Got the flavour

For one post only, here’s a return of my ‘tasting notes’ feature, dedicated to the various ‘craft keg’ beers I’ve sampled. I’ve had eight, that I can remember: BrewDog 5 a.m. Saint, Hops Kill Nazis and Zeitgeist; Hard Knott Duality; Lovibonds Dirty 69; Magic Rock Cannonball; Marble Earl Grey IPA; and Red Willow Soulless.

Beers served noticeably colder than cask: all of the above.

Beers with noticeably higher carbonation than cask: 5 a.m. Saint, Zeitgeist, Duality, Cannonball, Earl Grey IPA (i.e. most of the above).

Beers with a strong and distinctive flavour (as served): 5 a.m. Saint, Hops Kill.

Beer with an unpleasantly strong and distinctive flavour (as served): Hops Kill, which was revolting – either I really didn’t get it or the beer had managed to go sour in the keg. I’ll ignore this one from now on.

Beers with a nice but not particularly striking flavour (as served): Duality, Cannonball, Earl Grey IPA, Soulless.

Beers without very much flavour at all (as served): Zeitgeist, Dirty 69.

Beers whose flavour & aroma developed noticeably on warming up and/or outgassing: Zeitgeist, Duality, Cannonball.

Beer whose flavour & aroma developed noticeably and in a good way: Zeitgeist. (Both the other two released a blast of aroma, but the aroma was mostly one of dead leaves and old books.)

Strong beers which didn’t drink their strength: Dirty 69, Cannonball, Earl Grey IPA, none of which tasted anywhere near their 6+% a.b.v.

Beers which I’ve also drunk on cask: 5 a.m. Saint, Zeitgeist, Earl Grey IPA.

Beers whose flavour and aroma matched up to the cask version: none of those three, although in fairness the Zeitgeist wasn’t far short once it had warmed up a bit (by which time I’d already drunk half of it). (I also thought both the Zeitgeist and the Saint were better on keg than in bottle, for what that’s worth.)

Good, memorable beers: 5 a.m. Saint, Zeitgeist (when thawed).

Perfectly pleasant but just a bit ordinary: Duality, Cannonball, Earl Grey IPA, Soulless.

Wooden spoon: Dirty 69, an interesting-sounding beer which I wanted to like, but which just didn’t taste of anything very much.

With that, I think I really will let ‘craft keg’ alone, and the guys from Fraserburgh with it (until they see sense and go back to brewing some of their excellent cask beers). But I tried; never let it be said I didn’t try.

My lasting reaction is one of puzzlement. We’ll assume there was something wrong with the Hops Kill; on Duality, Dave has said that he was aiming for what I’d call “perfectly pleasant but a bit ordinary” (he didn’t use quite those words), so I guess that’s fair enough. That leaves six beers, and two questions. Zeitgeist and Saint were good, but I know they were much better on cask – and, in the case of Zeitgeist, it was much better when it had lost some of the excess chill & CO2. Why spoil great beers like that? As for the other four, Marble, Red Willow and especially Magic Rock are breweries I value for big, extreme, complex flavours, especially at higher strengths – and everything I read about Lovibonds suggests they’re working in a similar area. So why, when they brew for keg, are they making such light, undemanding beers?

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2 Comments

  1. pubcurmudgeon
    Posted 9 April, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    “Beers served noticeably colder than cask – Beers with noticeably higher carbonation than cask”

    Isn’t that sort of the point?

    • Posted 9 April, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      As we were saying… I was reacting to this from B&B, which suggested that ‘cold’ and ‘fizzy’ were jargon terms arbitrarily applied by cask bores to beers they didn’t like. (I don’t agree.)

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