Monday, 26 January 2015

#255: Stragglers

There's little more annoying than flicking through your beer notebook (you all have one, right??) and finding about a dozen beers you've forgotten to commit to the blog and long since lost the matching photographs.
Yes people, the struggle is real.

This is just one of probably many posts where I'll indiscriminately lump loose beers together, throw them at the wall and see what sticks.

It's a shame it has taken me this long to write about Trouble Brewing's Oh Yeah!, because it is a simply wonderful beer. The nose is bursting with bitter and juicy fruit, predominantly citrus, as well as actual Juicy Fruit (TM). The fruit expression here is really something else, with round and sweet tropical stuff bouncing off bitter lemon and orange peel. Lime skins and mango make for a bracing palate, with an astringent bitterness that lingers for ages and all sorts of bright and dark fruit shit going on. This is black IPA/Cascadian dark ale done right. Perhaps the only beer of the same or similar style to beat this would be Kinnegar's Black Bucket.

Smuttynose is one of the more recent U.S. imports to show up in Ireland, and it didn't take long for me to shell out for the IPA, Finestkind.
It pours a hazy orange and looks a great deal more attractive than what must be the worst ever beer labels. It smells sharp too; fresh orange skin, sweet orange marmalade and some straight-up grapefruit. The palate doesn't quite get an experience to match - there is some of the hop-forward bite suggested but the flavour is marked by a more assertive warm toffee malt and round, fleshy citrus sweetness. Enjoyable stuff to be fair, but not exactly what the punter might look for from a U.S. IPA. Better hunting on home ground, folks.

Very little beering was done in Paris at the start of last year, with most of my consumption taken up by sweet, cheap bottles of Chimay Bleu. With time at a premium and beer tourism low on the agenda, bottle shopping was limited to the local Monoprix.

Rince Cochon is one of the beers picked up there, and there's unfortunately not much to say about it. Pale, yellow and clear, with a clean, grainy, biscuity and lightly spicy nose, there's not a lot to get excited about. This turns out to be the case, with generic sweet malt and a hint of coriander stuff making for an utterly pointless beer.

Much better luck was had with Duvel Tripel Hop 2014, graced as it was with the presence of Mosaic. It looks as pale and light as the Rince Cochon but immediately giving you way more for your money; a good deal of fresh cut grass, lemon skins, spice and even a hint of tropical fruit. Yes, tropical fruit from a Duvel. There's a surprisingly potent bitter front to the taste, with more lemon zest, mango and some warming spice. The whole thing is a wonderful interplay of sweet, bitter and lightly spicy elements atop the usual drinkable and refreshing Duvel backbone. Lovely stuff, and even though it doesn't quite reach the heights of 2013's Sorachi Ace version it's clear the Duvel's annual Tripel Hop output is well worth seeking out.

La Goudale is one of the most accessible of the French Bières de Garde and I was intrigued to find it in a 500ml can. However, rather like the Rince Cochon, it leaves a lot to be desired. It's similarly pale and light, although it does have a more interesting herbal and spice character; coriander and digestive biscuit are big players again, with a leafy, lemony bitterness making a brief and ineffectual appearance, as the overall experience remains a bit syrupy and oversweet.

Sierra Nevada's Snow Wit is a white IPA that featured recently on The Beer Nut; it was here that I was reminded of the beer's existence and absence from this blog, and so opened this can of worms of a post. It's light shade of cloudy yella, and the nose is immediately earthy, spicy, herbal, odd and altogether more Wit than anything else. The taste goes a similar direction; bursting with citrus fruit and punctuated with pepper, lemon zest, coriander and pillowy wheat, but the action still says more about witbier than it does about U.S. west coast hops. For all that it's still a good and enjoyable beer, but, much like the Brewdog/Weihenstephaner collaboration, you'd likely be better served with a dedicated witbier or IPA.

Accompanying this was Nooner - not the year-round German style pilsner brewed by the Chico crowd - but the limited session IPA in the vein of All-Day. It's fruity and a bit sticky on the nose, with some lagery biscuit base propping up a decent zesty, grapefruit hop profile. Simple stuff. It's the same to taste, though the hop presence is faint enough, with the star of the show being sweet orange marmalade, abrupt though it is on an alarmingly clean and light malt body.

Much more enjoyable was Celebration, which was on draught at the Bierhaus. It may come all the way from California, but I wasn't expect so little on the nose, though that may well have been the cold serving temperature. It did give flashes of marmaladey, citrusy sweetness, but the best was yet to come. Juicy is an appropriate term to use at this point. The flavour was surprisingly fresh for a Sierra Nevada beer, with a good bitter front opening for a sugary malt backig. At first taste even a little bit coarse; all bitter mandarin and lemon skins before it softens out more fleshy orange or tangerine thereafter. A waxy bitterness gets left behind, but that's not to say that there isn't a residual malt sweetness throughout. 

So there you have it, for now at least. There may be more of this sort in the future, as I gradually rediscover lost notes from beers long since swallowed by the abyss.


  1. A can opener for worms: that's me. My 2015 resolution is to try and avoid these old notebook posts. Last year got a bit out of hand.

    1. I have issues leaving go to those notes..

    2. Oh sure! No drunken scribble left behind! I'm just hoping not to build up a collection of them.