The European Beer Consumers' Union has, among its objectives, the support and promotion of the traditional beer styles of its member nations (an easy one for Ireland, that, since we don't have any of our own). So when we were very kindly invited to a tasting and rating event in Liverpool's Lady of Man on Friday night I was expecting some fairly orthodox beers from the Dutch, Danish, Swiss, Swedish etc attendees. Turns out I was wrong.
Well, mostly. The locals had given us bitter because, as I mentioned in my last post, you can't have too much of a good thing. First out of the polypin was King John which promised lots with its strong roasty aromatics, but proved a bit of a let-down by not following through on taste and being too thin of body. Skeleton was next, a simple yellow bitter with not much going on in it. George Wright's Pipe Dream almost follows it into the dullness trap, but had just enough hop aroma and bite to make it worthwhile.
The newest brewery in town, Liverpool Organic, sent along two bottled ales: William Roscoe is a strangely milky/lactic pale brown ale which I rather enjoyed, not least for its full and smooth body. My only IPA of the trip was called Shipwreck, and though Séan didn't approve, its orangey hop character made for a moreish beer which really struck a chord with me.
Beer always looks more interesting in someone else's table, and I gazed enviously at the bottles from Cantillon and De Molen being circulated elsewhere in the room. With my bitter-rating duties complete, I went on a raid to see what dregs could be gleaned. Laurent was very keen to show off his Swiss-made Irish red Rivale -- a vaguely caramelly, totally unhoppy ale which is characterless enough to blend in with the real thing, though not a bad palate-cleanser between the more involved brews.
It should probably go without saying that the Nordics really pulled out the stops for this, bunch of show-offs that they are. From Finland's Malmgård brewery we had a marvellously chocolatey strong dark and funky ale called Ceci N'est Pas Une Belge, a name which had this Magritte fan chuckling. Denmark's Hornbeer was represented by Caribbean Rumstout, a not-so-subtle concoction of serious chocolate and coffee notes in a hefty 11% ABV body, yet balanced enough to not let the phenols drown out everything else. Yummy stuff, but possibly one to finish the evening on.
Not that we did...
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