Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Taste of Sweden

Nils Oscar Coffee Stout. Yum!

I would normally be reluctant to plug particular beer shop sites on the blog (I use several of them and they all have their strengths and weaknesses), but this I feel has the character of a public service message. I’ve remarked before that I’m sorry Swedish craft beer is not widely available (or available at all) in the UK, so I was very pleased to discover that Beers of Europe had a number of beers from renowned Swedish craft brewery Nils Oscar among their new releases for May. EDIT: just found out that BeerRitz also have the same Nils Oscar beers in stock. Nils Oscar was founded in 2006 which makes it quite an established player on the Swedish craft beer scene. They’re based in Nyköping, around 60 miles southwest of Stockholm, and they also have a distillery where they produce small-batch, craft aqvavit.

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Exclusive: Brodie’s Beer List for the CBC

Another thing I got from the interview with James Brodie yesterday was a bit of a scoop – sure, a small and specialized scoop, but a scoop nonetheless: the list of beers Brodie’s is bringing to the Copenhagen Beer Celebration! You saw it here first, folks. Here’s the full list, with some comments:

On keg:

  • Hoxton Special IPA (ABV 6.6) – A quite sweet, fruity/citrusy IPA, highly drinkable.
  • Dalston Black IPA (ABV 7.0) – A “big fruit” black IPA, one of the better examples of the genre I’ve tasted!
  • Hackney Red IPA (ABV 6.1) – A malty IPA with a tiny whiff of smoke – very flavourful yet very balanced, possibly my fave Brodie’s IPA.
  • Simcoe for Breakfast (around 10 ABV) – A breakfast stout heavily hopped with Simcoe.
  • Romanov Whisky Barrel Aged (Jameson) (around 10 ABV) – I’ve had the Rioja barrel-aged version of this Imperial Stout, and it had wonderful complexity and depth of flavour. I imagine it will be just as interesting with some Irish whisky notes.
  • MoFo Stout (ABV 10.1) – This is the Mikkeller collaboration brew, an imperial stout brewed with liquorice and fresh cranberries. Sounds yummy!
  • Pink IPA (ABV ?) – This is going to be an Aussie-style IPA with Centennial, Citra and Columbus, with some fresh raspberries added, mostly for colour. The first pink IPA ever?
  • Kiwi IPA (ABV around 7) – Brodie’s have previously done a low-ABV (3.8) bitter/pale ale with NZ hops, but for CBC they’re brewing a bigger IPA version.

On cask:

  • Awesomestow IPA (ABV 7.1) – First brewed for Brodie’s own festival at their Old Coffee House pub, this is a West Coast IPA with lots of tropical fruit flavours and resiny hops.
  • Old Street Pale (ABV 5.3) – An American Pale Ale, apparently on the smoother side of the spectrum.

So there you have it, folks. I’m pretty excited about all of these beers and I think they present a very good cross-section of Brodie’s offerings. The only thing I’m possibly missing is an ABV 3-4 session beer, something I know Brodie’s also does well, but perhaps an extreme beer festival like CBC is not the best forum for that… Anyway, all of you going to CBC: make sure to come to the Brodie’s stall – they’re a world-class brewery and this will be a unique chance to sample their beers outside the UK!

Meet the Brewer: Brodie’s Beers

If you follow this blog (all three of you – you know who you are!) you know that I’m a big fan of East London brewery Brodie’s – I’ve written about them here and more extensively and recently here. After my writeup of the Bunny Basher festival at brewery HQ William IV in Walthamstow, brewmaster James Brodie got in touch, and today I made the trek to E10 to have a chat with James about various beery topics, particularly what kinds of beer we can expect from Brodie’s in the near future. James and Lizzie Brodie (brewery co-founder) were very friendly and enthusiastic and the interview ended with a surprising invite – more on that later.

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Meet the Brewer: Weird Beard Brew Co.

Gregg Irwin showing off Weird Beard's Sunshine Saison

The London Beer Week at the Rake continues – my self imposed 30-day alcohol ban has sort of limited my opportunities to join the fun, but I was so curious about new London brewery Weird Beard Brew Co. that I decided to come down to their free sample session despite the fact that I wasn’t going to drink any of the free samples. What I did do, however, was have a chat with brewmaster Gregg Irwin (one-half of Weird Beard Brew Co. the other half being brewer/brand manager Bryan Spooner) about their beers and why they are getting noticed even before they’ve officially launched their brewery.

London Beer Blog: You don’t generally decide to start a brewery overnight. How did the idea develop?

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A package from Holmfirth

If you read my last post, you’ll know that I’m not drinking any (alcoholic) beer for this month. But, as I also said in my last post, that doesn’t mean I can’t buy beer. So I ordered a case from Summer Wine Brewery, very much one of the breweries of the moment – so far I’ve tried their Diablo IPA, their Lime & Coriander Saison, and their Teleporter Ten Malt Porter, and I’ve liked them all. Their mail order service is swift: I ordered the bottles on the 12th and had them delivered after the weekend, on the 17th.

From left to right, you have their Cohort Double Black Rye Belgian IPA, KopiKat Imperial Coffee Vanilla Stout, Reaper Red IPA, Diablo IPA, Maelstrom Double IPA, and the Teleporter Ten Malt Porter. The perceptive of you will note that one bottle of the Teleporter is missing; I gave this to my father-in-law and it got his resounding approval. I can’t wait to have mine!

Also: If you are in London, there are quite a number of Summer Wine beers on tap at the Craft Beer Company at the moment. Head over and have a taste – this is one brewery that lives up to the hype!

Beer without alcohol – no, really.

So here it is: I’m off the sauce for 30 days. This is the kind of thing that might pose problems for a beer blogger, but it is what it is. I’m going to the Copenhagen Beer Celebration on May 11-12, and attending the warm-up beer ticker wet dream event Sour & Bitter on the 10th, and I just know that there are going to be MANY beers I want to sample. So I decided to detox but good for a month before what already promises to be the big beer event of the year. I also joined the gym (and I’m going, too – three or four times a week). I’m basically a walking turn-your-life-around cliché. But don’t worry, it’s only for a month. I’ll be back to my beer-swilling, sedentary ways in no time, you’ll see.

This preamble is to explain my newfound interest in non-alcoholic beer. Most non-alcoholic beers I’ve had coming from the big brands (Becks Blue and the like) have been universally awful and I’ve often found myself missing the Swedish tradition of lättöl (literally light beer, which are very-low-ABV beers that can often be surprisingly flavourful). So when I made my most recent trip to Utobeer to pick up some bottles of Hardknotts limited release Æther Blæc 2011 (hey, I said I wouldn’t drink, that doesn’t mean I can’t buy beer) I asked them what kind of non-alcoholic brews they had to offer. I came away with one bottle of Erdinger Alkoholfrei (which came highly recommended) and one bottle of Schneider Mein Alkoholfreies (Tap 3) (which was also recommended but not as highly) – in other words, two non-alcoholic wheat beers. So brace yourselves, folks, for London Beer Blog’s first non-alcoholic beer review!

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Brodie’s Bunny Basher

Say hello to my leetle friend (Stepney Green Steam)!

I remember the first beer I had from Brodie’s: their Dalston Black IPA, which was excellent. Then I had the Old Street Special IPA, which was excellent. Then I had the Hackney Red IPA, which was excellent. Then, moving away from IPA territory, I had their Whitechapel Weizen (you’re beginning to see the naming theme here, right?), which was excellent. I therefore came to the conclusion that Brodie’s is an excellent brewery. Yesterday I popped in on Brodie’s annual Easter beer festival extravaganza Bunny Basher (held for the third time at Brodie’s brewpub/HQ The William IV in Walthamstow) and realised I had been wrong. Brodie’s is not merely an excellent brewery. They’re a world-class brewery, hidden in plain sight in easternmost London.

No beer I had yesterday – and I managed ten different kinds, sticking to halves for the occassion – was anything short of top-notch. The quality on display was not only astounding but so was the range and the experimental bent: Brodie’s can do extremely  sessionable low-ABV beers (the Mild and the Bethnal Green Bitter stood out), monsters like the ABV 22.0 Elizabethan Ale  (reminded me of Kaluha), and everything in between, with flavourful and idiosyncratic IPAs a particular speciality. Today the Mikkeller collab Mofo Stout (yes, Brodie’s has done a collaboration with Mikkeller. And with Kernel. And Redemption. And probably lots more I don’t know about) is rumored to hit the pumps. The list goes on, literally: the beer list for the event ran to about 40 different brews. I was so blown away by the whole thing I totally forgot to take any pictures except of the beers, which is why this blog post is only illustrated by several near-identical images of half-pints. Basically, I forgot that I was a beer blogger and just focused on being a beer drinker for the night.

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Drinking Dens: The Rake

There are beer bars in London that have a wider range than The Rake, that’s for sure – next to Craft Beer Company or Cask Pub & Kitchen, the three hand pumps and seven keg taps of The Rake may seem downright paltry. But look closer: those ten pumps/taps regularly feature the very latest releases from top British and world breweries, there’s frequently limited releases on offer that you can hardly get anywhere else but here, and everything changes with a frightening regularity. You can have a two-keg limited release of a Kernel/Tom Greasly collab (a Red IPA) one night (those two kegs lasted all of 40 minutes) and the launch of the Ilkley/Melissa Cole collab Siberia (a saison with Siberian rhubarb) the next. Because that’s just how The Rake rolls: respected and liked by brewers everywhere, this is the place of choice for many brewers doing a special launch or presenting a one-off collab. The Rake is not just a beer lovers’ pub, it’s a brewers‘ pub (as evidenced by the brewer guest wall of fame, getting ever more crowded with every week – look for signatures by the likes of Stone and Hitachino Nest). The Rake team (the same people are behind the Utobeer beer stall in nearby Borough Market, in case you have been living on Mars the past couple of years) also seem to be dedicated to geographical variation: as you would expect, the three hand pumps offer the best of British, as it were, and on the seven keg taps you can almost always be sure to have something from the US, something from Germany, something from Belgium, and something from somewhere else (Australian Little Creatures and Norwegian Nøgne Ø make frequent appearances, for example – I had an excellent Nøgne Ø  Wit at The Rake the other day).

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The Kernel’s New Premises

Unless you obsessively follow London brewery news, you might have missed that from March 31, the Kernel Brewery is trading from their new premises. It’s still under a railway arch in Bermondsey, but a bit further east than the previous location (and closer to Bermondsey tube station rather than London Bridge) – and the neighbours are still the same, as they’ve moved along with Kernel, which means you can still get meat from The Butchery and cheese and cold cuts from The Ham and Cheese Company to go with your beer (other nearby traders include The Little Bread Pedlar, Coleman Coffee Roasters, and The London Honey Company).

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