30 April 2007

Umberto's Ekò

There are a couple of vaguely interesting looking Italian beers in the shops which I must get round to at some point, but yesterday I spotted one I'd never seen before: an organic lager from Balvano called Ekò ("The Biologic Beer" says the label in comedy English).

On opening the 33cl bottle there's a wonderful and promising malt aroma. It's a pure malt beer and makes no secret of it. Pouring produces a fairly tight head and a body which is not so much cloudy as filled with discernible floating bits. The label reassures us that this is merely an effect of the organic production method. So far so good with the lumpy beer.

The malt is right up front in the taste, and the hops isn't too far behind, but it falls down in the aftertaste which has that musty quality I associate most with Red Stripe. Additionally the bitterness of the hops tends towards sourness. The bottle was fresh so I'm fairly sure this is part of the flavour, but it's not to my taste. One more slightly disappointing organic beer.

28 April 2007

The facts about the legend

Well, I promised I would get some Hobgoblin for blogging purposes, and here we are.

I'm impressed, first of all, by the tight creamy head straight out of the bottle. The beer is a deep ruby-amber colour and, despite the creaminess, is exquisitely bitter. There's no trace of the caramel sweetness you sometimes get with this sort, but that's OK: it's not over-hopped and possesses the warm heart of all the best English ales.

It's the sort of beer you can settle in for a few of, though that's probably more economical somewhere where it doesn't cost €3.49 a bottle, i.e. not Dublin.

So here ends the Beer Nut's second year. I've a sad feeling that the third won't feature quite as much travel as the previous two, but I will keep reporting on the interesting and mundane from these shores until normal service is resumed.

Did I mention I'm going to Barcelona on Wednesday?

15 April 2007

Character with a capital K

Hertog Jan is one of the bigger Dutch beer brands, owned by InBev and producing a variety of beers. I didn't get a chance to try any of them on my recent visit, but I did bring home a bottle of their Karakter speciaalbier. This is a strong red-amber ale with powerful forest fruit flavours: a little like a souped-up version of the Rodenbach beers. The 7.5% alcohol comes through in the flavour, and it could pass for more given its heady aroma and chewy texture. There is a smoothness at the end, though, suggesting that it isn't meant to be taken completely seriously. A character indeed.

14 April 2007

ESB v BSE

The list of decent English quaffing ales is endless and I'm no more trying to put together an extensive archive of them than I am of Belgian beers. My most recent discovery is Fuller's ESB, a light tannic bitter with a slight tea-like flavour, reminiscent of Theakston's, though with a stronger dose of hops.

Bury St Edmunds (the BSE of the title, in case you thought I was suggesting bitter as a cure for brain disease) brewing giant Greene King make an ale which is definitely not for quaffing: their Strong Suffolk Vintage Ale. This is an almost flat, deep red beer which gave me three distinct flavour notes: caramel, smoke and toffee. It's not complex, as such, but it's definitely interesting and worth savouring.