one is which (but see photo of the board behind the bar for the candidates), here's what The BBG and I think.
1) Decemt floral hoppiness on the nose, a nice bitterness on the palate after that, and a bit of a kick to follow. Leave it to warm up a little bit, and the nose gets a bit more rubbery. Strong start to an eight-beer session, anyway...
2) ...to the extent that this feels a bit weak. Less hoppy, more bubblegummy, with little else going for it.
3) and to be honest, this is even less interesting: after a mouthful or two it seems to be entirely comprised of bitter mouthfeel without any flavour, which is a fascinating scientific achievement but not entirely satisfying as a beer. There's a small hint of spice fairly late into the glass, but that's about it. Having said that, both 2) and 3) are beers you'd be delighted to have in a general session, they just don't hold up that well against the other ones in this set.
4) Now it's getting interesting again, with one of those prominent hops that snells like you've left the gas on. It's my favourite so far of all the beers: meanwhile, The BBG is reminded of IPA Is Dead: Dana, one of those beers that could open up enormously with food. Sadly, we don't break out the cheesy chips until flight #2 - coming soon...
25th Apr 2015, 18:05
Season's Greetings from Spank The Monkey and The Belated Birthday Girl, Japan, 2014.
25th Dec 2014, 12:43
22nd Nov 2014, 21:20
And so after a brief pause for a fortifying curry, we wrap up with the Northern beers, which to be honest we've been saving till the end because they're the most interesting-sounding. From left to right:
1. Ilkley/Leeds - Westwood Stout (6.5%, white chocolate stout). The BBG was cursing the bar staff when she brought this over, insisting 'that's not a stout' and convinced they were fobbing her off with the wrong beer. But this is definitely white chocolate in beer form, though visually closer to an IPA. Even for a white stout (and we've seen the odd one or two) it's incredibly pale. Rather nice to drink, however, though probably part of that's down to the cognitive dissonance between the look and the taste.
2. Ticketybrew/Manchester - Coffee Wit (5.2%, coffee infused wheat beer). First taste - definitely wheat beer, no real trace of the advertised coffee, though that might be down to the aftertaste of the chocolate from the Ilkley. Subsequently it's coming through, but very faintly. Quite a nice wheat beer, lacking the sourness of others, but not much else beyond that.
3. Tyne Bank/Newcastle - Amba Necta (6.5%, honey and apricot amber ale). Less fruity than the other fruit offerings of the day, and more obviously a beer than some of the borderline alcopops elsewhere in this fest. The apricot's subtle but there, the honey less obviously so: the BBG suggests the latter is rounding out the flavour rather than providing flavour itself, whereas I found it coming through as a very distant aftertaste.
4. Red Willow/Sheffield - Shut Up Meg (7.0%, double IPA). As the BBG notes, every other beer has had weird ingredients or peculiar processes involved in its making: Shut Up Meg is the only one that appears to be a traditional beer style with no funny business. But as double IPAs go, it's a gloriously hoppy bastard, and a great one to finish off the day. It doesn't feel aggressively boozy, but there's definitely some sort of kick in there.
'London wins overall,' says the BBG overall, and I have to reluctantly agree her, though the first and last of the northern beers put up a good fight by comparison. The 5 Points was probably our joint favourite: I'd bagsy the Red Willow if it ever came up in a bar again, while the BBG would plump for Wild Beer's Rosa Canina.
And hey, look, I can still spell after 16 beers! I think.
25th Oct 2014, 22:38
(I'm trying every escape format I can think of to make the @ sign in the title come up in the autogenerated tweets. Apologies in advance if it still doesn't work.)
Halfway through a four-bar, sixteen-beer pub crawl: how's my typing holding up? I dread to think, frankly. The flight at Clapham Junction consists of four beers from all the bits in the middle and south of the UK that aren't London. Left to right:
1. Quantum/Birmingham - Hop. Kettle. Black (4.8%, hopfenschwartzweisse). Yeah, you try typing that after eight beers (okay, eight sixths of beer technically, stop hassling me). Takes a while forthe taste to come through, and smells like you've left the gas on. Still struggling by the end of the glass to pin the flavour down to anything in particular. 'You can tell lots of things are going on, but none of them are coming through,' says the BBG.
2. Wild Beer/Bristol - Rosa Canina (5.4%, saison with rosehip, rose petals and rosemary). Deliciously fruity, grabs you by the nose as soon as you pick up the glass. The sours in CollabFest are all well and good, but balls to sourness when you can have fruit beers that taste this nice.
3. Celt Experience/Cardiff - Home Of The Fruitcakes (6.0%, strawberry and raspberry saison). Even more ridiculously fruity than the Bristol beer. BBG thinks that the fruit is more forward but it's less interesting than Rosa Cantina - still, it's incredibly drinkable for a 6% beer, with an actual taste of fresh fruit in there. The West are easily beating the Midlands in this particular flight.
4. Buxton/Nottingham - Rough C's (5.0%, oatmeal amber lager). Bitter for a lager, not much else can be said apart from that. End up taking big glugs in an attempt to taste something other than bitterness. 'Nicer than most lagers,' suggests the BBG, 'but it's still a lager.'
25th Oct 2014, 19:59
So, yes, the plan for today is to drink samples of sixteen beers in four bars and review them as we go. This flight's labelled 'Scotland Forever', so you know where we're coming from: left to right, they go like this.
1. Cromarty/Aberdeen: Stoater Scotch Ale (7.5%, Scotch ale with oats, brambles, honey). First one I've been able to smell before tasting (thanks to the BBG having the first mouthful of our 1/3 glass), with the brambles and honey definitely coming through. Very nice honey taste that covers up the whole 7.5%ness of it - the BBG recommends that it would be perfect to serve to children, like the Bacardi flavouring discovered by Jean Simmonds in Guys And Dolls.
2. Fyne Ales/Glasgow - SameWerking (5.2%, Rooibos Red Ale). Curious taste with tea overtones, nothing special. Drinkable, but least impressive so far. 5AM Saint - sorry, 5AM Red Ale - is the one to beat in this category.
3. Tempest/Edinburgh - False Provenance (6.8%, Borders Belgian Black Ale). Lots of layers to this one - very gluggable, but waves of different flavours come through as you're drinking it. It slightly loses its appeal over the length of a serving, which in our case was 1/6 of a pint, but it starts off brilliantly. Maybe it's a temperature thing, suggests the BBG.
4. Alechemy/Dundee - Smoked In History (5.2%, smoked porter with wood from an old boat or something). More obvious smokiness than the 5 Points we had earlier - however, there doesn't seem to be much else there apart from the smoke. 'Quaffable,' says the BBG, and it certainly goes down very easily.
25th Oct 2014, 17:44
Flight of four beers from London breweries, made in collaboration with the four London BrewDog bars. Left to right:
1. Lovibonds/Shepherd's Bush: Purple Rain (5.8%, foraged fruit sour). Properly sour, it's not just the fruit talking (unlike the lime sour below). Like a more souped-up version of the Blitz range.
2. Five Points/Shoreditch: Smoke & Mirrors (7.8%, smoked porter). Very, very nice indeed. Dark, smoky, smooth, and feeling very much like the strongest thing we're going to drink all day. Very well balanced, says the BBG.
3. Brodies/Clapham: Southside Zester (3.7%, lime Berlinerweisse). Lots of lime with hint of sourness - reminds BBG of Rose's Lime Cordial. Refreshing and light, the one we actually started the day with.
4. Pressure Drop/Camden: Syd Strong's (7.1%, black rye IPA). Very interesting, complex flavour, feeling more like one of BrewDog's stout experiments. BBG finds it 'a bit chemical, but in a good way... I like it, but find it very difficult to describe'. Works well with Camden bar's Scotch eggs.
25th Oct 2014, 16:03