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

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

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

 

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!”

Fuller, Smith and Turner…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there has never been a better time to be a lover of good beer, certainly in my lifetime anyway. We are awash with new breweries from here and another great brew from there, so much so that it is often difficult to keep up. However, it is equally easy to lose sight of some of the absolutely stunning beers that have been around for quite a while, back even before the days when “craft” only referred to the likes of knitting, crochet and making replicas of Tower Bridge from matchsticks.

Without delving too deep into the history books, Fuller, Smith and Turner, or Fuller’s as they are more commonly known, joined forces in 1845. A year familiar with most as it features as the name of one of Fuller’s more prevalent beers, available in several supermarkets. But the history of brewing goes back around 350 years in around that particular area of London. In short, they have some serious brewing heritage…

Now as you know, here at Otter’s Tears our aim is to bring beers to you that are a little bit special, beers that you can’t bag on a 3 for £6 deal at Tesco, Morrison’s and the like. It is also important to me that I am proud to have them on the shelves, so that I can feel happy in recommending them to you, so I have put together this collection from Fuller’s that I am confident you will love. Read on..

Past Masters “Every single afternoon since 1845, the Fuller’s brewing team has diligently written out the ingredients of the day’s brews – and the Past Masters series is a great example of why we do it.

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Past Masters 1926 Oatmeal Porter: “1926 Oatmeal Porter is the seventh beer revived as part of our Past Masters collection. It’s been brewed to a 90-year old recipe from the Fuller’s archives, to celebrate the occasion of the Queen’s 90th birthday. Well worth revisiting, this is a rich, special Porter with Northumbrian oats added to the brew, giving a smooth mouthfeel and delicious notes of coffee and dark chocolate. Fans of the Porter style, or any strong, dark beer, won’t want to miss out.”

Better with age As a bottle conditioned beer, 1926 Oatmeal Porter contains sediment that allows the flavours to develop up until the moment the bottle is opened. This beer should therefore be stored upright in a dark room, and poured carefully when served for the best possible results.”

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I’ve personally not tried the 1926 as yet, but previous Past Masters beers have been really good, a world away from the Fuller’s pub favourites you may or may not love.

Fullers’s Imperial Stout: “Imperial Stout delivers roasted dark chocolate notes against a slightly fruity acidity. Sovereign and Centennial hops, meanwhile, bring floral flavour, enhanced by dried rose buds that hint at Turkish Delight. There’s a taste of liquorice there too, ahead of a lasting finish with fairly high bitterness.”

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This is a fantastic beer, bottle conditioned too so perfect for cellaring for a while if you can resist temptation, I currently have a few tucked away out of reach..

Vintage Ale: “Fuller’s has created a new recipe of Vintage Ale every year since 1997, picking the best ingredients at the time, to make a strong beer with a complex character. Every bottle of Vintage Ale is individually numbered, making our older Vintage Ales extremely rare and sought after.”

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Vintage Ale 2015: “A beautiful beer brewed celebrating the 50th anniversary of famous British malt variety Maris Otter and brewed using exclusively British ingredients. The floor-malted Maris Otter is combined with home-grown Target, Northdown, Challenger and Goldings hops to create a best-of-British beer with complex flavours, a fruitful aroma and a bitter finish.”

I’ve been buying, drinking and saving Fuller’s Vintage Ales for years and they never disappoint. The other thing to note here is these beers are absolutely perfect to hide away for a few years, knowing that they will only be getting better and better. Take a look at the Fuller’s website and you will see vintages still on sale dating back to 1997, their value rising massively in the process year on year. So whether you are buying for pleasure, an investment or maybe to celebrate a life event, these are a fantastic choice. Had a child born in 2015 for example, why not buy a couple and store away until he or she is 21, what a way to celebrate a milestone?

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There are a couple of good reads here, showing a couple of takes on how each beer develops over time, the first by Mark Dredge the other Des de Moor, both highly respected, published beer authors.

Fullers Vintage Ale: A 15-year vertical tasting – Mark Dredge

Fuller’s Vintage Ale – Des de Moor

Brewer’s Reserve

The “Brewer’s Reserve” range is now, as the name suggests in its 5th incarnation of oak barrel aged beers. No1 was a 30 year old Glenmorangie single malt whisky Cask, No2 – Courvoisier Cognac, No3 Auchentoshan whisky and No4 – Comte de Latvia Armagnac.

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Brewer’s Reserve No5: “Aged for 18 months in 30-year-old whiskey casks, Brewer’s Reserve No.5 is a full-bodied limited-edition beer, infused with the secrets of whiskey-soaked wood. Pouring a dark brown colour, it conjures a sherry-like aroma with notes of bourbon on the nose, while on the palate, it delivers sweet biscuit, fruitcake flavours and ripe notes of cherry – ending with a warm, smooth and satisfying finish. A truly special beer that every ale lover should experience. The launch of Brewer’s Reserve No.5 marks ten years since the start of the series. To celebrate, we’ve sourced whiskey casks from Glenmorangie, the same Scottish distillery we used a decade ago.”

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As you can see from both the images and the descriptions, these are some special beers we have right here. All but the Past Masters come in beautifully finished boxes, with bottles internally tape-sealed too. I really hope you guys buy, cherish and enjoy them as much as I do.

Cheers

Phil