It's good to have connections.
The ways people can be linked together is sometimes a strange thing. For about two and a half years I lived with two brothers called Giles Edsall and Piers Edsall whilst I was at furniture college. During my time spent with my homies, I learnt that the brothers had another brother who resided in Japan called Dominic. It was only about a year after we had all left college and moved in our separate directions that someone called @domu888 started to follow me on twitter. It turned out that it was Dom Edsall, and after a few clarifications it turned out that Dom was a usual reader of this blog. This came with a bit of good fortune, because after reading my post on the Hitachino Nest beers, Dom was heading back to Leeds for a visit and asked me if I wanted to try some uber Japanese beers.
I of course said yes...
These are the beers he brought along with him for me to try:
The first comes from Sankt Gallen Brewery and is a 8.5% Imperial Chocolate Stout made with Goldings, Cascade, Willamette and Nugget hops. It's quite a fresh bottle from 2011, and it certainly has a lot of character around the aroma. Not exactly pitch black in appearance, but it has a very dark brown burnt sugar head on the swirl. I don't get much chocolate in the aroma, but it's there, surrounded by lots of hazelnut, dark sweet toffee and burnt toast. It's strange. It's light in the body for a beer like this, but it's so packed full of flavour, it really grabs your attention. Really easy drinking for a beer of this strenght. It's slightly meaty with small lactic creamy hints coming through, there's also some soy sauce and liqourice. A good alcoholic bitterness in the finish, but it's not overbearing and makes it quite moorish. I get a lot of bitter dark chocolate too, but not as much as I thought I would. Slightly woody in the finish with some dry coffee too. A really nice beer to start with.
The second beer of the night comes from Hyoko Yashiki no Mori Brewery, or Swan Lake Beers. At a full 10% this promises to be no slouch! This beer does pour pitch black, with a dark tan head which quickly dissipates. The beer is much more bitter chocolate, but also in the aroma there's a huge amount of vanilla and charred oak character amongst a bitter vegetal (ashen corn) character. The bottle states; '12. 06. 07.' on the bottle, I'm now wondering if that's a bottled on date or a best before date - either way I'm pretty happy! This is a thick and very rich beer. An obvious alcohol bitterness is the first obvious sign of a big beer but that then melts away to make way for caramel malt sweetness and a lactic creaminess which begs the mouth for more. It reminds me a lot of drinking some Danish Imperial Stouts from keg in North Bar for some reason... It's a perfect Imperial Stout - it hits all the right notes and does not leave you wanting. My only regret is that it's probably the only time I'm ever going to drink this beer.
Time is infinite though, and who knows, there may be some more time for these beers in my life again. I hope there will be.
If someone wants to give me beers of this caliber off their own back, then they'll be a friend for life, so Dom, your pretty awesome in my book. I hope the beers I gave you in exchange do you right and I'll give my thanks once again.
As for this post, Dom's a English teacher in Japan, so I hope I got the spelling and grammar right in this post!