#OpenIt is a multiparticipant Twitter organised beery event, much like #Twissup and #TheSession. The aim of it is to get you to open those beers that you've been hoarding and get writing about them. Andy over at Beer Reviews has declared this weekend to be the first such event in 2012. As with many people I have a fair few of these sat around so chose to go for the (lucky for some) target of 7 bottles to review. I did not drink all of these on the #OpenIt weekend, but they were enjoyed in the spirit of the event in any case!

Ballards Duck House
The first beer is a case in point for why its not necessarily best to hoard beer! Ballards Duck House is the annual  barley wine released by Sussex brewer Ballards. Bought from the brewery on the release date dec 2009. Its passed its BBE. This beer is a crib-sheet of off-flavours.Pours completely flat, no head whatsoever. Dark ruby. There’s balsamic vinegar and sherry on the nose. Very complex medium body reminiscent of an oud bruin. Oxidised of course with a lot of vinegar, some soggy cardboard, autolysed yeast marmite flavours, a hint of lactic acid, rounded body, quite sweet, vinous fruit. Long savoury finish with more marmite. Despite these seemingly jaring flavours the beer was quite enjoyable!

In addition to the Gales Prize Old Ales we got through at Alan's last weekend I took a number of other beers along.* Enjoying the evening too much to make copious notes I did however do some cheese pairings (how unpredictable(!)).

Law of diminishing returns?
First up is Bell Ringer by Franciscan Well covered here by Reuben from Tale of Ale in much better prose than I could ever muster. To me it was very redolent of Fuller's ESB and to pair with this some sparkenhoe red Leicester was enjoyed, which really brought out those marmelade hops.

After the Gales were polished off we went onto Deschutes the Dissident. This is one complex beast of a beer. Taking inspiration from Belgian brewers this ends up as a kriek/ Flemish red hybrid. Its fruity and bretty on the nose, but without the lactic character put plenty of acetic acid. Some Langres washed rind cheese helped to take the edge off a bit.

That evening was rounded off nicely by The Lost Abbey The Angel's Share. This has all those oaky flavours in abundance but the robust malt bill is big enough to handle it. Milleens cheese is a great pairing, pulling out those fruity depths from under the vanilla. (This also went very nicely with the Gales Prize Old Ale).

And finally onto a beer style that everyone has in their cellars, the Imperial Stout. To link cleverly with the last beer reviewed, these two are also barrel aged, as brewers of big stouts are wont to do.

You knew there'd be cheese involved!
Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti is the brewery's top rated beer on ratebeer and one inside the top 50 on the nose initially a hint of dry cocoa powder giving way to rich malted milk biscuits or horlicks. On the next waft the perfumed sweetness of vanilla asserts itself, almost custard-like and a touch of alcohol. Opaque black  with bubbled tan head. Slipping down with the smoothness of milk and a gentle carbonation  at first there's molten milk chocolate followed swiftly by roast barley and acrid coffee leading to a fairly dry finish. After eating some blue cheese the vanilla is coaxed out from the bitter depths transforming the beer from espresso to mocha latte, whilst at the same time the beer embraces what was a fairly timid stilton and cajoules it to release those salty, slightly funky peniccilium roqueforti flavours finishing with some pepper. I reckon this beer would match well with a custard tart. Beware...the ABV is certainly well hidden!

Evil black depths
Mikkeller brews a lot of imperial stouts, perhaps the most well known of which being Black Hole.
Dark brown-black with thin brown tinged cream head that soon collapses to a lacing. On the nose its caramel and vanilla with a hint of beechwood and fruity coffee. Very full bodied and warming with coffee up front and booze following on quickly. Then we get biscuit and charcoal, vanilla and burnt toast. The finish is rich and boozy, lengthy, a hint of red apple. Fairly lively carbonation

*Having only just acquired the Goose Island Bourbon County it has ended up back in the cupboard with some other Impys for a future supping occasion.


  1. #OpenIt is a multiparticipant Twitter organised beery event, much like #Twissup and #TheSession?

    No it's it not. It you doing what Dredgie tells you to.

  2. Nah, it was Moggy in this case Cookie ;)

  3. "covered here by Reuen from Tale of Ale in much better prose than I could ever muster"
    I don't know about that Steve but perhaps the irony is that you spelled my name wrong :D I know you know how to spell it so it's obviously a typo.

    I need to have a good home beer session one of these days, though in fairness there are enough beer festivals Feb though April to keep me amused.

    You still up for PaddyFest? Yes I know it's not the real name but let's be real here....

  4. i was hoping to come down but dates didn't work out in the end, will have to try to make it along another time. got an offer of a lift down to the one on easter weekend today but am away then too! typical

    (PS name corrected ;) )