A Lager I Like a Lot: @HarviestounBrew – Schiehallion

20141031_190622At -another- leaving do for one of my colleagues (there’ll only be me left at this rate) in Oxford, we decided to go back to The Standard curry house in Walton Street as it’s a) great and b) got a beer menu.  As I was driving much later on, I thought I’d go for a smaller bottle of beer and as it was a curry, why not try a Lager?

Now, Me and Lager have an on/off relationship (it’s normally “on” and available, and I’m normally put “off” of trying it…as a child of the eighties/nineties I am congenitally predisposed towards hating shit lager)

Anyway, that might all have to go out of the window now I’ve tried Schiehallion…

I poured it into my glass, it was lightish lager-coloured with a crystal-sparkly white head.

One sniff and the aroma instantly blew away all my old Lager-based fears: it smelt of something.  A nice something:  clean fresh, with an alluring maltiness, some grains and a little slab of fresh ozoney hops.  Enchanting.

The taste was solid malt with a crisp freshness about it.  The malts were definitely to the fore and the wheat added a delicious layer of luscious viscosity and creaminess.  A spritzy, lively, clean hoppiness sat atop the whole thing and made it sparkle, pop and fizz.

Lovely.  I mean really lovely.  Quite simply the best lager I’ve ever had.  Period.

I’ve never had a yearning to brew a lager before.  Now I have…

http://harviestoun.com/our-beers/schiehallion

Home-Brewed Fresh Hop Cascade Pale Ale (Braumeister Version) – tasting notes

20141103_190832Great beer deserves great photography, unfortunately this isn’t great photography…

After brewing up this (https://yeastismybitch.com/2014/10/02/home-brewed-fresh-hop-cascade-pale-ale-braumeister-version/) and using the entire hop harvest from my garden, plus another 100g of dried leaf hops, it’s finally ready to drink.

From the keg this beer pours a really lovely autumnal sunny yellow, and is quite clear, too – even with the keg hops.

The head is pure white, sticky, lacy and lasting – pretty much perfect.

The aroma is solid hoppiness: piney, vegetal (it’s fresh hops, remember – they always make things taste a bit “green”) with a good dose of floral too.  There’s hints of the resinous tumult to come, but it’s not the massive hoppiness in the aroma that I was hoping for; saying that of course – it’s way more hoppy than a lot of the beers I’ve eve made, so I really should be ecstatic.

The mouth-feel is nigh-on perfect and makes for a great stage on which the other flavours play out: hops, funnily enough, are to the fore – piney resinous and a great big bunch of fresh cut meadow flowers. This beer is unmistakeably fresh-hopped and is all the more glorious for it.

Towards the end of taste curve comes the bitterness that lays low the hops and allows the malt body to come through.  A refined and refreshing dryness comes in at the very end and prompts the inevitable elbow-bend, sup and head-long charge through hop land again.

Bloody hell.  This is without doubt one of the best beers that I’ve ever made.  All ingredients perfectly in proportion, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t change – especially the palm sugar addition – this allowed the extra gravity without leading to a massive malt-bill cloying sweetness.  Additionally, the keg hopping allowed the extreme hoppiness to continue for longer than ordinary dry-hopping would.

I can’t see how I wouldn’t be making this again next year when the hops are ready.  Speaking of which there’s going to be a lot more hops grown in my neck of the woods next year, oh yes.  Friends have already offered me use of their gardens and farms, etc.

UPDATE: A week or so after writing this and the extreme hoppiness is starting to fade a little – it’s still a beautiful beer, but not as forcefully fresh and vibrant as it was.  Moral of the story: drink hoppy beers quickly!  Speaking of which, if you know me well, why not drop around and help me get through it while it’s still good?!