Tag Archive: Malt Musings


Been a busy couple of days in Lower Saxony – seeing deer in Tiergarten in Hannover, wonderful architecture in Goslar. Buuut…

Yeah, I’m here to talk about the beer. First up – found an excellent craft beer store. Now, your mainstream beer is generally good in Germany – their lagers are well made, weisse beers are very easy to find, even some bocks and above pop up regularly. The supermarkets don’t seem to have the widest range – but you can get very high quality lager for virtually nothing. However, it is good to see that now on top of all that, there is a craft range available and Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover had a jaw dropping range. Huge amount of imports, and a very good showing of the local scene as well – right down to a good range of beers from Hannover and the surrounding area – even better it has two taps on site. The people running it were very helpful – my only regret is not having room to bring back more beer.

Also they gave me some useful information about the second big beer news recently. Gose! Got to go to Goslar and try gose beer in the city it was born in. The ones I tried were a lot less sour than I would have expected if I had not been warned by the owner of Kontor. Apparently, Goslar consider the Leipzig version to be based on what Goslar exported, and it was slightly soured by the time it got to then. They hold the original, as their version reflects, was a sweeter wheat based beer with the salt and spice providing the unusual elements rather than full on sourness. Will talk more when I do my notes when I get back on how well the beer worked.

Anyway, only a couple of days left – Will have normal notes up soon. Until then, enjoy your drink!

Lowering Into Saxony: A Germany Trip

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Currently in Germany on holiday. Bit of a blast from the past as I lived in Germany when I was very young but don’t have much in the way of memories from that time, so good to see around where I was.

But, of course you are here for the drink thoughts – found a lovely place to eat and drink in Hanover – Kleines Museum Restaurant. Not the biggest drink selection, but the local Herrenhäuser pils they have on tap is smooth and easy drinking, and their bottle selection have some hefty dopplebocks so I can’t complain. It’s a lovely looking place as well – I’ve shoved a photo up above – lots to look a and enjoy as you sup your drink.

Also managed to try Paulaner Salvator on tap – full notes to come, but it seems much fuller bodied spice than the bottled version I get in the UK. Hoping to hit Goslar over the next few days and try Gose in the town of its birth.

Apart from that been busy sightseeing in Hanover and Celle – enjoying a lot of good German meat and the fact they have apple strudel available at breakfast which makes me a very happy bunny.

I’ll keep you up to date, and until next time – enjoy your drink!

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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!

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.
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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.

On That Brewdog Issue.

Ok, since I did my article criticising Brewdog, some people have asked me if I will still be buying and noting their beers. The answer is, for the moment, yes. I am disappointed with their actions on that event, and wary of some of the priorities when it came to other parts of their Equity For Punks 4 progress, but so far they haven’t done enough to get on my banned brewery list.

For information the only two Breweries on that list are Rogue Brewing, for utterly shite treatment of their employees, and London Fields Brewing for using the brewery to get out of repaying money gained from cocaine smuggling.

Brewdog aren’t that bad yet by far, and I do respect other things they have done – the living wage for all employees for one. As I said in the original article doing this crappy thing now doesn’t wipe out the good they have done, nor does that good excuse any crappy acts they take.

I have noticed that I have picked up less of their stuff than usual, but that is less an active boycott and more, well, just a reaction to the fact that I feel less excited about supporting them because of their acts, so have been more likely to grab other beers when the urge takes me.

So, that’s the situation.

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