Ale to the King.

Edinburgh's quality beer and ale review and culture site.

Archive for the tag “spirit”

Brew at the Bog Special: The Spirited Dog

Ale to the King is a big and unashamed fan of Brewdog. These Fraserburgh latter-day pioneers of beer have arrived on the market like a like a bull made of sledgehammers in a china-cabinet. I wouldn’t be afraid to say this company are one of the driving forces that helped reinvent the craft beer scene as fashionable, edgy and sexy.

Its with little surprise the company have rapidly gone from strength to strength since the first time I became aware of them. Unusually it wasn’t in the local off-license or supermarket I saw their wares, but on tele, being drunk in Prince’s Street Gardens by Oz Clarke, James May, James Watt and Martin Dickie on the fantastic Oz and James Drink to Britain (please bring it back!).

Since this relatively early following of them I’ve seen their range grow in size yet impressively maintain its quality, their stock appear in more and more establishments, to opening their own bars all over the British isles. And yet somehow, they still maintain their spirit of small, feisty, rebelliousness.

So their next move comes as something unexpected. In these financially hard times putting their names behind a brand new festival may seem foolhardy, especially on something which is traditionally quite costly for something that often lasts only a day or two; without doubt the biggest events like Download and Glastonbury, with ticket prices over £200, will be feeling the pinch at the moment. Had Brew at the Bog been a shambling mess or worse, an unattended failure, Brewdog’s name would have gone down with it. The heavy branding no doubt adds an instant recognition, but with that comes a risk. As it turns out, it was a wise move. The organisers clearly knew what they were doing.

But then, come to think of it, that’s a characteristically Brewdog thing to do.

Its this kind of spirit that embodies the craft beer scene at the moment; defiant, revering innovation and bravery over reserve and safety, self-assured and with plenty of cochonnes. Craft beer is a link to our shared British history; one we should all be proud of as a symbol of determination and innovation, and its this determination and innovation which it needs to grow, like Brewdog, from strength to strength.

Aledvent Calendbeer selection 2

If you haven’t been keeping up, Ale to the King has been counting down to Christmas in the best way it can think of.  While many go for the common or garden advent calendar with chocolate and others prefer the more traditional advent candle, Ale to the King has created the Aledvent Calendbeer. A carefully chosen beer that reflects Christmas in one way or another (no matter how tenuous the link!) will be decapitated, drunk and deliberated over until the big day itself.

Selection 1 consisted of Christmas Ale by Goose Island, Paradox Isle of Arran by Brewdog, Black Lager by Zeitgeist, Finch by Natural Selection Brewing, Samuel Smith’s India Ale by Samuel Smith Old Brewery and There is No Santa by Brewdog.

But that was just Selection 1 and as 007 once said, you’ve had your six.

So, without further ado Ale to the King presents you with Aledvent Calendbeer Selection 2:

If you want to drink along with Ale to the King and compare notes, then you will need:

  • Hefeweizen by Stewart Brewing
  • Winter Ale by The Brooklyn Brewery
  • India Pale Ale by Knops Beer Company
  • Hop Trials – Nelson Sauvin by Tryst
  • St. Mungo by West Brewery

If you’ve not been able to keep up with the Aledvent Calendbeer  then now’s a great time to get on board and even make up for lost time by having a second beer a day from Selection 1!

So charge your glasses and raise it in honour of the ever approaching jolly Saint Nick. Because Christmas is a time for treating yourself as well!

What did you think of the Aledvent Calendbeer Selection 1? Disagree with Ale to the King‘s verdict on There’s No Santa or the praise heaped upon Goose Island’s Christmas Ale? Please, do sound off in the comments below!

Review: Tullibardine 1488 Whisky Beer

Beer: Tullibardine 1855 Whisky Beer
Brewery: Tullibardine Distillery (Blackford)
Type: Whisky Ale/English Strong Ale
Served: Bottled
Alc: 7% Vol
Album listened to while reviewing:  Gods of War by Manowar (2007)

Here we have a whisky beer that has a lot of bravado, but will only deliver if you drink it in a certain way.

Tullibardine 1488 Whisky Beer, as I’m sure we’ve oft come across, is one of those beers that believes the fact its got whisky in it makes it a superior tipple and unfortunately relies on that a little too much. Its not the fact the whisky element is a disappointment, far from it, its definitely got a kick on the mid and aftertaste that doesn’t leave your palate for a decent amount of time. While I can’t comment on the quality of the whisky itself, it is what pulls the beer through.

But as already said, its a beer that wants you to drink it it’s way. Its a beer that tastes far better on the swig than the sip. A swig rushes all the elements together and gathers them like miniature clouds under an umbrella of whisky in an enjoyable but not overly special sensation dominated by the spirit. There’s underlying notes of lemon-grass and sun-dried tomato poking through, but its mostly the whisky’s show.

On the sip there’s a very slight fizz, quite pleasant and delicate. The foretaste is golden and very mild and its matched nicely by the nose. This is probably its most stand out element. The foretaste, and especially the smell, are very wet. Not wet by virtue of the fact it’s a liquid, but wet in the same way that Wuthering Heights or Black Death feel wet. Its a very definite, organic, natural wetness as well. Its the wetness of a field, mud under damp straw crushed underfoot of your soggy, slobbering Irish Wolfhound by your side with a sodden stick in his mouth.

Continuing to sip the whisky note’s dominance subsides to give way to a fresh lemon that begins to permeate the taste. There’s also an increasingly annoying cloying round the mouth that couldn’t be dislodged by a thick German sausage sandwich with Tabasco.

And that’s the problem, its overconfident where it shouldn’t be and relies too much on the incorrect belief of the superiority of whisky (if I wanted a whisky, I’d drink a whisky). But what’s left in behind is just annoyance.

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