Wednesday, 8 February 2012
The first was Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Ale. Firstly, I love ginger. Any type of ginger - fresh ginger, gingerbread men, gingernut biscuits, ginger in stir fries, Jamaican ginger cake, whatever. I'll go mad for it. Most ginger beers I've tried (Crabbies etc and the like) are often way off the mark - incredibly sweet, no alcoholic flavour and definitely none of the intoxicating gingerness I'm after. For me, the perfectly balanced Old Jamaica Ginger Beer is what I judge every alcoholic ginger beer against, in an incredibly prejudicial way. Old Jamaica has the right balance - carbonation, refreshing and fiery at the same time.
So this is what the 7% Real Ginger Ale is up against. The aroma is definitely ground ginger - akin to gingernuts/ gingerbread rather than fresh ginger. There is a slight fieriness that awakens the nose (like snorting some pepper!). In the glass, the colour is a dark brown with an orange tinge. The beer has a strong malt flavour, and the ginger is quite subtle - you may not even notice it! It's more like a twinge of gingerness. There is a sweet aftertaste, it's a light beer with not much alcohol (deceptively drinkable). Overall, it's unfortunately a bit bland. I still have a long way to go to finding the perfect alcoholic ginger beer!
Next up its the 7% Red Rice Ale - what do you expect from red rice?! I've never had red rice - my palette of rice has extended all the way from white to brown (alright, I've had basmati). Really unusual smell, really unusual. I suppose it smells of rice?! The colour is much clearer - more orange with a light brown - it has an 'IPA' colour. The more I smell it, the more it smells of Budweiser. Brewing beer with rice goes back centuries in Japan, and I don't really want to compare this craft beer to Budweiser (which is alright, but really, no) , but that's what it smells and reminds me of. It has a very clean taste, though slightly sour. Nothing really stands out - its not malty or hoppy, its ricey.
Overall, would i buy them again?No - it was nice to try something new but wish i had bought some of their more standard beers, as these beers seem more like experiments (which are always worth having!). Nevermind, onto the next beer!
Thursday, 2 February 2012
I live in somewhat of a craft beer desert. Yes, some cheeky BrewDog Punk IPA cans from Sainsburys or a shitload of U.K. microbrew online are a lucky lifeline but sometimes it's nice to physically get my hands on some of the UK most exciting brews and buy them there and then.
Sourced Market in St. Pancras Station always has a great selection of beers by The Kernel (and other beers from the U.K, USA and Europe). For those not in the know, they are one of the UK's most exciting microbreweries. Whatever there is in stock, I eagerly buy and get in the fridge as quickly as possible.
This time I got my hands on some single-hopped India Pale Ales. In order of alcoholic strength, Up first was Galaxy at 6.8%. Murky orange colour with an earthy but fruity (tropical) aroma. On the tongue, a tickling bitterness of tropical fruit from these Australian hops that go superbly with the malt. A moreish and well balanced beer. It's not "LOOK I HAVE HOPS IN ME", its "I have hops in to make me a tasty well-balanced beer". If only beer could talk... (and could have lasted longer)
Next up was Citra at 7.2%, seemimgly 2011's hop de jeur. This made me think of the wretched pints of Oakham citra I end up thinking "it'll be better this time" at my local 'Spoons (their fault! Not Oakham's, which I should strive to try in a bottle). This beer is definitely less malty and more hop driven, it obviously has an incredibly citrusy taste and aroma. A very bitter aftertaste and, in my opinion, a less well-balanced beer. This beer is a bit more 'harsh' than the Galaxy and a bit less enjoyable.
Last up was the big and boozy Stellar at 7.4%. On the nose, a sugary even flowery aroma. A bright and clean taste, with the alcohol coming through in spades as in stays on your tongue and in your throat. Definitely a hop forward character with a grapefruity bitterness and an alcoholic burn. Moreish like the Galaxy beer/hops but this beer is more heady, more 'fizzy' in a good way and has an alcoholic punch compared to the other two beers.
Which would I buy again? Galaxy first - I loved how the hops and malts were well balanced. The bitterness came through but wasn't too astringent or harsh, which I felt was to Citra's detriment. I liked the alcoholic punch of Stellar, but that was more percentage than the hops which I did enjoy. If I could only have one, it would be the Galaxy. Cheers to the The Kernel for making great beers and Sourced Market to stocking them, I know I'll see you both again soon!
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
So yeah, Einstok is a craft brewery (the only one?!) from Iceland - a country which had prohibition "in some effect" till May 1989! (Wikipedia told me so it must be true). Of all places, they're being distributed by Harvey Nichols (Maybe Craft Beer really is hitting the mainstream) and so I ordered a couple of each, which arrived in the most disgustingly un-eco friendly packaging I've ever seen. (Each bottle does not need a 1/2m of bubble wrap and 6 inches in a box to itself).
Anyway, Icelandic white ale with cor(r)iander and orange peel. Subtle orange peel on the nose with a incredibly thin and quickly dissipating head. Definitely get the slight spiciness of the corriander ,but also the fizzy 'Haribo' taste that I think defines a lot of Belgian-style beers. Maybe not the right time of year to enjoy a beer like this, but it was ok.
Icelandic Pale ale - definitely get maltiness and caramel on the nose and first taste. Quite sweet! However, I think i had a bad batch and there was definitely a strong diacetyl flavour which really wasn't to my taste. Slightly disappointing and I unfortunately drank as quick as possible.
Toasted Porter time! Oh yeah - rated highest on RateBeer for Einstok beers and I can see why. 6% with a quickly dissipating head, with a strong Marmite/Soy sauce aroma. Black as sin, with a strong mouth feel. Strong malt flavour from the toasted malts but also a strong bitter Marmite-y tang. Would definitely have another, plus I love Marmite!
Lastly it was the Doppelbock "xmas beer" with highly-suitable Red nose & antlers on the Viking symbol. At 6.7%, it's the highest in the range and you definitely get a boozy mouth-feel. Slightly sweet (raisin-esque) with a strong malt character and highly drinkable. A very "clean" and smooth taste and quite moreish.
Firstly, I would love to try all of these beers on tap via draught/keg as bottles don't always tell the true beer story. I don't know if they're planning on doing that any time soon (I don't get that impression) but would be lovely to try. Toasted Porter and Dopplebock were the clear winners of the range and worth a buy!
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Monday, 16 May 2011
These are testaments that in many way real ale/craft beer drinkers and advocates would agree with, though perhaps with less pseudo-revolutionary speak and a more nuanced insight into the beer industry's strangehold on Britain's beer.
As Britain's beer industry ploughs more money into marketing campaigns, such as Fullers and Charles Wells, will Brewdogs assertive (dare we say aggressive) campaign help them to stand out, heighten brand awareness and get more of their beer (and other craft beer) sold?
Previous ad campaings by Brewdog have readily included criticisms of the beer industry, from smashing mega brand bottles such as Stella, Becks and Carlsberg to the critiques of using isinglass, malt extracts and other dodgy adjuncts. This latest campagin, with its 1984-eqque 'Ministry of Mayhem' encouraging us to drink bland and flavourless beers, is a much more damning and aggressive of the beer industry as a whole. Most definitely following the trend of previous campaigns, its gung ho and bold. The question, though, is whether Brewdog's focus on overt and hostile PR campaigns will leave them Brew in the Face? (Really couldn't avoid the pun :-] )
It's a difficult question. Out of Britain's burgeoning craft beer scene, Brewdog are unquestionalby its most well known brand and 'advocate'. Known for their daring, deriding and damning ad campaigns and videos, they have a degree of promience and buzz that few other breweries can match. If you agree with their tactics or not, they are giving the beer industry a youthful kick up the arse that few others can contend with. Their media-savvy tactics and insights access people and drinkers that maybe other brewries can't reach.
Most importantly, though, Brewdog does make fantastic beer. I love Brewdog's beer. Recently launched Avery Brown Dredge was a fantastic; incredibly hoppy with a fantastic grape fruit flavour, lingering bitterness a devilishly deceiving drinkability. So good I got normal 'lager' drinkers to even have a couple of sips and enjoy it!
And with that observation, leads to a pressing question; Will this campaign get the average (young) drinker off the street to try some craft ale, or will they continue with their Carling/Carlsberg/Fosters/Stella etc? Will they even see this campaign? Is criticising your opponents (who are rather titanic compared to Brewdog) the best way to get your product noticed, bought and adored over others?
In many ways, Brewdog's video is preaching to the converted, so to speak. Assuming that this online campaign is targeting a demographic that DOESN'T drink real ale/craft beer, will any of them even see it? Firstly, it's not on Youtube. For all the jibes about lesser quality and adverts we may have to contend with on Youtube, Viemo simply can't access the market the way companies on Youtube can. As well as this, criticisng others instead of voicing your positives can sometimes be a risky move (think John Kerry v. George W. Bush), though Brewdogs video is obviously well made and gets it point across.
More and more craft breweries are opening, and the ones that are doing well seem to be doing so without the need to criticise the 'Big Four', at least in public. For all the criticism we may give Brewdog, however, they are criticisng an industry and its practices that at least on a basic level many of us in the blogosphere would probably be in agreement with. Perhaps it's only their methods we don't agree with, but how else are companies going to distract (younger) drinkers away from the 'Big Four' and spend their hard-earned cash on more expensive and daring brews?
What are your opinions? I'm still undecided.