Freitag, 23. Juni 2017

Life is too short to drink bad beer - StFeuillien Belgian Coast IPA


Belgian Coast IPA

My best guess is that this beer (or very similar) was previously brewed by a collaboration between St.Feuillien and American brewery Green Flash. My feeling is that at some point Belgians have decided that they can IPA themselves. So, they did it…wrong.

This time it is important to start from the content. Belgian Coast IPA was hopped with: Brewer’s Gold, Magnum, Fuggles, Nortern Brewer, Mosaic, Citra and Cascade.

Yes, 7 various types of hops!

On top, it was apparently dry hopped (even if it is not clear which hops were used when).  
I will try to start from the positive side – finally a bitter Belgian beer from one of the traditional breweries. A proof that even Belgian Brewing is not able to fully kill a combined power of 7 hops.

So much on the positive side. Rest is rather poor – Belgian Coast is very poor in aroma and taste. If fact, I am surprised that you can completely kill all the aromas coming from American hops. Congratulations to StFeuillien’s brewers. It is an achievement. Respect.

Btw. It is not impossible to try a good American hops aroma in the Belgian classic. Just go for Duvel Triple Hop series.

With all that said – we are coming to a cardinal crime of the Belgian Coast IPA. And whoever had this idea should be ashamed till the end of this person’s life.
They have put it in GREEN bottles.

For some precision – most of the hop-related bitterness comes from the alpha amino acids. This is proven that they are sensitive to light. The effects of UV on green bottled beers are professionally described as “light-struck”. Less friendly depicted as a SKUNK. It the “pleasant” aroma that you get when you open Beck’s beer. 
Now imagine: if UV can do the skunk in the rather light hopped Pils, what happens if you UV a heavy hopped IPA?

Within an hour from opening Belgian Coast in my garden I was visited by military, police and a local health agency. Apparently, neighbors claimed that I am producing chemical weapons here. That said, next neighbor lives at least 20 meters apart.

I strongly believe that green bottles are partially responsible for the lack of aromas. They probably just screwed the hops.
This or that way, at least the bottled version of the Belgian Coast is bad beer and you should stay away from it.

Donnerstag, 15. Juni 2017

Can a celebrity chef brew? Jamie’s Italian Libertà.

Jamie’s Italian Libertà

Lager style

Bottle from Jamie’s Italian Greenwitch UK

Jamie Oliver has a special space in my heart. We have once prepared asparagus with oranges per his recipe, and this was the first time in my life I liked asparagus.
A Point for Jamie.
However, now, thanks to my wife and friends I have learned that Jamie has become a brewer. Why not, brewing is a kind of cooking and I haven’t seen anything wrong in it.
Bit sadly, the beer is brewed by Freedom brewery in the UK, and there is no information about Jamie’s involvement in the process.
Libertà pours nice, golden with small head. Aroma is rather mildly intensive and hard to define (maybe bit of sweet and cereal). First sip and…
It is clearly sweet. Not much, but clearly sweet, possibly honey… Honey and cereal aroma, medium carbonation. Brewery obviously saved on hops and the bitterness is very hard to detect. All together this is very drinkable beer, even if clearly not a world class one.
Now for the explanation – I rarely read the label of the beer before tasting. I don’t like to be biased. It is much more interesting to smell and taste first and read the label later.
So, I read the label and relaxed a bit. The beer is indeed brewed with an addition of acacia honey. This explains a lot.
After all that I have mixed feelings.
I was hoping on Jamie doing a beer – not clear if it is there.
I was hoping for a beer that would be a bit out of the box (like Jamie’s kitchen) – this is there.

Dienstag, 13. Juni 2017

Leuven Innovation Beer Festival 2017 (Part 2)

Leuven Innovation Beer Festival 2017 (Part 2)

Festival set:

Tasting glass.
Bracelet (Ticket)
Water and Tokens already gone...

Coffee Dark Lager
Brevonov Monastery Brewery (Czech Republic)

Not sure what to tell about it. Problem is that coffee has killed the beer. The effect is like you would dilute a coffee with slightly sparkling water. No matter how I try, I am not able to find any beer here. No malt, no hops, slightly carbonated watery coffee. Horrible.

Amburana Barley Wine
Way Beer (Brazil)

Smells a bit odd, spicy, fruits and maybe anise. Taste is close to wine, bit sweet maybe honey, dry plum. Low carbonation, thick texture. Bit odd, not close to any barley wine I know but very positive. If you like original things, it is worth trying.

Meantime (UK)

A beer brewed with a hibiscus tea addition. Bright pink, with pinky-hibiscus head. Sour, herbal and spice., very light but no watery, light body and low carbonation. Only blunt acidic finish is a bit disappointing, overall a wonderful summer beer.

Barley (Italy)

Believed to be barley wine. Almost black with a cream-colored head. Aroma rather flat, very delicate and not appealing. Taste is the same, bit grape, bit dark malts some small chocolate hints. Overall, way too flat and not enough interesting to be a great barley wine. 

Barrel Aged Hickory Stout
Scratch Brewing Company (USA)

That is one piece of the art here. Imperial stout aged in hickory barrels. I admit that the word hickory was new for me, therefore an info from Wikipedia:

Hickories are deciduous trees with pinnately compound leaves and large nuts…” 

So basically, a far cousin of the walnut. Another new taste to add to the top 10 list. Aroma is vanilla, bit roast, maybe caramel and a bit alcohol. Medium body and soft, delicate carbonation. Flavor is marshmallow, roast and what I believe is hickory. Incredible, spicy, a bit like the effect you obtain when adding the leaves of walnut to a meal. Amazing stuff. 

Tempel Brygghus (Sweden)

Let’s go the whole hog. I am quite sure the brewers of Tepmel Brygghius had this idea in the morning, therefore they have created the PIMP. It is not an ordinary Imperial Stout. No, this one has been brewed with Kalaspuffar, muscovado sugar and molasses added through the boil.

I had 3 questions:
1. WTF is Kalaspuffar?
2. Is muscovado sugar another invention of Elon Musk??
3. Why would you add all this in your beer?

The answers are:
1. Kalaspuffar is a cereal style, popular in Sweden. Basically a honey-flavored breakfast cereal made from wheat. In UK known as Honey Monster Puffs.
2. Muscovado sugar is unrefined cane sugar. Most of it originates from Mauritius.
    Mr. Musk is free of any charges here.
3. Because we can!

Pimp is dark brown with a small brown head. Aroma and taste of chocolate malts, honey, dark bread, cocoa. Tiny sweet and malty taste. Soft mouthfeel, bitterness comes out after third fourth sip. Very delicate though not a high IBU. Overall effect kicks ass and. After finishing tis post I will probably forget the name of Kalaspuffar instantly, but PIMP will always be this beer.

Brouverij de Leite (Belgium)

Smoked triple. Smoked notes, bit sour, going in the direction of filles, but a tad waterier. Not too intense, but incredibly drinkable. Bit plums, and sour fruits, maybe redcurrant. One time brew extra for the festival. Positively weird.

Happy Hoppy Viking 
Hornbeer (Denmark)

It is good to know that also Vikings love hops. If I meet any on the way, I would try to “hop” them to make them happy.


The beer could be presented in any beer-brewing class as a typical West-Coast IPA. Fully loaded with American hops, bitter enough to make every beer geek happy. Grassy floral in aroma and taste. Overall, very solid example. Good to remember I you are in Denmark and have a problem with choosing a beer. This is your fail-safe option.

Lobotomy Dextral BA Brandy
(Лоботомия Правосторонняя)

AF Brew (Russia)

As the name, Russian Imperial Stout clearly states, these beers originate in the UK. But, these were Russians who apparently loved this style, so the at the end the beer got the name. If they loved it, there is a fair chance that a Russians will know how to make a solid RIS.  AF Brew is the only Russian brewery invited to LIBF2017. Even more important for me – it is the first Russian craft brewer I met.

And the first contact is very positive, because their barrel aged RIS is just brilliant. It is the whole load of plum in the rich, thick body. Slight notes of smoking, caramel. Strong but not alcoholic. Bit bitter after third sip. And the amazing barrel-aged, tickling feeling on the tongue. Clearly landing in my personal TOP10 of the best beers ever.

Weird Beard (UK)
New interpretation of classical dark beer. Jet black, huge white-beige head. Aroma slightly roasted malt, bit fruits but mostly herbal hops. Taste is the same, but hops are even more dominant an it is good. Not too bitter, very refreshing and very drinkable. Great example of a fact that craft is not only for beer geeks. A beer for everybody. 

Experimental RBKM 1.0
Art Cervesers (Spain)

It is supposed to be experimental rice saison. Not sure what is experimental here. Rice gives the overall feeling of smoothness and makes the beer a tad more delicate, probably adding some balance to Belgian hops. Overall not too bad, but not my primary choice.

Clearly the end of LIBF2017 for me. Interesting observation is that the vast majority of the beers I liked are dark and strong, complex creations. Worth to see how this develops.

Dienstag, 6. Juni 2017

Leuven Innovation Beer Festival 2017 (Part 1)

Leuven Innovation Beer Festival 2017 (Part 1)

Before I continue with KBW and its beer I need to give you an introduction to the event I have visited just 2 days ago.
Leuven Innovation Festival 2017.
Just another beer festival you could say. But two things are unusual there – the place and the invited breweries.
The place is very special – it is De Hoorn. Traditional Belgian brewery that in the early XVIII century was bought by a brewer called Sebastien Artois (does it ring a bell?). The brewery has issued its special Christmas beer in 1726 and named it after the Christmas star.
Yep, we are in the place of birth of Stella Artois. Even I nowadays Stella is manufactured in the humongous factory just 500 meter down the street. It is worth to remember that its origins were based on a small company and closer to craft.

And the view is breathtaking. I have seen a few breweries in my life, but De Horn leaves them all in the dust. Humongous brewing tanks placed over 2 levels of the building are not something that you see every day. If you add the post-industrial climate of the whole thing that I simply love – it is clearly a view that I will never forget.

This is what you see when you enter.

Close caption.

Prisma really allows to squeeze the max out of the location. 

The building allows you to go almost whenever you want, therefore I could see how the tanks look from the bottom. With the use of lights, it is an amazing view.

They even have a bar in the basement, selling Stella. For the time of the festival it looked closed…
On top, of the location – there is one thing that got my attention. For the first time since I am visiting Belgian beer festivals – there is a Polish brewery invited. I am not trying to say it has never happened before, but I have been on 10+ festivals in the last 1.5 years and have never seen one.
For me, this is a clear sign, that, finally, even Belgians start to recognize the power of the Polish craft scene. This is very important, because Belgium is still seen in the world as the land of the beer innovation and getting attention here may be a good start for the rest of the world. Even if attention of on-line community (based on the RateBeer awards) is already there, it is good to change it to the real-life presence.

Polish Brewery invited to Leuven is Pracownia Piwa (, relatively small brewery from Modlniczka close to Krakow. Considering the fact that Pracownia Piwa have brought a variety of beer styles starting with sour and fruit ales, through IPA and finishing with specialties like gratzer and imperial stout, I strongly believe that they have made an impression in Leuven. Also, the feedback from the brewers was positive (even if they had to accept that locals have some serious problems with proper writing polish names – see the photo below).

Here, I screwed the photo. Luckily Pracownia Piwa allowed me to use their own.

 I have decided to go for the imperial stout with the appealing name “Sweet Dreams”. And they are rather sweet – chocolate, coffee liquor and some fruity notes (orange? plum?). Taste is very similar, bitter coco, some coffee, slight roast and clear praline. Good thing is that the alcohol does not come out at all. In connection with a very low carbonation, this is a perfect beer to enjoy not just drink. Good job and great representation of Polish craft.


Samstag, 3. Juni 2017

Krakow BeerWeek 03 Part 3: Food Fotostory

Krakow BeerWeek 03
Part 3: 
Food Fotostory

I have just realized that I have made one important mistake when comparing KBW and Belgian beer festivals. I have forgotten about food. In case of Belgium, food on the festival is mostly a joke - strange choice and outrageously overpriced. On contrary, KBW offered a broad variety of food including pizza, burger, Mexican, Belgian fries, various sausages, chicken wings and more. Even rather weird things like frog legs were there. All this priced moderately.
I do not dare to say that I will be able to describe all the foods properly, therefore below is the photo show with some comments.

Wurst z Karry (Sausage with curry) truck, next to the Burger Ratunkowy (emergency burger).

Now it should be clear, why do they call themselves: Burger Ratunkowy (emergency burger).


One of the Burger Ratunkowy creations. Bigger that a grapefruit, solid chunk of meat. €5.5…

Curry point and a truck carrying a sophisticated name Mieso (Meat). Clearly not for vegetarians.

Panczo offering a variety of Mexican food including really spicy creations (see below)


This one clearly deserves a bit more space. In between all the burgers, chicken and all the other usual things, Walenty Kania was offering something unusual. Snails – he has them, frog legs in. Or maybe grilled bull’s balls? Lovely. In comparison, some food like Bogracz (Hungarian gulash) or solijanka were almost regular. Which does not mean that they were less tasty and good. The name of the truck Kuchnia dla Odwaznych (Cuisine for the braves) is its program. 

Maestro just before serving one of his creations and signing a book for my wife.

Yes, it is cooked on real fire.


Not exactly a food truck, but I simply had to mention that. This guys have decided to come with a coffee truck to a beer festival. It may be a sign of bravery of desperation. Independent of which one is right, still, a coffe truck on the beer festival is like putting a beef burger stand during the vegan parade.

Seeing them on the first day, I have decided that I will take a picture when I see anybody buying a coffee there. To be honest. I have a picture, taken in the evening of the day 3. I solely hope for those guys that this was not the only client during 3 days.#

To be continued in a mega-giga post with containing the rest of the beers…

Freitag, 2. Juni 2017

Krakow BeerWeek 03 Part 2: Ambiente and first beers

Krakow BeerWeek 03
Part 2: 
Ambiente and first beers

I probably should start with the name, since this was the first question I got on Facebook. 
"Whole week there?"
Nope just 3 days. Based on a suggestion of my brother 4 days for a hangover and let’s call it a week.

Krakow BeerWeek (KBW) takes place in Krakow. One of the most beautiful cities in Poland and an aim for tourists from the whole world. This year’s edition was a third one and was held after a break. BeerWeek 03 is the first festival I have seen to take place at football stadium.
Yes, football stadium.

OK, the festival stands were placed on the meadow around the stadium and in the foyer.

Shortly after opening. It is almost empty and some food tracks are still closed. 

First day of the festival was definitely the best time to do the photos. Later on the crowd was overwhelming.

Worth noticing is the fact that the organizers have allowed an entry to the part of the stadium tribunes. Very interesting experience.

Siting in the sun, having a beer with my bro and NOT watching football. Priceless.

What I appreciated is that the whole area of the festival was closed. Security at the gate checking your backpacks and bigger handbags. This is something that I liked. Call me paranoid, but nowadays you cannot be careful too much.

What I also liked was the access to the food. Here KBW have beaten everything I have seen before. Probably a dozen of the food trucks that would serve everything from pizza, burgers, fries, tacos to more crazy things including bull’s cojones (yes, no type-o here). There will be separate photos story about the food.

Enough talking, let’s start drinking. Here one note – I have decided to concentrate on the breweries that I don’t know myself. Second priority were the beers that have been brewed extra for the festival.

Other comment is that I am giving the names of the breweries and beers as they are. No jokes, this really is Polish language. Still if you visit Poland you will have no problem with finding somebody who speaks English, German or French. 

To be proper I must start with the official beer of the festival. Brewed by the organizers in a collaboration with a multi-tap bar.

Brokreacja Weźże Piwo
American Fruit Wheat with pineapple

Now this beer must be a reason why nobody was selling water here. Even if it has all the basic characteristics of its style including a mix of sour-sweet-hops and a pineapple aroma and taste it is clearly too diluted. Wonderful replacement for the missing water (and clearly great thirst quencher).Not the best beer I have ever tried but OK.

Szczyrzycki Browar Cystersów Gryf – Klasztorna IPA


Yes, in Poland we may not have the Trappist monks but we have enough monasteries and they have their own breweries. This one belongs to Cistercian Order and its history started in 1628. After renovation, Gryf has concentrated mostly on the classic beer styles based on traditional recipes, but nowadays they have dared to try a modern craft beer styles as well. 

Klasztorna IPA (Monastery IPA) is such an example and a good one. Seriously, there is nothing to complain. 
Klasztorna - IPA is aromatic, slightly bitter and nice carbonated. An excellent starter and a great case of new wave beer directed to a broader publicity. Very nice. 

Brokreacja The Cop
American Pilsner

Shown for the first time at the KBW. Perfectly fit in the style. Golden with large head. Long lasting aroma of grass and tropical fruits. Grainy and citrusy in taste, finished with hoppy bitterens. Light body, medium carbonation. Drinkable and refreshing. Well done.

Browar Twigg – Life On Mars
New England IPA

Did I ever mention that I am not a big fan of the New England IPAs? No? Well, OK. I am not a big fan of New England IPAs. The life on Mars is not going to change that. Something is wrong here. Not enough aromatic to be nice, not enough hops to be bitter. On the other hand, I cannot say that it is watery. Maybe it is the problem with the style but I simply don’t like it.

Browar Twigg – Apollo 11
Pear Sour Ale

And ready to take off. The only one problem I had with this sour ale was the fact that the pear was a bit artificial. Maybe it’s the combo of sourness and not very sour fruit like pear. Don’t know but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

Browar Widawa – X-Brett IPA BA

First beer with a potential for greatness. Brett IPAs are rather rare case – here normally brewers decide on Bretanomyces yeast instead Saccharomyces. Being wild yeast they will produce ester aromas that often go in the tropical fruits aroma. Therefore, adding them to American hops is brilliant. On top this beer was barrel aged for 6 months. And the effect kicks ass. Aroma is sweet to sour, light hoppy. First sip is light sour going into sweet and hoppy. It is not a geek-crazy-IBU full, but it clearly is something above the regular level. On top, barrel aging has provided a thick texture to the beer. I have spent 5 minutes enjoying the view of the CO2 bubbles appearing in the thick body of the beer after every move I have made with the glass. Really something great.

To be continued in Part 03...