12 October 2012

Comic book villains

We come to the end of our Borefts round-up and I've saved the best for second-last. I don't think I'd ever encountered beer from Denmark's Evil Twin before but they had prime position at the windmill and a short list of beers in quantities small enough to generate a lot of traffic from the hardcore geeks. But there was much more to them than cheap marketing gimmickry.

I started with the Danbic lambic brewed with gooseberry, adding a new fruit to my collection of things people flavour lambics with. It's also been given some time in a red wine barrel but there's not much trace of that in the taste, just a hint of vanilla on the finish. It's quite a heavy and earthy beer, light cloudy brown in colour and with an intense and almost burning tartness. Can't say I tasted much gooseberry. There was a similar lack of fruit in the blueberried Justin Blabaer (thanks to Chris_O for the taster) and it also came up short in the sourness department.

Things were much better when it came to Evil Twin's stouts. The unfortunately-named Soft Dookie mixed a gorgeous heady roastiness with a dry cocoa powder flavour. Then there was the controversial Christmas Eve In A New York City Hotel Room, ostensibly an imperial stout aged in whiskey barrels acquired from De Molen. But there was nothing second-hand about the whiskey flavour: it tasted massively spirituous, and sweet too, like an Irish coffee with the whiskey and coffee proportions reversed. I really enjoyed it, though, despite its total lack of subtlety. However, my beer of the festival was the other imperial stout Hey Zeus!. 12% ABV and incredibly viscous it completely lacks any dry roast or bitterness, going for sweet in a big way with dark chocolate and alcohol giving almost a cherry liqueur effect. And just as that settles down, along comes a huge bang of fresh green chilli pepper, complementing the chocolate, scorching the throat, warming the belly and endorphinating the brain. Full spectrum dominance.

What better to follow a couple of imperial stouts than a couple of double IPAs? Molotov Fruit Cocktail was the charming name: 13% ABV, deep orange in colour and quite headless. It's another viscous one and the haze hung in gelatinous suspension in my glass from the end of the keg. It's neither as boozy nor as bitter as the vital statistics might suggest, showing instead some big boiled orange barley sweets in the taste. Not terribly complex but I liked it nonetheless. Having thrown it back I went straight for the brother, Molotov Spicy Cocktail: the same beer only with jalapenos added to the keg. It's amazing the difference made by this late addition. Gone is the orange sugariness and in its place a tinny pepper aroma and a fantastic throat-catching chilli burn with that peculiar sourness you get from jalapenos. For all the heated craziness I think it's actually more balanced than the highly sweet plain version.

And that just leaves one brewery unaccounted for, the only non-European at the festival: Jester King from Texas. They were serving a mixed bunch of keg and large-format bottles in the front room of the De Molen windmill. My first scoop was Buddha's Brew, a cloudy yellowish green ale brewed, apparently, with kombucha. It's dry and wheaty, kind of like a Berliner Weisse with an interesting appley complexity. Not sock-knocking-off stuff, but very tasty. Much was promised from Gotlandsdricka, a vaguely saisonish pale beer which the festival programme bills as "birch-smoked malt, juniper, sweet gale and rye". But I found none of these within, at least not individually: I suspect they may just get blended together and the end result is a vaguley spicy witbier-a-like. Everyone else I spoke to found it smoky but I just couldn't detect it myself.

Keeping it saisonal, there was also Das Überkind. Here we're promised "funk and tartness" and we get it, in a big big way. A little wood and a little vinegar give this pale 6.5% ABV blonde a majorly delicious puckering tang. Meanwhile Wytchmaker was one of the few rye beers I've enjoyed: a 7.3% ABV IPA with a powerful forest floor aroma of earth and pine. It's sharply grassy and funky at first but then the hops take over turning it sweet, orangey and making it altogether more approachable.

And then the dark beers doing their own things: Weasel Rodeo a very drinkable oatmeal stout with big espresso and café creme flavours. The picture of innocence at 10.1% ABV. Barrel-aged Funk Metal offers something totally different: here the coffee melds with sour lambicky brett notes making for an invigorating late-night sipper that's totally resistant to palate fatigue.

Not that we stayed too late on the final Saturday. As the taps began to run dry all over we called it quits at nine-ish. It really is a very civilised affair at Borefts. And still highly recommended.