Donnerstag, 26. Januar 2017

MIŚ WOJTEK (Wojtek the Bear) - Red Ale with honey-macerated oak

Red ale with honey-macerated oak
Browar Wrężel, Poland

Story of Wojtek, per a Wikipedia:
Wojtek (Polish name) was a young bear adopted by Polish soldiers evacuated from the Soviet Union’s territory in 1942. He has not only become a pet-mascot of the Polish Corps, but was also very helpful in in transport and capable of moving the cases of ammunition. He was officially enlisted as soldier and has reached the rank of corporal. He has served during the Battle of Mote Cassino (Italy, 1944).
Hats off.
If you look deeply enough, Wojtek loved beer.
Therefore, I think that a good beer would be a worthy tribute to a brave bear. And if you add the fact that bears love honey – the option chosen by Wrężel seems almost perfect.

And everything fits. Nice aroma of honey, caramel and vanilla. Deep dark amber color. Low to medium carbonation. Clear honey-caramel in the taste, oak aroma is very delicate, just adding to a complexity of the flavor. Not very bitter, which makes it approachable to a broader publicity. Very interesting, very nice.

A worthy tribute, indeed.

Samstag, 21. Januar 2017

January 21 - Baltic Porter Day

Today, show some respect to the original Baltic Porter. One of the few traditional styles with its roots in Poland. 
Later in the day there will be some testing.

But for now - run to the beer shop you trust...

Or visit the facebook page for more info:

Freitag, 20. Januar 2017

Oak Aged Weizenbock from Camba


For a start, I believe that it is important to make sense out of complicated, name of this beer.

Camba - German beer lovers will know this Bavarian brewery. Beer lovers from outside should fill the gaps in the knowledge.

Oak Aged and Johanniskreuz are somehow together – Johanniskreuz is a series of wine barrels, made from the German oak and produced by Wilhelm Eder (feel free to correct me if I am wrong).

Bock is a strong lager beer, starting its history in Germany. Whereas lagers are pretty boring, bocks can be reasonably entertaining, even for more advanced beer lovers.

Still, I was expressing already my concern about putting the light types of beer in the barrels. Barrel aging is very serious process add the taste change should not be underestimated. Oak aging a lager is like oak aging tap water, can bock-type beer do better.

Yes and no.

No, because drinking this beer from Camba, you would never realize it’s a bock. There is nothing left from the taste of the beer. Like, nothing-nothing.
Yes, because the end effect is very interesting. In a positive way. Oak aging made the aroma and the taste to go in the direction of sour beer. Fresh, fruity (quince), pleasantly carbonated, so that it tickles the tongue. Very drinkable. Could be the first oak aged beer that I would suggest to drink on hot days.

Your overall perception of this beer is dependent on your expectations - if you look for a classical heavy, oak aged, complicated aroma beer. Well, it is not there.
If you can accept the fact that unexpected can be tasty and entertaining – go for the new Camba.

Donnerstag, 19. Januar 2017

Swerd i Fjell - Triple IPA from Lervig

Lervig (Sweden), Triple IPA

First of all, let me introduce to all the beer lovers a new craft beer shop/bar in Aachen -Hopfen + Malz (; but better info is provided on Facebook). They have a serious selection of craft beer from Germany and other countries (even if they haven’t found any German Barley Wine in stock). You can buy beer from the tap and drink it on site. You can also organize a close society party there and get a course on bee brewing.

No I didn’t get any money for that. I like the place.

Especially, that thy have their own Growler Station and you can take home any beer they have on tap. In very good shape.

Triple IPA from Lervig was such a take home message. A message in the bottle (very romantic).
Sverd i Fjell is very unusual beer. It is not the first Triple IPA I have ever had, but the first one that reminds me of something. In Heidelberg, there is Vetter brewery, famous of its ridiculously strong (Guiness world record 1994). When I was trying this beer, maybe 12 years ago, I didn’t like it. Not because it was strong, but because it was like drinking beer concentrate. Thick, almost oily and alcoholic.
Some of that applies to Sverd i Fjell. Beautiful amber in color, low carbonated, very nice aroma of citrus fruits; orange and some pine. In taste its mostly alcoholic with some heavy sweet tropical fruits and moderate bitter. But the most striking similarity to the German brew is this oily consistency, you can feel on your tongue when trying this beer. Not very bad, but unusual and awkward (some people found it disgusting).
If you can go over it, Sverd i Flell is not bad Triple IPA; even rather good, but far from putting you down on your knees.

After drinking this one – I was wondering about the beer style. The name Triple IPA is illogical to me. India pale Ale – IPA is a kind of “double” pale ale (or maybe Imperial version). Logically, TRIPLE IPA should be a 6x version of Pale Ale (use knife and fork to eat it). Looking on the alcohol and extract nothing points to a 6x stronger pale ale. Shouldn’t this beer be called Triple Pale Ale (TPA) instead?

Just correct me if I am wrong...

Freitag, 13. Januar 2017

Gollem's Swedish Beerweekend

Swedish Beer Weekend…

Swedish what?

I have dived deeply in the depths of my brain and started digging out the info about Sweden I have.

  • IKEA – yes, at least in Belgium they sell beer. If I remember it correctly, it is lager type piece of junk. OK, if they will serve the IKEA beer, it is over.
  • Food. I may not know any typical Swedish food, but I know Food Emperor and Regular Ordinary Swedish Time channels on you tube. First one swears in Polish, other boys are crazy like a fox. I have never tried to cook per their recipes (even if I would love to the axe thing), but they may prompt to a certain “craziness” of Swedes.
  • Systembolaget (try to pronounce this) – a government network of shops that sell alcohol. Regular shops are not allowed to sell anything above 3.5% of alcohol (stronger mineral water).
  • Vodka Absolut – must be one the biggest hits of the Swedish export
  • Beer… well call me ignorant, but, except for the point 1 I have never had a beer from Sweden before.

Time to change that. If there is craft beer enough to make an event around it, it is worth trying.

The trips took us to Antwerp, beautiful city in the north of Belgium. As I could find out Gollem is one of the local experts specialized in the craft beer and the events. Perfect localization – close to the main market of the town. Great atmosphere. No smoking inside. Reservation system online. A set of food, mostly burgers that fit the beer and pocket (of average Belgian, do not count on McDonalds prices). This all looks very good.
On contrary, the prices of the Swedish beer were outrageous. But, after a short check online I have realized that it’s very comparable to what the Swedes want their craft beers… 

List of the beers is very long.
Drawings on the blackboards may not be everybodys case, but I like them.

Still, they have served beer and have burgers so it OK. Seeing the information about Swedish beers served (especially alcohol content) I have decided to a mixed type of the event – 2 beers in the bar and 2 to take home (they were having a neat mix of tap and bottle/can event). From the perspective, this was a great choice (and the only one that allows you to keep a memory of the day).


Blueberry Cheesecake Stout

Omnipollo / Dugges (Sweden), Imperial Stout

Incredible beer, no doubt. Black, almost no head and the ass-kicking aroma of blueberries, vanilla and cheesecake. There is some alcohol on top, but not disturbing. But the taste, the taste is like drinking an intense cheesecake dissolved in dark, strong beer. Awesome. On the bad side – it has 12% of alcohol and you can feel it in some sips. Still it may well be the best aromatic stout I have ever had in my life. AMAZING stuff.

One comment Omnipollo is a gypsy brewery (if I get it correctly). So, for all criticizing this type of brewers – get an Anagram and shut up.

Noa Pecan Mud Cake

Omnipollo (Sweden), Imperial Stout

This beer looks great. With its pitch black body and amazing, stiff beige head is a wet dream of any dark beer lover. The aroma of pecan nuts and fudge is absolutely crazy. Minus points go to the taste. Pecans, fudge, vanilla and some roasted notes are clearly there, but this time the high alcohol content is not as well balanced as in the previous one. Alcohol comes in front and takes over most of the feeling. Still very good beer, but the previous ne was significantly better. 

Hip Hops #49

Beerbliotek (Sweden), IPA

Lightly, hazy orange IPA. Very grassy in aroma and taste. Clear tropical fruits. Combined with a rather medium bitterness and a bit too much carbonation this looks like a perfect interpretation of the IPA style for the younger people. Easy to drink, IPA enough. Still, there are a lot of better IPAs on the market. 

Tropic Thunder

Dugges (Sweden), Sour ale

Looks to me like people in Sweden are very extreme in many their tasks. Tropic Thunder as a name is appropriate to this one. A blast of mango, papaya and any tropical fruits you can imagine, connected with acceptable sour taste it’s one of the most refreshing beers I have ever had. If not the alcohol, this would be the best thing to satisfy the thirst on the summer days. Another great beer from Sweden. 

Dienstag, 10. Januar 2017

Brussels Artisanal Beer Festival, December 9

My experiences with the Capitol of Belgium and beer festivals are rather bad. Belgian Beer Weekend is one of the worst beer events I have ever seen. It is targeted to tourists and people that want to get wasted. Therefore, I wasn’t sure whether another beer festival in Brussels could save this city’s reputation.
Artisanal (Craft) Beer Festival sounded very attractive though. So, I have decided to see what is all about. This time I got some male support (thanks João for joining) and we made our steps to the place close to the Brussels Central Station. No, not to the Grand Place, in the other direction. In fact, I have never been there before. The festival part was carried on the small square and the street next to it was closed for the traffic. Nice. The event was carried in the spacy, army-like tents standing on a Place de la Liberte. Entry price OK. Fresh air priceless. Atmosphere outside great. Outside smokers – shame on you.
Two points that are interesting. As you could have realized, its winter. The wear was great. Not even a single drop of rain and warm outside. Well, it does not change the fact that it is getting dark after 5. When we got there, it was still greyish. An hour later there was pitch black, especially under tents. If you think that the organizers have turned on the light you are wrong. As one of them stated – well, we didn’t think we may need lights. Congratulations.

On the other hand, they have put multiple candles, therefore we could still get a beer without losing our eyes or teeth.

Second point – I have found this event on Facebook, and didn’t know what to expect. After seeing the beer collection and getting some additional information booklets I realize that the whole event was to promote Belgian Beer Box ( Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind. I would really appreciate if all promotion events are so natural, friendly and contain beer.

And there we go – the beer…

The Politician
Hof ten Dormaal (Belgium), Belgian Strong Ale

It is not my first contact with this brewery, and every time they tend to surprise me. Their beers are rather experimental than excellent, but always interesting to try. This time the surprise was that a Belgian brewery knows how to produce bitter beer. OK, not an IPA class, still on top of typical Belgian yeast and malt notes there is a clear hoppy finish. What may sound funny for majority of ale-lovers is a major achievement for Belgium. Thumbs up for that one.

Cerezas y Chocolate
Hof ten Dormaal (Belgium), Dark, sour chocolate beer

The brewer told us that the chocolate was added to the beer just for the time of souring – max two days. The effect is a nice sour beer, in fact even very nice with some slight notes of dark chocolate. Clearly some chocolate in, but if you expect the level of chocolate stouts you will be disappointed. Otherwise very interesting sour ale.

De Dochter van der Korenaar (Belgium), Stout

Another Belgian brewery that should be interesting for a broader publicity. Their IPA is one of the best Belgian IPAs (which does not mean a lot), but also on my private best of list (means much more for the IPA). Charcoal is very solid and proper stout, black like a coal, clear aromas of coffee and some chocolate, some smoked stuff as well. Very prototypic, classical stout. Very valuable, especially in a country that does not yet realized how to make good stouts.

Black Mamba
Brasserie Sainte Hélène (Belgium), Stout

Another interesting stout in the festival. This time is a bit too carbonated for my taste. But to balance that, it is hopped with Citra and Simcoe. Could have been better but citrus and grass aromas from hops save the day. Nice one.

Single Green Hop

De Plukker (Belgium), Belgian Ale

When describing this beer, I have told to my colleague that usually breweries will buy fresh hops directly from the field to do “fresh hop beer”. The brewer corrected me – the apparently have a hop field and will brew on top. This or that way the effects are quite decent. Nice citrus aroma, well balanced with malt. Some bitterness. Not bad.

Barbe d'Or

Brasserie Verhaeghe (Belgium), Belgian Strong Ale

Very average case of the Belgian strong ale. Malt rules the taste and the aroma. Some biscuits in the taste. Rather sweet moderately carbonated. Unspectacular.

Bitter XX

De Ranke (Belgium), Bitter

Belgian beer that is supposed to have over 60 IBU. Wow. Must be good. And in fact, is not bad at all. Decently bitter, well balanced with malt and yeasty. Some bread and honey. Since this beer is quite easy to get in many shops, I strongly suggest to buy one and try.