Hoppin’ Frog’s

We’ve had some rather special beers in from Akron, Ohio from Hoppin’ Frog. Real “beer porn” as the saying goes, frog’s porn.

Twelve beers, including some of the best imperial stouts in the world, plus some epic collaborations featuring breweries you know and love. Real rarities, Boris, Doris and Toris, seductive chocolate and coffee delights, chilli and sour stouts and more. There’s even one for the Industrial Metal fans out there with “Du Hast Mich Gefrogt”, one of my favourite beer names ever!!

Copenhagen Crisp (Dry and Bitter collaboration): Copenhagen Crisp was made with the Dry & Bitter Brewing Co. in Denmark. “This beer is clean and crisp, tasteful and fun, just like the style throughout Copenhagen,” owner and brewer Fred Karm said in an email. “And just like a majority of the Danish, its blonde!! Brewed with a touch of caramel and biscuit malt, plus grains of paradise for a subtle complexity and extra depth of flavour.”

Du Hast Mich GeFrogt (Freigeist Bierkultur collaboration): Fermented with ale yeast, lager yeast and other things, a wild mix of uber-good flavors is created in this ancient German-style Sour Dark Adambier from centuries ago. Working in collaboration with our friend, historian, and brewmaster Sebastian Sauer from Freigeist Bierkultur in Cologne, Germany we made this old-style beer with a wide array of German malts for a rich and authentic taste. Prost – Cheers

5-Alarm Chilli (Siren Craft Beer collaboration):  5-Alarm Chili Beer (American style) is a uniquely balanced hot and spicy alarm-red ale made in collaboration with Siren Craft Brew in England! We made the “English-style” at their brewery, and then came back to Hoppin’ Frog and brewed our “American-style” batch. We brewed ours with lots of chipotle and Morita peppers for a solid hot pepper taste, and just the right amounts of black pepper, cayenne, habanero, and Thai chili peppers to create complex, assertive, and satisfying flavors of a good bowl of 5-alarm chili! Using an over-abundance of red caramelized malts to nicely balance out the spicy heat, this beer gives the chili and hot pepper lovers something to truly enjoy, and share with their like-minded fiery friends.

SS Stout (TOØL COLLABORATION): SS Stout is a Scandinavian-inspired sour Imperial Stout with a complex and inviting combination of rich, roasty, sweet & sour flavours.  Brewed in collaboration with our friend and To Øl brewmaster Tobias from Copenhagen, Denmark with 9 of the absolute highest-quality malts, and Belgian dark candi sugar for a more refined, worldly taste.  Together we chose Patagonia’s uber-flavorful Dark Caramel Malt from Chile, plus 8 of the best English malts including Crisp’s finest floor-malted Maris-Otter Ale Malt

Double Chocolate Cherry Stout: Rich, smooth, complex chocolate flavours in this oatmeal stout are created from high-grade baker’s cocoa and Belgian chocolate malt. These great flavours are complimented with a substantial amount of memorable, sweet cherry character, making this one great beer!

Infusion A Coffee Porter: Swirls of heavenly chocolate and peanut butter flavours surround your senses, as you enjoy this wonderful maze of complexity that is “Infusion A”. The first of our Tower Tuesdays Series, this robust coffee porter is a great example of the eye-opening flavours we have developed with our Tuesday infusions. Taste the results of our research, we truly are developing better beer through knowledge.

Re-Pete 2x: In the beginning, there was an innovative West Coast brewer by the name of Pete, who developed a wicked-good and ground-breaking American ale. This super-tasty beer boasted Brewer’s Gold hops used for dry-hopping and an abundance of specialty malt, which gave it a great character unlike any other beer available. It quickly gained a loyal following among beer lovers, and became known the world-over as the defacto-standard American Brown Ale. Pete is no stranger to the Akron area, having made his Cocoa-Pete’s Chocolates in North Canton and where we first connected. So now, Hoppin’ Frog along with this creative brewing icon have developed Re-Pete 2X as a double version of the original, to pay homage to the innovative energy of American brewers, and deliver a great beer to TRUE BEER LOVERS!

B.O.R.I.S The Crusher Reserve: After brewing B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher successfully for many years, our creative minds wander. We imagine a B.O.R.I.S. brewed with even better dark grain – the finest imported dark grain – for a smoother and mellower deep-roasted flavour. When we finally made our dreams become reality, it was a symphony of beautiful flavours, a higher level of B.O.R.I.S. born from our creativity, that deserves the name B.O.R.I.S. Reserve!

D.O.R.I.S The Destroyer: This extreme Double Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout will overwhelm, satisfy, and destroy your taste buds like no other!! D.O.R.I.S. is even darker, hoppier, and stronger than our gold medal winning B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Stout. Dry-hopped and first wort hopped with the finest American hops for a great Imperial Stout experience! Enjoy the darkness!

Sippin’ Into Darkness (Lervig Aktiebryggeri collaboration): Collaborating with Lervig (Norway), we designed this Chocolate Martini Imperial Stout, to be rich and tasty, with the inviting flavours of a chocolate martini. Using layers of caramel malt and Belgian chocolate malt along with cocao and other spices, Hoppin’ Frog brewmaster Fred Kam along with Mike Murphy of Lervig, created Sippin’Into Darkness. A recipe that will stand the test of tme and can be enjoyed for years to come.

T.O.R.I.S The Tyrant: Freedom from alcohol limitations has finally been granted in 2016 allowing us to brew T.O.R.I.S. This super-tasty Triple Oatmeal Imperial-Stout is rich, dark, and flavourful – the way we like it – this beer is intense. It has been long awaited by our brewery as well as our fans. There comes a day when you break out of your shell, and strech your wings. Now is the time – time for T.O.R.I.S

B.O.R.I.S The Crusher Whiskey Barrel Aged Reserve: Made from our B.O.R.I.S. Imperial Stout, that was rated one of the World’s 50 Best Beers, and won the Gold Medal at the GABF in 2008. BARREL-AGED B.O.R.I.S. has picked up rich characters of vanilla, dark fruit, oak, and spice. It’s unbelievably complex and savoury.

These will move fast, so hop on down to Otter’s Tears pad… #ribbit

“Du Du hast Du hast mich Du hast mich Du hast mich gefrogt Du hast mich gefrogt Du hast mich gefrogt und ich hab nichts gesagt”

 

My “Holy Grail” beer…

I posted a link yesterday to a blog I wrote several years ago about my search and trip to try Wesvleteren 12. A beer held in such high reverence among beer lovers the world over, that it remains rightly or wrongly, firmly pinned either on, or near the best beer in the world rank on Ratebeer.

If you took the time to read it, you’ll perhaps have got a little feel of the excitement level I reached as my goal was reached. One or two of you may have thought perhaps I’d got some Westy’s in, sadly not, and if you thought that I apologise. There was though some actual forethought into doing so, as sort of a link into this.

You see, there was another beer. One that despite searching year after year after year, always eluded me.  I suppose you could call it my holy grail in beer form, Firestone Walker Parabola..

For six or seven years I’ve been trying to get hold of a bottle, I’d ask friends working at the Great British Beer Festival to scour the American beer bars, search websites, speciality beer shops home and abroad, I’d even looked at beer trading with folks in the USA, all with no luck. Then, in January 2017 I got my first opportunity. I was in Barcelona at the world famous Beercab, when I was told there was a bottle next door in their shop. I was round there like a shot, seeing it immediately behind the counter. I asked the price, “Eighty Euros” the reply, and despite my eagerness, I decided I just couldn’t justify that whilst on holiday and so walked away. It may have been an older vintage, I don’t know, in my haste I forgot to ask, but it didn’t matter anyway as it was sold five minutes later.

But my friends, there is a happy ending as today I have some. Yes, that’s correct, some. Tomorrow (Thursday 25/5/17), a small amount of this legendary beer will grace the shelves of Otter’s Tears, and of all the fantastic beers that I have brought into the shop, none have excited me quite as much as this.

( In fact, I really don’t know why I’m even letting some of “my precious” go.. 😉 )

The really strange thing is, I don’t know how good it is either. As despite having it scream drink me for five days I have so far resisted temptation. You’re going to have to just take a punt on my judgement, that and it’s 100/100 score and world Top 50 Ratebeer status..

Parabola – Russian Imperial Stout

March 25, 2017 Release

“Parabola is a beer of darkness and immensity, a barrel-­aged beast that is routinely ranked as one of the top beers in the world.  This Russian imperial oatmeal stout is aged for a full year in  Heaven Hill barrels, developing flavours of rich, chewy roasted malts, charred oak and bourbony vanilla. Parabola bares its teeth with its impenetrable black hue and soaring alcohol, yet its bite remains refined with a silky, balanced finish.”

It goes without saying that this will be in extremely short supply and if you are lucky enough to get it, strictly one bottle per customer..

For me the wait is nearly over, on this search at least. Next on the hit list, Cuvee de Tomme from The Lost Abbey, once never exported, more recently seen here in the UK. So here’s hoping I don’t have to wait quite as long for that one.

What’s on your hit list, maybe we can help? Let me know….

Cheers

Phil

Chillin’ Monks and Black Hole Suns

So yesterday was a bit of a manic one. Up with the larks, heading north to Leeds and Northern Monk Brewing Co. I was a bit early I was looking for a bit of breakfast, so after consulting the local baconista (Brian), I darted around to St David’s Street Cafe, just around the corner from the NMBC Refectory. I can confirm this as being an excellent choice for a bloody good bacon and egg butty.

Not my finest hour in photography class…

I was also really pleased to find my old mate Brian brewing a collaboration beer on the old brewery kit for Manchester Beer Week, with non other than JK from Marble Brewing (who I’d not seen for absolutely yonks). The beer, a New England Mandarin Black IPA called “Black Hole Sun”. Which I have no doubt will be a fitting tribute to Chris Cornell. ” Definitely one to look out for.

Anyway, after remotely breaking the sparge arm from 20 feet away (I’m innocent honest Guv), I was off to the new brewery site to collect this amazing set of beers, including four new Patron’s Project collaborations with some of the worlds finest and most current brewers. The place was a hive of activity with everyone pitching in to get these cans labelled and packed. Those labels though, wow, some of the most beautiful can art you’re ever likely to see. The good thing being of course, that they are peel off too, so you get to adorn your fridge, walls, cases, etc. *insert blank surfaces here..

Northern Monk, Deya and Verdant – Patrons Project 6.01 – Hazemaker

Northern Monk – Patrons Projects 4.02 – Pineapple and Grapefruit Juice IPA

Northern Monk and Alefarm – Patrons Project 7.01 – DDH Saison

Northern Monk and Other Half – Patrons Project 1.04 – Morello Cherry & Peruvian Coffee Imperial Porter

Northern Monk and Fieldwork – Travel Notes – A mango and acai IPA.

Follow this link to Lonely Planet, to see the video story of how and why the Travel Notes was brewed.

All these fabulous beers are on sale at Otter’s Tears from today, you’ll find all but the Impy Porter in the fridge. Some of these beers will be limited to one per customer as I suspect demand to be high.

I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America..

We always like to keep our eye on “the special stuff” here at Otter’s Tears, and this week has brought a few very highly rated beers in from some of the USA’s top rated breweries. All of these beers are rated at 97% and above on Ratebeer, with many sitting at the big 100%.

Here’s a quick run down with notes and information from the brewers websites.

Hoppin’ Frog – Boris The Crusher Reserve: “After brewing B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher successfully for many years, our creative minds wander. We imagine a B.O.R.I.S. brewed with even better dark grain – the finest imported dark grain – for a smoother and mellower deep-roasted flavor. When we finally made our dreams become reality, it was a symphony of beautiful flavors, a higher level of B.O.R.I.S. born from our creativity, that deserves the name B.O.R.I.S. Reserve!” – Ratebeer Score: 99%

About Hoppin’ Frog: Hoppin’ Frog Brewery is a small, hands-on brewery in Akron, making very flavorful beers in the most flavorful styles. We brew the highest quality beer with an uncompromising focus on detail, from the ingredient selection to the brewing process.  Our highly rated Tasting Room is on-site, offering fun, adventurous dishes that change with the seasons, and a vast array of the highest quality beers. 

Prairie Artisan Ales & Evil Twin collaboration – Barrel Aged Bible Belt: “Let’s face it – we love big, flavorful stouts. As luck would have it, our friend Jeppe at Evil Twin Brewing feels the same way. We decided to brew a beer together that took elements from our favorite stouts we each produce to come together as one beer. Bible Belt takes elements we love from Prairie Bomb! and combines them with Evil Twin Brewing’s world famous stout, Even More Jesus. The end result is a smoky, spicy stout that is sure to please the palate.” Ratebeer Score: 100% 

Lost Abbey – Serpents Stout 11% : The history of the bible and religion is indeed the struggle of good vs. evil. Our Serpent’s Stout recognizes the evil of the dark side that we all struggle with. This is a massively thick and opaque beer that begs the saints to join the sinners in their path to a black existence. Ratebeer Score 100%

Lost Abbey – Deliverance 12.5% : A blend of bourbon barrel-aged Serpent’s Stout and brandy barrel-aged Angels Share, Deliverance is the epic battle being waged between heaven and hell for the souls of mortal men… and your enjoyment in a glass.  Ratebeer Score: 100%

Lost Abbey – My Black Parade 12.5% : A blended Bourbon barrel-aged Strong Ale with cocoa nibs, vanilla bean and spices. My Black Parade begins with a deep bouquet of rich chocolate and layered hints of cinnamon and oak. Huge flavors of cocoa on the palate with notes of vanilla, bourbon, and tobacco, finishing with crisp bite from the smoked chili’s and cardamom. Ratebeer 99%

Westbrook – Siberian Black Magic Panther 12% : This beer is as hairy as a Siberian… or as a panther. And you better believe it because it gets the black magic from mountains of roasted malts and dark candi syrup. During the long weeks in the fermentor it gathers its rage… a rage this mythical beast of imperial stout wants to unleash on your taste buds…  Ratebeer Score 97%

 

Jolly Pumpkin – Anchorage No Ka Oi 6.3% : No Ka Oi is a wild ale with an ABV of 6.3 percent. It was brewed with all Michigan hops, raspberries, and lime peel. No Ka Oi was brewed for Gabe Fletcher, founder and brewer of Anchorage Brewing Co. Ratebeer Score 97%

Jolly Pumpkin – Sobrehumano Palena ’Ole 6% : Sour, barrel-aged version of the beer by the same name. Brewed in collaboration with Maui brewing.

Yes, Michigan and Hawaii are connected. It should be obvious to you now, as you hold this beer, and read this label. John and I designed this beer with two noble fruits from two noble states, Michigan & Hawaii. Cherries and liliko’i. Starting to see the connection? I feel it. So does John. 4391 miles may separate our breweries, but no our thirst for the exquisite. Hipa! – Ron

Working with Ron is something I’ve always want to do since I had my first Jolly Pumpkin beer. Years later, it’s a reality. Being involved on this project was an honor and a privilege. Mahalo to my MBC crew and to you, fans of craft beer! – John Ratebeer Score 98%

Almanac Farm to Barrel series

Our Farm to Barrel beers focus on the eons-old tradition of aging beers in oak barrels. This American wild ale was aged in used wine casks with our house “Dogpatch” sour culture, a cocktail of wild Belgian and American yeasts, including San Francisco sourdough starter. The yeasts slowly morph the beer from a traditional ale into something wild, creating a mild acidic bite as well as pulling oak and vanilla flavors from the barrel. After maturing, the barrels are blended together—creating a vinous, delicate beer that captures the essence of a particular harvest. Farm to Barrel Beers are alive in the bottle, and will continue to mature gracefully for several year

Farmer’s Reserve Nectarine 7% : Is there any pairing more perfect than sour beer and stone fruit? We start with the very best fruit: yellow nectarines grown in the bright Central California sun at Blossom Bluff Orchards, along the banks of the King’s River.

Picked at peak ripeness, we add the nectarines to a sour base beer, combining the funky flavors of brett with a bright acidity to highlight the fruit. The result is something special: golden hued beer with fruit aromatics jumping off the glass, the last of summer captured in a bottle. Pair with stone fruit crisp, roast chicken and Prosciutto ham. Ratebeer Score 98%

Farmer’s Reserve Pluot 7% : Pluots are some of our favorite fruits. Created by cross-breeding apricots and plums, there are dozens of varieties with an amazing range of color and flavor. All through the summer, Blossom Bluff Orchards picks each variety at its peak: Dapple Dandy, Honey Punch, Flavor Queen, Black Kat & Dapple Jack were all added to a sour blonde ale and aged in wine barrels to create this funky oak-aged brew. Ratebeer Score 99%

Farmer’s Reserve Blackberry 7% : We love blackberries. Tart, sweet and complex but guarded by thorny branches, these alluring fruit have been a favorite of ours since we added them to our very first beer. This sour blonde ale is infused with loads of coastal Blackberries from California’s Santa Cruz Mountains and aged in wine barrels until our wild yeasts worked their magic. Pair with duck dishes and summer salads. Ratebeer Score 97%

Valley Of The Hearts Delight 7% : This sour beer is inspired by the Santa Clara Valley’s agricultural roots, before it was known as Silicon Valley, it was called “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight.” It was a fertile basin filled with fruit orchards, especially apricots. Inspired by this lost agrarian past, we combined local apricots and strawberries with our barrel sour blonde ale to create this fruit-forward sour. Pair with grilled pork chops, prosciutto or summer salads. Ratebeer Score 99%

Almanac & Stillwater Artisanal 7% : Blueberry Jack is a psychedelic trip to flavor town. A hazy collaboration with our friends at Stillwater Artisanal Ales, it’s also the latest entry in their “Strains from Mother Nature” series. We blended together a blonde Brettanomyces-fermented ale aged in both oak barrels and foedres, then added California-grown blueberries and blackberries. After maturing, we dry-hopped the beer with reckless amounts of Citra, Mosaic, El Dorado, Simcoe, Galaxy, Nugget, and Sterling hops for a trippy, tropical-dank aroma. Pair this with freshly-picked herb salads, smoked meats and 2AM Al Pastor tacos. Ratebeer 97%

We have more stock arriving every week, with some real crackers due any day if none of this takes your fancy. Plus a huge range of world class beers right now, in fact I’d go as far as saying our finest to date. Come and see us soon and see for yourself.

Cheers

 

Mikkeller..

Kicking off April in fine style, we’ve had a bit of a Mikkeller thing happen, with some absolutely cracking beers hitting Otter’s Tears shelves. Big beastly stouts feature heavily, as do barrel aged beers, with a smidgen of sour, and a big juicy helping of Double IPA.

Beers with brewery tasting notes where available below, read on..

MBCC SpontanYuzu – This years MBCC official festival beer, SpontanYuzu, is brewed with zesty and delicious yuzu & aged in Oak Barrels. A cloudy yellow sour with a fresh citrusy character that holds 7,7% ABV. Ten cans have been marked Lucky Bastard. Should you be so fortunate to find one of these (look at the bottom), it means you are going to MBCC with a Pink (all session) wristband – free of charge.

18th Street Grapefruit Dead DIPA – 18th Street Brewery and Mikkeller collaborated and went all in on this big juicy DIPA, big on Amarillo Hops, with Grapefruit Juice and Grapefruit Zest additions.

Nelson Sauvin Brut Chardonnay Barrel Aged 9% – “This stunning Biére Brut has been one of our proudest creations. It’s a glorious combination of champagne yeast, brettanomyces and finished in Austrian white wine barrels. The nelson is dry, sweet, vinous and pure decadence.”

Nelson Sauvin Chardonnay Barrel Aged (750 bottle) 9% – A remarkable beer brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops, fermented with Champagne yeast and aged in white wine casks on Brettanomyces and enzymes creating a super dry beer with a strong white wine character and complex notes of grapes, gooseberry and oak.

Nelson Sauvin Champagne Barrel Aged 9% (750 bottle) – No tasting notes available at the time of writing this, but basically see above for the base beer, only with Champagne barrel characteristics..

Black Imperial Stout 16.1% – ‘Brewed as the strongest beer in Scandinavia’. This imperial stout was introduced  a couple of years ago as the craziest, wildest, and strongest beer from Mikkeller. Eventually, Black Fist Ran over its little brother and easily took the title. A very strong imperial stout brewed for Mikkeller at De Proef in Belgium. Made with roasted barley, dark brown sugar and Champagne yeast.

San Diego Beer Geek Brunch Weasel (can) 10.9% – *Formerly brewed by Mikkeller at Nøgne Ø, Norway, now at Lervig, Norway.
This imperial Oatmeal stout is brewed with one of the world’s most expensive coffees, made from droppings of weasel-like civetcats. The fussy Southeast Asian animals only eat the best and ripest coffee berries.Enzymes in their digestive system help to break down the bean. Workers collect the bean-containing droppings for Civet or Weasel Coffee. The exceedingly rare Civet Coffee has a strong taste and an even stronger aroma.

Brunch Weasel was originally brewed with and named for the coffee beans culled from civet droppings, but this take was made using coffee roasted at home by Mikkeller San Diego head brewer Bill Batten and his wife. Other versions used beans provided by East Village roaster Dark Horse Coffee.

San Diego Beer Geek Breakfast 7.5% – Oatmeal Stout with Dark Horse Coffee. A variation on the version below, canned and clearly brewed in San Diego

Beer Geek Breakfast 7.5% – An oatmeal stout with 25.0% oat-based ingredients and a nice touch of gourmet coffee. A beer that goes extremely well with breakfast. Brewed for Mikkeller by the amazing guys at Lervig.

Beer Geek Desert 11% – “From the beer geek breakfast series, the beer that really put Mikkeller on the map. We added cocoa and vanilla to the french press coffee trick, creating a whole new dimension to the beer that are loved by freaks and geeks worldwide. It’s dark, dangerous, sweet and incredibly tasty as you would expect, but most of all; it’s ready to conquer your breakfast table routines.

 

Some serious stuff right there I think you’ll agree. If you check each beers respective score out on Ratebeer, they all rank at between 97/100 to 100/100, so definitely no duffers.

But don’t take Ratebeerians word for it, come try them for yourself.

Cheers

Super Stanley February Fundraiser #SuperStanley

“Weʼre raising £20,000 to use #SuperStanley’s story to raise money for the Children’s Heart Ultrasound Scanner Appeal at Royal Stoke University Hospital”

Stanley Scarrat, was an exceptional little dude, loving, funny, cheerful and inspirationally brave.

Rachel and I were two of his proud Godparents and he was a regular visitor to Otter’s Tears during his short but very happy life. He loved to sit right there on the counter, playing with the till (and adding things onto our bills), messing with the mats and being a cheeky monkey, we’ll miss him terribly. Stanley was born with a complex congenital heart defect which in short, meant that ultimately he required an urgent heart transplant. This sadly never came in time and he passed away on Tuesday 10th January 2017.

In an effort to leave a lasting legacy to his memory, an appeal was launched with two main aims.

To raise awareness of the importance of registering for organ donation.

To try and raise £20,000 for the Children’s Heart Ultrasound Scanner Appeal at Royal Stoke University Hospital.

You can read the full story here on the Super Stanley website and directly on the Just Giving Page (where you can also make direct donations).

We want to do our bit to support this great cause too, and so today we launch our “Super Stanley February Fundraiser“.

Throughout February, we will be posting the details of special offers available in Otter’s Tears (or elsewhere). We have lots of ideas, but in-store these will mainly consist of varying amounts of the purchase price of specific beers being donated directly to the appeal, the first of which will be announced tomorrow.

We also have posters around the shop promoting the option to make a small donation for our carrier bags, something that we don’t normally charge for, again to the #SuperStanley appeal. This only started a few hours ago, but already people have been incredibly generous.

We hope you can find time to help us help the charity to reach it’s aims and more. If you want to get involved, get in touch, be that by your own personal fundraising event/pledge, or from fellow beer shops, brewery or bar owners and such, we’d love to hear from you.

Just use the contact us option on the website or via the Twitter or Facebook channels.

I’ll leave you with a few useful links below.

Thanks for reading.

Register for Organ Donation: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk

Super Stanley JustGiving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/superstanleyscarratt

Super Stanley website: http://www.superstanley.co.uk Follow this for news, updates and more.

Class in a glass!

csm_craft_beer_glasses_reddot_idea_370ce12e69I’ve always been a glassware nut, I think it stems from my many visits to Belgium. Where you walk into a bar with a beer menu more akin to a karaoke song list with page after page of wonders. A beer is chosen and the barkeep still manages to find the correct, usually branded glass, pours most of the beer and places both bottle and glass brand forward on separate bar-mats in front of you. For me it brings a degree of theatre, enhancing the drink if only in the mind.

There is definitely more to it than that though, beers like big aromatically hoppy IPA’s for example, really benefit from a glass that focusses those wonderful tropical notes floating toward your nose long before you touch a drop.

I remember a demonstration several years ago at a beer bloggers convention in Leeds, where the guys from Spiegelau set out a range of glasses with beers to suit and a standard glass, for a side by side comparison. The difference was amazing.

I still have my set from back then, and despite having cupboards full of branded glassware, day to day I use Spiegelau.

spiegelau-craft-beer-glasses-tasting-kit-set-of-4-4991697Since then the range has evolved to meet the needs of the modern craft beer drinker, with Spiegelau working with brewers and beer professionals of real pedigree to perfect a range of glasses to pretty much cover most bases.

I am really pleased to tell you that we have acquired sets of these at Otter’s Tears which are on sale right now. Put them on your Christmas list or hey, why wait, come grab a pack now and take your next beer to another level.

From this point on, the information is from Spiegelau, as there is no point me re-writing their own story, but read on as you’ll get a feel for who has designed what and what they hoped to achieve.

 

TASTING APPROVED: Focusing on beer enjoyment, members of the tasting workshop tested multiple glass shapes to find the best glass for India Pale Ale, American Wheat Beer and Stout. In the experts’ opinion, the custom-shaped glasses successfully deliver the complexity of aromas on the nose while demonstrating the optimum beer texture, balance and flavour intensity on the palate. Staying faithful to the spirit of Bavarian artisan craftsmanship, we have created these unique, functional glasses to bring out the best in complex craft beers.

4991782_beer_classics_wei_smallIPA – The Spiegelau IPA glass has a new and unique design, created to support the complex and volatile aromas in IPA style beers.

The glass has been developed in collaboration with two of the leading IPA brewers in the United States, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada. Achieved through a series of design and tasting workshops in which hundreds of possible designs were considered, the brewers ultimately and unanimously chose, by secret vote, one glass – “number 6“ – from a final lineup of eight custom-made prototypes.

Designed to showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of American “hop-forward” IPA beers, preserve a frothy head, enhance taste and mouth feel, and present a comfortably wide opening for the drinker to savour each beer, Spiegelau’s latest design is the go-to vessel for enjoying IPA.

Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada champion U.S. hop farming. The breweries are donating their portion of the proceeds from this collaboration to benefit advances in hop research.

stoutSTOUT – Following in the footsteps of their hugely successful IPA glass project, Spiegelau has partnered with two of the leading Stout brewers in the United States, Left Hand Brewing Company from Colorado and Rogue Ales from Oregon to create the ultimate tool for enjoying Stout beer.

After months of design and tasting workshops, during which hundreds of glass shapes were considered, the brewers ultimately and unanimously chose as their favourite, ‘Prototype C’, from a final lineup of eight custom-made Spiegelau shapes.

Expertly crafted, tested and approved, the Spiegelau Stout glass accentuates the roasted malt, rich coffee and chocolate notes that define the Stout beer style, while maintaining the functional design characteristics for which Spiegelau beer glassware has become known.

0019194_spiegelau-craft-beer-american-wheat-beer-glasses-set-of-4WHEAT BEER – In collaboration with the award winning Michigan-based Bell’s Brewery, Spiegelau has developed a specific drinking vessel for one the world’s most popular beer varieties – WHEAT. Ever focused on perfecting beer-specific glassware, Spiegelau’s latest innovation is poised to become the new standard for enjoying premium wheat beers. As with previous tasting-workshops, Spiegelau has challenged conventional thinking and presumption of what a wheat beer glass should look like. The new glass ultimately offers the best wheat beer drinking experience, enhancing the style’s delicate floral and fruit-scented aromatic profile.  It delivers the optimal taste, aroma and mouth feel to enhance American and Belgian wheat beers.

pr_craftbeerglasses_barrelagedbeer_01_s_frei_01BARREL AGED BEER, OLD ALES, BARLEY WINES – Barrel Aged Beer represents the height of a brew masters talent and passion. The impartation of long-term wood aging on fine beer makes for the most complex expression possible with regards to the aroma, taste, mouth feel and finish of these special beers. Barrel Aged Beers are truly a connoisseur’s choice.

The Spiegelau Barrel Aged Glass is the result of two years of development in partnership with the brew masters of four of the world’s great producers of Barrel Aged Beer: Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado; Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego, California; Uinta Brewing Company of Salt Lake City, Utah and Cigar City Brewing of Tampa Bay, Florida.

BENEFITS OF SHAPE, DESIGN AND PREMIUM MATERIALS.

img_0341LASER CUT RIM: Crisp, clean delivery in every sip

MOUTH OPENING: Wide mouth allows drinker to „nose“ the beer comfortably for heightened aroma and delivers beer evenly across palate to enhance mouthfeel and harmony of sweetness and acidity

BOWL: Slender, bowed shape amplifies hops aroma

THIN WALLS: Maintains proper beer temperature longer

REFRESHER: Wave-like ridges aerate beer into and out of the glass to balance flavours as you drink

 

I see a Rainbow Rising… #RainbowProject16

rainbow-breweries

This weekend sees the latest instalment in what has become one of the most exciting beer events in the modern beer world, the International Rainbow Project. Last night Siren Craft Brew had the beer Twitterati glued to their screens during #CraftBeerHour as one by one they announced the beers that each collaborative brewery pairing had created, which all of you I’m sure will agree sound amazing. I’ve collated the best bits for you here, along with various links to brewery blogs where available, plus a bit of insight into the project from the Rainbow Project website for those of you who have not yet had the pleasure. 

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International Rainbow Project

The Rainbow Project began in 2013 and was initially the brainchild of Ryan Witter-Merithew (then Head Brewer at Siren Craft Brew). Since its humble beginnings this celebration of collaborative and innovative brewing has become a key fixture in the annual beer calendar, with 2016 being our most eagerly awaited yet.

The International Rainbow Project pairs seven of the best breweries in the United Kingdom with seven of the best breweries from a chosen country or region each year. Each pairing is randomly drawn a colour of the rainbow which is used to inspire a collaborative brew. This year we’re hugely excited to be working with seven of the most exciting breweries in New Zealand. Here are how the pairings and colours worked out:

On September 17th 2016 we’ll be releasing 1,500 mixed cases, which include all seven of this year’s beers along with a souvenir Rainbow Project 2016 glass. The mixed cases will be available from official brewery party launch events, which this year are being held at Siren Craft BrewMagic Rock and Beavertown.

THE BEERS!

Red: Beavertown and Parrot Dog – Universal Mind. 10.5% Adambier, aged in Marsala barrels. Read the story here..

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Orange: Burning Sky and Liberty – Descent into the Maelstrom. 6.66% Eclectic Borderless Beer. Story not yet available, I’ll add it as and when it is..

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Yellow: Magic Rock and Fork Brewing –  The Upside Down. 6% Sour Tropical Fruit Witbier Hybrid. Magic Rock blog details here..

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Green: Hawkshead and Yeastie Boys – Kai Moana Gose – Full story:

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Blue: Wild Beer Co and 8 Wired Brewing – Black & Blue. 5% Raw + Charred + Barrel Aged Sour. < Yes – Raw! Wild Beer story here..

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Indigo: Siren Craft Brew and Garage Beer – Blacklight Banana. Stout with Banana, Molasses and Barrel Aged Coffee. Read more here..

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Violet: Partizan Brewing – Royal Ale. 8.5% Barley Wine with Riesling grape juice. Read here all about the beer, plus the reasons why this as you may have noticed, is not a collaboration brew..

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Quite a lot to take in, but hopefully interesting. As you can imagine we are trying to get hold of a few Rainbow Project packs in the shop, which include one each of the beers and a commemorative glass, nothing confirmed as yet, but keep an eye on social media for details. We are ourselves hot-footing it up to the Magic Rock Tap as soon as we close on Saturday afternoon, we hope to see some of you there.

Full details of all the launch events are listed HERE. Cheers

Times, they are a changin’

We are currently enjoying a vibrant and ever expanding beer scene and it may seem to be going slightly against the grain to want to be “just” a great beer shop. So I wanted to write a few words here to give our perspective and the reasons why we are trying to be exactly that.

When I first started looking at a place in which Otter’s Tears could flourish, lots of things were in the mix for consideration. Location, footfall, space, rent and rates, general overheads as well as things like security, shop-fit and obviously stock. We considered Queen Street for a long time before taking the plunge, it didn’t necessarily tick all the boxes, but we took a ‘build it and they will come” approach and went for it. We trusted that people would travel to what is perhaps considered one of the quieter retail locations in the city, allowing us to build our reputation by having a tip-top range of exceptional beers.

shopThe biggest single barrier to get over was the awkward retail floor space, with the shop narrowing towards the back and a large stairwell that pretty much made one wall redundant. Pressing on, we worked really hard to make the beer shopping experience comfortable and relaxed with what space we had.

Having done our own fair share of travelling the country, in our minds we really wanted to replicate the fantastic beer shops frequented over many years such as Beer Ritz in Leeds, Beermoth in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Cotteridge Wines in Birmingham and Utobeer in Borough Market London to name but a few. Where in their beginnings at least for some, bottle sales were the primary focus.

During our research, we’d also seen some establishments where customers drinking onsite made perusing the beers on the shelves really difficult.  With that in mind, we took the decision to design the space upstairs for predominantly retail purposes, the idea then to open our cellar up at weekends for the “on-site” drinking experience. Having trialled this for several months, and after taking on board customer feedback and experiences, we found folk simply didn’t want to drink downstairs that much, which then made shopping tricky for our other customers.

This brings me to the real point here. When I was planning and opened Otter’s Tears, I wanted to build a fantastic “beer shop” and not a bar. The aim, to offer an on-site tasting option, but keeping a relaxed shopping experience at the core of what we do best.

We do realise that in the last 18 months or so people have become used to getting more from a bottle shop. They have become more and more like micro-pubs but offering a huge choice to a new beer thirsty public who are fast realising that choice “is” out there. We like that experience too and love what places like Bottle Craft, The Bottle Lab and the Hopwater Cellar have done locally, but sadly it just doesn’t work well in the space we have. We have given this much thought and in order to try and strike a balance we have been trialling no drinking on site at the weekend. Saturday has proven to be our busiest day for off sales, and the trial seems to have worked well so far.

We have therefore decided to continue this permanently on Saturdays, with the drinking in facility remaining during weekdays as more of a “drink whilst you browse” offering to see how that goes and take things from there.

In terms of on-site drinking, our aim is to focus on more regular events, beer launches etc. We GDFV5374have two great breweries already lined up and a leg wobbling Christmas beer tasting in the diary. Plus we now have the option to take fresh draught beer home in one of our beautiful stainless steel growlers.

I really hope that our customers understand the reasons behind these decisions and continue to support us here. It may seem madness on the outside for a new business to seem to be turning custom away, this though is purely designed to make sure we flourish in the right direction, as a speciality beer shop.

With all the above in mind, we have decided to tweak our opening hours to that more in-keeping with a retail proposition and to allow us to be more flexible event wise going forward. These come into effect as of today, Tuesday 13th September 2016.

Monday: CLOSED

Tuesday: 12 – 19:00

Wednesday: 12 – 19:00

Thursday: 12 – 19:00

Friday: 12 – 19:00

Saturday: 11:30 – 17:30

Sunday: CLOSED

Of course we shall continue to keep an eye on how things are going. We want to evolve as a business, and to keep giving you the best experience that we can. Please keep the feedback coming! 

Cheers

Phil & Rachel

Stone Brewing Berlin

STONE BREWING SPECIAL

Stone Brewing have long been a go-to staple for any serious craft beer drinker interested in what good American brewing can offer, with beers like Ruination, Cali-Belgique and the oh-so subtly named Arrogant Bastard snapped up if found. In recent years though, they seemed to lose their edge slightly in a market with so many UK brewers bringing their own super fresh hoppy IPA’s in particular to the table. I’m not saying that Stone dropped their game at all, but when we have so much brewing talent here, it just made sense for lupulus-hungry beer geeks to snap up UK hop-bombs brewery fresh, than those that had potentially sat on a boat for several weeks.

Back in 2014 though, Stone announced it would be spending an estimated $25 million to open a brewery in the city of Berlin, Germany. In addition to the brewhouse, the two-acre location will include a packaging and distribution centre, a Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurant and a Stone Company Store.

Of course, the upside of this is that beers brewed in Europe, now hit the UK shelves and fridges much faster and a whole lot fresher, so as soon as I heard we could get some I was there like a shot.

About Stone Brewing..

“Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, Stone Brewing has come a long way since opening up in San Diego, California, in 1996. We have been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 11 times, and have been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. Stone has also donated more than $3 million dollars to charity.

As the tenth-largest craft brewer in the U.S. and with our breweries in Richmond, Virginia & Berlin, Germany, we join artisanal brewers across the world in the quest to show the public that there are more…and better…choices beyond the world of industrial beer.”

Stone Berlin..

“After looking at more than 130 sites in nine different countries, we found the perfect site for Stone’s European expansion. Built in 1901, this former gasworks facility resides on an amazing property with industrial and historic elements.

Stone’s Berlin campus includes a main hall with a 3.200 square meter Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Berlin and a retail store selling Stone beers and merchandise. The main hall also includes a 100 hectolitre custom stainless steel brewhouse and a 10 hectolitre experimental system. In addition, our campus includes a 2.000 square meter packaging and distribution hall for filling, packing and storage as well as a 155 square meter event space in a historic train repair building situated among expansive gardens. The gardens welcome guests to unwind in corners, nooks and gathering spaces created using the natural elements of the space and repurposed building materials.”

What we stand for..

“Known for our bold, flavourful and largely hop-centric beers, we have earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. 

We view fellow craft breweries as compatriots, not competitors, and embrace collaboration, integrity and quality as the hallmarks of our business.”

The name and the gargoyle..

“During a routine business meeting as Greg and Steve looked over a few succinct names they had scribbled down on a piece of paper, Greg saw the word “stone” and said, “How about Stone Brewing?” The name (and its connotations—a stone is strong, natural and small yet powerful) stuck.

The gargoyle came next. Besides being carved from stone, it represents the European inspiration behind some of our first beers and is a guardian symbol meant to ward off evil spirits. In our case…cheap ingredients, pasteurisation and chemical additives…the modern-day evil spirits of beer!”

THE BEERS

Go To IPA 4.7% 

“For Stone Go To IPA, we embrace our hop obsession by using hop bursting, a technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final brewing phase to bring out vibrantly hoppy flavours and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably mellow bitterness. The result is a session IPA that delivers all the fruity, piney character of a much bigger beer.”

STONE IPA 6.9%

“This is the IPA that initiated our reputation for hops and exposed a budding world of craft beer enthusiasts to our unique brewing style. Distinguished by bright, hop-driven flavours, this is the IPA that launched generations of hop fanatics in the U.S. We now present our hoppy standard-bearer to those in Europe eager to worship at the altar of the almighty hop.”

Cali-Belgique IPA 6.9%

“Think of this beer as Stone IPA’s identical twin raised in a Belgian culture. Literally. A strain of Belgian yeast adds tropical fruit, bubblegum and spice notes, creating a complex and surprising combination of flavours in tandem with the beer’s citrusy hop character. The gentle sweetness from the yeast also lends new depth to the bright hoppiness of our flagship IPA.”

Ruination Double IPA 8.5%

“We craft this big, bold and hugely aromatic West Coast style double IPA to celebrate all characteristics of the hop — its beauty and poetry, its boldness and might. Using modern methods of dry hopping and hop bursting, we squeeze every last drop of piney, citrusy, tropical essence from the hops that give Stone Ruination Double IPA its incredible character.”

Arrogant Bastard Ale 7.2%

“This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It’s quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. Arrogant Bastard Ale has revelled in its unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity since 1997 and will never pander to the lowest common denominator. There have been many nods to Arrogant Bastard Ale…even outright attempts to copy it…but only one can ever embody the true nature of Liquid Arrogance.”

On sale now at Otter’s Tears, so come get em, unless of course….

“YOU’RE NOT WORTHY!”