A handful of beers from the cutting edge of English brewing today, arriving courtesy of Richard.
I'd never heard of Ellenberg's Brewery before, a short lived London-based operation that suspended production back in the spring. They made a dark smoky wheat beer which they called Ellenberg's Brewery Dark Smoky Wheat Beer, 6.5% ABV and claiming authentic German stylings.
It's an unattractive murky brown, but then weissbier is gonna murk. I really liked the aroma, all warming bacon and peaty phenols: thoroughly cosy and comforting. The flavour is a very clean slice of well-smoked ham, the meatiness accentuated by the full mouthfeel. For weissbier fruit esters you have to add the lees at the bottom of the bottle, and even then the smoked flavours are still very much in control. It's good that they don't wrestle the esters for dominance, a factor that I think spoils Schlenkerla's Weizen. Overall, this is a beer I enjoyed spending time with and I hope it will return to production at some stage.
The first thing that struck me is the heat. This beer makes no effort whatsoever to hide its strength, and just as you get used to the boozy vapours you get hit with sharp, punchy Jif Lemon, finishing on an almost burning acidity. But it's one of those super-intense beers you get used to after a couple of sips. The busy flavours calm down and mellow out. I was expecting it to get sickly and undrinkable, y'know, like limoncello does, but instead it settles into a fluffy, mouth-watering lemon merangue pie sort of effect, which meant it was possible to drink a lot more of it than I thought I could. Someone else can answer the question of where the Citra and Sorachi Ace hops stop and the actual lemon zest begins -- I really couldn't see the join.
The aroma doesn't set it off to a good start, being rather dry and stale, like old cold coffee. Plenty of dry coffee roastedness in the flavour too, but here it fights it out with an intense sugary mocha sweetness which builds to saccharine and latterly turns unpleasantly metallic. Its texture is as full as you might expect and the end result is more like chewing coffee grounds than drinking a beer. Aside from the added coffee there is little other flavour complexity and none of what makes imperial stout such a great style. While Siren's Limoncello could be regarded as a poster child for adding odd things to beer, Padrino is more of a warning notice.
Still, it's better than being boring.
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