When Sarah’s first words on sipping a beer are “Woahhh!” then you know you’ve cracked open a bottle of something special.
I also opted for a “Woahhh!” like sound when I sniffed this BrewDog/Mikkeller collaboration from 2009. Wow.
“It doesn’t taste like beer” Sarah adds when she takes a tentative taste. Nope, indeed it doesn’t. Devine Rebel is all toffee and brandy with the volume turned up to Maxwell advert levels. “It’s more like that horrible Metaxa stuff!” Sarah declares. Yep, it kinda is, and that’s fitting as we are harnessing it’s opulent bouquet in a voluptuous brandy snifter.
The aroma – all syrupy, brown sugar coated alcohol – snakes out of the glass, and the taste similarly slides down the throat, reiterating the dominance of ethanol and reinforcing it’s similarities with a spirit rather than a beer. Only it’s texture, slimy as opposed to the silky smoothness of expensive wines or whiskies, makes you realise this is something else altogether.
As if Devine Rebel 2009 wasn’t enough of a kick in the head – at 12% alcohol dominates the sensory glands – there’s a 2010 version to kick us whilst we’re down.
It’s a rock ‘n’ roll rebellion we’re told, although aged in wooden whisky casks and toasted on French oak chips, Mikkeller/BrewDog Devine Rebel 2010 has a little more of the mature Mick Jagger to it than the legs akimbo Rolling Stones of the late 60s and early 70s…
The younger versions additional wood conditioning is noticeable, not that it imparts a sense of age or oak, but enhances the medicinal content, consolidating the sterile single malt taste and adding a point of reference to what is a multifarious beer. It pours a deep orange-red-brown hazy syrup of beer, lined with wispy foam, that leaves a string of fire in your throat. You feel like you’ve just gone 88 mph and dunked your head in a flux capacitator. Luckily you don’t end up in 1955, but you’re head might just drop off your neck if you knock this back too quickly.
Whether you fancy sampling the 2009 version or the 2010 gyle (or both!), sip, savour and enjoy the complex flavours: it’s an alcoholic desert, a pungent nightcap: brandy, whisky, cigars made of peat, a lick of chocolate, a dash of balsamic vinegar; a heavy brown tonic to knock you into the twilights hours and possibly lose you a few hours of your life.
Beer: Devine Rebel
Brewery: Mikkeller / BrewDog
Style: Barley wine
Country: Scotland (and Denmark)
Beer: Devine Rebel 2010
Brewery: Mikkeller / BrewDog
Style: Barley wine
Country: Scotland (and Denmark)
Tags: Barley wine, BrewDog, devine rebel, mikkeller, oak aged, whisky
Devine Rebel is a collaborative beer brewed by the enigmatic Mikel from Mikkeller, a brewery of no fixed abode. Putting him up for a few nights the Devine Rebel beers were created a BrewDog’s brewery facilities in Fraserburgh. Both the 2009 and 2010 versions are singled hopped malt beverages in the barley wine style (Nelson Sauvin being the hops of choice) and fermentation was aided by champagne yeast. Both were partially aged in whisky casks. So by all accounts they are not your average beers!
This not, I repeat NOT, an IPA.
Punchy, citrus hops? Nil.
Alcohol? Deep, stewed and sweet beyond believe.
Apple skins & fruit pudding? Yes, yes, YES!
None of which gives Moor JJJ IPA much credence as an IPA. But then again this isn’t an IPA nor a double IPA. It’s only a bleedin’ triple IPA(!!!). This couldn’t be further from Green King’s bland and monotonous flagship brand of ale and is similar in nothing but colour.
By their own admission Moor didn’t brew this to style, in fact they encourage drinkers to ‘forget everything [they] know’ and not ‘”get too wrapped up in style pedantics”.
Peach brandy, trifle, aniseed and a touch of ill-placed butter could all be found in this swirling, mesmerising malt syrup, which places it nearer to a barley wine than anything that could accurately be described as pale. A wet, sticky, booze-and-currant-infused pudding of a beer, where fruit has been soaked in alcohol and doused in decadence.
So not quite the tropical nose or caramel body expected then?!
I’d hazard a guess that my bottle had matured a little and the immense hop content that’s put into JJJ had imploded under it’s own weight, much like a supernova descending into the dense afterlife of a neutron star. As a result JJJ was heavy, cloying and almost sickly. The bitterness was massive and overpowering, the thick, resinous nose almost belittling the subsequent attack on my tongue. Half a pint at the National Winter Ales festival was similarly rich and uncompromising on the palette, if a little more fresh and grassy on the nose, and lighter in the mouth.
If come across this at a bar, it’s repetitive Corona ball ‘n’ curves in bright lucid red jumping out at your eyes, then take your wallet from your pocket and sign it over to the Moor Beer Company and the pub who’ve been bold enough to put this on the bar.
We can’t promise you’ll like it but it’s one hell of a ride all the same. Neither does it promise to be easy, and that’s the only promise it lives up to.Read the rest of this entry » Tags: Barley wine, IPA, JJJ IPA, Moor
So far, I’ve not found Burton Bridge’s beers the easiest to drink. Their labelling challenges the normal conventions of beer branding and similarly their beers challenge the in-vogue tastes. But Henry VIII and a lack of Amarillo/C-Hop infused smack-you-round-head flavours aside, there’s something else different about this brewery.
At Christmas I tried their Pale Ale and by a country mile it was the hardest beer I tried to write about during the festive period. I’ve still not got round to buying another bottle to formalise my views on it. So writing about the Tickle Brain is a bit of a gamble, especially as I’ve yet to distinguish what (if anything tangible) makes Burton Bridge so different.
Tickle Brain pours amber with a hint of ruby. It’s foreboding, with little head or carbonisation. It looks…difficult.
On the nose there’s noticeable brown apples, I can’t tell if the red or green kind. Esters or acetaldehyde, I guess. Alcohol dominates the first taste but further sips pull the curtains back on a complex interaction of bitterness and sweetness. Subsequent sips are washed around the mouth revealing the faintest tiniest hint of something Orvallian: root veg, pepper, spice; a weirdly sweet and perhaps imagined drop of raisins, Belgian Christmas-ale esque. Near the end I chuck the sediment in and the musty remains develops a buttery body, a surprisingly pleasing anecdote to the vinegar feeling the rest of the bottle left around my gums.
Tickle Brain is Old Thumper as barley wine (or Abbey Beer as the branding suggests) with a dash of Belgian seasoning and unmistakeable alcohol. Two pours in to the bottle my head feels lighter and heavier at the same time. I guess you could call that Tickle Brain.
Tags: abbey ale, Barley wine, burton bridge, old thumper, tickle brain
*I wanted to say ‘undisguisable alcohol’, but my oversized Penguin dictionary (1,642 pages long) claims this does not exist as a word. Which seems silly. Language is fluid after all and undisguisable seems fairly standard. Am I missing an obvious alternative?!
Are you a huge hop head? Do you crave Humulus Lupulus in your sleep? Maybe you even struggle to wake up after a few “double IPAs” and a night asleep on a hop pillow?!
Well one Oxfordshire brewer has taken on the challenge to create the world’s bitterest beer, and his strategy: yeah you guessed it, he’s thrown a silly amount of hops into his brew.
Pete Fowler of the Pitstop Brewery near Wantage rose to the occasion after a friend reckoned he couldn’t match the bitterness of US craft beers, and in Mr Fowler’s words ‘that was like red rag to a bull’. The beer (or barley wine) has over £100s worth of hops plus additional hop additives for one 9 barrel keg of the beer compared to a usual £5 worth.
Bearing in mind the brewer himself hasn’t tried it yet and is expecting it to be in the region of 500 IBUs* (a theoretical number which scares the pants of my tastebuds) it raises interesting questions on innovation (or should I say ‘innovation’).
Is this an ‘extreme beer’? Or is it simply a boisterous take on the traditional British bitter, tongue in cheek and one finger up to the extremists? Or just a bit of fun?!Tags: bitter, bitterness, BrewDog, IBUs, pitstop brewery
After a hectic day out on Saturday in the bustling streets of York complete with Christmas Market, I needed to relax with good food and beer when I got home. I’d been eyeing up three Harvey’s beers in my cupboard for a week or so and had been planning to drink them all together. Saturday night seemed perfect, with the promise of a hot curry and Christmassy afters.
Harvey’s Blue label
The first of three Harvey’s beers, I was hoping this would nicely wash down a Thai green chicken curry. It’s a coppery pale ale and poured with next to no head. I was expecting something lively from this diminutive bottle, but it was generally flat and a bit watery. Having heard lots about Harvey’s beers my first impressions were a little underwhelming.
It had a really nice, subtle aroma of lemons and limes, and there was a limey tang in the taste. It was super drinkable being soft on the palate with a smooth mouth feel. It wasn’t very bitter (the bottle says a ‘delicate bitterness’ which is an understatement) as you might expect from a beer weighing in at just 3.6% ABV. There was a sweet maltiness in the finish. I believe this beer is dry hopped which may explain some of its character
This did actually live up the bill, kind of accidentally, as it did wash down the green curry well in taste and texture, but I’m not sure this could become a favourite, and I’m not sure I’ve had the best bottle of it. One to give another go… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Ale, Barley wine, blue label, Elizabethan, harveys, india pale ale, IPA, pale, sussex