Freitag, 23. Februar 2018

Ice distilled IPA blind test.

To celebrate first 500 followers on Instagram, I have decided to finalize the first blind test ever.

Very unique beer style – Ice Distilled IPA – to keep the long story short – take a good IPA and start freezing it. Water freezes faster than alcohol. Therefore, you can separate both phases easily. The trick is to not lose too much taste of beer in the process. At least in Europe, not many breweries decide to try, but I have managed to get 3 candidates:

From Poland:
Spółdzielczy Lodołamacz ( Ice distilled Imperial IPA. 11% of alcohol. Spółdzielczy belongs to my favorite breweries and I hope that they have done a good job here.

From the Netherlands:
Uiltje Old Enough to Drink ( ). Scary 21% of alcohol. Considered by me one of the best IPAs I have ever had.

From Scotland
Brewdog Hop Shot ( ). 22% of alcohol, West Coast IPA. I am very curious whether the godfathers of craft can redefine the ice distilled beer style.

Of course, I am aware that Lodołamacz alcohol content puts it in the different league than the other two beers, but I need to be pragmatic. Not like I can pick this kind of beers on the street.
Test is really blinded. All beers were cooled down to 14O Celsius and poured in glasses by my wife.

Let’s go


All three candidates are amber brown, #3 being a tad darker than the rest. #1 and #3 still try to for something like a head, #2 looks flat. There are no CO2 bubbles in none of the beers. In fact, I haven’t expected a lot.
#1 is quite positive surprise. Well preserved hops aroma – some tropical fruits, grass and citrusy notes. Resin and some alcohol.
#2 very strong alcohol aroma burning the nose, there are some leftovers of hop resin and malt, but in that case alcohol takes the most.
#3 balance of alcohol and fruity marmalade, caramel, pineapple. Alcohol is clear, but does not burn the nose like #2. Pleasant.


#1 Peach and tropical fruits, caramel and bread. Bit sweet with a resin finish. Clear hop bitterness in the taste. Finish is bitter and a bit alcohol. Beer is full-bodied, sticky on the tongue but acceptable.
#2 As already suggested by the aroma, something went wrong here. Heavy alcohol is hard to beat. Some little notes of sweet malt and bread. Very thick on the tongue, no carbonation. Interestingly this one is very, very bitter. To tell you the truth – it is the only thing I like about it.
#3 Very well balanced tropical fruits, marmalade sweetness, floral aromas and alcohol. Bitter. Body is thick but not sticky, some carbonation is left. Overall looks like it is very balanced and alcohol is complemented by other assets.

Summary 1:

Before seeing the bottles
#1 is probably the Lodołamacz (Polish word for Icebreaker). Mostly because of clearly different alc. Content than #2 and #3. If I am right this also proves what I have said before – the process is the key, and the longer you distill, the more you may lose. #1 that one is more on the beer side, whereas #2 and 3 are on the side of degustation alcohols already.
#2 and #3. I hated #2 for its heavy alcohol, #3 for me is excellent drink. Heavy but perfectly balanced. Unless Het Uiltje screwed this lot, #2 is Brewdog and #3 is Het Uiltje.

Summary 2:

100% match.  

Comment – I am not saying who is the winner. I am saying who is the looser. In that case it is Brewdog. 1% alcohol difference between Hop Shot and Old Enough to Drink does not explain why Brewdog’s beer is so heavy of alcohol and simply distasteful.

Old Enough to Drink proves once again to be a world class beer. Heavy in alcohol, but still beer. Excellent.

Lodołamacz is simply very good beer. However, to compare it to Old Enough to Drink it would require additional double concentration.

Final notes on the bottles and availability.

Lodołamacz is impossible to get. You need to know people, who know people and a lot of begging is included (many thanks to This has a lot of to do with the costs of production and the policy of the brewery who likes to produce an exclusive beer from time to time.

Brewdog was (and still may be) available in many beer shops and Brewdog’s brewbars all around the Europe.

Het Uiltje was freely available over the internet and in various shops in Europe. Even in Poland.
Kudos goes to Het Uiltje, for making an excellent beer, and making it AVAILABLE to literally everybody who wants to try it. Everybody else – look and learn.

Now the bottle – here the situation is different. Brewdog sells the beer is shot, 150 ml bottles. Size fits the taste. Anyway, I couldn’t swallow more of this thing.
Het Uiltje, sells their beer in a classical bottle, with cartoon label. Nothing here suggests exclusivity. That’s a pity, because I would like to keep some of this beers for presents and they just lack the appearance.
Lodołamacz looks like the exclusive beer. Look at the label. It is not paper, it is fabric. Picture and letters are embroidered with a silver thread. Now this is something I could give to somebody.

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Mittwoch, 14. Februar 2018

Lithuanian craft beer weekend in Brussels, Dynamo - Bar de Soif, Brussels, Belgium

Lithuanian craft beer weekend in Brussels: 26 beers on Tap

February 9-11, 2018

Dynamo – Bar de Soif, Brussels

This was very difficult weekend for me as a beer lover. Not so often I have to choose between 3 events in the same evening. But a possibility of trying a craft beer from Lithuania was the most interesting one. First, because I have never had a Lithuanian craft beer before. Second, because just few days ago a colleague of mine (@gobeertrippin) have recommended Lithuanian IPA on a DM group.

For the introduction – event was organized by the Lithuanian community in Brussels. Based on what I have found there are currently around 3000 Lithuanians living in Belgium (half in Brussels). Interestingly, the story of the Lithuanian craft beer is very similar to Polish one. Both countries have a history of brewing. In both countries vodka was more prevalent in the communist times and bot lands have a gradual turn in the direction of beer. Good beer.

A place to beer was Dynamo bar, that is a place to craft beer in Saint-Gilles. They have already hosted Estonian and Scottish craft beer events and are constantly providing a solid selection of beers on tap and in bottles.

Lithuania was represented by 4 breweries:

  • Sakiškių alus ( @sakiskiugerimai
  • Braworas Apynys ( @braworasapynys
  • Kuro aparatūra (
  • Dundulis ( @dundulisbeer

If you consider 26 beers to try, you can imagine that the fact of not having a degustation size was really annoying. I could test only limited number of beers.

On plus was the price. 4.5/quite exotic beer is very fair.

On top, Lithuanian snacks, nice people and full house.

Now, it is beer time

Sakiškių alus Bloody Mary Gose


For what it was supposed to be it was disappointing. Delicately smoked gose with medium carbonation and light body. I don’t know where the Bloody Mary part went. 

Kuro Aparatura Ovejenias 
Caribbean Dubbel
Hazy brown with small head. Delicate aroma of Belgian yeast and malt. Taste is very classical malty dubbel, bit creamy. Not bad, but rather average. Two people tried and non-have realized why this is called Caribbean. There is no hint on any exotic addition in it. 

Sakiškių alus – Gin Tonic IPA

This was for me the best beer of the evening. Amazing combination of gin tonic aroma with juniper bitterness. Taste is spicy, orange and juniper. Overall effect like unique and deserves appraisal. Don’t mind people giving it low rating on Ratebeer. This is awesome beer. Kudos to the brewer.

Apynys – Mango Milkshake IPA

Milkshake IPA of world class. Aromas of exotic fruits, mostly pineapple and grapefruit. Pine on top. Delicate carbonation and amazing smoothness. Flavor is milky, exotic fruits and delicate bitterness. Not getting more bitter during drinking. Drinkable to the limit. Great beer.

Dundulis – Juodaragis 
Gruit ale

I have a very direct comparison with Belgian interpretation of gruit ( And I like Lithuanian version more. Rich, thick dark ale. Must have something to do with kvass or bread addition. Taste is heavily herbal, bitter in aftertaste. Very original and very interesting.

Dundulis – Devyniaragis

First non-polish braggot I have ever tried. Lithuanian interpretation is clearly on the “dry” side. Bit peppery, very dry honey, more in aroma than in taste. Almost not sweet at all. Nice malt finish and average carbonation. On plus side it is great balanced - 9% of alcohol are not detectable at all.

Taken together - great evening in a good company!

Finally - question to any Lithuanian that reads this - where in Brussels I can get some of this beers? Maybe more (Green monster IPA?)

Donnerstag, 8. Februar 2018

The Place and The Beer 9: Gentse Gruut Stadtsbrouwerij, Gent, Belgium

Stadsbrouwerij Gruut

Steendam 31, 9000 Gen

Not sure if you are aware but hops were not the only herbal addition given to beers. And I don’t mean current craft bee move, that make brewers to add every piece of flower/vegetable they can find on the local market.

And the name was Gruit/Gruyt/Gruut – depending on the region. The term was used on the territories of current Belgium, Netherlands and some parts of Germany and described herbal mixture used for spicing and bittering.

Before it was known as Gruut, the herbal-beer-addon exists under the name materia cervisiae. The name pops up first in Germany. Kaiser Otto II granted the rights to sell Gruut to the Church of Liège in the year 974. The name Gruut was first noted in the year 999, same Kaiser have granted similar rights to the church in Utrecht. Even if hops were making its way through the brewing scene of the middle age Europe, Gruut was popular in some regions till XIII century. There were monopolists selling and producing Gruut and they were less than happy to see hops coming. Also, past brewers had to pay taxes based on the content of Gruut in the beer (today it is based on alcohol content). Thus, many local governments that got good money from Gruut were not happy. This led to some trade wars and sometimes almost anecdotal situations

One of such stories is the story of Gent in Belgium. The city is divided by the river Leie in two parts, at some point of the history the right bank was ruled by Flemish and the left bank by French-speaking communities. Flemish brew with hops, whereas French brewed with Gruut. Full exclusivity apparently. At the end, hops became prevalent in the brewing, mostly because of their antibacterial and preserving abilities (and they were cheaper), but even today, the only brewery still using Gruut indicates on its labels: “brewed on the left side”.

Back to the Gruut – it is difficult to say what was exactly inside – based on the historical records people tend to believe that it was based on sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow and ground ivy. With a possible addition of spices including juniper or ginger (see Wikipedia for a complete list of possibilities). Very likely, there were multiple combinations and addition possible. What also is clear that each brew master would have its own secret recipe.

Now let’s go back to the left side of Gent and the one and only Gentse Gruut Stadtsbrouverij. Brewery doing beer only with Gruut. I went there last weekend, during Lichtfestival Gents  just to see what does the Gruut-beer taste like. There was too late for the brewery tour, but I may be back in summer. Still some photos of the taproom and tanks.

At the moment, they sell 5 beers on the regular basis. I have managed to taste the blonde and two were the take home message from this trip. 

Honestly – blonde was my first choice to taste. As stated here many times – blondes are almost as low aromatic as lagers. When usually it is a problem – this time it is an advantage. In blonde, you have a chance to get all the aroma of Gruut. And I was not disappointed – bit sweet, with a note of nutmeg, very herbal, but not in a citrus hop way, rather like one of your herbal teas. Bit in the direction of nettle. On top some herbal bitterness and not too heavy yeast. Very positive and a must try for every beer lover.

Montag, 5. Februar 2018

The Place and The Beer 8: Ratsherrn Brauerei, Hamburg, Germany

Brewery Tour at Ratsherrn Brewery Hamburg.

This is a post of shame.

Because, I have made the Tour at the end of 2016 and never had a chance to write this post.

Still, this was bugging me, therefore here we go.

I was always jealous about Rattshern. Living for 16 years in Germany, I have spent my life in the areas on middle/middle south Germany who didn’t give a damn about the craft revolution. Trust me, even in 2015 the area north of Frankfurt was craft beer desert. Still today, Frankfurt am Main, the financial center and one of the biggest cities in Germany hosts the amazing number of 2 crafts breweries (all local craft beer lovers, please accept my condolences).
And then, all the time, I have heard about the Ratsherrn brewery from Hamburg. They produce Pale Ales, Porters and everything. God, I was so jealous. Especially, because they were no accessible in the area.

It is a paradox, that I have first managed to get to Hamburg when in living Belgium. Still a brewery visit was a must. I have booked a tour containing brewery and tasting at the end.

Here some facts:

Brewery is in Sternschanze district of Hamburg. Close enough to get there from city center. Close to the S-bahn station.

Rattshern use to be a traditional local Pils that went down. Current brewery kept the name but represents rather modern style brewing.  In its current form, Rattshern runs since 2012. Head brewer is Thomas Kunst and Ian Pyle is responsible for special brews.

They brew craft beer for broader publicity. At the moment of my tour their “hardest” beer was about 80 IBU (West Coast IPA?).

Tour itself is great, the guide not only shows the brewery, but he will also show all steps of beer brewing. Bonus for me: a chance to briefly talk with Ian who was just working in the brewery at the same time

The girl running the brewery tour was amazing. Very talkative, interactive and professional. I rarely have seen so enthusiastic tour guide in my life.

Beer tasting great addition. We have got a movie presenting history of the brewery and then were guided through several beers from various styles. There was enough time for trying, making up your mind and talking to other people. 

After so long time, it is difficult to write about beer. One thing is clear – I wasn’t disappointed. Still, I have decided to present two allrounders from Ratsherrn – worth drinking if you have a chance.


Simple, drinkable example of the style. Dark brown, tan head. Aromas of roasted malt and tiny leftovers of yeast. Flavor of coffee and malts. Clean, tasty and worth giving anybody. Especially dedicated to people who want to start tasting beers, but don’t want to be scared by a double-barrel-aged-triple-hoppled-imperial-porter (or so).


Classical beer from Ratsherrn follows the same rule. Aromatic, fruity, hoppy. More bitter than your regular Pils, but not bitter enough to scare the masses. Perfect entry beer, but good enough to satisfy most of the geeks.

Summarizing - great tour with good beer. Worth attending if you make it to Hamburg.

At the end even more beer. 

Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2018

Soirée Beer Market #24 : "Les nouveautés", Beer Market La Louviere

Aaah, the friendly Beer-Market from La Louvière, after a while I feel like home here. And, to my positive surprise, even the local community started to accept Polish guy who haven’t yet learned a proper French.
Not to forget another important new thing – the owner David is now concentrated on the second shop in Namur, and he have hired a new professional – Lise – to run the shop in La Louviere.
Imagine a beer-geek Belgian girl, who speaks English. Bingo.

The idea of the evening degustation is very simple. Varying number of beers, tasted blindly and a local community happily commenting and exchanging experience. 2-3 hours of nicely spend time.

Today’s subject – New Beers. Not only Belgian, but in general. And, again, David and Lise have prepared an interesting selection.

Aaah, le sympathique Beer-Market de La Louvière, après un moment je me sens comme chez moi ici. Et, à ma grande surprise, même la communauté locale a commencé à accepter le Polonais qui n'a pas encore appris le français.
Sans oublier une autre nouveauté importante : le propriétaire David se concentre maintenant sur le second magasin de Namur et a embauché une nouvelle professionnelle, Lise, pour diriger le magasin de La Louvière.
Imaginez une fille beer-geek, belge, qui parle anglais. Bingo !

L'idée de la soirée dégustation est très simple. Un nombre de bières variable, goûtées à l'aveugle, et une communauté locale heureuse de commenter et d'échanger des expériences. 2-3 heures d’agréables moments.

Le sujet d'aujourd'hui : les dernières nouveautés du magasin. Pas seulement belges, mais en général. Et, encore une fois, David et Lise ont préparé une sélection intéressante.

Toccalmatto Dr. Caligari
Imperial Berliner Weisse

My fist contact with the Italian brewery. This beer was so heavy loaded with raspberries that my garden was jealous. Small white head was gone almost instantly, carbonation almost not existing. This time it is a plus, because the beer is sour, not only Berliner sour, but also fruit, raspberry sour with some lemon notes on top. Very refreshing, even if a bit one sided.
Mon premier contact avec la brasserie italienne. Cette bière était si chargée en framboises que mon jardin en était jaloux. La petite tête de mousse blanche disparut presque instantanément, la carbonatation presque inexistante. Cette fois-ci c'est un plus, car la bière est acide, pas seulement acide comme une Berliner, mais aussi fruitée : framboise acidulée avec quelques notes de citron sur le dessus. Très rafraîchissante, même si un peu unilatérale.

Alternative Belgian Brewers Windy
Pale Ale

Now that one is something all Belgian beer lovers should start looking for. New brewers brewing with the use of Alsace hops. Windy is brewed with Mistral and is strictly amazing. OK, honestly, this pale ale can stand any. And I mean like ANY competition I have ever tested, no matter USA or Europe, this is like world class. I never thought that European hops can give so many grassy and fruity aromas. In fact if you would tell me that were american hops I would believe. Awesome. Light body, decent bitterness, perfectly carbonated. This is amazing pale ale. World class. Best new beer I have tried that evening.

Maintenant celle-ci a quelque chose que tous les amateurs de bière belges devraient rechercher : des nouveaux brasseurs brassant avec du houblon d'Alsace. La Windy est brassée avec du houblon Mistral et est absolument incroyable. OK, honnêtement, cette pâle Ale peut vraiment tenir tête à de grands noms. Et par là je veux dire dans n'importe quelle compétition que j'ai jamais testée, peu importe aux États-Unis ou en Europe, c'est vraiment de classe mondiale. Je n'avais jamais pensé que le houblon européen puisse donner autant de grands arômes, herbacés et fruités. Amertume légère, corps léger, amertume décente. C’est incroyable.

Toccalmatto Zona Cesarini
Pacific Pale Ale

Solid IPA. Golden orange, medium head. Weak hop aroma, citrus, pine. Some malts and fruits and decent carbonation. It’s a bit too much caramel and toffee for me, but I cannot deny that I have liked this one. 

IPA solide. Orange-doré, tête moyenne. Faible arôme de houblon, agrumes, pin. Quelques malts et fruits, et une carbonatation décente. C'est un peu trop caramel pour moi, mais je ne peux pas nier que je l’ai appréciée.

8 Degrees Cumulus Lupulus
New England IPA

Something went a tad wrong here, especially with the classification. Even if the hazy look suggests that its New England, the aromas are West Coast – heavy pine, marmalade, berries, caramel and grapefruit. Small bitter notes and a hell of a citrus in taste. Now one point – this is a great beer. Just call it IPA.

Quelque chose s'est mal passé ici, surtout au niveau de la classification. Même si la robe brumeuse suggère la New England, les arômes rappellent plus la West Coast - pin lourd, marmelade, baies, caramel et pamplemousse. De petites notes amères et un goût d'agrumes. Maintenant, un point : c'est une bonne bière. Appelez-le IPA.

8 Degrees Berliner Weisse 
Infused with Red Currant and Rhubarb

OK. This beer was surprise. Another sour beer of the evening, this time less acidic than the first attempt. However, not matter how I have tried, I was not able to guess the fruit. Most of you probably know this Multifruit juices from the supermarkets. You know its juice, but will never find out more. Same effect here. Later, we have learned that its black currant and rhubarb. OK, tried again. I couldn’t say. I think that something went wrong here and both aromas somehow countered each other. Overall effect is faceless and not satisfactory.

D’accord, cette bière était une surprise. Une autre bière acide pour cette soirée, moins acide cependant que la première. Cela dit, bien que j’aie essayé, je n’ai pas été capable de deviner le fruit. La plupart d'entre vous connaissent probablement ce jus Multifruit des supermarchés. Vous connaissez son goût, mais vous n'en saurez jamais plus. Même effet ici. Plus tard, nous avons appris que c’était du cassis et de la rhubarbe. OK, j’essaie à nouveau. Je ne goûte pas ces fruits. Je pense que quelque chose s'est mal passé ici et les deux arômes se sont en quelque sorte contrecarrés. L'effet global est sans visage et pas satisfaisant.

De La Lienne Woody
Barrel Aged Sour Ale

If I understood everything correctly, this beer was an accident. Another proof for a beauty of craft. Big company would pour it to the sink. Craft brewery put it in the barrels and made barrel aged sour ale. The result is sour, oaky aromatic and tasty. Wooden notes mixed with tanic bitterness. It is not the best beer I have ever had, but it is at least worth trying.

Si j'ai bien compris, cette bière était un accident. Une autre preuve de la beauté de ce métier. Une grosse compagnie la déverserait dans l'évier. La brasserie artisanale l'a mise dans des tonneaux et en a fait une bière aigre-douce vieillie en fût. Le résultat est acide, boisé, aromatique et savoureux. Notes de bois mêlées d'amertume tannique. Ce n'est pas la meilleure bière que j'aie goutée, mais elle vaut la peine d’être essayée.

Toccalmatto Surfing Hop
Imperial IPA

Let’s put it like that – wouldn’t I see a label saying that its imperial IPA, I would probably never classify it as one. Neither I would classify it as a good beer. Its average. Average body, average carbonation. Average aromas of not defined hops and malt. Kind of brown beer taste, bit malty. Since everything is average, you could think that the beer is well balanced.

That one is just average. You see, it was so average that I have forgotten to take a photo.

Disons-le comme ça : si je n’avais pas vu l’étiquette mentionnant « Imperial IPA », je ne l’aurais probablement jamais classée comme ça. Je ne la classerais pas non plus comme une bonne bière. C’est moyen. Corps moyen, carbonatation moyenne. Arômes moyens de houblon et de malt non définis. Le goût rappelle la bière brune, un peu maltée. Comme tout est moyen, on pourrait penser que la bière est bien équilibrée.

Celle-ci est juste moyenne. Vous voyez, c'était tellement moyen que j'ai oublié de prendre une photo.

T’Verzet – Kameradski Balsamico

I have said this over and over again. This is the most innovative Belgian beer since the Duvel. And the best one. However, it is interesting to see how this is not everybody’s case. Looks like in any testing population 50% of people love it. Rest hates it. Very polarizing this one. OK, I love it still. 

Je l'ai dit encore et encore. C'est la bière belge la plus innovante depuis la Duvel. Et la meilleure. Cependant, il est intéressant de voir que tout le monde n’est pas de cet avis. On dirait que dans toute la population testée, 50% des gens l'adorent. Le reste la déteste. Très polarisante, celle-ci. OK, moi je l'aime.