In the last few months, we’ve come across a couple of welcome attempts by British breweries to mimic continental beer styles. More of this, please. It’s surely the best way to compete with imported lagers?
Wylam Czech-style Pilsener beer is malty, fruity and very satisfying. It’s nowhere near as good as a fresh Czech beer on tap, or even Derbyshire brewed Moravka, but compares very well with a bottle of Budvar. An impressive offering from this Northumberland microbrewery.
Cain’s Double bock is very ‘true to style’, despite its origins in the north west of England, rather than the brewhouses of Bavaria. It’s really heavy and malty, but without being too sickly. It’s got some very pleasant milk chocolate and vanilla flavours and a soupy body. At 7.1%, it goes straight to your head. Is this is available in cask form? If so, we’d love to try it.
We’d been playing with the idea of a parti-gyle brew for a while. This is where you take the first lot of sugary liquid from the mashed grain to make a strong beer. You then run more water over it to flush out any remaining sugar and that second, less-sugary liquid is used to make a weaker beer. Here’s an old article by Randy Mosher on how to do it.
When I hit upon the idea of brewing Bailey a surprise birthday beer, I knew I couldn’t brew an entire batch in secret, but I could hide a small carboy of beer. So, part-gyling seemed the natural way forward.
I was definitely impressed by the results, and I think Bailey was too (well, he can’t say he doesn’t like his birthday present, can he?). More excitingly though, it showed us that parti-gyling is pretty straightforward and allows you to experiment a lot more on brew day and make two very different beers with only a little extra effort.
Full details on how I made the beers can be found after the jump.
This is a fun way to spend an evening, although it can interfere with your sleep. Using the same cheese line up as first time, we tried each against a couple of contrasting beers, namely Brooklyn’s East India Pale Ale, and Sam Smith’s Imperial Stout.
The goat’s cheese didn’t really work with either — it accentuated the bitterness (at the expense of the malt) in the pale ale and killed the roastiness of the imperial stout. The cheap camembert didn’t make a dent in the imperial stout’s flavour but brought out a little sweetness in the Brooklyn. However, the beer made the cheese taste like rubber. We had hopes that the imperial stout would be a good match for the Roquefort and it did stand up to it, but again, lost some roasty flavour. The Roquefort made the pale ale harsher and more bitter. So – we’re still looking for a good match for this one.
The best match for both beers was actually the boring cheddar. It made the East India Pale Ale more balanced (we’re fans of the beer but think the hops are a little too grassy and dominant) and it intensified the flavours of the imperial stout.
Baadog describes itself as a “Mongolian craft beer”, brewed under licence (in Ireland, apparently) for the for the Mongolian Barbeque chain of restaurants. We weren’t expecting much — another slightly dull, fizzy “world lager”, perhaps, like British-brewed Asahi?
Whatever the origins, it’s nice to see restauranteurs coming up with an interesting beer to go with their food rather than just sticking with wine, or filling their fridges with Becks, Stella and the appalling San Bloody Miguel.
“The Physics“, a “laid back amber beer” didn’t really work for us – it’s got a gorgeous smell, and it’s pleasant enough, but it doesn’t have a lot of complexity of flavour — crystal malt and that’s it. Tasted like one of our homebrews.
Riptide, a “twisted merciless stout” is pretty good though — one of those beers that’s so well balanced it’s hard to pick out particular flavours. There’s cocoa (rather than chocolate) and a slightly sour cherry note. If you gulp it, there’s a hint of smoke. It’s 8% and has a lot of body. Drinking this feels like a real treat.
Paradox Smokehead (batch 015 in Islay casks) is an impressive drink. You’d give it to people to make them go “wow, doesn’t that taste like whisky”. But, if you don’t like peaty whisky smells and flavours then forget it. There may be other exciting ingredients in there, but if there are, they’re hard to spot. We like it but it’s almost an ordeal to get through half a bottle.
Isn’t BrewDog’s marketing strategy just ace? Cool-looking bottles that you’d happily give to non-beer-geek mates. Limited edition batches, like 90s indie singles. Lots of publicity in “taking on” the Portman group.Getting on Oz and James helps, too. Of course the beer should speak for itself, but with their strategy BrewDog are aiming for the mainstream market, and you have to be impressed with that ambition.
Over-thinking beer, pubs and the meaning of craft since 2007