They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Thursday 23 August 2012

3X The Brooklyn

I've drunk a lot of Brooklyn Lager in my time. It's one of those go to beers that you know you can trust to be what it is... a Great Lager. But only up until recently however it's only been available in the UK in one form - the bottle. These days though, over here you can get Brooklyn Lager in a bottle, in a can and even on draught in certain bars.

When a friend passed me along a couple of cans of the stuff the other day, I thought I'd have a little taste off between the three to see if there was much (if any) difference. I was expecting at the start that there wouldn't be. I had all three of these out of a glass just to clarify. (as it should be...)

So after a shift of lugging beer around all day, I jumped on my bike and cycled 5mins down the road to Alfred to grab a half of Brooklyn Lager on Draught. This would be the first of the three in my list, and I already had thoughts in my head of what I'd be expecting, after all I've drunk plenty on draught before. It's a beer I order and don't really think about it when I'm drinking it - you know the type... but when I actually started to think about this half, my views started to waver a little. Sure it was a refreshing beer, but I thought it was a touch sweet and vegetal... possibly a little stale. I don't think it was as fresh as we know Brooklyn Lager can be.

Next up I went for a can of the stuff. I've never had a can of Brooklyn before, in fact it was my friend passing me over a couple of these that made me write this post in the first place. This smelled fresh. It also smelled really clean too. The taste was only a slight improvement on the draught version though. Fresher and crisper yes, but still a slight sweetness and vegetal note was putting me off a little bit. A better clean bitterness in the finish is had in the can, but asked for a better 'flavour retention', it's pretty much on par with draught.

Last but not least was a bottle of BL. The bottled stuff was how I was introduced to the stuff and what I've usually always stumped up for. Having this straight after the can I notice an obvious improvement on the caramel malts in the nose. Now this smells and looks like a Vienna Lager. It's a perfect pour too... pouring into  a glass from a can puts far too much carbonation into the beer resulting in a big head which isn't ideal.

This is just much better than the previous two. To me it tastes just how Brooklyn Lager should. But maybe that's all in my head. Bottled BL was what I had first, and when I first did it was a revelation, so thinking about it, perhaps the other two will never live up to it.

I think the main thing I've learnt from this though is pretty simple. I've enjoyed Brooklyn Lager from bottle and draught in the past, and I reckon it would be the same for the cans. I spoiled that enjoyment tonight by trying to over analyze each method of dispense and think about each too much.

So if there's anything that I can take away from this, it's this:

If you have a beer you like... don't think about the method of dispense.

Just enjoy it.

Monday 20 August 2012

Noble Rot

Noble Rot

Sounds like toothpaste's arch enemy....

Noble Rot is a special beer brewed by Dogfish Head which was brought back from the States for me by my parents on their latest Florida trip. It's a 9% "Sorta-Saison" Ale brewed with grape must and Botrytis-infected Viognier grape must added from Alexandria Nicole Cellars.

The aroma on the beer is more than a little mental. If I was given this blind I'd tell you it smelled like white wine. Knowing what the beer is, I'd say it smells like a 50-50 white wine/Saison shandy... It's got plenty of character on the nose; lemon and orange peel, coriander, grape skins, ripe peach, bananas, bubble-gum and a touch of Cider.

It's an interesting mix of ingredients: Pilsner malt is backed up by organic Hard Red Winter Wheat malt. Liberty, Willamette and Warrior hops are all present and it's finished off with a Saison yeast and the Botrytis must. It looks like a pint of Lager in the glass, but it couldn't be further from it...

This isn't beer. This is a bottle of wine, but at the same time it's neither. Somewhere along the way Dogfish Head has decided to become a Winery as well as a Brewery. This is the furthest thing from beer, called beer, I've ever had in my life, and I've had Tactical Nuclear Penguin...

It looks like a beer, but it tastes like wine (with a tiny hint of Saison about it) It's yeasty, it's earthy and dry. Tart but not sour, a little tomato skin bitterness. As it goes down some sweeter fruit flavours start to show through. Apple flavours (think dry Cider), sweet boozy pears with a hint of white sugar. Fresh grass but also wet hay, it's bizarre. I'm a little lost for words... as I say, I've never really been into my wine, and I've never tasted anything as unfamiliar as this to me before when it comes to a "beer".

Like some sort of Romeo and Juliet story, this is unison in a glass. It's the meeting of two different worlds, and that coupling has created something so different, so unique, it's hard not to be a little taken aback by the creation. In this one instance two (I want to say rival) factors of the drinks industry are joined as one, and it's so obvious because it works so well you wonder why more people aren't doing it. It's a shame, because I think the wine and the beer industry have a lot to offer each other. It would be so great to see a bit more collaboration and brotherhood (or sisterhood) between these two great drinks industries. Dogfish Head have proven that it can be quite fruitful, and not just in this one instance.

Noble Rot


Saturday 18 August 2012

Because I Can

It's been a very long HOT day at Beer Ritz today. I want a beer, but it's unbelievable how hard it is to choose one these days. I want something pale, something refreshing. I have beers like Kipling, Oakham Citra, Ilkley Lotus and similar suspects running through my mind, but I don't want them. I want something like them but not them, something different.

I also want some fun, some experimentation, and thus thoughts of "I wonder what that and this taste like together...." started roaming through my concoctious brain. The image of an IPA mixed with some fruit beer then popped into my head. "Sounds good to me" I thought, so away we go!

I'm not doing this willy-nilly, I thought about my selections for the night and if they would go together or not. So... What's gonna happen if I mix a highly acclaimed IPA from Hawkshead which is know to many of us as NZPA:

With something like this:

Well I guess you'll end up with something like this:

Pink NZPA!

SO does it work? Well on paper, you've got the caramel malty-ness and the resinous hops of NZPA, and you have the raspberry dry tartness but with sweetness too from the Mort Subite Xtreme. What's it like? It's like liquidised rhubarb and raspberry crumble! That's it basically, it works really well for me, it's really interesting - I'd recommend more people try this. Don't use too much Framboise though as it can easily become overpowering.

Rhubarb and raspberry crumble in a glass! Hashtag Loving it :)

Remember to have some fun with beer, that's what it's for. Don't take it too seriously, there's not really any point. And try a little experimentation sometimes as well, because, when it comes down to it, you are allowed to....

Tuesday 7 August 2012


No, not that Artois rubbish...

Stella 7.5% single hopped IPA from Kernel Brewery:

Stella is one of the hops I really enjoy. It's drying like Centennial, but juicy like Citra, it's a great flavourful hop but at the same time, it doesn't shout about it. Kernel Stella has a wonderful aroma of dry pine and grapefruit. It's very floral and smells quite sweet with some hints of candy sugar and honey. There's almost a very slight tang of Belgian yeast in there too.

It's a perfect beer. Faultless. It starts big on the flavour with juicy sweet fruits, fleshy and ripe. This moves to a puckering bitter body and finish which makes you drink more instead of putting it down.

It's a fantastic beer, but that's not really what I want to talk about tonight.

You see there's been a bit of talk and murmuring about Kernel as of late around some of the regular Kernel lovers in Beer Ritz. Kernel brewery has just gone through relocating to a new bigger brewery (although I've heard it's still under a railway line...) and one or two of our Kernel fanatics seem to think the quality has suffered because of this. I can only say to these few people that, during the time that Kernel wasn't around in the shop, you hyped up these beers so much while you couldn't get your hands on them, that when they came back in they couldn't live up to your over-expectations. It's a real shame, because the beer hasn't changed. Brewers aren't stupid. They're smart passionate 'business' men/women, and if they move location you can believe they put a lot of money into making sure that the beer quality and taste does NOT change.

That being said, Kernel have had a couple of teething issues. Yes there has been the one bottle without a label here, and another without an abv stamp there, but this is to be expected! Brewers are people too, and aren't perfect, but still get it right 99.9% of the time. I can't see any change with the new brewery beers from Kernel, and I also think the new way they produce the labels looks a lot better - much more professional.

Brewers must be warned though! I've worked at Beer Ritz for quite a few years now, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's this; when posed with such a choice like ours, customer choices can be very fickle. I don't want to count the amount of times I've heard a customer say: "Oh, I had a bad bottle from them a while back, I've moved onto **** now..."  I'm not trying to have a pop at Kernel here, I've had many a box come to the shop with the odd label or two missing from the bottle. From well know breweries too like Nogne O and Durham recently...

In most cases it only takes one bad bottle for people to avoid a whole range a brewery produces. This is why I think regular quality control is such an important thing. If you have a bad brew or infected batch, for heaven's sake Don't Send It Out and hope for the best... you'll only end up seriously damaging your reputation. And in this time of such great choice, the consumers will leave you for someone else.

Monday 6 August 2012

Gadget time

This is just an attempt to see if I can post a blog from this new smart phone thingy while I'm in Arcadia...

In an attempt to try get more technologically technological, this is just a little post to see if I can do it without much hassle. After all, I've only ever blogged from my mac at home, so if this is as easy as it is seeming to be then it may open up some more opportunities here and there.

I'm currently sat drinking Bristol beer factory's Milk Stout, and it's rather delicious. 4.5% dark deliciousness on cask in Arcadia.

Still got no real idea how to get a picture into the blog at the same time, but I'll get there soon enough I assume...