BeerCast #50 – Half Century

We never thought that we’d make it all the way to fifty podcasts – and if you’ve listened to our first few then probably you didn’t either – but here we are. Three years and 181 beers later and we’re having a mini celebration in honour of our half century. We thought long and hard about what to do for a 50th show, eventually deciding on the popular ‘bring a beer’ theme, only with a more explosive feel to it. Podcast regulars Richard, MrB, Shovels and Grooben were tasked with sourcing an unusual, rare or liver-trembling beer to put to the panel, and the results were pretty spectacular.

We ended up with (literally) some real corkers, as we begin with Grooben’s offering – Neuzeller Anti-Aging Bier (4.8%) from Germany, containing specific ingredients to actually make you younger. Apparently. Next up was Richard’s choice – the limited edition BrewDog Abstrakt AB:01 (10.2%), a vanilla bean-infused Belgian-style quad from Fraserburgh’s finest. Third on the podcast was Sierra Nevada Estate 2009 (6.7%). Provided by Shovels, this wet-hopped ale is pretty rare this side of the Atlantic. Finally MrB rounds things off in enormous fashion, unveiling Brasserie d’Achouffe’s Big Chouffe Anno 2010 (8.0%), a magnum of their famed La Chouffe blond ale. Thanks to all for providing, and special thanks to everybody who has downloaded, listened to, or commented on one of our podcasts over the years. Here’s to fifty more!


1. Neuzeller Anti-Aging Bier (4.8%abv)
Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle GmbH, Neuzelle, Brandenburg, Germany. 500ml glass bottle

There are well-established health benefits of drinking good beer – the high levels of Vitamin B6 can protect against heart disease, for example – but the claims on a bottle of Neuzeller Anti-Aging Bier (4.8%) take things even further. Several bizarre-sounding adjuncts have been added, resulting in an elixir of youth – this beer actually claims to make you younger (although this may be as a result of the beer acting on the antioxidant Vitamin E in the body). Flavonoids are naturally found in hops, but by adding more in their beer Klosterbrauerei are really pushing the anti-carcinogen properties of the nation’s favourite drink. But just when you’re sold on the idea, discovering the beer has algae added as well sounds very strange, and when a quick check of their website reveals Klosterbrauerei also make a Badebier – ‘bath beer’ – ”for outside application as bath salts and for internal application as a beverage”, then the mind really boggles.

What They Say
“We have now formulated an “anti-aging” beer. Having consulted with several universities and health institutes, our beer contains: Water from hotsprings, rich in minerals, flavonoids, beer (malt, water, hop, yeast), and spirulina (Algae).” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – I quite like that, it reminds me of Erdinger Dunkel 8
Grooben – I wanted to find something completely different! 7
Richard – Smells a bit portery but with that extra vegetable hint that must be the algae 6½
MrB – Presumably all other beer is pro-aging? 6


2. BrewDog Abstrakt AB:01
(10.2%abv)
BrewDog Ltd, Fraserburgh, Scotland. 375ml glass bottle

BrewDog are without doubt the most talked-about brewery in Scotland, with their charismatic press releases and wacky ideas. Not afraid to experiment, at times they produce some fantastic beers – and at others some pretty duff ones. But there’s no denying they always elicit strong opinions. What is often overlooked amidst all the hoo-hah over 41% beers and Portman Group-baiting is that they have only been going for just over three years. The first BrewDog brew rolled off the Kessock plant lines in April 2007 – which by a rather neat co-incidence was the exact month the BeerCast began as well. So with that in mind, and given the numerous BrewDog beers featured over the years on these pages and podcasts, it would be remiss of us not top try their newest (at time of press) offering – the limited edition Abstrakt AB:01, the first of a new concept brand from the Aberdeenshire duo.

What They Say
“Abstrakt will only ever brew and release a beer once. BrewDog’s Abstrakt is about exciting, progressive and conceptual beers, beers which not only push the boundaries but smash them up completely.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – The first taste was lovely, it’s like a Belgian tripel 8½
Richard – Sweet full mouthfeel but the alcohol balances it out 8½
Shovels – Subtle for BrewDog, not much aftertaste apart from alcohol 8½
Grooben – It’s got sweetness but I wouldn’t have guessed vanilla 7


3. Sierra Nevada Estate (2009)
(6.7%abv)
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, California, USA.
710ml glass bottle (24oz US)

Sierra Nevada are one of the cornerstones of American craft brewing, and as a result have almost unrivalled access to types and strains of hops. Hailing from California, their mighty reach spreads all the way to the hopgrounds of Washington State, where they conduct research into new strains and varieties. They also like to experiment, and a few years ago came up with the idea of brewing a seasonal ale using only freshly-picked hops, rather than waiting for dried or using a combination of dried and fresh. This ‘wet hop’ ale is produced every Autumn, and as you’d expect has a pretty hefty hop whack about it. We sampled the 2009 Estate vintage, purchased from the excellent UtoBeer stall in London’s Borough Market, which only contains ingredients sourced from the Sierra Nevada estate in Chico.

What They Say
“This Estate Ale is rich with the flavors of the valley—featuring hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – It’s wonderful, there’s a little bit of a spicy edge to it 9
Shovels – More IPA than double IPA, really hoppy but not overpowering 9
MrB – Has extra bitterness compared to sweeter Torpedo IPA 9
Grooben – There’s no way I’m not going to like this 9


4. La Chouffe Big Chouffe
(8.0%abv)
Brasserie d’Achouffe, Achouffe, Houffalize, Wallonia, Belgium.
1500ml glass bottle (magnum)

Grape lovers will possibly know the fact that a magnum is 2 standard bottles of wine, or 1½ litres for the metric types amongst us. In Belgium – as pretty much every grain lover knows – they do things just a little bit bigger and better, so why not have a magnum of beer? Brasserie d’Achouffe’s bending gnome (‘Chouffe’ in Walloon dialect) grins out from beer fridges and bottle-shop shelves throughout the beery world. Their flagship 8% blond ale La Chouffe is released every year in a hefty magnum, which is branded Big Chouffe, and has a customised alternate label drawn by a famous comic artist. The 2010 vintage collected by MrB (from the Brasserie itself, in person, no less) was illustrated by Johan de Moor, son of legendary Belgian cartoonist Bob de Moor.

What They Say
“La Chouffe is an unfiltered blonde beer, which is refermented in the bottle as well as the keg. It is pleasantly fruity, spiced with coriander, and with a light hop taste.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – Had it on draught and liked it, it’s just as good in the bottle 8
Richard – I can taste the coriander and cloves in there 7½
Grooben – Doesn’t taste 8%, I give it an extra point for the bottle 7
Shovels – I usually have a problem with Belgian beers because of the alcohol strength, but it’s drinkable for a wheat beer 7


Panellists
– (clockwise from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard

BeerCast panel verdict
Sierra Nevada Estate 2009 (36/40)
BrewDog Abstrakt AB:01 (32½/40)
Brasserie d’Achouffe Big Chouffe (29½/40)
Neuzeller Anti-Aging Bier (27½/40)

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #50 – Half Century
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our Site Feed
  • Stay tuned for our next podcast, as we get back into the more regular swing of things with BeerCast #51, an episode revolving around some of the other things MrB brought back from his trip to Alsace and Belgium ….

    2 thoughts on “BeerCast #50 – Half Century”

    1. Congratulations on a great 50th beercast guys! Do you all feel younger after Grooben’s contribution? Not sure why you lot seem to go ape for Sierra Nevada beers… they’re nice, but nothing amazing.

      Glad to hear that Peche Mortel was one of the 3 beers that managed to get a zero! Hurray for me!

      C

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