After putting on a few demos at last year’s Craft Beer Rising, the event organisers invited us back this year to present more of the same to the boozy masses who happened to wander into the tasting room. We spent our alotted hour demonstrating how home grown and foraged ingredients could be used in the making of beer. The punters at Craft Beer Rising, held at the magnificent Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, sniffed and nibbled coriander seeds, rosemary and wormwood; they guzzled our nettle beer with glee; they sampled some professional brews from our pals at St Austell Brewery and Gyle 59; but most of all they wondered what was the knobbly, soily mass of roots temporarily housed in an ice cream tub. It was a hop plant.* Everyone was familiar with the taste, smell and appearance of the flower cones, but no-one – not even the professional Brewers that stopped for a chat – recognised the dormant plant.
Despite being on hop-educational duties we were still able to plough through plenty of the beers on offer, drunkenness kept in check by the provision of tiny tasting glasses (although these were swapped for more substantial vessels when our demo was over). To round off the event we’ve put together a list of our five Craft Beer Rising 2017 favourites – delicious nettle beer not included.
Fierce Beer / Dugges, Wee Fierce Dugges, 9%
We’ve been tipping Fierce for success ever since we laid our tongues on their Cranachan Killer and the new Scottish brewing stars delivered a boozy sensation with this Wee Heavy – with a little help from Swedish booze aces Dugges. The smell alone was worth the cost of entry and the Butterscotch sweetness and a beautifully smooth malty body were a genuine alcohol-laden treat.
Epic Brewing Company, Tart N Juicy Sour IPA, 4.5%
This beer, from Utah’s Epic, is a cross between a hoppy IPA and sour gose. Our Tart n Juicy exprience began with an unusual musty aroma and was soon followed by intense flavours of plum and sharp, cheek-crushing grapefruit. Distinctive and delicious.
Jolly Pumpkin, Anchorage No Ka Oi, 6.3%
Sylvia Klopp, from the American Brewers Association, led a superb tasting session of some incredible beers. Our favourite was the weakest of the seven (yes, 6.3% was the weakest. We finished with a 12% wheat wine) which was brewed by Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin. Wild yeast, barrel ageing and adjuncts of raspberry and lime peel built up layers of flavours, creating one of the most complex beers we’ve ever had.
BeerCat, Flor D’ordal, 4.8%
We turned to this Catalan brewery for the most refreshing beer of the show, cleansing our palettes of wheat wines and wee heavies. It’s a light, cloudy beer, flavoured with peach, but in a delicate way that made it not too sweet or overbearingly fruity. We could’ve done with bigger glasses for this highly gluggable booze.
Camden Town Brewery, Pale Ale, 4%
We snuck up on the Camden Town Brewery stand in search of their limited edition rhubarb ale, but we snuck up on the wrong day. Instead Nick ordered a Gentleman’s Wit and Rich a Pale Ale. Sometimes, when you’ve been guzzling barrel aged and wild and sour and peach and raspberry and lime and other extravagantly flavoured brews, something simple, reliable and well crafted is in order. So these beers perfectly hit the spot, with Rich particularly enthusiastic in his praise of the pale.
*Variety: Mount Hood, property of Rich, surname Hood