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Partizan Brewing Beer Tasting Session – Lazy Afternoon with Beer

October 25, 2013 Comments off

Immensely pissed off that a mouse has made a nest in my car’s engine space and has been able to go inside the car and use the padding from the seat as bedding. I fucking hate rodents. To calm my nerves I’ll sample some Partizan Brewing’s beers.  The labels on the bottles are snazzy sort of 60’s design (think Jacques Tati) and the brewing system is an old Kernel set up.

First one off the gates is the Mild at 6.4 per cent abv. Darkest ruby almost black with creamy thin head. Huge roasted and sour aroma. Taste is soft, balanced, creamy, roasted coffee. Very smooth and sophisticated. Good drinkability and feels sessionable. Digestible as the Belgians say. One of the most balanced commercial beers I’ve had in donkey’s years. Very clever and shows the brewer’s skill. The last time I had this good a balanced beer was in August, a Colonel Williams IPA clone home brew, and before that in February this saison.

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Next one is Pacific Jade Pale Ale at 4.9 per cent abv.

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Aroma is a huge hit of peach and mango and Del Monte’s fruit cocktail in sugar syrup. Taste is bitter grapefruit and it’s all up front and while drinking the nose gets a whiff of that fruit cocktail at the same time. I’ve used Pacific Jade hops more heavy handedly as a bittering hop and it’s interesting to note that it is quite good for aroma and late addition too. Although I’d wish this tasted more like beer instead of tropical juice cocktail. The way I would brew Pacific Jade single hop is to up the bittering and tone down the late additions or what ever they do to bring that huge tropical flavour in the end. Say, bring the 60 minutes to 45 ibu’s, then 30 per cent of the total hops at boil off to soak for 20 minutes. Yes, this beer would benefit from more bitterness.

This is getting interesting now.  Three more to go. Galaxy, Citra, Amarillo at 5.2 per cent abv. Looks a lot like the previous one:

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On the nose this has some of that Pacific fruitiness but a lot more grape fruit. No pine or resin at all. I’d say the aroma is “better”, not as sickly but refreshing. Oh yes, this tastes more bitter and is then followed by freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. During the GBBF 2013 I hated many of the grapefruity beers on offer but this has a lot of balance – early bitterness to balance off the fruitiness. So in essence this is a lot more drinkable and thirst quenching. Obviously there’s not much to write about malts here either, these two pale ales are about hops and this one gets my vote.

Looking good, now an IPA at 7.1 per cent abv. Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe.

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Seems like it’s back to the Pacific, some ripe mango here. In the the taste there is grapefruit bitterness first upfront, some lemon I think in the after taste, mandarin (can’t believe I have become one of those people who find mandarin in their beer – but I do! What a ponce!) for sure.  Compared to the previous two pale ales, perhaps a touch more bitterness but definitely less late hop aroma. No idea about the bitterness levels but if it’s more than 50 then a) this beer is bloody balanced on the sly, or  b) my own 45-50 ibu bitters are actually 70+…because this beer seems so smooth. 7.1 per cent abv? Hard to believe. I use soft water myself, and still my 35 ibu beers seem more bitter than this. I suspect there are some clever things going on by the brewer, so soft. Now after 15 minutes drinking this I start to feel some tingling in my mouth. Uncanny.

Let’s wrap this up. FES at 8.6 per cent abv. A big boy of the bunch. Pitch black, viscous:

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Roast and coffee. Has that ashy aroma associated with black malt.  Doesn’t have that sourness on the nose as the Mild had. Ooh! Suit you Sir! Not that heavy again, soft and balanced, can’t really say when malt ends and hops begin. Slightly bitter on the tongue, no sourness, slightly sweet, roasted, salted liquorice. Salty otherwise too. Unfortunately, not a night cap front of a fire place sort of beer – too refreshing and drinkable. Scrumptious.

I think the two dark beers stand out and both relied heavily on balance. Somehow to me tropical fruits in a beer spell gimmick and trickery. But even those paler ales were quite understated and restrained. What can I say, the recipes and brewers behind these beers seem quite clever.

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London Beer Trip August 2013 – Practise Run for GBBF

August 19, 2013 Comments off

Starting from Charing Cross, short hop to The Harp (47 Chando’s Place, Covent Garden). Lovely interior and sausages.

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Windsor & Eaton – Guardsman. Nutty and woody (apparently oak-conditioned, learned later). Sort of a bitter I like to brew.

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Next one, Milk Brewery – RA. Citrussy, towards grapefruit, a flavour we tried to avoid all day but didn’t quite succeed. Very nice though.

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Next stop a Brodie’s pub Cross Keys (31 Endell Street, Covent Garden)

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The beer calling my name here was Brodie’s – Kiwi. Grapefruit to the max.

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After a quick walk to Holborn, Holborn Whippet (Sicilian Avenue).

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Went for Moor Beer – Nor Hop. Grapefruity citrus, dispensed through a sparkler as God intended.

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Cask ale was in short supply so tried a keg beer (craft keg for you hipsters), Kernel – Pale Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy. Creamy, soft and – you guessed it – grapefruity. Also had orange and Del Monte fruit cocktail from the tin in the flavour mix.

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A bit of brisk walking to the east and we get to The Gunmakers (13 Eyre Street Hill, Clerkenwell).

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This customer looks very content and happy, beer must be in the air.

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Portobello – Porter. Engine oily, soft, lactose.

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A  two minute walk takes us to The Craft Beer Co. (82 Leather Lane, Clerkenwell). Quite a few beer engines there:

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Blue Monkey – Sanctuary Nottingham Bitter, just a perfect amount of crystal malts, that is, not too much. Perhaps some black for colour…medium body and smooth.

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Thornbridge – Black Harry Dark Mild. Refreshing, roasted flavours.

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Tiny Rebel – Flux, black pale ale, grapefruit aroma and taste. Solid and full body for a 4 per cent abv beer.

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Time to move on, some walking and I just couldn’t wrap my head around how we got to Cittie of Yorke (22 High Holborn) so easily.

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Sam Smith’s – Todcaster Extra Stout. Had given up taking tasting notes at this stage.

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And off to JD Wetherspoon The Knights Templar (95 Chancery Lane). A massive pub.

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Salopian – Darwin’s Origin. No notes written down but was a lovely drop, just a perfect bitter. Balanced, malty, hoppy, with good drinkability (not of the elusive kind).

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A walk to the bridge and Waterloo station. Saw this on the way, would make a nice pub.

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Having crossed the bridge Mr. Morgan started running desperately towards The Hole In The Wall (5 Mepham Street) and a well-needed slash. I met him there outside the pub looking very relieved. No beers.

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But this one slipped down nicely with curry at the end of a long day.

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The day’s beers seemed to hover around 4 per cent abv and two pints cost around £7 1/2. For example, Nor Hop was £3.60, Flux £3.85 and Black Harry £3.55. A far cry from real ale sold in Finland at around £8…

Refreshed and invigorated from the trip, time to get the pipeline in order and make my two fermentors work non-stop – one Kiwi pale ale to brew this week, then it’s boring brown beer bitter season for a while.

London Beer Trip August 2013: Great British Beer Festival at Olympia

August 17, 2013 Comments off

Not too crowded yet on Wednesday:

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Beers drank (mostly thirds, some halves but no pints) on Wednesday:

Arkell’s – Bramling X 4.2% (very sulphury so the hops didn’t show)

Dorset Brewing Company – Dorset Knob 3.9%

Fuzzy Duck – Golden Cascade 3.8%

Goose Eye – Chinook Blonde 4.2%

Great Oakley – Gobble 4.5%

Rother Valley – Smild 3.8%

Salopian – Golden Thread 5%

Hawkshead – Windermere Pale 3.5%

Cantillon – Iris

Kneitinger – Export Dunkel 5.2%

Aecht Schlenkerla – Rauchbier Marzen 5.1% (wooden cask/barrel)

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Thursday:

East London – Foundation Bitter 4.2%

Foxfield – Dark Mild 3.7%

Harveys – Wild Hop 3.7% (good reminder why Harveys beers are crap, the brewing water is disgusting, burtonised-like)

Highland – Pale Ale 4.7%

Stonehouse – Station Bitter 3.9% (best normal bog standard bitter)

Lincoln Green – Village Green 4.2%

St Austell – Proper Job 4.5% (twice, very good)

Cairngorm – Black Gold 4.4% (Carafa malts I assume, practically no roasted coffee flavours)

Trunk – Export Dunkel 5.3%

Il Vicino Brewing New Mexico – Nelson’s Exodus 7.6%

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Citrus and especially grapefruit flavours were not easy to avoid, those seemed to pop up everywhere. Hopefully it’s just a fad. Got two lovely glasses and Bob Steel’s South East Pub Walks as souvenirs. No T-shirts this time.

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The Kernel Brewery Part 6: The Final Push

June 16, 2013 Comments off

I lost interest at this stage, the task proved to be too much – no tasting impressions except the beers were all jolly nice and I recommend them fully. Nice looking beers and also got finally rid of this draft.

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The Kernel Brewery Part 5: India Pale Ale Nelson Sauvin

January 9, 2013 Comments off

At 7.4 per cent abv, bottled on 19.11.12 best before 19.3.13. Aroma is citrus, grapefruit juice, mango, those freshly-squeezed fruit coctail juices. Like being at the breakfast table in the tropics. The most aroma so far. The taste is more of the same, and then some extra grapefruit juice poured on top. Soft and round mouthfeel, the least bitter beer so far unless it’s hidden in all that balanced tropical freshness. I’m now done with all the pale beers of the bunch and this was the least beery and the softest – also “the best” – and gives a whole new meaning to that age-old lovely concept of “breakfast beer”. No wonder the Malt Miller was out of stock Nelson Sauvin hops, I was ready to blow my weekly allowance…

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The Kernel Brewery Part 4: India Pale Ale Motueka Pacific Jade

January 6, 2013 Comments off

At 7.2 per cent abv. Bottled on 10.10.12 best before 10.02.13. Aroma is very Goose Island IPA-like, sweetish tropical fruit and pine. Taste is more of the same sans sweetness. Bitter, not a soft and rounded beer but with abrupt dryness, which I think is the only clue to the higher abv compared to the previous pale ales tasted. As the beer gets warmer the pine starts to dominate. A very solid variation on a theme.

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The Kernel Brewery Part 3: Pale Ale Columbus Tomahawk Zeus

January 5, 2013 Comments off

At 5.4 per cent abv. Bottled on 20.11.12 best before 20.3.13. Aroma is citrus and pine balanced evenly. Taste is more citrus than pine, quite a dusty mouthfeel. The bitterness, again, is up front and firm.

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This one has the most oily feel to it so far. And now I think the pine dominates although it is more like spruce tips actually.

Pale ales were very similar overall and the malt bills probably very similar if not the same. Potatoes potahtos tomatoes tomahtos. Horses for courses. Liked them all but Chinook seemed the weakest. Let’s move to IPA’s and north of seven per cent abv.