A Belfast Affineur

Sometimes I wish I lived in Belfast. Being out here in Tyrone means I miss out on all kinds of events but it also means my visits to specialist retailers are few and far between. Sometime I don't even find out about the place. Arcadia is one such place. Its been there for 60 years yet I only found out about its existence a few weeks ago and resolved to investigate ASAP.

I'm glad I did. In addition to all the usual deli bits like cheeses and meats there's a range of home-made chutneys and other tasty produce. I especially liked the wide variety of UK cheeses available, some of which will be making their way into my new book. There were a couple of cheeses I hadn't even heard of, let alone tasted which has now been rectified. They include the fantastic Leggygowan Blue from Saintfield. These will no doubt be making an appearance in blog form in the near future. They're happy to let you taste the cheeses too; so don't have to be buying blind

I've agreed to participate in an Belfast Bloggers Unite one topic, 40 opinions project. This post is my wilful misinterpretation of the brief "Eating Out in Belfast". If you live in Belfast or its environs get yourself down to Arcadia and bag yourself some tasty cheeses and meats, pop in the bakers next door for some fresh bread and the grocers on the other side for some salad bits then get yourself out there and enjoy Belfast's green spaces. Have a picnic in the Botanic Gardens, a ploughman's in Ormeau Park. You could even pair it with beer by grabbing some bottles from the ever plentifully stocked Vineyard...though of course most public places disallow alcohol; so perhaps save that for those back garden picnics!


More Vintage Ales

Extreme cellaring alert! My friend Alan (of Neill & Ross Brewery) is a Belgian beer nut and has amassed a sizable collection of aged beers, including some no longer brewed. This weekend we cracked open a number of them. Here are some thoughts:

First up were a couple of 1970s rarieties from Bass, the 1977 Jubilee Strong Ale & Bass Princess ale 1978
Both of these were well past their prime, with oxidation, wet cardboard, sod all carbonation and just not generally very nice. The Princess Ale did have an interesting touch of red fruit and toothpaste to differentiate from the former, but both drain pours unfortunately.

La Choulette Biere Des Sans Culottes 1990 is a dark biere de garde and not one I was too keen on either.

Straffe Hendrik 1990 was well past it and was a straight drain pour.

The Chimay Premier was also past its prime. I preferred the fresh version (which is so far one of the only doubles I've actively enjoyed).

So far, not so good but the better beers were to come in the form of a Felix Kriek from 1972 and Belle Vue Selection Lambic 1989. The kriek had held up fantastically and paired well with Stilton as suggested in the Vinken and Van Tricht book. A nose and taste reminiscent of rodenbach with cherries still lingering in the background. A surprising amount of condition for its age too. This beer is still produced today albeit in a much diminished form.

The Belle Vue lambic, today well known for being overly-sweetened was also a good beer. Obviously it started off sour and fairly dry, so there wasn't much more it could do to develop. Very dry, funky nose and lots of citric acid, just how I like them.

 Another interesting comparison was fresh Rodenbach to a bottle ~50 years old. Undisputably the same beer, the older bottle had lost some of the vinegar tartness and become more rounded. This worked well with mimolette, another win for the cheese and beer guide.

Another highlight for me was the 1960s Rochefort 10. Just as good as the fresh stuff and fantastic with Fourme d'Ambert.
A Westmalle Tripel of similar age was also sampled, but having neglected to make notes I don't recall how it had held up! A 2011 Westvletern 12 did nothing to shine, reinforcing the view that this beer is very over-hyped due to its rarity.

The big surprise of the evening for all of us was that Weston's Cider from 1985 tastes pretty much indistinguishable from fresh stuff. This makes sense as the wild yeast used to ferment it already succeeded in outcompeting any other wee beasties in 1985, so not much scope for infection and all the sugar had fermented out in any case.

A mixed batch then, as you would perhaps expect but a fun evening nonetheless.Thanks Alan and Olly for supplying most of the bottles.


A Lowland Distillery

Following on from the fun on Islay over Easter I decided to visit a completely different distillery (albeit still Diageo-owned) the East Lothian based Glenkinchie. Being Diageo I was again able to get free entry with my "Friends of Classic Malts" passport and again "Health & Safety" disallowed the taking of photographs in production areas.

There is however a fantastic exhibition with scale model of the distillery; so can do a "virtual tour". The exhibition is housed in the old maltings. Like the majority of distilleries, malt is shipped in a few times a week, where it is crushed in a mill to give a grist of 20/70/10 husk/grit/flour. The husk creates a filter bed, too high a flour proportion and you end up with a stuck mash. This is a similar principle to milling barley for beer production (which is in essence the first step of whisky production). The old grain elevator is still in place, though its now piped into the mill.

Next we see the mash tun. Mashed in at 63, with a second mash at 72 then sparged at 84, which becomes the first mashing water for the next brew. 6 wash-backs (fermenters) 4 of Oregon pine and 2 Canadian larch IIRC, chosen not for their aromatic attributes, but because their tall trunks have no branches--> no knots to form leaks. Fermentation is 60 hours, the distillery runs on a 12-hour cycle. The yeast is stored live on site and is a specific species suited for whisky distillation that gives high alcohol content and little in the way of esters that ale brewers look for.
Another feature from pre-H&S-conscious days is the "dramming bell" so called because when rung all workers would assemble for their measure of new-make spirit at 70%ABV.

Through into the distillation room and only two stills, though the wash still is the biggest in Scotland with a filled capacity in excess of 30,000 litres. With each fermenter taking up 20,000 litres, there's a good third of the space inside available for reflux and this contact with the copper helps to produce a lighter more grassy spirit.
The wash still is a bit smaller at ~20,000 litres but still plenty of space as a good percentage of the liquid is "pot ale" which goes to farmers as cattle feed along with the spent grain in the mash tun. In between the two distilling steps the spirit travels through the spirit safe into two receiver below. The cut for spirit is 73 to 69%, the remaining heads and tails are combined with the ext batch of low wines and redistilled.

Before the spirit safe is another, less often seen step. The whisky must be cooled from gas to liquid phase, and this is done by the means of two condensing "worms" - copper spirals in large tanks of water. The water is held on site for cooling in 3 lagoons before being discharged back into the local burn.

After distillation is the filling of the casks, done next door. There's a four storey warehouse on site but very little of the whisky is actually stored here, just the oldest stock. Most is housed in purpose built racked warehouses elsewhere in Scotland. Only ~8% of the production makes it into single malt bottles, the rest ends up in a variety of blends.

After the tour...the tasting! I've recently written about the Glenkinchie 12 y/o but there's a wide selection of single malts available for trying. If you're not driving I recommend paying the slight bit extra for a "flavour of Scotland" tour as you can choose which whiskys to sample and there's some tasty drams. I sampled the distillers edition (cask strength) finished in brandy pipes. Completely different to the regular 12 y/o with some fruity notes and much darker in colour. I prefer it.


The exhibition also has a working spirit (water) safe, which gives you a chance to play about with the cuts which is interesting, an illicit still from the distillery's past and a selection of cooperage tools. Its more interesting than the marketing displays at a lot of other distilleries and free entry if you haven't time for a tour. The shop is also well stocked with various special edition whiskys if you're looking for anything unique in Diageo's range and a number of books including a whisky and food cook book, with a few cheese and whisky pairings which caught my eye...watch this space!


UK brewers scoop half of the golds at IBC

Announced today are the results of the International Beer Challenge for 2012. English and Scottish brewers between them have scooped up 15 gold medals, half of the totals awarded. Its also an increase of 4 on last years haul of 14.
A panel of 50 independent judges chaired by Jeff Evans sample all of the beers to determine those of the best quality. Beers are judged in each category then pass to a "super-panel" who decide medal awards and overall winners.

Among the winners are new brews Curious Brew Lager and Elgood's M&S Royal Jubilee beer Sandringham Diamond Ale as well as Stuart Howe's (of Sharp's brewery) newly released 2011 Quadrupel. 

Image courtesy of Chapel Down Vineyards
Curious Brew certainly lives up to its name with ingredients sourced from around the world. English malt, Czech Saaz and USA Cascade hops for bittering and dry-hopped with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin. Its fermented with a champagne yeast and is also unpasteurised which will please the afficinados of real lagers. 
MD of  Chapel Down Vineyard (the makers of the beer) Frazer Thompson explained the concept behind the beer:
"Mass-produced lagers taste like corporate cardboard and have the aroma of market research rather than hops. We’ve worked really hard to craft something that is more fragrant and more refreshing than other beers"
Certainly sounds like one I'd enjoy trying, despite its mixed reactions on RateBeer.

Fyne Ales repeated last years success with Jarl and also took home a gold for Hurricane Jack, their stronger golden ale. I'd certainly agree that they're both excellent beers. Fyne Ales have now taken home two Golds each year for the past three years on a number of different beers, showing their quality across the range.

 Oakham also scored a second consecutive Gold for Citra and Bishops Farewell also took top prize this year. St Austell reopeated 2010's success with Golds for M&S Cornish Ale and Proper Black. That latter St Austell beer is perhaps my favourite Black IPA and I drank it in quantity during the Wetherspoon beer festival last November.

Harvey's of Sussex managed an impressive three gold medal wins (including for their Le Coq Imperial Stout, based on an old Courage recipe), bested only by American behemoth Sam Adams with their five golds.

Other British winners were Shepherd Neame with Late Red and Innis and Gunn with their Stout aged in Irish Whisky Cask. The full list of winners is available on the IBC website, congratulations are in order to everyone whose beers won an award. Its great to see that UK brewers are up there with the rest of the world when it comes to winning awards.


Book Review: Beer & Cheese

As some of you may be aware by now, I'm writing an E-book of cheese and beer pairings. When I had the idea I Googled cheese & beer pairings and found a book had recently been published in Belgium on that very subject. The catch? Its in Dutch! Well its evidently done well enough in the author's native tongue to be translated into English and its to be published on July 25th. (Available on Amazon here)

The authors certainly have the right credentials on paper, one a brewing industry professional/ sommelier of many years standing, the other a cheese affineur of almost 35 years experience. The book looks the business, harback with succulent cheeses arranged on slate.

Inside it's even better, with thick paper, decent quality photos and a two page spread for each suggested pairing. It purports to cover "all the major styles" and whilst it features 50 different beers, a number of styles are repeated whilst other more modern or obsure styles seem to have been omitted. It also seems to rely heavily on the more commercially available beers (unsurprising given Vinken's connections) but does feature six of the seven Trappist breweries (what, no Westvletern?). Comprehensive tasting notes though and a few beers I've not yet come across I shall now be seeking out.

The pictures of the cheese cause much salivation and there's plenty of info on the cheeses but actually little by way of tasting notes on the cheese or the pairing, relying more on writing up the "experience" of the pairing. I'd have liked to know a bit more about the cheeses as there were a number I'd not heard of, let alone tasted.This is reinforced by photos of the authors scattered throughout tucking in to cheese and beer. Its less of a guide and more of a report on a few enjoyable afternoons.

One thing I did enjoy was reference to brewery and cheesemaker visits, which were the subject of a series of 15 minute programs on a Belgian food and drinks channel. There are also suggestions of alternative cheeses, which is handy as I suspect a number of them may not even be available in the UK. Unlike the beers, there are a smattering of cheeses from outside Belgium and France used as pairings, but the omission of a decent cheddar is surely a grave omission!

My biggest bugbear with the back is perhaps the lack of indexes. I'd like to see an index by cheese and by beer at the very least. A decent glossary would also make the guide more accessible to the casual reader. There is a contents page but the pairings are in no discernible order.

I'd recommend the book to anyone interested in cheese and/or  Belgian beer and it certainly looks the price. Perhaps a little highly priced, but I've seen Lulu prices would be similar if I were to go down the printed route. If successful it could potentially come out in paperback in the future. Nevertheless this is a great coffee table tome and one which I will enjoy dipping into on occasion. As for the greatness of the pairings I've not yet had a chance to test them, but there's plenty I'm keen to try!

I requested a review copy of the book from, Lannoo, publishers of the book. 
"Beer & Cheese" by Vinken & Van Tricht. Lanoo (Tielt) 2012. ISBN 978-9-401401-73-9  RRP: £28.50


A Veritable Brewfest

The weekend just passed was the inaugural Edinburgh Independents Beer Festival. The premise? An 8 pub beer festival with each pub featuring a different brewer/ brewers. A simple concept but one that no doubt took a lot of work from its organisers Craft Centric (aka the guys between the new Hanging at Beer Bar). That it went without any major hiccups is amazing enough, but coupled with perhaps the best selection of  up and coming UK brewers' beers available at any one time (yes, that includes London) its an astounding feat. The fact that I almost didn't find out about it means I appreciated it all the more. 

My original plan was to get to a couple of the pubs; as an afternoon's drinking wasn't really on the cards. Somehow we ended up visiting all 8 pubs in the space of about 5 hours: no mean feat when it involved about 7 miles walking between them! What follows (after the map) is a short run-down of the pubs and beers enjoyed.

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Travelling south from Waverley the first pub encountered is the Holyrood 9A. This is decidedly a food pub, with all tables set for dining but you're more than welcome to take a seat and just get drinks. 10 keg beers and 4 cask beers on offer and a fantastic range. Camden were the beers in residence Thankfully they offer thirds so its possible to try a few. An opportunity to try both wheat beer styles was not to be sniffed at and the wheat and Gent;eman's Wit were both enjoyed, if a little yeastier than usual. The lemon and bergamot made a real change to the usual orange and corriander and if they were to bottle this I'd get a 12pack.

After that we headed down to studentville and to the Southern a pub with another decent menu and hosts of Magic Rock beers for the weekend. We grabbed a half of the new hopped imperial wit Clown Juice, every bit as refreshing as I'd hoped and no way I'd have pegged it at 7%. That's another excellent special release from Rich, Stu et al.

A brisk stroll across the meadows sees you in Cloisters, a pub I've enjoyed on numerous occasions. Unfortunately for me no new beers to try as its Bristol Beer Factory in residence here but thankfully that means I get to try the fantastic ultimate stout on cask. A gorgeous Foreign Extra stout with rich creamy mouthfeel, sweetness and lots of roast in the finish. Thumbs up from Daisy too.

The plan next was to go to dinner but due to some(un)fortunate navigational errors we ended up at the Caley. When in Rome...
I tried the fantastic new USPA, a northern Hemisphere variation on the superlative NZPA. I think the original just pipped this but I'm a sucker for those antipodean hops.

After dinner in Haymarket's Chop Chop we sauntered over to Stockbridge to the eponymous Stockbridge Tap where a beast of a beer was on. In fact two beasts Moor's JJJ IPA and Magic Rock's Bourbon Barrel bearded lady, a half of each was in order. The JJJ is a definite contender for beer of the weekend, roch Tropical hops and lip-smacking bitterness, it was a treat to find it as its largely export only since the evils of HSBD.

Up a fecker of a hill and a couple of excitable squirrels and we find ourselves at the Cambridge, home of Macclesfield's Red Willow for the weekend. We arrive as the new Soulless is launched on cask and keg. Its a Black IPA and another good one from Toby. Smokeless on cask "dry-hopped" with chipotle is also fantastic.

Feeling a bit beered out but with just two pubs remianing we push on to newcomer Red Squirrel on Lothian Road. Its heaving with a Friday night crowd but there's some bench space left. Alechemy Black IPA is a little disappointing, lower ABV than usual for a BIPA and lacking the body its consequently a little watery. Lovibonds 69 IPA more than makes up for the disappointment however and a great introduction to the brewery.

On the home stretch now and its along Grassmarket and up West Bow to the Bow Bar. This is a fantastic old boozer filled with railerphanelia and largely standing-room only. We finish off the day with a bang, Summer-Wine's Half Wit, Kernel IPA Summit and Hawkshead Brodies Prime (beefed up Brodies reserve in a Bladnoch cask).

We headed back to Holyrood 9A for the Sunday finishing party. Enjoyable thirds of 12 beers from the majority of the breweries from the weekend and some tasty snacks from the menu. We'll certainly be returning for a meal one day when the pub is less rammed. Unfortunately very few brewers made it to the final event but it was good to meet Chris and Bruce, the guys behind the weekend and James, brewer at Summer Wine.

A fantastic array of beers and a lot of hard work. Thanks guys! All of the pubs are fantastic too, each with their own individual feels but all sharing the theme of great beer. I'm already looking forward to how the guys will best the event next year. Look out for the announcement sometime in the next couple of months for the date.

More write ups at The Beer Cast, Hippo Beers & This masterpiece from Craig.

*The ever-handy weekly What's on Guide from Edinburgh Stalwarts The Beer Cast put me right.



I enjoy whisky barrel-aged beers (there, I said it!); so when Brewdog announced the release of Tokyo which had been aged in respectively a Highland and Lowland cask ("Tokyo Rising Sun") my interests were piqued and in the interests of science *ahem* purchased them* to report back.

I also decided to compare the beers to a representative whisky from each of the regions to see if I could discern any of the flavours transferred. I'd also have liked to compare to original Tokyo, but this has long since sold out and fresh (now 18%) Tokyo* will have to suffice.

Lowland up first then (only one cask of this). Pours unctuous pitch black with a temporary cola head and steady stream of effervescence. Caramel, molasses, tobacco, chocolate, cocoa, whiff of peat. Thick in the mouth, some definite tcp and smoke, sweet malt, apple cigars, cold hearth. Sweet in the finish, almost distracting from the stout richness.

Medium golden Glenkinchie in comparison smells very one-dimensional and quite grainy. Taste wise there's grass, beechwood and a fairly fiery finish. I'm not sure this was the cask used, though there's only a few lowland distilleries so the probability is quite high!

Highland Tokyo Rising Sun pours oily black with a fluffy cola head that soon collapses to a lacing. Oily legs and big aroma of peat bogs, sour cherries, campfires and mead. Slightly more carbonation in the mouth and a lot more charred wood and cranberry than the lowland. A touch of cola, less residual sweetness soon leaves the tongue but long finish around the mouth and down fruit. Warming but not noticably alcoholic. I’d say people may find this a bit more of a struggle to drink.

Dalwhinnie** this time and with a mouth full of smoky beer the woodsmoke notes overpower the honey nose i usually get from this. It almost smells like new make spirit. Its extremely sweet in the mouth with pineapple up front, vanilla and some applewood smoke. Very fiery again, something the beer seems capable of accentuating in the whisky.

To finish things off nicely I've a bottle of Tokyo*. This 18% beast is a souped up version of those aged above but should still be an interesting comparison. Last time I tried it however I wasn't too impressed, it was a tad oxidised with an unpleasant acetic nose. Dark Brown with fluffy tan head, cranberries and chocolate malt on the nose but still a touch acetic. Thick body, rich, tart cranberry, chocolate, coffee, caramel, vanilla. This is much better than the previous bottle! Long sweet and boozy finish with a touch of roast barley and malt astringency. Jasmine comes in late with more malt sweetness.

I preferred the Lowland aged Tokyo to the highland aged one, by some way, but both are good beers in their own right and up there with the best Paradox brews. If someone offers you to share a bottle, I'd accept! But in terms of buying for yourself you're better of with getting the Tokyo* and drinking a glass of whisky alongside, its just not worth £25.

*Although aided by my 20% shareholder discount, they're still among the most expensive beers I've purchased. I can understand why though, the base beer wasn't exactly cheap with cranberries and jasmine added, then there's the purchase of the whisky casks, 3-4 years storage time, limited label run and of course beer geek tax.

**Yes, I am aware of the irony of picking two Diageo owned brands of whisky. For those of you who aren't see #DiageoGate.


Guest Post: Dutch Cheese with beer

I'm not the only person with a hankering for beer and cheese, my friend Scuff is also a fan. I've known him for almost as long as I've been drinking beer but met through a different medium...music. Probably my first Belgian beer experience was drinking a Kwak in a Brighton pub with him. So without further ado, here's a guest post

 I'm a lucky chap! I knew things would improve once we'd moved into our new house and I was proved correct when one of my best friends presented me with a selection of fine aged Dutch cheeses as a housewarming present. He won them in a raffle at a pole dancing competition that his girlfriend took him to - how's that for a back story!? 

These cheeses might not have been to his taste but fortunately they are very much to mine. I've visited Amsterdam several times and I'm a big fan of the food and drink scene out there. I didn't want to waste this good fortune so I set out to pick up some suitable beers to enjoy alongside my cheese. I'm quite the novice when it comes to beer and cheese pairing, though I'm fairly confident I could bore people sufficiently in a conversation about either one on its own, so I took a few wild stabs and this is what I came up with... 

I decided big strong cheese would probably need big strong beers. Unfortunately good Dutch beer is not as widely available as I would like in England and I was rather at the mercy of the supermarkets and a couple of independent off-licences. To the keen beer drinkers out there these will probably seem quite familiar, to everyone else I encourage you to hunt down and try them. 

Beemster (2 years old)
A smooth textured and obviously carefully kept cheese that still managed to retain some sweetness despite the ageing. This was the first one I tried and it was clear from the first bite that these cheeses were of a class that would be offended to be offered up on a biscuit or alongside any condiments. I played it cool on this one and went for something light, but that would hint at all the flavours I wanted to bring through, and picked a De Koninck.

Dutch Sheep's Cheese (4 years old)
As well as the usual nuttiness that you'd expect from Sheep's cheese this had quite a lingering bitterness to it that came through very strong in the aftertaste so it was going to take something powerful to cut through that. I think I made the right choice by going with a good powerful stout, and they don't get much more powerful than an Ellezelloise Hercule Stout. Strong malty pallate and with a sweetness in the aftertaste that brought out the nuttiness of the sheep's cheese whilst balancing the bitterness. 

Old Amsterdam (3 years old)
Last time I went to Amsterdam I bought a huge chunk of this back with me. It's a lovely cheese made with milk from dairies in and around Amsterdam. I knew exactly what beer to drink with it, unfortunately I couldn't find any. My recommendation for this would be the Natte made by Brouwerij ’t IJ (pronounced "Brewery eye"). It's a red/brown double beer, well hopped and with the sweetness of caramel malt that would compliment this traditionally aged cheese well. However I've found that the beers brewed in this converted windmill in Amsterdam don't travel particularly well and you rarely see them in the UK so I made do with one of my favourite beers of all time, Pauwel Kwak. Simply because a) it's a suitable substitute, b) I'm a sucker for challenger hops, and c) I'll look for an excuse almost any day of the week to sit back and enjoy a Kwak in my traditional stirrup glass. 

Aged Gouda (2.5 years old)
Wow, what a fine cheese this was. All the fine creamy flavour of gouda with a mature bite to punctuate it. This was the easiest pairing for me though. I have always enjoyed gouda and trappist together and I don't care if its 2.5 or 25 years old, I'm not making an exception this time. If this hadn't been a strong enough cheese to look after itself I would have brought in the dijon mustard and a gherkin or two, but as it was this little cheese stood up to the mighty Trappistes Rochefort 8 all by itself. Good for it. 

If I was to pick a favourite I would have to say I particularly enjoyed the Old Amsterdam and Pauwel Kwak. The flavours transported my back to fond memories of sitting in Amsterdam's fine drinking establishments enjoying a plate of cheese alongside a fine quality beer whilst deciding which pub to hop to or which canal to stroll alongside next, or whether to simply order yet another beer and a plate of ossenworst and some pickled gherkins.

Scuff Blogs at Scuff's Kitchen


Owl Beer

Ever since my session post on owls in beer design I've had a few hits a week from people searching for the "beer with an owl on the lid". So when the Hitachino Nest 5-pack was offered on Brewdog Online it was a done deal. I had some of the brewery's beers at GBBF last year and enjoyed them all so looking forward to these.
Everyone is fond of owls.

First up, the weizen. It certainly looks the part, hazy amber-gold with big fluffy white head. It starts to fail here however as the head doesn't stick around.Plenty of banana and wheat on the nose with a touch of clove. Medium carbonation, a bit thin in body, biscuity malt, shredded wheat and more clove. abrupt finish. Doesn’t hit the heights for me I’m afraid. Another confirmation of my contention that when it comes to indigenous beer styles, the original brewers are the best.

The amber ale is next on the menu. More ruby-brown than amber with a fluffy tan head. Lemon and dusty cupboards on the nose, its well carbonated, quite smooth in the mouth with toffee and chocolate notes up front, followed by some slight citrus hops and a touch of black malt astringency. Enjoyable but more of a brown ale. It pairs fairly well with pizza.

Ginger beer is becoming more popular in the UK with the advent of alcoholic ginger beer but there have always been malt beers brewed with ginger too. This Japanese effort follows in those traditions. Hazy brown with a fluffy ochre head. Sweet candy sugar and a touch of copper on the nose. Thick bodied, sweet golden syrup, digestive biscuit malt and perhaps the tiniest hint of ginger in the finish. That metallic tang is there too

XH is an interesting beer. Brewed with Belgian yeast then matured for three months in sake barrels, but how does it taste? It pours dark, slightly hazy amber with a fluffy amber-tinged head. On the nose is caramalt, cocoa powder, cloves and white pepper. Very thick, chewy mouth feel, rich malt flavours, some orange oil, more clove spiciness fairly dry finish. There's some fairly fruity esters/ higher alcohols (apple pulp and plum), lots of malt sweetness and a touch of bitterness in the finish

Finally its Japanese Classic Ale. Pouring a hazy amber with a nose redolent of white pepper and Turkish delight. Spiky carbonation, some spicy wood notes up front followed by sweet apple and plum skins. A fair amount of sweetness builds meaning it can only be sipped slowly.