Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ölbeat 004: Sinebrychoff Koff Porter

Brewery: Sinebrychoff
Country: Finland  
Style: Baltic Porter
Abv: 7,2 %

Possibly the best porter in Finland

Sinebrychoff is Finland's largest brewery by sales and the oldest one still working (founded in 1819). Since 1999 the brewery has been owned by Carlsberg. Its most popular beer brands are Koff and Karhu, which are among the most sold beer brands in Finland. But that's not the reason for the brewery's product to end up here.

There are two reasons:
  1. Sinebrychoff Koff Porter is by far the brewery's flagship beer, so it would have been on this blog sooner or later.
  2. This is one part of a joint blogpost by some Finnish beerbloggers, whose posts will be linked in the end of this post. The father of the idea writes posts to Tuopillinen. (Actually, he stole the idea from some winebloggers, the witty bastard, but hey, I don't mind.)

What about the beer?
The beer pours black with two-finger thick brown head. Aroma has sweet malts with a hint of burned wood. Taste is first roasted then caramel malts with chocolate-ish coffee. Palate adds bittersweet hops that come gently through in the aftertaste. Not in any way an easy package, but then again very drinkable.

Well, how can I put it? Jaska ain't completely off the course while praising this to be one of the best beers made in Finland. Very tasty porter that could and should be The Beer from Finland instead of all industrial-tasting brands we all know. If you don't know, have a pint of Koff Porter first.
With The Beer from Finland you have to get an originally Finnish band. Someone could describe this a performance by a male choir, but it's not. It's a piece of Finnish rock:

Seminaarinmäen Mieslaulajat a.k.a Semmarit: Life is a Highway (MySpace)
From Spotify you get the Finnish original version Mopedimies (from Sampo Texas, 1996):

From the 2014 English album, the title song Life is a Highway pretty much sums up the band's/choir's way to success. Abandoning the traditional way of male choir performance - controlled singing and standing  - and building a rock show with crazy coreographies and references to popular music is how the group of 21 men can give the audience an unforgettable experience. I had my first in summer 1998 and have had some more since.

Even though MySpace or Spotify can give one only the music without the movement, you'll probably get the idea. And if you don't, check out YouTube and the tour dates. I would say that Semmarit does the same to Finnish choir music that Koff Porter does to Finnish beer: makes a difference.

Links to the other bloggers' posts on Koff Porter (in alphabetical order - blogs in Finnish):

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ölbeat 003: Top Fuel Hippie Juice IPA

Brewery: Top Fuel Beer Company
Country: Finland
Style: India Pale Ale
Abv: 7,2 %
Juicy Fruit for Hippies and Friends
Top Fuel Beer Company operates in Lohja near the Finnish capital area. It's a fairly new microbrewery - started in early 2014 - and has yet a few brews available. Which is smart and customer-friendly, by the way: it's better to have couple of good brands than to have one OK with dozen drinkable or non-drinkable. Hippie Juice is the second beer I have tasted from the brewery and I'm still impressed.

What about the beer?
Colour is cloudy orange with huge bubbly white head. Aroma has a mild scent of hops and orange. Taste combines medium bitter hops with grapefruit. Nice balance. Palate gets hit with peach. Aftertaste is mostly hoppy with some sweet fruit (orange, peach, pineapple?).

Very enjoyable beer. Reminded me of sunshine, warmth and summer in the middle of everlasting dark fall in December(!) 2015. Doesn't bring chills and thrills with complexity, but ain't in any way predictable. The brewery stays as an interesting one.



Because of the summerlike taste and the hippie-themed name of the beer, the choice was clear from the first sip:

The Mamas & the Papas: California Dreamin' (YouTube)
Released in December 1965 and from the 1965 album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, the song started the folk rock singers' success story. It gives a sample of what was to become the group's trademark: punctual vocal harmonies, this time led by Denny Doherty. The song was written by John and Michelle Phillips, the couple that formed the other half of the group. The lyrics of the song tell about the singer's longing for California's summer while having a winter walk and seeing the brown leaves and the grey sky. I longed for just Finnish summer but felt exactly same as the singer while enjoying Hippie Juice.

The song has been covered many times, the latest by Sia in May 2015. The version with Finnish lyrics (1978) is called Kalajoen hiekat and performed by Tapani Kansa. Not in any way worth linking, listening or even mentioning. (Don't.)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ölbeat 002: Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA

Brewery: Flying Monkeys
Country: Canada
Style: India Pale Ale
Abv: 6 %

Peaceful A-bomb from Ontario, Canada

Flying Monkeys, an Ontario-based brewery, was in unknown territory for me. There isn't much availibility for its brews in Finland. However, after a scouting session of North-American beers for online shopping, Smashbomb got selected to the cart because of the reviews, tasting descriptions, style and maybe the funky name. There were basically no expectations for the experience: if it would work, make a post, if not, on to the next one.

What about the beer?
Colour is orange with a tiny white head. Aroma is hop-filled with a scent of citrus in the background. Taste explodes in the mouth with powerful dry bitterness. Slowly and smoothly the sweet fruits - mostly mango, some pineapple and orange - linger to the palate. Aftertaste is a balanced mix of bitterness, citrus and mango. And then you have to sip again to get another round in the rollercoaster.

Crazy heavy stuff. There's a party of taste in my mouth. Funky IPA indeed, leaves me thirsty for more "bombs" from the brewery.


Sorry, guys, I just couldn't match a heavy beer with any kind of Eurodance. The song had to be a everything-going-on pure rock song. So I went with this happy classic:

Black Sabbath: The Wizard (YouTube)
From the 1970 album Black Sabbath, the song brings out every heavy metal band's forefathers' background in blues. Because it's performed by the original Sabbath line-up, Tony Iommi's guitar-riff-mastering, Geezer Butler's solid bass and Bill Ward's maniac drumming found a firm basis, where as Ozzy's vocal's and harmonica bend well to atypical ungloomy lyrics and mood. It's organised mess of happy noise. Song is said to be inspired by the great Gandalf from the Rings but the song's wizard is not associated to a fun-oriented sorcerer. He was probably bringing joy to potters but not Harry. Nevertheless, in the 2010's Smashbomb is a drug that "has passed by/ giving his sign/ left all the people/ feeling so fine". A perfect wizard, then.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ölbeat 001: Mikkeller Black Hole

Brewery: Mikkeller
Country: Denmark (brewed at De Proefbrouwerij, Belgium)
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 13,1 % 

Mikkeller Black Hole
Temptation from the Dark Side

Mikkeller, the Denmark-based gypsy brewery, is known for its experimental view on beer. With that perspective you get hits and you get misses. Due to my short experience with quality craftbeer I hadn't yet got a miss from Mikkeller in my pocket. I decided to make Black Hole the first beer in my blog, if it would continue the success story.

What about the beer?
Colour is black (gee, really?) with medium brown head. Aroma is rich with herbs, grass and a small slice of salty liquorice. Taste is sour liquorice, hoppy saltiness and a fine touch of herbs. There’s a base of traditional imperial stout’ish coffee and dark chocolate in the backgorund, but the palette of other vibes takes over in a nice aggressive way. Ending is a mix of sour and salt. Pretty high alcohol level gets drowned under everything else. Very complex and slow-to-drink but excellent stuff. 

Whoa! If this truly tastes like a black hole, I’m buying a ticket and packing my gear as soon they have direct flights. “I’ll be back!” as they say in action movies.


Dodging the obvious choice by the band Muse, I select the other almost as obvious choice for the song to match Mikkeller Black Hole:

Soundgarden: Black Hole Sun (YouTube)
From the 1994 album Superunknown, Black Hole Sun is commercially the most  successful song of Soundgarden. Like the beer, the song is versatile starting with a slow intro and building through Chris Cornell’s screechy vocals and Kim Thayil’s guitar riffs to a panic near the end. Just to come back to the beginning. Lyrics can be interpreted in many different ways. Cornell - the writer himself - has stated, that there is no real idea to get across and despite many interpretations it's a sad song. So, if the song has a meaning to you and if you feel melancholic while listening, you're probably on the right track. Anyway, a timeless grunge/alternative rock masterpiece which easily stands the comparison to Chris’ later band and solo material. And for me, works with the beer Black Hole.