Monday, 20 December 2010

A few beers

The other night I met up with Mr Beer Monkey, Mr Real Ale Radler and a couple of other beer enthusiasts (whose identity I am protecting) to try a few bottles.

First up was a straight comparison between BrewDog Trashy Blonde and the recent experimental Eurotrash from the same brewery. The recipe is the same but Eurotrash is fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. The unanimous verdict: Trashy Blonde is better. We all thought it crisper and fresher-tasting and the hops shine better. Beer Monkey has more effusive tasting notes too.

Eurotrash is pleasant enough, yet anonymous; it could be any of dozens of generic Belgian blonde beers.

Staying with BrewDog, while rummaging in my beer cupboard for some beers to bring along I found a bottle of Nanny State (first iteration). This is the 1.1%, 225 alleged IBU version from last October. How will it have held up? Pretty well as it turns out. It's still very hoppy and oddly enough, not as thin-tasting as it was.

On to something I wasn't expecting to get a chance to taste: Schlenkerla Eiche. This is a version of Rauchbier from the legendary Schlenkerla brewery in Bamberg, but with the malt smoked over oak rather than the usual beechwood. A friend discovered it in The Cave off-licence in Glasgow's leafy west end, which was a pleasant surprise as I thought the stuff was all going to the USA. It is, as you would expect, superb and makes much easier drinking than its 8.0% suggests. It's rather mildly smoked in comparison to the intensely smokey beechwood original.

Towards the end Mr Beer Monkey produced a bottle of Bashah Reserve, aged in Highland Park casks with raspberries. Around this time last year I enjoyed a slow bottle of plain Bashah in the pub on a bitterly cold evening shortly before Christmas. It was brilliant, dark, rich, bitter and roasty. Bashah Reserve is perhaps a case of gilding the lily. The whisky dominates the beer, yet the raspberries are really apparent and upfront and lend the beer an incredibly fresh fruity aroma — but the beer underneath gets lost.

Experimentation is good. The results aren't necessarily so good. Although we enjoyed them, the common factor with tonight's beers seemed, to me, to be that these variations didn't quite reach the same level as the originals.

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