Why do you drink? asks Douglas, host of this month's session. For me, there are as many answers to that as there are beers, but the one I'm singling out for this post relates to one of the few things I enjoy more than drinking new beers and that's travel.
If I had my druthers I'd spend my life hopping from place to place, ticking off cities and countries as readily as I tick off their beers. But that's not an option. And if I can't go to the beer, the next best thing is for the beer to come to me. I do my level best to mix up the nationalities of the beers written about on this blog and include as many as possible from outside the usual Irish-British-American-Belgian quadrilateral. For all that international craft beer seems to have developed a common language -- a pale ale from New Zealand is often very like one from the US -- there's a lot to learn from the little differences. It's especially interesting to try a beer from a country where the market hasn't yet stabilised into the standard styles.
What comes out is a translucent pale amber beer with a distinct orangeyness in the aroma: mildly sherbety and sweet. It unravels a bit on tasting with a hulking great mass of diacetyl sitting greasily in the middle, exuding butterscotch and toffee and refusing to let the hop flavours past. It's not by any means unpleasant, but for a beer that strongly implies it's a hop bomb it doesn't seem to be what the brewer intended. A barely noticeable pithiness hangs around in the finish, a ghost of what could have been.
Worth travelling to Paris for? No, but there's a city whose beer scene seems to be exploding at the moment. I'm looking forward to the next in the Frog Hero Hops series, regardless of where I end up drinking it.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
2 weeks ago