28 November 2017


As part of the prize-package for the BrewDog Beer Geek Awards, I was booked into two masterclasses at the Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival. The first one was already under way when we arrived on Thursday afternoon, which meant interrupting Logan Plant when he had begun explaining the Beavertown story to the class. Sorry Logan!

The beers on offer for tasting included Dead & Berried, a collaboration with Other Half, in a Kölsch style with added oats and raspberries. At 6.2% ABV and with a thick yogurty texture this manages to get a lot of raspberry flavour in without any of the customary tartness. The aroma is surprisingly hop forward, all green and spicy, though they're oddly absent from the flavour. It's quite enjoyable overall, if not exactly spectacular.

The same goes for the next one, Dame Melba Phantom, part of the Phantom Berliner weisse series, this one infused with peach and raspberry. The peach is present in the aroma, however the raspberries dominate the flavour, and this time they bring the tartness. The Berliner weisse sourness exists in it separately from the raspberry acidity, and the combination works quite well. That's about as complex as it gets, though it's probably for the good that it's not overly busy or trying too hard.

Friday's masterclass was from the Brewer's Association, hosted by their European ambassador Sylvia Kopp, and on the subject of matching American beer with European cheese. Phwoar!

The line-up began with a brewery which was new to me: Mill House from New York. The beer, with a dubiously punny name, was Köld One. It's a wan yellow colour and quite grainy, so very much in keeping with its purported German style, at least to begin with. There is a stronger than usual bitterness, however, and a sharp fizz in contrast to the softness of Cologne's better Kölsches. I even got a hint of pear drop acetone late on. First impressions were good but I think the brewers may have been a little overambitious with this recipe. It's not as clean as it needs to be.

To the federal capital next, and DC Brau Oktoberfest. I'm always on guard when it comes to American Oktoberfestbier as they have a tendency to be too dark, harsh and sticky. And this is exactly that: an orange-amber colour with a headache-inducing marker-pen aroma. The flavour is fairly clean, even though the toasty-roasty quality is overdone. It's still too sweet however, more like a sticky sickly bock than a Märzen. I couldn't imagine drinking more than a sample, which is really missing the point.

The next one was a surprise. I didn't know that Victory made a sour version of their Golden Monkey tripel, but here was Sour Monkey, with Brettanomyces and everything. It brings the noise right from the get-go with a pungent aroma of funk and vinegar. I might have expected the bugs and Brett to have chomped through the sugary tripel sweetness, but that's still there and enhanced with a riot of saltpetre spicing: warm peach and apricot infused with cap-gun smoke. There's more than a hint of genuine lambic about the whole package; it's certainly flamingly sour enough. The overall loudness is distinctly American, however. This beer is crazy but quite quite beautiful.

The last one of the session which was new to me was False Summit, a Bourbon-aged quadrupel f