Sunday, 11 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 11- BrewDog Camden and Fyne Ales' Hurricane Jack

Good evening all. I've just come back from BrewDog Camden, and the majority of this post will be devoted to the day's events, concluding with tonight's advent calendar beer, Hurricane Jack from Fyne Ales. Let's jump straight in....

BrewDog Camden is situated at 113 Bayham Street, a very short walk from Camden Town Underground Station. The bar opened officially this week with the appearance of a tank driving through the streets around the premises (clearly a bit of fun aimed at the critics of BrewDog's excessive marketing campaigns!), and as soon as I had learnt about this I was eagerly following twitter feeds and blog posts in the run up to my visit.

Today was the big day, so I decided to get in early and head over to one of my favourite pubs in London, The Draft House by Tower Bridge. The friendly welcome from staff who actually remembered me from previous visits was great, and I promptly ordered one of their great roasts and a half of Sambrook's Wandle. I've had this on cask before and was disappointed, but this was very well kept and exploded with great malt flavour. Must not travel very well! After the roast had been demolished, I went on to try Windsor and Eton's Conqueror 1075, an imperial black IPA from one of my favourite new breweries. Fantastic stuff, with all the bitterness and fruity hop quality of an IPA, but a significant amount of roasted malt supporting it. Another half of something followed which I've since forgotten the name of, but it was average in comparison to the previous choices, so I decided it was time to head on.

Walking back to the underground, I decided to pop into The Rake to see what was on offer there. My eyes focussed immediately on the Schenider Weisse Nelson Sauvin, a beer I've been meaning to try for some time now. It's a wheat beer with the unusual inclusion of Nelson Sauvin hops, so I was expecting something quite unique. It certainly delivered, with the usual clove tastes being amplified significantly and the hops creating an aroma and taste reminiscent of lambic beers. Heavily recommended, even if the price for a half was just under £5!

After my lunch had turned into a pre-drinking session, I decided it was time to head to my chosen destination, BrewDog Camden. The familiar shield lit the gradually-darkening sky like a homing beacon as I approached, and stepping inside I was taken aback at how busy the place was at 3.30pm on a Sunday. The bar area is surprisingly small, but in true BrewDog style is decorated with reclaimed materials and furnished in a mundane style to ensure the focus is drawn towards the beer rather than the surroundings. Getting to the bar itself wasn't too much of a challenge, and I was greeted with around 6 keg taps and an array of bottles behind the bar, both in fridges for consumption and as decorations just below the keg boards, with an empty bottle of "The End of History" making an amusing centerpiece. I opted for a third of the Lost Dog, a collaboration between BrewDog and The Lost Abbey brewery. Billed as an imperial porter, this beer was incredibly sweet, with the tartness masking the majority of the tastes usually associated with porters or stouts. An interesting beer, but I would definitely choose this for the end of the evening rather than the beginning! After milling around for a bit, the Equity for Punks tasting session began in the basement downstairs, which is when things got even more interesting!

The small basement room was packed by the time the talk started (surprising really as anyone deciding to be in the second group was promised free samples of Black Tokyo Horizon for having to wait so long!), with James Watt and Martin Dickie taking everyone through the history of BrewDog, accompanied with a snifter of their flagship beer Punk IPA, before discussing the future of the company with their recent Prototype releases. It was good to try them all on keg to be able to compare them to the bottles I have in the cupboard, and my firm favourite was definitely Hops Kill Nazis, the amplified, hoppier cousin of 5 A.M. Saint. After a taste of AB:08, a blonde imperial stout (please tell me how that works, pale colour but significant amounts of coffee and chocolate in the taste, very reminiscent of De Molen Bed and Breakfast) and the latest in their ultra-exclusive Abstrakt series, the talk was over, and I left feeling that that one talk was worth the amount I paid in the first place to become a shareholder. More talks from the guys themselves and exclusive events with different brewers would definitely keep me coming back for more. Well, that and the unrivaled quantity of BrewDog beers available! Give this place a go, you won't be disappointed.

Anyway, after that I feel like the purpose of this post has been forgotten. On to the second highlight of the evening- Day 11's beer, Hurricane Jack from Fyne Ales Brewery.

Hurricane Jack (4.4% ABV) pours a very pale golden colour with a decent head that diminishes to a nice whispy covering over the surface of the beer. The aroma consists of light, fruity hops over a slightly malty backdrop. The taste is much of the same thing, with the hops providing a subtle bitterness. Definitely lacking in something- either more bitterness or more fruit from the hops is required to balance out this beer. Mouthfeel is moderately carbonated and very drinkable. In conclusion, an average beer that promises a lot in the aroma but doesn't quite deliver. I would recommend Oakham Ales' Citra or Black Hole Brewery's Super Nova as better examples of lighter, relatively low ABV beers with a sufficient hop kick.

Tomorrow, a significant decrease in the number of words and another beer! Until next time....

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