30 June 2007

Mad limey

The beer blogging world's eye on London, Stonch, reported recently that Fuller's had been touting the notion of serving their organic Honey Dew ale over ice and with a slice of lime. He wasn't in favour of the idea. Despite my many past reservations on organic beer and honey beer, I felt that an experiment was in order. So I'm taking advantage of a brief cease in the hostilities of the June weather to write a post from here in the lavish grounds of Beer Nut Towers where I am joined by a bottle of Honey Dew and two glasses: one with ice and lime, and one not. The aim is to determine whether Fuller's are onto something with this, or whether they're just running out of marketing ideas.

Against my better judgement I'll try the ice-and-slice one first... It could be that I overdid the ice, but I'm not getting very much by way of flavour at all -- just wateryness and fizz. There's a vaguely beery hint somewhere in the background, but no honey and no notes to even indicate what style of beer this is. Refreshing, yes. In the way a glass of iced mineral water is refreshing.

The raw product, then... OK, so there wasn't much flavour to start with. This has to be one of the blandest ales I've ever encountered. Sharply fizzy and very much dry rather than sweet. At the end there's a sort of beeswax stickiness, but nothing like the honey-in-your-face of St. Peter's Honey Ale, for example. It's getting better and sweeter as it warms, but too little too late.

Perhaps the point of the lime was to impart some kind of flavour. We'll never know.
I doubt if I'll be buying any more Honey Dew and I very much doubt that I'll be flinging fruit and frozen water into any other beers (unless instructed to by the marketing department of a large brewery, of course, and only then in the interests of scientific reportage).

This is The Beer Nut, adulterating my beer as per the brewers' instructions, so you don't have to.

23 June 2007

Getting German with it

I've been writing a lot recently on Irish, English and American beers, so I thought it's time I went back to basics: random selections from the shelves of Redmond's. Today, feeling the need for things vaguely lager-ish, my first selection was Hacker-Pschorr Braumeister Pils. My only prior experience of this Bavarian behemoth is their Oktoberfestbier. This one is as smooth as one would expect from a Munich lager but carries an uncharacteristically hefty hoppy bitterness which I found a bit off-putting. I suppose when you're making lager that's as smooth as science will allow, you have to go somewhere with it. Between two stools, this one, I think.

From the same stable, in a wonderful swing-top bottle, comes Sternweisse: a dark weissbier, attempting perhaps to emulate the likes of Schneider Weisse. It lacks the oomph, though: the spice and heat of the mighty Schneider. This one doesn't do enough to keep my attention.

Getting darker, we have Erdinger Schneeweisse, a deliciously full-flavoured variation on the standard German weiss. Scheeweisse is only slightly darker in colour than normal Erdinger but drops the fruit in favour of no-nonsense grain. It's Erdinger for men.

Away from Germany, I couldn't resist picking up a bottle of a beer I've been seeing in Redmond's for more years than I care to remember: Poperings Hommel Beer (AKA Poperings Hommel Ale). This hails from the Belgian town of Watou and is a heavily sedimented golden beer. It's not lager and not what I'd call an ale. It's closest in my mind to a spicy witbier, but it's not one of those either. There's a delicate, warming hops flavour and skeins of yeasty sediment floating through it. It tastes rich, heavy and satisfying. I think I'll be coming back to this guy in the winter.

There's no doubting that German beer is great and deserving of its reputation. But it's very much a case of doing a handful of things and doing them well: I'm just glad there are other countries out there doing strange stuff with exotic ingredients. Long live German purity, and let weirdness thrive.

13 June 2007

It's all about paint

As a seasoned connoisseur, I know that the way to tell a really good beer from the dross is to check for a painted-on label rather than one simply glued to the glass. US brewer Rogue's big painted bottles indicate that they make very fine produce indeed.

Dead Guy Ale is a seriously heavy, sticky red-gold brew with touches of spice in amongst the caramel and toffee. There's a certain hollowness to it which I feel would have been best filled with more hops. But what do I know? It won't be going on my regular rotation (Inasmuch as I have one).

Similarly dense is Rogue Chocolate Stout, deep black with a head like espresso crema. The chocolate is laid on thick, with only the faintest vestige of a dry stout left in the background. The end result is a wonderfully smooth, rich beer, not at all cloying and with a satisfyingly silky mouthfeel. It's one for taking big gulps of and, with the 65cl bottle, you can do it again and again.

Actually, now that I think of it, Doreleï has a painted-on label and isn't great. So much for my grand theory...