An Abstrakt Concept

The big day is finally upon us; the beers are lined up and ready to go, the beer buddies are here and the tasting glasses are clean. Yes, its time to drink the Abstrakts. There have been ten beers released in this experimental "small-batch" range; so decided to try them all in one evening in reverse chronological order. They have nothing in common bar being brewed by Brewdog. I know people may find this post a bit redundant and fanboyish because they're all sold out, but as I've forked out the money I want to get a post out of it!

Beers one to ten.
Myself, Reuben (Tale of the Ale) and a couple of CAMRA friends sat down after a hefty curry to work our way through the bunch.

AB:10 is an 11.5% Imperial Brown Ale aged in Red Wine Barrels and was released in July 2012. As the most recent beer this could probably do with ageing for a bit longer, I have a bottle left in any case. It has a vanilla-scented port nose  with fizzy chocolate limes on the tongue leading to a dry red fruit, vinous finish.

AB:09 is Cranachan Imperial Stout (17.1%), released April 201. Thanks to Ghosty for sorting this bottle for me. Pours thick black with slight fizzy tan head. Tart raspberries on the nose. Leather, tobacco, chocolate, thick bodied. Alcohol on swallow. The flavours individually are good, but they don't seem to meld very well, making the final product less than the sum of its parts.

AB:08 is a Deconstructed Blonde Imperial Stout (11.8%), released December 2011. I've had this beer on a few occasions now. Its never tasted as good as the draught version on keg in Brewdog Camden, though whether it was the place made the beer great is to be debated. Its started to get rid of those vegetal notes and give coffee and chocolate again. Roasted coffee and chocolate on the nose, thick in the mouth with delicious fruity coffee finish with a balancing sweetness and well-hidden alcohol.

AB:07 is Whisky Cask Aged Imperial Scotch Ale (12.5%) , released September 2011.Another one I'd sampled before. Peaty brown with a ruby tinge. Aroma of caramel, liquorice toffee and vinous fruits. Medium mouthfeel with gentle carbonation and lots of red fruit character plus a warming, slightly burnt finish.This time around it had a slightly unpleasant acirdity in the finish but overall still a good digestif.

AB:06 is an 11.2% Triple Dry Hopped Imperial Black IPA released May 2011. When fresh, I wrote; "Very dark brown beer with a fresh hop aroma with pineapple at the fore and piney undertones. Lively white head disappears in short measure. Rich and thick palate with legs and a lively alcohol kick. Sweet and fruity with a lot of aggressive hoppiness but quite restrained bitterness. Sweet finish with alcohol and lots of umami." Its mellowed somewhat over the last year and a bit, with marmalade and some chocolate coming through. Still a favourite thus far.

AB:05 is a Belgian Imperial Stout Aged on Toasted Coconut and Cacao,  released in February 2011. This was a bit one-dimensional, a shame. Ruby tinged black. Slight acetic note on nose, quite sweet, chocolate, light toast, long sweet finish.

AB:04 is a 15% Imperial Stout with Coffee, Cacao and Chilli, released October 2010. This is the highest rated of all the Abstrakts and its easy to see why. Chocolate coated orange bell peppers are prevalent on the nose. Very thick, sweet, chocolate runs down the throat, chased by chili heat, with more chocolate and toasted marshmallow for afters, leaving a slight alcoholic warmth in memory.

2nd edition of a one-off?!
The beer was actually re-released as Dog A for Brewdog's 5th Birthday Party. I sampled this at the AGM, but acquired a second bottle for everyone else to try. Dark and unctuous with an enticing sweet chocolate nose. In the mouth there’s more chocolate, coating the whole tongue, then comes the chili nipping at the back of the tongue. On the swallow its all about the coffee.

AB:03 is a 10.5% Imperial Ale aged for 2 years in Whisky Casks with Raspberries and Strawberries released in September 2010. Strawberry and raspberry nose. Tart light red-brown, sweet, fruity, sucrose, artificial sweetener, slight medicinal note. This one brought mixed opinions, but I actually quite enjoyed it, perhaps one which would have been better fresh.

AB:02 is  an 18% Triple Dry Hopped Imperial Red Ale released in June 2010. (no photo of this one, sorry!) Rich vinous fruity nose with some alcohol and fudge. Pours a murky brown with light carbonation. Rich fruityness and chocolate quickly gives way to strong alcohol and some coffee bitterness and a sweet/marmitey yeast finish. Very little hop character remaining. Legs obviously in attendance with a fairly heavy palate as could be expected for this strength.

AB:01 is a 10.2% Vanilla Bean infused Belgian Quad,  released April 2010. The final beer! But unfortunately a bit of a let down. Scarlet tinged, noble hops, sweet honey,heather,toffee, sweet, long finish. It was just too sweet, with not enough bitterness to balance all the sweet elements and the vanilla had long since given up the ghost.

I think it would be difficult to rank them in order, but you can probably see I enjoyed 08, 06 and 04 the most, with AB:10 looking promising. Perhaps the even-numbered beers are better? AB:11 is aging as we speak. According to James it is: "an imperial black barley wine brewed with ginger, black raspberries and chipotle peppers. An 11.9% rollercoaster of ginger zestiness, chipotle smokiness all bound together with dark berry tartness and the decadent residual body of a black barley wine." A great range of ingredients again, it remains to be seen how it turns out. Well done if you've got this far, was a bit of a slog but on the plus side I have some cupboard space freed up again!


A Hilden Narrative

I spent a good chunk of yesterday at Hilden Brewery Beer festival. After spending all of last year working at the festival it brought a different perspective to be on the other side of the bar. I went along with some CAMRA friends and Reuben (Tale of the Ale).

Feeling more than a little delicate after the previous night's tasting I needed to line my stomache with some decent grub. Thankfully the grill was fired up and i got me a tasty ale-marinaded pork belly with pesto. Also available were Lamb burger with goats cheese, steak chilli con carne and various other tasty morsels. It was a good plan to grab food quickly as the queue grew to over an hour in length later in the day!

My first choice of beer wasn't available; so went for the Hilden twisted hop. This is as good as other people have said it is, with a good dose of bitterness in the finish, reminding me somewhat of Fuller's Wild River.

Moving south of the border Metalman Pale ale on cask was tasty. I later tired Chameleon Ginger, another decent pint but my taste buds had been pummeled by the spicy Barney's Brew just before. The festival then got packed out with everyone turning up just before 4 to take advantage of free entry (£12 after that!)

A highlight beer wise for me was Ossett Hopmonster. With fresh Nelson Sauvin hops involved the beer was in American-hopping territory with lots of juicy oranges on the nose and mango rind in the flavour. Another  Ossett-brewed beer, this time from the Rat brewers was a close second. Dirty Rat (a 3.5% mild and a new addition to the beer list) pours thick black-brown with good tan head. Plenty of flavour packed into this one, touch of roast barley, coffee, chocolate, full mouth feel, it wiped the floor with the Whitewater Belfast Black on cask, which just tasted of water in comparison.

I also managed to meet up with a number of friends from last year and some Ratebeerians/ Twitter types who I'd arranged to swap beer with. Thanks to everyone who brought me beer and to The Beer Nut for my new Beoir T-shirt as well. Adam from Leggygowan cheeses was also giving out samples alongside his goat's milk fudge, all excellent. They're certainly ones to watch and will feature on my blog in due course. I also met Mark from Clanconnel, and Grainne and Tim from Metalman were back up for the day too (doing a stint on the bar to help alleviate the queue!)

The day passed swiftly and in no time at all the train beckoned and we headed back to Belfast for a night-cap in the Bridge Bar, where I bumped into Tale of Ale again (who had gone to Belfast for dinner at the excellent Molly's Yard restaurant)

Now I'm set to be staying in Northern Ireland for the foreseeable future it looks as if I'll be attending a good few of these yet. The weather held-off and we enjoyed a baking day with some decent beer, great grub and a spot of music. Recommended.

Despite having my camera with me, I completely failed to take any pictures getting caught up in conversations with old friends and new on all manner of topics. Sometimes its best to leave your blogger's hat at the door and just enjoy yourself.



Shiny-beers pre-supping
You've probably heard about this by now, a great idea but, in my view, with disappointing results. The "International Arms Race" challenge set before Brewdog by Matt Brophy of Flying Dog was to brew a zero IBU IPA using a number of alternative bittering agents, among them spearmint, bay leaves and juniper berries. Both beers were duly made and bottled with had-designed labels from Johanna Basford and Ralph Steadman respectively.

Flying Dog's attack
The labels are both real winners, with Ralph's depicting a literal dog fight and Jo's taking the more mythical route of a battle owl. The latter is the winner for me, after all, I'm rather fond of owls. 1-0 to Brewdog.

Its on the pour that you sense something is up. Though both brand spanking new brews, neither is able to hold up much of a head, with Brewdog's effort an instant flop. It doesn't get much better in the nasal department either, with a sweet frankincense and Turkish delight combo with perhaps a hint of pepperiness underneath in both beers. 2-1 to Brewdog

Brewdog's retalliation
The Flying Dog pulls ahead in the tasting department with  sweet crystal malt, cardamom, honey, slight medicinal taint and some (not unpleasant)  vegetal astringency.Its let down by some kind of mini-jellyfish floaties hanging around mid-glass. Brewdog seems to fall over with a whimper with quite spiky carbonation, a big flurry of unidentifiable spice then quickly fades to bready sweetness. There's a touch of what could be cardboard oxidation or a similar flavour from the herbs which I don't like at all. 3-2 to Flying Dog

In all Flying Dog wins the day and whilst interesting to try I certainly wouldn't have them again and plan to give away my additional bottles (bought a six-pack). Disappointing from two of my most-enjoyed breweries.

If you'd like to try the beers yourself then they'll be available on the Brewdog online store shortly or you can head along to one of their taste-offs over the next few days.


Factory beer?

Hard to miss!
Not by a long shot, no. Bristol Beer Factory is very un-factory-like and that is certainly a good thing. BBF has long been a favourite southern brewery of mine I was pleased to be invited along for a few beers and a snoop around by head brewer, Chris.
New 20BBL conical awaiting
The brewery can be found just a stone's throw from arty venue the Tobacco Factory and next door to a decent bakery in part of an old brewery closed by the George's brewery. Inside is currently a 10BBL plant, but this is being pushed to the limit, with two brews a day scheduled all the way up to Christmas. A couple of new 20BBL fermenters have arrived that take two brews to fill, the first has been commissioned and the second lies awaiting its beery cargo. This should tide them over capacity-wise until next summer when a 30BBL is due to be installed along with what seems to be a must-have for brewery expansions; a mezzanine floor! It takes a bit of tweaking and a change of yeast from top-cropping to bottom-cropping but in the end the conicals should give better yield than open fermenters.

The original open fermenters
There are also a number of conditioning tanks, some of which have followed Chris from his previous employ at York Brewery. Perhaps the most exciting section of the brewery is the barrel store. Tucked up in here are a couple of stouts for this year's "12 Stouts of Christmas" (details under tight wraps I'm afraid!) and their collaboration (with Dark Star) NZ IPA Southern Conspiracy ageing in white wine casks with gooseberries. There are some empty rum casks to be filled with an Adrian Tierney-Jones brew and some other barrels into which Melissa Cole's brew next week will be filled.

The barrel store!
Speaking of Southern Conspiracy, I popped into one of BBF's venues in Bristol, The Barley Mow, and was pleased to find this on tap. I'd neglected to check the closing time and arrived at last orders but thankfully managed to grab a pint and I'm so glad I did. I think I may have found my best beer ever, certainly if how the Ratebeer score came out is anything to go by. The influence of Mark Tranter at Dark Star certainly makes itself known, the beer reminds me a lot of Hophead. I'm very much looking forward to the white wine version then!

All that remains of current cask stocks.
There's also a new saison in the works, with a different recipe to last years successful effort. That, alongside newer beers Independence and West Coast Red sees a solid range of new beer styles alongside No.7, which is still their biggest seller at around 40% of output. Its a struggle to fit the Christmas stouts into the brewing schedule, Chris admits, but there are a few spare days at the end of next month.

Bottled beers.
Whilst there I got to try this year's home-brew competition winner Bete Noire. Its certainly different to last years winner, also a black IPA- Indian Ink. Pours transparent Brown-black like a schwarzbier with plenty of condition. Citrusy simcoe? nose with plenty of dry fruit bitterness of kiwi hops. Touch of burnt toast astringency in the finish is all that there is to remind you this is a black and not regular IPA.
A bottle of Glenlivet Imperial stout has mellowed somewhat and in my opinion is the better for it. The whisky punch has died back somewhat and the flavours have married somewhat, creating a dangerously drinkable stout, which compares favourably to the bottle of Brewdog Paradox I brought along to share.

Even @1000 bottles/hr it still takes
two people a day to bottle a fermenter's wort
There's also talk of being able to hold tastings in a new coffee shop being built as part of the bakery next-door, current tastings being held in the brewery with perhaps 2 private tours a week at the moment. Couple this with the double-brew schedule and Chris and team are set to be very busy indeed.

Chris is on Twitter: @BeerFactoryCK9 and the brewery is here: @BrisBeerFactory. If you've not yet come across BBF beers than I urge you to seek them out and keep your eyes peeled for this year's 12-Stouts of Christmas as they are bound to fly out! See Bierebelle's review here for a dfifferent perspective.


Hilden Beer Fest 2012

Its that time of year again, the August Bank Holiday weekend is fast approaching which means the Hilden Brewery are hosting their annual beer festival. Last year's was a great success and if the beer line-up is anything to go by, this years will be no different. * 

I can also reveal that Hilden will be previewing their new bottle range over the weekend. All of the beers have been seen as cask versions but this is the first time they've gone into bottle. Fantastic bold new branding and logo shows Hilden have really upped their game to compete with the newer brewers both here and over the water.

Without further ado; here are the brews, along with Hilden's own tasting notes. Please bear in mind this is not the finished list and is of course subject to change on delivery. There will also be ciders from Mac's and DJs for those of a more fruity bent.

Osset Hopmonster (5%)
Strong Hoppy Ale. A strong, heavily hopped and robust IPA. Moderate bitterness, but intense aroma from new-season New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops. This unique variety imparts a white wine fruitiness.

Look: Straw in colour
Taste: Smooth, malty and sweet on the palate with a refreshing citrus kick and refined hop after taste.
Smell: Hoppy & malty

A pale, full bodied bitter with a fresh gentle nose, taken over by a smooth hop and citrus finish making this ale very drinkable.

  This award winning golden beer has good bitterness levels, with a fresh citrus and hop aroma.  A hoppy flavour throughout with a well hopped clean, dry finish.   A CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain Finalist in 2004. 

Titanic White Star (ABV 4.8%)
A light refreshing distinctively hoppy beer with a freshness that belies its strength, so easy to drink it will fool all but the crustiest of sea dogs.

From the very first draught, this pale hoppy ale will slake your thirst. A fusion of Maris Otter malts and Pilot and Fuggles hops explode on the palate as biscuit and juicy fruit flavours give way to citrus and berry hops, good hop aroma and hoppy after taste. A superb summer beer

Golden Ale "A refreshing honey toned, golden ale" Originally brewed in summer 2009 as Summer Gold, it was subsequently selected by J.D. Wetherspoon’s to feature in their April 2010 Beer Festival when the name was changed to Brigantia. It is a honey toned, refreshing, hoppy, golden ale with gorgeous aromas of tropical fruit and grapefruit sharpness offset by hints of melon and pineapple; the result of large quantities of German, Brewers Gold hops.

Our signature beer - a pale bitter with a citrus fruit aroma and hoppy citrus finish. 

Created shortly after the brewery moved site to a tennis club pavilion, this pale ale has a big fruity flavour with a peppery hoppiness and a dry, bitter yet fruity finish. 

Hilden Brewery's take on a wheat beer brewed to commemorate the inventor of the 'Belfast Penny Bap', Bernard 'Barney' Hughes(1808-1878). Made from wheat and barley, cardamom, corriander and a dash of black pepper, this spicy tipple is delicious and wont 'stick to your belly like lead'

A wholly natural blonde beer with a clean and refreshing character derived from the use of lager malt along with a small proportion of maize. This mixture of continental and native varieties of late and early addition hops pleases both the nasal senses and the taste buds.

A rich warming premium beer. A classic red Irish ale with a full bodied flavour.

Hilden Halt (6.1%)
A premium traditional Irish red ale with a malty, mild hop flavour. This special reserve derives its name from the train line that used to service the local linen mill.

Hilden Twisted Hop (4.7%)
An Irish pale ale. It has a medium-bodied character and good bitterness, complementing the full hop flavour which lingers on the palate and in the aroma.

College Green (Hilden) Headless Dog (4.2%)
A bright amber ale from our College Green range of beers, with an initially smooth taste followed by a hint of Munich malt coming through from the grist. This is complimented by the stronger refreshing taste from this well hopped beer, named after the unusual mural opposite the front door of the brewery.

Hilden Scullion'sIrish (4.6%)
A bright amber ale, smooth initially with a slight taste of honey which is balanced by a long dry after taste which lingers on the palate

Metalman Pale Ale (4.3%)
American style pale ale, dark gold in colour with a delicate white head. Citrus and floral aromas lead into hop flavours characterised by grapefruit and mandarin produced by American hops. A dry bitter finish makes this an eminently enjoyable and refreshing beer.

Metalman Chameleon Ginger (4.5%)
A light summer ale with a ginger twist! A lightly hopped beer, this is an easy drinking summer thirst quencher with subtle ginger flavours and a dry finish. Perfect for a warm sunny day (if we were lucky enough to get such a thing).

ABV 4.3%
A malt driven Irish style red ale balance by the hop varieties Fuggles and East Kent Goulding

ABV 3.9%
This is a brilliant light and hoppy seasonal beer, carefully brewed using the transatlantic pairing of the UK’s Brambling Cross and Washington State’s own Chinook hops.
ABV 3.8%
Peppery hop in the mouth with a long, bitter finish. A classic well-hopped and beautifully balanced beer with a deeply satisfying and refreshing taste that is followed by a distinctively dry and long bitter finish. Best enjoyed in true Black Sheep style, through a rich, creamy head.

ABV 3.7%
A traditional English bitter with the addition of single varietal hops to give a robust bitterness and a strong hop finish.

ABV 4.2%
Roasted barley, rolled oats, chocolate & black malts combine to produce our Traditional Irish Stout brimming with flavour. The gentle coffee aroma is balanced wonderfully by rich hop flavours.

ABV 4.5%
Seasonal. Pale coloured, well balanced beer using English and Polish hops.

ABV 4.2%
This is a very well built beer that starts with a delicate hoppy and fresh floral aroma. The flavour is fruity, first you notice the grapefruit and then a good dash of lemon comes through. At the end there is a rounded taste of bitter hops. Easy drinking and very moreish.

ABV 3.8%
A golden beer whose aroma is dominated by hops that give characteristic citrus notes. Hops and fruit on the palate are balanced by malt and a bitter base. Dry hoppy finish with soft fruit flavours.

ABV 3.7%
New Zealand hops deliver fragrant aromatic floral notes counterpointed with a mouth of subtle bitterness. Turner would marvel in its composition!

ABV 5%
Straw coloured beer, hoppy aroma with a hint of grainyness. The finish is clean and refreshing.

Rat - Dirty Rat (3.5%)
A velvetty dark brown mild. Low bitterness with a sweet malty finish from a blend of three malt. The delicate hop aroma is not overpowering.

*Alright, there's nothing with the WOW factor perhaps but plenty of new brews to try. With additional beers the list is now looking pretty decent.

EDIT: Renamed beers (see comments) and more beers added 21/8/12.

26/8/12 Updated with actual beers available.


Not a Mess

Today's subject brewery has been on my radar for a long time, not least because of their fantastic Black IPA Conqueror and stronger sibling 1075 Conqueror. As the only member of the London Brewer's Alliance outside of the M25, Windsor and Eton have to demonstrate their worthiness to stand alongside such greats as Kernel and Brodies. This they have done amply and the beers below testify to that.

I got in touch with the brewery as I was after a bottle of Republika, their Czech Pilsen beer. This is very true to style, pouring a lovely gold, with plenty of carbonation and a pillowy white head. The nose with some honey and pepper. Medium carbonation, fills the mouth, rich honey malt and fresh saaz hop bite. A great pilsener, one which I'd happily drink again and again. Great to finally find one in the UK that can rival the Czech greats. 

The next few are a series of special releases. The first Windsor Knot was first brewed to commemorate the wedding of Prince William and Kate but proved popular enough to become part of the core range. Pouring into the glass a dark copper-red, the crystal malt influence is immediately detected as toffee and caramel but first the nostrils are caressed by fruity Nelson Sauvin. Medium bodied, lots of grapes and melon fruit, touch of marscapone, grapes, lycheee, little by way of bitterness, tongue tingling at finish. This must be fantastic on cask.

Kohinoor is an IPA (5%) with a difference. Brewed with jasmine and jaggery sugar to suggest an Indian influence and named for a 106carat diamond in the crown jewels. This is of course a Jubilee beer and is a good riff on a traditional English IPA. The nose is a touch musty, with marmalade that's been left lurking in the back of the cupboard unused for a few months. Soft carbonation and mouth-feel, there's a slight refreshing tartness, digestive biscuit malt and dry bitterness in finish. There's something lacking but I can't quite put my finger on it.

The other Jubilee beer is influenced by export stout but at a more conventional ABV (4.8%). It has a whole host of ingredients, including yams, millet, coffee and vanilla. Unfortunately most of these are lost with coffee being prevalent in both aroma and flavour and a whole lot of sweetness in the finish which is possibly from the yams. The body is a touch thin and lacking carbonation which makes this the biggest disappointment of the bunch for me. Still a tasty drop but it could have been so much more with a few extra ABV points.

I'm no stranger to Guardsman, W&E's Oak Aged beer, a good traditional bitter with some fruity wood notes. It pours amber in colour with a temporary foamy head and plenty of carbonation continuing to rise. Initial red fruit followed by shortbread and maltose with a subtle bitter finish.  Long leathery-pepper finish is unusual but moreish.

My stand-out of their range is the aforementioned 1075 Conqueror, a Black IPA (BIPA). I'm a fan of the style, but far too many breweries just make a hoppy stout/porter and call that a BIPA. Nothing wrong with the beer, some are fantastic but to me a BIPAs shouldn't have any roasted or astringent character from barley and perhaps just a touch of chocolate. This beer achieves that well and is one of my favourites. Dark Chocolate with tan head that collapses to a lacing. Pithy tangerine and chocolate nose. Rich orangey hop juice with a touch of milk chocolate in the finish. Perfect balance of hop bitterness and malt sweetness. Gentle carbonation helps it to slip down far too easily for 7.4%..
Overall a great selection from an up-and-coming UK brewery. Certainly one to watch out for and I hope their third Jubilee beer (due out in Autumn) is something special.

The brewery can be found on Twitter @WindsorEtonBrew.

I was kindly sent the beers in this post (except the 1075) after I enquired about Republika. The fact that the beers were free did not colour my judgement of them, but feel free to bear that in mind.

A Ratebeer friend kindly brought me over a bottle of Knight of the Garter, W&E's session golden ale. This only served to reaffirm that  the brewery knows their stuff. Its a honey-blonde with temporary fluffy cream head that soon collapses to a lacing. Peppery citrus nose. Sweet biscuit malt up front with lemon and passion-fruit following in behind. Medium carbonation. Touch of yeast esters and English hop bitterness.


#TheSession #66: My Preciousssss

Its that time of month again (no not a beeriod)...The Session! Craig at Drinkdrank, a regular Session contributor has offered to host and the topic and its an interesting one: design your perfect idea of a beer.

My favourite Ratebeer style is porter, but actually I enjoy pretty much any style of beer. However if I had the run of a brewery for a day I'd brew a saison. In fact I'd make it a black one. Perhaps using dehusked carafa for the colour with just a touch of chocolate wheat malt for flavour. The balance would be pale malt and wheat. Saison yeast of course with perhaps a bit of Brett too and aim for an ABV of 4-5, something you could drink a few of in a sitting.

So what about the hops? Well I love New Zealand hops so it'd be Motueka for bittering and flavour and would be a liberal sprinkling of Pacifica for aroma added at flame-out and at conditioning.

Now if someone knows of such a beer, or are planning on brewing it let me know!


CABPOM August: 3 Fonteinen Kriek & Le Chevrot

Logo kindly designed by Simon
Something a bit different this month. Fruit beer and white cheese work well together but add some goatiness to the mix and it becomes something special.

3 Fonteinen is one of the revered Belgian lambic brewers but they also make kriek. This one is just a bit special as it uses wild forraged schaerbeekse cherries, adding a different flavour than you'd normally expect froma  kriek. Schaerbeekse cherries used to be cultivated specifically for use in brewing, but with the fall in popularity of lambic the orchards fell derelict. 3 Fonteinen tracked down some of these wild orchards and turned the harvested fruit into a traditional kriek. This particular beer is a 35% blend of schaerbeekse and the remainder regular morello cherries. I picked it up at Brewdog Edinburgh in a 750ml bottle.

Here are my notes: Pours pale scarlet with slight fluffy head. Sweet cherry, raspberry, acrid hay, lemon, malt, barnyard. Dry tart cherry, lots of stone character (think almonds and bakewell tart), very sharp lactic, long cherry stone finish.

The cheese is one I picked up from Tesco (they have a much better range in Scotland than here!) not knowing much. Its called Le Chevrot and is quite similar to Crottin apparently. To me its dry and chalky, with a goaty richness and perhaps the tiniest hint of lemon.  A bit dull perhaps.

Works nicely with poppy-seed crackers
When paired with the beer however it comes alive with creaminess and accentuated by the funk to transport you to the dairy at milking time. That light lemon note plays well with the tart cherries and the beers carbonation is more than a match for the slightly clacky texture. I'd like to try this cheese aged as it should be even better.