Lindeman’s: Framboise Lambic

framboiseAfter a couple of IPAs last night I was starting to crave something a bit different.  Lindeman’s came to the rescue with their framboise (raspberry) lambic.

If you’re a regular reader you know that I’m quite keen on Lambics and how they’re made, if you want the complete 101 on that you can always read up on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambic or even check out Mike Tonsmeiere’s excellent Mad Fermentationist site – which has more experiments, comment on and reviews of Lambics and sours than anywhere else on the ‘net: http://www.themadfermentationist.com

The Lindeman’s Framboise was an extraordinary vision of fairground pinkness when it arrived.  In a tall glass it was the beer world’s equivalent of Danny La Rue.  You would probably not want to drink this in your local – as you’d soon know about it from the other regulars.

The beer was hazy, boiled sweet rhubarb red and the head was the most obscene candy-floss pink.  An aroma was of pungent sweet raspberries coupled with just a hint of dry, untouched-for-years, attic.

The taste was all at once a tumult of sour followed by sweet raspberry and then intense bone-dry raspberry pips -you remember the first time as a kid when you crushed a raspberry pip in your teeth?  Lindemans make this with real fruit and you can certainly tell that.

The mouthfeel at first seems thin, until your mouth fills with flavour and dryness and pips and everything – until it’s over-crowdingly mouthfilling…then you swallow and the whole thing reverberates around until you’re left with a dry mouth and feeling the urge to take another sip and careen down the rollercoaster just one more time.

This beer is both heady and intoxicating in it’s taste and fragrance.  Hugely complex, but at times very sweet…if you don’t like sweet – you probably won’t like this.  If, on the other hand, you fancy a fairground ride of a beer (in every sense of the word) then this is for you.

http://www.lindemans.be/start/framboise/en

Bell’s: Two-Hearted Ale

KBC Two Hearted Ale CMYK.ai

Hi Bell’s

It’s Jon…   I just wanted to drop you a short note to apologise for being far too knackered and frazzled to really appreciate your excellent Two-Hearted Ale.

It was somewhere around 10pm (i.e. 3am in my home time zone) when I ordered up some from the tap in JW Alexanders in Dayton.  I could barely keep my eyes open as I was vigorously and comprehensively assailed by your beautiful and rather excellent beer.

The wondrously intense hop aroma should have floored me more, the amazingly competent malt schedule should have had me chewing my dining companion’s ear off about it’s majesty.  The ability of your -no doubt- extraordinary hopping schedule to literally carpet every inch of spare mouth-space with a verdant green and lovely hoppiness should have had me in raptures.

But I was stone too tired.  I mean; on my knees, obliterated…

I shall make it up to you by enjoying your beer again sometime this week.  I will make room for it, I promise.

With deepest apologies,

Jon.

http://www.bellsbeer.com/brands/info/2

Dogfish Head Sixty Minute IPA

20130928_213702

Well here I am in the good old US of A.  It’s just after 6am Dayton time (11am in my home time zone) I’m propped up in bed in my hotel room with some filter coffee.  I got in yesterday after a marathon travel episode…and obviously whilst travelling one should always ensure that one is hydrated, shouldn’t one?

I was intensely excited to find that even the sports bar at Philadelphia airport had a good selection of craft beers (you US folks DO NOT know how lucky you are…if this was the UK airport bar there would be a choice of piss-coloured lagers, synthetic ciders and some very badly kept cask ales.)

I was even more intensely excited to find Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA in bottles.  So I had one…

During brewing, the 60 minute IPA is hopped once a minute, every minute for 60 minutes, during the boil; which would go to explain why there are absolutely no gaps in the spectrum of hop influences in this beer: right from bitterness through taste, to aroma…

Hands-a-tremble (long flight, low blood sugar and shagged) I poured it out: and got a nice lightly brassy coloured beer.  A high carbonation bore aloft a very stable, sticky, head.  This head hung about for the entire duration of this beer.

One the nose there were indistinct, but strongly smelling hops and a pleasing background malty minerality.

I could best describe the body of this beer as lagerish – which, I know doesn’t help much, but it was lightly malty, clean and nicely balanced.

Then the hops came on: BAM!  An instant mouth-full of bright-green vegetative hops…just like having a handful of damp hops from the brew kettle rendered in 3D in your mouth…and that hoppiness doesn’t go away it kicks back and hangs around whilst a beautifully clean bitterness saunters in and pulls up a seat next to it like a lover:

The conversation goes back and forth after the swallow, the bitterness and hoppiness taking to turns to speak, the words permeating every taste bud; teasing, prickling and reminding you over and over again just how good they are as a  couple…

This is an excellent beer, maybe not as mental in strength, body, hoppiness and mouthfeel as some of the big bruiser IPAs, but it’s accomplished, tasty, lingering and well worth seeking out.

Dogfish Head beer is just not available in the UK.  To my mind this is the definitive name in US craft beer and I look forward to coming across more of their beers during my week here.  The 120minute IPA, if I can find it, promises to be a very special beer indeed…

http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/year-round-brews/60-minute-ipa.htm

Got a stinking cold…

…so that’s why there haven’t been many beer reviews of recent, but you can expect a deluge of them next week when I visit the US of A to attend some team meetings and also to maybe catch a few exciting over-the-top IPAs.

It looks very much like it’s the season for pumpkin-inspired beer over there and also imperial stouts and IPAs.  Marvellous.

My boss sent me a pic from a place that he visited the other week (Pies & Pints in Dayton, Ohio).  It’s a teeny bit blurry – but looking at the strengths of some of the stuff on tap, I should imagine his vision was too…

I hope to go to Pies & Pints during my visit, too.  Even if our dear friends across the water still insist on calling pizzas “pies”.  No, I don’t know, either…

IMG_2413

Probably best to click on the image for the full size version…

You can enjoy the full menu, as I hope to next week, at their website here:

http://piesandpints.net/locations/dayton-oh

Robinsons: Iron Maiden “Trooper” Beer

20130918_191724Met-laaaaaaaars Rejoice!

Oh yes, all you grimy metalers will be cock-a-hoop to know that Iron Maiden have been working in conjunction with Robinsons brewery to bring out “Trooper” brew – named after one of the classic Iron Maiden songs.

(I’m just not that familiar with old metal stuff, so I’ve no idea if the original track is actually any good…however, ask me about The Fields of the Nephilim and I can wax lyrical for hours on any of their song’s relative merits…)

Robinsons also make Old Tom, one of my favourite strong ales – at 8.5% it’s almost harmfully strong…but only in a good way.

Someone at either the ‘maiden end or the Robinson’s end knew precisely what they were doing when they put the Trooper recipe together, I was all ready to dismiss this beer of hand as yet another cynical commercial tie-in, you know: “let’s just dust off some old recipe and let it go out in a pretty bottle…

Trooper pours a very nice pale copper colour whilst an ebullient cauliflower head crouches foamily atop, lovely fragrant malt and minerality feature strongly on the nose.

The taste leads out with a really excellent clean bitterness, which then gives way to a really chewy mouthful of malt – only for a nicely judged hop bitterness to come back on again and stay around for quite a while.  There is some hop taste; which, although understated, has good piney and floral notes.

The aftertaste goes on and on and on, and it’s all hoppy and malty and bitterish and excellent…a bit like the whistling you get in your ears after a night out at a rocking gig – a happy reminder of what you’ve just experienced and which makes you look forward to the next time you can go and experience it again…

Trooper is solid and excellently judged…in fact it’s one of the best “beer” beers I’ve had in a long while.  As it’s excellent out of a bottle, out of a cask it’s got to be just perfect.  I look forward to encountering it on tap…soon.

http://www.ironmaidenbeer.com/#

http://www.robinsonsbrewery.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/91/category/22/

Hobson’s “Postman’s Knock” Porter

20130917_191011I’m confused.  Why oh why did the folks at Hobsons Brewery call this porter “Postman’s Knock“?

Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought that game involved someone going outside while the rest of the group span a bottle – whoever got chosen by the bottle had to go outside and snog with the “postman“?

You’ve got to love us British for contrived parlour games, haven’t you.?

But that still doesn’t explain the name…maybe I’ll get the link as I go through this review…

I poured out Postman’s Knock (nope, I still don’t get it) into a glass, being careful not to upset the sediment as this is a bottle conditioned beer.  Colour-wise, it was suitably dark and more portery-brown than the russet of an ale or bitter.

A tan head squatted about on the top of the glass for a bit, before fizzling away to leave floaty islands of carbonation.

From the aroma I got rich chocolate and crystal malts – almost like a Young’s double chocolate stout; it actually smelt quite tempting on a cool, rainy, early autumn Oxfordshire evening.  Maybe my brain’s now re-tuning to heavier maltier beers with the change in the season.?

The taste of Postman’s Knock was not what I was expecting, it’s nowhere near as sweet and chocolatey as the aroma would have you believe, but that’s not a bad thing as it means there’s nothing cloying or over-bearing.  A little bitterness (like a bitter dark chocolate) fronts up a hefty tongue-encompassing maltiness which pervades for ages before little stabs of softened bitterness interject at the swallow.

The malt stays with you for a good while afterwards, riding whip hand alongside that subtle bitterness.

All-in-all this is a pleasant enough porter, the only thing that spoils it for me is the carbonation.  It’s just too fizzy…but I guess if you’re bottling you have to have carbonation, otherwise it’ll spoil.  If I had it again I’d open it 20 minutes before drinking and let it come up to room temperature.

In that 20 minutes maybe you could play a game of something with your wife, life partner, etc…hold on…I think I’ve just  worked it out…

http://www.hobsons-brewery.co.uk/beers/postman%27s-knock.aspx

BrewUK

BrewUKA bit like your local brewery, you should always hold your favourite home-brew suppliers dear.

As you probably know I tend to get my malt and hops locally (from Rob the malt miller as he’s local and has cut me a few favours on occasion)

But, for all my exciting sundries: kegs, pipes, buckets and all that jazz (and Wyeast!) I tend to go to Greg at BrewUK.  His prices are hard to beat and his range is pretty much unsurpassed.

The biggest draw to the BrewUK online presence, however, is the BrewUK forum…  I must admit that I wouldn’t be half the home-brewer I am today if it wasn’t for Saracen, Hamish and co.  They and the rest of the the community were the folks that set me off down the wort-splattered path of all-grain brewing.

I haven’t posted to the forum for ages, but feel I ought to if only to say “Hi” and also to ‘fess up to buying a Braumeister…will they ever forgive me?

So here’s the tip(s):  If you want some decent gear (including a *huge* range of extract/all-grain kits) go to the BrewUK store; however, if you need help, advice, or just a shoulder to cry on when you experience your fifteenth boil-over, you can’t go far wrong than join the BrewUK forum.

http://www.brewuk.co.uk/

UPDATE:

I have just logged on and said “Hi” – let’s hope there’s some Braumeister users on there.  I could do with some good recipe tips!