Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Delirium Nocturnum (Brouwerij Huyghe)

I was a big fan of Delirium Tremens, and I do like a dark beer, so surely this one adds up?

Pours a rusty deep brown, with a big whiff of earth and iron. A thin webby head soon dissipates to nought. The nose is peppers, bananas, figs, all a bit bonkers just like it's lighter sister beer.

The initial taste for me is a little gruesome, its all the fun of the fair when perhaps you just want to visit the coconut shy. Chewy, with slight chocolate rumours - it's like Billy Smarts madcap picnic hamper viewed through a black stocking of treacle, a mildly cloying aftertaste that lingers but not unpleasantly.

It's 8.5%abv, creamy with it and with each sup it grew on me more. If you can surmount the carnival of zany tastes it evolves into a dark fruity cracker. Wisps of herbs and pepper dance down the glass to the end.

So, idiosyncratic beer again from Brouwerj Hughe, but it all adds up to a fine and formidable strong ale experience for the adventurous.

8/10 - A circus ring of fruity barminess, rich bold fun dark ale.

- The Broadside

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bunker Summit No. 5

Yesterday saw the fifth Bunker Summit, with a varied range of twelve ales up for review.

In case you don't know the format, it's a relaxed series of blind tastings as all four attendees brought three different beers to be supped and rated. In addition to myself and Ed, also present was Summit regular Glenn and birthday-debutant Colin.

A particular feature of these conferences is the food, and once again Commander Ed excelled himself, with a Bunker-themed steak pie with amazing rich gravy.

So, on to the beers - this is what we had, and this is what the average mean scores were before the bottles were revealed.

1. Snake Dog IPA (Flying Dog) 7.1%
Beautiful big piney hoppy IPA, walloping start to the session and yellow card shown to contributor for unleashing rampaging early ABV. 7/10

2. Bengal Lancer (Fuller's) 5.3%
Malty body with good length and marked hop signature. Was referred to as "Bengali Lancer" for the rest of the evening as it seemed to fit. 6/10

3. Hacker-Pschorr (Oktoberfest-Marzen) 5.8%
Most were convinced that this was a honey beer, like Slater's Queen Bee. Quite long and mulchy in the note. Distinctive German lager, but not all that pleasant. 5/10

4. Whitstable Bay (Shepherd Neame) 4.5%
Immediately recognisable as an SN beer from the nose, the body of this beer was surprisingly tasty and refined. Tangy and sweet initial notes segue into a pronounced but agreeable bitter finish. Evening's joint bronze medal winner. 7/10

5. Russian Winter Stour (Itchen Valley) 5.3%
Lovely creamy stout, although not particularly Russian in character. Delicious chocolate notes swim with coffee and the sup has a silky character. Solid 7's across the board. 7/10

6. Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Yorkshire Bitter (Black Sheep) 5%
Poorly received, large demerara mouthful, grouchy and dirty long taste. Probably a cheese-accompanier where a distinctive profile needs to stand up in accompaniment, but not for us. 3/10

7. 1845 (Fuller's) 6.3%
Wow, fruity nutmeggy strong ale, swirls of fruitcake and complex, dry finish. Joint bronze medal winner on the night. 7/10

8. Cornish Mutiny (Wooden Hand) 4.8%
This one polarised the judging panel, receiving marks as diverse as 2 and 7. A deep amber beer, quite biscuity and with a marmite-esque fruit-bitter finish. Average score - 4/10

9. Human Cannonball (Magic Rock) 9.2%
Leviathan IPA, lethal alcohol and the evening's gold medal winner. Massive pine hop nose, and marmalade bitter length. More resiny than a soaking furniture warehouse set deep within a Nordic forest. Appreciated in the blind taste, although it was noted that it probably could make you blind. 8/10

10. Pale Ale (Meantime) 5.4%
Back to sanity, and a capable standard pale ale from Meantime. Nice blend of Goldings and Cascade hops give this an agreeable session pint profile. Tasty. 6/10

11. Kofi Annan's Christmas Peace Stout (Bunker Homebrew) - 5.2ish%
At this point in the evening Ed slipped in his first stab at a home brewed stout, and it was a corker. Rich wealth of coffee and chocolate notes, swimming blackly together in a pitchy harmony. Very good stout, and the evening's silver medal winner. 8/10

12. Champion Ale (McEwans) 7.3%
A sweet and strong ale to finish up with. Big barley and malt notes, but possibly too alcoholic for it's own good. Solid 7 though 7/10

- The Broadside