Before the last dying breaths of 2016 are forgotten. Before the dying days of jaw-clenchingly miserable January are over. Before we can begin again our rebirth into the year, Nick, our bearded Nick reimagined, has a few words to say:
“I'm sat in the middle of France, on a quaint little farm, sipping tea (not close to the real thing) tapping away on my phone and dreaming of beer. Yes, I know it’s breakfast time but still. A big beautiful mixed fermentation barrel aged sour. That’s what I want.
Garrett Oliver is a legend in the industry. One of the early pioneers. A man who has probably made more great beers than I’ve drunk. He is the head brewer at Brooklyn Brewery and last year he teamed up with Rob Lovatt from Thornbridge to dream up a beer ageing experiment. One that had never been done before. They called it Project Serpent.
The beer was originally intended to be a strong Belgian Golden ale (think Derilium Tremens or Duvel). A style that uses noble hops. A style, that’s easy to drink, even with a high ABV.
Serpent initially tasted floral, fruity, with slight peppery notes, plus a solid alcohol backbone. The beer was then blended with cider lees (the leftover yeasts, skins, and other byproducts from cider fermentation) from Oliver’s Cider and Perry. This gave the beer a uniquely funky, fruity element. Then they chucked the whole lot into Four Roses bourbon barrels.
Modern ‘aged’ beers have often been left in barrels for 3 months, some 6 months and some a whole year. Serpent sat quietly, undisturbed in those barrels for 2 years.
If you do the math, this beer was brewed at the end of 2013. To have conceived of a beer so on trend, so current three years before release, blows my mind. Truly phenomenal.
This beer challenged everything I know and understand about beer. An ever-changing chameleon.
The week it was released, it was fresh and vibrant with a strange funky acidity. Oude Geuze? Cider? I'm not sure, but it was delicious.
A couple of months later, and I was cracking into my third bottle. Much more funk, apple and spice. Was it morphing into cider? I wasn’t sure. Again, it was absolutely delicious.
Finally, as last year was dragging its feet into this, I enjoyed my last bottle, at a Saison tasting event I hosted in The Beer Boutique’s Wandsworth store. I brought along a beer that I’d brewed myself, inspired by Serpent and indeed created by Serpent. (As an aside, my beer won the blind taste test – thanks!). But the highlight was celebrating with the bottle that started it all.
Maybe it was my mood, or maybe it just was that much better, but it was so much more zingy. So bright. So complex, with just the perfect amount of tartness.
The beauty of this beer lies not just in its crazy concept or in its flawless creation, but in its ability to change with age.
This beer challenges everything you expect a beer to be. It's a great drink every time, but it also offers something different. A truly artisanal product. A unique beer. To stand out in a crowd of indistinguishable craft beers, that takes something truly special.”
Oh my god. Not again. Mind whirling. Stomach flying solo. Body bloated, white, beached. Barnacles gripping steadfastly to the forehead. A bumpy sand-duned surf ride of excess. A season easily read on the features of the now vacant. A season now come and gone. Boy, was it fun.
But we’re not going to do it again. Never, ever again. The dry January do-gooders are out in force. It’s time to grow up. Be sensible. Hit the gym. Start to break all those promises.
But that’s not our style.
Agreed, I’m not about to neck an imperial stout anytime soon (the memories are all too vivid). But it is time to reflect on a remarkable year of beer.
If January is a time for anything, it’s a time for reflection and it’s a time for quality over quantity. So if you’re abstaining from the trend for abstention, then we’re with you. And if you want to taste the finer things in life, then you could do worse than taste one or two of our beers of the year.
Now before I launch into what is essentially a list, in a month of lists, please let me warn you. This is not objective. This is not a democracy. This is not based on data. This is my blog and it’s my opinion. You will not agree. You must not agree. But if it spurs you into new pastures and generates a debate or two, then that’s grand.
At the halfway stage, Beavertown / Boneyard’s Bloody Notorious was a strong contender and certainly a favourite amongst our team. It came to symbolise two of the stronger trends in 2016: the popularity of the double IPA; and the amazing collaboration beers that were released last year. Maybe it’s something to do with the limited edition nature of them. Maybe it’s the creative genius that comes when two (or more) great brewers come together, but 2016 was definitely the year of the collaboration.
Cigar City’s head brewer Wayne, and Magic Rock, came together to produce Wayniac, a murky fruity IPA which is a strong contender for my beer of the year. Or how about Rule of Thirds which combined Siren, Magic Rock and Beavertown’s beers into a blended combo? A bit less than the sum of its parts, in my opinion. Or Magic Rock and Cloudwater’s Big Dipper double IPA which was very nice indeed.
No. Despite the competition, the collaboration of the year was Brooklyn / Thornbridge’s Serpent. There was so much hype for this beer, that I didn’t bother trying it on release. I couldn’t be bothered to be honest. The downside of collaborations is that they can’t be repeated (or not easily) so the brewers want the beer to be amazing. The hype / PR machines go into overdrive to ensure that, even if they aren’t, at least they sell.
But sometimes, the hype is justified. When I tried this beer at last - a Belgian golden ale, aged in barrels on cider lees – I felt foolish for avoiding it for so long (and immediately bought out our entire stock. Sorry about that). It was perfect. Dry, a bit tart, refreshing, with a hint of the apples that helped to make it. Some felt it too cider-ish but I hate cider so I don’t agree. There aren’t many bottles of this left. Get some wherever you can.
There were so many DIPAs last year, that to pick the best one is almost impossible. A couple of years ago, I never thought that I’d be quietly supping a 9% IPA on a Monday evening in front of the telly, but thanks to Cloudwater, Brew By Numbers, Pirate Life, Thornbridge and others, it was a regular occurrence. Not all of them worked. I wasn’t a huge fan of Human Cannonball, or Restorative Beverage for Invalids & Convalescents or Born to Die. Just throwing IBUs at me isn’t the answer.
At the half year stage, I had BBNo 55 | 01 as my favourite beer and it’s still right up there but my favourite DIPA of the year was Cloudwater’s. I don’t like the hype they generate but I do really like their beers. There’s no hype for really bad beers, after all. What does annoy me is their nomenclature. Each month a new version. I know that they were trying different things in the early days but I’d rather they just called it their DIPA and be done with it. I don’t mind if the recipe changes slightly or their hopping schedule or even the hops. The Kernel have been doing that for years and we aren’t on version 499 of their IPA, are we? So my favourite DIPA is the Cloudater DIPA. Whichever version is on sale right now and whichever one I can buy and drink right now.
Session IPAs were another big trend of 2016. A low alcohol IPA is, of course, a nonsense. But an easy drinking beer full of flavour – I can handle that. Tempest Armadillo is a classic and one I always have in at home. Neck Oil should be revisited. Just because it’s been around for ever doesn’t diminish how good a beer it is. Siren came out with loads: White Tips, Vermont Tea Party, Half Mast. I liked them all. But the one I returned to time and again was the Brew By Numbers Session IPA. Again, I don’t really care which version. I may prefer some of their hops combinations more than others but it’s a great recipe, brewed well and it always works.
Honourable mentions to…
Salopian Sienna: the Shropshire brewery’s stellar black label range was epitomised by this golden brown ale which bridges the gap between classic English and new wave craft. Michael Robertson, band leader of rock blues outfit Paladin, immortalised Sienna in a Paladin song lyric from one of his many compositions penned whist supping an ale in our Putney shop.
Orbit White Label #6 Burton Ale: the most under-appreciated beer of the year? Orbit have had a great year, and I can’t help but feel they don’t get the ‘social’ media attention they deserve. The Burton Ale was a perfect winter warmer, packed with earthy and evocative English hops, with a Belgian sweetness.
Gipsy Hill Bogan: So much Nelson!!! No-one had tried a beer like this, and it put Gipsy Hill on the map.
ToOl Sur Amarillo went down a treat too. And no list of beers of the year is complete without a mention of ToOl – some crazy beers. Some amazing beers. Always amazing artwork. We love them.
But the winner is…
…Beavertown’s Lupuloid. Their first attempt at a core IPA, the pressure on getting this right must have been enormous. Not only putting a beer out there in the most competitive part of the market, but also having to stand up to their existing range. And what a beer. Not too bitter. Not too fruity. Not too alcoholic (and certainly not tasting it’s full 6.7%). Really tasty. All put together in a distinctive can. Made for the perfect train beer. The perfect take out beer. The perfect park beer. The perfect in a taxi on the way to the darts beer. The perfect slab of beer for the family Christmas beer. The perfect beer.
On November 15th The Beer Boutique Wandsworth had an evening of tasting chocolate and beer. Many on the night came for the beer and many came for the chocolates, and some even came our of sheer curiosity of how these flavours were going to work together. I like to believe that I saw some lights turn on that night. Beer tasting is so much more than just a good food match; it’s a chance to change the composition of flavours, to bring back old memories, create entirely new possibilities and enhance the ones we already know. So jumping right in here is the what, why and how of the evenings pairings.
Firstly a big thank you to everyone who cam and opened their minds and mouths, and to Doisy and Dam for their wonderfully unique chocolates.
Chocolate: lemon, poppy seed & baobab white chocolate.
Beer: Rothaus Hefeweizen
Having spent half of my legal drinking period in the United States I have fallen in love the putting a slice of lemon into my wheat beer. The lemon adds acidity to the sweet glutinous wheat, and lightens up what many see as a naturally heavy beer. In this case the lemon chocolate took the place of the natural slice and added a spark to the incredibly smooth as always Rothaus Hefewiezen.
Chocolate: goji & orange dark chocolate
Beer: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
Here we expanded on the first drink and then added two more tasting ideas.
One: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace has a cloudy dill coriander feel to it almost verging on being a wit. As lemon goes into wheat so does orange go into wit.
Two: Bringing the heritage of flavors together. Sorach Ace is a particularly funky – almost dare I say cheesy – flavor originating in Japan. The Goji berry is native to China. So here we are enjoying a tart chewiness cutting through the soft funk both from eastern Asia to meet again in Wandsworth Town.
Three: admittedly this chocolate does not have as much orange as I would hope so we rev its subtlety up a notch by putting them together and bringing out the orange in both beer and chocolate.
Chocolate: quinoa, smoked tea & vanilla milk chocolate
Beer: Weird Beard Smoke
Easy, a classic Rauchbier pulls out the hints of smoked tea in the chocolate, whilst the creaminess of the milk chocolate coats the tongue and makes smoked beer palatable to even the newest of beer drinkers. For anyone who’s ever wanted to try bacon and chocolate this is the more sophisticated combination you’ve been looking for.
Chocolate: coffee & sprouted buckwheat
Beer: Liefmans Kriek Brut
Bear with me. If you’ve ever seen Ratatouille and the scene where Anton Ego finally tastes the dish and is transported to his childhood. Well this coffee chocolate did that to me It took me to winter in Finland, family, warm interiors, the best desserts in the world, and lots and lots of black coffee – pause for the aww that rang through the group. So we had coffee and cherry pie together. Need I say more.
Chocolate: maple, toasted rice & pink salt
Beer: Magic Rock Salty Kiss
The palate cleanser of the evening, this chocolate as a beautiful maple taste that comes in right before you finish your piece. I wanted to play with the flavour to see if we could bring the sensation forward in time with the salty beer creating a salted caramel feel. The beer was also a lovely refresher after so much decedent milk chocolate.
Chocolate: maca, vanilla & cacao nibs
Beer: Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter
I’ve had people tell me they have dark chocolate and I’ve had people tell me they hate porters. Both change their mind when putting to the two together. A porter really does bring down the bitterness of a dark chocolate and a dark chocolate adds a creamy texture to the typically thinner dark beer. You are left with a flavour that is somewhat of a chocolate stout. This combination works every time and I will never stop using it in tastings.
Perhaps you're brave enough to explore your own tasting matches now, remember you only know what not to do if you do everything first. There are no wrong ideas.
Our Wandsworth Town location has recently been asked to help host and gather interest for a new bottle sharing group starting up right here in SouthWest London.
The concept is quite simple, and if you love trying new, old, unusual, normal, and wonderful beer from all over this group is for you.
So how does it work?
1. Members of the group choose a time and location to meet up. Groups can be anywhere from three people to large gatherings.
2. Each Member brings a couple bottles of a certain beer (basically enough to share). The beer can really be anything and most often is themed. aka hoppy beer night, strongest beer you can find etc. etc. etc. You are also of course never limited to bringing just one beer.
3. For the love of great beer you then share your bottles and take turns trying each others beer. Once the beer runs out no worries (if your at The Beer Boutique) you can keep drinking.
Also no worries if you didn't have time to find a beer, we have you covered - we are a bottle shop after all - just pick one up off of our shelves before you begin. (this is greatly encouraged).
4. You can meet as little or as often as you choose. The only rule is you must share and be willing to be a little adventurous.
If this sounds right up you alley please send us your email address and we will connect you to the new bottle sharing group.
send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
or tweet us at @TBBwandsworth
We look forward to supplying your meetings . . . and perhaps sneaking in a few tastes, after all you never know when we'll crack one open for you too.
Welcome friends, to the second half of the year. No doubt beer has proved a friendly respite from the terrors of the outside world, and together we shall keep the wheels of civilization well-oiled, in the assurance that nobody is actually going to be building a wall any time soon.
In the spirit of celebration then, the time has come to take note of some of the great Beers of the Year. The Beer Boutique staff have been given the opportunity to bestow three awards each; the first for their individual greatest beer of the year so far; the second for an award category of their own choosing; and a final opportunity to give any honourable mentions. So without further a brew, I present our champions of 2016 (so far).
Jonathan Kaye - Judge, Jury, Executioner, and Owner
1. Award for ... Beer of the Year
2016 has been the year of the Big DIPA. Fortunes have gone up and some, come screaming down with arms in the air and big smiles all round. There have been many great beers in this category. Though I wasn't initially persuaded. Too bitter for me (even Cannonball can punch a bitter fist to the back of my throat). And too strong. They just get me drunk too fast. And then I can't speak. Or serve customers. Or do anything. But I forced myself to like them. And I fell in love. Not with Bloody Notorious. Not with Cloudwater v3 (though it was awesome). But with BBNo 55 | 01. So well balanced. So fruity. The alcohol hiding behind the bike sheds to surprise you. The perfect beer. My winner by a mile.
2. Award for ... Session Ales
Whether it's an easy drinking pale or that oxymoron that is the Session IPA, I've drunk more beers in this category than anything else this year. Perhaps influenced by the Mediterranean sun, but these are my go to beers at the moment. Neck Oil has been leading the charge for a while as has Table Beer. Both great. But been around so long that I don't usually think to grab one. I love the BBNo Session IPAs, Tempest Armadillo is a winner too. But my favourite of the year is Siren Vermont Tea Party. Maybe it's the Vermont yeast that I love (also used in Cloudwater v3) or the citrus twist that makes it so refreshing but I just can't get enough of it
3. Honourable mentions
Wild Beer POGO is the perfect summer beer. So drinkable. 4.1%. SO FRUITY. I am drinking it like water at the moment. Mixed reviews but I really liked BrewDog Hop Fiction too. Tempest Mexicake was amazing. And the Kitchen Beer golden sour beer was truly world class - if only it could be repeated...
Cecilia Berghall - Contemporary store manager
1. Award for ... Beer of the Year
Wild Beer Sleeping Lemons purely for my sheer surprise loving this beer. To be perfectly honest I was never the biggest fan of Wild Beer. Often their beer was just not to my taste. However in June a tried a Sleeping Lemons and my opinion did a full 180. This beer is refreshing and a wonderful combination of beer nerd loving easy to drink turn a cider/wine drinker into a beer lover concoction. Any time all the time.
2. Award for ... Everything Beer
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. This beer is everything. It has an unusual enough flavour so as not to become boring but is exceptionally easy to drink. The alcohol content goes out the window because the taste is so satisfying – funky, sweet, and boozy – the best of saison and IPA combined. I would drink this as a train beer, a shower beer, or in the pub by the pint . . . carefully. An all over winner that I can’t help going back to when we have it in. My text conversation with Alfie.
C: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is what I am having as my train beer.
A: That’s like saying Jesus is your homie.
3. Honourable mentions
Rothaus Hefeweizen. I had not truly appreciated this beer since my first event on July 2015 at TBB. Tried it again recently and my body reacted with a ridiculous squinty eye grin. This beer is for truly a lack of a better word MOORISH. Lovely German wheat without too much of that sweet banana “scumgummi” flavor (it’s a Finnish sweet). After having one I really didn’t want to try anything else which surprised me, and that is why this beer is my honorable mention. In addition some other beers I couldn't get enough of when they were in and truly deserving honorable mentions : Weird Beard Out of Office, Viven's Imperial IPA, Ducato's Violent Femme, Tempest Old Parochial, Saison Du Japon.
Nick Herman - The beard begets the man
1. Award for ... Beer of the Year
Weird Beard Saison 28. An absolute stunner of a beer. I still remember the day I first tried it. It was shared by all the regulars in the store (Jbar, Nick, Benji, Brendan, Paul, Slade) as well as any one else who happened to be near by. Everyone, without exception, immediately became happier and more jovial. This is a beer that I would pay any price for, because a beer that can lift the energy of everyone in the room is one that is truly special.
2. Award for ... Best Imported Beer
Since Odell is not currently exporting, I will have to go with Mother Earth Cali Creamin' as my imported beer of the year. I am a sucker for vanilla and this beer is like a goddamn cream soda. On a side note if Dimitri doesn't claim the last one soon, it may disappear.
3. Honourable mentions
A big shout out to the Siren specials (Proteus, Hillbilly Wine, Vermont Tea Party, Broken Dream Extra Shot) a serious return to form for them. Wild Beer Co Sleeping Lemons Export was outstanding, one I would love to have again, and again, and again, and again..... Thornbridge Versa, first time I have had this beer and it wont be the last, an excellent wheat beer.
Alfie Hall - West London Rear of the Year 2014 regional finalist
1. Award for ... Beer of the Year
Beavertown Bloody Notorious. A silky soujourn into somnambulance, a lupuloid Loki, beer of mischief, Bloody Notorious is a very naughty beer. The booziness almost entirely masks the blood orange, but you pick up a hint of it as you drink, and the subtle build of flavours make this beer akin to an Old Fashioned cocktail. It's a sophisticated drink which ruined me due to its moreish nature. The landing party ended with me missing my train, taking a series of punishing night busses in a worsening thunderstorm, and attacking a (deserved) bus with an umbrella which promptly disintegrated. I wish I hadn't discovered this beer because nothing else can match it. beer. gone. emptiness.
2. Award for ... Belgian-inspired beer of the Year
As a right thinking human being, I can happily declare myself a lover of Belgian beers; there is a certain magic to a fine Struise, Westy, or Malheur which surpasses hops, barley, water, yeast, and words. There have been some fantastic pretenders to the throne this year, and Belgian style beers are finally making serious headway in the UK craft scene. BBNo have for the last two years put out fantastic Tripels, which I love because they feel like more than just imitations, and Savour headbrewer Sandy can be unquestionably proud of his Malheur-style bier brut. My favourite of the year though would have to be Mad Hatter's March Hare, a pale ale which benefits from the addition of yeast smuggled back from the heavily guarded Orval monastery. Say what you will but I preferred this beer to the Belgian original (mmm... sacrilicious).
3. Honourable mentionsEverything from Siren. Still my favourite UK brewery, Siren have earned the honour a few times over in the last few weeks. Proteus v.1 and v.2 both were contenders for beer of the year (the Motueka heavy v.1 is my favourite), Hillbilly Wine is a masterpiece; the long wait for a new Broken Dream variation has born fruit with Broken Dream Extra Shot; and Half Mast, Vermont Tea Party and White Tips all make for perfect session beers. Siren, please accept this non-existent award from an avid fanboy. Also Poperings Hommelbier - now officially my favourite beer in the world, and Tempest / Brooklyn Serpent, for the West Country ciderbeast in me. One more? OK one more, Salopian Kashmir, a blend of Euro, NZ, and US hops, which is an olde English sensibility, heavenly brew.
Last weekend our Wandsworth Town location took on the challenge of replicating Putney’s Petrus tasting event. From lively photos, enthusiastic phone calls, and general knowledge of what the tasting would be it seemed like a fantastic evening to be involved with . . . not that anyone is bitter about it . . . But really we took on task. Nick “The hairy one” came over from Putney to fill the shoes of Phil and guide our guests through beer, food, and blending (you can read in our previous blog the specifics of the tasting.)
Being a smaller location we expectedly had a smaller group. This gave everybody the time to get more in depth into the discussion on beer, and really challenge us on our beer knowledge. In my opinion we all left with an even greater appreciation for the art form of brewing. No employee at The Beer Boutique think they know everything about beer – that is probably impossible – so knowledge, opinions, hear say, any and all input is not only welcome but encourage at our tastings. We love learning from you just as much as we love teaching you so if you’re shy about speaking up, just have another drink.
Here are a few questions that arose during our tasting.
How does one make a sour beer?
Whether letting bacteria grow naturally or adding cultivated yeast it is these components at create a sour beer.
“For a good deal of human history, beers were sour just as a matter of course. Brewers work with sugar sources in warm, moist environments, which, although ideal for alcoholic fermentation, is also ideal for wild souring bacteria. Oak beer barrels were like hostels for this bacteria. It flourished in the nooks and crannies of the wood, and enjoyed a free meal of sweet unfermented beer while the brewer’s yeast wasn’t looking.”
What is the meaning behind double, triple, and quad?
A common thought being this is very similar to moonshine. An easy way in early brewing to mark strength was with an “X” from low to high. EX: X = low alcohol and XXXX = high alcohol. It is in this tradition that beers likely got their names.
Another accepted reason is based on the parti-gyle system of mashing. I am going to let I Think About Beer Blog explain it better than me.
“In this system, you drain off your first running of wort and keep it separate This leads to a first running with a fermentable sugar content of about 22.5%. The second wash (after the first has completely drained) would be less strong at around 15%. The final wash would end up with a sugar content of about 7.5%. Now if you work backwards, the double has 2x’s the sugar as the single and the triple has 3x’s the sugar as the single. Essentially, you’d have 3 beers of 3 different strengths brewed from one mash. While most people no longer use this system (they blend all the washes together), it might be a good historical explanation on how these styles got their names.”
Now just like with English styles they have simply become guideline for breweries to label their beers: you can not test a beer to find out its exact style.
The exception to the rules above are with Trappist Rochefort whose numbers are believed to designate the page number where the recipe is found their their ancient and secret brewing cookbook,
What is the strongest alcohol percentage a beer can be brewed at without distillation?
It generally depends on the type of yeast. However I seem to remember it being around 15% before needing to go into distillation or freezing (the water out)
This is actually a subject I do not know much about. Perhaps some other beer nerds can help fill in my answer.
Comment Down Below!
Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to teach us more,
Peace and Yeast
"Thank you for the revelation" were the words of a happy punter, who had been introduced to the idea of blending beers together to make one super-beer (years of watching Power Rangers had prepared me all too well for this concept). This tasting session, hosted by Phil from Boutique Bar Brands, encouraged all participants to take three different beers brewed by Petrus, and give it the old Tom Cruise. Beer blending has been a casual pastime of ours for a while now, a little single-hop Kernel pale here, a little Calypso there, but these beers are kindred, made to be blended, all with a connection to same funky mothership, the aged pale. A few new faces at the Putney tasting had never tried sour beers before, and had yet to attend a beer tasting, so the challenge to transform a an extra-dirty gibson into a screaming orgasm was to be an even greater challenge.
Before the blending madness begun however, we introduced three beers one by one with a complimentary food pairing. Here's what happened...
Petrus Aged Pale (with a mackerel, beetroot & fennel salad lovingly prepared by Alfie)
We often start beer tastings with a lambic or similar, it helps to engage the beer-nerds, and hush the non-beer nerds who have shown up to get hammered. A foeder-aged pale like this is always going to divide the crowd, and this particular crowd had quite a few naysayers. The beer was championed by Michael Jackson, and has gradually become a must try for sour beer lovers. It has been aged for two years in gigantic oak foeders, these are preferred over smaller barrels so as to avoid taking on flavour from the wood. Instead what develops is the bacteria present in the beer, which gradually feeds, and takes a very firm grip indeed. After two years of cultivation the result is a severely funky beer, where kettle sours provide a superficial layer of tartness, this beer is defined almost entirely by that bacteria-made acidity and, for want of another descriptor, funkiness. We paired the beer up with a smoked mackerel, beetroot and fennel salad, in an attempt to show how sour beers are perfect when confronted with bold flavours. Sweetness, earthiness, and herbal anise were brought together and washed down easily. If anything the flavours from the food needed to be bigger to match the beer, but when the two were combined there were a few sour-cynics who took the first step on the path to conversion. Next up... oooooud.
Petrus Oud Bruin (with Lincolshire Poacher and piccalilli)
Beer number two moves us gently into the world of blending. The beer consists of 33% aged pale, and 67% young brown ale. The food pairing was thought up with my never having tried the beer itself, I had loved the other two, and thought that I had a clear grip on what to expect from this one - that would be a woody brown ale with a citric tang and an eyebrow raising hint of leather. The nose of the beer delivered with a leathery and woody aroma, but it took a few gulps for me to realise that the funky bite I had been expecting had been smoothed over by a subtle layering of fruit, spice and chocolate. The beer is well carbonated, and the result is an incredibly mild, sessionable, brown. Whether or not it should be regarded as unremarkable or un-challenging is a matter of opinion, but in this case a milder cheese may have done the job. Truth be told, there were still some naysayers about.
Petrus Aged Red (with Jamaica Ginger Cake)
Rrrrrround three... this is a beer we have used in a couple of tasting sessions before. It is packed with cherries, with the sweetness of the fruit blending seamlessly with the sweetness of the malt. A touch of sourness comes in from the 15% mother beer blend. There is also a touch of Belgian bubblegum yeastiness to it, not enough to cause any serious psychological regressions though, it remains a beer for just-about grown-ups. This was mine, and Phil's, favourite pairing of the night, a big malt explosion with spice and fruit and fun. It proved popular with the crowd as well and the 750ml bombers were drained in a flash. At 8.5% the offset of this was that the mob were sufficiently well-oiled to get stuck into to Round 4...
Stage 4: Blending Time
Having been introduced to the three beers by Phil, and had them put under scrutiny by the mob, it was time to commence blending. It was in this final section of the tasting that all was forgiven, the sour doubters were brought to see the benefits of a subtle addition of aged pale into kriek to give that extra depth of character; and those (myself included) realised how perfect a beer the bruin is for a summer day pub session, when given a little more oomph from the mother ale. Cecilia's pale-heavy blend used the kriek to give a dash of sweetness and colour, resulting in a deep rose-coloured blend, with the leather flavour of the oud bruin bringing harmony. Some blends were good, some were bad, some were shared, some shamelessly treasured, but the real winner was Phil and the Petrus range, as from now on I will be compelled to buy the three beers as a trio.
A big thank you to Phil and the team at Boutique Bar Brands, and for those of you at home, keep an eye out for Petrus on tap around London, it's a champion beer and we want to see more of it.
Next event: Beatnik Beer & Poetry with Gipsy Hill, Sat August 6th, free
This blog post was written by Cecilia who you can currently find perched in our new Wandsworth Town location. The films and beers do not represent the view of our entire staff . . . although some may.
Constantly under the belief that beer will go with anything I have another match for you to consider: Beer and Film. Why not enhance your experience of a film with a beer? Sure, drinking games with movies can be fun but let’s not forget the a film was made to be viewed, enjoyed, critiqued, and discussed so lets let loose our inhibitions and let beer do some talking.
A list of some wonderful beery movies.
The Birdcage, Mike Nichols - St. Bernadus ABT 12
I am extremely picky with comedies but somehow The Birdcage always makes the top of my list (both versions). Hilarious, ahead of its time, and insanely quotable. ABT 12 often called “happy beer” by Aflie will guide your journey into deep belly laughter and leave you confident enough to show off your “Guatemalan heat.”
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel – Brugse Zot
Close enough to France. This movie is not be experienced – we get enough of that already – lets enjoy a countryside brew to match the scenery while watching (because drinking this beer makes me feel pretentious – not because of the label, simply the taste) a man we hate go through an arduous journey to become a more decent human being. The beer will be beautiful like the film but keep you grounded with its spicy flavor.
Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo - Beavertown Bloody El and the Bloody Notorious with Boneyard
We start huge and in your face but still very enjoyable, suddenly shit gets real. The in your face has exponentially grown but for some reason it is just still so unbelievably enjoyable. But you don’t really ever understand how it ends.
Fun fact: the first full length Anime shown in western theaters (the reason America is obsessed with Anime/Manga) All cell animation too.
Mad Max, Frank Miller – Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter
Stop. I know you probably hated it. I was not expecting to like it either. But, this movie is awe-some. The effects, the music, the everything is a package deal. It doesn’t care about expectations because it is simply trying to create it’s own world. Sam smiths Taddy Porter is trying to do the same thing. Stop worrying about the label, and the history. Just enjoy a great product. Plus it looks like oil so that is . . . connections. They’re both great.
There will be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson - Anchor Porter
And, more oil . . . ok so we need to go back here and I am feeling the Anchor porter. West Coast American, bold, and thick with an alcohol percentage that will leave you confused and maybe a little angry. But watch your bottle because, I drink your Anchor Porter.
Rushmore, Wes Anderson - Boundary Push and Pull
Another comedy that always reaches my list. Quick edits, dry humor, and Bill Murray this favorite film receives one of my new favorite beers. Boundary Push and Pull, which is an Irish coconut and raspberry beer. Flavors that develop and change like your questionable devotion to Bill Murray. Sic Transit Gloria – not with this beer.
… and Darjeeling Limited – Captain Lawrence Hop Commander
One of my favorite films whilst in Oregon this beer which I tried yesterday tastes like a little bit of the west coast. Nothing really changes but every second is fantastic.
Burn After Reading, Coen Brothers - Siren Broken Dream (slightly chilled)
Dry, sexy, and invigorating in it’s own dark way
Elvira Madigan, Bo Widerberg – Petrus Aged Red
Let’s be honest I want Whiskey with this movie. But instead we shall focus on the happy moments.
Mozart, Vivaldi, Daises, Meadows, Beautiful Swedish Trapeze Artist. Let me be alone with my thoughts and my Petrus Red before it ends with a bang.
Why Change Your Wife, Cecil B Demille - Lindemans Framboise
Who doesn’t love an old movie, with some questionable humor, over the top silent film acting, and a moral. Needs to be watched with something a little more fluffy and just as old.
Festen, Tomas Vinterberg - Brooklyn Scorcher (6-pack)
(Dogma 95 film: rules for filmmaking where you can not do anything related to make-believe or filmmaking) captivating but not full of expectations until your halfway through and realize you’ve been sucking it in like water and loving every decision made in order for you to enjoy this finished product. I’ll have my fourth please.
I need to stop now or this will get to long.
All beers can be found in either our Putney or Wandsworth locations.
Keeps your eyes open for some real life movie and beer matches coming soon to the TBB . . .
Peace and Yeast,
This blog post was written by Cecilia who you can currently find perched in our new Wandsworth Town location. The books and beers do not represent the view of our entire staff . . . although some may.
Ever since I saw Tasha – the events manager for Weird Beard Brewery – post her books and beers experience at Caps ‘n’ Taps I have been thinking about what I drink whilst I read.
There is a reason we drink beer at BBQs and sporting events – yes to get drunk – but it is so much more than that because beer is an experience, it brings with it memories, moods, and emotions. Like great wines (and beers) have their perfect food match to excite the senses so does beer with experiences. And what is more experiential than getting sucked into the world of a great book. Like a session pale compliments the good vibes of a BBQ so can a salty sour match the mind games of Murakami.
Here is my list of some of my favorite books and the beers I would choose to drink with them.
Don’t knock it till you try it. If anything whilst writing this I learned a lot about myself. I like feeling classy and being exceptionally sad. . .
Of course in books are just not your thing no worries, because TBB will begin a series of film nights with some of our favorite breweries. Keep checking back for dates, and more information.
*Disclaimer: I love massive books
Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami ----- Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace
“Two of my favorite things. Everything and nothing happens at the same time. Also both Japanese or at least Japanese in origin.”
The Beautiful and The Damned, Fitzgerald ----- Mikkeller Kolsvart
“You spent a little more money than usual and feel a little like a classy s.o.b while drinking it. It’s easy but slightly dark. Nobody is happy and eventually your drink ends so it’s all quite depressing in the end.”
Anna Karenina, Tolstoy ----- Boon kriek and Tempest Old Parochial
“You start off with some frills and fluff that makes you feel all romantic and blush. Then you realize it is better to be in a constant state of rich and decadent drunkenness interchanging between sloth and loving tenderness”
Atonement, McEwan ----- Wild Beer Sleeping Lemons
“Summer is “personified” with some serious sipping”
My life in France, Child ----- Chimay Triple (white) . . . close enough to France
“Energetic and light. It also makes you hungry!”
The Autobiography of Malcolm X -----Schneider Weise Hopfenweise
“It’s big, bold, and takes a while to finish with no apologies”
Cyrano de Bergerac, Rostand ----- If I could, Trappist Westfleteren
“In an honest attempt to be as eloquent and cool as he is. Forget Queen Bey I’m on team Cyrano”
Othello, Shakespeare ----- ???
“I almost feel like with any Shakespeare you should have a wonderful English Ale or even a Christmas beer. But I just can’t choose….”
Infinite Jest, Foster Wallace ----- Weird Beard Out of Office
“Really really really really good but hard to explain and the caffeine helps”
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Hamid ----- Hitachino Saison du Japon
“This books climate makes you hot and thirsty. Puts you in a ponderous mood, which compliments the light sophistication that is Saison du Japon. “
Mumin, Janson ----- Mikkeller Spontan Lingon
“childhood, of course”
I am currently very involved in War and Peace but mostly likely each part will need a different beer. This one will take some finishing and much more thought.
Peace and yeast,
The concept of Fight Fire With Beer is as simple as it sounds, we commit arson on the dinner table and recruit a brewery to try and extinguish the flames with their most refreshing brews. For our second event we turned to South African brewers And Union to see if we could match their beers with the heat of Nando’s PERi-PERi. Let’s start by saying a massive thank you to both And Union and Nando’s for going above and beyond our expectations for the night by treating all of us like “Arabian Princes”.
You can read up on the back-story of both companies by following these links – and trust us they a worth the read. You can also learn more about each individual product.
Click Here for
Click Here for
The evening kicked off with a sneaky tasting of a “not so surprisingly” tasty alcohol-free wheat beer before diving into some serious beer tasting, food, and spice. The tasting matches were not previously designed, so it was a surprise to everyone – including our team – how well everything paired up. (although to be fair any combination of everything experienced that night would have done the job.)
Here are the beer to sauce pairings we tried to keep up with as the beer flowed, chicken wings, PERi-PERi-, and even a miniature vegetarian buffet flew out of the kitchen.
1. And Union: Summer Nando’s: Lemon and Herb
Like putting a slice of lemon into a wheat beer. The traditional hearty flavor of the style was complimented by the freshness of the PERi-PERi. I want both of these with all of my food all the time!
2. And Union: UNFLT Lager Nando’s: Mild Peri-Peri
The scoville meter was just slightly picked up and the clean lager acted as a beautiful palate cleanser for both taste and heat n between bites.
3. And Union: NEU BLACK Nando’s: Medium Heat
The slightly more malty profile of the dark lager definitely calmed the temperature of the medium chilies. Like putting your spicy chicken in a pita.
4. And Union: BEAST of the DEEP Nando’s: Hot Peri-Peri and Extra Hot!!!
This Heller Bock style fortunately had enough sweetness to it as the heat was definitely turned on by the this time – and multiple guests had “dropped out” of the tasting choosing instead to keep enjoying their previous favorite.
Quick Note: Now would be a good time to state that what I believe Nando’s does best is retaining an immense amount of flavor as their PERi-PERi sauces get hotter. So many spicy foods exist purely for the burn. With Nando’s its burn without loosing flavor!
5. And Union: FRIDAY IPA, and SUNDAY Pale Ale Nando’s: ???
Nando’s gave everyone a sneak peek of two new PERi-PERi sauces they’re currently working on. They then asked the guests to vote for their favourite. That is all the information we know. I can say they were both delicious and unique in their own way and that I was happy to have an IPA on hand. Sometime big flavors just need more big flavors.
In a food coma stupor not sure if it was the beer or the heat that got to our heads, everyone left feeling like royalty with a brewery and a restaurant that will always remain a go to in our minds.
Thank you Nando's and Thank you And Union for an unforgettable evening.
Peace and Yeast,