Thursday, 24 July 2014

Limoncello IPA (9.1%) by Siren, Mikkeller & Hill Farmstead

My first trip to Brewdog Sheffield was just after having visited Fagan`s. A slight contrast perhaps.

Versus . .

Guinness or Moonshine versus a huge board of the weird and wonderful from BrewDog, and other international beery giants. Sometimes the choice on offer at the Division Street bar can bamboozle new punters but the staff are usually super-keen to help and to offer tasters. Both are welcome options as you don`t want to pay premium prices and procure a p-poor pint, or more likely a half or a third.

Slaughtering these lot over prices, keg-loving or the full-on, in your face, branding and marketing is easy, dull and pretty facile. `You get what you pay for` is increasingly true in the ale industry. The sexiest hops are more expensive and speciality brews require time and are labour intensive. It is easy to spend a pretty packet at BrewDog but I`m choosy and I`m rarely disappointed.

Limoncello IPA is a collaborative brew led by Berkshire boys Siren, who I had heard great things about as they started to appear recently around the Steel City. Danny had raved about Siren`s Breakfast Stout at The Ruttie and so I was daringly decisive in choosing this wonderfully weird IPA when I spotted it on the cinema-style beer board. We love a good IPA but we also enjoyed sours last Summer and this one encompasses both styles. It pours with quite a thin off-white head and a hazy amber orange body. Carbonation is medium and lifts the intriguing aromas.The hoppy, zesty citrus  bite is as crisp and refreshing as you would hope and the addition of lactose provides the sweet contrast in this tart beer. Lemon curd Danny reckoned and we both agreed it was certainly `special`.

For me, this was the best beer of the year so far. Hats off to Siren, and friends! I also purchased a bottle of it to takeaway (a rare event) and that was just over a fiver with a take-out discount and it drank well, pretty close to the keg version (which cost £4.00 for a half). Make sure the bottle is cool enough and served properly and it won`t disappoint. If it does, go back to Fagan`s.

Top of the League Scores from Division Street
Danny - 9 /10
Mike - 9 /10

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Steel City Brewing - Triumphant triumvirate?

A year or so ago, bottled Steel City offerings were hen`s teeth. Since the move to Toolmakers, we have been lucky enough to have a pretty steady flow of bottled gems from Sheffield`s most creative ale smith, and local enough for twobeergeeks as they were purchased at the outstanding Hop Hideout down on Abbeydale Road.

Less haste more speed. Or is it more speed less haste? Whatever, I erred. Opening Grim Overlords straight away after they had been kindly picked up by my OH was folly, flying in the face of bottle-conditioned protocol, particularly if you know what her driving is like......This 4.9% collaboration ale with the fantastic Great Heck of err, Great Heck, was not at its best. Double doh.

The union of two of our very favourite producers ought to be a nailed-on winner but this wasn`t and I`ll take the blame. (No score given!)

Black IPAs are an oxymoron. A contradiction in terms. The quintessential dichotomy. Protz`s Pleasure was spot-on though and I`m sure that would rankle with the most fabled of British beer writers. Co-conspirer North Riding have produced some excellent beers recently and Shakespeares regularly have their latest offerings. PP arrives at a respectable 5.3% and has a surprisingly creamy head from the bottle. The malt balances well with sexy hops, which include Simcoe and Mosaic, culminating in a chewy and lingering bitter finish. 

Whilst the Black IPA is not one of my favourite styles of beer, this is certainly a very good example of it. Believe! Black IPAs do exist! (Score - 8 / 10)
I had tried the Phantom of the Hopera at the Gibraltar Street mecca but this extra / special, a Steel City reunion effort (Dave + Gazza), was what I really wanted to unmask:
Phantom Extra was lively to say the least, jumping eagerly out of the bottle! With this 6.7% IPA you get a big grapefruit hit, a foamy aromatic head and a hazy peachy appearance. The wheat malt is quite prominent and the sorachi ace, citra and mosaic hops are spectacularly showcased in a bitter fruity finish. Wow! Not subtle (which is not a Steel City-related adjective tbh) but very tasty indeed. Winner!
(Score - 8.5 /10)