Not my Hoppy Weisse – Schneider Weisse: Tap 5 (Meine Hopfenweisse)

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Now that we’ve apparently voted to leave Europe, let’s take a look at a European beer…

I mean, no matter what we do in England, the Germans will still keep making beer and hopefully we’ll still be able to get hold of it and drink it.

I am refusing to wax lyrical on the decision to leave.  This is about beer and not about politics.

For context, a few hours before the decision to leave became clear, I found out that my boss and the boss above them had had their positions “eliminated” (my overlords in the US don’t tend to mince their words with soft-soap-shit like: “pursuing other opportunities” or “spending more time with their family”) so as you can imagine, my mind was elsewhere for most of the night – when it really should have been asleep.

I actually drank this beer in response the “elimination” news – not at all by way of celebration, but more because nobody likes to be eliminated and nobody likes to find themselves adrift and managerless at 7pm on a weekday evening…although as I now write this I have a new manager now who seems to be a decent enough sort – which is some relief.

So Schneider Weisse Tap 5 – a wheat beer that’s been generously late-hopped with US craft varieties.?  That should have been of comfort to me, shouldn’t it?

Umm, no.  Not at all, in fact…

Tap 5 is quite a “dirty-looking” wheat, but not in the “has come-to-bed-eyes” sort of way, more of a reflection on the amount of yeast sediment in the bottle, and yes I know it’s a hefeweissen, mit hefe, but it’s a bit too much mit hefe for my liking.

The aroma is well, boozy.  I mean strongly boozy, and that’s because it’s 8.2%!   Jeez that’s just too much in a wheat.  It’s also strongly phenolic – which totally drowns out any of the hopping.

I just didn’t like the smell.  There, I’ve said it.

The taste is gigantic; but unfortunately it’s really cloyingly over-malty with lashings and lashings of booze. There’s some over-ripe bananas and a bit of wheaty-graininess but it’s not enjoyable.

The hops don’t do much, either – save from adding to the syrupy over-blown boozy morass.

I really, really wanted to like this beer but I couldn’t. It’s been on my list of beers to try for years now and I’m still finding it difficult to find words to express my disappointment.

It should have been far lighter on it’s feet (about 5% ABV) which would make for a delicate and refreshing wheatiness that the late hops could dance upon – that’d be a more bananas and creme-anglais with orange and lemon coulis sort-of-thing…

…rather than a dollop of mashed brown bananas soused with brandy and half a Seville orange rammed up your jacksie.

God, I hate having to writing about beer in this way:

http://www.schneider-weisse.de/index.php?lang=en&tpl=brauerei.spezialitaeten.hopfen:

It kindled my flame – Berliner Kindl Weiss (from @beersofeurope)

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Rarely have I opened a bottle of beer with such trepidation.

Berliner Weisse in its native form is a rare old beast…that’s not to say that the craft brigade haven’t embraced the style as their own, in fact there’s quite a lot of Berliner Weisse tributes knocking about the place.

But I wanted the real thing…

I’ve read about, I’ve looked at recipes for it and I’ve often thought about making it…I just never had the chance to try an example of the Berliner Weisse style.

Until now.

I found that those lovely people at Beers of Europe (http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk/beers) stock a Berliner Kindl Weisse, so along with a happy batch of other bits and bobs, I received my coveted bottle of Berliner.

To make a Berliner Weisse you need the help of our old pal Lactobacillus (the bacteria responsible for the tanginess of yoghurts, etc.)  Lactobacillus drops the PH of the finished beer sufficiently to give a bracing yet refreshing tartness; this increase in acidity with a standard brewers’ yeast fermentation helps to create a unique and exciting flavour profile.

There’s obviously a lot more to the process – including the potential for a no-boil (!) wort-making step, but we’ll leave that for the day that I get around to making my own version.

So how’s it taste?  Well…

It’s a bright straw yellow, with a smallish snow-white head.  Maybe there’s a faint haziness about it, but if there is it’s unremarkable.

There’s a more-than vigorous carbonation, which certainly adds a pizazz to proceedings – small wonder that Napoleons troops called it The Champagne of the North when they first came across it.

The aroma is pretty much devoid of maltiness – OK there’s some sweetness there somewhere – but it’s mainly tart and juicy green apples with  over-ripe pear notes and a faint “sherbertiness.”

In the mouth it’s foamy and lively, coquettishly flirty and tartly refreshing.  The acidity from the lacto fermentation is proper mouth-puckeringly good and there’s an assertive lemoniness with a thin, reedy, maltiness.

There’s no escaping the acidity, and I can guarantee that you won’t have had beer like this before; the front of my tongue sang with it’s refreshing sharpness.

The Germans like to add some fruit syrup to theirs to make it more drinkable – but I didn’t bother because a) I knew it’d probably get up their noses a bit if I had it without and b) I like my Berliner Weisse sharp.

Get some today and lively up yourself (as they might say in Jamaica)

http://www.berliner-kindl.de/Produkte/Berliner-Kindl-Weisse

Don’t know if it needs the hops, really… @vedett: Extra IPA

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Vedett.  It’s just one of those beer brands that I saw all over the place, but never really get around to trying, mainly because the label – while being a la mode and all that – is not exactly eye-catching on a shelf amongst a load of other beers.

I overlooked Vedett for years, only being forced to buy it from a small provincial Co-op when faced with a very dismal “brown beer” selection.

As it turns out, the standard Vedett version is a very acceptable Belgian Blonde beer indeed.

So when Eve and I went to The Unicorn in Deddington for lunch last week – only to find that it’s a Youngs/Wells outfit* I was happy to take the alternative Vedett IPA option.

(*it’s not that I don’t like the Youngs/wells beers, I just find them a bit uninspiring )

BTW: Lunch at The Unicorn was bloody excellent.  I mean really good.  We will be going there again.

But a Vedett IPA?  I mean a Belgian beer with a load of late hops?  How’s that going to work?

I’d had heavily-hopped Belgian beer before: Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch being one (https://yeastismybitch.com/2014/01/10/flying-dog-raging-bitch/) so I was hopeful that Vedett IPA would be an interesting variant on that theme…

Vedett IPA pours a golden colour and has the aroma of a typical blonde Belgian beer, you know: sweetly malty with a phenolic overtone and that slight spicy edge – only this time with a bouquet of floral hops festooning the top.

In the taste it’s a bit like Raging Bitch, but just not as mental; there’s all the usual Belgian taradiddle but a more of a fruity core plus a nice floral hop topping.  The finish is long and dry and worked well with food.

All in all, it’s tasty and satisfying – but I’m still not completely sure that late-hopping of an already decent Belgian yeast flavour  enhances the standard Vedett beer much.

In fact, I can’t really say that I’ve yet found one late-hopped Belgian that I’m completely over the moon with.

Maybe it’s just me…maybe I haven’t tried enough – after all there’s still La Chouffe with late hops, Duvel Tripel Hop and loads of others out there…

Give Vedett IPA a whirl, it’s dependable, tasty, well-made and you may well end up loving it…

http://vedett.com/luscious-liquids/ipa/

Can you feel the Magic? @Winerackonline @MagicRockBrewCo Cannonball and Salty Kiss

Can you imagine my unconfined joy when a colleague at work informed me that the local garden centre had a new concession shop that sold beer?  Not just any old beer mind, but several hundred different sorts of GOOD beer.

He sent me pictures too – of burgeoning shelves with Belgians and Lambics, and US craft IPAs and Wheats, oh and everything.

So I finished work a few minutes early that day and drove the five minutes (five minutes!) to Yarnton Nurseries.

Avoiding all of the other garden centrey guff they have there (pretty much none of it to do with gardening), I headed straight to the Wine Rack “shop” contained within (http://www.winerack.co.uk/yarnton)

Giddy with excitement, I reeled around:  Brewdog “Sink the Bismarck” at £53 a bottle!  Boon Gueze!  Weihenstephan Wheats! (A couple of varieties) and all sorts of other exotic stuff – plus loads and loads of good-looking English beers…

Wine Rack had a good selection of Magic Rock beers, so I took the liberty of buying a couple of cans.  God knows I’ve enjoyed Magic Rock’s beer in the past (https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/11/07/magic-rock-dark-arts/) so I knew I was probably in for a treat…

Cannonball IPA

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An attractive-looking helping of beer, it was hazy and cut-cornfield straw-coloured.  A nice little head hung about prettily, the aroma was hoppy and, how can I say this?  “nicely-meshed”, yes that’s it: all the hops were delicately and expertly matched and woven together.

A tight and solid aroma profile; nothing poked out at weird angles, it wasn’t too piney, and not too resiny either.  Lovely.

The carbonation was pleasant and appropriate, and the taste was big, hoppy and dangerously drinkable.  A light but firm bitterness came after with some ethereal long-lasting citrus.

At the swallow a prickly, prickly, bitterness paired up with the hops and just DANCED on the tongue.Bloody bloody excellent.

Buy it on sight.

See it here: http://www.magicrockbrewing.com/beer/cannonball/

Salty Kiss Gooseberry Gose

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This is my first experience of the Gose style, traditionally made with a water profile that is ever so slightly salty, Gose is one of those trendy styles that probably aren’t made that much where they originate from, but the new-wave of craft brewers have taken it to their bosom as one of their own.

Worried about a salty beer?  Don’t be.  It’s divine.  And if you need proof get a glass of room temperature water and grind a little black pepper into it.  Mix well and taste.  Doesn’t taste of much does it?  Now add a small pinch of salt and stir again.  Then taste.  That’s the difference…

Salty Kiss was was a lighter straw colour than the Cannonball, with an aroma profile that’s almost lagery-malty – so I’d imagine that there’s pilsener malt in there*.  Not a lot of hops in the nose, but that’s not what we’re after.

The taste is a revelation:  light and floaty with a delicate, delicate, tartness.  The salt is like the brine on your lips on a windy winters’ day at the beach.

This beer is refreshing and the gooseberries and white summer-fruit theme appears half-way through – like Victorian phantasmagoria.

Truly delightful.  If you’ve never tried it, you must…

See it here: http://www.magicrockbrewing.com/beer/salty-kiss/

(* I looked and there isn’t!)

Wine Rack:

Well worth a look.  I’ve been looking in the Yarnton outlet after work every Friday since I found it.  They even let you taste the odd thing too.  Fancy that!

http://www.winerack.co.uk/yarnton

It’s Ace – @marksandspencer @adnams Sorachi Ace Saison

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Thank god for access to great beer; you know, a few years back I would have had to go far and wide to pick up a bottle of Saison, and even then it was invariably an expensive bottle of Saison Dupont.

But you can now get your Saison fix in Marks and Sparks!  How nice is that?

I don’t know who it is at Mark’s that is driving their beer stocking strategy, but whoever it is should have their hand vigorously pumped and their back heartily and repeatedly slapped.

There’s so many beers to try and so many that I haven’t reviewed yet…

The great thing is, nearly all of these beers are brewed by proper reputable brewers for M&S; and because they’re each responsible for a different type, you can probably now get a wider variety of beer types in Mark’s than you can in any of the big supermarkets…

Sorachi Ace Saison is brewed by everyone’s favourite brewing legends: Adnams.

So, Sorachi Ace hops in a Saison?  Sound interesting…  If memory serves me correct Sorachi Ace were bred especially for the Japanese brewer Sapporo.  I’ve not much experience of them so let’s see what they contribute, shall we?

This Saison pours an hazy, yet enticing, cornfield yellow and exhibits a lovely luminosity when help up to the light.  There’s not much in the way of head, but that’s the way of the Saison sometimes.

The aroma is that of sweet good earth with an undercurrent of dry and dusty lemon: a bit like the back edge of a slurp of Lemsip, only much, much, nicer.

The mouth-feel is surprisingly luxurious given that this is a Saison, and the taste is spicy-lemony-citrus with a nice touch of alcohol.

The finish is pleasantly dry with a bit of resin and a good firm hoppiness at the swallow; which, if truth be told, meant that my glassful was gone in a flash.

The aftertaste goes on and on; in fact half of the pleasure in this beer is the finish and reverberating aftertaste.

God I wish I’d bought four more bottles of it…

Get some today…it will not fail to delight.

http://www.marksandspencer.com/sorachi-saison-case-of-20/p/p60070961

PS: I’m going to do my best to get through and review the complete M&S beer range – a feat which M&S can help with I’m sure…all you folks need to do is stuff a few in a box and send them to me.  That’ll get me off to a flying start…

Gigantic Grapefruit IPA – Tasting Notes

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So many of you* have written in to ask how this beer turned out, that it’d be a public disservice if I didn’t write this review.

And god knows it’s nice to hear from people from time-to-time.  Very often blogging is like casting pearls to the wind; and people, that’s one mixed metaphor you certainly won’t have heard before.

(*alright, so it was actually two people: Dan and Simon…but I was very happy to hear from them all the same…)

Anyway.  Here is the post about making the Grapefruit IPA:

https://yeastismybitch.com/2016/04/11/gigantic-grapefruit-ipa-recipe

Annoyingly, the half keg of it I had kicked half-way through a barbecue, so I had to break out some very nicely-aged Brett Pale Ale instead .  The rest was bottled – which are way more “fridgeable” than the corny keg.

The Grapefruit IPA arrives in a glass with a fearful chill-haze; but, hey, it’s an American-style IPA and they’re always hazy so everyone wins.

The head is magnificently retentive and that’s down to the wheat malt (as is, probably, the chill haze…)

Bear in mind, that because it’s 7.7% it has to be served cold, and there’s no two ways about it:  warm it’s like Gold Label (Barley Wine) from the days of yore.  Cold: it’s refreshing, fruity, zesty and suicidally drinkable.

There’s more than enough aroma, which is all West Coast hops with not so much dankness, but more of the fruitiness and juiciness that I was looking for.

It’s a big old taste, with lashings of warming alcohol, fruity hops and a solid bitterness – after that comes a wave of fairly pokey citrus ‘n’ grapefruit.

All-in-all, it’s just what I was hoping for. It runs the Ballast point Grapefruit Sculpin pretty close – and on that basis alone, I’m happy.

Honestly, it’s the best beer I’ve made this year; and do you know what?  I might end up adding citrus zest to all of my hoppy beers – as the hops fade the zest takes over and seems to elongate the sensation of hoppiness.

Again, as with some of my other beery efforts, those who have tried it have offered to buy it in quantity.  But I couldn’t do that… the thought of the excise men battering down my door in the middle of the night leaves me cold and clammy.

God, I wish very small-batch brewers (i.e. under a barrel – 117Litres per month) were allowed to flog their beer like the cider farmers can.

I’d only sell to make a tiny profit, meaning the rest covered the cost of ingredients and electrics.

Essentially it would mean that I’d be able to do more of what I enjoy, and that’s making lots of beer and have people buy, drink and enjoy it.

Triple Yes! – @Adnams: Triple Knot

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Oh look. It’s me.

I’ve experienced something of a hiatus over the month or so as I had to retake my AWS Professional Solution Architect exam, so there was a bit of swotting up for that, plus one or two additional sideline projects to work on (non-brewing, I’m afraid to say…)

All of this means I have a lot of things to review and a lot of things to brew.

Come, let’s take a look at one now: Adnams Triple Knot.

It’s a lovely dinky little bottle, and it’s a little dinky bottle because it’s all dinkily and devastatingly strong: 10% or so.  Lordy.

When it gets into the glass Triple Knot is a nice coppery colour with a head that pretty much tickles off straight away.

The aroma is, as you’d imagine, big: lots of lovely boozy alcohol and spice with some sweet orange notes. If you look at the label it’s got all sort of bits and pieces in it to amp-up the nose and flavour.

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When drunk , the taste is all centred around the alcohol – so it’s big and boozy with sweetness and a caramelly undertow. There’s spice and orange and “botanicals” (I’ve slipped into Gin territory here, but that’s only because of what it tastes like)

As it warms, Triple Knot brings forth a more floral theme and a distinct tasty bitterness appears….after even further warming, more fresh ginger and spice reveals itself.

This is a marvelously complex drop, it’s a bit more wild and wacky than your average Belgian triple and probably worth a punt on the strength of that alone…

http://adnams.co.uk/beer/our-beers/adnams-triple-knot-tripel/

(…and then I go and look at that page and see that THEY’RE talking about “botanicals” too.   I tell you, I’m too good at this reviewing lark…)