Category Archives: Beer

The Hangover 2: Black Isle Brewery Shindig

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Last weekend was the Black Isle Brewery Shindig which was to celebrate the opening of their brand spanking new brewery. After a tedious 3 hour drive to the Black Isle we arrived to find a chilled-out group of people drinking beer and celebrating this great company. I wanted to take the time to congratulate the brewery on a fantastic and successful weekend. I also wanted to complement them on their company values on sustainability and for creating products that are ecological and environmentally friendly (and tasty too). Their beer is consistently good and exciting and their laid back attitude really comes through in the beer as it did at the Shindig. I heard a rumour that there might be another one in September? DO IT, I’ll be there! Thanks for having us all and keep up the good work!

SAVE THE PLANET, DRINK ORGANIC!

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Black Isle Brewery Summer Shindig

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On the 4th of June I will be taking my boyfriend, dog, tent, and cool box down to the Black Isle Brewery Shindig for a hog roast followed by copious amounts of organic Black Isle beer. I thought I might tell you a little bit about their beers before I drink the brewery dry.

Black Isle brewery brew a number of different beers, you can see their full selection here. However here are a few of my favourite beers:

Organic Goldeneye Pale Ale 5.1% abv – a tangy, hoppy pale ale using sweet floral hops. A refreshing take on traditional pale ale. It is great on keg – the added fizz brings out the hops and gives this beer its edge.

Organic Hibernator Export Oatmeal Stout 7.0% abv – I just tried this one a couple of nights ago for the first time and let me just say, wow. This beer is FULL of flavour (treacle, liquorice and forest fruits) and the best thing about it is you can taste the oatmeal. It is sweet, full-flavoured and filling. Apparently the fermentation process is much like that of champagne.

Black Isle Organic Red Kite Ale 4.2% abv – I have a soft spot for this beer as it’s the first ale my boyfriend has liked (saying that he drank Black Isle Blonde before, we just gave him a little nudge). This red ale is light and malty with bursts of lemon and orange. A lovely alternative to Black Isle Blonde and other light lagers.

Black Isle Organic Vanilla Porter  – Black Isle Brewery’s best kept secret. The Tap has been pleading for them to make this for months and months and finally (shhhh though – if we boast too much we might scare them away!) they are going to brew us a batch (or 2). I haven’t had the pleasure of tasting this yet but my colleagues have and according to my American teammate it is “ohhhhh myyyyy gaaaaaad!!!” I’m not sure I will be announcing the arrival of this to our customers…. I want it all for myself mwahh ha haaa.

So, if you’re out and about and see Black Isle Brewery beer give it a try, rest assured you will not be disappointed. SAVE THE PLANET, DRINK ORGANIC!

Chocolate Drops of Rain

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To celebrate my last hand-in for university, my boyfriend took me to the newly opened Edinburgh Brewdog Bar. Luckily I know the general manager and she lovingly recommended Choklat Stout by the Southern Tier Brewing Company  and can I say, well done Southern Tier, well done.

When describing this Choklat Stout, Southern Tier refers to the sacred book of Maya, which mentions a mystical beverage known as xocoati or ch-co-atle. It is thought that liquid chocolate was worthy enough to be drank by gods and goddesses. Today, chocolate is still thought of as a luxurious indulgence and what better way to celebrate its wonderful flavour than by putting it in an alcoholic beverage!

Southern Tier have created a drink that will ‘tempt your senses & renew the power & interrelation of history in every bottle.’ Let me tell you, it did the job.

Southern Tier Choklat Stout, Imperial Chocolate Stout 11%

Branding 

The stout comes in a larger bottle than usual, an almost wine-like bottle which happily fills two serving glasses like the two in the picture above. The American brewing company Southern Tier has very modern branding and labeling, using bold fonts and simplistic features. The label is decorated with four pieces of chocolate, emphasising this predominant flavour. The label includes serving suggestions and tasting notes which I’m not sure are relevant and I don’t like being told what I should taste but nevermind. The label also provides a explanation of what exactly is in this beer. 2-row barley, caramel 60 malt, barley flakes, chocolate malt, bittersweet Belgium chocolate and kettle hops: chinook and willamette to be exact.

Appearance

It is very, very dark, almost black in colour and has a viscous swirl to its texture. I would describe it as a muddy chocolate colour. It does not pour much of a head but that might have something to do with the glass it is served in.

Nose

It has an obviously distinct Belgian chocolate smell with notes of creamy latte-like coffee. The smell has some lovely layers to it and is sweet but bitter and strong yet light. The sweet Stout smell is also apparent although the chocolate is an overpowering scent.

Taste

Much like the smell, the taste of this beer comes in splendid layers. First is a bitter cocoa taste, like a dark chocolate bar with 80%+ cocoa, the beer is definitely a stout. This then softens into a lovely fluffy and sweet marshmellowy taste which coats the throat and pleases the tongue. After arrives that distinct Belgian chocolate taste, that came through so much in the smell and lingers on whilst sipping more. Lastly, the stout definitely hints towards a lambic style finish, ending again with a bitterness that balances out everything.

After a full glass I must admit I am rather happy (hic) and would say I wouldn’t like to finish the bottle myself. However this lovely bubble of marshmallow, Belgium chocolate, cocoa and caramel is something not to be missed and without a doubt is a gorgeous and memorable choklat stout.

Seeing Red

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I took myself to the World Beer section at Tesco and was underwhelmed at the choice. Most people who know me know I have a ridiculous sweet tooth (I could eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner). I spotted 3 flavoured beers, and I like flavoured beers. Done.

I picked Kriek Bier – a Tesco Finest selection, Timmermans Strawberry – I have fond memories of this one, and Bacchus Kriekenbier – fancy dancy packaging swayed me. The 3 have more in common than just being flavoured beers, they are all lambic or lambic style beers. Apparently lambic is a very specific type of beer, only brewed in a specific region of Belgium called Pajottenland. Unlike ale and lager which are fermented using the brewer’s chosen yeast, lambic beers are fermented spontaneously. During this fermentation process wild yeast is met with bacteria which results in a beer with a very distinctive flavour : Vinous, cidery, dry with a sour aftertaste. Flavours I ultimately picked up on during the tasting (which I was quite proud of). So, the tasting.

Kriek Bier

Petite bottle (middle in the picture) which would usually be disappointing for volume purposes, but then again it only cost me 97 pence. Not much else to say about the branding actually – not ugly, not that impressive.

Appearance: Dark red in colour with a lovely creamy head at first, unfortunately it didn’t last long.

Nose: Instantly hit with the sickly sweet scent of maraschino cherries which overpowered any scent of beer. Despite my sweet tooth, the smell actually puts me off a little bit but I’m not one to back out of a challenge.

Taste: Lovely notes of cinnamon and almond which goes well with the sticky sweet cherry flavour. After a couple of sips I definitely detected a slight smoky flavour. It is finished with the taste of sour cherries, not sour enough to balance out the sickly sweet taste you get at the beginning though.

Not bad for the price but still way too sweet for my liking or to be drunk alone. To balance out the sweetness I would suggest drinking it with a meal of falafel, dried tomatoes, hummus and couscous.

Timmermans Strawberry

I started off on a bad note with this beer. By no means am I an eco-warrior but pointless packaging does quite annoy me. It is wrapped in a paper jacket despite having a detailed label on the bottle – a bit silly to be honest. Underneath the jacket is a lovely old-fashioned label which definitely fits in well with other Belgium beers and rightly so as it’s made there. It has a typical fruit beer AVB of 4.0% and is a lambic beer.

Appearance: Dirty brown/red colour with a lovely long and luscious head of foam that holds.

Nose: Very wine-like with cidery notes (typical lambic characteristics)

Taste: A very unexpected sour but obvious and distinct strawberry flavour. It tastes quite thick and after a few more sips becomes very malty. It is definitely a grower, as more strawberry hits you the more you drink. After drinking the Kriek Bier this does taste a lot less sweet but I’m not sure if this one is sweet enough. By the end though the strawberry taste is strong and I am satisfied.

Despite being a fruit beer (which are usually considered to be very sweet – think fruli for example) – this beer is a more sour, understated and subtle addition. It would be suited best with a dessert – a chocolate torte or mousse would be perfect.

Bacchus Kriekenbier

I chose another cherry beer, this time made by the Van Honsebrouck family brewery in Belgium, known for creating typically Belgium style beers. At ABV 5.8% it is stronger than the usual fruit beer. This beer is again wrapped in fancy paper, however this time the bottle underneath holds no label and therefore the paper is not as much of a waste of time as with the last beer. Underneath the paper the beer is served in a lovely half champagne bottle.

Appearance: Lovely delicate rouge red in colour with a lovely lingering foam top – appears to be highly carbonated.

Nose: Mmmmmm lovely morello cherry with a hint of acidity, not too sweet or sour.

Taste: Lovely lovely beer, much nicer than the first cherry beer. It has so much more depth in the flavour. First is that familiar dark/morello cherry taste, and then lovely undertones of brandy and almond – very very pleasant. Also hints of hops. My boyfriend says it reminds him of a cherry coke, I agree with him – it’s a grown-up cherry coke.

I enjoyed this beer the most and was sad to drink the last drop. It’s perfectly balanced sweetness and variety of flavours makes it a very drinkable beer. I would enjoy this with a cheeseboard, breaded and baked brie would be wonderful.

Lambic beers are a very popular type of Belgium beer and provide a distinct taste. However it is difficult to balance this distinct flavour with the right balance of sweetness. For me, the Bacchus Cherry was the best by a mile.

Let me know if you try any of them!