28 April 2006

Choc-tastic

Last month I posted a review of Meantime Chocolate (here). Since then the Porterhouse reintroduced their Chocolate Truffle Stout as part of the March stout-fest so I thought I'd do a quick round-up of Chocolate Beers I Have Known.

I won't repeat my Meantime review: just to say it gets points for being different, but isn't a patch on normal chocolate stouts. My usual fallback in this genre is Young's Double Chocolate Stout, which is about as rich and creamy as bottled beer gets, and carries a big chocolate kick in the foretaste.

Yet even Young's pales in comparison to the Porterhouse chocolate stout. I'm not sure what the "truffle" element adds to it (about 500 calories, at a guess) but this seasonal stout is utterly sublime: very smooth, very heavy and very very chocolatey. It is definitely one of my favourite beers: a sure sign it's about to be discontinued.

And happy birthday to the Beer Nut Blog. One year and seven countries done: much more to come.

18 April 2006

The bland leading the bland

A quick round-up of some of the less notable beers I encountered on my recent trip to Greece, mentioned purely for completist reasons.

Mythos is the most ubqitous beer I noticed in Athens. It's the standard Mediterranean lager, generically refreshing. Mostly it was served in a frozen pint glass, yet developed what one might call an actual flavour when it warmed up slightly. The other common lager is Alpha, which struck me as blander yet: even when the sun hit it there wasn't much of a hint of a lager taste. Still, it does the job for that place and climate and I'm not complaining.

I travelled through Budapest and just had time on the way back for a swift pint at the airport. The choice was Stella, Beck's, Franziskaner, Leffe Brune or something strange called Borsodi. No contest, of course. Borsodi is pretty cheap and nasty, but when you're drinking it from a plastic cup under fluorescent lights in an eastern European airport it's the only appropriate drink. Just another sacrifice for this blog...

14 April 2006

First dispatch from the field

I'm in Athens for the next few days. Currently I'm collecting information on the standard beers hereabouts and I'll make a full report on them in due course. Yesterday, however, I visited the city's only microbrewery: Craft.

The decor is in the mock-industrial brewpub style, rather than the Anglo-German light-wood-and-hops motif. The beer is excellent. They do two fairly basic lagers: the pilsner is classic brewpub lager with that coarse, grainy microbrewed taste: backbone of the industry. Then they do "Athens Lager" which is a more refined, bittersweet, Austrian style beer.

Craft Red Ale is a Belgian-Abbey-style beer: aromatic, fruity and complex. The oddly named "Black Lager" is just like a light stout, sparkling rather than creamy, and full of the burnt caramel flavour that sets it apart.

The Weiss at Craft is a fairly good imitation of Erdinger, right down to the banana aroma, though perhaps a little lighter and softer.

My big find, however, is Craft Smoked Lager. As the name suggests, this is made with smoked hops for a real smoke taste: something akin to drinking a pint of smoky bacon crisps. It is marvellously strange and I look forward to finding another smoked beer to compare notes.

Craft, then, is a first-rate brewpub, and a real find here in southern Europe where beer is not taken as seriously as it should be.

11 April 2006