Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I've had some great beer recently

I’ve had a lot to drink in the last few weekends with the Old Ale Festival, some London drinking, the Pigs Ear and some bottles at home. Here are some of the highlights...

Birra del Borgo’s Re Ale Extra (cask). Italian IPA, hoppy, fruity, bready, toffee, bitter, easy drinking. Just a perfect example of crisp, cool and delicious Italian beer.

Bear Republic’s Racer 5 in The Rake (keg). As above with MORE. Tropical fruits, mangoes and oranges, bitterness, body – just more American-ness. I’d been waiting to try this one for ages and managed to drink in on Thursday and Friday last week. Fantastic. More beer should be like this (most beer should be like this).

De Molen’s Amarillo (cask, I think – definitely draught). The colour of peach flesh, bright and so incredibly fruity with peaches, apricots and mango, full bodied and sweetly delicious, punching bitterness adds an easy drinking and more-ish quality. After we’d left The Rake earlier in the day I had a string of disappointing beers and probably sounded like a broken record repeating the words ‘I want a Racer 5’ but then I had the Amarillo and Oh My it’s awesome (and like a completely different beer to the bottle).

De Molen’s Lood & Oud IJzer (bottle). A Pigs Ear festival special mixing Rasputin and Amarillo in a black-and-tan-in-a-bottle. My mate Matt bought this for us. Just an awesomely good beer. You know, one of those beers that you want to bathe in, that you want to drink for hours just to keep tasting it and experiencing it’s fruity hops, the roasted malt, it's stunning balance. It’s understated considering it’s mixing two big beers and it’s constantly interesting. I probably should’ve bought a bottle for myself to take home.

Durham Temptation (bottle). A brewery and a beer I’ve heard lots about. This was great. Dark fruits, bitter chocolate, vanilla sweetness, smooth, big (this was late in the day after starting at 11.30am so I can’t offer more than Gordon Ramsay-style brevity with my notes).

And a bottle of Goose Island IPA (bottle) on the Saturday with a takeaway curry because I couldn’t be bothered to cook. I forgot just how good this beer is. I need to buy more of it. So easy drinking, fresh, vibrant, fruity, delicious. I will never fully understand why anyone buys and drinks bottles of lager when they can have something like this.

I'm thirsty now and it's early in the morning. I'm craving the fruity hops in the Amarillo and Racer 5 (my on-going hop love affair is showing no signs of abating, even in this cold weather). Bear Republic is on my list of places to visit next year. I guess De Molen is too. And Birra del Borgo... It's a long list. A long, expensive list...


  1. Mark

    The tasting cafe at De Molen is very easy to get to (I can supply details) and I'm always surprised it's not more visited. Apart from the beer festival last October, on my usual Friday afternoon visits (I say usual, this means about twice a year) the place is normally empty apart from our group.

    There are typically half a dozen beers on draught and of course the shop is always open (although I'm not sure you can buy beer in the shop and drink it there, the Dutch have some odd rules in this respect).

    A good time for you to go might be next May when, all being well, the Meibock festival will be held (probably at the new De Prael brewery premises in the city centre). Fingers crossed the new Jopen brewpub will be open in Haarlem by then (about 15 minutes by train from the 'Dam).

    By the way, pleased you've now encountered Durham - another classic brewery from 't North. Another brewery you might want to check out (it's not in the north) is the Hopshackle Brewery who seem to be doing some interesting things.

  2. The de Molens, Racer 55 and Cantillon were my beer highlights of the weekend, absolutely fantastic and I'm on a search to get a decent stock of all of them in if possible.

    My bottle of Lood & Oud Ijzer will be waiting in my cupboard for a special occasion though!

  3. John, when you go next let me know, I'd love to go over there. I want to do some drinking in Amsterdam.

    Mark, shotgun some of that bottle when you open it! I reckon it's one to drink fresh and as it is, not sure what aging will do to improve it!

  4. I hadn't had a Goose Island IPA in some time, so since it is made only 250 miles (OK, if you insist, 400 km) from here (A prophet is not without honor but ... in his own house), I picked up a sixer, and you are right - it's a killer. Not necessarily better than Bell's Two Hearted or Arbor Brewing's Sacred Cow (two others made more locally), but also definitely worthy of Christmas consideration.