Saturday 31 December 2016

12 Beers of Xmas #12 - Imperial Stout Special Edition (Cloudwater)

OK it is nearly midnight so this will be quick.  Cloudwater of Manchester are the best brewery in the UK at the moment.  No debate here.  This bottle just confirms that fact.  And to think I have two more of their imperial stout editions that I am hibernating for next Christmas and beyond just makes me incredibly happy.  It is only just over two years since I was sat in the Marble Arch, Manchester with Jim Cullen (aka BeersManchester) when we were joined briefly by Al and Emma.  Al was telling us about the imminent launch of a new brewery that was going to specialise in seasonal beers.  Sounded great and it really has been fantastic.  This year I have had plenty of Cloudwater and I want more and more.          

This is everything I was hoping for from every imperial stout in my #12BeersofXmas this year.  To be honest though this is only one of two that has actually delivered.  Great body with a lovely pop when I opened the bottle.  Easily drinkable and so smooth you could skate on it.  What an absolutely perfect way to bring in the new year.  

Happy new year to everyone reading this.  Let 2017 bring even more joy from Cloudwater.


12 Beers of Xmas #11 - Mooi & Meedogenloos (de Molen)

My second substitution of my #12BeersOfXmas and another trip into continental Europe.  Holland to be precise.  Brouwerij de Molen began brewing in 2004 in a windmill called De Arkhuif, a building dating back to 1697, situated in the town of Bodegraven.  They have had joint beer projects with Mikkeller and de Struisse as well as taking part in recreating historic recipes.  Their success required another building which was acquired in 2012 a short distance from the mill which increased their capacity per batch to 2500l.  In 2010 they were rated in the top ten of RateBeers "Best Brewers in the World".  Quite some feat.  Cotteridge Wines stock a wide range of their products and I have loved every one if them.

Earlier this year I tried a bourbon aged version of this beer and both myself and my wife fell in love with it.  So much so that I awarded it my favourite foreign bottled beer of 2016.  However, this one I prefer if I am being honest.  It has four malts (pils, caramel, chocolate and roasted), two hops (Chinook and Saaz) and a top fermenting yeast.  It is like a barley wine in many respects with plenty of rich fruit cake flavours and the chocolate and roasted malt character shine through too.  It is silky smooth and so drinkable.  A really fabulous beer.  I will be buying more of this in 2017.


Thursday 29 December 2016

12 Beers of Xmas #10 - Sadako (Weird Beard)

Weird Beard from London are so loved that two northern beer bloggers I know voted them best overseas brewer this year!!!  High praise indeed.  I absolutely love their beers, especially on cask when you can find them, as indeed I did on more than one occasion at the Craven Arms, Birmingham this year.  They surely need no more introduction to any of my readers out there.  A quick history though in case you have been asleep since 2013 when they began brewing.  They have expanded regularly since then with two new 20-barrel fermenters to go with their six 10-barrel ones.  That means plenty of Weird Beard for people like me who love everything they brew.  Yet another massive thank you to Cotteridge Wines for pushing their beers onto me.    

This particular beer came in a 660ml bottle with a wax seal.  At 9.5% ABV it is a potent imperial stout brewed with 10 different malts along with honey, molasses, oats and fresh coffee beans making it a dark, rich experience.  That's what it says on the bottle at least.  Which is pretty accurate as you would expect.  The coffee notes are strong and give a long, dry lingering finish.  There is sweetness from the molasses too and overall it is yet another superb intoxicating brew from WB.  I love it!


12 Beers of Xmas #9 - #500 (Nogne O)

My need for hops has been quenched.  Phew.  Nogne O (my keyboard doesn't have the right character but there should be a line through the 'O') is Norway's leading producer of craft beer and, here's a thing, the only producer of sake in Europe.  Their name means "naked island".  Their story goes back to 2002 when Gunnar Wiig and Kjetil Jikiun decided to found a new brewery.  They love Maris Otter UK malt and the big C US hops (Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Colombus).  In 2003 they produced a mere 300hl and in 2015 it was a much more impressive 20,000 hl.  In 2013 the brewery was acquired by Hansa Borg Bryggerier, a family owned group of regional brewers and Nogne O continue to grow at their base in Grimstad. I have loved many of their beers and Cotteridge Wines always stock a good selection from them.

This beer is big on numbers.  It is a celebration of their 500th brew so it must have been initially brewed some time ago because on my same shop I also picked up their #1000 which may be kept for next Christmas.  This particular beer though was batch #1357 and it was bottled in January 2015.  So what are the other numbers I hear you ask.  Five malts, 100 IBUs, 5 Hops and 10% ABV.  Quite something.  It has a bit of a creamy feel to it with butterscotch notes in the base and the hops permeate through above this malty base for what is actually a highly drinkable balanced beer.  It really is quite lovely.


Wednesday 28 December 2016

12 Beers of Xmas #8 - Barrel Aged Even More Jesus VIII (Siren Craft w/ Evil Twin)

This beer is a late substitution for my planned beer #8.  Same brewery (Siren Craft) but this is a small bottle and due to having to catch up following an illness-induced dry day yesterday I thought this would be a better option.  It was a particularly attractive beer though which I picked up at Cotteridge Wines last week so it was always a possible replacement.  I seem to have been loving Siren beers for ages now but they are relatively new having been born in 2012.  In 2014 they won best new brewery in England by and this particular beer is highly regarded with a rating of over 4.3 on Untappd.  This beer is a collaboration with Denmark's highly rated gypsy brewer Evil Twin, a brewer with offices in both New York and Copenhagen.

This beer is brewed with heaps of muscovado sugar and English liquorice root.  It is an 11.4% ABV stout that has been aged in hazelnut liqueur barrels and this is by far the best imperial stout I have tasted for many a long year.  It is silky smooth with noticeable notes of both hazelnut and liquorice as you would expect from the description.  For me this is absolute perfection in a glass and I am so glad it is one of my '12 Beers'.


Monday 26 December 2016

12 Beers of Xmas #7 - Oak Aged Silverback (Blue Monkey)

Today we head to the East Midlands for a massive beer from those cheeky primates at Blue Monkey, a brewery established in 2008.  They are now based in Giltbrook where they produce up to 20,000 pints a beer each week with such great names such as BG Sips, Ape Ale, Funky Gibbon and the fabulous 99 Red Baboons.  They also have four pubs, all of which are called the Organ Grinder, and one of these is in my home town of Loughborough.  I have to thank my work colleague, Martin Hamer, for this particular beer.  He lives a short hop from the brewery and when he told me about this one he kindly offered to pick one up for me.    

This is the strongest beer I have ever tasted coming in at 13% ABV.  It also comes in a full 1 litre bottle.  The Blue Monkey guys brew an imperial stout called Silverback, the name for an adult male gorilla.  This beer comes in slightly lower on the ABV scale but after storing it in oak casks it has obviously crept up a bit.  Coming on the back of the bourbon aged imperial stout from yesterday it will make an interesting comparison.  Flavour-wise I prefer this one.  It is beautiful with everything you expect from an imperial stout.  My wife found it too strong with the texture of engine oil and wasn't very keen but my main complaint was it was totally flat.  Very little condition to it.  The Durham beer from yesterday had the right amount of carbonation and body but I wasn't totally enamoured with the bourbon notes.  This beer has no body but decent flavours.  I am still yet to find the perfect imperial stout this Christmas then but I will keep looking.


Sunday 25 December 2016

12 Beers Of Xmas #6 - Imperious (Durham Brewery)

It's a special beer from Durham Brewery so it must be Christmas Day.  There is no need for debate here.  When it comes to bottled beer Durham Brewery are number one.  They have been brewing these crackers since 1994 and I have loved them for many years.  They are not afraid to go high when it comes to ABV and they are not afraid to try many different beer styles too.  Bedes Chalice (9.0% ABV) is the best Belgian Tripel you will see outside of Belgium, Benedictus (8.4% ABV) is a stunning strong golden ale, Temptation (10.0% ABV) is a stunning Russian Stout and their White Stout (7.2% ABV) is a pale stout beer of a kind that was brewed 200 years ago.  My particular favourite was Redemption, an old ale that also exceeded the 10% ABV mark, but which is sadly no longer available.  And another thing, these lovely beers do not come in those poncey 330ml bottles either.  All in 500ml bottles so you have plenty of beer to enjoy!!    

I have to thank Cotteridge Wines for getting this limited edition special for me.  Imperious is an imperial stout, one which has been oak aged in whisky casks, and it clocks in at a whopping 11.6% ABV.  The detachable label says it has been aged in whisky hogsheads to impart oak and vanilla flavours.  There are actually strong bourbon notes and I am not a whisky lover so it doesn't attain top marks which I always give Temptation, their regular Russian stout.  It does however have great character, plenty of body and a silky smooth texture.  One that was supped slowly and the 750ml bottle lasted me all afternoon.  A really pleasing beer for this special day.