We head to merry Old England for a Scandinavian styled holiday ale from Thornbridge Brewing…
“A dark mild with Low Colour Maris Otter, Crystal, wheat and chocolate malt, hopped with Goldings. A brand new beer to provide comfort in deepest darkest December
Knäck is a 4% dark mild, with a rich malty soul giving notes of hard toffee and roasted nuts, much like the Swedish Christmas treat of the same name.”
The second English stop is at Boxcar of London. A somewhat trippy destination if their motto is any indication, ” Transporting you to a place of rainbows and hops, dreams of barley and oats, ideas about yeast and water, hallucinations of colour and light.”
Now on to the beers that I would sample first…
starting hoppy with PAL-019 BRU-1 DDH Pale then moving on to a Belgian BIG-001 Mosaic & Vanilla Tripel then to a Dark Mild, DRK-004 Dark Mild and then finishing with an IPA, IPA-005 Ekuanot IPA.
This brewery has a cool design look, very color filled outer space plus the bottles are odd shaped for my eyes. And you can get more Boxcar info from this article in Pellicle
Our first brewery in London to visit is called Affinity Brew Co. and one of the reasons that I selected them is this statement on their website, “We do not filter or pasteurise our beer, allowing the yeast to produce a natural carbonation within the can.”
Now lets get to what I would try first…
Breeze – “A sparkling golden Saison brewed with Lime Zest and crushed Coriander Seed.”
Social Seduction – “A big, bold, west coast I.P.A brewed with a rotating selection of U.S hops.”
Toowoomba – “A Lamington inspired, coconut and raspberry stout. Toowoomba’s complex malt bill produces a rich, dark, chocolatey Stout. It is fermented on fresh Raspberries and conditioned with toasted Coconut.”
Mikkeller DTLA had a Sunday surprise recently. They had acquired five beers from the English brewery Cloudwater Brew Co. based in Manchester.
I ordered up the taster tray and got a seasonal pilsner, a farmouse ale and two IPA’s.
Fool For You – My first gooseberry beer if my memory serves. It has a strange slight berry/grape taste. Saison base is solid. Hazy almost rust brown color is a bit off-putting.
Spring/Summer pils with Mandarina Bavaria – By far the best of the four. This pils really nice with some orange juice notes. Quite sharp up front
NW DIPA – Not much color difference between the NW and NE. The West Coast has grassy and pine notes and a tiny bit of orange peel. Aftertaste is more bitter than the front of mouth.
NE DIPA – This IPA is a little softer but I am also getting the grassy and woodsy notes. Also a bit papery. Has that weird top of the mouth feel that I get from this sub-style.
Neither of the IPA’s really blew me away though even though I have heard wonderful things about them. I lucked out that the Pils was a mandatory inclusion of the taster tray. Otherwise I may have picked all IPA and come away with a lesser appreciation.
Thanks to Mikkeller for getting these beers to us.
Instead of hops and American amped up add-on’s, the next holiday seasonal up for review is the traditional Winter Welcome from Samuel Smith’s.
Pours a garnet orange. That first aroma is pure British to my nose. The effect of malt and water together without impeded by hops. This is bright and pops on the tongue. A little metallic tang to it. Reminds me of orange pekoe and toast.
It started with a garage and Gazz and ended up as a three time winner at the Champion Beer of Wales in 2013. Not a bad start for Gazz and Brad (the other half of the duo) and their Tiny Rebel Brewing.
And here is what I would order when in Cardiff….
1. “Arguably the coolest word on the planet, Cwtch is our very own untraditional Welsh Red Ale. Six malts, two US hops and weeks of Tiny Rebel love and attention go into making this unique beer. Citrus and tropical fruit dominate the taste that is backed up with caramel malts that balance the moderate bitterness. Drinkability & balance makes this beer.”
2. Full Nelson. “Our ‘Maori Pale Ale’ came together after months of experimentation with a very unique hop – Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand. Strong grape flavours are complemented by the sweet Munich malt, making this beer crisp and refreshing.”
3. Bonsai IPA. “”International” collaborations like this don’t come along very often, but when they do, someone’s supply of hops usually gets rinsed! Brewed with ALL of Arbor’s hops, this IPA is big on flavour and way too sessionable.”
4. “A unique schizophrenic beer where you’ll face off against floral hoppy flavours up front, leading into a dry spicy bitterness on the back. Need something a bit different to wake up your taste buds? It’s time to get FUBAR.”
5. And on cask: Hank an American Pale Ale. “This light US-style pale ale took a bit of tweaking to get just right. With tropical and citrus aromas and a low-to-medium bitterness, this is one easygoing West Coast-style beer. Floral flavours with slight caramel and biscuit notes make this well-balanced and highly drinkable.”
The second stop in England is at Brew By Numbers or known by the shorter (BBNo.) They have quite a list of beers. All numbered that riff off of the founders early influencers from Australia and New Zealand as well as the now famed Kernel Brewery.
Here are my numerically ordered choices:
01 SAISON – Gotta start with the first
09 BROWN ALE – Brown ales get a bad rap but it is a must-try English style
10 COFFEE PORTER – How does English coffee differ from hyped American ones?
14 TRIPEL – A style that I need to try more of.
19 GOSE – had a few goses recently and it would be a good test
25 WHITE IPA – need to try at least one IPA
As I was paging through a recent All About Beer magazine, I had the thought that for the months of January and February, I would cherry pick breweries to feature from the pages. And this month, we will head to England and peek in at three breweries over there.
We start at Howling Hops which probably makes gruits. Not.
Howling Hops started in the basement of the Cock Tavern. They outgrew the brew cave quickly. Brewing over a 100 different beers can speed that process and moved to an old brick warehouse nearby in the lovely sounding town of Hackney Wick where they now brew and operate their Tank Bar.
They offer beers mostly under 6% ABV with one beer down at 3%!
Here is what I would have in my first taster tray…..
Riding Ale 3.0% – gotta start with the low end and see what it is like
Running Beer 4.0% – slowly work up the beer ladder
Howling Pils 4.6% – to compare against the ales
Ruby Red 5.2% – because me mum’s name is Ruby
IPA 7.5% – finish up with the biggest beer on the list.
I am also intrigued by their Pale XX and the Rye Wit as well.
The middle picture on this British Winter Warmer changes each year but I like the Willie Shakespeare version the best. The weird pursed lips speak to me for some weird reason. Samuel Smith describes their seasonal as “a limited edition brewed for the short days and long nights of winter. The full body resulting from fermentation in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ and the luxurious malt character, which will appeal to a broad range of drinkers, is balanced against whole-dried Fuggle and Golding hops with nuances and complexities that should be contemplated before an open fire.”
First off, I didn’t hold out much hope for this hoppy British beer. Not because of fear of the Innis & Gunn brewery. But because the two previous IPA’s that I had bought at Total Wine were old, old. My fault for not checking the best buy date, but still you would expect a store to rotate the old beers off the shelves. And this beer was coming further than the other two. And British IPA’s tend to be lightly hopped compared to American ones.
Anyhoo, this was the first I&G beer that I have had, the marketing copy says, “Its fervent hoppy character hails from the unique addition of large quantities of hops at three separate points during brewing. The result is a beer that’s rounded yet refreshing, with delicate floral notes and oodles of zesty freshness.”
And here is what I think, or what I would have thought if this beer hadn’t been light years from prime condition. Though it is difficult to tell without any bottled on date. Thus my Total Wine trip was a total IPA loss. This beer, in poor condition, is sickly sweet with a light bit of hops and metallic notes in the background. The toasted oak isn’t clearly coming through but if you swirl it around your mouth a faint bit of it appears. And that is disappointing because toast notes and hops could really work well together.
Maybe if I had cellared it, the sweetness would have diminished and it would be better. As it is, I have learned a lesson. Big Box stores make you do the legwork.