Monday, March 31, 2014

#IHP2014 - The Drinking

It's fair to say that I really enjoy brewing historical beer recipes, and the International Homebrew Project is probably my favourite homebrew project each year. This year's IHP beer was a porter originally brewed in 1834, in Norwich in East Anglia, at a brewery called St Stephen's. 6 weeks ago I brewed by version of the beer, and last night I popped open a bottle...


As you can see from the picture, it pours absolutely jet black, absorbing the light, with dark brown edges, and a lingering light brown foam that lingers and lingers. Damn it looks inviting. The aroma is dominated by bittersweet chocolate and coffee, the classic roastiness of brown malt, backed up with a supporting cast of tobacco, spice, and earthy hops, and just a slight trace of booze.


The roasty theme continues in the taste, again a coffee element with a hefty dose of dark bittersweet chocolate chucked in for good measure, and a pronounced nuttiness, that made me think of a tablespoon of Nutella stirred into an espresso. The bitterness of the hops is very much present, but not in a grimace inducing way, the balance is surprising really.


This is one full bodied, velvety beer, which still has a little bit of boozy hotness which once is settles out will make it dangerously moreish. The thing that surprised me most about this porter is having a calculated 82 IBUs and yet it has a wonderful balance to it.

I imagine I'll be brewing this again at some point, probably when the nights start to draw in again after summer.

UPDATE:

I will be posting links to other versions of the International Homebrew Project as I come across them, or am sent the link.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#IHP2014 - Write Up Reminder

Seems an age since I brewed my version of a porter originally brewed in 1834...


Well, this weekend I will get to drink the stuff, and then on Monday write about it on here.

Also on the historical brewing front, on Friday I will be at Blue Mountain brewing helping to brew a Burton Ale from 1923, originally brewed by the Courage Brewery in England.

Should be a good weekend all round.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Anything But Utter Nonsense

A few weeks ago I got an email from an old drinking buddy, attached to said email was his new book. The drinking buddy was Max, perhaps better known as Pivní Filosof, and the book, The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, co-written with Alan from A Good Beer Blog, and referencing one of my favourite authors.


With fewer than a hundred pages, I thought it wouldn't take that long to read it, but life has a way of getting in the way of pleasures like reading, and thus I only finished it yesterday morning. As the subtitle suggests, this a rant about the way 'craft' beer is perceived by its fans and the snake oil salespeople that peddle its myths, lies, and videotapes.

Couched within a series of conversations between the authors, in various drinking contexts, the book looks at many of the themes that surround the 'craft' beer industry; pricing, beer culture, the definition of 'craft', and various other instantly recognisable motifs. There is a supporting cast of well known bloggers, including a quick mention for Fuggled (on page 72), as Max and Alan bar, and continent, hop.

I found myself nodding in agreement often, as the authors round on the daftness that surrounds 'craft' beer, especially the banality of a sizeable portion of its fans and acolytes, in particular the difference between tasting beer and drinking it. While I like a flight in a new brewery, it really only serves one purpose, to help me choose a pint to drink afterwards. Probably my favourite episode in the book is the kidnapping of an archetypal 'craft' beer geek, and the de-programming of his craft sanitised mind.

Having had the pleasure of drinking with Max, reading the book reminded me of sitting in places like Pivovarský klub, Zlý Časy, and U Radnice (where he, I, Evan Rail, and Rob finished off a keg of Primátor Stout), and speaking with him, which was always fun.

The book is engaging, raucous, and overall a good read. It identifies many of the issues that I have with the current state of much of the 'craft' brewing industry, and associated hangers on. If you feel uneasy with much of the conversation around the beer industry, then The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer is essential reading.