I was sat at The Rake a while ago, interviewing one of the guys who works there about the meaning of ‘craft’ in the beer world. A discussion of his answers is for another time, but one thing he said struck me in relation to today’s post: he wanted craft beer to target ‘the adventurous; the curious; the open-minded.’ I arrived home and opened a bottle that to me epitomises this, the unflashily named Bristol Beer Factory Wheat Wine.
The Islay Festival of Malt and Music, Feis Ile to its friends, is almost upon us again. From 22-30 May, the Hebridean island’s population will double, with whisky fans from around the world descending to celebrate Islay’s whisky. However, while each distillery on the island has an open day, with an inevitable special bottling, it’s not only the locals who are getting in on the act. Last year, Douglas Laing popped up on the island with some tastings of their independently bottled Islay drams, and this year they’re joined by my favourite independent bottler, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. They are running an open day of their own on the island, including the launch of their first, to my knowledge, Feis Ile bottling – 3.243: Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy.
From time to time, when exploring the world of booze, you come across something that should not exist. While most of the time the initial reaction of horror is entirely justified, on rare occasions that first impression is wrong. Being the type of drinker that I am, I delight in both the things-that-should-not-be and the excellent exceptions, and recently I stumbled upon one of the latter. It’s not often that a drink so comprehensively worms it way into my subconcious, but on a recent trip to Bristol, one did – Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose.
BrewDog are at it again. After three scarily successful rounds of crowdfunding, two of which I’ve pitched in to, they’ve decided to go again, with Equity for Punks IV now live. To announce it, they put on an event at their Shepherds Bush bar, with an evening of founders James Watt and Martin Dickie, beer, new product announcements and BrewDog fans cheering ‘Breeeewdooog, Breeeewdoooog’ every time there was a lull. They also had a special beer on tap, made at the pilot plant at their Ellon brewery: BrewDog Pilot Brew 008 – Whiskey Sour.
Over the years, my fascination with alcopops has slowly died. I’ve managed to stop looking at them in the supermarket, and they are usually corralled away from the proper drinks, helping me to avoid the memory of their existence. Unfortunately, they are increasingly encroaching on the beer shelves, from their initial beachhead in cider-land – I’m looking at you Kopparberg – and they occasional impinge on my consciousness. As such, I bring you another instalment of ‘I drink these things so you don’t have to’, featuring Amigos Black, Tequila and açai berry flavoured beer.
It’s not a revelation to anyone who’s visited my house that I have a thing about some of BrewDog’s beers. If you are a long-term reader of this blog (hi mum!), you will probably realise this too, even if in more recent times I’ve not said much about them. Unfortunately this is a sign of their success, as they’ve become more ubiquitous and part of the establishment – the kind of thing that new-thing-loving bloggers like myself drink more than write about. However, they recently sent me a bottle of beer, so it’d be rude not to say a word or two about it, especially as I’ve already picked up a couple of bottles of it for my stash. The beer in question: Paradox Compass Box.
When it comes to the beers of Europe, we’re getting better at importing them into the UK. One spot that I’ve only seen a few beers from is Lithuania, and I only saw those in one shop around the corner from a flat I lived in many years ago – the shop changed hands a number of times, and the Lithuanian beer disappeared close to a decade ago. I popped in the other day to see what part of the world they were now focusing on, and it was all about the Baltic again: they had the entire Baltika range and a few Lithuanian beers, including a pair from Taruškų alaus bravoras, the Taruškų beer brewery: Kanapinis Šviesus and Tamsus Alus, Cannabis Light and Dark Beers.
This is an accidental follow-up to my last post, with a visit to Tesco leading to an unexpected beer purchase. Stocking up on my favourite brand of Kimchi flavoured noodles in the increasingly-innaccurately-named Polish section of my local branch, I came across a beer that I mentioned last time – the imported, Nigerian edition of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.
It’s all about craft beer these days. From Budweiser’s advert during the Superbowl and their behind the scenes snapping up of craft breweries, to Thwaites’s Crafty Dan annexe, all the big boys want in on the scene, and Diageo are no different. They’re the biggest drinks company and the produce one of the best-selling beers in the world – Guinness. So, into the fray they have launched a pair of new beers, Guinness Dublin Porter and Guinness West Indies Porter.
In a dance as old as time, as Morgan Freeman didn’t say, if you have a group of people pretty much anywhere in the world, then they will make booze. If they have too much booze to drink before it goes bad, then human ingenuity will inevitably lead to spirits. My latest evidence of this is Tovuz Azeri Original Whisky 10 year old, a product of Azerbaijan.