Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

spring is hoppy

Something big is on the horizon! The first Icelandic double IPA! 2xÚlfur, or simply called Úlfur Úlfur will be released on the 1st of may as a spring release from Borg. I am quite excited since I´ve had at least two test batches of this fantastic brew.

The latest was just weeks ago at Kex Beer festival This is just a west coast hop monster, which will be something close to 8% abv and tickling the 100 IBU mark. Full review to follow on the bottle release.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pliny The Elder

Ever since my journey through the more hoppier range of beers began, there has been one name that has been in every single discussion about IPA, "Pliny The Elder".

A lot has been said about Russian River and how Vinnie Cilurzo revolutionized the west coast IPA with Pliny The Elder. Every beer enthusiast in the world has tried to hunt down a bottle, and many have traveled to Santa Rosa in California as their own personal pilgrimage, not only for Pliny The Elder, but for his "big" brother, Pliny The Younger (don´t let the names confuse you).

I first heard of this beer back in 2007, how it was the trademark double IPA and tales of it being one of the very best beers in the world. Being from Iceland, travelling to Santa Rosa was never an option. So after trying to get it through trade, trying to mail order and begging work colleagues who went to California on business trips I realized that my chances were incredibly slim, I would eventually have to travel to California myself just to get my hands on this beer!

Here is where Borg brewery steps in (detailed article coming soon!). Their brewmaster, Sturlaugur Björnsson, was a brewer at Russian River. That man learned his trade there with Vinnie, which almost equals being taught basketball by Michael Jordan. So at the release of Pliny the Younger recently, the Borg crew went there (two brewers, one manager) and probably drowned in hops and sourness. I thought to myself, now here is a chance! I mailed them and begged them to bring home just one bottle, they should just name the price! I did not even expect a reply but due to their kindness, they applied and to my surprise, I was delivered one bottle of this great brew.

Since I try not to be a selfish person I decided to share this with friends and my wife, although my selfish alter  ego begged me not to do that.

When expectations run high a beer like this is doomed to fail. The thought that this might just be an overrated IPA had very much crossed my mind, so I tried to trim down my expectations. Little did I know what was in store for me. This was a fruity hoppy bomb of a beer. I expected it to be over the top bitter but the palate, the aroma, the array of different flavours just make this a near perfect IPA. Perfect golden looks, firm film of a head. Massive massive aroma of fruits, mainly tropical fruits, mango. Taste was a fruit bomb, so incredibly fresh and balanced. Incredibly tasty, more fruits with a giant long finish. Not many beers can stand up to their reputations but this one does incredibly well. I am not biased when I say this is among the very best IPAs I´ve ever sampled.

Massive thanks to the Borg crew!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

happy times!

Since Google has changed Blogger for the better I am staying for the time being, but new site from scratch is in the making and is a long term project. Day 1 of Reykjavik Beer Festival was yesterday. It's a small festival that goes on for 4 days with 1-2 breweries per evening. Last night was good stuff, the local importers of Mikkeller and Migration Brewing from Portland.

Migration was a bit of a surprise gig, but was also very interesting. What a tiny brewery from Oregon is doing here baffles me, but they served up some good brews, a dry hopped pale ale with a massive west coast feel to it, and an "Old Al", named Old Silenus, which was on the sweet side. Both very delicious.

Tomorrow is Borg's night, so I am going to cover that event big time over here.

 No matter what, this weekend is going to be BIG, especially with a bottle of this waiting for me to crack open. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

best of 2012

1. De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis 666
2. Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA
3. Borg Surtur Nr. 8
4. Mikkeller Big Worse Barley Wine
5. De Dochter van de Korenaar Embrasse Oak Aged Ardbeg
6. Borg Giljagaur nr. 14
7. Oskar Blues Ten FIDY
8. Bells Two Hearted Ale
9. Mikkeller I Beat yoU
10. BrewDog Paradox Jura

It was a damn good year
sorry for the lack of posts, this blog is moving to my own personal site, updates soon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

christmas beer, the media and the frenzy

The time is here, Christmas beers are out and people are flocking into the wine stores like ants to a Doritos chip. Everything is completely crazy this weekend, people are buying them by the case and every newspaper and media in town has a section devoted to them.
I was lucky enough to be on the panel for Vínótek and I think we did a pretty good job off being fair to everybody. That is not something that applies to everybody but more on that later.
This year I thought there were two domestic standouts. The obvious winner is of course Borg´s triumphant Barley Wine, Giljagaur. A massive hop monster weighing in at about 10% abv, it´s not a beer for weak palates. Like every Borg seasonal, it´s released maybe a tad too early but still, at this fresh level it is still a massive massive beer and incredibly tasty. Dry hoppy finish with tons of dried fruits. It´s something to savior, and something to enjoy slowly by the fireplace.
The other one is slightly more devoted to the average palate but still very tasty and Christmas-y. It´s the first new beer from Ölvisholt (Iceland´s first micro in my opinion and the one that has stayed close to the concept since it´s start) in I think over 2 years and a really good one. It does not demand much, it´s quite easy but ticks all the boxes for a seasonal Christmas brew. Spices dominate the palate, with cloves and orange bark being the stand outs. It´s a bit lacking in the hop department but still the First Gold hops are obvious in the finish. It is maybe the only thing that this beer is lacking, more bitterness to compliment the spices. But still, an easy choice for the mass as this year´s Christmas beer.

The other Icelandic beers are nothing to rave about, but I was a bit impressed by the Steðji Christmas Lager. A well balanced lager, blended with liquorice. A very foul concept but still easily drinkable.

And now to the media debate. Nonsence like the one picture above is ridiculous. A long time ago writers for the Icelandic newspapers forget the number one rule of journalism, to stay neutral and write an honest opinion about things.

If you´re only intent is to score free beer and keep everybody happy, you should not be writing about beer. Everybody has their opinion but an article like this that is so biased is not only unfair but also incredibly unprofessional. The panel behind this reviews were a group of homebrewers and journalists for this particular newspaper. I refuse to believe that the result was something that everybody agreed on.

I think I know plenty about beer, taste and I know my palate pretty well. In my opinion the Víking Jólabock was incredibly foul, and has nothing to do with christmas or craft brew. The doppelbock pictured in this picture (from the same brewery) was better but in no means something that deserves 93 points. A friend from the craft beer community here once told me that this newspaper adds extra 50 points to every rate and is maybe not doing the sampling session as a blind rating session. If that is true, why the hell write an article? You could just have a whole page with an add from the Víking brewery if you want to make them happy and promote them. I´m not a fan of Kaldi either, the beer that is in this picture elected as the "crowd´s favorite", but each to their own. Other papers have same kind of review, with a panel of people that are famous but know nothing about beer or good taste.

This is not me being bitter, but simply saying my opinion on what a review should be like. I am very proud of my reviews for Vínotek and the panel that rated for them. I think that the final review was very fair to everybody. We did not slate beers but also we did not say they were something that they are not. We did a blind tasting of about 14 beers. Some were very surprising. Icelandic brewing industry is still focusing on the idea that a Christmas beer is something for the binge drinkers. I do not agree and by the look of things, Borg and Ölvisholt have the same idea as me.

And if this particular newspaper do not agree with my opinion and want me to take this picture down, then fine.

But do drink responsibly people, and think more of Christmas beer as something to enjoy and not something to abuse!

Friday, November 9, 2012

international stout day

here in the background is also an amazing barley wine, more on that later

Oh, fun! International Stout day was yesterday, and I visited the dark side of course.

First all, I have a weird relationship with stouts and porters. I like them, I like them a lot. They are, if well made, very rich of flavors, and incredibly satisfying. But every time I visit a liquor store I always head towards the bitter and funky stuff.

Things are on and upwards at Borg as usual. Their latest brew just hit the shelves and it is a rich and robust porter. It´s not a stout per se but we all know just how vague the line between a stout and a porter is. And it´s a discussion I will not go into in this post. Added to all richness of a base porter, Borg have added specially roasted coffee beans to this ale, imported from Colombia. It adds more depths of flavors and the final product is incredibly tasty and holds up well compared to the signature porters of both England and the USA. I have had this brew with a nice steak and it was truly awesome!

The second beer of the night was more true to what the day was all about. A crazy imperial stout! De Molen are one of those brewers that have incredible hype around them. They are brewing 100´s of beers (a la Mikkeller) and the beer nerds are going crazy. I was so lucky to have a visitor from Holland (Hi Martinus!) that brought along a few De Molen bottles for me to sample. I sampled the "regular" Hel & Verdoemenis a few nights ago and it was a bit of an anti climax. Sure it was good but a bit unbalanced. So my hopes for the 666 version had dampened a bit I still knew that I was in for a really special beer. And boy, what a beer, what a beer experience and what nirvana of beer gods! Massive complex aroma, where the cognac truly shines, along with some funk, dust and oak. First a bit acidic on the tongue but then you are brutally hit by the fist of this beer. It slaps you around and calls you "Susan" again and again and by the time you finish the glass you have no clue what just hit you. What hit me was an almost perfect imperial stout.

I hope you all did wonder outside your tiny little box and sampled some stouts and dark beers yesterday. It´s an awesome day, and it is always fun to have an excuse to try something new.