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! ;)

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