Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Beers I Love Today

Beers for Today

As the first hint of Spring has come and gone and I look out the window at the daffodils being pummelled by a 60 mph wind I have to remind myself that its less than a month until the clocks change and the thought of those long summer evenings don't seem quite so far away. My seasonal beer palate doesn't know quite what to think, it is starting to hanker after lighter beers and sunnier flavours but still knows there are still a few, long, dark nights ahead.

I have a real hankering for big hop flavours, there just can't be enough hops for me right now. The hoppier the better, so my list below is not as balanced as it should be, but hey ho, its about me and what I like! These are some of my favourite beers of the moment:
1, Hoppiness (Moor Beer, England)
- this beer is a blend of two other beers that I just adore. In fact all three could easily have made this list. It is a 50/50 blend of JJJ and Revival, two great hoppy beers with very different characteristics. The JJJ is a triple IPA with masses of hops in it... to balance this out, it weighs in at a hefty 9% and is one big beer, full of tropical fruit flavours and sweet malt. Revival is a 3.8% beer that tastes like it should be considerably stronger, it has delicious resiny pine hop bitterness that is very refreshing. The end result is Hoppiness (6.3%) a delicious blend of the sweet tropical fruit and refreshing resiny hops. Once this is bottled (which I'm assured is coming soon) it will become a classic I'm sure, a perfect Spring beer.

2, Trois Monts (France)
- a new favourite that I really enjoy drinking at lunchtime with a 'picky' lunch. Cheese, breads, cured meats, olives, salads... whatever I find in the fridge really, put it all out on the table and tuck in with this tasty beer to wash it all down. Be careful not to have too many at lunch though, as it packs a punch at 8.5%, it is not as funky as some other Biere de Garde's but it is flavourful with lots of carbonation, a big rocky head and a well balanced bitter aftertaste.

3, Aventinus (Schneider, Germany)
- I find different things to enjoy in this beer every time I have it. Some days its the rich banana and chocolate, others I really find a stronger port wine flavour, the raisins and dried fruit flavours are always there, but sometimes much stronger than others. The different flavours in it, also mean that it pairs very well with different foods such as banana and chocolate desserts and game dishes, I particularly enjoy it with Venison. I love the fact that it always tastes slightly different but it always has a familiarity, it's like having a favourite jacket that can be worn whatever the weather and changes use with the seasons. Its an all time favourite that hides its 8% strength incredibly well and is to be drunk whenever the mood takes.

4, Stateside (Mikkeller, Denmark)
- I absolutely love American style IPA's and this beer is first class, if it was cheaper I would happily drink it all of the days and all of the nights! Stateside is a deep amber colour with a good head that hangs around for ages. The aromas are of citrus and pine hops, not as over-powering as some crazy hopped beers I've had, with a fresh fruit sweetness on the second nose. It has grassy, citrus hops at the start, with sweet malt balancing it out very nicely, leading to a dry and mildly bitter finish. This is a hoppy IPA, but not one that assaults your taste buds, it has a touch of mouth-coating oiliness but in a very pleasant way! Delicious.

5, Hardcore IPA (BrewDog, Scotland)
- The first time I had this beer I was disappointed, not because I didn't like it, so much as, it wasn't what I was expecting. Over the last couple of years the 'hardcore' IPA's I have tried have been American and thus excessively strong, with crazy hop bitterness. This beer isn't one of those and so to me wasn't hardcore. However it is a great beer that has grown on me to the point that I happily include it in this list. It is 9% and has plenty of sweet malt along with a respectable hoppiness that you would expect in an IPA. The hops give a nice grassy aroma and palate with some butterscotch and an orange fruitiness. There is a decent hop bitter finish, but this is certainly not an extreme IPA in the American sense. However it is a great drink and whilst it doesn't do all it says on the tin it makes me very happy and I keep finding myself taking another bottle home from work with me.

6, Karmeliet Tripel (Bosteels, Belgium)

- The Belgian Tripel style has always enticed me, and this one is top my list. The creamy texture from the oats make this quite a unique beer, it is made using 3 grains, wheat, barley and oats and somehow blends the three characteristics perfectly. It pours a golden yellow with a big, white, rocky head. The aroma is fruity, apples and pears, with some hay... at a tasting I did, it was once described as horsey on a summer's day, I quite like that description in a funny kind of way. The taste is complex, there is sweetness (a bit of honey I think), citrus - lemons and oranges and spice, all wrapped up in a light, crisp, yet creamy package. An amazing beer, and the wife's favourite to boot!

7, UBU (Purity, England)
- A premium amber beer that I have a real soft spot for, having been fortunate enough to have spent a day brewing it. A favourite beer in my pub days, often stocked after winning best beer at one of our Festivals. Beautifully balanced with a subtle sweetness that makes it soooo moorish, and at 4.5% you can certainly drink far more of it than you can many of the others on this list. I have enjoyed many a pint outside and it is this thought that makes me include it here.

8, Snake Dog IPA (Flying Dog, USA)
- I have talked of American IPA's when discussing some of the other beers and have selected this one as a personal favourite. Many will disagree with me and to a large extent they will be right, but this was one of the first beers of this style I tried, and instantly appreciated. It has masses of citrus hops from start to finish, it will be too much for some, not enough for others, but give it a go... its a great beer.

9, Jaipur IPA (Thornbridge, England)
- Not another IPA I hear you say, but its just that time of year and I've got my hop head on! This really is a very well made beer, great balance, lots of hops but it won't blow your hop head off. The aroma is of fruity hops, pineapple comes to mind, and the taste follows through with a great combination of tropical pineapple, spicy hops and citrus, all finished up with a warming alcohol finish, you know there is some strength to this... but not too much at 5.9%. It looks innocent enough as it's quite pale for an IPA, but the dry, citrus hop bitter aftertaste leaves you knowing you've had a much bigger beer.

10, Weizen Rauchbier (Schlenkerla, Germany)
- I am ending with a couple of smoky beers as I can't get enough of anything smoked (weird as I've never been a smoker). I thoroughly enjoy all of Schlenkerla's beers and have written about them on here before. The Weizen wins out this time because it is such a great friend to food. Smoked fish, cheese and meats all work really well with this beer, and I just love it with pork belly.

11, Paradox Smokehead (BrewDog, Scotland)
- My absolute dream of a beer, Islay whisky is my favourite, so to make a beer with Islay whisky casks is A OK in my world. This is an Imperial Stout aged in Islay casks that has taken on all of the smoky character that epitomises this style of whisky. It is complex, sweet and smoky and there is no better way to finish a good evening than with a glass of Paradox Smokehead and maybe a wee dram alongside.
There you have it, my beers for Spring! When I started this yesterday there were 12 and I can't work out where or how I lost one. But I've built up such a thirst with all this writing about beer that I now just want to have one. The hop drug has me by the balls and is pulling me towards the fridge.
Enjoy the beers.
Happy Adventuring!


  1. Ah those ball grabbing hops strike again!!

    I've become a real hop head this year all thanks to Ruination IPA.

    Great list there. I MUST find some Moor beers soon, that Hoppiness sounds kick ass!

  2. Moor aren't bottling yet, but they are at quite a few festivals. Definately at Maltings Festival in April.