Friday, July 25, 2014
Well, yes indeed, I have returned. A few months shy of one year in fact. Last post I believe was in September of 2013: wow! To be honest the reasoning behind my unexpected leave of absence cannot be explained simply. Blogging for me has been a joy and a hobby and I think it's one of those things when you fall off the wagon it's difficult to get back on. As many of you know it was a struggle to keep this updated regularly and I don't know, I suppose the fact that I started brewing professionally for a new brewery in Redmond, WA (Hi-Fi Brewing Co) as well as getting hitched in December may have had an effect on my amount free time. Needless to say, things have been busier. Anyway, I am back, and trying again to jump onto the blogosphere bandwagon by posting up some more delicious beer blog entries to help guide you through the beer aisles (which I must say have been getting longer and much more numerous these days, especially if you're lucky enough to live on the West Coast). Ok enough chatter! Let's get to the beer!
As per usual I make an attempt to present you with a lovely back story on how I came to acquire this beer. My wife actually picked it up for me during a trip to Florida (such a good wife). The story goes that while walking out of the hotel on the search for refreshment she realized she was staying right across from a brewery. Fast forward and she's at the bar tasting all sorts of lovely concoctions. This wild blueberry ale was just one of many she sampled. And I must say: good choice!
A little background on the brewery: Sea Dog Brewing Company, they're actually based out of Topsham Maine and were founded in 1993. The brewery's namesake: Sea Dog is the nickname of their once loyal K9 companion when they first opened. In any case, enough about the brewery, lets see if their beer is any good!
Name: Sea Dog Wild Blueberry
Category/Style: Wheat/Fruit Beer
Malt Type(s): 2-Row British Pale Ale, Malted Wheat & Light Munich
Hop Type(s): Willamette & Hallertau
Yeast Type: English ale
Special Additives: Wild blueberries
Bottle Size: 12 oz
Location Purchased: Sea Dog Brewing Company, Orlando, FL, USA
The Pour: A pale white head dissipates quickly to a light ring around the glass. The colour is golden yellow orange with a slight haze.
The Nose: Screams blueberry on the nose, a little funk, a little grape, minimal light biscuit and toast, I detect a little honey as well.
The Taste: Slightly sweet, fruity blueberry at the forefront, not tart by any means, malt profile is minimally expressed, mostly blueberry with a nice tingly carbonation. Body is light and the finish is clean.
The Verdict: Not a tremendous amount going on in this brew but it definitely delivers on its promise of blueberry flavour. I wasn't sure if it would be over the top sweet or if it would present itself as more tart but it wound up finding a nice balance between sweet and refreshing, which is something I quite liked. This is definitely a beer brewed for summertime imbibing, especially with the 4.70% abv. I'm still not certain if they used actual blueberries in the production of the beer or if it's simply flavouring dumped in. I would expect the colour to reflect the addition of blueberries and based on the aroma and flavour would expect a lot of blueberries to be required to achieve high amounts of both. Guess this would need to be investigated further as it only says on their website that they use wild Maine blueberries. Regardless it's a great summertime brew, so if you find some don't hesitate to try it!
Thanks for reading!
Posted by Zach Hoyopatubbi at 3:53 AM
Labels: orlando florida maine seadog sea dog brewing brewery usa blueberry beer cerveza cerveja pivo bier micro english ale microbrewery wild
Thursday, September 5, 2013
|View of the brewery as you enter from the street|
On a recent holiday to the coastal town of Westport, I had the pleasure of stopping in to the latest brewery to hit the Washington coast since 1944: Westport Brewing Company. Speaking with the owner Robin, she informed me that the 3-barrel brewery had been open just over a year and a half. At the time of my visit, they were pouring a wide range of 10 beers. I quickly ordered a flight.
|Left to right: Pilsner, Kolsch, Bock, Cranberry Blonde, Stout, Porter, Amber, IPA, and IRA (center) not pictured: dark ale.|
|Hand-blown glass tap handles|
Westport Brewery puts out an amazing 19 different beers throughout the year, with an interesting array of seasonals. One of the more interesting that caught my eye was the Cranberry Kriek (traditional Kriek beers are from Belgium and include a dose of sour cherries) this one swaps out the cherries for the tart Cranberry, but unfortunately I was told this is now a retired beer. Speaking with the brewmaster, the Kriek will most likely be swapped out for a Cranberry Lambic (and perhaps quite soon as the Cranberry harvest runs from September through October). They also brew a Cranberry Blonde which was surprisingly delicious: just enough fruitiness on the aroma and just enough tartness in the flavour. The other stand out beers were the Plank Island Porter, Riptide Red Ale (IRA), which seemed to be the table favouritea and the Bucking Orca Bock, a lovely surprise containing more hop aroma and bitterness than one would expect from the style.
Where can one find Westport beers? Currently the distribution is primarily confined to the Olympic Peninsula, with some distribution extending to Seattle and the greater eastside, however one may surmise that Westport, Aberdeen, and Olympia remain the top places for finding Westport brews. You can also use this nifty tool to find out who's pouring WBC beer near you. So what's in the future for Westport Brewing? Aside from experimenting with different styles like the Cranberry Lambic and at the time I was visiting they were brewing an Oktoberfestbier, it is likely that an expansion is soon to take place, as well potential collaborations with local wineries and distilleries (perhaps some barrel-aged goodies are soon to come?). The one thing for certain is that Westport Brewing Company has a bright future. Look out for their beer around Seattle and Tacoma and if you ever make it up to Westport, pop in for a pint of delicious refreshment. A big thank you to Robin and the rest of the crew for taking the time to chat, I really hope to make it out to Westport again soon.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!
|Empties: always a good sign ;)|
Posted by Zach Hoyopatubbi at 11:46 PM
Labels: washington coastline coastal coast westport brewery brewing 3-barrel system microbrewery lambic kriek cranberry olympic peninsula ocean shores grays harbor aberdeen state us usa microbrew
Thursday, May 23, 2013
After an extremely long hiatus I am finally back. How long has it been? Since mid-February? Holy hell, where the heck have I been? Well good question. Working (sometimes), roadtripping, writing, exercising, eating, but most importantly, drinking. In fact, I've had some amazing beverages since I've been at my new job and I've had some amazing beverages since I've been out and about in the great PNW. But the one certain thing: I've lacked the motivation to write about these experiences, that is, until now. And so here we are smack dab in the middle of springtime, the flowers have been blooming, there are new growths on the pines and baby birds chirping, the sun has been out - errrr, well, kind of. Earlier this evening I was out walking my dog with my winter wool jacket and leather gloves! People were burning wood in their fireplaces and I've had my heater on the past couple of nights! Cripe, there was even fresh snow on the mountaintops this morning! Uhh, we are just a week away from June and one month away from the official kick-off to summer, aren't we? Well one would think so. But you couldn't tell by the weather. And so tonight, we'll raise a glass to (hopefully) one of the last few dark days of winter by reviewing a nice winter brew: the porter.
Let me start off by asking you for some input. If I were sitting next to you at this very moment, and we were discussing beer over a few pints, I would ask you to define for me: the porter. Chances are very good that you might describe something similar to Deschutes Black Butte Porter (an American-style Porter), which has actually come to be known as somewhat of a benchmark beer for the style. You'd tell me about how the porter is very dark, roasty, you may find hints of coffee and or dark chocolate. Strengthwise they won't blow you away but they are dark and menacing and not for everyone. Most likely I would pat you on the back and say: "Mate, you've got it right, but the porter is a complex beast. It wasn't always dark and roasty. In fact, the porter used to be something completely different." And then I would begin to tell you about the porter. You think you know the porter? I certainly thought I did. As it turns out, I didn't.
We begin our journey through the history books in London, England, the true birthplace of the porter. In the 16th and 17th centuries brewing technologies were nothing compared to what we have today and kilning techniques (the process through which malt is dried) mostly involved direct heat, normally from a fire. It wasn't until the advent of much better kilning technologies in 1817 (the drum roaster) did darker roasted malts become available. And so up to this point most beer was brown beer. And so this much we know, the porter was as well, a brown beer. We have a few surviving recipes for period porters and as expected, most of the grain bills included mostly brown malt but it's what happened after brewing that made porter into what it really was.
At that time it was very common to age beers in massive wooden vats, sometimes for up to a year or more and subsequently blend this aged (or stale as they would call it) beer with one or two other younger (and often weaker beers). The idea here is to take malt, and brew a beer with it. You'd then take the same malt and essentially brew a second, weaker beer with the same grain. This is called a second running. The resulting beer would contain far less alcohol and there are records of brewers even going for a third running! These resulting beers would often times find their way into the same drinking vessel one way or another. Back in those days pub owners would often take the stale beer and blend it on premise with a fresher, younger (and often weaker) brew to stretch out their supply. And just for a bit of history, the most common customers of these pubs was working class England, the river and street laborers or as they were referred to at the time: the porters. This is invariably where the beer takes its name as it was a drink wildly popular with the working class. And so, here we have the worlds first porter. It was a malty rich, toasty, caramelly (perhaps even a bit astringent from barrel-aging) toffee-like, brown beer. Today we can still find good examples of this although only attempts to recreate what porter really was. In fact, I just so happen to have reviewed one of these lovely beers previously.
The example I've chosen for you is one I found quite intriguing (and not just because I'm a history buff). It's because the brewers are using a yeast strain that survived over 150 years submerged at the bottom of the English Channel. Yes, you heard me right, over 150 years! Divers discovered a wrecked barge in the channel that had wrecked in 1825. When divers further explored the sunken vessel they discovered a shipment of entirely intact 19th-century porter. Somehow they managed to bring the wax-sealed bottles to the surface, open them, and consequently discover an entirely viable yeast strain. This strain was then cultivated and handed over to brewers who then used it to resurrect the porter as it was in 1825. Of course the methods and ingredients are different and it will never be completely possible to resurrect an exact version of original porter but it's still a lovely story nonetheless. And so, I give you: Flag Porter from Darwin Brewery Ltd. You can get a more detailed description of the process behind this beer here. Ok, onward to the tasting notes!
Name: Original Flag Porter
Category/Style: English Porter
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: 1825
Special Additives: Unknown
Bottle Size: 12 oz
Location Purchased: Malt and Vine, Redmond, WA
The Pour: Pour is translucent mahogany with a dense dark cream coloured head eventually dissipating to a ring around the glass. Lacing is moderate.
The Nose: Sweet caramel, hazelnuts, dark fruit and coffee. A little bit of milk chocolate and dust.
The Taste: Pumpernickel bread, a little sweet initially, but finishes dry. Cocoa powder and a touch of coffee. There's caramel and toast, a slight bitterness at the end. Perhaps a touch of astringency? Medium bodied, smooth and creamy on the mouthfeel.
The Verdict: I rather enjoyed this one. It was definitely a welcome reprieve from the overly robust and heavily roasted porters we've become accustomed to. I liked the fact that it was well-balanced: flavours include hazelnuts and caramel but also a touch of the darker flavours. Lately I've been really interested in what Porter tasted like in its heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries. I know it definitely wasn't like the Porter we know today. This beer is a bit of a novelty and the reason I feel this way is because of their very unique yeast strain. As I stated previously it was actually salvaged from the inside of a bottle found on a frigate that sunk in 1825. I think that's pretty nifty personally. This definitely adds to the historical novelty of this beer. Add that to the fact that this bottle is relatively inexpensive, comes in a handy 12 ounce size and that you can probably find it at most specialty beer shops (which seem to be growing in number these days) and that makes for a great reason to buy this beer. If you're the least bit interested in trying something that deviates from the normal American-style Porter and does a bang-up job attempting to re-create what original porter tasted like, find a bottle, crack it open and enjoy.
Thanks for reading!
Posted by Zach Hoyopatubbi at 8:08 PM
Labels: flag porter brown ale malting stout london england uk darwin english blending blend barrel roasting kiln kilning channel 1825 1817
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
To put it simply, the Bracia Dark Ale from Thornbridge Brewery blew me away, and I can almost guarantee that it will blow you away too. When I first heard about this beauty of a beer I never thought I'd have the privilege of trying it. Two months later I stumbled upon a bottle in a shop in Prague. No second thoughts needed here, I walked out shortly thereafter with the bottle in hand.
To say this beer is complex would be an understatement. The grain bill includes: Marris Otter, Brown, Dark Crystal, Black, Chocolate, Peated and Roasted Barley. The brewers utilized four different hop varieties: Target, Pioneer, Hallertau, and Sorachi Ace. But what's in this beer that makes it so amazing? Aside from four different hops and a complex grain bill, it's the brewers generous use of bitter Chestnut Honey that takes this beer to the next level. The dark brown honey is sourced from the alpine foothills of North East Italy. The aromatic qualities of this beer are impressive indeed and the alcohol content of 10.00% is equally so.
Alright so here's the low-down on Thornbridge: it was opened in 2005 in Bakewell, England (central England near Sheffield) and they currently brew an assortment of beers ranging from English mild to IPA's and Imperial Stouts to Vienna Lagers and even a wet-hop IPA! Eight Thornbridge beers are released, as English tradition would have it, in cask, but they also offer twelve in bottles and many are kegged. Many of their beers are below the 5.0% mark with Bracia taking top spot for strongest. Thornbridge may be most well-known for their Jaipur IPA, which also includes honey in the recipe (am I noticing a trend here?). And without further adieu, let's move on to the tasting notes...
Category/Style: English Strong Ale
Malt Type(s): Marris Otter, Brown, Dark Crystal, Black, Chocolate, Peated and Roasted Barley
Hop Type(s): Target, Pioneer, Hallertau, and Sorachi Ace
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: Chestnut Honey
Bottle Size: 500 mL
Location Purchased: Pivkupectvi, Prague, Czech Republic
The Pour: Dark brown/black, head is dark tan/light brown, nice retention & lacing.
The Nose: Incredibly floral, a sweet honey-like aroma, chocolate, burnt/charred notes, rich, toasty and roasty, a little medicinal and slight twinge of alcohol.
The Taste: Roasty, sweet, bitter, full-bodied and complex, every bit as enticing as the aroma suggests. A slight medicinal quality. The sweetness is retained well but it's not over-the-top sweet. The floral characteristics imparted by the honey are showcased nicely; conjures images of fresh-cut flowers. A little burnt sugar/molasses, chocolate, dark roasted coffee, a touch of licorice and salt. The mouthfeel is silky smooth. I'm also detecting a touch of peaty smoke at the end.
The Verdict: This beer is incredible; from the first sniff to the last sip, this one is delicous! It's definitely one to savour. The aromatic qualities lent to this beer from the Chestnut Honey and use of several kinds of specialty malts sets this beer out from the rest. Simply put, it's unlike any other beer I've ever experienced. It has all the qualities one would seek from a dark beer: strong, roasty, complex, but it's not overly boozy, and has one of the most unique aroma/flavour profiles ever. If you're looking for a rare complex beer or one that deviates from the standard flavour profiles associated with porters and stouts then this is definitely the beer you need. Unfortunately as I found this bottle in Prague, I cannot recommend to you any shops where you may be able to find this in the PNW. Call your local bottle shop and make an enquiry! If you're lucky enough to find some, pick one up, or two, or three! You won't regret it! Ciao for now!
Thanks for reading!
Posted by Zach Hoyopatubbi at 3:10 AM
Labels: beer brewing thornbridge hall england english strong ale honey chestnut italy bitter dark roasty porter stout europe craft bracia
Monday, January 28, 2013
|View of the pub during The Sundowner|
The setting for Bend's newest brewery could not be more picturesque. It's set atop a hill near the railroad, overlooking a long stretch of the Cascade Mountains. We took a seat at the bar and were rewarded with amazing views of the sunset. Since the brewery is housed in what was formerly a transmission shop and mill supply store, it retains some of its original charm. The front windows are retractable and were actually raised when we first arrived. They also have a patio on the right side of the building which may someday feature live music. The property should be perfect for drinking brews and having lots of good times in the summertime. The venue also features a happy hour so named: The Sundowner, which begins each evening with the setting of the sun and proceeds for one hour; along with The Sundowner comes lowered prices on brews and appetizers. The actual floor plan is rather narrow and proceeds back to the left as you enter. Some of the dark wood used for the decor was constructed with recycled wood from an old house. The coasters are made from recycled cardboard and the lighting over the bar was constructed from unused copper tubing leftover from some of the original copper brewing vessels. The wooden barrels sitting in various locations are full of beer and the rows of stainless steel tanks visible behind the bar were set-up in a stadium-seating fashion; overall it's a very visually appealing pub. The atmosphere was loud and there was not a single seat left unoccupied.
|From left to right: Mash Tun, Brew Kettle, Lauter Tun|
During our time there we made the acquaintance of one Russell Crecraft, a major investor in The Crux Project. He was eager to hear our feedback and show us around the place. We were invited on a tour of the small facility and heard many stories about the time and hard work invested into getting the brewery up and running. All the tanks were constructed in Japan and when the copper vats arrived, they were polished by hand. The brewery is highly automated, from the grist mill, to the mash tun, lauter tun, and actual brew kettle. We were also given a look (and a sniff) inside the hop storage refrigerator. Some of the hops featured in their beers come from places like Australia, New Zealand and even France! Speaking of which, perhaps now would be an excellent time to discuss what you really want to hear about: the beer!
|From left to right: Saison, Four Pound Sterling, Aramis, Imperial Triskel, Outcast, Porter.|
In addition to the beers above we also sampled the Nitro Stout, "Sugar Daddy", and the Flanders Red (which wasn't quite ready yet). Looking back I realize I probably should have tried a wider variety as four of the six were IPA's but I couldn't resist as two of them were utilizing two experimental hop varieties from France I had never even heard of (do they really grow hops in France?!?!). My favourite by far was Outcast IPA which showcased Calypso hops from Australia (a relatively new hop varietal). This brew really stood out for its intriguing hop aroma and flavour profile and its' deeply satisfying bitterness. The other two IPA's which really surprised me was Aramis and Triskel (both featuring brand spanking new experimental hop varieties out of France), speaking of which, here's the lowdown on French hops: doing a quick bit of research it would seem that France has had its hand in the hop growing business for quite some time (several centuries to be exact) but has only just seen use in the American craft beer scene. They grow at least 11 different varieties, six of which I have never heard of so I'm sure we can expect many more interesting new flavour profiles to hit American beer markets very soon. Getting back to our new friends Aramis and Triskel; it would seem Aramis is the younger of the two and features lovely fruity, spicy, citrusy, and herbal aroma and flavour profiles. Triskel on the other hand features a much more fruity, floral, citrus, spicy and grassy profile. Both are in the 7 to 9% Alpha Acid range, which for a brewer means these hops have potential to contribute a fair amount of bitterness to a beer in addition to a fair amount of aroma. With regards to these new hop varieties I am excited to see where we'll see them next. In the beers produced by Crux I found both the Triskel to be much more floral than the Aramis but both were fruity with hints of citrus (please note: both hops were used in Imperial IPA's and both beers were 9.5% abv (they like to go big at Crux)), surprisingly the alcohol was extremely well-hidden in both and only slightly detectable in the Aramis.
|Taplist at The Crux Fermentation Project|
I can't wait to have a taste of their Flanders Red 17 months down the line as it was explained to need this much time in the barrel before it would be ready. Their nitro stout was another stand out and I found their "Sugar Daddy" and "Sugar Mamma" brews (both listed as "sweet" pale ales, mind you) to be rather intriguing. Both beers utilized Lactose (a non-fermentable milk-sugar most commonly used in milk stouts for added body, mouthfeel and sweetness) making them both a milk pale ale? Now that's a new style! "Sugar Daddy" finished with just a hint of sweetness but I would by no means describe it overly sweet or sugary as one might expect from the name. The Porter, which just so happens to be an American Brown style (a style I am growing quite fond of) is such a good example of the style: roasty, toasty, a little sweet, a little malty, but overall an extremely well-balanced easy to drink beer, perhaps a little thin body-wise, but I could see myself craving and going for time after time. And their Saison was everything a Saison should be. There was nothing out of the ordinary with this one, just a stand-up good example of what we have come to know and love of that style here in the US.
|The "Sugar Daddy" sweet pale ale|
To put this all in perspective it would seem that The Crux Fermentation Project is off to a wonderful start and will only move-on to bigger and better things. Their system is top of the line and will allow them an extreme amount of flexibility to experiment: As for the non-traditional brewing methods: yes please! Cheers to Crux, Russel, and the rest of the crew, keep it up! We'll all be watching and waiting!
Thanks for reading!
Posted by Zach Hoyopatubbi at 9:51 AM
Labels: 2012 bend oregon or beer mecca brew brewing crux fermentation project deschutes larry sidor 21st amendment dave wilson paul evers russel crecraft wild open barrel sundowner usa craft microbrew
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
On a recent trip to Vienna, Austria I was once again on the hunt for delicious beer and after a short bit of research, the solution became clear: Siebensternbräu Brauhaus, located one block from my hotel and a short distance from one of the many Christmas markets Vienna is famous for. As the cold winter months descend upon much of the northern hemisphere, I was especially excited to sample the winter seasonal release and I was in luck as they were currently pouring their Weihnachtsbock.
The place was abuzz with lunchtime crowds and upon arrival we were greeted by a large, open floorplan, and a seemingly very modern brewing facility; nevermind the massive copper brewing vessels visible at various locations near the bar. The walls were adorned with beer memorabilia; both posters and a massive framed collection of old coasters.
The menu features classic Austrian favourites including weinerschnitzel and schweinbraten. The menu also features, soups, pasta, sausages, a few vegetarian options, and traditional desserts. I opted for the schweinbraten and wasn't disappointed with the large portion of roasted pork, sauerkraut and massive potato dumpling.
Moving along to the beers, it is an important thing to note here that while German is the language spoken in Austria and it doesn't take long to cross the border into Germany, Austria was never subjected to the strict set of laws outlined in the Reinheitsgebot of 1516. If you're unfamiliar with this, it was in 1516 when German authorities ordered that all beers must be brewed with only three ingredients: water, hops, and barley (they later amended the law to include yeast when it was discovered to be the magical organism responsible for fermentation). The offerings at 7Stern include beers you won't often find in Germany, and I was more than pleased with this. I ordered what I believed to be a sampler flight and wound up with eight .2 L mini-steins (in the photo it looks like I have eight half-liter steins). Before arriving to 7Stern I had researched the beers and was disappointed to find out they'd just run out of their Chilli beer. I was however, able to sample the rest of their beers, which ranged from their lighter Wiener helles, Prager dunkel, pale ale, IPA, hemp beer, marzen, Bamberger rauchbier, and their dark winter bock.
The lighter offerings were on par with their styles and presented crisp, light-bodied-easy-to-drink beers. The hemp beer was interesting and reminded me much of an American pale ale; a little sweet and spicy with a noticeable hop kick. One of the stand outs for me was the IPA (which screamed English-style). Perhaps I was just hard up for a nice hoppy bitter brew (and my palate was off) but I really enjoyed this one. Normally the English-style IPA is well-balanced and the hops are subdued by a complementary malty sweetness, but this one tended to feature more of the hops than other English-style IPA's I've had (perhaps we can chalk this up as a hybrid English/American-style IPA); my inner hop-head was more than pleased with this fact. The next beer to jump out at me was the Bamberger rauchbier. Now I do consider myself well-versed in the world of smoked biers and I would love to try this one side-by-side with the famous Aecht Schlenkerla because in my opinion the Schlenkerla rauchbier is over the top smoky and nothing comes close, but this one from 7stern comes close. I was pleasantly surprised with this fact and highly recommend this beer if you're in the market for a super smoky rauchbier punch in the face. The last beer which really grabbed my attention was the winter seasonal: Weihnachtsbock. Colorwise it was by far the darkest of the offerings (as it should be) and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. As German breweries traditionally release Doppelbocks during the winter months, I was expecting this beer to be similar in flavour. Typically they are high gravity, heavy-bodied, sticky malt bombs (not that this is a bad thing mind you) but my expectation was as such going into this. After the first few sips I was quite surprised to find that the beer was in fact lacking the higher-gravity of it's across-border German cousin: the Doppelbock. The beer was complex and featured a large amount of roasted malt flavour, something I had really been craving and been unable to satiate in the countries I'd travelled through prior to Austria. It reminded me of a slightly sweet porter and I really took my time to enjoy this one.
Should you find yourself in Vienna for the holiday's don't hesitate to stop in at Siebensternbräu Brauhaus, centrally located in the centre of the city, it makes for an excellent place to stop for a traditional Austrian lunch to fill up, warm up and take delicious drink; take your pick: light, dark, roasty, sweet, hoppy, or smoky, 7stern has you covered!
Thanks so much for reading and Happy Holidays from the Delicious Beer Blog!
Posted by Zach Hoyopatubbi at 8:08 PM
Labels: vienna austria bavaria 1516 reinheitsgebot german germany Siebensternbräu Brauhaus 7stern marzen prager helles bamberger rauchbier weihnachtsbock bier beer birra cerveza pivo
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Arriving to Greece, it would seem that the craft beer scene parallels that of its Italian counterpart just across the Adriatic Sea. Very much so in the sense that when you think of Greece, craft beer, let alone, good beer is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But the tide may be turning here in Greece. After visiting a couple of small wine shops (wine and Greece definitely go hand in hand) and speaking with their owners, it would seem that the craft beer scene is definitely alive here. There are a handful of small brewers creating interesting and delicious craft beers. After hearing about several different brewers, the selection laid out before me ranged from stouts, to IPA's, to honey ale's, light and dark lagers, as well as the always drinkable pale ale. In fact, the microbrewery Septem (the latin word for seven and the number of creation), brews a beer for every day of the week. It is from this brewer I was first able to get my feet wet in tasting Greek microbrews by tasting their pale ale (which is brewed specifically for Friday).
Two things about this beer caught my eye, one: the fact that Septem decided to hop this beer with Saaz and Nelson Sauvin (Saaz is the famous Bohemian noble hop and Nelson Sauvin is a relatively new hop coming from New Zealand contributing white grape and tropical fruit-like flavours). I think that fact reveals that Greek brewers are not behind in the brewing world by any means and people here in Greece have available beers similar to what we'd find in current U.S. markets. Secondly, the Septem brewmaster is a former winemaker who decided to take a leap of faith and try his hand at craft beer. A bold move if I do say so myself. And to be completely honest, this beer is really damn good (not to ruin anything of the upcoming review, but I thought you should know beforehand).
As far as other Greek craft beers go I've only just scratched the surface. I've sampled two brews from Septem, and I'm trying to procure a bottle of Crazy Donkey, a Greek IPA brewed in Santorini. From what I've read it's Greece's first IPA and it's pretty darn tasty. Now, onto the tasting notes!
Name: Septem Pale Ale
Category/Style: Pale Ale
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Saaz & Nelson Sauvin
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: None
Bottle Size: 330 mL
Location Purchased: Wine Story, Athens, Greece
The Pour: Head is white and creamy. Good retention with moderate lacing. Color is clear golden yellow.
The Nose: Lots of Nelson Sauvin present here. It's got a slight spicy kick to it but loads of mango, passion fruit, pineapple and a little pear. As it warms the nose takes on a slight white wine character. Overall quite sweet and fruity.
The Taste: Bitterness is smooth and dispersed equally throughout the brew. Fruity, sweet and spicy initially. Midway through the flavour takes a turn towards the tropical. On the finish I'm getting some exotic fruits, a little pineapple, mellowed passion fruit and a little bitter citrus peel. Definite white wine notes distributed throughout. Carbonation is medium and hits up front. Bitterness is not in your face but noticeable. Body is medium, but it's quite crisp on the palate. This brew is definitely sessionable, I reckon I could definitely drink more than one. Simple adjectives to describe this brew: spicy, fruity, sweet, exotic, bitter.
The Verdict: As the beer warms up the flavours become more noticeable and I really enjoyed the last half of the glass. At 4.70% it's very drinkable. The complexity really astounded me; it's a real pleasure to drink. I like the tropical fruit overtones and light bitterness. The beer was very well-balanced and I reckon it would make for a good entry level beer for someone looking to get into the world of hops. For my first Greek craft beer I was pleased and would definitely love to try others. As far as distribution goes, I have no idea, but I don't reckon it will be available in the US (never hurts to ask your local bottle shop though). Keeping my fingers crossed I can get that bottle of IPA! Until next time, happy hunting, and Happy Turkey Day!
Thanks for reading!
Posted by Zach Hoyopatubbi at 9:22 PM
Labels: greece greek microbrew microbrewery septem pale ale friday's friday crazy donkey craft beer brew hoppy hopped saaz nelson sauvin santorini