Monday, September 19, 2011

Samuel Smith, Oatmeal stout... as an ingredient!

Sorry for the image quality this time!

This time we're not talking about beer... only. Once again it was time to try something that has been haunting in my mind for a while. A stout mud cake. Even the idea of the two simple enjoyments of life brought together makes my mouth water.

I took a round in the local Alko (liquor store) for searching a good stout for the cake and I noticed one of my favorite Stouts, Sam Smith's Oatmeal stout ( And the thing with this beer is NOT the suitability for the vegans... :) The perfect company here would had been the Imperial Stout from same brewery but unfortunately that one hasn't been found in the local stores for a while.

Simple person as I am I didn't want to make my life harder than it was necessary so I trusted to the good old recipe. I had tried this one ones earlier to surprise my fiancée on her birthday. I could say it was a success. ;) So here is the list for the ingredients you'll be needing:

100 g of butter
2 ½ dl of sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ dl of wheat flour
3 table spoons of cocoa powder
1 tee spoon of vanilla sugar
less than 1 dl of stout

This time (for some odd reason) I wanted to try if I could make the impossible possible. I was going to try to make the mud cake as carbomanic (yes, us too... and no, beer is not counted ;) friendly as possible. This is where it all could go wrong too. Instead of sugar I used this Sötin sweetener ( that is basically Eritryol that has 0 kcal. This together the fact that I used almond flour instead of wheat flour makes it a healthy cake. This also takes one bit off the taste which again is balanced with the presence of the stout. Sweet!

So, what you do is that you melt the butter and let it cool. Meanwhile you can whip the eggs and the sugar. I added the stout to the whipped eggs and sugar and noticed the problem that the beer foams quite a bit. This is not alarming as I learned later. Add the dry ingredients and the melted butter. Pour all this to a cake tin (I used bit over 20 cm of diameter but smaller does the trick as well). warm the oven preferably a bit earlier to 175 degrees C and let it stay in for a 25 minutes. And after this... enjoy!

I used the rest of the beer to be served with the cake. A perfect fit I must say! As mentioned earlier this is a beer that I first met many many years ago. Back then it was a beer that really stopped me thinking that is it really so that a beer can have a even this different, interesting yet smooth and dark taste? The answer was explicit: Yes it can. This can be also noted as a setout to my love for stout.

The beer itself then:
Color (8) is pitch-black with a brownish gloom. The foam is beautiful light brown thick and rich. The foam gives a nice touch to the feel of the beer in mouth.
Aroma (9) has notes of sweetness and spiciness. Both coffee and vanilla can be found as well as some summer flowers.
Taste (18) is fruity, sweet malts in the beginning shifting to a roasted malts on the body. Quite dry and aftertaste includes some bitterness of the citrus. Leaves a taste of syrup to the mouth after some time.
Overall (8) score comes from the awesomely balanced package. The aroma and taste replicate the same notes and the color is just plain beautiful with the foam being the finishing touch.

Total score for the stout is 43/50 if I'm not mistaken.

This is a combination that I suggest for you if you're thinking of a way to surprise the lady in the house. I'd say this fits most of the cases. At least at our house I had less than 1/4 th of the cake to taste and the rest was eaten by the women department in our house. Conclusion: even though this was once again a bit experimental cooking it performed the duties of a huge bunch of flowers. ;)

To be seen in the future... A black hole.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brewdog, Tactical nuclear penguin

Some kerosene for our little friend from the Antarctica...? Quite close! I wasn't not sure how this name should describe the beer itself before checking the description from Brewdog web site (

"The Antarctic name, inducing schizophrenia, of this Ÿber-imperial stout originates from the amount of time it spent exposed to extreme cold. This beer was initially double barrel aged for 14 months; maturing in the deep, rich oak of Scottish whisky casks. After this epic maturation the beer was then frozen, then frozen again, then frozen again."

This reveals also the fact that is usually quite much discussed among the beer enthusiasts; Is it really beer anymore? In a way I would like to say yes and at the same time I understand the other opinion as well. As we all understand this beer is strong. Actually so strong (32 % ABV) that it's not possible to reach with traditional fermenting methods. At least it's not too easy. And here is the thing that separates the old purists from the more open minded, new wave beer fanatics. The key word here being the "traditional". The unique technique used to produce this beer is a way of generating something new. Exposing the already strong beer to extremely cold temperatures making it freeze strips away the "unnecessary" water. This again lifts the ABV %. Brilliant! Repeating this various times makes it a Brewdog product with tons of attitude.

How did I come across with this stuff then? Having some good experiences with Brewdog beers before (some of which you can read elsewhere in from this blog) I had also heard about the existence of these extreme beers in some restaurants (none of which too close to my home) and that they can also be ordered straight from the Brewdog web site. First option means that there's only a small portion that you can have at a time as the laws regarding alcohol are what they are here. I thought that I'd take my chances on the second option and ordered a bottle of this amazing brew with another, limited edition beer for the royal weddings, The Royal virility performance (rated the 5 th best or worst idea on the BD blog: The first order was actually not a success as I received the long-awaited package in the following condition:

Notice the brown ominous coloring at the bottom of the package. And yes. It was the little penguin that took the hit. A sweet little creature decapitated. :( The only thing I got from this batch was the awesome aroma and allover splashed dark brown coloring of the brew.

I'm happy though that the claiming process for the damaged goods worked like a dream and the reunion with the once dead penguin was a fact with a replacement sent straight from the brewery. This was actually the first time I bought alcohol online. I can't say that it would had been the last one as despite the little negative hit and the extra effort in the form of waiting. Btw, the bottle comes with a plug used to seal the bottle while not in use... yes, at least I didn't drink it all at once. :)

Then came the long-awaited moment of tasting this brew for the first time. A special occasion in the sense that it was the strongest beer I had tasted so far. Poured a small portion to an Riedel aroma glass and started the journey on yet another Brewdog roller-coaster. The first thing that needs to be mentioned about this beer is the already mentioned ABV 32 % strength. Now I know that's not the top number on the market as Brewdog has outdone it not once but twice but that's still something not too many have reached.

The color (8) is dark but not black as there's this reddish gloom. Reminds me of a light cola. Dark, yet passing through some light. Against the light the color could be described as a dark copper.
Aroma (8) is very complex including notes of dry cherries, rowan berry, alcohol (really!?), oak, burned malts, tar and fudge, red berries, liquorice, scent of cellar and the burn sugar. The first thing that came to my mind that I couldn't at first connect to anything was actually a scent of glue.
Taste (16) red berries, and dry cherries, notes of burned malts, liquorice with citrus, once again rowan berry and slight tone of alcohol, sweetness from oak. Very complex!
Overall (8) The overall score comes from the complexity of the aroma and taste. The taste is not that much of an enjoyment but a really nice experience as a beer. I loved the cherry and oak notes and the oily feeling in the mouth that the 14 moths in the whisky casks bring to this awesome piece of work. It has the balls, it has the taste and it has a mission. It's a craft beer with no compromise. Still I'm not that impressed beer-wise, or then it just tops my wildest dreams and I don't even understand yet how remarkable liquid I've held in my hands ;)

Total score for the little penguin is 40/50.

The next and natural continuation after this would be the ABV 41 % Sink the Bismark! ( from Brewdog. That's yet another step that's been taken further in the race of the highest alcohol percentage. According to the legend there was a takeover attempt from the Germans with ABV 40 % beer before StB but it ended ugly. As a closure for the war Brewdog also made this extremely rare edition of The End of History (, ABV 55 %, and only 12 bottles made, each of them stuffed inside either a roadkill stoat or a grey squirrel. It's more than obvious that this stuff was not going to be too cheap and thus I at least had to pass the chance I had, as 1 of these bottles ended up to the Beer Hunter's restaurant in Pori, Finland. On our summer vacation trip I saw the still closed bottle in the restaurant but the bartender frightened me away from this creature with the prize of a sip. There aren't too many notes written of this drink but the one I suggest comes from an old military friend of mine and you can read it here:

So, I guess that's it for this time. As these blog entries keep coming at long intervals I suggest that you logon to Facebook and like the page I made for the My wonderful world of beers. You can find the page here:

On this Facebook site I'll send some updates of beers tasted on tighter pace. These beers might or might not be the following blog entries. The new blog entries are posted on this page as well. I'll keep on testing some new things related to beer in future as well and this page let's me do a bit shorter updates on the issues faced and more real time.

Until next time... Perkale! ...or is it actually Imper Ale...!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The handsome trio from Nøgne Ø + one fine lady

First of all I have to apologize to all of you as there has been no entry on this blog for a (too) long time. I could give some excuses like having a summer holiday or that I'd been busy or such but as I'm not into giving excuses I'll just state that it doesn't matter. What matters is that we get back on track!

One thing I thought I'd try and change is to divide the ratings into 4 separate items and score them: Color (1-10), Smell/Scent/Aroma (1-10), Taste (1-20) and Overall impression (1-10). With my math this gives a range between 4 and 50 points to a beer. This should maybe somehow reflect the beer better and also make it easier for you to follow.

So let's give it a try! This time we're going to meet a powerful trio I'd like to call forwards plus a very sweet cheerleader. These beers were not tested one after another which would had given some kind of a understanding of the smaller differences between them but as these beers are so strong the outcome would had been a nasty one after having to drink all of these... plus I wouldn't had had the chance to enjoy every tasty drop of each of them.

So I started with the India Pale Ale. A 7,5 % of alcohol IPA. This beer was bought from a local Alko liquor store and tasted it at home.

Color (9) is a beautiful reddish mead-like color that is quite clear with a gentle pour. Second pour adds the cloudiness to the beer but gives a lot more flavors to it. Not much foam on this beer.
The scent (9) gives a nice range of berries and fruits with a bitter pine nut-like note which most probably comes from the Chinook hops used (Cascade used as well). This Pine comes up even more on the second pour.
The taste (18) is a roller coaster of sweetness that includes sweet fruit from the hops on the head, some rather nice sweet malt (Maris Otter, Munich, Wheat and Caramel malt) with a bitter twist on the body and again back to dry malty and spicy aftertaste with some more pine and marsh tea- like taste. The aromas of the beer change a bit drier when the beer warms up a bit.
Overall (8) the taste is an awesome ride through different kind of nuances ending up to a nice forest tones. As sweet and bitter (EBU 65) it is I'd try it with some barbeque which is also what Nøgne Ø would recommend.

So the total score for this beer is 44/50. We will see how this works in the future and what does it mean. :)

Second on the line was the Imperial India Pale Ale #500, a 10 % alc. vol. version big brother of the earlier tasted IPA. According to the description it is a game of numbers: 5 hops, 100 IBUs, 5 malts, 10 % of alcohol = 500th batch of beer. This was so inviting ad that I needed to dig deeper into it and give it a go.

The color (8) is similar to Finnish home-brew haziness but in lighter brown, honey-like color. Cloudy, not so clear, thus a bit lower score.
Scent (9) includes sweet berries like blackcurrant and raspberry, fruitiness grapes, citrus and rowan berry. That's like the most interesting mixture there is!
Taste (19) The head of the taste introduces a lot of berry-like malty sweetness (Malted barley, wheat, rye and oat) with a bitter twist on it from the hops (Chinook, Simcoe, Pasific gem, Centenneal and Nelson Sauvin). Spiciness and the 100 IBU's is not on the background in this one, that's for sure!Aftertaste is semi long and dry with some spices. If you keep on tasting (smack your mouth looking like a fool) you will find some notes of grapes again.
Overall (9) This beer gives you a lot! It's one of the best craft beers so far. It introduces a delicate scent and a complex set of different tastes that all fit together. It's unfiltered and unpasteurized, bottle conditioned and top-fermented. All this means it works like an Activia yoghurt, gives you the bacteria that makes your stomach work. ;)

Total score for the Imperial API #500 is 45/50.

Next on the line was a special edition beer. The 3rd edition of the famous Dark Horizon series (read the beginning of the story here: I think that Nøgne Ø is describing it the best possible way:

"Best described as an imperial stout on steroids, this dark and rich brew is sweet enough to be your dessert or accompany your richest crème caramel. Due to its strength and concentrated flavor it is best shared."

This is the first (and if I'm not quick enough I might miss the 2 first ones) beer from the DH series. The 3rd edition is a 15,5 % alc. vol killer that has got some coffee extract on it. Weird combination one might say. Weird? Yes. Good? Abso-freeking-lutely!

Color (8) The color replicates to me the finnish home made Salmiakki-Kossu, a mix of liquor and salty liquorice. It's a bit grey rather than all black. Looks a bit dirty to me. Some have said that it's looking like cola and that I understand, comes from the "no foam" looks of it, just like cola after you let it settle down for a while.
Aroma (9) Liquorice, coffee (no surprise there), nicely burned malts with a lot of sweetness on it.
Taste (10) You've got the extremely sweet head on the taste (my spouse tasted it and she was not expecting the sweetness according to the face she gave me ;D), roastedness is present all the way and some spiciness noted mostly due to the level of alcohol. Some rowan berry on the back of the roof of your mouth. The bitterness (100 EBU) is well balanced with the alcohol level covering the mind stunning EBU edge away. The taste of  alcohol is then again well hidden with the sweetness. This layer of different tastes is brilliant! Creamy coffee comes somewhat surprisingly in the end (contrast to the aroma). The aftertaste is bittersweet and includes notes of burned sugar. That's actually what's in it.
Overall (8) This might be the best tasting beer I've ever tasted. Might be because it is on the edge of "do we call it a beer" -step to me. Yes, the fermentation process and all apply but the added coffee on it... mmmm, I don't know. That's why I take of one point of what it could be and leave it to 8. If you think of the complexity and the variance of the taste as a richness then this is the Robin Hood of the taste buds as it takes the thing to a whole new level.

So one of the best experiences so far turned out to be  worth of 45/50 points.

Then the mystery lady... It actually comes from the same samily as the trio above. This summer after our Summer party we decided to jump on a bus and go to Turku where after many turns we ended up to my beloved restaurant Old Bank. They happened to have this beautiful view to offer me:

From this family portrait I chose to have the on on the left, Sweet horizon. Sweet horizon is a 14 % of alcohol member of the horizon series and packs a huge mount of sweetness in it, if you missed that one somehow. :) This was maybe not the beer to drink in the end of the evening, but still I would say it was well worth the shot!

Color (8) There is a song by a Finnish band Kotiteollisuus that is called Tuonelan koivut and in the lyrics there is this rhyme "Järvi syvä, kuin synkin suru on. Musta, kuin yön taivas, pimeä." translates close to "The lake is as deep as the deepest sorrow. Black as the nightly sky, dark." That is the comparison and the note I've made for the color. No foam on this one either.
Aroma (7) Strong fumes of alcohol that reflect also notes of raisin and plum. A lot like a young port wine.
Taste (13) Close to thick flavors of red wine. Plum and raisin. Raisin and plum. Also notes of coffee and sugar. And then those two mixed together.
Overall (7) This beer is a desert itself. Do not take a desert to go with it! It was more simple and less complex that I anticipated.

Total points for the lady are 35/50.

So. We reached the end of our blog entry this time. Please inform if there is some thoughts that were raised up while reading this. Is the new way of organizing stuff good or should I just dismiss it and go with the old style?

And just to keep you waiting (hopefully not as long as now) here's some pictures from the summer showing that I really was working for this blog all my vacation and that I did it all for you my dear readers! ;)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Paradox (Isle of Arran edition), Brewdog

This time we're dealing with one of the top 10 beers ever. There's also a nice connection to the beer other than the love for the stuff itself. The beer is from one of my favorite breweries, Brewdog and the beer itself is THE Paradox, Isle of Arran edition (

The connection I mentioned earlier requires a story. So if you're not into stories then move on to the next paragraph. It was a dark and stormy night... sort of. Actually it was a regular day at the office but it sounded better that way. My friend sent me an email asking me if I was into whiskey. At that time I wasn't. Well, the question was because he was offering me a chance to join an ownership for a cask of Whiskey. Because of the fact that I really wasn't caused me to think of it over the night and also ask some more friends o join this opportunity as there was still room for it. The next day I finally thought that what the heck! I can take part into this and learn to like the "oak juice". Today I have no regrets over this decision! Actually I've started having another hobby on the side of my beers and that's whiskey/whisky (maybe something to be blogged about on these pages as well in the future!). The distillery in question was Arran from the Isle of Arran ( Some time after this I even noticed a bottle that was labeled with Arran texts in the liquor store. I knew that this was a good way to get to know and start getting used to the distillery products. By now the bottle is empty which means that it was drink worthy. The taste of the Whisky (10 yo) is surprisingly young with strong scent of alcohol, subtle fruits and vanilla and spices. As someone might have already got the link between me the beer and the whisky (or at least the distillery) it is the fact that the beer has been ageing for 6 moths in the same casks as the whisky I'm about to get my hands on in about 8 years from now! How cool is that?! :D

The journey of the casks is as follows (copied from Brewdog site):

The Life and Times of a BrewDog Whisky Cask
  1. little acorn into a mighty oak tree, really long ago
  2. oak tree turned into a cask by a skilled human
  3. cask is then used to mature American Bourbon, releasing wonderful flavours from the oak
  4. cask then undertakes a perilous marine voyage across the Atlantic, narrowly escaping the clutches of storms, giant squid and pirates
  5. safely at the Scottish distillery it is used to mature the finest Whisky, adding depth and character to the flavours inculcated in the oak
  6. cask arrives at BrewDog where we fill it with our Imperial Stout. The ageing process infuses all the Whisky flavours and emblazons the casks journey deep into our smooth robust stout, resulting in an unrivalled taste adventure for the lucky human who gets their paws on the finished masterpiece.
I tasted this beer as a recommendation of the bartender of Public house Old bank ( in Turku, a restaurant I really would love to visit more often because of the pretty impressive beer selection that is constantly changing. The reason for the infrequent visits is the distance. Again I should think of the distance as a delay not as an obstacle. Anyway, we were having a night out with the lady and we had some time to spend before going to dinner. I thought that I could have a go with a small aperitif. Stupid me. :) The fact is that a beer with a alcohol level of 10 % is NOT ideal for this use. But as I found out it can be if you play your bets right. After this aperitif we went to find a restaurant and it took about an hour to find one (not saying I was playing time...;) and when we finally found one (Trattoria Romana) it was as we learned, one of the best ones in Turku. After this we still went for one more glass in a small local pub that had an overwhelming selection of 200 different whiskies... but then again, this is another story. ;)

The beer then. Well, you can really notice at least three things with your nose (four if you're not careful with the foam). There's really nicely roasted malts, fruity sweetness of the hops and some of it from the alcohol level as well. The malts used are Marris Otter, Dark Crystal, Caramalt, Chocolate Malt and Roast Barley. It's a really nice and balanced mix that can only speak for the mastery and the passion behind this beer. You can also find some traces of maple syrup.

As mentioned before the alcohol level is at 10 % which is noticeable in a good way. The Caramalts really stand out from he beer and there's a citric twist also hidden into it. In the end you can find the bitter hops (Galena, Bramling Cross used) which finishes to a perfect dry aftertaste, The taste is an unbelievable journey from dark malts via the fruity sweetness to the bitterish and dry end. If you wait for a while you can still notice the taste developing; vanilla, and yes... there it is! Oak! After this also coffee... what else. The IBU's are at 70 which keeps it on a decent level and balance.

I think this should be also tested from the 9 gallon cask they sell it. So if there's someone to join me in buying one... ;) This beer has so complex and well developing taste that it makes the perfect desert (and in some cases aperitif as well). You should try and pair it with a food as well. Brewdog recommends it to be used with meat dishes and I would go even with the grilled stuff. Dark chocolate should also do the trick as well as the aged cheeses. I can only agree on these.

Conclusion: This beer is made to be tasted time after time. This is a beer for me. How about you?

Coming up... The Ultimate Trappist Rumble!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Double dog by Flying dog brewery

"Good people drink good beer." - Hunter S. Thompson

That's the slogan of the Flyingdog brewery. It also means that I must be one of those good people then as I've never come across with a bad beer, only some that are not as good as the other ones. :) The quote stands on the bottle so it has to be the truth.

This blog entry maybe partly (in some way) enlightens my approach to beer. It's the mantra I support in my daily work: Quality comes before Quantity. As in alphabets. Hell, it also applies to my bloging; max 2 entries/moth so far! :D Well, I need to try and do better. That's my promise to you... all of you 2. ;) Hi mom! o/

So, lets jump to the other side of the big water for a while and talk about some American beer. This is a pretty big subject not only because there are quite a lot of different breweries in the states but also because the variety of brewed beers is enormous. There are some breweries making beers old school style (old school being the american style) and also old continent style (Different kinds of European styles). The one I'm most attracted to is the new wave of American styled beers, bold and proge, like the music and a good example of this is whatever comes out of Flying dog brewery .

My first touch with the brewery products was in NY in autumn 2007. This was a coincidence as I was just buying different looking beers from "our local grocery store" on Broadway. I was just trying to avoid the Heinies and Carlsbergs and looking for something different and something different I got! It was an early evening in our hotel room... actually a motel room on the upper West side of Manhattan and I opened the bottle getting this scent like never before. It was so dry and so different from the ones I had used to that I really had to sit down on the bed (the only thing in our room to sit on) and try to gather my thoughts and think if it was for real. Real it was and although (or because) it was so different from the ones I had used to I was hooked on the stuff. This was an experience I had to try re-enact. Since that I've really tried to find beers with attitude and challenge. The beer was Flying dog's Old Scratch Amber lager, more of that will follow in some point. Other products to mention from the brewery are for example the Horn dog, Doggy style classic Pale Ale, Snake dog IPA and Road Dog Porter with some additional seasonal specialities like K-9 Winter ale, just to mention the ones I've come across with.

Nuff's nuff! The beer itself. Comes in a long necked 0,355 l bottle. The bottle itself is a piece of art with it's labeling. The color of the beer is a beautiful reddish copper and it pours really nicely to the glass with a white and delicate, fast foam. The scent holds notes of fruits and to my nose berries, a bit aniseed maybe...? The taste then. Well, IBU 85, need to say more? This means that this thing hits like an iron bar in your mouth. Seriously, no irony in that. Taste is really somewhat iron like... It's a declaration of war against your European taste buds! To me, it's a delicacy. Beer challenging enough to consider it as a drink-worthy. The hops used in this beer (Columbus, Warrior and Cascade) make it really bitter although the IBU is "only" 85 (only in quotes as the Finnish beer usually have around 20-35 but tried some from Brewdog getting to mind staggering 150+). The malts are dry in taste making the IBU feel even higher than they really are. Some bubblegum in the aftertaste. Yes, this is something I also laughed at as I first saw it on one rating. It'll hit you in some point. ;) Oh, did I forget to mention the Alc. vol? Well, it's 11,5 % so you will need less these (smaller Qty, better Quality) to start your night with.

It's a no-go for the first different kind of beer in your life but as you learn to like the hops and learn to appreciate the magic you can do with the hops, this is a safe bet to your Friday case.

I also have to mention that I'm really not following what's it with all these dogs (Brew-, Flying-)...? Not that it matters, it's just names after all and I'm afer the beers!

If you look on the Flying dog web site I didn't quite nail it on the notes... :) But that means that it's my best judgement so far AND that I need to keep on training.

Up next: Ever seen 3 forwards as inviting as these...? This Norwegian Trio plays hard. Hard but fair.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Utö III and Utö Dark Lager

This time it's time to talk about a Finnish beer. In a way at least. Stallhagen ( is a brewery situated on an autonomous island in South-West of Finland. The beers are two limited edition beers from the brewery made especially for the Utö lighthouse ( The lighhouse however is not a part of Åland islands. Sorry no lecture of history here, mostly because I don't know about it and also because it's already written on the web pages. Anyway, getting this beer is again something I'm in great gratitude to mister J-M. I got these twins as my 30 th birthday present from him and his wife. A huge thanks for you both for again supporting my early stage of alcoholism! ;) For real, it's (talking about the experience, as a beer, not the alcoholism) something I most probably would had missed without your kind generosity.

The bottles are traditional Finnish style 0,33 liters as the other products I've tried from the brewery, but the labeling is unique. Labels include, as it happens, Utö Lighthouse! The name and the color of the beer has been communicated also by the background coloring of the lighthouse. In the Dark lager you can see the night sky on the background and on the Utö III there's a clear blue sky. Brilliant!

Enough about the non-beer related stuff I say! Let's get it on, as Big John McCarthy usually lets us know that we've had enough BS. So we start with the lighter nmbr III. The type of the beer is lager and this beer is a perfect representative for the coloring of lager. The nice golden color is crystal clear and the foam is typically low and quite fast fading. Scent is as well typical to Finnish tradition with dry malt and maybe a hint of bitterness of hops used.

Velvety and creamy on mouth the beer gives a pleasant distinction to the "rivals" from other Finnish breweries. Bitter sweet as in the song from Verve would be a good way to describe the head of the taste. Quickly decapitated (fading head) the taste changes to the more familiar light malty and soft finish. Aftertaste imitates the earlier findings of the palate. Nothing special there but the surprisingly refreshing head. To sum this one up still I think that the rarity of the beer makes it a pleasant experience! I think this would be the perfect way to start the night after a long day at work in the summer time so J-M, keep your promise and book us a trip to Utö. We're gonna go get some more of this! ;)

Next up is the darker brother, Dark lager. I seriously had tho try to find what the dark in the name means when it suddenly hit me: the malts have a distinctive roasting on them making at least the malts darker.
 Ok, there is a ale-like reddish coloring on this one too but still I would not go to the dark because of the color of the beer. Then again Red lager would had been a bit lame name and there wouldn' had been a possibility to link the name of the beer to the color of the Baltic sky. Enough again with the

As mentioned earlier the color is close to a 15 yo whisky that has been stored in a sherry cask. The scent is somewhat roasted and sweet candy like malt, with a small portion fried sugar. Taste starts with a sweet head that turns into a malty and bit roasted yet sweet malts with a light fruity hops. After taste gives a light malty taste and a pleasant light roast on top. If you really stretch your taste buds you can find also some honey on the malt and citric on the hops on the body of the beer. The diversity of the tastes is quite unique for this light beer. Well developing taste!

It's nice to notice that there are still ways to differentiate from the main stream even in this genre of beers. And now there's at least one trip I know I'll have to start waiting for in the summer! ;)

What you will be getting in the "near" future for example is...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gambia and beer, Julbrew and Julbrew Export

The subject itself does not give too much of a body for a story. This is however an experience I need to report about as it involves me, beer, and good times. :) To begin with I need to state that we are talking about the smallest country in Africa and the brewery (Banjul breweries Ltd.) in it. To save some time from you that are not going to read further that the first chapter I can tell you that the beers were nothing special themselves but the specialty is based on the limited availability of the beer. At least I've never seen this outside Gambia... need to pay attention to this in the future as well! As I got to learn, the majority of the production of the brewery is consumed by the tourism in Gambia. This is due to the fact that the majority of the country are Muslims.

Banjul Breweries (Website that doesn't offer too much) is the one and only brewery in Gambia. Only one producing beer anyway. Other products are more or less soft drinks. They produce 2 different beers Julbrew and the export version of Julbrew called Julbrew Export. They bottle also Guinness which to me is only to attract English tourists. How extraordinary. It isn't all that bad though as we can learn from reading the label on the bottle. Banjul breweries has been awarded with Monde selection, Brussels not once, but 5 times (-79, -87, -90, -99 and -08). And rightfully so! The quality of the beer is on European level despite the exterior features of the brewery itself (see pic below).

Found from the internet was a claim that stated that free tours are made to the brewery but the locals didn't know anything about that. Also our local guide said that that was the reality few years ago. Now the situation had changed. I had an idea of looking it up from the World's Widest Web but using my vacation time hanging in the net was not in my mind. The other fact supporting my theory was that the connections in Gambia are rare. On the mobile side they didn't even exist. And as easy as that let go of that idea.

With the beers I think we can start with the Export as it's the one that has more taste in it. It also comes with higher percentage of alcohol, all the way up to 5,5 % which makes it not so adequate to the climate. I at least rather take lighter beers in high temp settings. Also the less in the taste, the easier drink and faster relief is the other statement in this section. The color of the Export is light honey with a flat but white foam. The scent brings up a mixture of oat and rice in the inside the hood of malt. On the taste side this is amazingly close to the Finnish beers. I'd even make it a mixture of Karjala and Koff with a small honey twist on the aftertaste. The bitterness of the hops is conspicuous by it's absence so this really makes it a drink to ask for on the beach. If you ask for a beer, this is what they'll bring to you. This or the twin brother of this...

...Julbrew with no additional name. Lower level of alcohol (4,7 %) makes this a lesser in taste and easier to "consume". The color stays the same as in the Export or just a little bit lighter. The foam is higher and lasts longer. It has to, as this one has so little taste and scent that it needs to be very well preserved.  There is (if possible) even less of the hoppy scent in this one than in the Export. Light and sweet malts are wrapped in a yeasty finnish.

Taste then again is somewhat sweeter than the Export's. This has far more of those citric tastes. Nutty and fruity, mainly due to the citrus from the hops (?). You know the Mexican beers? Well this is it's long lost African brother I'd say! :) It is the most perfect beer to have in this belt of the earth, in this country. Might work with "something from the grill" (an advertisement I noticed outside a local bar with a "Fresh catch of the day"). ;)

A perfection could easily be redefined by a local handing one of these on your palm on Sanyang beach on a sunny afternoon (one of the 320 sunny ones in Gambia/year) and saying (with tunes of Bob Marley on the background) "Hello my brotha! Happy family...? Take dis and go out on a beach and chill. I bring you another one as you finish this one. Gambia, no problem!". Don't worry. Be happy.

You really can only admire the memory and the feeling related to the moment that you lay down on your sun bed, on the coast of Gambia. Light wind breezes from the Atlantic ocean. Sun is shining nearly from the zenith (btw. causing your feet to burn! Something I've never experienced... you NEVER need to put sun lotion on your feet in Finland! :D). You place your hand to the table next to your sun bed, under the reed thatched umbrella. Wrap your hand around a bottle of Julbrew... or Julbrew Export. A spontaneous smile pops-up on your face. You are in paradise.

"Rrrrewind selecta, I com back again!"