It's high time I post something. My notebook is getting fatter. Really, every few days the little bookmark seems to be further behind the most recent tasting note. What's more, the trusty cupboard is completely empty. Well, one of the trusty cupboards is completely empty. As for the others... well, obviously I'm not going to start chucking the imperial stouts, barleywines and lambics around, I'm not that desperate. Not yet.
For what will without a doubt be your immense reading pleasure, here us a smattering of beers from the Bierhaus over the past few weeks.
We start with Trouble Brewing, and what a year they are having so far. They're currently undergoing a trendy re-brand but more importantly they've upped their brewing game a huge deal. This was already evident from the saison I had at this year's Fran Well Easterfest, but I must admit I didn't expect much mind-blowing stuff to come from Graffiti, a session pale/IPA at 3.6%. However, a metric shitload of bitter zest and citrus pith leads the charge on my unsuspecting palate, balanced by a good not-watery biscuit malt base. It's clean enough at the finish but still allows plenty of the tropical and grapefruit hops to shine, while still managing to feel like beer in the mouth. To me, this compares overwhelmingly favourably to Founder's beloved All Day IPA, achieving more punch to the flavour and body despite being over an entire % weaker in ABV, though I concede freshness may be a factor where flavour is concerned.
Schlenkerla's Märzen is still a beer that I champion and recommend to all who will listen, yet that one time I had it remains the only time I've ever had one of their beers. So, a drop of their Lagerbier von faß seemed in order. I was informed by Bierhaus Dave (I think) that this beer isn't actually smoked at all; rather, it is brewed in the same vessels as the brewery's other smoked-malt beers. As such it collects echoes of their smokiness without ever reaching the famed smoky bacon notes. It's got plenty of body with its grainy, malty profile and light, blue smoke character, but not really much else. Perhaps if I was thirstier I would have enjoyed this cool and quaffable lager more, but between beers with much more assertive flavour profiles it seemed a tad tedious.
On cask this particular day was King Cormac, a medieval dark ale from White Gypsy. No, I don't know what that is either. I don't know if anyone knows. I don't think anyone cares. It's acceptably medieval though, in that it's strange and archaic yet quite nice. At once sweet and savoury, slightly smoky and with a good dollop of raisiny malts. Chewy toffee and dark fruit, and only a light tingling bitterness. I suppose if your beer doesn't really fit into any particular established style you can name it what you like. If that's what's happened here, I'm OK with that. Definitely worthy of investigation, especially on cask.
Finally we get to Eight Degrees, a brewery I can now officially dub my favourite; consistent quality across a portfolio of exciting beers covering a number of different styles is exactly what you want from a local(ish) craft brewery. So, when they released a collaboration white IPA with By The Horns of London I was eager to see with my tongue-eye what they'd come up with, not least because of the unconventional style billing. Horn8's Nest is delicious. Bitter lemon and orange peel with a candied fruit backing is the guts of this beer. There's depth and complexity to be enjoyed between the astringent, waxy hops and quite sweet malts, but the beer never feels too heavy, staying on the right side of a medium body and remaining fairly drinkable for its punch.
The other Eight Degrees special of late is Olé Olé, a wit beer brewed to coincide with the World Cup. I missed the beer they brewed for Euro 2012, which appeared not to fall too far from the tree in terms of style, but this beer, by contrast, adds a whole new style to the brewery's list. Being labelled as a wit, you would be forgiven for expecting a Belgian style wheat beer, but what I perceived was a wheat beer that somewhat straddled a line between Belgium and Bavaria. It's soft, fruity and softly fruity in a lemon curd sort of way, pointing me towards Belgium. There's just a little touch of spice and green herbal stuff here though, and the body lacks the full, mouth-filling wheatiness of a good Bavarian hefe. It's incredibly light and drinkable, though I find a glass is just about enough. A pint, and I fear the lingering sweetness would overpower the lovely refreshing nature of this beer.