Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ölbeat 027: Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA

Brewery: Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Country: United States
Style: India Pale Ale
Abv: 7,0 %
Hoppy brew for the moose... not!
Anderson Valley Brewing Company, founded in 1987, is a craft brewery in Boonville, California. It is one of the 20-or-so craft breweries in the States that existed at the time. Started with a 10-barrel brewhouse in the downstairs of the brewpub, the brewery expanded in 1996 to a 30-barrel brewhouse and reached 15 000 barrels per year. In 1998 they stared another expansion, and in 2013 they produced 45 000 barrels per year. Hop Ottin' IPA is one of the legendary brews from the brewery, so it wasn't hard to pick it for tasting.

What about the beer?
Colour is cloudy rusty orange with medium natural white head. Aroma has fresh grapes, plum and citrus. Taste begins with dry and bitter hops. Then you get heavy pine and grapefruit with a tiny hint of sweetness. Palate turns bitter again. Aftertaste is dry, bitter and long.

Aroma made me expect something fresh and fruity. Instead I got something dry, hoppy and piny in the taste. It wasn't a bad deal, but filling the fruit gap would have made this fine brew an excellent one.


Since craftbeer - and especially West Coast IPA - in the States seems to be a modern classic, I reached out for those two elements in music. I turned to hip-hop genre and California, and picked the first option that showed up, since it was the best:

2Pac feat. Dr. Dre: California Love (YouTube)

From the 1996 album, All Eyez on Me, the song was written by 2Pac and Dr. Dre. It contains a sample from Joe Cocker's Woman to Woman (1972), and the chorus "California knows how to party" was sampled from Ronnie Hudson & the Street People's West Coast Poplock and is sung by Roger Troutman from the funk band Zapp. The song celebrates and pays homage to the Californian wild hip-hop lifestyle, while Dr. Dre and 2Pac rap about the activities available but also warn about crime and violence present. The song turned out to be the final peak of 2Pac's career, since he was murdered by drive-by shooting in September 1996. Even though the song represents everything else than the forest lake scenery in the bottle label shows, it was the Californ-I-A in Hop Ottin IPA that locked my choice.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ölbeat 026: CREW Republic Roundhouse Kick

Brewery: CREW Republic
Country: Germany
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 9,2 %
The beer that slammed the revolving door.
CREW Republic, founded in 2011, is a microbrewery in Munich, Germany. The brewery is known for brewing something else than standard German-type beer. Breaking the tradition is intentional according to the webpages of the brewery. When Roundhouse Kick came available in Finnish market, I was straight away interested about a beer that reminds me of the legendary Chuck Norris. 

What about the beer?
Colour is pitch black with huge beige head. Aroma has roasted malts with traces of hops and salty liquorice. Taste unleashes heavy bitterness with burned-roasted malts first. The hop-coal combo gets joined with strong black coffee and salty liquorice. Palate is beaten by dry bitter hops and strong citrus flavours in a very black-IPA'ish way. Aftertaste is powerfully dry, roasty and hoppy - a finish-off with style.

Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing! Rough and aggressive, as the name promises. It's the Chuck Norris of craft beer, kicks and punches in the mouth. I loved the roughness and the complexity.


What we need here is positively aggressive rock tune, that comes straight to the face. This one was the first that hit my head:

Foo Fighters: Monkey Wrench (YouTube)

From the 1997 album The Colour and the Shape, the song was written by frontman Dave Grohl, guitarist Pat Smear and bassist Nate Mendel. Described to be a power punk song by Grohl, the music is based on one fast-tempo main guitar riff and its alterations. Even though the video of the song shows then the newest band-member Taylor Hawkins on drums, it's Grohl who handles the sticks on the album and single version besides singing and playing guitar. The lyrics are about feeling trapped in a relationship that doesn't work and realizing that one of the problems is yourself. Despite the song is usually interpreted as venting negative feelings about a failed relationship, I've always found the song positively motivating with its in-your-face attitude. That's why it fits on the background of Roundhouse Kick perfectly.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ölbeat 025: Jopen Koyt

Brewery: Jopen B.V.
Country: the Netherlands
Style: Traditional Ale
Abv: 8,5 %
Ale with Gruit spices from the 15th century
Jopen B.V., founded in 1996, is a brewery in Haarlem, the Netherlands. The brewery's roots are in the Medieval period in the 1300's when Haarlem-brewed beer was freighted even abroad in 112 barrels called Jopen in Dutch. The brewery moved in 2010 to an old church (now Jopenkerk, old Jacobskerk) and expanded to a new brewing facility in 2014. Two of the brewery's continuous brews are made with original old recipes: Hoppen, the hopped beer, originates in 1501 and Koyt, the Gruit-spiced beer, in 1407. Both these beer brands have been Jopen brand before the brewery was founded, Hoppen from 1994 and Koyt from 1995.

What about the beer?
Colour is deep dark brown with a foam crown. Aroma caresses the nose with sweet malts and forest berries. Taste follows the aromas: mildly sweet, spiced caramel malts flow in the mouth in a very old-aleish way. Palate adds a gentle herbal, slightly alcoholic bite. In the end, aftertaste is sweet and malty.

Despite the obvious availability problems I should travel to the world of traditional gruit ales more often. When long history and culture are behind the birth of a brewery, it usually creates a rich and silky smooth experience.


It wasn't easy to pick a song for this one. An acoustic folky tune was what I had in mind, but instead of a traditional hymn I found this modern one:

Eddie Vedder: Rise (YouTube)

From the 2007 soundtrack/album Into the Wild, the song was written by Vedder. It's an acoustic man-and-the-mandolin folk song, the Pearl Jam singer taking care of the vocals and the only other instrument involved. Lyrics seem to tell about the narrator's will to forget the wrongs in his past and keep going forward: "Gonna rise up / Burning black holes in dark memories / Gonna rise up / Turning mistakes into gold". The song gives the same kind of emptied positive feeling that I got after enjoying Jopen Koyt.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ölbeat 024: Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA

Brewery: Hop Valley Brewing Co.
Country: United States 
Style: India Pale Ale
Abv: 6,7 %

Different shade of West Coast IPA
Hop Valley Brewing Company, founded in 2009, is a craftbeer brewery in Springfield, Oregon, US. Named after the hop-growing history - and also the present - of the county and the state, the brewery has grown its production from 1 000 barrels in the first year to 12 000 barrels in 2015. Fast growth is explained by the popular demand, and the popular demand rises - in the case of beer - because of the quality brewing. So, in the webshop, it wasn't so hard to pick some brews for tasting.

What about the beer?
Colour is clear golden orange with tiny natural white head. Aroma has fresh sweet fruits: grape, pear, peach. Taste begins with softly biting rather sweet caramel than heavy bitter hops. The gentle hoppy bitterness dominates, fruitiness and citrus stays in the background. Palate adds some dry pine, and the finish is bitter and dry.

Fresh and fruity aroma promised a little different journey, but nevertheless the ride was smooth and balanced. Not the usual West Coast IPA hop rollercoaster.


The smooth freshness and the complete lack of harshness made me look for a blues rock song. There were some artists and songs to turn to, but I chose this rather new one:

Joe Bonamassa: Oh Beautiful! (YouTube)

From the 2014 album Different Shades of Blue, the song was written by Bonamassa and country singer James House. The song opens with Bonamassa singing the first verse a cappella peacefully, then exploding with steady guitar-led bridge to the second verse, which is slow vocal-driven again. The song ends with the last verse sung a cappella. Don't worry: the artist gets to show some blues guitar mastery on the way. Lyrics build up a Shakespearian style love poem, first and last verse owned to "beautiful", the loved one, and the second to "gravity", the singer's connection to her. There's the same kind of one-sided attraction between the singer and the loved one as there's with me and Alphadelic IPA, so the song matches with the beer nicely.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ölbeat 023: Ruosniemen Musta Lomittaja

Brewery: Ruosniemen Panimo 
Country: Finland
Style: Smoked Saison
Abv: 6,3 %
This Black Stand-in gets hired
Ruosniemen Panimo, founded in 2011, is a microbrewery from Pori, Western Finland. The brewery's slogan is "Brewed by engineers". Despite lacking the skill of inventing attractive slogans, the brewery was Ratebeer's best new brewery in Finland in 2013. Having tasted most of their continous brews, I have to say that these engineers really know what they're doing. Hit is the rule, miss is a rare exception. Of the two good reasons for living in Pori, this is number two.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2016. 

What about the beer?
Colour is sizzling black with medium, immediately dissolving beige head. Aroma has meaty smoke and roasted malts with a slice of coffee. Taste gives roasted malts in very first bite. There's pretty high carbonation. Pure smoke flavour joins the party and grows quickly. By the palate sour lemon and mildly bitter hops are in. The night out gets finished with gentle smoky, sour and a bit salty aftertaste.

Smoke dominates here. Still there are sour and gently bitter elements of saison present. Clearly a fine "out-of-the-box" brew and a versatile experience.


Pairing the beer with a song was easy in this case. Despite the fact that the product is actually bottled, similar kind of unordinary approach can be found here: 

Jamiroquai: Canned Heat (YouTube)

From the 1999 album, Synkronized, the song was written by singer-frontman Jay Kay. Canned Heat was originally - in the beginning of the 1900's - an alcohol-based fuel used in catering service to keep the food warm. Since containing alcohol the substance was abused, which was the story behind Canned Heat Blues by Tommy Johnson in 1928. The blues group Canned Heat that started in the 60's as named after the song. However, in Jamiroquai's funk-jazz song canned heat is something on one's shoe heels that urges him to dance. Whether it is the name of the song, the history behind the word play or just the funky music, I don't know, but it fits the mood of Musta Lomittaja perfectly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ölbeat 022: Beer Hunter's Mufloni Imperial Stout

Brewery: Beer Hunter's
Country: Finland
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10 %
Beer Hunter's (Facebook, mostly in Finnish), founded in 1998, is a microbrewery (and a beer restaurant) from Pori, Western Finland. The brewery has been awarded e.g. the best brewery in Finland in 2015 by Ratebeer. They occasionally distil whisky named Old Buck, which has been chosen as European Mainland Whisky of the Year by Jim Murray in 2009. Personally I think there are two good reasons to live in Pori - Beer Hunter's is the first.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2016. 

What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small beige crown. Aroma has roasted malts, coffee and dark chocolate with a hint of smoke. Taste gives first heavily roasted and burned coffee with moderate sweetness. There are flavours of cocoa and liquorice, too. Palate adds late bittersweet hops to the palette, which stays in the coffee and roast section. Aftertaste is warm, bitter and dry. The high abv is well hidden between the superb flavours.

This is what you get when you brew imperial stout by the book. And what you get is perfection: everything has its place and everything is on its place. If someone would point out that "this beer lacks that something special" - I'm not suggesting that anyone would do that, am I? -, I would add that it lacks cracks and inperfections, which are necessary for human beings.


It's obvious that we needed a solid rock song for this one. When you get this kind of jewel, there's no need to stick inside neither the city nor the country borders. Fuck modesty. Sorry, Neumann, Perjantai just won't do:

AC/DC: Back in Black (YouTube)

From the 1980 eponymous album, the title track was written by singer Brian Johnson and the guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young. The song was the band's tribute to the former singer Bon Scott, who had died earlier in February, 1980. The band asked Johnson to write the song's lyrics for Scott and told him that "it can't be morbid, it has to be celebration". The new singer wrote - "whatever came into his head" - about wild lifestyle and immortality, and the bandmates loved it. The song and the album opened the Johnson era by a storm - both became instant classics. In the craftbeer scene, I wish that Mufloni Imperial Stout could be an almost similar classic. ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ölbeat 021: Lammin Sahti Ruisrääkkä

Brewery: Lammin Sahti
Country: Finland
Style: Specialty Grain
Abv: 7 %
The corn crake got into the bottle
Lammin Sahti, founded in 1985, is a microbrewery in Lammi village, which is a part of Hämeenlinna city in Southern Finland. The brewery is one of the most known sahti breweries in Finland, but they brew also beer and cider. Sahti is a traditional Finnish non-filtered beer, which is brewed using more malts than when brewing regular beer and spiced usually with juniper berries, hops or both. The result is a sweet banana-like flavoured drink, that can't be stored for long.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2016.

What about the beer?
Colour is hazy dark brown with tiny tan-beige head. Aroma gives scents of sweet malts, rye bread and Finnish malt beer. Taste has medium-sweet grainy malts and a hoppy first pinch on tongue. Flavour grows into very distinctive rye taste: there's a strong breadiness present. Palate gives some gentle hops and notes of cherries and some sweet berries. Aftertaste has maltiness and warming alcohol.

Now we have a beer, that pays respect to the rye malt. Strong malty flavours with nice and smooth sidetrips to bitter hops and sweet berries. Unique and enjoyable brew, I must say.


The strong presence of rye and the bready taste basically forced me to choose this forgotten treasure. One sure earworm, but you have been warned - and watch the video:

Laid Back: Bakerman (YouTube)

Released in 1989 and from the 1990 album, Hole in the Sky, the song was written by the Danish Laid Back duo Guldberg - Stahl and songwriter Arthur Stander. It's a slow synthpop tune which features guest vocals by Hanne Boel. Lyrics are unharmful nonsense, consisting mostly of phrases: "Bakerman is baking bread / Sagabona kunjani wena (Swahili: Hello, how are you?) / The night train is coming / Got to keep on running". Video for the song was directed by Lars von Trier in one take and features the song personnel freefalling in the sky singing and playing instruments. I really can't tell why Ruisrääkkä made me think of this song but it just happened. Sorry, guys.

Ölbeat 020: Hiisi Loviatar

Brewery: Panimo Hiisi
Country: Finland
Style: Barley Wine
Abv: 10,5 %
The birdy beast from Jyväskylä
Panimo Hiisi (webpages only in Finnish), founded in 2013, is an artisan brewery in Jyväskylä in Central Finland. According to the webpages the brewery's selfish agenda is to make the kind of beer that the brewers themselves would like to drink. Hiisi brews' names are often borrowed from Finnish ancient legends like Kalevala, e.g. Loviatar is the blind daughter of the god of death Tuoni and the underworld queen Tuonetar.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2016.

What about the beer?
Colour is hazy mud-brown with small tan head. Aroma has a strong scent of sweet berries - strawberry & blueberry and distinctive maltiness. Taste starts with a strong combination of sweet rye and strawberry. The strawberry flavour takes slowly over. Palate adds slow hops and taste of alcohol and brings back the malty first bite. Aftertaste is bitter with berry flavours.

Hardcore experience. Extremely enjoyable beer: strong flavours and contrasts but the body keeps the combination together. A little too much of berriness, probably could have gotten a little more out of the rye, but hey, small flaws give character, overall a solid performance.


The bottle label recommends the beer to be enjoyed with Savonian metal band Verjnuarmu's album Muanpiällinen helevetti. Well, no offence, I didn't, but the picture in the bottle label gave the idea:

Deep Purple: Bird Has Flown (YouTube)

From the 1969 album, Deep Purple, the song was written by keyboardist Jon Lord, vocalist Rod Evans and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. This version of the song is the original album version: a shorter re-recorded version, named The Bird Has Flown, was released as the A-side of the single Emmaretta. The song's music is driven with guitar and bass riffs and drum lines combined with Lord's haunting organ background during the chorus - this longer version ends with almost three minutes jamming and Blackmore's and Lord's solos. The lyrics are built on the phrase 'the bird has flown' referring to one's lost feeling being nothing compared to even negative or childish feelings. Well, Loviatar will certainly offer feeling to the drinker.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ölbeat 019: Teerenpeli Julmajuho

Brewery: Teerenpeli
Country: Finland
Style: Smoked Porter
Abv: 7,7 %
'Cruel John' looks like this in Finland
Teerenpeli, founded in 1995, is one of the oldest still operating microbreweries in Finland. Situated in Lahti in Southern Finland, the brewery started with a 60-litre boiling kettle in the original Restaurant Teerenpeli. Nowadays the yearly production is 500.000 litres of brews, and there are six Teerenpeli restaurants in five cities. The brewery has many of its brews available around the country.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2016.

What about the beer?
Colour is very dark brown to black with medium beige head. Aroma has roasted malts with smoked meat. First bite is semi-dry roasted malts. Smoke starts mild but quickly explodes to a campfire flavour with meaty bite. Palate adds late bitter hops and some plum. There's sweet smoky maltiness in the aftertaste.

Altogether, the marriage of smoke and malt works and makes the experience great. High quality special stout from Lahti.


Smoky tone has been an inspiration for many songs, so there's plenty to choose from. Despite the temptation to pick a classic heavy rock tune I chose this acoustic track:

Ed Sheeran: I See Fire (YouTube)

From the soundtrack of the 2013 film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the was written by Ed Sheeran himself. Sheeran was asked by the film's director Peter Jackson to make a folk song to be played first during the closing credits. He wrote and recorded the song - almost the released version - during one day after watching the early screening. The lyrics of the song are attached to the dragon Smaug destroying Laketown in the end of the movie to the horror of Bilbo. I attached the song to Julmajuho not only because of similar theme but because it was the first beer from the brewery that made me see passion and inspiration - shortly: fire.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Ölbeat 018: Mathildedalin Pirske

Brewery: Mathildedalin Kyläpanimo
Country: Finland
Style: Belgian Ale
Abv: 6,9 %
Brewed like when Grandad bought the lamp?
Mathildedalin Kyläpanimo (pages in Finnish), founded in 2014, is a village brewery in Mathildedal village in Perniö town in Southwest Finland. It was founded and is literally maintained by the villagers, who - according to the brewery's homepages - wanted to pay homage to the history of the ironworks and the village community of today. "We're a small village, but we're used to do great things together. With the same attitude and ambition we make our own beer."
This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2016.

What about the beer?
Colour is cloudy golden yellow with nice medium white head. Aroma has distinctive sour apple and some vinegar and yeast scent. Taste starts with lemon and fruity sour flavours. Palate gives yeast and some sweetness. Finish is sour and dry.

Sour fruitiness and yeast combine very nicely, there's body to hold to and balance between the flavor. Overall, the guys at Mathildedal have created a true and fine Belgian ale.


There's pretty much funk in the union of yeast and lemon. There's also pretty solid body to build the character on. So my choice for a funky tune to match the brew is:

Kool & The Gang: Get Down On It (YouTube)

From 1981 album, Something Special, the song was written by vocalist James "J. T." Taylor and saxophonist-keyboyardist Ronald Bell. The composition is based on all the good-time-disco funk elements that the band has been known for its existence for over 50 years. The music supports the simple lyrical theme which is encouraging the non-dancing people to get on the floor. I believe that Pirske was brewed with same kind of funky joyful attitude that Robert "Kool" Bell & Co. are showing in the scene.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ölbeat 017: De Molen Tsarina Esra

Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
Country: the Netherlands
Style: Imperial Porter
Abv: 11 %
The Empress of imperial porters
Tsarina Esra is shortly described as being an imperial porter, which thanks to the fullness, the richness in flavour and the warming feeling makes it perfect for cold nights. In Finland the winter nights tend to be cold, much colder than the Dutch ones, so we didn't need long marketing speeches for this one.

What about the beer?
Colour is black with tiny vanishing beige head. Aroma has coffee, roasted malts and liquorice. Taste begins with gently-heavily roasted (not burnt) malts, soon accompanied by sweetish strong black coffee and salty dark chocolate. Palate adds late hoppy bitterness and some yeast. Aftertaste is sweet and warmly alcoholic.

If there was a porter brewed by the book without any impurities or defects, but still roughly challenging its drinker to a "wishing-this-would-never-end" experience, then this would be it. Truly a royal beer.


For a counterpart of a beautifully tough beer, I chose this metal ballad by two by-then-veterans of heavy rock:

Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne: Close My Eyes Forever (YouTube)

From Lita Ford's 1988 album Lita, the track was written together by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne. For a result of drinking, singing and jamming the song was a success - as the usual story goes. The voices of rough raspy Ford and gloomy high-toned Osbourne make it an unforgettable duet. The lyrics have been interpreted to be about i.e. being scared of falling in or losing love, but there's no confirmed background story. When I heard the song for the first time I was caught in the chorus: "If I close my eyes forever, will it all remain the same?" Closing my eyes while sipping Tsarina Esra immediately reminded me of the song: while tasting a majestic brew I was probably asking the question in my mind.

Brewer's Choice

Nightwish: Over the Hills and Far Away (YouTube)

From the self-titled 2001 EP, the track is a cover of Gary Moore's 1987 original from Wild Frontier. The Nightwish version is a symphonic metal update: the opera-singer-trained vocals of Tarja Turunen bring the singing more in front and the arrangement by songwriter-keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen is heavier than in the original. Otherwise the Nightwish version is loyal to Moore's story about a man who gets framed for a robbery he didn't commit. His alibi is spending the night with his love, who is his best friend's wife, but he doesn't want to reveal the secret and goes to jail instead. The song helped to lift Nightwish to international success, but the EP marked another turning point in the band's history: it was the last recording for bassist Sami Vänskä, who was replaced by Marco Hietala.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ölbeat 016: De Molen Hemel & Aarde (Heaven & Earth)

Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
Country: Netherlands
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10 %
The dark of Heaven, the light of Earth
Hemel & Aarde is not - according to the brewery's beerography - for the fainthearted. It's brewed using "the most heavily peated malt they could find". The label says Bruichladdich, so probably the malts are from the Octomore batch. "Let's see", said the doctor.

What about the beer?
Colour is pitch black with only a thin bubble crown. Aroma gives heavily roasted malts and soft smoke. Taste has roasted caramel malts in front, some salty liquorice on the side. Palate adds slow bitter hops and peaty smoke. Finally, there's a pleasant gentle aftertaste, or rather afterburn: taste of smoke and malts stays in breath quite long.

Having had the intense campfire smoke of Rook & Vuur, this brew showed the not-so-rough-peaty (Laphroaigish) side of whisky malt brews of the brewery. But there was still some smoky dragon behind the pet lizard.


Instead of putting some obvious crap like "Heaven is a Place on Earth" here - I remember even the artist although trying to forget - I chose this song with earthy power:

Disturbed: The Sound of Silence (YouTube)

From the 2015 album Immortalized, the song is a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's original from 1964 Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m. It's written by Paul Simon. Despite the later success, the song wasn't enough to help the album catch public attention and drove the duo to the edge of break-up. The song's lyrics are about people's failure to communicate with each other: "People talking without speaking /
People hearing without listening".
The acoustic original has been turned into a power ballad which leans strongly to singer David Draiman's fragile but rough vocals and the mix of piano-guitar-driven background and orchestral arrangements. The band decided not to "Disturbed-stamp" the song with heavy riffs and fast tempo but chose instead to send their singer to the unknown. The result is at the same time both-feet-on-the-ground but head-up-in-the-skies.

Brewer's Choice

Alanis Morissette: Perfect (YouTube)

From the 1995 album Jagged Little Pill, the song is composed by Morissette and Glen Ballard and the lyrics are written by Morissette. The basic ballad arrangement - gentle vocals and soft almost-jazzy background - gives a strong contrast to the lyrics, which are spoken by a parent who tries to push the kids to better results and reminds them about doing it for their own damn good. Morissette has told that the song is generally about the pressures of society, which loves you as long as you are "perfect" for it. This song was the first that Morissette and her producer Ballard made ready for the album, which turned out to be one of the most successful in the 90's.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Ölbeat 015: De Molen Amarillo

Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
Country: Netherlands
Style: Imperial IPA
Abv: 9,2 %
@RateBeer (named Storm & Bliksem)
Is this the way to Amarillo...?

Amarillo is described by the brewery to be "brewed according to the new American tradional Imperial or Double IPA's". Since my previous experiences with De Molen are from "the dark side" of the beers - i.e. strong stouts - I was very eager to know how they handle another of my favourite beer styles.

What about the beer?
Colour is semi-clear orange with medium natural white head. Aroma has a strong scent of sweet fruit and berry - orange, mango, pineapple and strawberry are present. Taste gives first pine and sweet fruit - mango or peach. Slowly the sweet bitterness of Amarillo hops and sourness of grapefruit break through. Aftertaste is bitter, dry and a little warm-alcoholic.

The beer is so smooth, soft and good-tasting that it's difficult to take small sips and enjoy slowly. If beer can taste like being on a first date with a girl whom you'd like to take home from the first eye contact, this is the beer. Very difficult to have small-talk with this one.


Though I associate the beer with first date, you're not getting a Blink-182 or a Danko Jones song here - maybe later. Instead I give in for the smoothness of the beer:

Santana ft. Rob Thomas: Smooth (YouTube)

From the 1998 album, Supernatural, the lead single was composed by songwriter Itaal Shur over one weekeng. Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas wrote the lyrics and, after sending the demo to Santana, was asked to sing the album version. The result was an instant success, the song of the year and the first Billboard Number One on Santana's long career. The song is labeled with Carlos Santana's "samba-like" guitar riffs and Thomas' intense and gruff vocals - it was never meant to be a dance track although the result is very dancable. Thomas wrote the lyrics for his wife - about a Latin woman through white man's eyes, like Carlos Santana has put it. Amarillo is probably as close to smooth lady as a beer can be, so there we have it. 

Brewer's Choice

Gerry Rafferty: Baker Street (YouTube)

From the 1978 album, City to City, the lead single was written by Gerry Rafferty. The song became Rafferty's career's most popular song. It was written during a period where Rafferty was having legal problems because of his previous band, Stealer Wheel's breakup. Living in Scotland, he stayed many times in his friend's flat on Baker Street in London. The song's lyrics are about a person, who seems to dream about happiness and having a better life, but spends his time living unhappy from day to day and meeting a friend who is also a dreamer. The saxophone riff between the verses was played by Raphael Ravenscroft, and it's been mentioned as most notable saxophone riff in a song. Despite this, Ravenscroft didn't like the result and thought that the riff was flat and out of tune.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ölbeat 014: De Molen Spanning & Sensatie

Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
Country: Netherlands
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 9,8 %
Sensational thrills with salt, chili and cocoa
"Spanning & Sensatie was intended to thrill your taste buds", says the description on the brewery's beerography. The thrills are given by adding cocoa, chili and sea salt to a strong Imperial Stout that already has oat malts in the mix. Some tricks are allowed, as long as the result is recognisably beer.

What about the beer?
Colour is almost-black-dark brown with quickly vanishing tiny bubbly head. Aroma has soft scent of milk chocolate with tiny hint of coffee. Taste is roasted medium sweet malts with black coffee, a salty twist and a chili note on the tongue. Finish has malty sweetness, as does the aftertaste.

This is a full-flavoured experience: nothing goes over the top or even close in any sense, but there are surprising twists in the taste when the liquid spreads around the mouth. In the end one has gone through a delicate, balanced trip of senses. Expectations exceeded.


When it comes to the artist, the choice was clear from the beginning: this Finnish rock band can open mysteries and give thrills. Selecting the song was harder, but I picked this ballad:

Sonata Arctica: Shamandalie (YouTube)

From the 2004 album Reckoning Night, the song was written by the band's vocalist Tony Kakko. It's a metal ballad about an older man who is reminiscing his childhood friendship. He probably wanted it to be his first love but the song's title girl, Shamandalie, didn't respond his feelings and also the friendship ended. The ballad starts with vocalist Kakko singing the 1st verse, chorus and 2nd verse with only piano and acoustic guitar on the background. From the 2nd chorus the song turns into a pure rock ballad with the whole band and Kakko's rougher singing. I've always found Sonata Arctica an interesting Finnish band, and this song with aching memories showed both the soft and the rough side of them.

Brewer's Choice

Audioslave: Cochise (YouTube)

From the 2002 album Audioslave, the song was the first single of the rock supergroup formed by ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and Rage against the Machine ex-members guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk. It got its name and background from the last great American Indian chief to die free and unconquered. The lyrics written by Cornell, however, are about something else than a chief: they are someone's message to oneself about stop wasting one's life and save oneself. The intro guitar riff by Morello was created by accident: he rapidly and unintentionally hit the string with a pencil while jamming and writing notes. The result was after a slight moderation the "helicopter sound" in the beginning of the song.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ölbeat 013: De Molen Rook & Vuur (Smoke & Fire)

Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
Country: the Netherlands
Style: Smoked Stout
Abv: 8,2 %
If there's smoke, there can be fire...
The brewery describes Rook & Vuur as "a subtle balance between smoke, chocolate and chili peppers". The beer is made with whiskey and roasted barley malts and Czech Sladek hops. Combining strong stout body with smoky whiskey taste and hot spiciness of chili was something that caught my eye. I just had to have a taste.

What about the beer?
Colour is dark brown to black with a tiny vanishing head. Aroma gently mixes intense smoke, roasted malts and black dark-blend coffee. Taste starts with peaty smoked and roasted malts. Gentle chili and spice flavor hits the tongue. Palate adds smooth bitterness. Aftertaste is long, smoky and bitter. This is pretty thick stuff, but every sip makes you wait for the next.

Being a friend of thick stouts, smoky Islay whisky and spicy food this one does the trick. Very rich and complex beer for "an hour and some", if one can resist the smoothness. Every piece fits the puzzle.


With the beer with smoke, fire and fierce attitude, you have to have an aggressive rock song. When a heavy metal band of 2000's gets some additional aggression from the singer of the legendary Judas Priest, you ought to have it. 

Five Finger Death Punch ft. Rob Halford: Lift Me Up (YouTube)

From the 2013 album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1, the opening track starts with heavy guitar-bass-drum intro. The band's vocalist Ivan L. Moody sings the first verse and chorus, and guest singer Rob Halford takes the lead on the second verse. Moody has stated that the song's intent is to inspire: the lyrics are about overcoming obstacles and less-than-perfect circumstances in life, that many people are born with. Like the song is about getting lifted up from the flames and the ashes, Rook & Vuur is high above just smoke and fire.

Brewer's Choice

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Give It Away (YouTube)

From the 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the track is the lead single and commercially one of the band's most successful songs. It's trademarked with guitarist John Frusciante's and bassist Flea's seamless riffing and prominent bassline. Singer Anthony Kiedis first came up with the chorus "Give it away, give it away, give it away now", since the phrase was something that he wanted in a song of the upcoming album. The song's lyrics - mostly random phrases with no or loose connections - circle around the ideas of selflessness and altruism - something that Kiedis had learned from German punk rock singer Nina Hagen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ölmönger Special: Interview with Brouwerij de Molen

Bodegraven, an about 20 thousand inhabitants' town near the Haag in the Netherlands, is the home of one of the best breweries in the world. Originally situated completely in the town's landmark, the windmill De Arkduif (meaning 'ark dove', from the story of Noah's ark), Brouwerij de Molen - translation: the Mill Brewery - has today the head brewery down the street. The mill is still in used as a brewery for small batches.

© Brouwerij de Molen

Brouwerij de Molen was founded in 2004. During the first 11-12 operative years the brewery and its beers have been awarded uncountable times - e.g. as Ratebeer's best brewery in the Netherlands since 2008. The brewery is known for curious and experimental view on beer: the barrel-aged versions of different brands are known around the world. Probably the most known De Molen beer, Hel en Verdoemenis (Hell & Damnation), has had at least 18 different barrel-aged or spiced versions, many of them still in production. Mindblowing craftbeer is truly made there - according to the motto on the brewery's website.

© Brouwerij de Molen

I asked people from Brouwerij de Molen to answer some questions about the brewery, brewing and beer by e-mail. I got the brewery's co-owner John Brus to the other end of the line and luckily, he was more than ready to answer and provide me with some pictures from the brewery. Without any more hesitation and delay let's go to the interview.  

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Hello, John. Tell us about yourself. What's the story behind you? How and why did you become a professional brewer?

I'm John Brus, co-owner of Brouwerij de Molen in the Netherlands. I studied computer science and worked in that field for a long time.

Since the age of 15 - 16 I've been very much interested in beer and brewing. Starting with the first beer I ever drank I saved the bottle, and the next bottle turned out to be a different beer. It immediately caught my interest and I continued searching for new beers and flavours. Saving the bottles until my mom forced me to through away the 300 - 400 bottles/cans stacked in my room. From the age of 17 I started brewing beer at home together with a couple of friends. After I finished my study, I got a job, married and children and stopped homebrewing. Too much fun things to do and too little time.

In 2006 I became friends with Menno Olivier who founded Brouwerij de Molen in 2004. Our mutual interest in craft-beer and brewing in general draw us together. After a while we started talking about letting the brewery grow from just a brewpub with export sales to a grown-up brewery. In 2009 we organized the first Borefts Beer Festival together and in 2010 I actually started working in the brewery. Very eager to do professionally what I've always been doing as an amateur. Never regretted it for one minute.

What are the best things about being a brewer? Are there any unpleasant sides?

The best thing as a brewer for me is that I can do what I always wanted to do. I know when but I don't know why the 'virus' got me, but beer is my life.

I breathe beer, I talk beer, I wake up and go to bed with it.

For a craft-brewer there’s a big extra advantage: you get to travel a lot and meet wonderful people. Those are number 2 and 3 on my list of best things to do.

Being a craft-brewer has one unpleasant side. We love experimenting and people actually expect this from us. But experimenting means making mistakes - or better said: some flavours don't turn out 100% as you expected them or most people aren't ready for it yet. As a brewer and perfectionist I always want it to be... well perfect. But you can't please everyone.

© Brouwerij de Molen

Brouwerij de Molen was founded in 2004 by your partner Menno Olivier. You joined him in 2009. After that the brewery has moved to a new and bigger facility and received international recognition and worldwide success.  What makes Brouwerij de Molen different from other breweries in Netherlands, Europe and the world?

In the Netherlands we were - and still are - the pioneer for brewing craftbeers. The definition of craftbeer for me is making progressive beers, experimenting, trying new brewing methods and ingredients, brewing beers with more flavour without going over the edge and revolting against the flattening of flavours for the masses that has been going on for decades in most countries.

Worldwide this has been going on since the 90's, starting in the USA. Our beers are different because they are flavourful to the extreme yet always well balanced. We can brew according to the Reinheitsgebot and we experiment a lot from grasshoppers in an IPA to combining styles with special ingredients, barrel-aging and re-fermenting with Brett.

How would you describe the “De Molen character” in beer? Name three of your beers that bring out this character best.

I cannot. We brew from light bitters to crazy barrel-aged barley wines. So I must keep the character very general: our beers always have a body and are well balanced and flavourful. The three examples are: Vuur & Vlam (India Pale Ale), Bommen & Granaten (barley wine) and any barrel aged version of Hel & Verdoemenis (Imperial Stout).

© Brouwerij de Molen

You’ve planned to expand your production from 4.500 to 25.000 hectolitres annually. What are your expectations on your brewery’s expansion? Can De Molen fans in Finland expect more availability for your beers after the expansion?

In 2015 we already reached 7.000 hectolitres. But we had to work on every inch of the equipment, process and brewers to reach that amount.

It's hard to tell what effect the expansion will have on Finland. We don't have a marketing plan. We brew what we can and it's sold to those importers who order it. It's a luxury position I know and maybe someday we’ll start making plans for sales. For now I'd advice any Finnish beer lover to ask for it, so more will reach Finland. :-)

There has been some discussion about small breweries and craftbeer “against” big breweries and bulk beer. Recently the discussion has leaned towards “bad beer” vs. “good beer” opposition. How would you define good beer? What makes the difference between bad, good and damn excellent beers? What are the best other breweries’ beers you've tasted recently?

Some people, maybe I could call them purists, talk about small against big and craft - as in hand labour - against automated macro brewing. I'd call that bullshit. Most craft brewers have new and top-notch equipment meaning an automated brew house. Most highly appreciated US craft brewers are huge compared to European craft brewers. Does it make them any worse? Not in my opinion.

Good against bad beer is even trickier. I know dozens or more microbreweries that brew some awful stuff they call beer. For me it has always been revolting against the flattening of flavours.

A long time ago there were many breweries with just as many different beers, styles and flavours. A can assume a lot of them making bad beer as well. Some breweries took control. Probably because they were a little better, they got more money and devoured all those small breweries. Bad for the owners of those small breweries but even worse for the beer drinker. Not at first, when they still got better beer. But as the story continued, marketers and financial departments started running the breweries instead of those creative beer loving brewers. Resulting in uniform beers across the globe because “everybody has to like them” and “it must be as efficiently produced as possible”.

We're taking back control, those beer loving brewers. We want flavour, we want diversity, we want to be surprised now and then.

The best beers I've tasted the last couple of months are from Laugar (Spain), Pöhjala (Estonia), Gänstaller Bräu (Germany), Brew by Numbers (England) and Fyne Ales (Scotland).

© Brouwerij de Molen

Besides the high quality of products, De Molen is known for barrel-aged beer. Beer experimenting - challenging to the ordinary means of brewing – has become more common in recent years. What are in your opinion the pros and the cons of beer experimenting? What would you consider as going over the limit?

There is no con against experimenting. We need to experiment as humans in general in my opinion or we get stuck. The results of an experiment can of course be disappointing. But then you either throw it away, or decide to give a small crowd the opportunity to taste how an experiment like that turns out.

You’ve planned new brewery collaborations with Estonian Pōhjala and American Monk’s Café. Personally I’m very interested about your Pōhjala project which involves Ardbeg barrels: there are many personal favorites around. What effect have your collaborations had to De Molen’s own brewery selection? Can you give examples?

The Pöhjala collaboration is still a plan but will happen for sure! Just last weekend we released another Ardbeg aged beer: Tsarina Esra Ardbeg BA Brett. Crazy beer yet so good!

It's hard to pinpoint what a certain collaboration project does to our own selection. We always learn and take this information back home and use it. But I can't give examples.

The other way around I can give some examples. Fyne Ales has taken our collab called Hills & Mills into production. And there are several breweries – Struise, Haandbryggeriet, Marble – still brewing our Vuur & Vlam according to our recipe.

If a Finnish microbrewery would show interest in collaboration with you or De Molen, what kind of beer would you suggest to them?

I'd love to make a Sahti together with a Finnish brewery someday :-)

But there are so many collaborations we still want to do and some many other things as well. I'm afraid it will have to wait.

© Brouwerij de Molen

Let’s play fortune teller: What will be the big craftbeer trends in 2016 and 2017? How will they affect De Molen’s future plans?

Hahaha. :) I don't like to tell the future and I don't like to react to trends. We do what we want to do and of course can be influenced by anyone we meet or by anything we see. Our main goal for 2016 is to expand the brewery.

In 2017? Maybe sour ales will finally become more wanted in Europe. I know this has already been going on in the US and Scandinavian countries, but the rest is still a little behind.

The Ölmönger blog is about matching good beer with good music. Have you brewed beers for artists or bands? Which artist or band would you like to brew a brand beer if you could choose? What kind and style would it be?

We have brewed a beer (American Pale Ale) for a Dutch artist called Tim Knol. He's a rocky folk-singer. We were asked by John Coffey, a metal band, but had to refuse because lack of capacity. Which was sad.

Personally I would love to brew a beer for Elbow or Guy Garvey himself. I know they are beer lovers and to me they’re one of the best live artists in the world – even though I'm more of a metal-head myself. It should probably be a hoppy yet traditional IPA for them.

That's all for now. Thanks for the interview, John. I wish you and Brouwerij de Molen success in the years to come.

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So, next we'll get back to the usual business with five selected De Molen beers and Ölbeats - one beer and Ölbeat per day starting tomorrow. Since this is a special occasion, there will be a twist in the blogposts. What will it be? Wait for tomorrow and see.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ölbeat 012: Buxton Bloc Head

Brewery: Buxton Brewery
Country: England
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Abv: 5,4 %
A tractor brew for sheep and pig... not!
Buxton Brewery, founded in 2009, lies in the spa town of Buxton in Derbyshire, England. For a fairly young brewery it's already been labelled as a quality brewer in the international level: the brewery entered Ratebeer's annual top 100 brewer list in 2013 and has been there since. I've tasted couple of their brews and decided to find the first Ölbeat for a not-so-ordinary brew.

What about the beer?
Colour is hazy orange with tiny, immediately vanishing white crown. Aroma has strong sour scents of apple and lemon and some faint odour of yeast. Taste begins with dry sourness with lemon and grows somewhat ciderish by the palate. Palate adds yeast and malt. Aftertaste is very dry and lemony.

I can see this beer dividing the beer drinkers to likers and haters: the experience is pretty far from the ordinary beer styles and even the 'normal' saisons. I liked it a lot: in the growing field of IPA's and imperial stouts an unusual and well-done brew tastes incredibly fresh and stands out from the crowd. Not for stereotype-lovers.


Even though labelled as 'farmhouse pale ale' a pure country song is out of question - in this blog, it's always that way. Finally, it was the theme and origin of the beer, that guided me to this one:

Blur: Country House (YouTube)

From the 1995 album, Great Escape, was written by the band members. The song is not so traditional Blur: of course, the lazy whining vocals of Damon Albarn are present, but the instrumental parts resemble more a circus parade song with trumpet and saxophone than the band's normal disco-pop-rock style. Lyrics tell a story of a man, who gets tired of city life, moves into a big country house and leads an empty and dull life there, not meeting his fantasy. The song was inspired by Blur's ex-manager, who got burnt out in the music business and left it to live in the countryside. Personally, I know that despite liking the peace and quiet of the countryside it would make me feel like the man in Country House. Bloc Head reminded me of this fact.