Friday, 26 May 2017

Somerset Craft Beer Review: Dragonslayer from Cotleigh

Somerset Craft Beer Review: Dragonslayer from Cotleigh real ale pump clip
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Somerset craft beer review is for Dragonslayer from Cotleigh.

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Dragonslayer from Cotleigh is a dark orange or amber craft beer. Up front there is a pleasant fruity tartness like crabapple. This mellows into a lovely smooth bitterness in which there is a pronounced impression of chamomile and rose petals. A very interesting beer indeed that has at its a heart a good English bitter!


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The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Matine from Dois Corvos

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Matine from Dois Corvos
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Matine from Dois Corvos.

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Matiné Session IPA from Dois Corvos is a cloudy amber ale. Very light citrus aromas and strong guava scent. Up front very fruity guava flavour. Nearly sour in character but fairly bitter greeness. Almost overwhelmingly so. Fairly fresh with little of the sweet after taste you sometimes get with these new IPAs. There is some maltyness there as well. A lot of carbonation.

And this is the last beer in my wonderful Portuguese craft beer adventure. If you want to see what other craft beers I got to try, how Portuguese craft beer is having a moment, and tips on finding it then check out the posts below. The brewery name is on the left and the link to the post is on the right.

VadiaRubi
FaustinoMaldita Porter
Opo 74Gyroscope
Mean SardineAmura
Oitave ColinaUrraca Vendaval
LX Black Rye IPA

I brought a few home with me as well and will try to do a video review of one of them. Check out my latest video here:


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The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Black Rye IPA from LX Beer

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Black Rye IPA from LX Beer
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Black Rye IPA from LX Beer.

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Black Rye IPA from LX Beer of Lisbon. Aromatic coffee, chocolate and floral nose. Up front very bitter dark chocolate with the astringent mouth feel of cocoa. Bit of a metallic tang of copper. None of the characteristic citrus you now associate with an IPA but still very hoppy. More tobacco than anything but there is something faintly floral in there that I want to say is Parma Violet!

Portuguese craft brewers are definitely capitalising on trendy beer styles and seem to be jumping right in to experimental beers. Getting a black rye IPA in the UK is still a pretty rare occurrence. You might say we have a "mainstream" craft beer market here. Then you get very small niche breweries who would rather put out more outrageous beers than try to compete with standard bitters.

Not sure if it is the same thing is happening in Portugal (where mainstream means Super Bock and not other craft brewers) or if these are simply people who started as hobbyists and are pushing the boundaries just for the hell of it. The variety of styles is certainly impressive.

I got this beer at the local Lidl. If you are looking for craft beer there don't look in the beer section. Look in the Portugal Gourmet section. This is a new thing in Lidl there. It's a few shelves dedicated to specialist Portuguese products including craft beer, salt, cured meats, and gin. So it seems that Portugal is starting to understand that it can offer unique craft made products that people are willing to pay a premium for. Especially in more touristy destinations like the Algarve.

Other stores simply put their craft beer in the beer section. In some you will have to pay close attention because they might only have the one! Jumbo was by far the best for selection and size of offering.

One thing, among many, that I don't know is who is buying it. Like I've mentioned before, the craft beer is outrageously priced compared to other beer and other alcohol in general. Even for tourists. But then again, the Portuguese are not a five pints a night kind of people. Maybe they are buying this beer and they don't mind the price because they only want one!

There definitely are not enough beardy hipsters in the Algarve to create an entire market for fancy beer. My feeling is that it is young city dwellers who have seen craft beer culture in the States and want a bit of a trendy adventure. It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

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The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina.


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Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina is a dark amber cloudy beer. A sour fruity aroma with some citrus. Up front a green malty citrus. Full bodied with that sort of cotton candy tangy sweetness that makes the mouth feel a bit gummy. Quite boozy and resinous with juniper and pine. Not much citrus to finish, more herbal.

Oitava Colina means 8th Hill. This is in reference to Lisbon (or Lisboa) which is built on seven hills. This refers to the magical (?) 8th hill. I am sure the people of Lisboa would find the name more meaningful in much the same way the names of some British micro breweries and beers only have significance for local consumers.

The bottle had a little story on the back that kind of, but not really, explained the name. Urraca is basically a sort of fictional character that describes the beer. All of their main beers adhere to this theme. It is an interesting branding exercise I suppose. To give your beers such strong personalities that they actually become people. BEER IS PEOPLE!!!!!

ahem...

Unfortunately I am not fluent in Portuguese and the English translation on the bottle was not great. I am pretty sure some of the meaning was lost to Google Translate. But the heading does literally translate to "Who's your beer?" According to the label, Urraca is a strong, resilient, and very bitter queenly character. It contains "a gale of citric and fruity aromas".

Yes we are still in Portugal today! Want to know more about the new craft beer industry in Portugal and what to expect when you visit then check out my previous post.

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The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Amura from Mean Sardine

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Amura from Mean Sardine
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Amura from Mean Sardine.

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Amura American IPA from Mean Sardine. Cloudy dark honey colour. Citrus grapefruit aromas with some fragrant floral tones. Bitter and fresh right off the bat with the flavours not quite fulfilling the full sweet aromas. In the middle it warms up a bit to reveal tropical hints of lime and passion fruit and guava with resinous rosemary and juniper. Very fresh bitterness finishes with the characteristic cotton candy sweet tang you often get with an AIPA.

It is worth noting that I have been a regular traveller to Portugal for over a decade. Never in all that time was there ever a hint that I might be able to get anything other than imported French lager or big brewer beer. Maybe you would see the odd Belgian bock or dark ale but that would be from Grimbergen or the like.

Apart from my most recent trip in April, the last time I was in Portugal was Christmas 2015 and it was pretty much the same as always that year.

Fast forward to April 2017 and all of a sudden craft beer (made in Portugal) is on grocery store shelves, is being served in specialist bars, and basically having a moment.

In less than two years it's gone from pretty much zero to nearly 50 independent breweries nationwide.

The kind of beers being made vary widely from sweet northern European wit beers to dank American IPAs like this one. The market there has a wider taste than here in the UK with lots of tourists and immigrants from France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany.

Don't get me wrong, you won't be tripping over the stuff but it is definitely there to be found in not so obscure places. Lidl, Aldi, Modelo, Jumbo, and Continente all carry a limited selection of indie beers. Lidl and Aldi are most interesting because they stock sort of end of line stuff and the selection varies daily.

Regular cafes and restaurants don't serve craft beer but there are now specialist bars. I had this one at a tapas place in Silves called Almadina. It is a sort of cavernous wine cellar-y place just up from the main drag on the river. Interestingly they had Presse (tap) as well as Garrafa (bottle) craft beer options. Boheme in Faro also has one or two Presse. But mostly you will be drinking Garrafa if you opt for craft beer. Always served ice cold with a glass. If you do go to Almadina have the mixed starters. Do not, under any circumstances, order the grilled/baked sausage. I am pretty sure it won't be anything like what you were expecting.

This is all in the Algarve which is still a sort of rural economy slash resort destination. Neither the locals nor visitors have particularly sophisticated tastes in beer. Not that you need to be sophisticated to enjoy independently brewed beer. It's just that there is no history there for ales or home beer making. The local preference is for lager and wine. Cheap lager and wine. Many people have land that they chuck some vines on and make their own wine every year. Some of which is delicious. The land and climate are not suited to hops and barley.

Brits park themselves down in Portamao or wherever and chug down Super Bock, Guinness, and Cava. The French drink wine and French imported beers which are cheaper in Portugal than they are at home. Belgians and Dutch do the same.

There are only three craft breweries in the Algarve. Most craft beer comes from Lisbon or Porto with others scattered around the highlands of the Alentejo. But with craft beer becoming more popular in places the tourists come from, the bigger the market for it becomes in their holiday destination. The only problem right now is the price point. People come to Portugal because it is a cheap holiday. Food and drink especially. Throwing down 3 euros for a bottle of beer feels too much like being back home in Paris, London, or Amsterdam. You pay half of that for a good bottle of wine.

It would be interesting to know what the big boys in Portugal think of all this. The likes of Sagres and Super Bock promote heavily by giving local bars furniture, glasses, sun shades etc. If any of these little independent cafes started serving beer brewed by smaller concerns I don't know what would happen to that sort of support. You definitely notice that the craft beer bars lack all this big beer brand paraphernalia.

What do you think? Have you tried any Portuguese craft beer? Is it a revolution or a blip? Join the conversation on twitter @even_star

The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Gyroscope from Opo 74

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Gyroscope from Opo 74
Bem Vindo a Portugal. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Gyroscope from Opo 74.

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Gyroscope IPA from Opo 74 is a cloudy honey coloured IPA. Very floral aromas of honey suckle and orange blossom. Deliciously bitter up front with some of that floral greenness of chrysanthemum and juniper. Once it warms up you get that characteristic cotton candy tang that so many American style IPAs finish with. A full body but refreshing.

I had this beer at one of a very few and NEW bars in Portugal that carry (or even specialise) in Portuguese craft beer. It is called Boheme and is located right on the marina in Faro. It is sort of tacked on to the end of the Alfandaga building next to the old town. It is a tiny little place but packs a lot of craft beer. Some available on tap and most in bottles.

I fear for the future of craft beer in Portugal. In as little as two years it has grown from nothing to nearly 50 breweries competing with the big boys of Sagres, Super Bock, Crystal, and a myriad of other European imports. Beer that is CHEAP. Like we are talking 6 330ml bottles for 3 euros. Or even cheaper! Compare that to the average price of a craft beer there: 3 euros for one 330ml bottle.

I can't think that the locals are going to be having that. Or even the tourists. The problem is the cheapness of regular beer there. It is different in the UK where regular beer is already fairly expensive.

In the UK I can get a pint of lovely craft cask ale for LESS than the price of a pint of horrible premium lager. Off the shelf is a little different but not by much. I can get 4 500ml bottles of decent beer for 6£. If you get 6 330ml bottles of Stella you would pay about the same price. Now if you go for imported craft stuff or special editions from very small breweries then that beer is going to run you 3£ a bottle. But in general decent beer is a comparable price to mass produced.

I just don't think there are enough hipsters in Portugal willing to pay such a HUGE premium on beer. Even if it is more interesting and tastes better than the usual cheaper lager. And although I liked my little beer adventure, I was not drinking craft beer every day I was there. It isn't sold at a quaffable price and in that heat you want something you can quaff!

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The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing.

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Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing Co. Is an almost black opaque beer. Fruity coffee aromas. Up front a complex malty bitter sweet flavour. Much coffee and plum fruitiness. There is a pleasant bitter dankness in the middle. Sort of boot polish a farm yard. After warming up a bit there's a lovely strawberry. Surprisingly English!

The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.