Today we are tasting beers from two of the traditional powerhouses of beer, England and Belgium.
Let’s start with England, the nation that bought us Porter, Russian Imperial Stouts, Indian Pale Ales and of course the cry of many a pasty, overweight, darts-carrying geezer ‘A pint of Bitter’.
That’s right, I’ve been drinking the very traditional Samuel Smith Organic Best Ale. They are really playing up the tradition here, it starts with the label which looks to have been designed before the advent of computers (and possibly the steam engine) but it’s also there in the look and taste. It’s a simple, no nonsense beer. A deep yellow colour, slightly malty with a nice white foamy head. It smells like lager yeast, but just a little tarter.
I found it interesting, nice, bready and almost wheaty, it had a slight tartness to it (It reminded me of hawthorne berries) which I didn’t like. It did make me wonder if perhaps this was past it’s best, the best before date had been rubbed off, which made me suspicious. I have to say I enjoyed it regardless. It was not all that challenging, but rather was an elegantly simple beer with a nice malt profile and I have to say it was super refreshing. Pint.
The next brew is from the other home of beer, Belgium, home to a hundred and one breweries that all started in a monastery in the 12th, 13th or 14th century. But not today’s beer, today’s beer is a new world brew from a modern (just 13 years old) Belgian brewery.
The beer in question is Viven Imperial IPA which is a browny, amber coloured beer. Imperial IPA is of course a hop driven style and this is no different. The nose is fruity, a little like marmalade. The taste is unusual, there is a huge hops hit that you would suspect (in fact piney hops) but then there is all this sweetness in the body, and even some slight Belgian yeast qualities and a big alcohol kick. For mine it felt a little more like an overhopped Tripel than an IPA, not that there is anything wrong with that. Pint.
Six Degrees of Norm (where we prove every beer can be linked to Norm from Cheers in 6 easy steps, or two beers in this case):
1. Samuel Smith is made in Yorkshire as was the film ‘Brassed Off’
2. Which starred Pete Postlethwaite
3. Who was in the 1999 film Alice in Wonderland with George Wendt, who of course is Norm
4. Whereas Viven was made in Belguim just like the film ‘In Bruges’
5. Which starred Colin Farrell, who will star in ‘Seven Pyscopaths’ with Woody Harrelson in 2012
6. And Woody of course served drinks to Norm in Cheers.