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

Friday, 23 September 2011

Mikkeller Black Hole

The enigmatic branding works well
Only my second post of this month - apologies for the absence, but I've had a pretty busy schedule recently. Plenty of work but, somehow, no money to buy beer with! Well, that's a lie… I've bought loads of beer, just nothing tremendously exciting that you may not have tried before. Until now. I say now, I actually drank this beer over a week ago on the 16th and have only just found the time to write about it. But here we are - Mikkeller Black Hole Imperial Stout. Like many of our lesser-spotted imports at Beer Ritz, the Mikkeller bottles we got in were gone before any of us could blink. Amidst the excitement, however, I managed to grab myself one of these bad boys, and it had come on the highest recommendation…

The pour was black, with medium carbonation and a small brown head that disappeared pretty quickly. Surprisingly, the very first whiff presented an aroma akin to an American amber. However a little swirl revealed dark chocolate, liquorice, treacle and woody alcohol presence. On the palate, the initial impact was not as huge as expected. In fact, it glided quite effortlessly across the tongue, leaving me thinking for a brief second 'what have I just spent several quid on?!' But then it came; only on the swallow did the flavours rear their heads. A massive chocolatey alcohol bite accompanied the swallow. Lots of chocolates thereafter, with caramel, brown sugar, toffee and vanilla. There were some hints of coffee, but not much considering the size and complexity of the flavours. This was actually more to my taste than other stouts I've tried, although a little too mouth-suckingly sweet in places; despite this, it was extremely manageable and well balanced. Overall, a lovely beer and well worth a go should you ever come across it.

Something I've noticed about my personal taste recently: stouts are gradually becoming top dog...

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Kernel - Amarillo Cascade & Centennial 100

Excellent branding too!

Everyone loves The Kernel. It's undeniable that they are producing some of the best, most exciting and most talked-about brews in the industry today, and their reputation has been built on nothing but great beer - no clever marketing or gimmicks, just awesome products and word of mouth. So tonight I thought I'd try a couple of new additions to our Kernel range at Beer Ritz (and new to me, too) - Amarillo Cascade 50cl, and the brewery's 100th beer, Centennial 100 33cl.

First up was the Amarillo Cascade. It poured a lovely clear golden/orange with a large white head that dissipated quickly. A hoppy aroma of apricot, melon, orange and citrus hints worked up my appetite for this beer. On first thoughts, it was much lighter on the palate than expected. With a soft carbonation, subtle lemon and grapefruit flavours presented themselves with a dry bitterness on the tongue. To my disappointment, the swallow didn't leave much presence in the throat, with a crisp bitterness remaining. While lovely and refreshing, this beer wasn't as full-on as I had hoped, but at the relatively low (for cutting-edge brews these days) abv of 5.8% this was forgivable. It reminded me of the Mallinsons Hopped, albeit a far, far superior version. It was interesting to note that the aftertaste was more fruity and lingered for longer as the beer warmed up (I had initially put it in the fridge for a short while before drinking) - further proof that in my personal opinion, ales should not be refrigerated!

Milestone 100th brew
Next up, the big boy beer in a baby bottle. Coming in at 10.1%, the Centennial 100 promised to be a much bigger animal. A coppery orange pour with a medium head which was thicker than that of the first beer. The aroma, unsurprisingly, had a lot more hop and malt presence. Fruity, but more 'green' fruits as I call them - grapefruit, melon, also caramel and a woody grassiness. There was almost a sourness to the aroma, reminiscent of a Belgian style. On the tongue, it's very smooth and quite floral. Soft to medium carbonation works well for this beer, reserving some of its aggression. There is earthiness and notable pine flavour. A big alcohol bite on the swallow resolves in a dry bittersweet finish with a lingering boozy aftertaste. This is good stuff! As the beer develops and warms up a bit, there is a noticeable syrup/caramel quality coming through.

Overall, another resounding success story for The Kernel to put on their CV. I was expecting a little more from the Amarillo Cascade, but that's not to say it wasn't a good beer - I'd happily buy another were it not for the fact that I need to progress through their range before they disappear again! The Centennial 100 was a great way to mark the milestone of one hundred brews, and although very different to my expectations of it, was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Well done, Kernel! Keep up the good work.