Showing posts with label wrasslers XXXX. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wrasslers XXXX. Show all posts

Monday, October 22, 2012

Too Many Hops?

There are times when I get the feeling that I come across as being something of an anti-hop crusader. However, I prefer to think of it as being sick of the apparent notion that seems to float around the indie beer drinker world that the more hops there are in a beer, the better. The reality though is that I like beers with a firm hop bite, a nice hop flavour and a pleasing hop aroma, I like the hopping to be a distinct element of the beer, not the sole focus of the beer - and no, IPA is NOT 'all about the hops'.

Having said that, and for fear of completely contradicting myself, there are times when I think beers have, to bastardise the , 'too many hops'. By this I don't mean that a beer is 'too hoppy', whatever the hell 'hoppy' actually means anyway, but rather that some beers have such a melange of hop varieties as to effectively become a mess.

Often, though not always, such beers are in the generic world of 'pale ale' or a 'black india' version of something. When I read a list of 7 or 8 hop varieties, usually, though again not always, the high alpha varieties, I can't help but wonder at times if the beer that results would benefit from fewer hop varieties and more attention being paid to the effects of the remaining hops so they are more distinct and pleasurable when drinking.


In thinking about many of my favourite beers to drink, as opposed to sample, they tend to have a maximum of three hop varieties, though in reality the vast majority use just one or two. Take my current favourite pilsner (sorry Pilsner Urquell, you've been usurped for the time being), Port City's Downright Pilsner, which gets all 43 of its IBUs from that majestic hop, Saaz, or even my favourite IPA being brewed in Virginia today, from St George down in Hampton, with its judicious, and exclusive, use of Fuggles. From further afield, take one of my favourite stouts, Wrasslers XXXX from Ireland's Porterhouse, hopped with Galena, Nugget and East Kent Golding (which reminds me, I should stock up on this beer at some point). With all three beers the hops are noticeable without intruding on the drinking, in a sense you could say that the hops know their place.

Maybe this feeling harks back to something I mentioned in my previous post about balance being an essential part of my definition of 'good' beer. For me it is not just a case of the overall beer being balanced, but that there is balance within the elements of a beer as well, and perhaps it in the hopping that this balance is most important and most easily disrupted.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fuggled Review of the Year - Dark Beer

Whereas the Amber Beer of the Year presented me with the challenge of where to draw the line between amber and brown, the dark beer category presents me with a very different challenge. Simply put, this year has been excellent for dark beers, whether brown ales, milds, stouts or porters, even the occasional Black IPA (sic) hasn't been entirely awful. As such, this category will not only have the same "bests" as the previous categories, but will also have several honourable mentions. On then to the lists:
Before discussing the relative merits of the various finalists, the honourable mentions go out to:
  • Virginia - Starr Hill Dark Starr Stout, Blue Mountain Original Summer Mild, Williamsburg Alewerks Tavern Ale, Devils' Backbone 1904 Ramsey Stout.
  • USA - Terrapin Moo Hoo, Samuel Adams Honey Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter, Sierra Nevada Stout, Stone Smoked Porter, Highland Oatmeal Porter
  • World - BrewDog Paradox Smokehead, Unibroue Terrible, Zatec Black Lager, Porterhouse Oyster Stout, Fullers London Porter, Young's Double Chocoloate Stout, 

Ok, so on to the beers that made the list. The Washington's Porter from Williamsburg Alewerks is a beer that not only made excellent drinking, but goes well in fruit cake as well. Rich, chocolately and velvety, it is simply a wonderful beer that goes down insanely easily and is so packed full of flavour that I wouldn't worry too much if all other beers were outlawed from midnight.

My first taste of Left Hand's Milk Stout was in St Augustine, Florida. It was hotter than hell and to be perfectly honest stout of any kind would not have really hit the spot, though tasty it was. Come autumn, the leaves and temperature we plummeting and Left Hand had taken over the taps at Beer Run, along with Terrapin. Milk Stout, poured into a pint nonic? Yes please. A second just minutes later, you bet! Everything you expect from a stout, and then the creaminess of lactose. Simply lovely.


I have waxed lyrical about Porterhouse's Wrasslers XXXX before, so when I learnt that bottles of this delightful stout would be available in the US I immediately emailed every bottle shop in Charlottesville to find out if they intended to stock it. Beer Run said they would and patiently I waited. Then I blew $40 on getting plenty when it arrived. Big on chocolate and with a healthy bitterness to balance it all out, this is one of the best stouts available.

A very difficult choice, very difficult. However, the Fuggled Dark Beer for 2010 is:
  • Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX
Sure there may be a hefty dose of nostalgia in my choice, but the fact that the $40's worth of Wrasslers in the cellar has been refreshed more than once is testament to my enduring love of this beer.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wrassling with Oysters

Less than a month ago I posted this little piece encouraging people here in the US to contact their elected officials to ensure health insurance would be available to as many people as possible, no wait, sorry wrong blog, that post was to encourage people to contact their local bottle shops to get hold of the newly available Porterhouse beers. Well, well, well, guess what I found during a routine trip to Beer Run here in Charlottesville? Yes indeed, they are stocking Wrasslers XXXX and Oyster Stout, I nearly leapt for joy, but instead I smiled broadly and bought some beer, you really don't need to be told which ones I assume, but just in case, here are the labels.


Ah the memories come flooding back, but as I said, I posted about that before. From what I understand, and I am sure that I will be swiftly corrected if I am wrong, these versions of Wrasslers and Oyster Stout are somewhat different from the ones you would get in the Porterhouse bars in Dublin, for a start they are bottle conditioned. Secondly, there is not a whiff of nitrogenation to be had, no stupid widgets or magic balls floating around to give me a great head (note, "a great head" you mucky people) and rob me blind of most of the flavour. "Ah yes", I hear you cry, "but how did it taste?". Well, if you're sitting comfortably, let's begin.


Once upon a time there was a bloke called Michael Collins, and he liked a tipple, and so the good people at the Porterhouse took his favourite tipple from his local brewery in Cork, though long closed down as a result of the predatory nature of the free market, and used it as inspiration for a beer they called Wrasslers XXXX. Wrasslers is a beautifully dark, dark, ruby red beer with a tan head that bob, bob, bobbed along on top of the beer.

"My, my, what a beautiful big chocolate smell you have Wrasslers"
"all the better to tempt you to taste me with"
"and is that a tang of sour milk in the background?"
"why, yes it is, just like the old days"

Sorry there, got carried away. So yes, chocolate is a big theme in Wrasslers, both on the nose and in the mouth - though I am not sure of the purpose of putting beer on one's nose, I will strive to discover it though. Despite the big, smooth chocolate flavours, there is a good dose of bitterness to counteract that, I am guessing the Galena hops are responsible there. Simply put, this is so much better than the beer I had on a nitro tap, and I am very glad I have a good stock in the cellar.


The last time, and also the first time, I tried Oyster Stout, I was a touch disappointed, but that was most likely because I had heard many a soul rant and rave about how this was the best beer ever produced in the history of humanity, and nothing could ever have lived up to the expectations I had allowed to develop in advance of my trip to Dublin in 2008, so I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the Oyster Stout. Again the actual beer was a deep ruby red, although the head was rockier than the Wrasslers. The usual stout aromas abounded, chocolate and coffee front and centre, but there was something else, lurking in the background, something I couldn't place. The only thing I could think of was that it had a touch of the sea about it, somewhat akin to the Islay whiskies, perhaps that was pure suggestion, but there we go. As far as drinking goes, this is lighter than the Wrasslers, but full of flavour and with a long bitter finish, simply put it is great drinking and beats the stuff on nitro in Dublin.


So there you have it, my favourite stout, and something I can see becoming very popular, is available just round the corner from me, and I am a happy man with plans to stock up further. Happy days indeed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Get It In!

Apart from getting married, the highlight of my 2008 was finally going to Ireland, which Mrs Velkyal and I did for a long weekend just before my birthday. One of Mrs Velkyal's good friends is Mrs Saruman, wife of Saruman, author of The Tale of the Ale. Why was 4 days in Ireland such a highlight? Simply because I had, up to that point, always wanted to go to Dublin and Galway but never had the opportunity. I have, over the years, had plenty of Irish mates, and especially when I was a student in Birmingham we would go out to the pub for a few pints and just talk shite, and often my mates would tell me I should move to Ireland because I would love it there, something I am sure is true.


Anyway, let me digress no further. One of my plans for that weekend was to visit one of the Porterhouse pubs in Dublin, as I had heard many a fabled tale of their Oyster Stout. Porterhouse Central was the one we went to, and sure enough I enjoyed the beer, in particular the Wrasslers XXXX stout. So imagine my glee when I heard from The Beer Nut a couple of days later that the Porterhouse were buying a bottling line, also imagine my glee when I got word from Porterhouse that they would be exporting to the USA, and they gave me the details of their importer, so I duly made contact to find out if the range of Wrasslers, Oyster Stout and Irish Red were to be available here in Virginia, to be gladly told that yes they are looking for outlets in the Commonwealth.

So my beer loving readers, contact your local bottle shops and demand Porterhouse beers to be added to their range, if you are Charlottesville based get on to Beer Run; if Fredericksburg call Kybecca; based in Blacksburg bother Vintage Cellar; wherever you are ask your retailers to stock the only bottle conditioned genuine Irish stout you are likely to have in a while, as great as O'Hara's is, I believe it is not bottle conditioned (and if I am wrong, I am sure The Beer Nut will swiftly set me right). If your retailer claims not to know how to contact, tell him to talk to Ron Fisher at B United International, his contact details are here, and he handles various other parts of the country as well.

Here endeth the lesson. Sláinte!

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...

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