Tag Archives: Barleywine

Homebrew: Big Bad Barleywine

On Sunday we will be attempting to brew this monster of a beer. We are looking to make a really full-bodied, malty, hoppy and bitter Barleywine, that hopefully will be perfect for aging a couple of years. We are aiming for an OG of 1.109, which will result in an ABV of 11-12% if the yeast manages to take it down to 1.020-1.030. We are looking for some resiny hop tones to go with the maltiness, and chose the hop varieties based on that. For the yeast, we chose White Labs WLP007 Dry English, since it produces a really nice flavor profile, flocculates well and should tolerate up to 12% ABV. I prepared a 3 liter starter earlier this week, as we will need lots of yeast for this monster. After fermentation we will age it in a keg together with some oak cubes. When it is finally time to bottle the beer, we will still add in some dry hops to give it a dose of hop aroma (which will most likely have been lost from the 6+ months in the keg). Hopefully everything goes smooth on the brewday.

[beerxml recipe=http://beer.suregork.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/big_bad_bw.xml metric=true cache=-1]


Homebrew: Tasting a 15-month old Imperial IPA

In June 2012 I brewed up an Imperial IPA that was loaded with 500 grams of hops in a 20 liter batch. I never made a ‘proper’ review or tasting notes of the beer, but published some short ones right after the beer was kegged and bottled. Overall I was quite happy with the beer, as it featured a strong bitterness, loads of hop aroma (especially when fresh), some nice resiny hop flavors, and a slightly sweet maltiness to balance it all up. The beer was a little grassy and ‘raw’ though, and when we are brewing an IIPA next week (recipe will follow soon), we will replace some of the hops with hop extract to hopefully reduce the amount of grassiness in the end product. Anyways, I found a couple of bottles of this homebrewed IIPA (at least I think it is, as the bottles have no labels or text, just a golden bottle cap) stored away in a closet (we are currently moving, and have been cleaning and packing up everything). I though it would be interesting to try how this one has held up. The general consensus is that IPAs should be drank fresh, and I mostly concur with this statement, however some of the sweeter IIPAs can get really nice with some age in my opinion. This doesn’t mean that I purposely age (I)IPAs, but if I find a bottle that has been forgotten in the fridge/closet for several months I still tend to enjoy them. Hop aroma, flavor and bitterness tend to fade with age, while malty sweetness tends to strengthen. This beer has been stored in quite poor conditions, as the temperature of our old apartment has been quite high (especially during the summers), so my expectations are not that high. Anyways, lets see how it tastes! Oh, and sorry about the picture below. Since we’ve just moved, I’m trying to find a new setting for taking beer pictures. The table and wall combination here results in pictures slightly red-tinted and almost with a desaturated look. Will have to experiment a little.

  • Brewery: Sly Cat Brewery
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
  • ABV: 7.7 %
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

[easyreview title=”Sly Cat CatnIPA – Imperial IPA” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a really murky orange-amber color, and a slight oily off-white head is formed that collapses rather quickly. The beer was crystal clear when I looked through the bottle when I found it in the closet, but 24 hours in the fridge resulted in lots of chill haze that didn’t have time to settle. Very heavily dry-hopped beers tend to have some dry-hop haze, so I guess it suits the style. It could look prettier though, but I’ve never cared that much about appearance. The appearance is similar to what I remember it fresh.” cat1rating=”3.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is fairly sweet, with quite a large malt presence (caramel). There are hop tones left though, despite the 15-month age, and they are mostly floral and perfumey, with some citrus and resin in the background. Quite a nice aroma actually, but it steers more towards the American Barleywine category than the Imperial IPA category. A lot of hop aroma has been lost, but was is left is still a nice combination of sweet caramel and floral hop tones. Reminds me of many IIPAs I’ve consumed ‘old’ (e.g. Port Brewings 3rd Anniversary Ale and Alesmith’s Yulesmith Summer).” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavour is similar to the aroma, with an initial impact of caramelly sweetness, quickly followed by a mellow resiny hoppiness. These combine quite well, and also give off a Barleywine vibe. The finish is semi-sweet, moderately bitter, and features some warming alcohol, which strengthen this impression. Overall the flavors are not bad, but quite different to when the beer was fresh. The beer has changed alot during 15 months, but change in this case isn’t bad, as the beer has turned into a nice Barleywine. The dank, earthy and fruity hop flavors have definitely mellowed, and left are only the resiny and floral tones (myrcene- and linalool-derived perhaps?). What really makes me happy is that there are no signs of infection or other off-flavors, suggesting that my sanitary practices are good. I really like this, but if I tasted this blind I wouldn’t guess it was an IIPA, rather a Barleywine or American Strong Ale.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-full body and a medium-low carbonation level. Not a thrist-quencher for the heat, but really fits nicely as a slow-sipper a rainy autumn day like today.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”Overall, this beer has aged poorly as a IIPA, but quite nicely as an American Barleywine. The huge hoppiness that was present in the fresh beer has faded, but left is a nice caramelly maltiness together with a mellow floral and resiny hoppiness. We will be brewing a new IIPA next week, and this time I will tweak the recipe for a slightly drier finish. This time around I will try to drink them all while they are still fresh. “]

Preparing for Double Brewday

On Sunday we (the same group of friends from the previous posts) will be brewing two batches of beer on my brewing equipment. I’ve just bought a new March 815 pump (hopefully making mash temperatures more even with faster recirculation and slightly shorter brewdays) and a HopRocket (to pack my beers with even more hop aroma and flavor) to add to the brew system. The beers we will be brewing are a Black Rye IPA and an American Barleywine. During the week I’ve been growing some yeast at work, and today I removed the 3 liter starters of WLP001 and WLP002 from the orbital shaker to allow for yeast sedimentation until Sunday. Hopefully everything goes smoothly (especially with the new additions to the equipment) and the beer ends up tasty! Stayed tuned for a brewday post!


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Beer Tasting Evening

I organized another beer tasting event together with a couple of friends (Kimmo, Marcus L. and Marcus N.) yesterday, and this time we tasted through a total of 21 different beers (we had 24 beers total, but didn’t taste through them all). Out of the 21 beers, 8 were homebrews (one of my own, two from Marcus L., and five that our Swedish friend Ingo had sent us; Thanks for them!). Most of the beers were fantastic and we had a great time. We also had some tasty homemade hamburgers and potato wedges to fill out stomachs between the beers (thanks Marcus L. and Marcus N. for making them!). Here is a picture of the whole line-up:

The line-up included:
Back row, left to right: Cigar City Jai Alai, St. Feuillien Saison, Black Isle Goldeneye Pale Ale (not tasted), La Trappe Witte (not tasted), Southern Tier Iniquity, Green Flash Imperial IPA, Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout, Southern Tier Backburner, Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale, De Molen Hemel & Aarde, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Galaxy, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Challenger, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Motueka, Brewdog IPA is Dead – HBC, Brewdog Hardcore IPA (not tasted), Brewdog DogA.

Front row, left to right: “1 AM” – British Yeast, “1 AM” – American Yeast, Citra IPA (mine), Slinka V IPA, PMX II – Sällskapsporter, PraktPretto II – Ale, Slinka V IPA (again), Zum Zum, Grabthar’s Hammer – Imperial India Pale Ale.

We began the evening by trying out Brewdog’s IPA is Dead series:

The beers poured with a similar golden-amber color and a slight white head that left some lacing. The Galaxy version was slightly hazier than the rest of the bunch. The Challenger version featured an earthy, grassy and slightly citrusy aroma, that pulled my mind towards ‘English’-style ales directly. The flavor was the least hoppy of the bunch, and you could get tones of caramel, toasted malt and red berries, along with the earthy and herby hoppiness. The Galaxy version had an aroma featuring tones of mango, passion fruit and grapefruit. The flavor was similar, featuring strong tones of grapefruit, citrus, resin and some tropical fruits. The bitterness of the Galaxy version felt the harshest and most present. The HBC version also featured tones of tropical fruits (mango) in the aroma, but had more of a grassy feel. The flavor felt the sweetest of the four beers, and featured tones of citrus, currants and some grassiness. The Motueka version featured tones of dill and lemon in the aroma, and it reminded me a bit of the tones you get from the Sorachi Ace hop. The flavor contained some tones of tropical fruits alongside the lemon which was present in the aroma already. The beers all had a medium body and a medium-low carbonation level. My favorite of the bunch was the Galaxy version.

Next up was a foursome of homebrews (My Citra IPA, and Ingo’s Slinka V IPA, Zum Zum and PraktPretto II):

Again the beers had a similar appearance, all being slightly hazy, having colors in the golden-amber range and having white to off-white heads. The Citra IPA featured tones of passion fruits, lychee, mango and some alcohol in the aroma. The flavor began slightly sweet, with honey-like tones, which are joined by hop tones of tropical fruits. The finish is quite smooth and with some bitterness. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Slinka V IPA featured tones of caramel and ‘fruity bubblegum’ in the aroma. The flavor was quite different, moving towards resiny and earthy hop flavors, and a bitter finish. The beer had a medium body and low carbonation level. Zum Zum was a little strange, as according to the label it should have been a beer with a low IBU but loads of hops (I was expecting a beer in the style of an American Pale Ale), but it felt more like a Hefeweizen. Both the aroma and flavor was dominated by spicy phenols, some banana and yeastiness, which are typical of the Hefeweizen-style. The beer had a light body and a medium carbonation level. I wonder if this was infected? PraktPretto II (an English Ale, hopped with EK Goldings, 5.9%, 30 IBU, 1.055->1.010) featured earthy and grassy tones in the aroma, and it felt very true to the style. There was some cherry in the aroma as well. The began with a sweet maltiness, that was joined by some earthiness. The flavors were well balanced. The beer had a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. This was my favorite of these three Ingo beers.

After this it was time to try two of Alko’s summer beers, St. Feuillien Saison and Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale, and Marcus L.’s two homebrews (the same Amber Ale base, but fermented with S-04 and US-05):

The saison poured golden-yellow with a fluffy white head. The aroma was mostly spicy (Belgian yeast tones), with some slight citrus. The flavor was quite light, with the same spicyness from the aroma and a dry finish. The body was light and carbonation level was medium-high. Refreshing summer beer. The Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale poured golden-amber, with a minimal white head. The aroma contained tones of caramelly malt, honey, and a slight fruity hoppiness. The flavor was similarly malt-dominated, with bready and caramelly flavors dominating, with a slight grassy hoppiness in the background. The finish was quite dry with not much bitterness. The body was medium-light with a medium carbonation level. The “1 AM” ales were amber colored, with slight off-white heads and a oily texture. Both beers had a caramelly and malty aroma, with the British version having some red berries in the aroma as well, while the American version had some ‘dishcloth’ tones as well. Both beers were quite bland in flavor, featuring mostly maltiness and some sour undertones. Both beers had a light body and medium carbonation level. Both were probably passed their prime unfortunately.

After this we started to get hungry, so we cooked up some burgers and potato wedges. While cooking we enjoyed Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA (unfortunately no picture or tasting notes, but see this post from when I tried it last), full-packed with citrusy hoppiness. After dinner we moved to the heavier beers, and poured up Ingo’s Grabthar’s Hammer (9%, 101 IBU, 1.086->1.018, Amarillo, Riwaka, Cascade, Chinook, and Summer hops), Green Flash Imperial IPA, Southern Tier Iniquity and Southern Tier Backburner:

Grabthar’s Hammer poured with a hazy amber color and a white head. The aroma featured tones of sweet tropical fruits, citrus and slight alcohol (the aroma was similar to his Slinka V IPA). The flavor began with a sweet maltiness, that is joined by tones of tropical fruits and citrus. The finish is quite sweet with a huge bitterness. There are slight solvent tones present as well. The beer has a medium body and medium-low carbonation level. Green Flash Imperial IPA poured with a golden color and a really fluffy and large white head, that collapsed leaving tons of lacing. The aroma featured a sweet citrusy and herby tone, that felt really familiar, but that none of us could pinpoint. Maybe it was tangerine, which Summit hops are known for. The flavor was dominated by hoppy tones of resin and lemon, and the finish was quite sweet and bitter. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Southern Tier Iniquity (Black IPA) poured very dark brown (almost black), with a off-white head. The aroma contained tones of roasted malt, spices and a slight hoppiness. The flavor began with some roasted tones and caramel, and it was joined by some resiny hop tones and a bitter finish. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Southern Tier Backburner (Barleywine) poured with a dark amber color, and a slight off-white head was formed. The aroma was nutty, malty and caramelly, and the flavor was similar. The flavor was dominated by very sweet caramelly tones, together with a nutty maltiness and a slightly bitter finish. The beer had a full body and a medium-low carbonation level.

The final beers of the evening were the Imperial Stouts and Porter. Brewdog’s Dog A, De Molen Hemel & Aarde, Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout and Ingo’s PMX II Sällskapsporter (6.8%, 30 IBU, Magnum, EK Goldings, 1.062->1.010). Fortunately I had read warning notes on the internet about opening the Hemel & Aarde, as when we opened it in the kitchen sink, 75% of the contents came out in a beer fountain.

Dog A poured pitch black with a minimal tan head. The aroma featured tones of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and some fruitiness from the chili. The flavor was intensive, featuring roasted malt, coffee, caramel, chocolate and some warming chili tones. The beer had a full body and a surprising amount of carbonation (medium level). It was very drinkable already, but I think it will improve with some aging. Hemel & Aarde was a bit hard to comment on, because of the small amount of beer that remained for tasting. It was also pitch black and no head was formed during pour. The aroma was full of smokey whisky tones and some roastiness. The flavor was similar. The beer had a full body and low carbonation level. Shame about the gusher, since it would have been nice to try more of this beer. The Big Bear Black Stout poured pitch black with a cream-colored head. The aroma was quite light compared to the previous two beers, and it featured tones of roasted malt and coffee. The flavor was also surprisingly light, with roasted tones of coffee and chocolate. A slight tartness was present as well. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. The Sällskapsporter also tried to come out of the bottle when opening, so it poured with a black color and a massive cream-colored head that collapsed quite quickly. The aroma was quite light, with some roasted malt and coffee, together with a slight sourness. The flavor was mostly roasted malts, with a very dry finish and slight bitterness. The body was medium-light with a medium-high carbonation level. I wonder if this was infected as well?

Overall I’m very happy with the evening, as there were some fantastic beers. Personal favorites were Brewdog IPA is Dead Galaxy, Cigar City’s Jai Alai, Green Flash Imperial IPA and Brewdog Dog A.

Evening with Stone Brewing and other goodies!

Olutravintola Pikkulintu have recently imported a batch of 10 different beers by Stone Brewing, and yesterday they were released at both Pikkulintu and a number of pubs around the country, including The Gallows Bird in Espoo, where I myself headed yesterday afternoon, in hopes of tasting these praised beers. The beers available are: Levitation Ale, Pale Ale, IPA, Ruination IPA, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout, Double Bastard, Old Guardian Belgo, 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, and 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale. So yesterday, me and a group of friends headed to The Gallows Bird to try through the list of Stone beer. When we came to the bar we were informed that we would have to wait a couple of hours for the Stone beer to arrive, so I tried some Danish beer in the meanwhile.



First up was Hornbeer’s Black Magic Woman, an Imperial Stout brewed with smoked and peated malt. The beer had a pitch-black color and slight tan-colored head. The aroma was very roasty, featuring tones of burnt malt, coffee, licorice, dark chocolate, caramel and some alcohol. The flavor was similar, with tones of coffee, chocolate, ash, licorice and roasted malts dominating. The flavor ended with a slightly bitter aftertaste, and I thought the beer was quite well balanced. The beer was quite full-bodied, with medium-low carbonation and a smooth finish. I thought this was a really tasty and well balanced Imperial Stout, getting a grade of 4/5.



Next up were Evil Twin’s Yin and Yang, an Imperial Stout and Imperial IPA brewed to complement each other. The label even recommends trying a mix of them, which I also did. I began with Yang, an amber-colored beer with a fluffy off-white head. The aroma was extremely fruity, with tones of mango, passion fruit, citrus and resin. There was also some caramel in the aroma as well. The flavor began with some caramel as well, but was quickly joined by lots of tropical fruit flavor from the hops. There were tones of mango, passionfruit, grapefruit and orange. The flavor ended with a sweet and bitter aftertaste. The beer was medium bodied, with a medium-low carbonation level. I liked this a lot, even though the fruitiness was a bit over the top. This one also gets a grade of 4/5.


Yin poured with a pitch-black color and a minimal tan-colored head. The aroma was full of roasted tones, featuring coffee, chocolate and some roasted malt. The flavor is similar, with tones of chocolate, cocoa, and coffee dominating, together with some caramel and roasted malts. The beer has a smooth and full body, and a low carbonation level. I thought the beer was quite well-balanced, a overall I found the beer tasty. The chocolate and coffee tones were especially strong in this one. Yin gets a grade of 4.5/5.


Yang to the left, Yin to the right, and the mixture in the center


When the two were mixed, a dark brown beer was formed, with a fluffy cream-colored head. Lots of the fruitiness from Yang’s aroma was still left, and it was coupled by a slight roastiness. The flavor on the other hand was dominated by the chocolate and coffee tones from Yin, making for an interesting mixture. The mixture was nice, but liked the beers more on their own.



While we were drinking Yin and Yang, a courier showed up outside the bar, and boxes full of Stone’s beer were loaded into the bar, hooray! It was probably a bad idea to start the day with the strong (both in flavor and alcohol content) Danish beers, since the list of Stone beers included some ‘lighter’ ones, but we did our best to neutralize the taste-buds with some water and salty snacks. We began the Stone tasting with their Pale Ale. The beer poured with an amber-orange color, and a fluffy white head. The aroma was mostly caramel, and not at all as hoppy as I was expecting. There were some slight tones of grapefruit. The flavor began with some bready maltiness, that followed with a slight fruity and citrusy hop flavor. The aftertaste was bitter and slightly dry. The beer had a medium body and carbonation level. Overall, this was my least favorite beer of the evening, and felt it being quite bland. Maybe it was because I had such strongly flavored beers before this. Still it was a drinkable Pale Ale, just nothing special. I give this one a grade of 3-3.5/5.



Next up was Stone’s Levitation Ale, which is an Amber Ale with 4.4% ABV (you can find it in Kesko’s larger supermarkets, e.g. K-Citymarket Sello and Iso Omena, as well!). The Levitation Ale poured a dark amber color, with an off-white head. The aroma was a lot fruitier than the Pale Ale to my surprise, and it featured tones of caramel, citrus, mango, and resin. The flavor begins with some sweet malty tones and caramel, and this is joined by the citrusy and slightly resinous tones from the hops. The aftertaste is bitter, and I felt the beer is well-balanced for such a low-ABV hoppy beer. The beer has a nice medium body and a medium carbonation level. I definitely thought it was better than the Pale Ale, and overall a tasty well-balanced package. I give this one a grade of 3.5-4/5.



Then, it was time for Stone’s Oaked Arrogant Bastard, which I have reviewed earlier. The beer pours with a dark amber color and an off-white head, and the beer has a very similar appearance to Levitation Ale. The aroma has tones of wood, dark fruits, malt and some resiny hops as well. Can’t find much of the vanilla, which I remember from the last time I tried it. Also remember that there would have been slightly more hoppiness in the aroma the last time I had it. The flavor begins with tones of caramel and just a slight roasted maltiness. This is joined by an earthy, citrusy, bitter and woody flavor from the hops and oak. The aftertaste is quite bitter. Couldn’t recognize any vanilla in the flavor as well. The beer has a medium body and carbonation level. I liked it, but felt it was a bit different compared to when I tasted it the last time. The atmosphere and tasting conditions are of course very different, which probably explain the differences in taste. I give this one a grade of 4/5.



The following beer was Stone’s India Pale Ale, an American IPA featuring 70+ IBU. The beer pours with a light golden-yellow color and a fluffy white head. The aroma is hoppy and floral, with tones of grapefruit, resin, pine and mango. The flavor begins with a slight sweet maltiness, that is quickly overtaken by a resiny and citrusy hoppiness, with tones of pine and grapefruit. The flavor finished with huge bitterness. The beer has a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. The beer is quite well balanced, with the slightly sweet malt backbone backing up the bitter hoppiness. A nice IPA, but was hoping for something ‘more special’. I give this one a grade of 3.5-4/5 (leaning towards the 4).



The following beer was one of the bigger bottles: The Vertical Epic 11.11.11. This year’s Vertical Epic is a Belgian-style Ale, brewed with Anaheim Chilies and Cinnamon. The beer pours with a hazy amber-orange color and a slight off-white head. The aroma has tones of banana and spices (cloves and a slight hint of cinnamon), together with a slight maltiness. Can’t detect much of the chili. The flavor is similar, beginning with a slight caramel maltiness, together with some spicy belgian yeast tones (cloves and pepper) and some banana. The beer has a smooth and medium-full body, and a medium-low carbonation level. Makes a great sipping beer, and I quite liked it, even though I’m not a great fan of Belgian-style ale. Couldn’t detect much of the chili though. I give this one a grade of 3.5-4/5.



Then it was time for another beer I’ve had before, Ruination IPA, which I reviewed a couple of months ago. Last time I really liked it, even though it was a bit on the bitter side. This time the beer pours a golden-yellow color with a white fluffy head. The aroma is very hoppy and floral, with tones of resin and citrus. The flavor begins with a slight maltiness, but it is evident that this is a very hoppy and bitter beer, with resiny and citrusy (grapefruit) taking over and dominating the palate. The flavor ends with a dry and huge bitter aftertaste. The beer has a medium-light body and medium carbonation level. I liked the hop flavors in this one, even though they were not as strong as I remember (could have been the tasting conditions again), but felt the beer was slightly too bitter. I give this one a grade of 4/5.



Next up is Stone’s Double Bastard, a stronger, maltier and hoppier version of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard. This beer poured with a dark amber color and a fluffy cream-colored head. The aroma is malty, with tones of caramel and dark fruits (raisins), and citrusy (from the hops). The flavor begins malt forward, with tones of caramel, bread and raisins, which is joined by a earthy, resiny and citrusy hoppiness, that ends in a sweet, spicy and bitter finish. The beer has a medium body and carbonation level, and since the flavors are very strong in this one, it seems a bit unbalanced. I liked this one, but it was a bit heavy. I give this one a grade of 4/5.



The following beer was the 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, which is one of the first Black IPAs I’ve ever had. The beer pours a black color, with a fluffy tan head. The aroma is hoppy, with resin and citrus dominating. There is a slight caramelliness, roastiness and alcohol presence in the aroma as well. The flavor has a bit more roastiness, with some tones of coffee, but the hops are very prevalent here as well, with tones of resin and grapefruit. The aftertaste is bitter. The beer has a smooth medium body with a medium carbonation level. This was an interesting blend of an IPA and a stout, that I thought worked quite well. I give this one a grade of 4/5.



The second last beer of the evening, which was also probably my favorite of the Stone’s, Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout. This Imperial Stout has, as the name implies, been spiced with anise and oak chips, and has been brewed with a Belgian yeast strain. The beer pours with a pitch-black color, and a slight tan head is formed. The aroma is dominated by lots of licorice and anise tones, but there are some tones of coffee, roasted malts, and a slight salmiakki. The flavor is roasty, with tones of licorice, coffee, chocolate and salmiakki. There are some slight hop flavors as well, and the flavor finishes quite bitter with anise in the aftertaste. The body is full, and the carbonation level is low. Felt the beer was quite well balanced, but this was definitely a slow-sipping beer. I like licorice, so this suited me fine, but I understand that people not liking licorice would find this beer quite unpleasant. Great flavors in a nice package. I give this one a grade of 4.5/5.



The final beer of the evening is the Old Guardian Belgo, a Barleywine brewed with a Belgian yeast strain. The beer pours with a clear dark amber color, with an off-white head. The aroma is sweet, malty and has some fruity tones from the Belgian yeast. The flavor is sweet and malty, with caramel and dark fruits, and is some hop flavor present as well. There is only a slight presence of the Belgian yeast in the flavor. The flavor is slightly boozy as well, but the alcohol is quite well hidden behind the sweetness. The beer has a full body and a low carbonation level. It was a little too sweet for my taste, and a bit heavy to drink. I give this one a grade of 3.5/5.



Overall, this was a very pleasant evening, with some great tasting beers. I recommend visiting Gallows Bird, Pikkulintu, or any of the other pubs around the country offering these beers, and at least try some of them. Thanks Pia, Jonny, Rasmus, Artem, Paulina, Teemu and Kimmo for the company!

SOPP Helsinki 2011 – Suuret Oluet – Pienet Panimot

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Suuret Oluet – Pienet Panimot (Big Beers – Small Breweries) festival at Rautatientori. This 3-day event (28-30.07)  is a chance for Finnish microbreweries to exhibit and advertise their products, and consequently beer lovers to taste new brews. The event is free if you enter before 18:00, after that entrance is 5 euros. You also get to buy a deposit glass for 2 euros, in which all beer is served, and when you leave you can either return the glass and get back your 2 euro deposit or take it home as a memory. There is a glass rinsing station available, if you wish to give your glass a rinse between beers. All in all there are 14 microbreweries (one Estonian) at the event, offering a total of 81 beers (you can find the whole list by clicking here). Prices varied between 3 and 4 euros for a 20 cl portion (bigger portions were also available, but if you want to try out many different beers I recommend the smaller ones). The following microbreweries could be found at the event:

  • Hollolan Hirvi, Hollola
  • Koskipanimo / Panimoravintola Plevna, Tampere
  • Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas, Laitila
  • Lakeuden Panimo / Mallaskoski, Seinäjoki
  • Lammin Sahti, Hämeenlinna
  • Malmgårdin Panimo, Loviisa
  • Nokian Panimo, Nokia
  • Panimoravintola Beer Hunter´s, Pori
  • Saimaan Juomatehdas, Mikkeli
  • Stadin Panimo, Helsinki
  • Suomenlinnan Panimo, Helsinki
  • Teerenpeli Yhtiöt, Lahti ja Helsinki
  • Vakka-Suomen Panimo, Uusikaupunki
  • Taako / Pihtlan Olut, Saarenmaa, Estonia


I had time for a short visit yesterday, and was planning on tasting the following 6 beers:

  • Beer Hunter’s CCCCC IPA
  • Beer Hunter’s Nasty Suicide Imperial Stout
  • Hollolan Ameriikan Hirvi APA
  • Malmgård Arctic Circle Ale
  • Plevnan Siperia Imperial Stout
  • Stadin Panimo Vintage Ale 2005 Barley Wine


I was able to test all of them except Malmgård’s Arctic Circle Ale. I unfortunately have no pictures from the visit, but I’ll post some short taste notes below:

Beer Hunter’s CCCCC IPA

This American IPA is brewed with five C hops, i.e. Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Chinook and Columbus, and has an ABV of 7%. The beer has an amber color, with a minimal head that quickly collapses leaving almost no lacing along the glass. The aroma is full of citrus and tropical fruits, and it is clear that this beer is hop-centered. The flavour contains some tones of caramel, but is quickly overtaken by tones of citrus, mango, pineapple, and resin, and ends with a (slight) bitter finish. Quite well balanced, with nothing overpowering, but I felt the body was a little light, and it somehow seemed as if the beer had been watered down. The carbonation level was also on the low side. A good attempt on an American IPA, but it seemed as if something was missing from it. Score: around 3.5

Beer Hunter’s Nasty Suicide Imperial Stout

This Imperial Stout was one of the new releases at the event. I have no further information on this beer other than it contains muscovado sugar, honey, has an ABV of 12%, and is supposedly ‘Belgian-styled’. The beer poured with a very dark brown/black color, and a minimal cream head. The aroma was sweet, with tones of raisins and roasted malts. The flavour was quite sweet and similar to the aroma and contained tones of roasted malts, licorice, raisins, and fruits. Could find much hoppiness in the beer, and bitterness was low as well. The high alcohol level was very well hid behind the sweetness. I felt this beer was a little too sweet for my taste, and would rather have had some bitterness and slight hoppy tones instead of the rich and fruity tones. The body was quite full and the carbonation level was low. Did not really enjoy this one, was a bit too sweet and ‘Belgian’ for my liking. I would have prefered a more bitter finish. Score: around 3.0

Hollolan Ameriikan Hirvi APA

This American Pale Ale by Hollolan Hirvi has been brewed using pilsener, münchener and dark caramel malts, and hopped with Tettnanger, Magnum and Tomahawk (dry hops), to an ABV of 5.3% and an IBU of 51. The beer poured a clear amber color, with a thin white head. The aroma was sweet, resiny, citrusy and aggressive, with the Tomahawk (a.k.a. Columbus or Zeus) tones dominating. The flavour is also hop dominated with citrusy and resiny tones upfront, and some maltiness in the background. The flavour ends in a slightly bitter finish. This beer also seemed watered down, and I felt it had a bit too light body. The carbonation level was also on the low side, but overall this was a very drinkable APA, with some delicious and aggressive hop tones from the Tomahawk.  Score: around 3.0-3.5

Plevnan Siperia Imperial Stout

This Imperial Stout by Panimoravintola Plevna was definitely my favorite of the day. This has been hopped to an IBU of 100 with Tomahawk, Mount-hood, Simcoe and Vanguard, has a EBC of 300 (meaning its pretty damn dark), and an ABV of 8%. The beer was originally brewed for Olutravintola Pikkulintu’s 5 year anniversary. The beer poured pitch black, with a tan head, that left some lacing on the glass. The aroma contained tones of vanilla, coffee, roasted malts, and hops. The flavour was full of roasted tones, featuring coffee, chocolate, licorice, as well as some bitter, citrusy and resiny tones from the massive hoppiness. The beer was very well balanced, and no particular flavour element dominates. The body was full and smooth, while the carbonation level was quite low. A very drinkable and tasty Imperial Stout, that definitely was my favorite of the day. This is also the only beer I tested that is available from Alko as well. You can (only) buy it from the Arkadia Alko for 18.21€.  Score: around 4.0-4.5

Stadin Panimo Vintage Ale 2005

This Barley Wine from Stadin Panimo was the least favorite of the day, and the only one I was close to pouring out. Since I haven’t tried many other (aged) Barley Wines I can’t tell how well this beer fits the style, but I at least didn’t like it. I have no information about this beer, other that it was brewed in 2005, is described by the brewery as a Madeira-like Barley Wine, and has an ABV of 11%. The beer poured a murky amber-brown color, with an almost non-existing head. The aroma is sweet, and has tones of raisins, plums and alcohol. The flavour is pretty much equivalent to the aroma, and is very sweet and caramelly, together with tones of raisins, plums, madeira, and alcohol. The beer was way too sweet for my liking, and the fruity and rich tones put me off. This definitely not a session beer, and body was full, and the carbonation level was low. This might have worked better sitting by the fireplace a cold and stormy winter night, but here in the warm summer under the scorching sun, it was a real challenge to finish the beer. The keg is unfortunately empty so there is no possibility to taste it anymore for those interested. Score: around 2.0-2.5


All in all it was a great experience, and there are some beers I still want to try, so might have to make a trip to Rautantientori today 🙂

Nøgne Ø #100

  • Brewery: Nøgne Ø
  • Country: Norway
  • Style: American Barleywine
  • ABV: 10%
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: Alko, 7.71€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

    #100 was first brewed by Nøgne Ø as (and to celebrate) their 100th batch. It became so popular that it was rebrewed and rereleased as a commercial product. The beer is brewed with Maris Otter, wheat and chocolate malt, hopped to 80 IBU with Columbus, Chinook, and Centennial hops, and fermented with an English Ale yeast. My bottle was from batch 568, and was brewed 30.11.2010, so its around 7.5 months old.

    [easyreview title=”Nøgne Ø #100″ cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a dark brown color (not much light shining through), and seems a bit hazy, with a large cream-colored head, that collapses leaving some nice lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is dominated by citrusy (grapefruit) hops, but it is coupled with sweet tones of caramel and roasted chocolate.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The initial taste is sweet and malty, with tones of caramel, biscuits, and chocolate, while a roasted flavour quickly joins as well. The hops are hidden quite well in the dark and complex flavour combination supplied by the malt. There are though some hints of grapefruit, herbs and spices, that come through, and the beer leaves a pleasant bitterness (not at all bad for 80 IBU) on the tongue as the other flavours fade away. This is a very well balanced Barleywine, full of nice flavours, that aren’t overpowering.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a full body, with moderate-low carbonation. As mentioned, the beer is well balanced, and the bitterness and alcohol is hidden well in the rich malty flavours. A very drinkable beer.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”A very good beer, that though is (like other beers from the same brewery) a little on the expensive side. If your after a pleasant taste experience I can definitely recommend this beer.”]

    Brewdog Three Floyds Bitch Please and Victory Hop Wallop mini-reviews

    Emptied the memory card on my phone and found some pictures I had taken in Oluthuone Kaisla and Oluthuone William K during the last month along with some notes. I won’t be making full reviews, but I’ll post my comments of these (those I remember).



    First up is the collaboration brew between Brewdog and Three Floyds called Bitch Please. The beer is a Barley Wine, brewed with Laphroaig malt, and other goodies (such as fudge and shortbread), and has been stored in Jura single malt whisky barrels for 8 months. The beer has a massive 11.5% ABV and is hopped with Green Bullet, Nelson Sauvin and Motueka (all from New Zealand). The beer had a dark ruby-brown color with a cream colored head. The aroma was full of peat, smoke and malt, and thoughts immediately went to whisky. The taste was similar, boasting a lot of peat and smoke, along with sweet caramel and maltiness, ending with a bitter finish. The body was quite full, and I had some difficulties finishing the beer because of the strong smoky and peaty taste (I’m not that huge of a whisky fan). It was an OK beer, and definitely different from something I’ve ever tried before. It was a little expensive (think it was 14 euros for the 330ml bottle), and wouldn’t buy again. Maybe worth a try for whisky fans. Sorry about the extremely crappy picture, it was taken with my phone in very dark conditions.



    Next up is Hop Wallop, which is an Imperial India Pale Ale brewed by Victory Brewing, that I bought at William K Tennispalatsi for 8.50€. The beer has an ABV of 8.5%, and is brewed with “imported German malts” and “American whole flower” hops (unfortunately no specific information about malts, hops or IBU available). The beer had a golden color with a white head. The aroma is full of fruit, floral notes, and citrus, with just a slight note of alcohol present. The taste is full of hop flavours, with tones of resin, citrus (grapefruit), and spices, with some sweet malt presence and a bitter finish. Felt that the beer was maybe just a bit too dry, and was wishing for some more sweetness. The beer had a medium-light body with moderate carbonation, and it was easy to drink. This was a good beer, but I feel that Victory’s HopDevil is a bit tastier and better balanced. Still a beer I’d drink again!

    Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2011


  • Brewery: Sierra Nevada
  • Country: USA
  • Style: American Barleywine
  • ABV: 9.6%
  • Size: 350 ml
  • Bought from: Alko, 4.16€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer
  • This infamous barleywine, brewed by Sierra Nevada, is currently available from the Arkadia Alko (‘Lippulaiva’). This is the 2011 version, and I bought two bottles, one to drink fresh, and one to age a couple of years.

    [easyreview title=”Sierra Nevada Bigfoot” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer has a clear deep amber-ruby color and boasts a massive cream-colored head, that quickly collapes leaving some lacing along the glass. Makes it look extremely tasty.” cat1rating=”4.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”There is some citrusy hoppiness in the aroma of this beer, but not as much as I expected (not super fresh, as the beer was released in January), and it is balanced with sweet, caramelly maltiness. The alcohol is detectable from the aroma.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”There is alot of bitterness and resiny flavours from the hops directly from the start (IBUs should lie around 90), that combine with sweet caramel and toffee flavours, that ends in some fruitiness (hops and esters?) and just slight alcohol presence. Surprisingly bitter and dry finish, as I was expecting a sweeter and maltier taste (as in e.g. Anchor Old Foghorn), as this could be mistaken for an Imperial IPA. Tasty nonetheless.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a quite full body with a medium level of carbonation. The beer has a relatively harsh bitterness, that probably will fade as the beer ages (can’t wait to try an aged Bigfoot in some years!). Quite well balanced, as the strong hoppiness and maltiness cover the alcohol quite well, but not completely.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”A good beer, but not amongst my absolute favorites. Will see how this one changes with age. There are a lot of strong flavours in this one, that combine into a complex flavour experience. If you have never tried this one I recommend you try it out (only 960 bottles are sold at Alko)!”]