Monday, 12 February 2018

#347: Dog Walking

Getting married in November means you'd need to travel a fair distance from Cork to see that big hot thing in the sky so the de facto honeymoon brought us to London for a few days. It wasn't a beer trip, of course, but on the first night of our stay in the slick citizenM in Shoreditch, we discovered that the closest eatery of interest was a Brewdog outpost.
We arrived in the hope of pizza marinara, what we got was much better; two hearty and filling seitan burgers with chunky chips. In a city with plenty of highly specialised vegan restaurants and cafés, it was quite surprising to find what became my favourite food of the trip in a Brewdog bar.

Her seitanic burger was accompanied by a Punk IPA, while I took the Proto DIPA for a whirl. It's not particularly expressive in terms of hopping, with rather light citrus swallowed by a bigger tutti-frutti and mango sweetness. It remains drinkable and pleasantly balanced throughout, but doesn't do too much to excite the palate otherwise.

The next day, in another Brewdog bar, I opted for a guest bottle from lauded newcomers Lost and Grounded, their tripel, Apophenia. It's an intriguing one, showing plenty of white peppery saison stuff with spiced orange and a good whack of liquorice. I had to check the label a number of times to see if there was star anise in this but, no, just an exceptionally herbal and spicy yeast profile. This doesn't overpower the beer at any stage, with a light caramel sweetness tying everything down. What a wonderful sipper this is, one of those rare beers that has me reassessing and trying to break down the flavour with every single mouthful.

Proto SIPA
And what a horrible fall from grace the next beer took me on. Brewdog's own Proto Tangerine SIPA hasn't set the beer internet ablaze with angry reviews so I can only assume my glass came from a bum keg, and by Jesus was it bum. Gross, mildly cheesy, hot and plasticky, vaguely medicinal and, lo, Exputex. It was time to leave and I wan't too attached to the couple of pound sterling I'd handed over so I cut my losses and left.

I mentioned pizza marinara, didn't I? Wandering touristly around Soho we accidently found ourselves looking at Pizza Pilgrims in the charming Kingly Court, and we got the Neapolitan classic here. To go with it, the relatively local Brixton Atlantic APA. As American pale ales go it's a rather sound one, with more bread and cereal than is currently the fashion with this type of thing. The label speaks of C-hops and I find more grass and earth than I'd expect, but it remains tasty, easy-going stuff, just about right for pizza.

The next day in yet another Brewdog bar, this time in Camden, it was finally time to dip into Tokyo, pouring on keg. I was pleasantly surprised at how it remains very much an imperial stout, and actual beer, even at 16.5%. If I hadn't read online (much later) that jasmine and cranberries go into this beer, I certainly wouldn't have been able to tell by taste alone; shovels upon shovels of dark malt richness playing sweet, sugary, lightly bitter and vaguely savoury versions of chocolate, coffee, burnt toast, figs and raisins and yet more, thicker dark chocolate mousse. Most impressive of all is the total lack of boozy heat (I mean it's warming, sure) or headache fuel. Wonderful stuff that reinvigorates my interest in Brewdog's big stouts, something I always thought they did rather well.
Mr President

There was time to kill and more beer to kill it with so I went for Mr. President, a DIPA, also from Brewdog. This somehow contrived to be sweeter than Tokyo, lacking much in the way of balance but offering pleasant candied pineapple and Skittle sweetness instead. It's fine, it's grand, you know yourself. Like a many a beer these days, you do it once and you move on.

Some night in the midst of all this there briefly lived a can of Modern Times' Lomaland saison, back at the hotel. The spice is mild with lemon and honey syrup on Hobnobs taking centre stage, though it at least remains fairly dry in the finish. It's OK overall, if a bit burpy, and I couldn't finish the can.

Right downstairs in the lobby they were selling an NEIPA from Howling Hops in the bottle, and when I got it back to the room I found it had plenty of fruit, sure, but seemed to have left the rest of hopping work behind. There's no zest, so sharpness, no life, no dankness, no sweaty armpits, no garlic marmalade, no good, no bad. It's rather plain in that way, a flat journey through a watered-down strawberry-and-orange juice satellite town of NEIPA.

A handful of quite lovely beers travelled home with me, and those will follow soon.

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