News, Nuggets and Longreads 12 January 2019: Bitterness, Brüpond, Burlesque

Here’s everything we thought bookmark-worthy in the past week, from beer with bite to Double Diamond.

First, a quick stop at the BBC, where the recent ONS report on pub clo­sures con­tin­ues to gen­er­ate sto­ries: we know some areas have suf­fered par­tic­u­lar­ly bad­ly, but where are pubs open­ing? Where have the num­bers risen? The High­lands of Scot­land, it turns out, is one such region:

Since 2008, almost a quar­ter of pubs in the UK have shut accord­ing to Office for Nation­al Sta­tis­tics (ONS) analy­sis… But the study shows that in the High­lands there are 14% more pubs than there were 10 years ago… Paul Water­son, of the Scot­tish Licensed Trade Asso­ci­a­tion, said a major fac­tor behind the growth was that the pubs had done well cater­ing for tourists.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets and Lon­greads 12 Jan­u­ary 2019: Bit­ter­ness, Brüpond, Bur­lesque”

Pre-emptive stash raid

Because we want to be in gear when Stash Day is for­mal­ly announced, we’ve start­ed pick­ing off some of the bot­tles we’ve acquired but deemed too spe­cial to actu­al­ly drink.

First up, Can­til­lon Lou Pepe Fram­boise 2006, which we bought at the brew­ery ear­ly last year.

The Lou Pepe beers are a sub-range which, as Can­til­lon put it:

…devi­ate from [the usu­al Can­til­lon] prin­ci­ples. The Gueuze Lou Pepe is made with two years old lam­bic beers with a mel­low taste, often com­ing from bar­rels in which only wine has been kept before. In July, the same kind of beer is used to make the Lou Pepe Kriek and Fram­boise. With these beers too, the fruits are soaked in bar­rels com­ing direct­ly from Bor­deaux… The sec­ond fer­men­ta­tion of these par­tic­u­lar beers is not caused by the addi­tion of young lam­bic but of a sweet liquor… The Kriek and the Rosé de Gam­bri­nus con­tain 200 g of fruits per liter on an aver­age, while the Lou Pepe beers con­tain about 300 g.

It fizzes vio­lent­ly at first, cre­at­ing a huge mousse-like head which dis­ap­pears almost imme­di­ate­ly, leav­ing in the glass some­thing that looks like red wine. It smells of… Now, the euphemisms are usu­al­ly barn­yard or ani­mal relat­ed, but let’s be frank here: it smells a bit like poo. Once we’d got over that, how­ev­er, we found a fair­ly gen­tle tast­ing, sweet­ish beer.

We enjoyed it but, frankly, not as much as the super-sour, pop­ping can­dy of a beer that is the stan­dard Can­til­lon Kriek.

Champagne moments

vignerone

So Eng­land regain the Ash­es, con­vinc­ing­ly in the end although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one get­ting ner­vous.

When Ponting and then Clarke were run out in short suc­ces­sion, I start­ed hunt­ing around for some­thing bub­bly to chill.  We even­tu­al­ly set­tled on Vigneronne, which is a lam­bic with added grapes, brewed by Can­til­lon.

It cer­tain­ly had the right cham­pers-like con­sis­ten­cy and lots of bub­bles.  It’s not as over­whelm­ing­ly sour as some of the oth­er Can­til­lon offer­ings, with a slight sweet­ness towards the end.  If we didn’t know it had grapes in, we prob­a­bly wouldn’t have guessed, but all in all it made a nice refresh­ing drink for the gar­den.  Iris is still our favourite though.

Boak

Boozy birthday

The Brugse Zot jester clown gremlin thing grimaces from a beer glass
The Brugse Zot jester clown grem­lin thing gri­maces from a beer glass

It was my birth­day recent­ly and nat­u­ral­ly I cel­e­brat­ed by con­sum­ing a lot of very nice beer at var­i­ous venues, with var­i­ous peo­ple. We didn’t take detailed tast­ing notes but here are some sum­marised thoughts:

  • West­malle Triple is my cur­rent favourite trap­pist beer. I like the way it com­bines the inter­est­ing “horse­blan­kety-ness” of some­thing like Orval with a beau­ti­ful round­ed malt sweet­ness and fruit­ness.
  • Or maybe Rochefort 10 is my favourite? Gloopy choco­late in a gob­let.
  • Brugs Zot Bru­in (cur­rent­ly on tap in the Dove) impressed with its heavy body and fruity flavour. And at 7.4% it’s a lot lighter than its impact might sug­gest.
  • Sier­ra Neva­da Big­foot Bar­ley Wine doesn’t age that well, or per­haps we didn’t age it well. We’ve enjoyed it in the past, but we drank a bot­tle that’s been in the “cel­lar” for nine months, and the hops were just way too over­pow­er­ing. Where did the malt go?
  • Sim­i­lar­ly, an aged bot­tle of Can­til­lon Gueuze didn’t live up to expec­ta­tions. We bought it this time last year when we vis­it­ed the brew­ery, where we sam­pled the Gueuze and found it fab­u­lous. It was nice enough, but just not as spe­cial as you want from some­thing that’s come out of a dusty old corked bot­tle.
  • Crouch Vale Brew­ers Gold real­ly is a won­der­ful drop. If we hadn’t exclud­ed cask-con­di­tioned beer from the selec­tion, it would have been right in there in our beer tast­ing for begin­ners.
  • Estrel­la Damm is still our favourite main­stream Span­ish lager, because you can actu­al­ly taste the malt and hops. Estrel­la de Gali­cia is still too sweet for me (sor­ry, Chela).

Boak

Fruit beers in the garden

We were going to return to our quest for a decent Baltic Porter, as we’ve got a few await­ing tast­ing. How­ev­er, it was such a love­ly day yes­ter­day that we decid­ed to drink fruit beers in the gar­den instead.

To give some con­text to our tast­ing notes; nei­ther of us are mas­sive fruit beer fans, and we cer­tain­ly both pre­fer our fruit beer to be iden­ti­fi­ably *beer* first and fore­most, not an alcopop. I real­ly can’t deal with over­ly sweet drinks of any form, but I do have a bit of a “sour tooth”, where­as Bai­ley doesn’t tend to go for sour flavours.

Timmerman’s Kriek, 4%
Looks quite arti­fi­cial, with deep red colour and pink head. There’s a def­i­nite hint of sour­ness in the aro­ma though, which is promis­ing. The taste – Bassett’s cher­ry drops. The after­taste con­tains a blast of pure sug­ar on the end of the tongue which I’m not so keen on, but over­all, it’s not as bad as I was expect­ing, i.e. not as sick­ly sweet as Fruli.

Boon Kriek 4%

We had high hopes for this one, as it seems to be gen­er­al­ly quite rat­ed and is as authen­tic as you like. How­ev­er, it was a lot like the Timmerman’s – over­ly sweet and not very com­plex at all. It was a bit more but­tery than Timmerman’s, and had even less sour­ness.

Mort Subite Kriek (orig­i­nal) 4.5%
This we liked a lot. It’s a much less lurid pink, and the flavour is a great bal­ance of sweet and sour, with a nice dry refresh­ing fin­ish. Def­i­nite­ly a lot more going on with this one than Timmerman’s or Boon. The dif­fer­ence is in the after­taste – where­as with the above two we got sug­ar, and not a lot else, here you get a crisp fruiti­ness that lingers on the palate.

Mean­time Rasp­ber­ry Grand Cru 6.5%
Bit of an odd one out in this ses­sion (rasp­ber­ry, not lam­bic, British) but it’s always been a favourite, not least because it’s beer first and rasp­ber­ry sec­ond, with a good bit­ter­ness that you don’t tend to get in fruit beers. That’s what we remem­bered, any­way (see a review from Decem­ber 2007 here). It always tastes slight­ly dif­fer­ent from batch to batch in the Union, their brew­ery tap, and we’ve not­ed that in the last few years it’s become less pink and less obvi­ous­ly rasp­ber­ry-flavoured.

How­ev­er, this incar­na­tion (and it is the stronger “grand cru” ver­sion) seems to have for­got­ten the rasp­ber­ries alto­geth­er. There’s a gener­ic fruity taste, a bit like a nice Koelsch, but unless some­one told you it was rasp­ber­ry, you wouldn’t know. The refresh­ing tart­ness makes it a pleas­ant drink, but I think would be a dis­ap­point­ment to peo­ple look­ing for a fruit beer, and at 6.5%, this is not one you want to quaff much of in the sun.

Dis­ap­point­ing – I know this can be bet­ter.

Can­til­lon Kriek 5%
We bought this when we vis­it­ed the brew­ery back in August 2007, so it’s been in stor­age for around nine months, in addi­tion to the time it’s already spent at the brew­ery.

You have to have the courage of your con­vic­tions when you drink this beer. If you gin­ger­ly sip it, all you get is SOUR, but if you take a big gulp and let it cov­er your tongue, there’s a pleas­ing explo­sion of apple, cher­ry, pink grape­fruit and straw­ber­ry, with red wine / sher­ry notes in the fin­ish.

I’d be lying if I said I want­ed to sip this all day long; even in the sun it’s hard work, although the cham­pagne body and bub­bles gives it a pleas­ing deca­dent feel.

All in all, Mort Subite was the sur­pris­ing win­ner for both of us.

For more tan­ta­lis­ing beer on grass action, check out Beer Nut’s post on wheat­beers. He’s got a big­ger gar­den than us though.

For more on fruit­beers, here’s a Ses­sion post we did back in August 2007 on the same top­ic, includ­ing notes on our own black­ber­ry beer.

Boak