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The Moon and Mushroom

Lurking at the bottom of possibly hundreds (or even more) of suburban gardens, there can be found that most superlative of garden sheds – the private pub. I’m aware of several around where I live. Not all garden sheds, there are converted garages and spare rooms (some rooms not so spare!), all lovingly crafted by their owners into their vision of the perfect little pub.

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I’m going to concentrate on one as an exemplar of them all. Otto Rhoden, doyen of northwest beer drinkers and sometime guest blogger on this blog, has created his own little slice of beer heaven in his back garden. It is housed in a slightly outsized garden shed, quite unremarkable from the outside, and is called the Moon and Mushroom.

Whilst the outside may be innocuous, inside, the ‘Shroom is a lovingly created riot of beer memorabilia, and all the fiddly little knick-knacks that can be crammed into every nook and cranny. Little details like the little tables entirely covered with bottle tops, sunk into a think resin surface speak of the hours of patient work that have gone into this place. The bar supports three handpumps, and a smaller shed next door serves as a cellar. On most occasions, three casks of real ale are available, providing plenty variety for the fortunate invitees.

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The ‘Shroom is the venue for regular gatherings held by Otto and Margaret for invited guests. It’s a private pub, for private parties, and so no licence is required. The cost of the beer is shared amongst the participants, making it a private beer drinking club. ‘Shroom days are normally themed, and everyone at least makes a stab at dressing the part. Recent events have included the Hawaiian ‘Shroom, the Hallowe’en ‘Shroom and the ‘Shroom of Love (hippies, not orgies!)

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Of course, every pub needs a smallest room, and the Moon & Mushroom is equipped with the ‘Heineken Suite’, useful for the gentlemen, but the ladies must go into the house to use the facilities in there. The Heineken Suite is richly decorated with memorabilia of that particular horrible fizzy commercial brew. You get the association, I don’t have to draw you a picture.

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‘Shroom events are always accompanied by good food, barbecue on warm days, home-made pies and casseroles on colder days.

It’s a fabulous little venue, where friends can come together, usually in fancy dress, for an afternoon and evening in appreciation of great beer, great food and great company.

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Posted by on 30 April, 2013 in Cask Ale, Pubs

 

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Cock Ale

A cock

A cock

 

I have an old, yellowed, second-hand book on my beer shelves. It’s called “Amateur Winemaking & Brewing”, and is a Teach-Yourself book published in 1974. The focus is clearly on winemaking, as of the book’s 271 pages, only the final seven are dedicated to beer recipes. There are nine, and the last one is for Cock Ale. Now we’ve all heard of cock ale, it’s something to snigger about when a beer or two too many has regressed you to schoolboyhood.

The book describes a method for making a 4 gallon batch of what it calls ‘full-bodied and strong beer’. I’ve never made it, but I suspect that ‘strong’ in 1974 probably meant anything over about 4%. To make the cock ale, it suggests that when the specific gravity has fallen to 1010, 1 pint of grape concentrate be added to the fermenting wort, along with 1 lb of ‘chicken giblets, scraps, etc. (cooked)’ placed in a net. I should point out that the parenthetical ‘cooked’ is very important. The beer, it goes on to say, should be bottled when the  specific gravity reaches about 1006.

To quote directly from the book; ‘Although the presence of the chicken scraps does give the beer flavour and body, the idea is not to everyone’s taste’. Quite.

I decided that this recipe seemed rather watered-down from what may well have been a much more ‘interesting’ original recipe, so I dug a little deeper.

The first known reference to cock ale is in the 1669 book “The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digby Kt., Opened”. I quote from the opened closet:

‘Take eight gallons of ale, take a cock and boil him well, then take four pounds of raisins of the sun, well stoned, two or three nutmegs, three or four flakes of mace, half a pound of dates; beat these all in a mortar, and put to them two quarts of the best sack*; and when the ale hath done working, put these in, and stop it close six or seven days, and then bottle it, and a month after you may drink it.’

*sack = a sort of white sherry.

Mmmm… this looks lovely. And have you noticed in old recipes they always used massive quantities – “Take eight gallons of ale…”

In 1726, this recipe was given by John Nott, the Duke of Bolton’s cook, in his “Cooks and Confectioner’s Dictionary”:

‘Take a couple of young cocks, boil them almost to a jelly in water, and put into four gallons of ale; put in also a pound of raisins of the sun stoned; infuse a pound of dates, mace and nutmegs, of each two ounces, in a quart of canary*; put them to the ale; strain and squeeze out the liquor, and put to it half a pint of new ale yeast. Let it work for a day; you may drink it the next but it is better the third day; you may make it weaker by mingling it with plain ale as you draw it, or you may put it into a firkin of ale. It is good against consumption and to restore decayed nature.’

*canary = another name for sack.

This looks to me like a version of the first recipe written down by someone who had actually made it. It’s also one of my favourites because not only does it mention ‘cock’, but also ‘firkin’. Fnarr, fnarr.

In her 1727 cookery book, “The Compleat Housewife, or, The Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion”, Eliza Smith goes for the massiveness record with this by now quite familiar recipe:

‘Take ten gallons of ale, and a large cock, the older the better; parboil the cock, flay him, and stamp him in a stone mortar till his bones are broken (you must craw and gut him when you flay him); then put the cock into two quarts of sack, and put it to three pounds of raisins of the sun stoned, some blades of mace, and a few cloves; put all these into a canvas bag, and a little before you find the ale has done working, put the ale and bag together into a vessel; in a week or nine days time bottle it up; fill the bottle but just above the neck, and give the same time to ripen as other ale.’

I have seen this particular recipe quoted on the internet, but instead of “flay him” it has been typed as “flea him”. Do not under any circumstances attempt to flea your cock.

In “Homebrewed Beers and Stouts” by that doyen of mid-20th century homebrewers, C. J. J. Berry (1977), the adventurous Cyril modified this original recipe and brewed an experimental one gallon batch. On tasting the result, he wrote: ‘Astonishingly, it made an excellent ale, nourishing and strong-flavoured, of the ‘barley wine’ type; well worth trying.’

More recently, Chris Thomas and Adam Cusick reported their own experiments with cock ale in Beer & Brewing Magazine (Australia). Their recipe was quite modified to cater for modern tastes, but included the all important cooked chicken, which they got from a supermarket. So technically it was more likely to have been hen ale.

They report: ‘At one month the beer showed great potential. It poured a dark amber colour with a foamy head. Howard was offered the first taste of the Cock Ale and was rapt with the added bitterness of the bullet hops and impressed by the obvious benefits of a quality yeast. He also recognised the superior head. And thankfully it didn’t taste like drinking a roast chicken!

‘In terms of aroma, the cloves are first identifiable, along with the pleasant hint of oak from the dry white. The spices, raisins and wine really enhance the flavour of this freshly hopped strong ale, while the major impact of the chicken has been to add great body to the beer.

‘Two months later, the second tasting reveals the beer to have matured into what Berry accurately described as an ‘excellent ale’! While the hops have mellowed nicely, the distinctive spices remained. The beer shared distinct similarities with a strong Belgian ale.’

The recipes from the 17th and 18th century are remarkably consistent. It may have been commonplace to chuck kitchen scraps into whatever happened to be fermenting away in a corner, and by happy accident, someone discovered that an old cock is just what beer needs to liven it up.

I’m tempted, almost, to try it myself. It’s not only the presence of meat in the ale (guff, guff!), but also the odd spices – mace and cloves – that I find intriguing.

Go on – someone give it a go and let us know how it turned out. You can write it up and I’ll publish it as a guest blog. Ah, go on. Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on!

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Posted by on 26 March, 2013 in Home Brewing

 

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Binge

What does the word ‘binge’ mean to you? The Oxford English Dictionary (the ultimate arbiter in linguistic matters) defines the word as “a spree; a period of uncontrolled eating, drinking, etc.” and also notes its use as an intransitive verb.

To me, the key here is the use of the word ‘uncontrolled’ in the definition. My rather more colourful definition of a binge includes massive intake of alcohol, followed by a great deal of falling over and prodigious quantities of vomit. To me, it is also implicit that this behaviour is deliberate, that the person who is bingeing has set out specifically to get drunk. I thought so, you think the same. We know what ‘binge’ means, don’t we?

Well apparently, the NHS and the National Office of Statistics know better. According to Drink Aware (www.drinkaware.co.uk) ‘the marker used by the NHS and National Office of Statistics is drinking more than double the daily unit guidelines for alcohol in one session.’

The daily unit guideline is that men do not regularly exceed 3-4 units, and women do not regularly exceed 2-3 units.

What is a ‘unit’? A unit is simply 10ml of alcohol. The unit is a measure of how much actual alcohol is present. To calculate how many units there are in any drink, use the following formula:

(volume of drink (in ml) x ABV)/1000

so 1 pint of 4% bitter is (568 x 4)/1000 = 2.3 units.

Following on from this, 4 pints of 4% bitter is 9.2 units, so if you go to the pub at 8pm, drink 4 pints of average strength beer over the next three hours, you are on a binge. Where is the lack of control? For that matter, where is the drunkenness? I know that alcohol affects different people in different ways, but only people with a serious problem need to be afraid of drinking four pints over three hours.

We have to recognize this as a manifestation of the way in which the government and quasi-governmental organizations attempt to manipulate the world. Firstly, identify a problem – yes, there is a problem with ‘real’ binge drinking, particularly with younger drinkers in city centre bars. Second, persuade people that the problem is far, far worse than they could ever have imagined. To do this, set arbitrary limits, such as the 3-4 units a day for men. This limit is hotly disputed by many scientists. The group who came up with the numbers admit that they have no idea what a safe limit for alcohol is, and faced with a deadline (another manifestation of the way the world is manipulated) simply produced the result that they knew the government wanted. The culprit firmly in their sights (booze), the government now set about the punishment of the innocent. Ordinary drinkers, who drink responsibly and in a safe environment (their local pub) are taxed more and more. Pubs by the thousand are put out of business and guess what? The city centres are still full of genuine binge drinkers. The solution? More tax on responsible drinkers. The real solution, of course, is to identify the real culprit. It’s not booze at all. Alcohol abuse is a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the consistent failure of successive governments to address the real issues. Long-term unemployment, youth disaffection and rejection of the crappy world they see around them, and a massively unfair tax burden all contribute towards the desire just to find a way out, even if only for a few hours, and even if it results in crashing and burning.

What has also happened in this case, and is the trigger for this blog, is that a perfectly good English word with a well-understood meaning has been stolen by the neo-temperance brigade and given a new, unfamiliar (and incorrect) meaning, in an attempt to make us all feel guilty. The use of an emotive word such as ‘binge’ to describe a normal, perfectly controlled and harmless drinking session is typical of the pious, woolly statements of this sort of movement. It’s like saying that any contact with another person constitutes grievous bodily harm. What, for example, do they mean by ‘one session’? A session could be just a lunchtime, and yes, if you have four pints in a lunchtime, you are overdoing it. A session could equally be a long relaxed evening of four hours or so. Four pints in four hours? That’s a recipe for staying stone cold sober, hardly a binge.

Another example of woolly language is in the statement that a man should not ‘regularly exceed’ 3-4 units per day. What does that mean? If I drink 2 units per day every day except on Christmas day, when I consume 5 units, then I am regularly consuming more than 4 units. It might not be very often, but it is regular. What they mean is ‘frequently exceed’, not ‘regularly exceed’. We are forced to the conclusion that the writers of these statements are not competent in the use of the English language. They use incorrect words, and where no word exists to cover the situation they wish to describe, they kidnap a word that already has a well-defined meaning, and redefine it to satisfy their own sinister needs.

I am fully aware that alcohol abuse is a serious problem. I know the damage it can do to the lives of those affected and those around them. I know the health problems that can result. But it is the abuse of alcohol that is the problem, not alcohol itself. Just like the fact that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself. Demonizing normal drinkers by putting them in the ‘binge drinking’ bracket does far more harm than good. Taxing drinkers out of the pub (assuming they still have one to go to) and into the supermarkets where they can buy massively discounted high ABV drinks to take home, is unbelievably stupid. But then, what else can we expect from our elected officials (of any shade) and their shadowy cohorts?

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Posted by on 21 February, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Five Brilliant Dark Ales

As I sit here typing this, outside my study window the snow is falling quite heavily onto an already deeply-whited landscape. I went for a walk this morning, and out in the fields I found drifts of snow that threatened to tip over the top of my wellies. Snow transforms the landscape into magical, fantastical vistas and yet also brings the very real threat of traffic accidents, delays (I’ve had no post today) and at the extreme, death. Snow is both exhilarating and frightening, beautiful and deadly.

Many people prefer to remain locked up tight and warm indoors at times like this, sipping cocoa and hot soup, but I like to get out, specifically to the pub, for a pint or two of a doughty, warming dark ale. You knew something like that was coming, didn’t you?

Of course it’s possible that you really can’t get out, in which case it is always advisable to have a good stock of wonderful dark beer ready for such an eventuality. Here are five brilliant dark beers, bottled and waiting for you right now on the supermarket shelves. In no particular order:

Williams Bros March of the Penguins 2 small

Williams Brothers March of the Penguins is a 4.9% dream of a stout, pouring a very dark brown colour rather than black with a good brown head. Masses of body complimented by a strong, dark flavour, the beer is creamy and sweet with a deliciously malty start which transforms into a finish that is both mildly hoppy and slightly fruity. Deeply satisfying.

TSA Glencoe 4 small

Traditional Scottish Ales Glencoe is our second stout from Scotland, described on the bottle as a ‘Premium Wild Oat Stout’ of 4.5% ABV. It is a very dark red in colour, the redness only really visible if you hold it up to a light. Coffee and chocolate aromas dominate the smell. The mouthfeel is smooth and velvety, a rich and malty taste with strong chocolate and coffee flavours. There’s something else here, nagging away at the edge of the taste – is it the oats? Could be. There is an underlying hint of smoke throughout the taste. Simply fabulous.

Blakemere Deep Dark Secret small

Blakemere Deep Dark Secret is again very dark red, virtually black, just hints of red in direct light. The head is light brown and short-lived. Weighing in at a respectable 5.2%, this dark ale, described on the label as a ‘liquorice porter’, is quite distinct in its flavour profile. The taste is very dark, malty and bitter. Yes, there is liquorice in the taste, but this isn’t like the stuff you chewed in the playground. It’s very dark and bitter and ultimately far more satisfying.

Tatton Obscure small

Tatton Obscure will blow your conceptions of dark beer right out of the water. Described on the label very vaguely as ‘real Cheshire ale’, this 5.7% beer is guaranteed to surprise you. If you’re like me, it will also delight you. It pours a beautiful deep red in colour, and the smell is not what you expect. You would expect malt, fruit, maybe coffee and chocolate, but no, what you get here is strong, dark hops. The taste is a revelation. It is strongly malty, giving it a dark chocolate taste with strong notes of burnt caramel and treacle. The overarching flavour, though, is those dark, bitter hops, making this a very hoppy, very bitter beer. Absolutely outstanding.

Ridgeway Bad King John small

Ridgeway Bad King John is the strongest beer in this selection. It’s 6.0% and is a dark reddish-brown in colour. This beer provides a whole mouthful of flavour. It’s very dark with strong bitter malt. The label says the flavour is ‘intense’, and that’s about as good a word as I could have thought of to describe it. It is full of darkness with a distinct espresso flavour along with hints of chocolate and dried fruit. Definitely a different taste experience from those earlier creamy stouts, but then it does not claim to be a stout, merely describing itself on the label, somewhat mysteriously, as ‘a very English black ale’. Well worth seeking out.

Thanks for reading. More dark beers to follow.

Words and images are my copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.

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Posted by on 21 January, 2013 in Bottled Beer

 

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Some Christmas Bottled Beers from 2012

Christmas has been and gone once more, and again I find myself pondering the special beers brewed for this special season. It’s a season that these days many people are as glad to see the back of as they are to welcome. It’s true that Christmas is a time of great pressure for many people. Gifts HAVE to be bought, and what you buy for Bob must be of an equal value to what you buy for Jane. Cards MUST be sent to obscure relations you wouldn’t recognise if you fell over them and to that couple you met on holiday seventeen years ago and haven’t seen since. Masses of food MUST be prepared and ready on time. People MUST be visited and at all time, you MUST look happy and full of joy.

If you’re anything like me, then that final requirement can get a bit stretched. What’s the answer? De-commercialise Christmas and just let everyone have a couple of days off work with their feet up? Sounds tempting, but what are the chances? No, we know the real answer – BEER!

I’ve picked out five beers that I supped over this Christmas, starting with a couple from the Cheshire-based brewery Blakemere, which also brews under the name of Northern.

Blakemere Ho Ho Ho 1 small

Blakemere Ho Ho Ho Hoppy Christmas enters with a high placement on the over-forced pun stakes. A light beer, Ho Ho Ho Hoppy Christmas weighs in at just 3.7%. It’s a mid-yellow in colour and sports only the thinnest of heads. Although there’s no indication on the bottle as to what type of beer this is, it’s a bitter, and a fairly ordinary one at that. The first taste impression is that it’s earthy, with a touch of soap. There is a growing hoppiness towards the finish, but it’s mostly earthy and soapy.

Blakemere Santa's Slide 2 small

A little stronger is Blakemere Santa’s Slide, described on the bottle as a ‘Yuletide Golden Best Bitter’. It’s as well to cover all options, I suppose. This is slightly darker in colour than Ho… etc., being more of a pale orange. The smell is good; hoppy and pithy. The taste delivers a smooth hoppiness with distinct citrus pith. The bitterness is never harsh and the flavours work nicely together to form a nice, rounded beer. Good.

White Horse Rudolph the Red Nosed White Horse Beer small

Ho… etc. is joined in the over-forced pun stakes by White Horse Rudolf the Red Nosed White Horse Beer. Yeah. It’s 4.8% and is a dark red colour, tending to brown. I suppose those with a more poetic view of colours than mine would call it chestnut, Which is quite appropriate for this nutty beer. Warm toffee notes and a good deal of marmalady bitterness join with the nuttiness along with some citrus pith and fruit. Quite a complex, warming taste, and most welcome on a cold December evening.

George Wright Reindeer's Revenge small

George Wright Reindeer’s Revenge is a heftier affair, punching in at 5.1%. This is a lively beer as it pours, forming a big, frothy head, even when poured carefully. There’s loads of hoppy bitterness here with a good side order of grapefruit pith. The hops used are Citra, and have a distinct floral-citrus flavour.  Cracking beer!

Innis & Gunn Winter Treacle Porter 2 small

Finally, I treated myself to an Innis & Gunn Winter Treacle Porter. This beer is oak-aged for 39 days and has treacle added, as you probably guessed from its name. It’s by far the strongest of these beers at 7.4%, and it even comes in a box. It pours a lovely dark red, with a promising aroma of fruity malt. From the first sip, you can tell that this beer is from Innis & Gunn. There’s just something about that unique flavour. It has a surprisingly light touch at the start, but the flavour grows with treacle and molasses and hints of rich fruit. There is quite a noticeable spirituous overtaste, common to many beers of this strength. Throughout the taste, there is an unexpected but engaging dryness. Yum yum!

Although Christmas is now over, it’s still the depths of winter, so I’m still in dark beer mode. More to come…

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Posted by on 7 January, 2013 in Bottled Beer

 

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Three Pale Ales from Thornbridge

The still-young Thornbridge Brewery (opened 2005) enjoys an enviable reputation for quality and innovation. The brewery is currently situated in the lovely little town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, but the original site at Thornbridge Hall is still operating for beer development. The beers have won something like 200 awards between them, so when I saw a little cluster of Thornbridge pale ales in a supermarket recently, I had to get them.

Thornbridge Pale Ales small

These three beers are all described (albeit slightly differently) as ‘pale ales’, and as I have an issue (well documented in these pages) with breweries that produce a range of beers virtually indistinguishable from each other, I thought this would be something of an acid test for Thornbridge beers.

As ever, I will review in order of ascending ABV.

Thornbridge Wild Swan 2 small

Thornbridge Wild Swan at just 3.5% is described on the bottle as a ‘White Gold Pale Ale’. It pours a very pale yellow in colour, almost straw-like. The head is thin and short-lived. It has a bright, clean, hoppy aroma, which immediately invites you in. The taste is quite startling; a huge, fresh, hoppy mouthful with a pleasing twist of lemony citrus. This is amazingly full-flavoured for a 3.5% beer. Buckets full of aroma, flavour and bittering hops. Superb. There is much that some breweries could learn from this.

Thornbridge Kipling small

Moving way up the alcohol scale, we next arrive at Thornbridge Kipling, a 5.2% beer described as a ‘South Pacific Pale Ale’. This beer is made with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand – hence the name. Nelson Sauvin is one of the very best of the new generation of hop varieties that we are seeing at the moment. The aroma of this beer is hoppy, but quite mildly so, quite unlike Wild Swan. Beautiful tropical fruit flavours dominate – a trademark of the Nelson Sauvin hop. The finish is excellent, nicely bitter with some muted pithy citrus running underneath. Wonderfully refreshing.

Thornbridge Jaipur small

My final bottle was Thornbridge Jaipur, a multi award-winning IPA. Weighing in at 5.9%, this one packs a nice alcoholic wallop. The beer pours a pale orange in colour. The smell is again hoppy. The initial taste is misleading. It tastes quite mild and the flavours all seem somewhat muted. It doesn’t last; buckets of bitter hops follow and the bitterness grows for a long time, ending up dry and earthy. Citrus pith is present throughout. This is one of those beers that also tastes excellent on the burp.

With these three pale ales, on the surface seeming fairly similar, Thornbridge has provided a masterclass in brewing technique. The beers are, indeed, all pale ales, and yet they are each wildly different from the others. Thank you, Thornbridge, for such an enjoyable taste experience.

http://www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk/

For rants about brewers producing samey beers, see Four Bottled Beers from Wold Top, Teme Valley This & That and Four Bottled Ales from Fyne Ales

Words and images are my copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.

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Posted by on 11 December, 2012 in Beer Styles, Bottled Beer, Breweries

 

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Guest Blog – Rochefort Trappist Beers

Guest blogger Otto Rhoden returns this time with an excellent survey of three of his favourite beers (mine too, as it happens). Enjoy!

After the success of my first venture into blogging here is my second blog and it is about my favourite Trappist Brewery ROCHEFORT. Actually known as Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, this monastery began brewing in 1595. They brew three beers, “6”, “8” and “10” they are all dark and very moreish ales. First a little bit of “gen” about Trappist Breweries:-

“Trappist” – This term is properly applied only to a brewery in a monastery of the Trappist Order, one of the most severe orders of monks. This order, established at La Trappe, in Normandy, is a stricter observance of the Cistercian rule (from Cîteaux, in Burgundy), itself a breakaway from the Benedictines. Among the dozen or so surviving abbey breweries in Europe, seven are Trappist; six in Belgium and one just across the Dutch border, all established in their present form by Trappists who left France after the turbulence of the Napoleonic period. The Trappists have the only monastic breweries in Belgium, all making strong ales with a re-fermentation in the bottle (bottle conditioned). Some gain a distinctive rummy character from the use of candy-sugar in the brew-kettle. They do not represent a style, but they are very much a family of beers. The breweries are Westmalle,  Achel Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Westvleteren (the smallest brewery in the order) and La Trappe (which is in the Netherlands). By law, no other breweries are entitled to apply that name to their product. Between these abbeys about 20 beers are brewed. All are top-fermenting, and usually very strong, bottle conditioned ales.

I will be giving my opinion of all three of the Rochefort ales. Note all the beers are from a 330ml bottle, which I poured into a goblet, and all beers were chilled in the fridge for approximately 10 minutes.

We’ll start with Rochefort 6, (Strong Dark Ale) at 7.5% ABV. This is the “weakest” brew by the monks!  It pours a slight hazy brown with an orange amber hue, with a small, light, off-white head that quickly vanishes to some foamy films on top. There is not much lace. Carbonation is actively high which is not a bad thing. The aroma has notes of sweet fruit, bread, a touch of sherry, toffee and slight white raisin notes. The taste is complex and delicious, with notes of sweet apricot, pear and sweet green raisin, and some yeasty spice, finishing dry and slightly sweet. Overall it is harmoniously well rounded with a pleasing hint of chocolate and gentle hop notes, and is very drinkable

On to Rochefort 8, (Dubbel) at 9.2% ABV. This one is not for the faint hearted! It pours a wonderful, dark brown colour into my goblet. This beer has a wonderfully fluffy head with very good retention. Aromas of alcohol, sour cherries, hops, cinnamon, and malt were obvious immediately with hints of chocolate/coffee-like malt. And so to the taste; hints of fig and vanilla, with a big alcohol presence. The second sip, however, is much kinder, with a sweet malty flavour showing up first, followed by dark fruit and finally a lovely bittersweet chocolate finish. A bit spicy throughout as well – perhaps ginger? As the beer warms, the alcohol mellows to a gentle peppery flavour which blends nicely into the overall flavours of the beer. It leaves a malty and plummy finish that is again quite dry. Truly, one of the all-time greats.

Last but not least one of my all-time favourite beers Rochefort 10,(Quadrupel) at 11.3% this is a beer to sip and savour. I like to have it either after a rich dark chocolate dessert or with a big hearty beef stew. Anyway let’s get to my overall view of this truly great beer. This pours a near black colour, but you still can definitely notice that there’s some murkiness about it. Some reddish hints can be seen through the glass if held against a light. Quite a big, dense, off-white head that keeps to the last sips, lacing all the way down the glass. WOW! The aromas give a nasal overload!  Chocolate, raisins, currants, plums, cherries, green pear, cloves and spices all intermingle and fight for a place; every smell provides a subtly different sensation. The taste doesn’t hit the palate as hard as you expect from the nose. Super delish! The flavours ease their way in, starting with sweet plums and some liquorice. Then comes a wave of sweetness in the form of figs and nutmeg. Very rich with a light carbonation that provides just enough punch to offset it. There really isn’t any bitterness present at all. A nice warming beer for a winter’s night. This is a “must-try-beer”. Long live the Trappist Monks of Belgium!

Hope you enjoyed my second beer blog, ‘Op uw gezondheid.’

Otto.

Rochefort Brewery

Words and images are Otto’s copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.

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Posted by on 30 November, 2012 in Beer Styles, Bottled Beer, Breweries

 

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