15 November 2017

English spoken here

My third entry from Borefts 2017 concerns the breweries from the English speaking countries: England, Scotland, Ireland and the USA. Not that the beers had anything particular in common but I need to put some sort of order on this, however arbitrary.

It was Cloudwater's first outing to the festival and I expected them to be mobbed, in accordance with their current status at the top of the hype heap in British brewing. And yes there were queues but not really as big as I anticipated, given the size of the event and the profile of the clientele. On a mission to have a beer from every brewer exhibiting, I took my one from Cloudwater early on day two.

NW DIPA Galaxy was the beer in question, 9% ABV, murky of course, and smelling strongly of orange marmalade shred. The flavour is a mix of orange pith and spring onion -- quite harsh and acidic, though offset somewhat by the creamy texture. A faint burr of cardboard creeps in at the end. It's certainly big flavoured, and it hides the alcohol well, but there's a lack of finesse here, a certain roughness crying out to be polished. I wasn't getting back in line for another.

One stand to the right, and attracting almost as much attention, was our own Galway Bay Brewery. Their flower power festival special didn't involve hibiscus for once: Saison Phi was brewed with chamomile, fennel and rose petals. There's not much of the novelty about it, however. Instead you get a rock-solid classic saison, opening with juicy honeydew melon and then turning drier for a poppyseed savoury note, in addition to Belgian yeast spices. All done at just 5% ABV too. Pure quality, no messing.

Also playing the Greek letter game were Brew By Numbers who have a pilot series designated by π. π|10 was pouring here, a pear and ginger saison. I'm unconvinced about pear as a beer flavouring addition: it rarely seems to impart much. This one manages it, however, with a genuine juicy ripe pear sweetness balanced with a kick of fresh ginger. Beneath this is another rock-solid saison, bigger than Galway Bay's at 6% ABV and with a serious farmyard funk. Perhaps not much of a thirst-quencher but interesting, tasty, and not overwrought.

I also had a go of the Bermondsey brewery's coffee porter, 10|10. It's a dense black colour with a deep tan head, reflecting the ballsy 10% ABV. I was expecting something big and rounded but found it rather dry and quite acrid. There's lot of coffee in both the flavour and aroma, however it's all bitter burnt grounds instead of the lovely rich oils you get in better examples. A pass from me.

Weird Beard's strong stout was more enjoyable. They were alternating versions of Sadako imperial stout and it was the rum barrel one when I got to it. It certainly smells of dark rum though the flavour is more of a tiramisu, tempered but not dominated by dry roast. 9.5% ABV gives it a gut-sticking texture exuding belly-warming spirit vapours. Simplistic, perhaps, but it gets the job done.

Their festival special was also a stout, though only 4.2% ABV. Hippy Hating Hippie uses rose hips and cinnamon in the recipe and I had no idea what that would do. The end result is red-brown in colour and, amazingly, does not just taste of cinnamon. There's more of a black pepper quality, with just a faint floral sweetness behind. It is a little thin, but at a forgivable level as it's nicely easy drinking. Refreshing after a round of booze bombs.

Speaking of which, two heavyweight brand extensions from Beavertown next, starting with Lord Smog Almighty on the right, based on their Smog Rocket porter, barrel aged and raised to 12.7% ABV. Putting a heavily smoked beer into an Ardbeg barrel wasn't a great idea. It's insanely phenolic, TCP-laden, like Laphroaig on steroids. Too much hospital disinfectant and not enough beer here.

And if that's too light, there was also Heavy Lord, a blend of their Heavy Water imperial stout and the legendary Three Floyds Dark Lord. 14.5% ABV, so probably one to finish your session on. The flavour is pure dark chocolate: slabs of the stuff, dry and bitter. A gentler black cherry fruit helps lighten the mood and overall it's quite a charming package and far from extreme. I don't know that it's better than the sum of its parts though I liked it a lot.

Flying the flag for Scotland was Tempest whom I almost missed but I grabbed a quick glass of Bourbon Mexicake as I was finishing up. This 11.6% ABV imperial stout does exactly what the name suggests: a dry chilli burn, some sweeter cinnamon and all the sweet cake richness of a moist chocolate muffin. The bourbon element was understated but I was happy it didn't get in the way of everything else.

Borefts fixture Hair of the Dog brings this post to a close, starting with one of the core range: Blue Dot. The brewery calls it a double IPA though it's only 7% ABV. An unusual feature is the inclusion of rye in the recipe though I can't say I noticed its contribution. It has a similar sort of dense maltiness as the other strong beers from the brewery, and while the west coast hops add a spritzy jaffa foretaste, there's an earthy English quality to it as well. For a double IPA brewed in Oregon, it's remarkably balanced and mature tasting, low in bitterness and quite easy to drink.

I couldn't resist getting some Cherry Adam to go with it, a cherry-infused version of Hair of the Dog's old ale. It's blood red in colour and quite headless, smelling as syrupy as it looks. And obviously it's very heavy going; definitely a sipper at 13.5% ABV. It tasted most of all like chocolate sauce, with overtones of cherry liqueur and an edge of soy sauce autolysis. The umami-driven Samuel Adams Triple Bock sprung to mind, a beer I'm very fond of. This is similarly smooth and warming. I couldn't tell you which parts are deliberate and which, if any, were technical flaws; only that it made for damn fine drinking.

One more post from Borefts to go, this one featuring, erm, everyone else.

No comments:

Post a Comment