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 “maltjerry.com” 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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The quest for easy, slow-cooking meat with beer

I have embarked on something of a quest. Pulled-pork, barbecue brisket, slow roasts and all kinds of time-swallowing recipes for cooking meat have been grabbing my attention. While a lot of them have me drooling over the keyboard, most of the recipes I’ve seen appear to be quite demanding, and not just in time. I am determined to find an easier way without compromising on the taste.

Shoulder of pork slow cooked in beer

The quest for simple pulled pork

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Schneider Weisse Tap X – Evening in a summer meadow


This gallery contains 1 photo.

  The label says “A sparkling and shining summer wheat ale”, and it is. There’s a Champagne feel to it, it comes in a wine bottle, but at a somewhat gentler 5.4%. On the back of the pleasingly splashy, abstract … Continue reading

What fresh Hell can this be? Behind the Brewhaha at Redwell Brewing

Now the media storm around Red Bull-gate* appears to have died down, Norwich’s Redwell Brewing can carry on with what they do best, as their name so clearly implies: that’s brewing beer. I expect people will be asking, is there substance to build on the brouhaha?

The publicity from clashing with Red Bull has led to a boost in orders for Redwell. Now they have to back it up, and they will because the beer is very good. You might think “surprisingly good for such a young brewery”. But then they have a secret weapon from Sweden. Johan Elmander is not the only Swedish signing Norwich has made recently.** Redwell Street, Norwich. Source of inspiration for Redwell Brewery

The Norwich city-centre sign that inspired the name of Redwell Brewing

Redwell’s Swedish import is head brewer David Jones. You might think “David Jones” doesn’t sound terribly Swedish, and you’d be right. David is a Londoner. You’d also be forgiven for not having heard of David Jones – the brewer, but he’s much better known in Sweden, and arguably, one of the most influential brewers in Scandinavia.

So how come Redwell recruited David Jones from Sweden, and why the Dorothy Parker quote in the headline?

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Swift Half: IPA is Dead Edition 2. HBC (Can it save the Aussies?)

BrewDog IPA is Dead II: HBC 6.7%

11 Aug. Sunday afternoon, Ashes test in the balance, and here I am giving this new Australian hop sort a go. The batch number on the label says “071”, but this translates to the second round of IPA is Dead, BrewDog doing one hop variety per IPA.

The best-before date is gone by 5 months 13-03-2013. How would this humulus lupulus survive more than a year in the bottle? Fair dingo, or howler?

BrewDog IPA is Dead:2 single-hop IPA series second batch with Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC hop varietals.

IPA is Dead, Batch 2: Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC

The nose is fresh. At least, unoxidised (no wet paper/cardboard smells). There is some hop aroma of citrus, but it’s quite shy. Maybe a touch of autumn leaves.
Like the other beers in the batch, the beer feels quite big and chewy, and here, the travel-sweet juiciness of the hop shows up. There are crisp, summery and tangy flavours alongside a good balancing malt sweetness. It’s deeper, more rounded than the Punk IPA.

Memory tells me it is not as bitter as when fresh, and not astringent at all. Have I said that about all of the batch 2 a year on?

Orange-citrus has characterised the hops in Edition 2, but this is the orangiest. Would you forgive me for pairing this with griddled duck breasts? Too 70s? How about herby roasted lamb rack? Or just sitting in the garden listening to Test Match special hoping for a decent second innings lead.

From: Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Type: Single-hop varietal India Pale Ale, bottle. Source: BrewDog online.

Previously: IPA is Dead II: Motueka, IPA is Dead II: Galaxy, and IPA is Dead II Challenger
The original IPA is Dead tasting at The Euston Tap, February 2011

Wadworth’s Brewer’s Creation No. 7: Darkness made light

The crow stood in the middle of the scorched lawn, barely moving, wings held down as if in surrender to the heat. Its beak slightly agape, it cocked its head and gave me a resigned stare, as if to caw, “Today, of all days, I wore black…”

I ambled home, mentally preparing myself for the onslaught of the barbecue with thoughts of the mini-cask from Wadworth‘s chilled and waiting. The latest Brewer’s Creation, No. 7, in the monthly series of new beers from Wadworth. It is untapped, with the only clues as to its contents a long list of malts and three hop varieties.

mini-cask ale

A mini-cask of Wadworth’s new creation for July

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July 4th Beer Dinner Dominated by a Couple of Bastards

The Fourth of July is supposed to commemorate a revolution started with a tea party in Boston. I was rather glad that Meantime Brewing decided instead to have a beer dinner in Greenwich. Billed as “American Revolutionary Beer and Food” for 4th of July, we got fireworks in five courses and 11 beers.

Thankfully, the days since an American beer dinner would have been thought of as a culinary endurance test are, like the Boston Tea Party, history. At least when the feast is put together by Meantime Old Brewery chef Jose Lopez and beer expert Glenn Payne. Bastards? No! now that would be inglorious of me. My title comes from the names of two of the beers chosen to accompany two of the courses.

This was a masterclass in beer and food pairing, using different styles of beer to both complement and contrast the courses and to cleanse and titillate the palate. From a light and delicate aperitif to sour and fruity with cheese via, perfumed and bitter, robust and malty with the main event, and various ports of call in between.

Meantime Brewing's 4th of July Beer Dinner: The menu

Meantime Brewing’s 4th of July Beer Dinner: The menu

Take a look at the menu, then follow the link for pictures with tasting notes for each beer and food pair.

Introduction by Glenn Payne, and aperitifs
Glenn isn’t just any old beer connoisseur. He’s been promoting the wonders of American craft beer since the mid-90s. And he’s not even American. Nor is the host, Meantime head brewer, Alastair Hook. Glenn and Alistair spoke, we drank:
Sly Fox Helles, Meantime Yakima Red, Anchor Summer (wheat)

Soup course
New England clam chowder and Cornish white fish
Meantime Cali-Belgique

First “Bastard” course
Meatloaf with prunes, San Francisco sourdough toast and cucumber pickles
Stone Oak-aged Arrogant Bastard

Main “Bastard” course
Smoked baby back ribs marinated in Meantime Wheat beer, with grilled lobster, spicy coleslaw and hand-cut chips
Founders Dirty Bastard, Flying Dog Wilde Man

Blueberry cobbler with stawberry ice cream
Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter

Cheesboard with beer chutney
Cheddar, goats cheese, and Stilton
Ommegang Rare Vos Pale Ale, Brooklyn Black Ops, Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red

Now visit the Maltjerry flickr photo set Beer and food fireworks on the 4th of July to find out how it all went. Be sure to click on each photo for a description.

When you’ve digested…

Meantime hold beer dinners regularly. The next is on Thursday 29 August, at The Old Brewery, and features modern British cooking, with oysters, salt beef, and turbot.
Contact through www.oldbrewerygreenwich.com.

Keep an eye on Meantime Brewing News and Events for dinners and other events.
The White Horse on Parson’s Green, London SW6 is having a beer dinner hosted by the very wonderful Thornbridge Brewery.
See http://www.whitehorsesw6.com/news-events.php.

Many thanks to Meantime for inviting MaltCim and me to dinner!

Swift Half: IPA is Dead Edition 2. An Old-world Challenger

 BrewDog IPA is Dead II: Challenger 6.7%

A perfectly normal summer Sunday afternoon, 22  July as England take a 2-0 lead in the Ashes. And what more appropriate hop variety could you wish for at today than good-old English Challenger?
BrewDog IPA is Dead:2 single-hop IPA series second batch with Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC hop varietals.

IPA is Dead, Batch 2: Challenger, Motueka, Galaxy, and HBC

In Edition 1 of IPA is Dead, BrewDog threw in Bramling X as the old-world type. This time, they’ve gone for a more traditional variety used widely in British beers (Fuller’s ESB and London Pride), but not often as a single-hop varietal (that I know of). I liked the BrewDog take in Edition 2 a year (and more) ago. How would age wither it?

The beer smells good. Perhaps a touch of oxidation, but the hops smell fresh: bright, orange oil aromas. Sweet malt, as I have come to expect from these IPA is Dead beers, but a good, balancing bitterness that lingers to the finish. A bit of the old-English marmalade about it – so familiar to me from Fullers beers.

The aged BrewDog has lost a touch of vibrancy, maybe, but still a damn fine beer and lovely use of hops. Would be great with the lamb steaks we’re having for dinner: the deep fruit oil to go with the sweetness of the meat. But having survived 14 months in my beer cupboard this ain’t gonna last another 14 minutes.

From: Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Type: Single-hop varietal India Pale Ale, bottle. Source: BrewDog online.

Next up: IPA is Dead II. HBC: Can it Save the Aussies?
Previously: IPA is Dead II. Motueka and IPA is Dead II: Galaxy
The original IPA is Dead tasting at The Euston Tap, February 2011