Gothenburg, Sweden. 19 Feb. 2017. Woke up to the media aftermath of the latest Trump outburst: the astonishing claim that implied there had been a terror attack in Sweden the night before. It is not for this blog to go into detail about that utter nonsense, but I can admit to indulging in at least one Alternative Fact in Sweden, on the Saturday, while visiting Swedish craft brewery Beerbliotek’s tap room.
Artwork decorating one of Gothenburg’s finest breweries
The American woman next to me in the tap room was desperate to avoid talk of That Man. “I’m sick of being asked about it”, she protested to her Swedish friends. Understandably. It was as if to assure us “I didn’t vote for him!”. I suspect there is no let-up for her, following Sunday morning’s “revelation”.
This was not how I was going to begin this blog post. As I wrote my notes in the understated “tap room” adjacent to the brewery itself, I was thinking Lincoln City’s shock win in the FA Cup would have the required ring of unbelievability . The beer I was drinking on THAT Saturday was called Alternative Fact. Continue reading
“Hey Sophie, why don’t you come along to the Woking Food and Drink Festival,” they said. “I would, but I don’t live anywhere near Woking,” said Sophie. “But I know a man who does…”*
Which is how I ended up writing a guest post for Sophie Atherton. Why a blog post, for somebody else’s blog? Well, Sophie is an award-winning beer journalist who writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph and other nationals. She has food cred too, as the first accredited woman beer sommelier in the UK. Her blog is called A FemAle View on Beer. I am indeed honoured.
Sophie Atherton, whose A FemAle View on Beer I guest blogged for
I’m hardly going to write “MaltJerry does Pig in a Day”, even if “Pig in a Day” was the name of the course I took part in at River Cottage HQ. Might boost the views, though… Surprisingly, it took the whole day before anyone mentioned David Cameron, that’s how foodie we participants were.
The River Cottage HQ cookery course “Pig in a Day” was a birthday present from my wife. Eight others were on the course for reasons unconnected to the anniversary of my birth. Four were on a stag do. Either lost, or the most Waitrose stag do ever.
First, catch your pork. River Cottage HQ Pig in a Day course
A double American IPA on a Monday night? Surely not! A double IPA, at 11.5% ABV is no after-work quaffer. But, I would argue, on a tired, quiet Monday evening, it is just right. There is, possibly, no better time.
The double IPA that prompted this post is from a classic American craft brewery: Flying Dog. I took it at the end of a double-dog day with an inhumanely early start and travel. The stuff that had to be dealt with after could only be managed by wrestling it. So, when meeting up with a colleague not seen in a while, to wind down with just a couple of beers, it seemed a good (if odd) night for a Double Dog.
A glass of the wrong stuff? Double Dog on keg and in bottle.
A double or imperial IPA is not something I would normally countenance on an evening so early in the week. Or many other evenings. I think of a DIPA (or IIPA) as a special occasion, culmination beer. An after-dinner snifter, a port-and-Stilton finisher, with your Christmas cracker crown finally removed. However, there is a reason why a Monday is better. Continue reading
Did you know beer makes cows less farty? It’s true! Rod Jones of Meantime Brewing told me. OK, it’s nearly true. Actually, it’s feeding cattle on spent malt grains that reduces the cow’s methane emission by 40%. Helps make the world just that little bit less greenhouse-y.
Part of The Knowledge Master Class course
I learned this amazing flatulence fact at the launch of Meantime Brewing’s new beer appreciation courses called The Knowledge. Rod Jones, Meantime’s beer taster supreme, is our host and is here to tell us all about The Knowledge.
Excuse me for confusing beer and Krautrock, but the beer world is embracing the can to an extent not seen since the heyday of the German rock band Can. There was a time when at least the perception of any right-drinking beer lover was that the can was an indicator of an inferior product. Filtered and pasteurised, tainted by the metal.
In the 70s, cult favourites Can, progenitors of so-called Krautrock, whose album titles I borrowed for my headline, seemed to me and my little brother, the height of freaky rock. We were a little too young to know, perhaps. We were also a little too young for beer. Not too young, however, to notice that beer culture, like music culture was changing. Beer in a can, on the other hand, was normal.
MaltJerry stands in front of a Fourpure Brewery stack of Pils cans and underneath the sleeve pics for two classic Can albums
From our viewpoint, now, in the actual future, the 70s look retro hip. Everybody drank their beer from dimpled pint glasses and my dad had a hipster moustache. Even in bleak, three-day week Britain, brewers thought cans were so good they put seven pints in them and called it a party. Bottles seemed as old hat as flat caps. Are times changing?
March 20: The EquiCox. The time of the year when everyone on the planet has the same amount of daylight until the next TV show involving Professor Brian Cox. It is also the eve of the Vernal Equinox* and coincidentally, the first total solar eclipse of 2015. It is no coincidence that this is the day chosen for the UK launch of Duvel Tripel Hop 2015, a special, limited edition beer.
Duvel Tripel Hop 2015 Equinox, Eclipse and EquiCox
The Day of the EquiCox. Professor Brian Cox eclipses the sun
You do wonder if a limited edition beer can ever really be launched. I wonder, anyway, because by the time a special, limited edition beer is written about, it will be just as special but even more limited. But hey, if you get invited to a launch, well, you’re not going to turn it down over a point of semantics, are you?
The Tripel Hop version of this classic, Belgian, golden ale Duvel, has made an annual appearance since 2007, which was two years after physicist Brian Cox first appeared on our TV screens and eight years after the last solar eclipse visible from the UK. I went to the Three Johns pub in Islington for launch night***. Continue reading
So, farewell then, IPA is Dead, they* said.
But you were not dead.
That rumour is scotched,
Like some other BrewDog beers.
(But not Alice Porter.)
Single hop varietals is the spice of life.
That was your catchphrase.
– EJ Kribb (17.5% ABV)
With apologies to Private Eye (again).
IPA is Dead 2014 box set
* “They” being MaltJerry, in all fairness. Continue reading
At the risk – or perhaps hope – of achieving notoriety in Private Eye’s Neophiliacs column, I declare that saison is the new black IPA. I am not saying that to knock it or anyone who brews saison. I love the stuff. Which was why I was delighted to be invited to London Fields Brewery for the launch of the latest in their Bootlegger Series: Eastside Saison.
Eastside Saison. It’s from Lond Fields’ east side.
Over the past year or so, “saison” beers have exploded their presence like overprimed bottles of homebrew. Craft brewers have been cranking up their imaginations to produce a new variants of a beer style with its origins in the Belgian farmhouse of bygone eras. And why shouldn’t modern brewers be creative? When it comes to style, saison is the bebop of beer: based on a few sketchy ideas, the whole comes together with some firecracking improvisation.
Which is a roundabout way of saying there is nothing fixed about a saison: it is a moveable feast*. Nobody can be certain what those ancient farmhouse beers tasted like. Brewed in winter for slaking the thirsts of summer farm labourers, each farm brewing their own one-off batch. As craft as you like, it’s no wonder so many brewers want to try their hand. I was very keen to taste the London Fields interpretation. Continue reading
From: Central Coast Brewing, USA, California, San Luis Obispo.
Style: Dark Rye IPA. 7.5% ABV, 77 IBU
Source: Ales By Mail
Tues 26 Aug. Kid brother flips a significant digit
Don’t fear the end of summer. Autumn heralds dark rye ales.
I don’t know what Autumn is like in San Luis Obispo, California, but I’m guessing it’s warmer than a rainy August bank holiday in England. Or indeed a sunny one. No matter, because my latest choice from the Ales By Mail US Beer Club box reminds me of Autumn and imminent arrival of the richest, tastiest, best food of the year.
The natty can doesn’t let on what style Catch 23 is, it just says “”Excessively hopped high gravity ale. Rye & roasted malts”. I say, to start with, it’s ebony/black with a espresso crema head, once it’s calmed down. The aroma is all pecan pie: roasted nut and caramel with some piny/citrus hops trying to get through.
Trouble is, once you’ve tasted it, trying to define the aroma is tricky. The flavours in the mouth linger and dominate, diminishing my olfactory capability, captain. Not like that’s a bad thing. Roast and pine. Not burnt roast, but a just-turned chestnut and toffee apple. Sound like Autumn to you?