Evening of esteemed beverages

Hello and welcome. This is the first in a series of reports following our official Evening of the Esteemed Beverages Association here at the Evening Brews. This is where we meet up and drink our latest harvest of nice beers, pinkies erect, while we pretend to know what we’re talking about when we describe the taste. That’s how it works, right?

The menu on this virgin evening looked like this:

Evil Twin – Even More Jesus
Hornbeer – Barleywine
Haandbryggeriet – Dark Force
Mikkeller – It’s Alive, aged in white wine barrels
BrewDog – HBC
BrewDog – Anarchy Alchemy
Mikkeller – Black Hole Red wine

It was quite a Scandinavian heavy menu, mainly due to the fact that both of us had recently been over there and filled our knapsacks with bottles of some of the best these wild vikings has to offer. They do make some damn tasty beers over there. Anyone unfamiliar with Mikkeller and Evil Twin need to stop reading right now, go to Beer’s Of Europe and buy some bottles. Just do it, you won’t be disappointed. Enough preamble, on to the beers.

Evil twin Even More Jesus

First up: Evil Twin – Even More Jesus – Imperial Stout 12%
I don’t think I’ve ever had an Evil Twin that wasn’t downright amazing, and this one was no different. Although it features the name of a very popular sandal toting do-gooder in its title this black viscous liquid conjure up more images of a certain sulphur smelling chap with horns. It’s as black as death, to the point of almost being shiny, like crude oil, with a tobacco brown head when it’s poured. The flavour is as unsubtle as Jesus with a shotgun. Amongst the usual imperial stout flavours like dark chocolate, toffee and coffee I also got a hit of soy sauce. Yes, soy sauce, and it worked. Oh Mr Twin, you crazy old alchemist. This is a sharer, drink a bottle of this alone and you might need a mouth amputation.

Next up: Hornbeer – Barleywine – Barley Wine (duh) 10%
I’d never had anything from this Danish brewery before, and to be honest I’m struggling to remember what this barley wine tasted like. Might be because my mouth was still recovering from the onslaught of blackness from the Evil Twin. Or it might just because it was unremarkable. I only remember it was quite sweet, alcoholic (like most barley wine) and bubbly (unlike most barley wine). One thing it did have going for it was the label. A crazy drug-fueled painting of a grey tasmanian devil, wearing some kind of ye olde worlde tuxedo, waving flowers around while being attacked by bats. Some seriously trippy shit. I liked it.

Next we travel to Norway: Haandbryggeriet – Dark Force – Imperial Stout 9%
Haandbryggeriet is a small brewery from Drammen outside Oslo. They’re not as prolific as Nøgne Ø, Norway’s number one craft beer exporter, but all their beers are exciting and with a seriously high exquisiteness factor. The name, Dark Force, might be a bit misleading, and in danger of infringing some sort of copyright held by a Mr Lucas. This is a wheat stout, and there sure as hell aren’t many of those around. Why remains a mystery because this is right up there on tasty street. It might look dark, but soak your mouth with some and you’ll discover it’s actually quite light, at least compared to other imperial stouts of this magnitude. If any brewers out there read this, please, bring on the wheat stouts – they rock.

We were by this point at the portal of getting sloshed. The point of no return. We’ve all been there. And with the next treat lined up to be flushed down our greedy gullets, we weren’t about to slow down.

Mikkeller – It’s Alive (White Wine Barrel) – Sour Ale 8%
This is one of my all time favourites. I’m a rookie when it comes to sour beers, but when I tasted this for the first time a new synapse connected in my brain. I understood things I hadn’t understood before. The combination of sourness, beer and wine should, by all sensible logic, not work. But it does. It doesn’t taste like beer at all, and the best way to appreciate this concoction is to mentally prepare your brain for what’s to come. It’s fruity and funky in equal measures, with the white wine providing the backup on bass in the background. Now clap your hands everybody, and get down with the sourness.

Now we’re heading up north to the alcoholic landscape of Scotland for our next chapter. Yes, it’s those Crazy Virtuosos of Booze, BrewDog.

Anarchist Alchemist from Brewdog

BrewDog – IPA is Dead HBC – IPA 6.7%   and   BrewDog – Anarchist / Alchemist – Imperial IPA 14%
We started with the HBC, and after downing dark and sour beers for the last couple of hours it was nice to say hello to our good friend mr IPA. IPA is Dead is a range of beers where the Scots focus on single strains of hops. According to their website HBC is supposed to taste like blueberries, pear and sweet potato. I didn’t get anything like that as the only flavour my brain could home in on was that of a very popular and illegal plant. To me this beer reeks of skunk. And we’re not talking about the animal. It might be because hops are closely related to the marijuana plant, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, but there is definitely a strong whiff of ghanja about this brew. And it’s delicious. I like the smell of marijuana, I love beer, what’s not to like.

The second sample from BrewDog was the epic force that is Anarchist / Alchemist. Weighing in at a whopping 14% alcohol this brew packs enough punch to satisfy the wildest hops fans out there. If hops had fists they would jump out of the glass and punch you in the face. This is one triple hopped heavyweight. It’s intense stuff. For me this is too intense. It’s very sweet, almost sickly. I don’t know why. Insert clever fact about hops to malt ratio here. I’ve still to try an Imperial IPA that is this high in alcohol that has blown me away (not physically). Please get in touch if you know what to try to cure this hole in my knowledge. But if you’re a diehard hops-head then go and drown your sorrows in this one.

I also have to say that this Anarchist / Alchemist bottle had the most annoying write-up on any label I’ve ever seen from BrewDog. I personally think their whole punk thing is on the verge of cheapening their brand. Here’s a taster from the label:

“Fuck the system. Forget what you know. What has been. Bow to no one. History is bereft. Reorder. Disorder. Embrace the unknown. The groundbreaking. The challenging. The ichorous revolution is upon us.” What a lot of self-righteous toss.

We’d reached the stage in the evening where carrying on drinking nice beers had become more or less meaningless. However, we carried on. Just one more to go.

Mikkeller – Black Hole (Red Wine Barrel) – Imperial Stout 13.1%
In all honesty we were too drunk to really appreciate this amazing beer. Mikkeller proved for the second time in one evening that he’s a master of barrel ageing. I would put this beer on my list of beers I’m a little bit in love with, so I might be biased, but strong stout goes so incredibly well with flavours of red wine and oak.

With that we concluded our evening, said our goodbyes and stumbled homewards, satisfied on a level rarely achieved.

Until next time.