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Monday, 28 December 2015

Dutch Beer of the Week


As it's the festive season let's have a look at a Christmas themed beer. As you can see the jolly chap on the label hasn't really got into the Christmas spirit but I think he'd be smiling after a glass of this.

I've already talked about Brouwerij Rodenburg and, in my opinion, it's certainly one of the stars of the Dutch beer scene. The owner-brewer is Yorkshireman Steve Gammage who has been in the Netherlands for about 30 years and his beers are increasingly confident and successful.

So, on to Scrooge. Tim Skelton's Beer in the Netherlands describes this as "a seriously full-on dark Christmas ale that is a classic in the making".  He's not wrong.  There's a complex grain bill including Pils, Carapils, Diastatic malt,  Cara Red, Whiskey and Peated malts (or so the label tells us).  These contribute to the spicy nose which is also slightly medicinal like thick old-fashioned cough syrup. Beyond that there are very complex flavour notes in there  - wafts of spice, peat, smoke and rich Christmas cake jockey for attention in a very appealing way. 

This could be a cloying malt-fest but it's not because the cavalry arrives in the form of a crisply bitter finish. The hops are Green Bullet, Phoenix and First Gold and bring rather more to this beer than the label's claimed three bitterness units would suggest (given both the hop grist and the notably bitter finish I suspect this must be a misprint). Indeed the thought occurred to me that if I was brewing in a railway arch in London I might be tempted to call this a "Christmas IPA".   

I'm back in the Netherlands in three weeks time (for this) and I'll certainly be looking out for a couple of these to bring home. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Dutch Beer of the Week

Elsener Bierbrouwerij Pochpoater White IPA

It's been a while but we're now back up and running here at JC's Beer Blog with a new Dutch Beer of the Week (and yes, I know the last one was on 26 October...).

Right then, White IPA.  It's another variant on everyone's favourite beer style and one that I've rather enjoyed so far. It's shorthand for beers that combine serious hopping (usually of the American variety) with the spiciness and grain bill of a Belgian (or Dutch) witbier, and they can be hugely enjoyable and refreshing. There are a lot of them around as Ratebeer demonstrates.

So, on to this little number.  I know very little about the brewery. It's based in Elsen, which is in the east of the Netherlands (in Overijssel province) and it started up in 2014. The website just leads to a Facebook page but it's clear from there (and Ratebeer) that a considerable number of modern-sounding beers have been produced. In essence this was just a random purchase of an interesting-sounding beer in a style I like.

The label tells me that it's a witbier in the American style with a distinct hop profile. There's wheat malt in there so that's good but I see it's just 30 bitterness units and 5% ABV - both at the bottom end of what I might expect for a beer of this description. Pouring, it's a hazy pale lemon with no head to speak of. There's a sweet spiciness on the nose, with hints of orange peel perhaps, and this lingers all the way down the glass (and gets a bit cloying by the end to be honest) - however the ingredients don't indicate there's any spice or other addition to the beer so I'm assuming the esters are yeast-based.  As a drink it's quite light-bodied and while it's refreshing enough the "distinct hop profile" (or the "duidelijk hopprofiel" as the label has it) seems to be largely missing in action. It's perhaps a bit too much "white" and not enough "IPA" and certainly needs a bit more of everything I think.

I'm certainly not writing off this brewery on the basis of just the one beer as it seems to be quite an interesting set-up with lots of ideas.  It's just a shame that this one, on the basis of this bottle, didn't quite work.