Friday 19 February 2010

I've Sunk the Bismarck

Maybe the hoppiest beer I've ever had, earthy, citrus, floral, imperial. So thick and full bodied, like syrup, like honey. It smells like a hop sack, so fresh, uniquely fresh, like hop resin, hop oil on the finger tips. It's sweet like candy but hot like bourbon, it's smooth but jagged, it's bitter, it's intense, it's astonishing. Five months in the making, this is insane US Extreme IPA meets Scottish whisky, an unimaginable blend.

I've bought a bottle and I'm glad. Sink the Bismarck, whatever you think about the name and the marketing approach (it's a bit of fun, nothing more - initially the name is shocking but it's more of a jovial up yours than a vicious fuck you), is a special beer. It might not be to everyone's taste - in all senses - but it's a remarkable achievement.


  1. Well I'm still not convinced that being that shocking is excusable. A shit load of people died in that terrible bit of history,

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
    Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
    They fell with their faces to the foe.
    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.
    Lest we forget

    -and for me that is irrespective of nationality.

    But I'm very, very intrigued by the beer. If it is truly great then I'm up for trying it. What is outside the glass was deliberately put there, it is a shame.

  2. Dave, don't believe the hype that is bound to surround this for the next few weeks.

    An interesting idea, not really drinkable though.

  3. "not really drinkable though". The whole point of beer is to make it drinkable. If it isn't, is there a point?

  4. Dave, I totally understand that side of things. The name is a shocking choice but I think more than anything it stands as a figurative saying more than a re-dragging of history. A little insensitive maybe, but not coming from a bad place. Still I understand why people are upset.

    It is a beer to be intrigued by. It's insanely esoteric and a complete one-off experience. Not everyone will like it, some people will love it, like I said yesterday on twitter - it's like marmite. The astonishing thing for me is that it tastes like a beer and there's no question about that - imagine a massive IPA and then amplify and condense it down, almost like reducing a gravy (it gets thicker and stronger and richer). Definitely a beer to share in very small measures.

    Pete, there will be hype, good and bad, and I agree that it doesn't have great drinkability (ie, you wouldn't want it every day or want a few servings in one go), but it's a beer experience.

    Tandleman, it's at the far end of esoteric beer experience. And it's an intense experience. Drinkable/drinkablility, as the discussion I was having with Dave last night, is interesting here. It isn't a beer that has huge drinkability and people shouldn't expect that. I think it's like certain foods, ones that you can only get in certain places and they only work at certain times, molecular gastronomy, El Bulli and Fat duck stuff, birds nest soup, fugu, dorian... they are things certain foodies seek out and Sink! is an equivalent of that.

    Drinkability in the sense of wanting 4 pints of it or wanting it every day is almost moot with this beer in the same way that you wouldn't necessarily want dorian in your fruit bowl every day.

  5. Dominic, Marble Brewery20 February 2010 at 10:28

    I don't want Sink the Bismarck. I NEED it. Fingers crossed the boys are bringing it to the pre-Zythos festival in two weeks.

    BTW, Drinkability is a really hot topic in brewing research at the moment. There was an interesting article on it in the IBD monthly publication and if I can find it, which I should be able to, as it's at work, I'll send it to you. Be assured it's an area of brewing that is seeing a lot of interest.

  6. Dominic, are all the brewers in Britain decamping to pre-ZBF?! Hopefully you'll all leave some beer behind...

    Interesting to hear about drinkability. Send it through if you can, I'd be very interested in what it says.

    By the way, I got the Abstrakt Quad with vanilla beans and it's sensational! The new Hardcore is great too, much better, I think, and it bottles very well.

  7. Dominic, Marble Brewery20 February 2010 at 11:30

    No, only the really cool ones ;). I think not going to Belgium that weekend, missing an afternoon in Gent, the pre-Zythos, Night of the Great Thirst, another Cantillon open brew-day, the actual Z-festival and a pleasant Sunday out at De Cam Cafe and the 'Gentlemen of Liedekercke' cafe would be the single most crushing event in my life, and I would maybe consider not bother drinking good beer again, as it would be pointless. Rumour has it de la Senne might have a brewery to open that weekend too. God help my poor liver. Looking forward to the new hardcore, the last one was a delight.

  8. Damn, sounds like the sort of thing I'd enjoy... I need to save some pennies for Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation though.

    Marble Special went down a treat in the US, by the way.

  9. Mark, i'll admit is was an experience, I have now tried it.

    I just can't think of another situation I would ever think that I would want to drink it. If it is hot and sunny, I want crisp, cold, pale low abv. If it is cold I want big, dark and rich. If my palate is tired I want a sour. If it is late at night and I want a really slow sipping drink I'll have a glass of whisky. Sink! just doesn't fit in anywhere.

    Surely drinkability is not that you can just chuck loads of it down your neck, but actually having a time and an event at which the drink is appropriate.

  10. I think last night was a appropriate event ;) It's something that you can just throw in there, a curveball, during a tasting, or something to pull out after dinner to get people thinking and trying something new. I think it fits in like that. It's far from an everyday drink like the others you mention (even whisky, which I think is everyday).

    I was going to whip it out at the IPA night next week but now we've all tried it I'll keep it hidden away for another time.

  11. The Titanic sinking was a terrible bit of history, yet there's an entire brewery named after the ill-fated vessel. Where does all this faux-outrage end? I suppose it'll be when holier-than-thou attitudes and censorship goes out of fashion again.

    As for the beer, I'm glad I tried it. Considering the multiple and wonderful processes it went through and the final strength, it was more pleasant and drinkable than I expected. It was an experience and talking point and made for a fun evening with like(open)minded people. And it's better than the Penguin.

  12. I like the way people are now calling it Sink! rather than using its full name - presumably to give it an air of respectability.

    No comparison with Titanic. If anything that name commemorates and honours the passengers and crew who died that night. Sink the Bismarck glorifies the act itself.

    Not that that will cut much ice with those beer geeks who appear to be so far up James Watts' backside you can barely see the soles of their trainers

  13. If Brewdog James bottled his own piss and charged 40 quid a bottle, mugs like you and Clarkey would queue up for it.

  14. They could call it Jimmy's Riddle.

  15. Cooking, chuck it in a barrel, aggressively hop it and I'll buy it. That's my usual criteria for buying beer.

    Brad, that's terrible :)