Beer was the first alcoholic drink I ever tried. Forget what you’ve heard Canadian kids got up to when their parents left them with an empty house all weekend, because this was the tamest party in history, which was only made more evident by the fact one of the boys turned up with a six-pack of Molson to be shared between thirteen people. Wild.
Throughout my teens and early twenties, beer was never really my thing. There’s a certain element of nostalgia I associate with a can of Labatts or Molson Canadian, but let’s be honest here, the only time I’ll choose to drink one is at a baseball game. I preferred sweet, fruity cocktails to a “pint”, and with a paper umbrella thankyouverymuch. The beer served in pubs ran the gamut from cans of Stella to pints of Stella. As far as I was concerned, beer was bland, boring, and bitter.
A few years ago I briefly shared a flat with a rather dapper dude who worked in a fancy booze shop, so every night he’d bring home some new craft beer I’d never heard of and insisted I try it. Have it with dinner. Drink it instead of wine. I rolled my eyes at him, but I cracked a bottle open to humour him. I was fairly confident I’d hate it.
Well. These were nothing like the poorly pulled pints of generic lager sucked down by starving students with debilitating hangovers. In the same way that you’d savour a dram
of single malt rather than throwing back a shot of supermarket value whisky, the beers he brought home weren’t just a liquid means to an end. There was more to these craft ales and lagers, stouts and IPAs, than just a way to get drunk. They actually tasted nice.
This weekend, from the 24th to the 26th of November, the Craft Beer Revolution Festival is taking place at the Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh, showcasing a whopping 70+ craft beers from Scotland, UK, and Europe. A few weeks ago I was one of a lucky few bloggers to get a chance to do a wee tasting of brews at Six°North. Their brewery produces Belgian style unfiltered beers using Belgian yeast in the North East of Scotland, and we tried seven very different types in total. We were taught how to best pour each one for optimal flavour and head, and we basically drunk a whole lot of delicious beer *hic*
Wanderlust “wit” ale 4.6%
The Wanderlust was the beer I was most drawn to initially, as I’m partial to a Weissbier. Apparently my German is a lot rustier than I thought, because for years I’d been convinced that this referred to the fact it was a “white” beer. It is not. Weiss means wheat, and my high school German teacher just felt a shudder go up her spine at my mistake.
Wanderlust had a crystal clear pour, with flavours of coriander, grapefruit, orange and lemon. Unlike some Belgian beers the fresh fruit is actually added during the brewing process, rather than flavours incidental to the type of wheat used.
I loved the name of this one, which had a higher quantity of hops than the Wanderlust. Hypocrisy is a pale ale (referring to the use of malt with the hops) and a hazy orange amber colour. It wasn’t too sweet at all, and had a light, citrus and floral flavour with a hint of marzipan and Madeira cake. This beer was a little bit heavier than the Wanderlust, but it was still a refreshing brew.
Hop Classic 6.6%
This IPA (India Pale Ale) had a significantly stronger alcohol content than the first two beers we tried, with more hops and yeast as well. It was more bitter and had more flavour than both the Wanderlust and Hopocrisy.
Four saison 6 %
The name for this farmhouse ale comes from the french word “saisonnière”, and it was typically brewed in the winter to keep. This one was definitely my favourite of all the beers we tried, which really surprised me as I never thought of myself as a fan of ale. The saison yeast devours the sugars, making a very light and drinkable beer with a lemony grassy flavour. Very dry, and very little presence of sugar, with less bitterness than most ales.
Jiang shi 8%
This was the first bottled beer we tried, and we were talked through the process of bottle conditioning where the sugars are added to the bottle itself. At 8% this one was definitely the highest in alcohol content, with a much stronger flavour and a heavier feel.
Holy shit, 9%?! At this point I was definitely more than a little tipsy, and was really wondering whether drinking a beer that snuck in with a 9% alcohol content was a good idea. I mean it was only 2pm! This one contained triple the amount of cereals to the others we’d sampled, and resulted in a very sweet ale from the use of malt. Definitely caramel flavours and orange, with an amber straw blonde colour. It was surprisingly smooth and easy to drink, but more than a pint of this would have knocked me sideways.
The very last beer on the agenda was a sour raspberry beer, with a very tart flavour that will give you cheekbones. This one contained a base beer made up of a mix of Lambic Beers from the Pajottenland region of Belgium.
All this talk of beer is making me want to drink some now!