Thursday, 7 August 2014

Beer with a Belgian

It's another multiple beer review which, despite the title, will focus on beers brewed locally and picked up at the local farm with a shop that sells beer. It includes the Nutbrook stable from which I have enjoyed rather a few brews of late (Perfect Fifth linky, Mild Side linkity, and Black Beauty link) and another apparently local brewery by the name of Brampton Brewery. The title, instead, comes from the fact that one of Anna's friends, our Boy's goblin, is over from Belgium and enthusiastically agreed to join in some beer tasting. Yay! She also brought me some Duvel which I shall have to review later (along with the rather delectable Westmaller that I drank after we moved and then didn't review because, well, moving and drinking...). Aaaanyway.

Yes, this could be interesting, only two brews in this but with a tripartite review in full swing they will get a rather good seeing to.

Would you like to know more?

I don't usually add captions, but here you see
the excitement of an evening at our place.
Almost pictured: our Belgian goblin.
First up, as chosen by my guest, is Speciale from Brampton Brewery that came in a lovely little bottle that looked the part and with a label that rapidly had me feeling all nostalgic for things that I never had nor had experience of. There's a charming old-fashioned sort of feeling from it and the no nonsense presentation that it brings to the table. At a strong 5.8% ABV it was a risky beginning and, sure enough, it did curtail the evening at a paltry two beers but it can't be blamed for that. A golden ale it poured well and without too much fuss, leaving a good head and a lovely straw colour in the glasses.

The nose was very fruity indeed and, with help from Anna and our guest, we did manage to get it nailed down to grapefruit and pineapple. The head remained well behaved and only stayed as long as was needed without leaving needless froth. The taste was strong from the outset with an almost nutty depth to it that gave way to sharp hops and a fleeting impression of a light malt. Almost too quickly, but by no means a criticism, it rolls into a grapefruit-esque bitterness of an aftertaste that shows the power that this little ale has. It is brewed by volunteers who wanted to resurrect an older brewery long after it was bought out and the passion shines through. Indeed, as a celebratory beer there's an element of champagne to the taste and feel of the brew, pointed out by our guest very appositely.

In short, this ale is a toasting ale that is best served in company and for sharing and, dare I say it, as a half. Mellow with the malt as it keeps on delivering and becomes quite the background character of any novel.

Not on the night, but you do get a better
view of our bookshelves. All the good books
are Anna's. Mostly.
That one on the First World War, mine.
Bought by my father, thanks Dad!
Second up on our tasting spree was Bore Worm Bitter from Nutbrook Brewery. A 4.6% ABV light ale that sits somewhere toward the stout end of the spectrum. Despite the relative strength this would be perfectly at home among the lagers and the IPAs of this world. The bottle promised a bitter that would bore into your mind and stick with you, a boast I feel impossible to actually deliver but it did give the whole thing a good try. Alas, being pants, I forgot to take a picture on the night so there's just one of an empty bottle here, for all the good that this will do. It is notable for the fact that it claims to have a best before date of June, which means that we were somewhat late in tasting it. I don't think it adversely affected the flavour but I suppose that we were not having it when it was at its best. Something to bear in mind.

From the beginning there was a sweet smell on the nose of this one, like candied lemons. There was a much darker colour to this than there had been to Speciale and it put one in mind of the lighter stouts, like Double Chocolate (link) and Triple Chocoholic (link), but without the chocolate taste that so confuses Anna. Straight away Anna and our guest identified the taste of sour cherries with a bitter edge. Immediately followed up by the trace of yeast in the spiciness of the brew. However, we all agreed that the taste actually went the other way around - the fact that there was any debate means that mostly this all comes at once and that's no bad thing all told. Indeed, I think our guest put it best when she declaimed it "Dr Pepper's for Hell's Angels". Yes. It fits. As time passed the smell actually increased in potency and the ABV seemed to get stronger rtoo, but that may have been the effects of the first brew taking their toll. Anna claimed it looked a little like what would happen if you added orange juice to coke. It is, nevertheless, as the bottle promised: very moreish and the type you would find yourself having three or four of without really noticing it.

This is a sessionable ale that would do well in any setting really, but mostly after a meal in some ale house or having a decent social time. Less a friend to outside meals but could be had in the coolness of a summer's evening beneath the Milky Way. Make sure you have some space and somewhere to stand and marvel at the bounty of space above you - you won't be disappointed. Make sure there's more than one bottle too, to satisfy that strange urge to have a second that assails you as you finish the bottle. I didn't, but this is definitely one I shall be repeating at some point in the future.

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