Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bunker Summit no. 7

And... go! 

Bunker Station no 1 has had a significant barracks upgrade since our last summit, with a vast kitchen diner installed and various rooms moved about. So what better to christen the new layout than a Bunker Summit in the now well-honed format.

Again we had three judges (myself, Ed and Summit evergreen Glenn) blind tasting 12 different ales, then dishing out various subjective opinions, ripe for shooting down like so many clay pigeons, before the bottles were revealed for surprise and delight.

Food this time was an awesome honey and mustard glazed ham from Ed, and two breads from myself - a caramelised onion and cheese Ploughman's loaf made with a whole bottle of Butcombe Best bitter, and a mixed-flour sultana plait.

Here are the runners, riders and average ratings.

1. Wheatwave (Vibrant Forest) 4.2%
An excellent first beer from a local New Forest brewer. Fruity and sweet hazy blonde wheat ale with an easy drinking character: delicious, sprightly and refreshing. 7/10 

2. Six Hop (Dark Star) 6.5% 
Outstanding early winner for the evening. Luxurious aroma and mouthfeel with a whoosh of hops that deliver their staggered payloads with perfect timing in a pine and marmalade carpet bomb of flavour. Complex, multi-layered and one of the best IPAs in it's class. Ed gave this a 10!  9/10 

3. Red MacGregor (Orkney) 4.0% 
A fine bitter red-brown classic ale, session potential written all over it. A little caramel and toffee to savour, and fine British hop flavours, slightly smoky finish. 8/10

4. Head Cracker (Woodforde's) 7.0% 
The first nuke of the evening, a fun and fruity barley wine, with a slight floral character. Orangey sweet with plums, a liqueur style dessert beer, with a flashing muffled hop tail. 7/10 

5. Raven (Thornbridge) 4.2% 
A delicious black IPA, it won plaudits for the best nose of the evening, just something to drink into the nostrils (not literally). Proper hoppy, this is an authentic bullet of IPA, fresh as a field of daisies and sharing similar character to the accomplished Magic Rock IPAs. 8/10 

6. Sovereign (Corfe Castle) 4.9% 
A slightly farty sulphurous nose gives way to a lager-thin golden ale, a little mulchy in the tail, and a bit too dissonant for our tastes, receiving two 5s and a 7 (Ed was a fan). 6/10  

7. #100 (Nogne) 10.0%
A barmy 10% ABV nutter of a beer, delivered in a whopping 500ml bottle. Tricky to navigate for the unwary, it's packed full of just about every flavour you can angle for, supported by a roaring no-messing alcohol skeleton. Heavy coffee-ish finish. An evening ender really, although we have a few to go...  7/10 

The most delicious bread to have at a beer tasting. 
It was consumed with Bristol Beer Factory's excellent West Coast Red,
some corking cheeses and succulent ham.
8. Milk Stout (Bristol Beer Factory) 4.5% A creamy, wet, alkaline stout. Not as bold in character as some of the fuller stouts, but a pleasing chocolate dessert character that luxuriates on the tongue. Silky mouthfeel, very pleasant.  7/10 

9. Hebridean Gold (Isle of Skye) 4.3% 
A capable grassy picnic beer, made with porridge oats. A little characterless amongst this company but certainly not a bad beer, just a trifle thin and missing the wow factor.  6/10  

10. Funnel Blower (Box Steam) 4.5% 
A dark brown porter, Glenn warmed to it's sweetness. Nothing to complain about here, although perhaps missing some dynamism. One of the better Box Steam beers, and has picked up a few awards so others will agree. 7/10

11. Chiron (Thornbridge) 5.0% 
Big old fruity nose on this golden ale, the second entry from Thornbridge tonight. Ed called it the "Phil Thompson of beer." Subtle biscuit, pine and fruit notes, creamy and another clean example of Thornbridge quality.  8/10 

12. Organic Chocolate Stout (Samuel Smith) 5.0% 
The actual evening ender. A mix of rich organic cocoa and chocolate malts, it's pretty damn chocolatey. Some vanilla notes twist it away from the usual affair. Wholesome and smooth, this vegan beer nails a straight7. 7/10 


- Six Hop (Dark Star)

Silver Medal - three way tie! 
- Chiron (Thornbridge)
- Raven (Thornbridge)
- Red Macgregor (Orkney)

Bronze Medal
- #100 (Nogne) 

- The Broadside

International Arms Race (Brewdog)

Bit of a novelty challenge from those nutters over at Brewdog this one - a zero IBU IPA, in the IPA style but using no hops....? Er..

Essentially a competition between like minded souls with the rebel-hearted US brewing company Flying Dog, the 7.5% alcohol BV is given length off the leash and the bittering and flavours come from berries, herbs, roots and whatnot.

You'd think it might taste a little plain if not downright rank. However, these chaps know how to brew and the aroma is fruity and alluring after the transient head disappears in seconds.

The sup is light for it's strength, herbal as you'd expect and fairly citrussy. The drinker experiences ginger, some aniseed traces and a light pepperyness.

It's pretty interesting but that's as far as I'd go. Hops have been in beers for gazillions of years and for good reason, I for one missed the crunch and whoosh of that hop hit, and the overall effect is of a stiff beer cordial.

Flying Dog also brewed a version for the showcase blind tasting event, I still don't quite know who won but everyone looks like they had jolly fun.

More power to them for this sort of thing, although for £3.99 a bottle, I'd probably head over to the Brouwerij Huyghe shelf for my quota of this kind of ale eccentricity.

6/10 - A decent enough beer but fun in the way you might find buying a dragonfruit fun at the supermarket. Nice to try the once but you're soon craving a good old apple.

The Broadside