Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sessio #3 (Dec 2017): Christmas and beer

This post is a part of Sessio, Finnish beer bloggers' monthly posts on the same topic. The topic is selected by a monthly changing host. This topic was selected by Helppoa Juotavaa, who will wrap up the Sessio posts in his blog. I will take part in Sessio whenever the subject feels nice and I have time to write a post.

This time the session topic - Christmas and beer - is either very easy or very difficult. First I thought was that it's so difficult to get anything written that I'll pass this round. Looking at the final result I guess I should've sticked with that idea.

Quickly I realized that not having anything to write about Christmas and beer makes writing this post easy: it helps to keep the story short. This is possibly the shortest Ölmönger Special post to date and probably will be that for long.

A completely random beer pic
So, why I don't have anything special to say about Christmas and beer or Christmas beers? Here are a couple of reasons:
  1. I don't fancy seasonal beer. Actually I almost always hate it. Christmas beers suck as much in their genre as Easter, summer, Oktoberfest and Halloween beers do. Probably it's the spices, probably it's something else. Don't know, don't care.
  2. I don't pair beer with food. I rarely even drink beer with food. Christmas food makes no difference. I know that for some people it's important to have some special Rauchbier with ham, some fruity Saison with turkey, something mild with other traditional Christmas dishes and somethind wild with the dessert. But I don't usually drink beer with food, so why should Christmas make an exception?
  3. I don't save or select any special beers for Christmas. I don't either have any other yearly scheduled special occasions for having a beer for that moment. Basically, the special moments for special beers are born out of personally important dates or events but I mostly drink all beers - the good, the bad, the ugly, the special - spontaneously, without any other specific reason than having the time and the opportunity to drink a beer.
  4. I wouldn't feel like missing anything if I don't drink beer - special or at all - or any alcohol during Christmas season. That doesn't mean that I don't usually but there are other, more important things that make my Christmas. Watching The Snowman with the family. Sauna without any hurry. A moment of inner peace. Christmas meal and its preparations. Getting some gifts and seeing the kids' joy when they open their gifts. Playing board and card games. Basically, having some stopped hurryless time with myself and the family. Probably having a glass or dram or two on the way, but not necessarily.
A moment ago, at 11 p.m. on Christmas night I had some sips of Glen Scanlan, blended Scotch received as a gift. And that could've been my alcohol dose of the day. Awful shit, by the way. So I'm on my way for something better now...

Ölbeat

I have a categorical hatred towards Christmas songs. Specially Christmas songs sung in Finnish. Shouldn't come as a shocking surprise to anyone. Well, most of the songs can just be heard too often during the season. This one breaks the rule because it has a real and timeless message about the Christmas season's superficiality - human race creating a period of piece in the world in the middle of war.

Hassisen Kone: On jouluyö, nyt laulaa saa (YouTube)

Published as a single in 1981, the song was written by Ismo Alanko.

Ölbeat 337 (BC17 #24): Vakka-Suomen Prykmestar Savukataja

Brewery: Vakka-Suomen Panimo (in Finnish)
Country: Finland
Style: Smoked Ale
Abv: 9 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is dark brown with a small natural white head. Aroma has pure smoked ham and spices. *A short break while the blogger couldn't help himself from making and eating a cheese-ham rye sandwich. And another cheese-ham rye sandwich.* Taste begins with smoothly bitter meaty smoke. Heavily smoked malts and thick cured ham takes over with spicy peppery side tones. Towards the end bitter burned liquorice gets mixed with the dominating meaty smoke. Aftertaste has sweetish bitter liquorice and spicy smoky dryness.

Strong and meaty Smoked Ale. The association of smoked meat or heavily cured ham is present from the first aroma to the final end. And that's stunningly beautiful. Frankly, this is the best smoked beer I've had - beats Bamberg any day. A modern classic from the Uusikaupunki-based brewery.

Ölbeat

For the sake of Christmas Eve, I had to give in a little and pick the only seasonal song of the calendar here. Originally from the animated movie The Snowman (1982) and written by composer Howard Blake, I picked a slightly modernized version from the 90's. Merry Christmas!

Nightwish: Walking in the Air (YouTube)

From the 1998 album Ocean, the song was written by Howard Blake.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ölbeat 336 (BC17 #23): Lervig / Hoppin' Frog Sippin' Into Darkness

Brewery: Lervig Aktiebryggeri (Hoppin' Frog Brewery
Country: Norway (United States)
Style: Imperial Stout 
Abv: 12 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small vanishing beige head. Aroma is pure sweet milk chocolate with sip of vanilla (= pure awesomeness!). Taste begins with sweet cherry-coated chocolate. Sweet milk chocolate and vanilla-flavoured roast take over with some boozy fruits. Towards the end the chocolate gets bitter dark, nutty and coffeeish tones with a fruity alcohol bite. Aftertaste has dark chocolate bitterness, fruity sweetness and coffee liquor -flavoured roast.

Sweet and strong Imperial Stout with tons of chocolate. We start with liquid milk chocolate and end up with nutty and dark flavours. Fruit liquor kicks in nicely, vanilla, coffee and roast have just the right role. Delicious, absolutely beautiful brew.

Ölbeat

"Sipping into darkness" could mean either drinking slowly while waiting the night to fall or having small mouthfuls until one passes out. I prefer the latter one with this strong brew and welcome the mythical magical sand sprinkler to bring nice dreams... well, some kind of dreams to everyone.

Metallica: Enter Sandman (YouTube)

From the 1991 album Metallica, the song was written by Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Ölbeat 335 (BC17 #22): Põhjala Odravein 2016

Brewery: Pôhjala
Country: Estonia
Style: Barley Wine
Abv: 12 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is dark brown with a small natural white head. Aroma has chocolate, peanut butter and caramel. Taste starts with sweet fruity and malty alcohol. Bittersweet raisin and malty caramel take over with boozy coffee and chocolate. Towards the end fruity and malty bitter alcohol gets in front. Aftertaste has strongly bitter raisin-boozy bite followed by malty and fruity dryness.

Sweet and strong Barley Wine. The power of alcohol is pretty much unleashed, but it's fruity and malty with caramel, coffee and chocolate at the same time. Like barrel-aged brew but without aging in the barrel, Põhjala hits the right spot once again.

Ölbeat

Power and aggression but in the same time beauty and sensibility. So it's time for neoclassical metal by the master of the style.

Yngwie Malmsteen: Rising Force (YouTube)

From the 1988 album Odyssey, the song was written by Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Lynn Turner.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ölbeat 334 (BC17 #21): Dieu du Ciel Solstice d'Hiver

Brewery: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel
Country: Canada
Style: Barley Wine
Abv: 10,2 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is dark brown with a tiny natural white lace. Aroma has caramel malts, raisins and dark fruits. Taste begins with sweet fruity malts. Caramel malts and sweet raisins take over with gentle fruity alcohol bitterness and dark chocolate. Towards the end dark fruity bitterness gets through with strong piny-boozy kick. Aftertaste has lasting fruity bitterness and piny alcohol kick.

Rich and complex Barley Wine. Malts have their time in the spotlight, but in the end hops and strength take control. Pretty delicious. Dieu du Ciel keeps the Maple Leaf high, despite the difficulties in availability here in Finland.

Ölbeat

Since it's named "Winter Solstice" - the day that has the shortest period of daylight - today is the right day in the Northern Hemisphere for this beer. In Finland, the darkness, and possibly the coldness, of winter often makes people turn inside their shell and interact with other people less than during the brighter seasons. I'm not considering it a bad thing. Quite the opposite: everyone needs some time with only oneself every now and then, so why not in the midst of winter?

Black Sabbath: Solitude (YouTube)

From the 1971 album Master of Reality, the song was written by Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ölbeat 333 (BC17 #20): Lehe / Vasileostrovskaya Ravnodenstvie Barrel Aged

Brewery: Lehe Pruulikoda (Vasileostrovskaya Pivovarnya, in Russian)
Country: Estonia (Russia)
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a large beige head. Aroma has chocolate, sweet bready roast and fruity booze. Taste starts with bittersweet roasted malts. Sweet roasted malts, dark chocolate and bitterish espresso take over with hints of alcohol. Towards the end sweet dark fruity-oaky liquor coats the chocolate, coffee and roast flavours. Aftertaste has dark chocolate, roasted malts and lasting warming bittersweet fruity alcohol.

Extremely enjoyable barrel-aged Imperial Stout. The Cuban rum barrel adds sweet dark fruits, oak and - of course - alcohol to the deep coffee-chocolate-roast Imp flavour. Another excellent presentation of Estonian skill in brewing and beer aging.


Ölbeat

Since I have a poor imagination, I skipped thinking in a new way and continued exactly from where I ended up last time.

Jean-Michel Jarre: Equinoxe, Pt. 5 (YouTube)

From the 1978 album Équinoxe, the track was written by Jean-Michel Jarre.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ölbeat 332 (BC17 #19): Sonnisaari Juomahammas II

Brewery: Sonnisaari (in Finnish)
Country: Finland
Style: Imperial Porter
Abv: 11 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small beige head. Aroma has milk chocolate, vanilla, sweet roast and oak. Taste starts with bitter chocolate roast. Sweet milk chocolate and bitter roasted malts take over with hints of vanilla and oak. Towards the end sweet roasted malts, dark chocolate and spicy oak flavour get on top with soft boozy warmth. Aftertaste has bitter dark chocolate, sweetish roasted malts and oaky-spicy whisky bite - and it lasts.

Warming and delicious Imperial Porter. Chocolate, oak, roast, spices, booze - complex and layered rich flavours. Finish is phenomenal. Hard to tell whether I loved this one more than the sherry version. Absolutely beautiful brew.

Ölbeat

Searching for great Finnish craft beer can sometimes seem to be "hunting high and low and even in between", if high is considered to be the Northern Finland and low the Southern Finland. This time we caught an excellent brew from one of the breweries up north.

Stratovarius: Hunting High And Low (YouTube)

From the 2000 album Infinite, the song was written by Timo Tolkki and Timo Kotipelto.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ölbeat 331 (BC17 #18): Chimay Bleue

Brewery: Chimay
Country: Belgium
Style: Belgian Strong Ale 
Abv: 9 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is dark nut brown with a large natural white head. Aroma has apple jam, sweet caramel and spices. Taste begins with bittersweet dark fruits. Sweet prunes and bitter caramel take over with some yeasty tones. Towards the end caramel-chocolate malts get a bit over the sweet prune-raisin flavour. Aftertaste has fruity sweetness, smooth boozy bite and moderate caramel malty bitterness.

Rich and fruity strong Trappist Ale. Caramel, chocolate, dark fruits, sweet, bitter and even some yeast - complex but still by-the-book Belgian. In the best meaning of the word. Delicious stuff.

Ölbeat

The bottle with a simple blue label looks modest. Too modest, as I found out. Behind the humble appearance there's a complex and outstanding beer. Looks fooled me in this case. 

The Who: Behind Blue Eyes (YouTube)

From the 1971 album Who's Next, the song was written by Pete Townshend.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ölbeat 330 (BC17 #17): Fuller's Imperial Stout

Brewery: Fuller's
Country: England
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10,7 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small tan head. Aroma has strong roast, coffee, dark chocolate and kick of alcohol. Taste starts with bitter strongly roasted malts. Dark chocolate and bittersweet roasted malts take over with hints of espresso. Towards the end malty chocolate and spicy fruity booze rise next to the sweet roasty flavour. Aftertaste has malty roast, bitter dark chocolate and warming sweet alcohol.

Delicious and sweet Imperial Stout. Malty roast and chocolate carry the experience, with coffee, spices, fruits and booze as competent sidekicks. This is also deviously drinkable. Great brew from a great brewery.

Ölbeat

Heavy stuff from the classic London brewery. Simply put, the brew called for another huge London classic, and no one can deny that there's whole lotta love put inside this beer.

Led Zeppelin: Whole Lotta Love (YouTube)

From the 1969 album Led Zeppelin II, the song was written by John Bonham, Willie Dixon, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ölbeat 329 (BC17 #16): Amager The Sinner Series Pride

Brewery: Amager (in Danish)
Country: Denmark
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small vanishing beige head. Aroma has fruit candy, vanilla and chocolate. Taste starts with boozy fruity bitter roast. Booze-soaked sweet citrus and biting bitter roast take over with liquorice and chocolate side notes. Towards the end sweet orange and bitter citrus-filled liquorice get on top and are joined by roasted boozy flavour. Aftertaste has sweet orange, bitter grapefruit and lasting boozy roast.

Strong citrus-packed Imperial Stout. It's a merciless battle between the roasty-boozy flavours and the bitter'n'sweet citrus. Fierce but beautiful. Superb Impy from the Danish brewgods.


Ölbeat

As U2's Pride (In the Name of Love) is as far as possible from the deadly sin, I couldn't pick it. On the other hand, that wouldn't have matched with the brew. Anyway, I was trapped in the title, so there were many paths to choose from. Soil had that right kind of balance between rough aggressiveness and lyrical self-centeredness in their song, so I picked that.  

Soil: Pride (YouTube)

From the 2004 album Redefine, the song was written by Soil.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ölbeat 328 (BC17 #15): Humalove Hammer of Sucellus

Brewery: Humalove
Country: Finland
Style: Barley Wine
Abv: 10,5 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is dirty cola brown with a thin light lace. Aroma has caramel, chocolate and dark fruits. Taste starts with strong fruity bittersweet bite. Booze-soaked berries and bittersweet malty caramel take over with some dark chocolate in the background. Towards the end piny bitterness, berry sweetness and chocolate-coated malty caramel melt together in a rich-flavoured union. Aftertaste has malty-fruity sweetness, piny bitterness and warm boozy kick.

Caramel-malty and bitter berry-fruit flavoured Barley Wine. Piny flavours strike near the finish and are joined by some alcohol. Sticky and sweet stuff. Liked it a lot. Excellent work by the gypsy brewers from the capital.

Ölbeat

Named after the mallet of a Celtic-Gallic deity of agriculture and wine, the brew needs to be paired with a song about hammers, gods or both. So it's no surprise that I ended up with a power metal track from the land of Zee Germans. The feel-good mood of the song surely annoys somebody. Well, it can't be Slayer all the time, can it?

Freedom Call: Hammer Of The Gods (YouTube)

From the 2016 album Master of Light, the song was written by Chris Bay.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ölbeat 327 (BC17 #14): Sori / Stockholm Brewing Sweet Mistress

Brewery: Sori Brewing (Stockholm Brewing Co.)
Country: Estonia (Sweden)
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 9,4 % 
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small vanishing beige head. Aroma has roasted caramel, dark chocolate and espresso. Taste begins with boozy-espresso bitter roast. Sweetish dark chocolate and bitter espresso take over with alcohol bite and quite heavy roast. Towards the end strong spicy roast and salty bitter chocolate come through first with caramel, coffee and booze in the background. Aftertaste has bitter dark chocolate, slightly sugared espresso and salty roasted dryness.

Strong, sweetish and flavourful Imperial Stout. Liquid dark chocolate meets booze-powered roast, thick layers of coffee and salty caramel. Extreme pleasure - magnificent brew. My first choice as mistress, and sweet just the right way.

Ölbeat

I wouldn't mind a sweet mistress every now and then. But let's face the facts: no chance, never. Why? Because no mistress couldn't handle the truth about what I am but she can never be.

LMFAO: Sexy And I Know It (YouTube)

From the 2011 album Sorry For Party Rocking, the song was written by Stefan Kendal Gordy, Jamahl Listenbee, Erin Beck, George M. Robertson and Kenneth Oliver.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ölbeat 326 (BC17 #13): Swannay Barrel Aged Orkney Porter (Isle of Arran)

Brewery: Swannay Brewery
Country: Scotland
Style: Imperial Porter
Abv: 10,5 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small tan head. Aroma has chocolate, nuts, roast and oaky-spicy alcohol (very nice!). Taste begins with bittersweet fruity chocolate. Sweet roasted malts, dark chocolate and booze-soaked fruits take over. Towards the end spicy chocolate and dry oaky-fruity alcohol mix deliciously, while sweet roasted malts give the liquid a solid backbone. Aftertaste has sweet fruity-spicy chocolate and dryish oaky-bitter whisky.

Rich and sweet barrel-aged Imperial Porter. The sweet chocolate-roasty basic porter is obviously nicely present, the aging of 12 months (in previous editions 18 months) in Isle of Arran Orkney Bere casks shows up in fruits, spice, oak and booze. The whole package is delicious. The brew has a fine story and tastes simply great.

Ölbeat

"I am a mountain / I am the sea / You can't take away from me." Well, OK, the Orkney Islands are mainly quite flat but there are some steep coastal cliffs. But the Isle of Arran is called Scotland in miniature: there are some mountains. And certainly, presence of the sea is always strongly there in the Scottish islands.

Biffy Clyro: Mountains (YouTube)

From the 2009 album Only Revolutions, the song was written by Simon Neil.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ölbeat 325 (BC17 #12): Sonnisaari Juomahammas I

Brewery: Sonnisaari (in Finnish)
Country: Finland
Style: Imperial Porter
Abv: 11 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a finger-thick foamy beige head. Aroma has roast, espresso, chocolate and vanilla. Taste starts with bitter heavy-roasted espresso. Vanilla-spiced espresso and powerful roast take over with bitter dark chocolate. Towards the end bitter roast gets on top with some sweet cherry notes showing up. Aftertaste has coffee roast, chocolate bitter and spiced oaky dryness.

Strong and delicious Imperial Porter. Powerful basic elements - vanilla sweetness, turbo roast, espresso and chocolate - get some cherry-oaky vibes in the finish. Excellent one from Sonnisaari.

Ölbeat

Strong, passionate and complex - sounds like a troubled relationship. This rock ballad is about one near the end or, as the final verse of the lyrics says: "I will try until the last drop falls."

Sonata Arctica: Last Drop Falls (YouTube)

From the 2001 album Silence, the song was written by Tony Kakko.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Ölbeat 324 (BC17 #11): Põhjala Cellar Series: Öö XO

Brewery: Pôhjala
Country: Estonia
Style: Baltic Porter
Abv: 11,5 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a finger-thick beige head. Aroma has fruity liquor, chocolate and sweet roasted malts. Taste begins with sweet fruity boozy bite. Syrupy roasted malts, sweet espresso and dark chocolate take over with fruity alcohol coating. Towards the end fruity and boozy warmth of cognac is released against bittersweet chocolate. Aftertaste has sweet dark fruits, dark chocolate and smooth liquor warmth.

Really rich and fabulous barrel-aged Imperial Stout. Fruity biting cognac flavours really enhance the sweet roast and chocolate of the original Öö. Delicious aftertaste seems to linger around and warm the mouth endlessly. From any other brewery this would be a superb surprise, but from Põhjala this adds to the continuum of solid dark brews.

Ölbeat

"Under his spell / Blinding my eyes / Twisting my mind / Fight to resist the evil inside." Ok, that's Satan alright. Someone would call it sacrilege to combine a strong and beautiful dark beer with a thrash metal classic. Well, I think it's pretty devilish to brew this kind of barrel-aged stuff again and again.

Slayer: Black Magic (YouTube)

From the 1983 album Show No Mercy, the song was written by Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ölbeat 323 (BC17 #10): Lehe Suur Paks Mastif

Brewery: Lehe Pruulikoda
Country: Estonia
Style: Barley Wine
Abv: 9,6 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is thick mahogany brown with a small tan head. Aroma has sweet caramel, chocolate and dark fruits. Taste begins with malty sweet caramel. Sweet caramel malts, chocolate and alcohol-soaked raisins take over with gentle bitterness. Towards the end biting fruity and boozy piny bitterness strikes through and pushes chocolate-caramel flavours to the background. Aftertaste has piny bitterness, fruity malty sweetness and spicy boozy dryness.

Sweet, malty and fruity Barley Wine. Caramel and chocolate flavours dominate in the start, fruits, booze and bitterness hit it in the end. This young vintage version has matured since brewing in 2014, but there's still some sharpness to be rounded. Gladly another bottle will be saved for later inspection.

Ölbeat

Suur Paks Mastif means Big Fat Mastiff. This kinda dog moves completely without any hurry, if at all. Since I decided to put another bottle to sleep for some time, this song was a natural choice.

Zakk Wylde (feat. Corey Taylor): Sleeping Dogs (YouTube)

From the 2016 album Book of Shadows II, the song was written by Zakk Wylde.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ölbeat 322 (BC17 #9): Founders Barrel-Aged Series: Doom

Brewery: Founders Brewing Company
Country: United States
Style: Imperial IPA
Abv: 12,4 % 
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is bright golden orange with a medium-sized natural white head. Aroma has mango, orange and bourbon vanilla. Taste begins with sweet bourbon bite. Bitter pine and oaky vanillaish booze take over with sweet fruity side tones. Towards the end strongly piny and boozy bitterness comes through with grapefruit and peel lurking in the background. Aftertaste has heavily bitter grapefruit, dry resinous oak and boozy warmth.

Damn powerful and rich barrel-aged Triple IPA. The start is bourbon-dominated with sweet vanilla, oak and booze. In the middle pine and grapefruit - the hops - step in front. The end combines oak of the barrel and piny citrus of the brew beautifully. An unusual marriage between strong IPA and bourbon barrel brings out the beauty from both sides.

Ölbeat

"You take a mortal man / And put him in control / Watch him become a god / Watch people's heads a'roll." That's it. That's the doom.

Megadeth: Symphony Of Destruction (YouTube)

From the 1992 album Countdown to Extinction, the song was written by Dave Mustaine.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ölbeat 321 (BC17 #8): Borg Surtur Nr. 30

Brewery: Borg Brugghús
Country: Iceland
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 9 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a 2-finger thick beige head. Aroma has smoked meat, roasted malts and dark chocolate. Taste starts with bitter meaty and malty smoke. Campfire smoke and sweet charcoal roast take over with hints of espresso and salty liquorice. Towards the end bitter salty liquorice and strong malty flavours rise next to smoke and roast. Aftertaste has smoky bitter liquorice, alcohol warmth and roasty malty dryness.

Smoky and powerful Imperial Stout. Smoke and salty liquorice enhance the bitter and roasty flavours of a superb imp. Rich and excellent stuff from Iceland.

Ölbeat

"Honour" is the name of this song in English. And that's where my understanding of Icelandic lyrics almost ends. Anyway, the music is dark, deep and roughed-up with the almost-screaming vocals. Without understanding a word I liked this immediately. Seriously, have to find out the meaning of the lyrics, and check out the band a little more.

Sólstafir: Æra (YouTube, Live)

From the 2011 album Svartir Sandar, the song was written by Sólstafir.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ölbeat 320 (BC17 #7): Fuller's Imperial IPA

Brewery: Fuller's 
Country: England
Style: Imperial IPA
Abv: 10,5 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is amber red with a small tan head. Aroma has grape juice, dark fruits and caramel malts. Taste begins with biting fruity bitter caramel malts. Bitter dark fruits and sweet boozy malts take over with hints of sweet citrus. Towards the end boozy piny bitterness rises above the sweet fruity and caramel malty flavours. Aftertaste has piny bitter fruits and malty boozy dryness.

Heavy and biting Imperial IPA. The strong sweet malty presence and piny alcohol pushes this one determinedly towards the direction of barley wine, but I'm not that fussy about the beer style. Powerful show of hops and malts. Not the traditional Fuller's but still rich and great.

Ölbeat

Since I see this beer as a traditional English brewery's showcase on a modern strong American beer style, the music is about London rockstar turning into American Western legend. You don't have to make it identical to be authentically great.

Billy Idol: John Wayne (YouTube)

From the 2008 compilation album The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself, the song was written by Billy Idol, Brian Tichy and Derek Sherinian.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Ölbeat 319 (BC17 #6): Sori Anniversary Barley Wine 2017

Brewery: Sori Brewing
Country: Estonia
Style: Barley Wine 
Abv: 11,6 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is dark brown with a small tan head. Aroma has caramel, chocolate and brandy. Taste begins with sweet and boozy bitter fruity bite. Sweet caramel and bitter dark fruits take over with some alcohol kick. Towards the end sweet chocolate and creamy caramel get on top with smoothly bitter and fruity - grapes, plums and raisins - cognac coating. Aftertaste has sweet red grapes, bitter caramel and lasting fruit liquor warmth.

Sweet and fruity barrel-aged Barley Wine. Caramel, dark fruits and cognac play excellent head roles here, some chocolate and lingering gentle bitterness fit in the picture perfectly. Beautiful brew for celebrating both the brewery's 2nd and Finland's 100th anniversary.

Ölbeat

Just something great and Finnish music to accompany this superb brew.

Nightwish: Deep Silent Complete (YouTube)

From the 2000 album Wishmaster, the song was written by Tuomas Holopainen.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ölbeat 318 (BC17 #5): Ruosniemen Vuorineuvos Tullibardine BA

Brewery: Ruosniemen Panimo
Country: Finland
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a large beige head. Aroma has roasted malts, spicy-oaky whisky and dark chocolate. Taste starts with bittersweet spicy roast. Strong sweet roast, spicy whisky and fruity chocolate take over with espresso notes. Towards the end sweet fruity-oaky whisky and bitter dark chocolate come out strongest. Aftertaste has dark chocolate, dry roast and lasting oaky alcohol warmth.

Excellent whisky barrel-aged Imperial Stout. Chocolate and roast flavours of the original get beautiful support from fruity, oaky and spicy Speyside single malt whisky. One of the best Finnish barrel-aged ones I've had in a while.

Ölbeat

Vuorineuvos is "a honorary title granted by the President of Finland to leading figures in industry and commerce". So barrel-aged vuorineuvos sounds like a fat old rich prick after too many cognacs. This rockabilly-punk song is probably about the offspring of those called vuorineuvos, who usually are undeservably rich and pretty bitchy despite their sex or gender.

Melrose: Rich Little Bitch (YouTube)

From the 1986 album Melrose, the song was written by Mika Tuokkola and Petri Salomaa.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ölbeat 317 (BC17 #4): Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 2016

Brewery: Mikkeller (brewed at De Proefbrouwerij)
Country: Denmark (Belgium) 
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Abv: 10,9 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is dark brown with a two-finger thick tan head. Aroma has dark fruits, syrup and spices. Taste begins with sweet fruity caramel. Sweet spicy caramel with bitter fruits and raisin flavour takes over. Towards the end boozy warmth and syrupy fruity bitterness get through. Aftertaste has fruity liquor, spicy malt and bitter caramel.

Rich and fruity Belgian Strong Ale. Nice and matured union of sweet caramel, bitter-spicy fruits and boozy warmth. At the same time gentle and aggressive - excellent brew. The recipe master has succeeded with his brewing apes once again.

Ölbeat

Since this is the only actual seasonal beer in this advent calendar, we make an exception and have a little joyful Christmas carol about Santa's most important little helper here. Happy holidays and sh*t!

Lemmy Kilmister, Billy Gibbons & Dave Grohl: Run Rudolph Run (YouTube)

From the 2008 album We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year, the song was written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ölbeat 316 (BC17 #3): Lervig Brewers Reserve Konrad's Stout

Brewery: Lervig Aktiebryggeri
Country: Norway
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10,4 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small tan head. Aroma has roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. Taste begins with boozy and bitter heavy roast. Boozy sweet roast with black coffee and chocolate takes over. Towards the end sweet roasted malts, dark chocolate and salty liquorice get through with alcohol in the background. Aftertaste has bitter cocoa and very dry roasted liquorice.

Heavy and rich Imperial Stout. Booze kicks in early but gets smooth on the way. Coffee makes a quick visit, chocolate turns bitter and roast, well, it's definitely there. Pretty excellent. Fine work from the damn lucky "fjord" people.

Ölbeat

Majestic dark brew calls for a symphonic metal song. From Norway, of course.

Tristania: Lavender (YouTube)

From the 2013 album Darkest White, the song was written by Tristania.

Sessio #2 (Nov 2017): Beer and spectator sports

This post is a part of Sessio, Finnish beer bloggers' monthly posts on the same topic. The topic is selected by a monthly changing host. This topic was selected by Olutkellari, who will wrap up the Sessio posts in his blog. I will take part in Sessio whenever the subject feels nice and I have time to write a post.

Beer and sports? Well, the first association that pops into my head is Paul Gascoigne. Ok, that was awful. Sorry, Gazza. Seriously, English league and division football is the only sport where the thought about having a beer while watching a match feels natural. Damn, I'm forgetting darts and billiards. Anyway, I'm the boring kind of person who thinks that alcoholic beverages don't belong to the sport event stands. Beer culture and sport cultures just don't mix well at the same space.

Being a TV spectator at home or at the pub is a completely different thing, even though I'm not very keen to drink beer while I'm watching a game I'm really interested about. Having a beer or two during the game makes watching ice hockey and football tolerable instead of boring, and getting completely wasted by anything while watching Finland's men's national football team's match is compulsory, since their game is always untolerable pain to look at.

Waiting for tonight's match?

No need to worry, however. I can still write about my favourite ballgame, my favourite club and my favourite players and connect them to my hobby of beer blogging. Sounds like a long journey. It is a damn long journey, so if you want to reach that destination, sit back and relax - this may take a while.

The love for volleyball is probably extracted to my blood when I was born. My father (short as f**k, 1,77 m at his peak) almost made his way to the opening six of his hometown club in the national league in the 1960's - the only thing in between him and playing in the highest level was breaking his ankle during the warm-up. He left the game for ten years - to find the joy of playing for fun again ten years later. 

I was introduced to the game at the late age of 15, but since been playing soccer, badminton, floorball and backyard ballgames I caught the magic of the sport quickly. I (short as f**k, still 1,84 m) never came as close to volleyball stardom as my father because I lack physique, technique, attitude and tallness that being a real athlete would've required. For me, volleyball is and will hopefully very long be the number one sport to play and to watch. If things go well, my next passion in the game will be coaching.

* * *

Vammalan Lentopallo, shortened VaLePa, from Sastamala is probably the only sports club I can say I'm a true fan of. Partly that's because no one dares to admit to be fan of football clubs Liverpool and Bayern München. Mostly because I have a short but memorable history with the club, but we'll get back to that later. Men's team is one of the most successful team in Finnish volleyball in the 2010's so far:
  • They got the Finnish championship in 2012, 2014 and 2017, silver in 2011 and 2016 & bronze in 2013 and 2015. (In addition they have two bronzes from 2008 and 1992.)
  • They won the Finnish cup in 2012 and 2016 & silver in 2013.
Many previous and present national team players are playing or have played for VaLePa - from active Finnish players at least Mikko Esko, Olli-Pekka Ojansivu, Olli Kunnari, Urpo Sivula, Markus Kaurto and Elviss Krastins. On 12 November 2017, the club made history by reaching the group stage of the highest club competition in Europe, CEV Champions League, as the first men's team in Finland. They won their 3rd round qualification opponent, Jihostroj Ceske Budejovice* from Czech Republic 3 - 0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-15) at home, under the sponsored name Ford Store Levoranta Sastamala. They lost the away match in Czech 1 - 3 (25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 25-20), so the ticket to group stage was awarded to the Sastamala team after 15 - 12 won Golden set. Tight and tough battle but extremely earned victory for the Finns.

The tournament participation asked for some help from the Finnish volleyball community in the form of competition halls, since their home arena Vexve doesn't have the required capacity of 3000 spectator seats. The home games' opponents, dates, times and game venues of Ford Store Levoranta Sastamala in CEV Champions League 2018 group stage are:
  • vs. PAOK Thessaloniki (Greece), Tue 5 December 2017 at 7:00 p.m., Elenia Areena, Hämeenlinna
  • vs. VFB Friedrichshafen (Germany), Tue 19 December 2017 at 7:00 p.m., Vantaa Energia Areena
  • vs. Halkbank Ankara (Turkey), Thu 1 February 2018 at 8:00 p.m., Turun palloiluhalli (Turku Ball Game Hall) 
If you're into some true excitement and world class ball game, those should be the events to attend for you. Unfortunately, VaLePa's qualification games for the Champions League aren't freely available in YouTube, so we'll settle for the 3rd final match of spring 2017, away match against Hurrikaani Loimaa, as the exhibit of the team's strength.


As the most violent thing to do, when discussing Finnish volleyball, I'm almost completely leaving out the success story of Finland's men's national team. In the 21st century, the national team has played in the World League from 2006 to 2016 every year despite the toughening competition. They've reached the European Championship final tournament six times in a row (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and the upcoming 2017 tournament) - with the 4th spot in Moscow in 2007 as the top achievement. They've achieved a place in the World Championship tournament for 2014 and 2018 events - they placed 9th in 2014 in Poland. From the ball games with Olympic sport status these are the 2nd best achievements overall - clearly behind ice hockey - but clearly the best achievements in summer sports. I have admit one previous lie: I'm a fan of the men's national team, too.

* * *

There are only two key players in the national team, who were regulars in the opening six (or actually opening seven since the libero rule) in both the European Championship final tournament in 2007 and the World Championship final tournament in 2014. These two players are, in my opinion, the most successful and skilled two male volleyball players from Finland to date. After they've left the national team due to having played for Finland most of their career, the club they have settled to play for is - surprise, surprise - VaLePa.

Mikko Esko, born in 1978, plays as setter. He was born in Vammala and trained for his junior years in VaLePa. He started his senior career in 1995 in VaLePa. He rose to prominence in Keski-Savon Pateri, where he played 1997-2001 and won the Fiinish championship with the club in 1999. From 2001, he played in several European top league clubs - Generali Unteraching (Germany), Noliko Maaseik (Belgium), Sempre Volley Padova (Italy) and Guberniya Nizhny Novgorod (Russia), to name a few. In the middle of his volleyball career he managed to win two Finnish championships in beach volley in 2001 and 2003.

Esko played in the national team from 2000, as the dominant 1st setter of team during 2004-2014, and has played in 279 games for Finland. In 2015, he returned to his roots in VaLePa and has played there since. Nicknamed simply Mesko, his style and skill of playmaking could earn him some more. The Architect. Magic Fingers. Shameless Conman. Blocker's Worst Opponent. The video below is combined from Mikko Esko's performances in the successful 2007 European Championship tournament.


Olli Kunnari, born in 1982, plays as outside spiker/receiver. He was born in Alahärmä and spent his junior career in the local club Alahärmän Kisa. He started his senior career in 2000 in VaLePa. His career took off in Pielaveden Sampo, where he played 2002-2004 and won his first Finnish championship in 2004. From 2004, he played four seasons in France (in clubs Beauvais and Cannes) and after that one season in Poland, Greece and Turkey each (in clubs AZS Olsztyn, Olympiakos SC and IBB Istanbul, respectively). In 2011, he returned to Finland and VaLePa, and has played for the club since. 

Kunnari started in the national team in 2002 and was a regular opening six player since the beginning until 2015, when he announced his retirement from the national team. I don't know his nickname if he has any, but there are many simple options. Volleyball Genious. Wizard. Trickster. Perfect Receiver. The Setter's Best Friend. In the video below we'll see his actions in Olympiakos Pireus during season 2008/2009 and in the World League 2009 game against Poland.


These two guys won't probably be playing professionally for too many years from now. I sincerely wish that they will crown their careers by reaching the playoffs and, who knows, possibly the Final Four tournament of CEV Champions League this season. Nevertheless, they are excellent role models for Finnish volleyball youth - true athletes on and outside the volleyball court.

* * *

So what about my history with the club? I lived in Vammala/Sastamala for couple of years a decade ago and somehow found myself as the person responsible in the volunteers who arranged the audience stands and advertisements ready for home matches in the notorious hall of Sylvää secondary school, their previous home venue. Not a single home match was missed and I even had the chance too see several away matches during the Vammala years. The finest season then was 2007/2008 when the team won bronze in the league, their second medal overall and first after 16 years.

The personal top moment for the period is easy to pick. I think it was the last home match of the regular season, when the brother Ilkka of the current national team coach Tuomas Sammelvuo, playing for the away team Pielaveden Sampo, said in an interview that every volleyball club chairman in Finland should come to Sylvää and see how a volleyball match event is organized. Being one of many volunteers behind the event and respectin Ilkka Sammelvuo as a player I felt very proud.

Unfortunately for continuing as a volunteer in VaLePa, I got a good job in Pori and moved away from Vammala in 2009. Work, family, hobbies and friends in Pori became so big part of my life that continuing within the club became impossible, and even getting to see couple of home matches per season live has proven to be difficult. So, there has been a small piece of yearning inside the great joy of following VaLePa's success in recent years. I was there for a short stint but the time gave some great memories. I hope that I'd be able to watch at least one of the Champions League games live this season.

* * *

Since this Sessio was about beer and spectator sports, I'll have to create a completely artificial and far-fetched connection between Finnish volleyball, Vammalan Lentopallo, Mikko Esko and Olli Kunnari. But that's basically what I do normally with beer and music, so this is almost too easy.

Of course, I could babble couple of short stories about "Would I rather be a VaLePa match event all-around guy or  a beer blogger?" or "Would I be a beer blogger at all if I would still live in Sastamala?". But, because that would be completely redundant speculation and because the answer to both questions is self-evident, we'll cut that story short.

So, the simple question is: which Finnish beers would I enjoy while watching from TV VaLePa and the two gentlemen play against the top European teams in Champions League? The answer is easy, because I've already given it earlier in the blog. I would choose, from the match opening ceremonies to the final moments of excitement, in this order:
For those who ask for another option, I offer a familiar picture:
(Didn't make things too difficult, did I?)

Ölbeat

Can't recall what was VaLePa's entry or theme song ten years ago, and don't know what's played this season. But what I remember is that it was mostly some techno-eurodance hits or glam rock tracks that were played during the breaks in the game, so I don't have to care. I picked a song that I listened a lot during my VaLePa years.

Poets Of The Fall: Lift (YouTube)

From the 2006 album Signs of Life, the song was written by Markus Kaarlonen, Marko Saaresto and Olli Tukiainen.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ölbeat 315 (BC17 #2): Suomenlinnan Helsinki Portteri

Brewery: Suomenlinnan Panimo
Country: Finland
Style: Porter
Abv: 5,6 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a finger-thick tan head. Aroma has roasted sweet malts, espresso and liquorice. Taste begins with gentle charred roast. Spicy sweet charred malts take over with gently bitter chocolate flavour. Towards the end charcoal roast is joined by sweet spices and dark chocolate. Aftertaste has gently bitter coffee and lasting roasted malty dryness.

Gentle and sweetish Porter. Sweet spicy smoothly charred malts have the dominance but chocolate and coffee show up, too. No flaws, no tricks, just simple and tasty pleasure. Quality stuff from Suomenlinna.

Ölbeat

Helsinki, the capital of Finland. Gentle but dark-flavoured Porter. Guess I have to pick a Helsinki-based band and their Helsinki-themed song. The music style - defined by the band's singer Juha Lehti - is soft but gruff "keskiolut"-jazz but the dark lyrics tell about a stormy rainy night in Helsinki. Or about how "god punishes Helsinki tonight", as the name of the song goes.

Sir Elwoodin Hiljaiset Värit: Jumala rankaisee Helsinkiä tänä yönä (YouTube)

From the 1991 album Varjoissa vapaan maailman, the song was written by Juha Lehti.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Ölbeat 314 (BC17 #1): Petrus Aged Pale

Brewery: De Brabandere
Country: Belgium
Style: Sour Ale
Abv: 7,3 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is pale yellow with a large white head. Aroma has vinegar, sour berries, apple and yeast. Taste begins with extra-tart berry-fruity bite. Tart citrus and sour berries take over with some funky vinegarish yeast. Towards the end sour cherries get company from sweetish fruits. Aftertaste has sour berries, sweet apple and some sparkling wine.

Unique and nicely complex Sour Ale. Berries and fruits to give tart, sour and sweet, vinegar, yeast and wine to give their distinct flavours. Very noble when compared to modern acidic and amplified sour ales. Delicious brew.

Ölbeat

A noble brew asks for a soulful classic. Since the beer has an original sour taste, I picked the original version of this great song.

J.J. Cale: Call Me The Breeze (YouTube)

From the 1972 album Naturally, the song was written by J.J. Cale.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ölmönger Special: Ölmönger's Calendar for Christmas 2017

A year ago I taunted the idea of a beer advent calendar heavily without remorse. Well, one year hasn't changed me a bit: there will be no self-made nor bought beer calendar with a beer to drink for each of the first 24 days of December 2017. I'll probably enjoy a beer now and then during the month, but they probably aren't so called calendar beers. Occasionally they can be, but that's pure coincidence.

In addition to the commercially available foreign beer calendars (like Mikkeller, To Øl, Saveur Biere, Boxbeers and so on), the one and only Finnish beer shop Pien put together its own beer calendar, that became an instant success and originally sold out very quickly. Despite the cold facts:
  • Every bottle has max 4,7 % abv beer -> Question: How about the flavour?
  • All 24 bottles are from different Finnish microbreweries. -> Question: How about the quality?
  • The beer calendar cost 119 €, i.e. approx. 4,96 € per bottle. -> Question: How about the value for price?
But let's not judge before we know. The fellow blogger at JaskanKaljat will open the calendar doors and rate each beer every day until Christmas Eve. Jaska's blog is in Finnish - so learn some Finnish, perkele!
The one and only true American beer calendar?
Instead of buying the Pien or any other commercial calendar or putting together/making someone put together one of my own, I carefully selected 24 good to great brews from the blog's backlog. The backlog has grown ridiculously long during pretty silent last months, so having an artificial beer calendar is a way to clear it up quickly. The beers in the calendar have been savoured during this fall (August - November), so the calendar could be called "Best of Fall '17" collection.

I don't recommend anyone to drink the beers that pop up in the blog on a daily basis, since the beers are somewhat strong (always over the magical Finnish 4,7 % abv barrier - many times hugely over the magical barrier), and at least I consider drinking one that strong beer daily for 24 days in a row as one form of alcoholism. So, if you like my choices, please save your liver and at least some of the beers for later. If you don't like my choices, stick to the bulk lager you're used to.

That's it for now. The fun starts tomorrow.

Ölbeat

Wise people see beer advent calendars as utter crap. Understandably, some might interpret them as "adults' way of preparing for the season". My advice to those adults, who really need to "tune up for Christmas all December and even October-November" and "let the Xmas spirit flow to every corner of the home and to the neighbours, too", goes: Eat shit and...

Ozzy Osbourne: Bark at the Moon (YouTube)

From the 1983 album Bark at the Moon, the song was written by Ozzy Osbourne, Jake E. Lee and Bob Daisley.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Skitbit Nov 2017: Stadin Whale Ale & Open House Paradoxale

Bad luck. Had two bad beers from Finnish breweries during one evening session couple of weeks ago. Since I've become rather picky with beer that's nowadays so rare occasion that they both deserve to be introduced in this one Skitbit post.

***

Brewery: Stadin Panimo
Country: Finland
Style: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5,6 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is clear golden orange with a 2-finger thick natural white head. Aroma has lemon, fruit candy and malts. Taste starts with strongly, piny and fruity bite. Salty bitter grapefruit takes over with spicy piny and sweet orange tones. Towards the end herbal pine and bittersweet citrus get mixed. Aftertaste has fruity bitter pine and strongly herbal, a bit harsh dryness.

Piny and harsh American Pale Ale. First mouthfuls are fruity and decent, but then we get more and more of pine and herbs. The freshness has died. Slight disappointment, though Stadin Panimo has had some variation in the quality of their brews.

Skitbit

The name of the beer, whale ale, makes one expect something huge. Well, it's tough enough to brew a huge American Pale Ale but when even the mediocre is too much, we'll have to pick some pompous but meaningless music to accompany the beer. Yes, there certainly is a lot of declaration in Ultra Bra's songs but mostly it's crap. Picked this one because in the lyrics old Helsinki, the capital of Finland and the home city of Stadin Panimo, is compared to Soviet Union - and I kinda like the comparison.

Ultra Bra: Helsinki (YouTube)

From the 1996 album Vapaaherran elämää, the song was written by Kerkko Koskinen and Anni Sinnemäki.

***

Brewery: Open Water Brewery
Country: Finland
Style: India Black Ale
Abv: 6,1 %
@RateBeer
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a huge fluffy tan head. Aroma has orange, pineapple and sweet liquorice. Taste begins with herbal bitter, muddy roast. Muddy roast and herbal piny bitterness take over with some grapefruity hints in the background. No spectacular changes towards the end. Aftertaste is very earthy, bitter and dry.

India Black Ale completely ruined. New brewery for me, some expectations, but in the end, breweries from Åland have yet a long way to impress my taste. After a couple of mouthfuls, the rest of the bottle found its way to the sewage system.

Skitbit

In the mainland, the people of Åland are sometimes compared to the beloved citizens of Finland's western neighbour, the "dumb" Swedes. Probably because Swedish is the official language of Åland and the culture of the archipelago is somewhat closer to Swedish culture than Finnish. Well, I find both the Ålanders and the Swedes a lot happier nation than the Finns, so probably there's some point in the comparison. Swedish music industry has been and is internationally more successful than Finnish - that probably goes with breweries, too. However, I've always disliked the music from the first superstar band from Scandinavia, so I picked a song that can be interpreted here as a cry for help from the Åland breweries.  

ABBA: S.O.S. (YouTube)

From the 1975 album ABBA, the song was written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson.