This Scumbag

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Musician, engineer/producer and former employee at Beer Ritz in Leeds. Enthusiast of extreme metal and beer, which happily go extremely well together. Follow @BenCorkhill

Monday, 22 August 2011

Stout Hearted Sunday!

This night had been a long time coming. A couple of weeks ago, GhostDrinker was good enough to bring me back a little gift from GBBF; and what else would he have chosen to indulge me in than a Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout that he described as the best one I'll ever have?! Yet it wasn't until last night that I finally seized the opportunity to sit down and drink it alongside a Carnegie Porter and Guinness Special Export in the right way - comfy sofa, good company, laptop at the ready...

First up was the Carlsberg Sverige Carnegie Porter. A typically thick black pour gave a medium off-white head, while the aroma was not as big as I had anticipated but nicely balanced nonetheless with a malty dark chocolate and raisin combination with a slight booziness. On the palate there is an immediate red fruit sweetness, not overbearing but very noticeable. The mouthfeel is very full with a rather oily texture. The overall taste is quite malty, small hints of liquorice and a very slight smokiness in the throat. I like this beer rather more than I was expecting actually; it's pretty light in aroma and flavour for a porter, to be honest I was expecting a bit more from it, but at a modest 5.5% it is entirely drinkable and sinks a bit like a mild! Good stuff.

The Guinness Special Export followed. I wasn't sure what to expect from this, as I'm a massive fan of their Foreign Extra, but I knew that being a Belgian style beer, this would be a very different beast. With a black pour, lightly carbonated off-white head, it already creates certain preconceptions. And they were not wrong. As soon as this hit my nose my first thought was "Belgium". There is a slight spiciness in the aroma with some chocolates. On the palate the beer presents a medium carbonation with a complexity of flavours. Coffee, chocolates, biscuit and raisin all dance together on a medium bodied, smooth mouthfeel. A dark chocolate aftertaste resolves in a lingering roasted bitterness. Interestingly, the aroma seems to become somewhat more sour as the glass reaches the bottom, however this doesn't have a noticeable effect on the taste, although the chocolate aftertaste does linger for longer as the beer develops. This is a nice drop at 8%, but given the choice I'd still go for the Foreign Extra!

Then out came the big guns. I've really been getting into stouts recently, and Ghostie had promised me the world with this one. The Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout (what a name!) produced a black (you know, REALLY black) pour with a large brown head. The photo doesn't really do it justice, but the head was pretty much cocoa-coloured. A massive aroma bombarded me with treacle, liquorice, dark berries and dark malts. There is a soft carbonation on the palate; brown sugar is there, milk chocolate turns into dark chocolate balanced with dark berries, and ghostly hints of liquorice and caramel peep through. Leave it in the mouth for a few seconds to get an incredible juiciness that just engulfs your tongue and slips nicely down the throat. At 9%, the alcohol content is masked well, making it a nicely balanced, very drinkable beer. There is a punch of sweetness in the swallow followed by a smokey chocolatiness up the throat. Overall, though I have been exploring dark beers a lot recently, I am still not the hugest fan of the more intense ones; however, this beer is something else. Ghostie was right! This one has a nice lingering aftertaste that makes you want another, and a real kick as it warms up - the further down the glass you get, the more you will notice a massive booziness developing. Awesome stuff. London Imperial - king of the stouts?!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

No Remorse: Black Tokyo Horizon

BrewDog/Nogne-Ø/Mikkeller Black Tokyo Horizon

Much like a corpse, it comes in a box.
No blog for a while; I've been waiting for something interesting to come along so I can write about it. Well, my wait was over when GhostDrinker messaged me to say he was opening a bottle of Black Tokyo Horizon at the shop on Saturday. Unfortunately I couldn't make it to the tasting, so I asked him to leave me some in the fridge for my shift on Sunday. I was half joking to be honest, but he kindly obliged and actually left me a pretty substantial amount.

I've never been a massive fan of really dark beers, but as I've been getting into stouts a lot more recently, I was pretty intrigued by this one. I had never come across any of the three beers that had been blended (not even Tokyo, which we stock - the shame!), but I did my research and each one had scored ridiculously highly on ratebeer, which of course boded well. As soon as I flicked the top off the bottle I could smell this monster. Once poured - an oily black with a distinct lack of head, which was forgivable considering it had spent a night in the fridge - you could smell it a mile off; damn, what an aroma! Massive alcoholic sweetness, some coffee with hints of smokiness and a shed load of dark berries. I knew this would be a big beer, but I was not expecting what was about to follow: a big alcohol taste hits the tongue with minimum carbonation (which I prefer in dark beers) and an all-round overpowering sweetness. This is sweeter than Ryan Sweeting celebrating his sweet sixteen in the sweet shop on Sweet Street… you get the idea. Loads of red fruits in there. Leave it in the mouth for a few seconds for milk and dark chocolate flavours to start melting over your tongue with hints of black liquorice. After the swallow, there is coffee in the throat and a strong aftertaste of alcoholic fruitiness in the mouth. 

No head. Get it?
With a strawberry trifle. Tasty!

This is without doubt, and as was to be expected, a huge beer. However, having never been that into the darker end of the beer spectrum, it wasn't entirely to my taste. It was good, no question, but a bit too (yep, you got it..) sweet for my liking, and I felt the alcohol taste was slightly intrusive. My theory is that if I want to get punched in the face, I'd rather it was by a boxing glove made of hops and lighter fruits than an iron gauntlet made of dark fruits, coffee and chocolate. It was like something between a strong London porter and an Aventinus Eisbock, which for many is, I'm sure, a tremendously appetising thought. However, in true big beer style, it is uncompromising, unapologetic, unyielding and a truly intense experience. And at 17.2%, it's bloody relentless. Should you come across it, give it a go; it might broaden your horizons…

…sorry, had to end on a pun.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Yorkshire Day!

Yesterday, as we all know (and if you didn't, you do now; remember it), marked the annual Yorkshire Day celebrations. It also marked the first day I could drink after being off alcohol for a week while on antibiotics; this was a tough journey - try working three consecutive nine-hour shifts at Beer Ritz knowing full well you can't even touch a drop at the end of it - but I'd made it, except a few cheeky tasters such as our home brew and some Rudgate beer at the brewery. 

Beer. From Yorkshire.

Anyway, it was a perfect excuse to drink some Yorkshire beers, beginning with a bottle of Black Sheep Imperial Russian Stout at bang on 5pm (didn't want to wait til I'd walked home to crack this open... a week can do that to you). If you have come across this stout before, I'm sure you'll agree it certainly is an interesting drop. I poured it into a large wine glass, a typically black pour with pretty much no head unfortunately. The first thing I noticed was that it was quite highly carbonated for a stout - not necessarily a bad thing but certainly unexpected. This is a beer that develops massively as you drink it, each sip is different from the last, different aromas coming to the fore with each finger. Chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and a nice maltiness all make appearances, a classic stout really. I'd heard good things about this beer and was expecting a little more, but it was a really nice and interesting one nonetheless. Give it a try!

New face of the Town Hall Tavern
Given the occassion, I thought I'd try the recently refurbed Town Hall Tavern, which coincidentally my old colleague had just started at full-time; even more coincidentally, I'd heard Timmy Taylors pints were £2 for Yorkshire Day. I couldn't say no. I hadn't been to this pub for about two years, and the last time was a quick afternoon stop. What had once been a rather traditional boozer has been transformed into a modern day 'bar' (they're still pubs dammit!) akin to Veritas and the like. It is now very well presented and nicely laid out, utilising modern decor interspersed with tradition such as old Taylor's posters, photos of old Leeds etc. The Ram Tam and Golden Best (only the latter of which, as it turned out, was £2) were on fine form, both delicious pints. However, there was a distinct lack of custom. Town was dead in general, to be fair, but only a few business-looking chaps and the two of us made up the entire clientele. Perhaps it was just a Monday, perhaps it's the recession, or perhaps it's the pub's location. Who knows, but that place should definitely be attracting more than several punters a night.

From there we headed up to the curiously named Nation of Shopkeepers; but as you've probably all made up your mind about the place already, I won't bore you with the details. Also, I was drinking Anchor Steam Beer, and there's not much Yorkshireness to that is there?

Happy (now belated) Yorkshire Day :-)