Tag Archives: cask beer

London 2014: Beer

26 Oct

In London earlier this summer I sampled about a dozen beers over two days (having people to share tastes with helps), at locations ranging from a unpretentious 19th century English Pub with many 3.5-4% session beers on Cask (at The Wenlock Arms— I highly recommend it)…

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…to a new craft beer oriented bar (Brewdog) carrying the likes of Mikkeller and other unusual beers, in the controversial-in-London Shoreditch

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…to a range of tiny top-notch modern microbreweries located under support arches in an industrial part of South London, formerly business-oriented but now open to visitors on weekends and dubbed “The Beer Mile“…

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Digging up a worn notebook from the trip, these were my favorites:

  • Beer By Numbers (‘bbno’, Beer Mile) had my favorite beer by far of London.
    • [A] Witbier — slightly spicy, good yeast
    • [A+] Barrel-aged Saison — exceptional. again, good funk form whatever yeast they used, moderately dry, balanced.
  • [A] Partizan (Beer Mile) Quad — intensely strong (and their brewery space was fun to have a drink in)
  • [A] Mikkeller / To Øl collaboration Betelgeuze — I love it — I’d had it once in the US in expensive bottles, but it was on tap at Brewdog. A strongly sour beer without much funk, but not just single-note acidity.

I also enjoyed:

  • [B+] Oscar Wilde from Mighty Oak (on cask at Wenlock Arms) — dark, grain tea flavor, thin but slightly creamy— sort of like a thin session stout
  • [A-] Stroud’s Ten Long (on cask at Wenlock Arms) — session bitter (3.7% ABV),  slightly dark/spicy, slight citrus nose
  • I thought the FourPure beers on the beer mile were all decent, but none were especially memorable
  • [B+] “A Wee Bit” Peated Scotch Ale. A light hand with the peat– present but not too smoky, and a good scotch ale base.

Portland Food & Beer Recap #3

22 Apr

Another year, another weekend trip to Portland to see friends, eat, and drink beer. Getting up early and going to sleep late– less to take advantage of the nightlife and more to fit in four meals a day. Some memories:

Heart Coffee: Easily the best coffee of the trip. A very light roast, lemony, smooth. Highly recommended.

Apizza Scholls: 

Oh, wow.

apizza scholls

I’d been here many years ago and remembered it being good, but the first hot slice of Margherita this time was one of the best slices of pizza I’ve had anywhere (including New Haven, Brooklyn, and Naples). Perfect. They nailed it. Thin crust without being crispy, elastic without being chewy, tender without letting grease soak through, tart distinctively tomato sauce without being too acidic, small pockets of excellent cheese and basil, and just the right temperature…. even 15 minutes later it wasn’t as amazing. The New York White Pie (fresh mozzarella, pecorino, ricotta, garlic) was also very good and moist, but not in the same league.

Yeah.

Horse Brass Pub (again):

I had to come back, it was as British-dark-wood cozy as I remembered, and the cask conditioned Hogsback Stout tasted as good. The beer equivalent of light roast coffee, with toasty grapefruity flavors.

hogsback stour

Cascade Brewing Barrel Room:

Barrel-aged sour beers. Really good ones. 2 oz tasters let me gradually work my way through all 10 of them. And not at all crowded (well, at 3pm on a Friday…) A great way to spend all afternoon, and up there with Hair of the Dog in my favorite brewpubs in Portland.

 Cascade Sour Beer

Cascade Menu

The Noyaux was fantastic– I have to track it down. Blondes and tripels aged on oak for years, then another year on raspberries and apricot pits. Tart to the point of saliva-stimulating at first, then getting more and more funky (in a barnyard-straw way) as it warmed up. It smells like it would be sweet, but it’s not at all. A+.

The Vlad was also very good, a quad blonde aged in bourbon barrels, not one-note, and it kept developing as it warmed up. I don’t know if it would be interesting enough to drink a full pint, but I really enjoyed this small glass.

The Manhattan NW was the most interesting though not my favorite: a quad aged in bourbon barrels with sour cherries. Very woodsy in taste, but it smelled too much like grenadine syrup.

I thought the Chocolate Burbonic sounded interesting (porters, bourbon barrels, cinnamon, dates, chocolate? what’s not to like?) but I thought it was disgusting, evoking “subtle notes of bile”. Humbug.

Oh, and the apricot, cherry, and blueberry sour beers were all good, tart, and about what I expected from past bottles.

Lardo:

Yeah, yeah, a posed-food-getting-cold low-depth-of-field juxtaposition photo, I have to take one of these in between all the blurry quick cell phone shots.

Lardo

A burger covered with porkstrami / pork belly, on a half-size loaf of bread because they were out of rolls. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious– but the “lardo sauce” was over the top and the whole thing was just too *pow* in my face creamy. Great at midnight after a beer at Apex, and I’d try something else from their menu, but I have no need to have that burger more than once in my life.

Luce:

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A cheerful, friendly Italian bistro, which by total chance I was standing in front of when I  got a message I should check it out. The $12 steak and salad lunch plate was a great deal, and the salad was remarkably good: interesting greens, parsley, dill, other slightly bitter greens– it tasted fresh out of someone’s backyard garden. The steak was fine though nothing special — if I’m there again I hear I should try their pasta.

Broder:

A fun place to eat brunch, though not mind-blowing or deserving of a Zagat 27 and a “Best Brunch Spots in Portland” award.

Excellent dill-infused aquavit bloody mary:

bloody mary

Baked scrambled eggs in a square skillet and a mashed potato pancake were cute twists on the typical brunch dishes… but neither tasted better than any generic eggs and potatoes:

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Evoe, the counter in Pastaworks:

This was one of my favorite places to eat the last time I was in Portland. It was quite good this time but just short of excellent.

The oven-roasted rapini with meyer lemon and anchovies was fascinating: who knew that rapini would roast so well? The leaves were crispy but the stalks stayed moist, chewy, and really flavorful, unlike many roasted greens (I’m looking at you, kale):

rapini

A cauliflower soup with bottarga and a raw shaved squash salad with mint and balsamic were both interesting but very one note.

See See Motorcycle Coffee Company:

I went for the ambiance, the espresso was quite good.

motor coffee

Apex:

A huge beer selection (taps and bottles), the kind of place I’d think would be right up my alley– maybe if I went with a group of friends. I stopped by after a film festival on my own and it didn’t quite click for me. The not-so-cozy space and the bright high-tech beer lists were a little off, and the one beer I tried was nothing but a hop punch in the face.

 Apex Beer

Little T Baker:

Nice space, very good pretzel roll…

Little T Baker

Good though I’m not inspired to rave about them: Common Grounds Coffee (though I do appreciate their fox logo and $1 coffee), the Pie Spot (a fine marionberry tart), the crepe food truck near Ladd’s Addition, the Korean taco truck next to Prost, Lucky Lab (mediocre pizza and beer), Amnesia (friendly outdoor seating and strangers, fine beer).