Category: Malt Musings


Hey everyone.

Hope you are enjoying your drinks – was planning to do a new set of tasting notes here on Brewdog’s Born to Die 17/03/2017. I have done notes on Born To Die before, but they have tweaked it a bit recently – upping the abv to 9.5% abv as they are phasing out Hardcore IPA and doing regular releases of Born To Die to fill its place. So, I figured I would see what the difference is. Thing is, having tried it, it seems very similar to the prior ones, and I mean very similar. Each release has been tweaked a bit, but this doesn’t seem significantly different to the prior ones, so the notes ended up being virtually identical.

So, still a good beer, I very much enjoy each release – however feels like it fills a very different area than Hardcore IPA – BTD is much drier, and the hop don’t assault as much. I’m guessing it is a business decision as having two big IIPAs out regularly would clash for sales – and I can’t give them shit for that, especially as this is such a good beer. Just a pity for Hardcores’ passing as this really doesn’t fill the same niche for me.

Still, until next time – enjoy your drink!

aa-rb

Malt Musings: Upcoming Whisky: From Raasay and Boarders

Something a bit different today, I am doing first impressions rather than full notes. The reason why is that these are two new whiskies from Independent Spirit‘s Raasay’s tasting night. Bias Warning: As before I was allowed to try these for doing notes by Independent Spirit for free. Anyway, I have a feeling these may be the follow on releases from Raasay’s While We Wait and Boarder’s Single Grain – however nothing is confirmed yet, so the final releases may be very different from what I tried and these may just be an intermediary step. So, more a state of play than anything else, but I figured the chance to do a glance on these should not be passed up.

Single Grain:

Visual: Pale gold.

Nose: Banana. Vanilla. Walnut cake. Still alcohol touched but smoother. Sugar dusting. Menthol. Toffee.

Body: Sweet toffee. Sherried Raisins. Mild alcohol presence. Water makes thick and viscous. Fudge. Rum. Treacle. Walnuts.

Finish: Sherry trifle. Dry oak. Water has alcohol air and spicy rum.

First Impressions: So, what I guess will be the next boarders release is here. Good news – the cardboard and rough elements are way down. Still a few notes when neat, but fair sorted out with water. It is much fruitier, but in a selective way – the Oloroso sherry oak is doing good work here bringing out lots of raisins and such like. Oddly it means that the brighter fruit single grain flavours are nigh completely lost.

Instead it gains a real thick, treacle, spiced and sherried trifle expression. I don’t think I’ve run into such a sherried single grain before and it gives quite an almost molasses like experience. It is a bit one note but intense. Water is still needed, but less so and to better effect.

It needs a bit more time in the oak for balance I feel – to hopefully give more subtlety- there are hints of walnut and soothing fudge now, but I feel with a bit more time it could build up to become something very nice. As is, it is like being shot out of a cannon – a heck of an experience, but needs the rest of the elements to make a while show.

Definite improvement, bodes very well.

Single Malt:

Visual: Rose wine.

Nose: Cherry pocked biscuits. Pencil shavings

Body: Rose wine. Still noticeable alcohol. Water adds vanilla fudge. Orange zest to marmalade.

Finish: Rose wine. Alcohol. Cherry pocked biscuits. Some smoke and menthol. Water brings malt chocolate, fudge and slight dried beef.

Conclusion: Now this definitely follows on from the While We Wait – it has the similar rose wine and cherry pocked biscuit character that makes me as sure as I can be that it is the inheritor to its mantle. It is slightly smoother, and even neat this is more recognisably whisky like that its precursor.

It seems more complex as well, slight smoke darker notes, slight orange zest lighter notes – more is coming out of the fray. It is still a bit alcohol dominated, even with water, but I’m finding myself enjoying this one a lot more. The more easily found whisky character and feel means that it isn’t just as one note with the rose wine influence.

Unlike the precursor I think I would return to this – the alcohol could do with some smoothing, but considering this is a high strength whisky I can give it some room on that. With water it is better, but not 100% removed, but I’m sure a bit more time will help that out. Another good bit of progress. Worth trying as is, and again, signs of good things to come.

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Well, that has been a hell of a few days to round this off. Found a bar that almost felt like home at Norrkoping as it seemed intent on matching the city’s reputation of the Manchester of Sweden by blasting out britpop tunes all night. Starting to see more of the different Swedish breweries’ beers on tap now. It feels like Sweden takes full advantage of its placement to get in lots of imported beers, but seems to have a very solid batch of local brews

Now in Stockholm where we had the most surprising alcohol experience of the trip. Grona Lund theme park has a restaurant nestled away in the walkways that has a great whisky selection that includes Octomore, 21 year Balvenie and more. Pretty much the last thing I expected in the park. Actually the last thing I expected was the sushi and sashimi starters they served at that place, but the whisky came a close second.

Also hit the legendary Akkurat in Stockholm. Stockholm seems packed with bars, and I wish I had more time to explore them all. Akkurat more than lived up to its reputation. Packed to the gills even on a Sunday night, great tap selection that really showed off the Sweden scene, including some real ale hand pumps. Plus some very rare (and very expensive) vintage ales. Some of which will be showing up in the tasting notes over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on the blog. Was a packed night with a great band playing, a Swedish guy buying us beer to try as he enjoyed it so much, discussions with Russian teachers beside us . Fantastic times. Doing a bit more culture stuff today before heading home.

Until next time, enjoy your drink!

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Blask is a new word I have found in Sweden, and one that google keeps trying to auto-correct to “black” leading to some accidentally hideously racist search phrases.

“Blask”, as it has been explained to us, is boring, fizzy, generic, bad beer. A useful term. Especially today, where I bring you from Kolmarden Wildlife Park (home of the awesome Wildfire Wood Roller-coaster, a ride that only disappointed in that they did not play the Crossfaith/Skindred collaboration “Wildfire” while you waited.) a beer that is definitely blask.

No full notes, just a quick set of imagery. It was free at an all you can eat buffet, with free refills. Surely a good sign, no? At a powerful 2.1% they definitely wanted to go all out to make a good session beer, yes?

A whiff of rubber on approach, light to the eye, a sip of chalk and soda streams, leading out into painful, tongue scraping cardboard and chalk mix.

This beer is Grängesbergs Lättöl. It is Blask. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

Hopefully better beer news tonight. Out to sample some more local beers. Seems to be more of a range of beers here now, with the lacklustre but not terrible Brutal Brewing’s: A Ship Full of IPA which seems to be the faux craft mainstream beer that pops up everywhere, and few more other similar choices. Will have to see what high quality Sweden brewers I can find.

Until next time, enjoy your drink!

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Another short update. Wish I could have had more time on Gothenburg. Someone described it as the beer capital of Sweden, and unless I run into some serious great beer later on, I can see that. Lots of what look like great pubs – I only got to hit a few, but high quality from what I have seen.

Seems to be the usual divide between specialist and non specialist pubs. A lot of pubs have just generic Carlsberg and Heineken, but the specialist pubs have a solid set. What I find interesting in that even the specialist pubs don’t seem to have a huge range of different Swedish brewers. Brewpubs obviously have their own beers, and a couple of others sometimes, but often at least half the selection is taken up by imports. It seems so far that there is very high quality Swedish beer available, but the range of different breweries doesn’t seem as wide as other places. So far. This may change as I travel.

Saying that, I was surprised that the restaurants in the local Liseberg Amusement Park had a reasonable selection of beers including even a barley wine. A dangerous thing to have near roller-coasters. On the topic of coasters, their ride Helix is fucking amazing. Smooth, great airtime, intense speed, very little dead time, great Deus Ex/Mass Effect style music and visuals. Well worth it

Currently in Norrkoping – a quieter city for beer, if not for anything else– spent time in the local Museum of Work which helped explain the cities turbulent history – very interesting. Also they have their own brewpub which has done the job very well with a nice, super fresh, selection of ales and awesome steak.

So, continuing along, until next time – enjoy your drink!

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Just a short update. Having a short little holiday in Sweden – Currently in Gothenburg. So far the beer experience is “Holy shit beer is expensive here”. Found a nice pub called 3 Sma Rum, which brews its own beer. Very friendly, very good beer, very good atmosphere. I will do my usual notes on beers tried when I get back. I may not do the usual article on the beer scene when I get back as this is a mixed holiday – beer, culture, and roller-coasters! My mate Roller MouseAT knows coasters like I know beer, and is showing me around the scene. Been on an awesome one called Helix at the local park today and feeling worse the wear for many , highly enjoyed, trips around it.

Anyway, until I get the next chance to update, enjoy your drink!

Pliny The Elder 2016

Many a year ago I got my hands on a Pliny The Elder. A hugely well reputed IIPA from America. However, since I am in the UK, it took a while to get to me, so many people shared the opinion that it would be far past its best.

Fast forwards to this year, 2016, when Christian from Independent Spirit got his hands on some super fresh bottles of this beer – the last of which he found he still had about a month later, when he feared it would soon be past its best. Being the kind person he is, he passed the bottle to me to enjoy before that terrible fate happened.

So, I have now tried a, if not super fresh, still pretty impressively fresh, Pliny in the UK! It still has the same base notes as that beer I experience all those years ago, but is so much bigger. It comes in faster, and has a more showy character that the older beer lacked. Far more pine, resiny hops – the malt still there but less evident with the fresher hop up front. Some orange was present, though Christian mentioned that was far more evident when it was fresh.

I’m not going to do another set of notes, as the base notes are similar, but wow this gives it an extra level of punch and takes a beer I already very much appreciated and shoved it up a notch.

Many thanks again, and this has just renewed my certainty that one day I will try it super fresh in the USA, and possibly even, may I dare to hope, Pliny The Younger.

Drinks By The Dram Whisky Calender
Ok, I am breaking my rule. I have a rule. No talking about Christmas until at least December. It is now November. However these are special circumstances. In a nigh The Culture level intervention scale.

Hey I’m allowed to make “The Culture” references. Iain Banks was a huge whisky fan. It is thematically linked.

Anyway, no talking about Christmas until December, but… When Chris Scullion of Bath Whisky and Rum Club, which is now part of the Independent Spirit store asks for your assistance in doing tasting of twenty four whiskies you do not say no because of a mere point of pride.

So, Masters of Malt, the people behind Drinks By the Dram, have provided him with a copy of the advent calendar. And for the mere cost of my aid in putting up our notes on Alcohol and Aphorisms I am invited to add my thoughts on half of each bottle. Many thanks to both Masters of Malt and Chris, it is an honour.

So, the notes themselves will be going up as and when we manage to drink them, but for now a quick glance at what is coming up. I’m going to put this behind a click to see more in case people have this and don’t want the surprise ruined.

WARNING: I will be putting up the notes over the next few weeks, so if you want avoid spoilers you may want to take care on browsing the blog until we are done.
Continue reading

Ok. A while back I covered Brewdog’s response to a petition for them to take down one of their advertising videos. Since their notapology they came out with “No Label”. Basically a stunt beer with money going to LGBT charities.

I was a bit torn, despite working with the queerest of the queer, the ad copy seemed very tone deaf. Also putting out a PR stunt claiming to be pushing for trans rights after utterly refusing to listen to their voice earlier seemed, well, tacky to say the least.

In the end I grabbed a few bottles, deciding that, with money going to charity, it was worth supporting an effort, flawed though it may be. However, I am starting to rethink – mainly after reading this excellent article by Julia of The Beer Queer tumbler

http://thebeerqueer.tumblr.com/post/132590646786/nice-try-brewdog-and-no-label

I’d recommend everyone take a read as it covers everything far better than I could

Aged Tap Out Dark Abbey

Been a while since I’ve done one of these – Back when I tried this beer two years ago I loved it, and with it being a limited run I thought I had best grab one to age while it was still around. So – here we are, how has the beer done?

Well, the flavours have definitely risen to the task. Huge raisins, huge chocolate, some smoke, big vinous notes, figs. These days it is tasting closer to a Quad than the Dubbel it was close to in its youth. The texture, which was quite smooth young, us now noticeably lighter – it creates an odd contrast between the light mouthfeel and the booming complex flavours.

Because of that it has both improved and lessened – It really needs a bit more body now, to emulate a Quad in feel as well as flavour, however the flavours are exceptional. It really uses the sour notes and smoke.

The beer has become polarised, very similar to how it was before but the lighter elements much lighter and the heavier elements much heavier. When it was young it was probably balanced better and therefore the better beer. I am glad however that I tried ageing it as this gave a much cleaner way to experience the flavours so is a different experience.

Not a perfect ageing, but not a waste of a few years.

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