Sunday, 30 September 2012

Bunker Summit No. 6

And so it was another long overdue Bunker Summit took place, in the warming log-fire soothed vaults of Bunker Station No.1.

The format continued from previous soirees, with the three judges (myself, Ed and Summit regular Glenn) blind tasting 12 different ales, allotting scores which were then averaged in less than scientific manner, before the bottles were revealed. It's a bunch of fun this format, do try it yourself, each guest just brings 4 beers and keeps them concealed until after each has been rated.

A mention on the food before diving in to the ales, this time we had Ed's sublime homebrew-stout soaked ham served with two of my home baked breads, a white/wholemeal raisin plait and a Canadian oat and honey wholewheat loaf, accompanied by a bunch of cheeses and pickles. Yer-um.

So, cutting further ado on to the winners and losers of the night, replete with the patented* Bunker Gradings....

*not really

1. Organic Best Ale (Samuel Smiths) 5%
A very tidy start to proceedings. Lemony citrus on the nose with grass overtones. Length of it slightly grubby, but not uncomfortably so. We'd all have another. 6/10 

2. Belgian Wheat Beer (Marks & Spencer) 4.5% 
Brewed by Huyghe, this is a bright dazzler of a wheat beer, light, zingy and very fresh. Noted to be preferable with food, this is a Wheat Pride rainbow flag flying example of it's type, laced with coriander, herbs and spices. Rather not Glenn's cup of tea, which pulled the score down somewhat, but that's democracy.  6/10 

3. Jail Ale (Dartmoor Ales) 4.8% 
First salvo winner, a lovely malty easy drinker from Princetown with a lively pour but a bit of barging bitterness in the tail. Superior on draught but still proper tasty from the bottle.  7/10 
4. Glaslyn Ale (Purple Moose) 4.2% 
A Welsh micro-brewed ale and not really our cup of beer. After an initial apple scent the sup starts with a bit of a flavour crash as all the malt and hops collide in a big scrum, leaving an unsubtle gritty aftermath in the mouth. A little crude for us.  5/10 

5. 80/- (Williams Bros) 4.2% 
Wow. This beer, pronounced Eighty Shilling, is a marvel. Brown as an old tanned expat, this is proper rare Scottish heavy. It's all about the malt malt malt. If there are any hops in here we couldn't taste them, but wonderfully sweet and moreish with a rolling molasses length. A fruit cake in a glass, just delicious and the evening's Gold Medal winner.   8/10 

6. Horseshoe Special Reserve (Lizard Ales) 6.2% 
A massive disappointment as this beer exploded out of the bottle, clearly off. Some infection must have got in to this recently purchased beer, which was a big shame. Unrateable  

7. Barnsey (Bath Ales) 4.5% 
Nothing wrong with this one - a beautiful toffee, malty wonder. Like a eventful marriage it starts sweet and ends bitter, but in all the right ways. Glorious malt length, and the evenings Bronze Medal winner8/10  

Time for food!
8. Banana Bread Beer (Wells) 5.2% 
Instantly recognised and identified. Without doubt the best widely available banana beer on the market, even if it's the only one. A proper example of how to introduce fruit into beer without making it awful. I fancy a banana now.  7/10  

9. India Pale Ale Black (The Kernel) 6.8% 
Gadzooks, a mighty black ale, and easily passing the black IPA test of shutting your eyes and guessing the colour (if you can't its a true black IPA). Crunchy and with some lovely slick grassy hops, the alcohol length was slightly too boozy for one reviewer (me). However, Silver Medal winner for the evening, top beer. 8/10  

10. Quadrupel (Sharps) 10% 
The only real GBH headsmasher of the night, this ale is a wrestling match of components in a boozy juggernaut of a bottle. Clearly designed for cheeses and whatnot after a meal, when drunk on its own its just a bit much, syrupy and hard to wade through despite it's attractions. Complex and still very good, it's mission is not quite achieved in the right ways for us. A nutter. 7/10 (just) 

11. Double Dragon (Felinfoel) 4.2% 
Back down to earth with a very disagreeable nasty Welsh bitter. The first taste is a sort of metallic laminate, which is swiftly bulldozered by a gritty foul aftertaste. If these tastes were guests you'd want none of them at your party. Not a good representation of the land of the dragon. 2/10 

12. Black Cab Stout (Fullers) 4.5% 
Form returns with this delicious textbook stout. Fruits, roast notes, some coffee, all the right black beer boxes are ticked heartily. This is nothing revolutionary, but it's an example of an old classic brewed with care and commitment. 7/10 

13. Founder's Ale (Heinekin UK) 4.8% 
A bit of an end of evening curve ball from the makers of 'Newkie Broon'. One note throughout, which is a bit metallic and somewhat bargain off-license, it neither inspires not disappoints too much. A little meh. 5/10
Gold Medal - 80/- (Williams Bros)

Silver Medal - India Pale Ale Black (The Kernel) 

Bronze Medal - Barnsey (Bath Ales) 

That'll be a trip to the recycler then.
- The Broadside

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dead Pony Club (Brewdog)

It's Brewdog, but it's a session beer, obviously a super hopped one. The 3.8% on the label looks like a typo, surely it's a fake? Positively not.

Its a light caramel in colour, crystal clear. The opening aroma is heavy with hoppy aromas of tropical fruit and dominant winey smells of Nelson Sauvignon.

The malt starts with intent but very quickly folds like a cardboard aircraft hanger, retreating into the background at alarming pace. The hops arrive like an awesome display of fireworks to the mouth. It's a multi layered mouthfeel of bittering, astringency and brutish dry hopping. The hops do dominate, its way out of balance, leaving the malt feeling very thin, but I guess that's the point.

It's a 3.8% hop bomb, to many it's way out of balance, to others it's something very original, Dark Star's Hophead taken to its ultimate conclusion.

8/10 Uniquely unbalanced to the point of actually being quite subtle. The ultimate hoppy session beer.