Showing posts with label black and tan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label black and tan. Show all posts

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Half Cut

Decisions, decisions, an excess of choice is not always a good thing.

There are times when I sit agonising over a beer list trying to decide what beer to pour down my gullet next. Interestingly enough, such existential angst rarely happens when faced with the tap wall equivalent of an anti-immigrant's wet dream, invariably it is when faced with both a pale and a dark lager that rank among my favourites.

When facing this dilemma back in the Czech Republic, the answer was often to order a "?ezané pivo" which literally translates as a "cut beer". A ?ezané pivo is nothing more than half a serving of pale lager and half of dark, though in Czech law said beers must share the same starting gravity. From experience, however, pubs are more than happy to make a ?ezané that would be technically illegal. In the warm fermented world this is known as a black and tan, where a pale ale and stout are the ingredients.

As you are no doubt aware, the drinking world that is Fuggled is a lager dominated one. On a couple of occasions at the Devils Backbone Basecamp I have asked for a ?ezané, though memory is hazy as to what was involved, most likely their magnficient Schwartzbier and Gold Leaf lagers. When sitting at home though I have been known to mix up Von Trapp's Helles and Dunkel, and more recently the Olde Mecklenburg Captain Jack Pilsner and their winter seasonal Dunkel. To add some context to what was going into my glass, the Captain Jack is 4.8%, thus assuming a starting gravity of 12°, and has 25 IBUs. The Dunkel by contrast is 4.9%, so just a quarter degree of Plato difference assuming the Czech method of multiplying ABV by 2.5 to arrive at starting gravity, and again has 25 IBUs.

It was halfway through a recent ?ezané that I realised I had never bothered to sit down and actually think about the interaction of the two beers. So it was that one of the final beery drinks of 2019 ahead of my dry January was decided upon and I poured the Olde Mecklenburg combination into a glass...
  • Sight - beautiful clear red, mottled head, quarter inch of foam, excellent retention
  • Smell - freshly baked crusty bread, Nutella, some floral hops
  • Taste - toasty, blonde roast coffee, nutty toffee, lemons in the background, trace of cocoa
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 3.5/5
First things first, a confession, I only just looked up the specs on the Dunkel and was surprised that it has 25 IBUs. I had assumed that it would be a little lower and that the overall perception of bitterness in the blend would be more subtle than I found it. Thankfully I like my beers to be bitter, and in this blend that bitterness is right there, front and centre. There is a very strong possibility that my first beer at home when I resume drinking on February 1st will be this precise mix as I have plenty of both beers in the fridge. Now that I know they are so close in starting gravity to each other, I might try to layer the beers so that the dunkel sits on top of the pilsner. At some point I will also delve deeper into the Von Trapp Helles and Dunkel mix, as well as bringing their Pilsner to the party, and if by some miracle I can squirrel a bottle of Olde Mecklenburg Dunkel away somewhere then when they bring out their summer seasonal Helles an experiment could be called for.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lights! Darks! Cut!

I wonder if you are anything like me. I guess you are in some ways, after all you are reading this blog, so I guess you like beer, I like beer; perhaps you brew your own, as do I - though I hope yours turn out better than my last effort; but do you pick up beer in the shop purely on the strength of having a funky bottle or label? I have done this to great effect with CDs, for example I picked up the Envy of Angels album by The Mutton Birds purely because I liked the atmospheric photo on the cover. It was that whimsy which took hold of me in Florida in July and as a result I bought a bottle of something called Mississippi Mud.

Reading the blurb, this was a "black and tan", a blend of a robust porter and a continental pilsner which I found intriguing as I always thought a black and tan was part pale ale and part stout, but I guess any blend of light and dark can be called a black and tan - thinking here of the guys in the Starr Hill tasting room on Saturday who blended our stout with the special saison we had on tap. Czechs do a similar thing with a pale lager and a dark lager, which can be an excellent alternative to drinking the straight up pale lager, most definitely the case at Zlata!

But what of this goodly looking 1 quart (that's almost a litre there for the Brits/Euros/RoW) bottle in front of me?

Well here goes with the Cyclops fun and games:

  • Sight - deep crimson, tiny ivory head
  • Smell - toffee, chocolate, light lemoniness
  • Taste - smooth chocolate with crisp lager bite
  • Sweetness - 3.5/5
  • Bitterness - 3/5
What a lovely surprise this was, almost like a slightly more bitey (is that a word?) Hobgoblin, it has all the big flavours you associate with a porter but a slightly thinner body that makes it very easy to drink. Part of me would love to dry mixing Pardubicky Porter with Primátor Exklusiv or similar to make the ultimate big hitting Czech black and tan (without the legal strictures of making a ?ezák with beers of the same gravity of course)!

As I say, it was the bottle that caught my attention here, and the bottle itself will be put to good use for making starters for my homebrew so hopefully I can avoid stuck fermentation in the future.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...