Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ölbeat 011: Hopping Brewsters Warthog IPA

Brewery: Hopping Brewsters
Country: Finland
Style: India Pale Ale
Abv: 5,4 %
Some similarities between the warplane and Pumbaa?

Hopping Brewsters, started in 2013, is a Finnish microbrewery from Akaa in Pirkanmaa region. I have tasted some of their beers - i.e. this one and Starkadr, a special gruit ale - in fairs and pubs, but finding their bottlings in stores and Alko has proven to be a challenge for me. Once I got a chance to buy Warthog, I grabbed couple of bottles with me.

What about the beer?
Colour is clear golden orange with thick white head. Aroma has strong, overwhelming scent of lemon and grapefruit. Taste attacks with dry and very hoppy bitter in the first bite. Notes of grapefruit and orange appear. Palate is bitter and piny, aftertaste adds heavy dry elements to these. When the beer warms up a little bit, grapefruit and lemon step forth in the taste.

Strong hops, lots of pine and dry bitterness and scent & taste of citrus fruits turn Warthog into a very beasty India Pale Ale. The bottle label promises US West Coast style, and the brew gets at least very near to the target.


Since the brew has got its name from a war aircraft, Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, there weren't many appropriate song choices available. Even though "Warthog" is not an air combat fighter, we'll forget the tiny mistake in details while listening to this:

Iron Maiden: Aces High (YouTube)

From the 1984 album, Powerslave, the song was written by Steve Harris, the band's bassist and primary songwriter. Instrumentally the song is pure traditional "Maiden metal" with fast tempo, solid bass & drum patterns, guitar riffs and vocalist Bruce Dickinson hitting some sick high notes. Lyrics are narrated from the viewpoint of British Spitfire pilot, who fights against German ME-109's in World War II. The fate of the pilot is left unclear, since the song ends with the pilot heading straight for the enemy and pressing down his guns. Warthog IPA can be compared to the skillful pilot of the song, but whether it's enough to keep the brewery in the air remains open. "Waiting for more brews, guys", that means. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ölbeat 010: Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale

Brewery: Founders Brewing Company 
Country: United States
Style: Old Ale
Abv: 9,8 %
Despite the name not a curmudgeon brew...
Founders Brewing Company is a craft brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. The brewery was founded in 1997 by Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens - two college graduates. As a winner of multiple brewery and beer awards and constantly high in worldwide brewery ranks (e.g. in 2013 Ratebeer's 3rd best brewery of all time) one expects special quality from the beer. Having tasted All Day IPA, Pale Ale and Centennial IPA before it was time to step out of the comfort zone and try something different.

What about the beer?
Colour is amber red with just noticable beige head. Aroma has a gentle scent of sweet smooth bourbon whiskey. Taste starts with molasses-driven sweetness of caramel malts. A layer of American bourbon taste with oak, vanilla and toffee - reminds me of Maker's Mark - spreads quickly into mouth. Palate and aftertaste add mild hops to the picture and in the finish there's a nice warming feeling of alcohol.

It seems that the oak-aging has rounded the sweet edge of the molasses and added the bourbon-like twist to the experience. The result is a smooth and balanced brew with complexity and unpredictability. Old ale is not an everyday beer style, and surely Curmudgeon is not - because of its rare excellence - a beer for every day.


Since the beer made me feel good from the first sip, I put the feeling in front and settle for this classic:

The Doobie Brothers: Long Train Runnin' (YouTube)

From the 1973 album The Captain and Me, the song was written by the band's singer-guitarist Tom Johnston. Known for it's catchy guitar-bass line it was played by the band for three years before being recorded. The song's music was easily put together but the building the lyrics took some years: before the recording the band named it e.g. 'Osborne' and 'Parliament' and Johnston sang the lyrics that came into his head. Even the final lyrics were written quickly in a bathroom, and according to Johnston have no deeper meaning. But do you really need something deeper than: "Without love, where would you be right now?" With Curmudgeon Old Ale, I didn't.