The rumour BrewDog’s IPA is Dead is dead, is dead

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.
Still is.

– EJ Kribb (17.5% ABV)
With apologies to Private Eye (again).

IPA is Dead 2014 four-pack carrier

IPA is Dead 2014 box set

* “They” being MaltJerry, in all fairness. Continue reading

Saison: from Belgian Farmhouse to London Fields Eastside

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 signage London Fields Brewery

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

A taste of Autumn: Catch 23, one crazier

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

Central Coast Brewing Catch 23

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?

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Is BrewDog IPA is Dead dead?

BrewDog is back with Edition 4 of IPA is Dead; a new batch of very much undead IPAs; the fourth year of this occasional series. Are they run out of hops yet? Is this it?

Four bottles, the same base 7.2% ABV IPA, a different hop variety in each, so we get to see what each brings to the party. Another take on Taste the Difference.

BrewDog IPA is Dead 4 2014

From Experimental to familiar Amarillo: IPA is Dead hops

Edition 4 consists of the unfamiliar (to me): Comet, Kohatu, Exp 366, and if you thought that was all sounding a little X-Files, the new four-pack is rounded off with a more familiar friend: Amarillo. Will any be as good as Edition 3’s gorgeous Goldings or as diabolical as Dana? (which tasted like an IPA that had actually died)? Let’s see…

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Swift half: Siren Soundwave IPA – An American in Berkshire

From: Siren Craft Brewing, Berkshire, UK. Style: American West Coast IPA, 5.6% ABV
Source: Bottle from

Siren Craft Soundwave IPA

Siren Soundwave IPA: agressive lemon meringue pie?

Falling for the Siren call for me was instant. It was the Limoncello IPA and the Big Inflatable Cowboy Hat thing. Although that was a while ago. Soundwave is one of their more on-topic names and is part of their core range.

Siren Craft Brewing was voted second-best new brewery for 2013 in beer rating site Ratebeer. Now, whatever you think of that particular site (and I have my doubts, fully aware I’m writing tasting notes), it’s a pretty cool accolade.
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No reviews, no predicitions, just…

Who was it that said “I don’t do predictions and I never will”? It was me, one or two years ago, quoting Gazza or David Coleman or Charlie Brooker, or some such hero.

Inevitably, as well as most of the rest of you, I find my train of thought pulling in at Resolution Central again. Thankfully, the alarm klaxon sounds: avoid review of the past year, avoid promises and predictions for the coming year.

MaltJerry, self-regarding

MaltJerry, self-regarding

Yet, at this arbitrary turning point* in the orbit of our blue-green planet about an ordinary star in an insignificant part of one of trillions of galaxies, we think, despite all evidence to the contrary, that what we say tonight will make a difference. We still aim to change the drift of our own histories.

I take a sip of beer. Meantime India Pale Ale. It’s suitably celebratory-looking in the bottle with its wire-caged Champagne-style cork. I have an equally celebratory Fuller’s Vintage 2013 waiting to ring the new year in, as well as a Cava cork to pop and an Ardbeg Alligator to first-foot with. Deep breath…

I feel though, to use the Baltimore street-language of TV drama The Wire, it’s time to change up. I wrote a post on “Why I write”, as if to justify to myself the effort I expend on a blog about beer, whisky, food, and (vanishingly) music. The only sensible way to follow that up is to ask “Why would anybody read?” This gives me the impetus to “change up”.

I’m tired of reading what is and what isn’t “OK” to write or feel about the beer and whisky worlds. It’s all too self-regarding and too niche. It’s not about writing for a bigger slice of the choir. It’s about getting more singers. I want to be read by beer and whisky drinkers who don’t read about beer and whisky. Then again, how many of the drinks I wrote about in paragraph 4 did you know about? (I won’t hold it against you, just try them.)

Two lyrical quotes for me to take into 2014, one question and one statement: “What difference does it make?” (Morrissey). “Something better change” (The Stranglers).

Nevertheless, Happy New Year!

*What’s the turning point in an orbit, an elipse? Perihelion? Yeah, I know we’re past that.


BrewDog IPA is Dead 2012. Take 2, a year on

BrewDog first announced the death and rebirth of IPA with a series of four “single hop” beers called IPA is Dead, in February 2011. A year later, a new batch was brewed with the same principle: a common base beer: a modern IPA at 6.7% ABV brewed with one variety of hop in four new beers. Now we’re up to the third edition, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

When the second edition of IPA is Dead was first released in March 2012, I tasted it fresh on draught at BrewDog Bar, Camden. Then, with a 4-pack from the BrewDog online shop stored safely away, I waited patiently, in the interests of science, to see what a year’s age would do to these fresh, new hops.

IPA is Dead edition 2: the works, at BrewDog, Camden

IPA is Dead edition 2: the works, at BrewDog, Camden

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Swift Half: BrewDog/Oskar Blues Shipwreck Circus Barley Wine

From Radiohead to 20th century retro. Having recently reproduced their How to Disappear Completely low-alcohol, BrewDog’s latest is a beer in a style that, according to some, doesn’t exist at all.

BrewDog./Oskar Blues collaboration barley wine: Shipwrecker Circus

BrewDog/Oskar Blues collaboration barley wine: Shipwrecker Circus

A very nice piece of writing on the label about this collaboration with the can-friendly Coloradans, Oskar Blues. All the fun of the big top, but little to describe the beer. Could ringmaster James go one step further and do what he wants all craft breweries to do with their labelling? As well as being fun, inform the customer.

OK, perhaps space was limited, but beyond being told this is a “barley wine” and therefore should, like the circus, provide unexpected and limitless delights, what can I add?

We should look back to the 70s. The aromas of Shipwrecker Circus are redolent of an old-fashioned sweet shop: cola cubes and pineapple chunks. It is smooth and mouthcoating like a melted Curly Wurly. And with a kick like Norman Hunter, maybe that’s what they meant by “a nightmare for health and safety”.

Food pairing suggestion: These are big flavours with sweetness and bitterness that would go with strong cheese, but not any old 70s ploughman’s lunch, an Imperial one with proper mature farmhouse cheddar, aged Stilton and Roquefort.

BrewDog shop

Swift Half: Chatoe Rogue, First Growth Dirtoir Black Lager

“GYO” says the label. Grow your own! “Dirtoir”: a back-formation from that dirty word “terroir”. Is this a 6.0% black lager? a Schwarzbier made with hops and barley grown chez Rogue? Or is it a black ale mistakenly cold fermented with German Oktoberfest yeast?

Rogue Ales Dirtoir Black Lager

The Rogue brewery drops “ale” and goes for a Schwarzbier black lager

Chatoe Rogue was an offshoot to the main branch of Rogue Ales from Newport, Oregon in the US Pacific north west. Now called Rogue Farms – a much better name, it brings the concept of grow-your-own to the brewery. Allowing them to brew from their own local ingredients. And then ship them half way around the world…

I’m listening to Eric Dolphy’s “Hat and Beard” – free jazz from the pioneering Out to Lunch album. Dark, disjointed, complex, zingy, lingering and satisfyingly grating. And so is the beer. There is also coffee and licquorice root, which I have yet to find in the music.

But if you do find yourself “out to lunch”, especially at a barbecue – perhaps even an Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue – and they are serving spiced grilled steaks, the char in the meat would be complemented in the dark flavours in the beer and the fresh sparkle of carbonation would allow you to distinguish all the deep, spicy flavours.

Rogue Ales list of beers
Out to Lunch by Eric Dolphy on Amazon and Spotify
Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue: a musical tribute by Frank Zappa and The Mothers on YouTube.
YouMikkeler Jackie Brown

I neither Advocate nor Rate Beer

Tell a lie…

But you knew that. Unless I’d gone wholly over to whisky, a site named “” would be a bit of a waste without somebody in charge who liked beer. Somebody called – at least in shortened form, “Jerry”.

Of course I still love beer. I just wanted to attract you to my post. Only this weekend I was extolling the virtues of the splendid and varied beers in Mikkeller Bar, Copenhagen. It’s just I didn’t want to give them points.

Can you review beers without points?

Tasting but not rating. Three beers at Mikkeller Bar, Copenhagen

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