This is a classy Victorian gastro-pub near the Smithfield Meat Market. (I thought I’d seen London meat markets before, having been out to the late night clubs. But no, I’m told this is an actual working market where foodstuffs are bought and sold. Interesting.) There are several pubs in London as nice as the Fox & Anchor, but one way it distinguishes itself is the morning hours for market traders and serious breakfasting. By the way, it also has six rooms and they look pretty damned nice.
Food. I could have gone with Eggs Benedict, but if I’m priming for a Great British Beer Festival, I’ve got to go with the proper English breakfast, don’t I? Fried eggs, thick bacon, two sausages, blood pudding, beans, juicy tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, toast. I’m forgetting something. Oh yeah, a pint. In this case, a pewter tankard of Nethergate’s soft, nutty and fruity Dr. John’s Panacea. It was decent.
My next choice was even better: a Meantime Helles on draft. Lively, bitter and refreshing. Attention British people: If you must have a lager, consider that one.
More on the festival, probably, when I get the chance.
But I’ve recently come accross two Belgian brews which I’d never heard about before, nor in forums neither in blogs, at least not recently (yeah, yeah, I’m sure I can find them in Rate Beer or Beer Advocate, but you already know I never go there). They are Maredsous Bruin (8%ABV) and Floreffe Tripel (7,5%ABV).
Both are Abbey Beers. Maredsous is brewed under the supervision of the monastic community of the same name, according to Benedictine traditions (or so the bottle says). Floreffe is brewed by Brasserie Lefebvre. Though there doesn’t seem to be any monastic involvement, the beer does have a historical link with the namesake monastery, now a school.
I arrive at the mass at Maerdsous. The officiating abbot is wearing a spongy cap of slightly tanned colour and a very dark amber robe. He starts the sermon in a low voice and dull tone that soon becomes a monotonous drone. My mind starts to wander, only decorum is keeping me awake. When the sermon ends I am bored out of my skull. What a waste of time! The only thing that the good Abbot Bruin of Maredsous has managed to stir in me is the question whether a really bad beer isn’t sometimes better than a very boring one.
A few days later I find myself at the Floreffe abbey. The officiating monk is wearing a compact white cap and an almost orange robe. Like his colleague (or competitor or enemy, you never know with these religious orders), he starts his homily with a dull voice. I take a deep breath, getting ready for the worst. Then suddenly something, a word? a phrase? a change in the tone of voice?, catches my interest. I start paying attention to what this monk is telling me. It is nothing new, nothing I haven’t heard before, sometimes even with fancier words. But many times it isn’t what it’s said, but how it is said, and this friar says it so well. When the sermon ends I feel very glad I have attended it. It was nothing life changing, mind you, nor has it converted me (my sincretist beer faith is too strong), but it is something I would like to listen to again in the future. Sometimes it is the simple and reassuring words what you need.
Choose your preferred Prague hotels and get free transport.
A while back I wrote about 3 prototype beers that Scotland’s bad (but oh so good) boys of brewing, BrewDog, had produced. Of the three I tried, the prototype Chaos Theory was by far the one I liked the most, but I also thought that the Zeit Geist (the original name) had potential. So when I got a few bottles of the production versions I was well chuffed.
I have to admit that I am yet to try the production Chaos Theory, or the 77 Pilsner that came with the box, but last weekend I popped open the Zeitgeist to see how it compared with the prototype.
In my original comments I noted that it was:
dark ruby with a light espresso coloured head, which in common with the other beers disappeared very quickly. As you would expect from a dark lager the nose was dominated by coffee notes, with subtle hints of burnt toffee and even a delicate floral tone suggesting the use of Saaz hops. The burnt theme came through in the tasting, although this time it was less coffee and more chocolate, I would go so far as to say it was like a singed Hershy bar, sweet yet sour.
The production version is still dark ruby and the fluffy tan head disappears rather quickly. Again the nose was quite floral, but the burnt toffee I smelled last time was a bit toned down this time I thought, almost like tablet rather than toffee (for the non-Scots out there, tablet is the world’s greatest confection!). Drinking the beer I felt there was more coffee than chocolate this time, which made the beer quite dry and bitter, which is never a bad thing in my world, although there was an undertone of sweet caramel, and even some smokiness – although apparently there wasn’t any smoked malt used.
I think the production version is a step up from the prototype, even though the alcohol content is down by 0.2%. There is a more rounded body making it a more satisfying drink, which is still nicely balanced and easy to imbibe. While I don’t think it will be replacing Budvar Dark or the magnificent Kout na Šumavě 14° Dark in my pantheon of dark delights, it would more than hold its own in the company of darks from Bernard and Svijany for example, and is a beer that I would very much like to try on tap, whether that be keg or cask.
Good stuff again from BrewDog, keep it up.
If you’re looking for an Easter treat, how about some Porterhouse Chocolate Truffle stout? I gather it’s their spring special and it’s a beauty. It’s smooth, bittersweet, and seems to have a hint of mint about it.
We tried it a couple of weeks ago when we were looking for the legendary Galway Hooker, without luck. The rather diffident bar man didn’t say whether they’d run out, or never took delivery, or give any explanation whatsoever. There just wasn’t any, full stop. Perhaps it was at another bar and the effort of explaining this was just too much for him. You only get a two second window to order a drink on a Saturday night at the Porterhouse, after all.
See here for an earlier article about the Porterhouse.
Besides looking cool, the swing arm actually serves a practical purpose. By adjusting its height you can easily fill cups of varying sizes. It also has the ability to brew three packets of coffee without changing the water in the reservoir. The IMO is only a concept at this point, but if it were to go into production, Ströher believes it would retail for about $130. [Coroflot via Trends Updates via The Design Blog]