Very recognisable if you’ve ever been to a ceilidh…
Very recognisable if you’ve ever been to a ceilidh…
If you’re in Brussels and would like to celebrate Burns’ Night somehow, next week Friday — I know, still a long wait — the Caledonian Society of Brussels is hosting a special Burns’ Ceilidh. As usual, The Hoggies will be playing, and Gavin will be calling the dances. Always great fun!
I haven’t been able to go a ceilidh for quite some while, so I really hope I can make it to this one… Kilt up!
Back in 2012 Scottish craft beer dudes BrewDog were gettin’ ready to celebrate their 5th anniversary with all the usual party type things, y’know, cake, streamers, apple bobbing, a Livestreamed hot sauce circle jerk, but they just felt a certain summat was missin’. “Crikey fried fuck gizzards” they cried in unison, “We should probs make some beer or some shit, eh?”. And so they did. Based on the by now legendary AB:04, a teensy weensy batch of a chocolate, coffee, and chilli imperial stout for their boutique Abstrakt brand, the resulting Dog A was a chuffing great horny beast of a beer, and so were its 6th and 7th anniversary siblings, the entirely appropriately alphabetically named Dog B, and Doc C. I’d been meaning to do a vertical tasting of these wonders (minus this year’s Dog D, ‘cause barrel aged innit)
for a while but ‘twasn’t ‘til Christmas gone that I got ‘round to it. Aww yus!
‘Kay so I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it ‘til everyone’s sick of me then I’ll say it again. BrewDog, though better known for their hoppy pales, really shine with their stouts. Every damn one they make is magnificent and their best are a match for any I’ve ever had. This expression joins the original Black Eyed King Imp as my favourite of all their stouts. A 15%+ abv brew loaded with pure cacao and coffee and with naga chilli’s in a killer cameo role. So, Dog A then, and just the sight of that glorious sump oil-like liquid tumbling languidly into my glass caused goosebumps. ‘Tis a sublime brew erupting with mouth coating, rich, sweet, and complex flavours of dark chocolate, fine coffee, vanilla beans, stewed prunes, dates, figs, joy and magic. Add half a hedgerow’s worth of earthy, spicy, hops for added flavourama awesomness and a building bitterness towards the long, medium dry, and nicely warming finish, the cause of which can be shared by the smooth alcohol warmth and the perfectly judged naga chilli’s, and you’ve got it. *deep breath*
The other two are as you’d expect, just as deliriously flavoursome but with a slightly increasing intensity from their more mature and chilled out big brother. I think. I was in no fit state to make accurate notes or well, stand up, after these three. But whadda way to get wonky. P’r’aps my most favouritist of the like seventeen or so (loose estimate) beers I’ve tried to date, and revisiting them confirms that for me, barrel ageing 2015′s Dog D was entirely unnecessary, especially when BrewDog already have their exceptional Paradox series of barrel aged imperial stouts and the (hopefully!) now annual Black Eyed King Imp. Anyhoo, I’m off to see if I can get any more of these before they finally disappear for good, see y’all soon.
Best beer I ever had from a can!
BrewDog Hinterland (9% abv)
Walk with us through the ink black velvet portal. Journey to the place where secrets live and Darkness holds court. The Land of Hinter. Where Jackalopes and raven black rivers run free. Draw up your glass from the depths of the ebbing flow. Let the rich dark chocolatey aromas seduce you. And drink. Be enveloped by the candy roasted malty warmth. Fall into the liquid black pools of the Jackalope’s eyes. Then – clarity. The Hinterland comes sharply into focus. Lose yourself in black. Roam his inky kingdom, until the darkness melts, and your world slowly reappears. The Jackalope King will return. Darkness will reign once more.
Here lurks a rare beast, the mythical imperial vanilla and cocoa oatmeal milk stout, a beer I’ve been eager to experience since I heard those first hushed tales of it. If there was any doubt that the liquid darkness within would live up to Johanna Basford’s exquisite Jackalope artwork it was extinguished as a rolling wave of decadence enspelled my taste buds at first sip.
Sumptuous as all fuck, it starts sweet with cocoa, vanilla, dark roast coffee, hints of liquorice and stewed dark stone fruit flavours before a good earthy, spicy, hop presence brings balance to the roasty, malty goodness. The finish is long, dry and moderately bitter, the whole thing is full and so silky smooth it’s unreal.
I’ve said it before, although these Aberdeenshire craft beer legends are best known for their hoppy pales (note to my American beer chums: Avoid those bright blue bottles of Punk IPA, they’re 18 months old at best), stouts are where their true genius lies. And this is up there with their best, a beguiling, beautifully balanced brew that delivers an embarrassing wealth of complex flavours while managing to be effortlessly drinkable. A fantastical creation.
And the best thing is: some of this lovely beer is aging in an oak barrel in Ellon for me – and a couple of hundred other Equity Punks — right now!
My Klean Kanteen BrewDog growler filled with Punk IPA, to prepare for an evening away from BrewDog Brussels.
10 Reasons To Carefully Consider Drinking More Single Malt Whisky
1. Whisky contains 0% fat – so that is one less thing to worry about.
2. Whisky is low in carbohydrates.
3. Dr. David J. Hanson of State University of New York research indicated that people who drink one or two alcoholic drinks a day have a 50 percent lower chance of having a stroke or developing dementia at an older age.
4. In 2005, Dr. Jim Swan, speaking at the EuroMedLab conference in Glasgow, found that single malt whiskies have more elegiac acid than red wine. The elegiac acid is an antioxidant that is thought to absorb rogue cancer cells in the body.
5. Sore throat – whisky is an antiseptic that can help sooth sore throats.
6. Whisky has historically been used as a digestif after a large meal.
7. Single malt whisky contains no nasty preservatives and will last 100 years in a sealed bottle.
8. Whisky is not just in the domain of men. Elizabeth Bessie Williamson is credited with establishing, ‘Laphroaig’ as one of the earliest single malts in the American market. From 1961 to 1964 and she toured the US representing Islay whisky to buyers and distributors.
9. Whisky has been around for at least 519 years – the earliest documented record of distilling in Scotland occurred in 1494, in the tax records of the day. The Exchequer Rolls, list, ‘eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor where to make aqua vitae’.
10. Single malt whiskies come in a huge range of characters and flavours – profiles include: smoky, tobacco, medicinal, sherry, spicy, malty, nutty, honey, sweet, fruit and floral.