Nordic Noir, Fruit and Funk.

Nordic Noir, Fruit and Funk. Imperial Beer Club goes to Norway.

This week we’ve been to Norway to bring you a new box of beer, showcasing the talents of HaandBryggeriet.

View the contents of the box

There’s a lot to like in this box, but let me tell you about a couple of highlights you won’t want to miss.

Blueberry in an Imperial Stout is an automatic win, and if you’re anything like me the merest mention will be enough to start you salivating.

The bottle makes a pretty nice picture too.


Death by Disco is the lovechild of Haand, Frontaal and Cervisiam, a 10% Imperial Stout with notes of dark fruit and creamy lactose.  Sweet.

When a brewery makes a landmark batch they usually do something special, but even so Batch #1000 is something extra special.

The beer pours lighter in colour that most Quads, almost like a sherry with big boozy, fruit and nut aromas.  You wouldn’t feel short changed if you were only allowed to sniff at it, but the taste is exceptional. Sweet, malty and smooth like a fine dessert wine.

I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t make my 5 favourite beers of the 2018.

Check out the rest of the box here

The remaining beers in the box include an Imperial Wheat Stout, a Raspberry Export Stout, a Baltic Porter and a Traditional Nordic Ale.

It’s a smaller 6 bottle box, and there are just 24 available. 

If last weeks hoovering up of the De Molen Barrel Aged Selection is anything to go by, plenty of you are already tuned in to Eebria’s single shipping charge and doubling up your order; so if this goes the same way we don’t expect them to hang around for long.

Place your order now to avoid missing out

We’ve been indulging our dark side for the first few boxes, but in case you were wondering it won’t all be dark beers – in fact I’m working on the hoppy side of things for our next box.

It seems like things have gone pretty smoothly since the relaunch, but if you’ve got any feedback or questions I’m always interested to hear from you – so please let me know!

We’re back! Bigger, badder and better than ever.

Introducing the new Imperial Beer Club.
Bigger, badder and better than ever.

I’ve been using the hiatus from beer deliveries to have a long hard think about the future of the club, and I’ve decided to make some changes.

Let me tell you about them.

Looking over the numbers it’s clear that beerflation has taken it’s toll over the two years since we set out on this beery adventure. It’s even more noticeable on imported beers where the weak pound means increases of more than 20% on some of the beers we featured in our early boxes.

I’ve also been asking you which breweries you’d most like to see featured, and it’s no surprise that international breweries like De Molen, Mikeller and Omnipollo feature heavily in your collective wish list.

I want to be able to share their beer with you.

I understand no-one wants price rises, but I think the decision by Ales by Mail to reduce the ABV threshold for the boxes was a mistake – and it’s clear from the subscriber numbers that many of you felt the same way.

The last thing an imperial strength beer club should do is water down the beer.

I want the new Imperial Beer Club to be even more adventurous, and I don’t want any beer to be off limits.

So to make that happen we have to make some changes.

No more fixed price monthly boxes.

Instead we’ll provide a rotating selection of limited release boxes, and you get to pick which ones you want.

1, 3, 7, 12 or 15 boxes a year? It’s totally up to you.

We’ll be offering a variety of sizes, price points and selections, so you can choose whatever suits your taste and budget, but most important of all we’ll have the freedom to go wherever the beer takes us.

You can still be a member.

If you decide to rejoin as a member then for a small annual fee you’ll get a 10% discount on any purchases you make.

Will all this freedom come at a cost?

We’re introducing a £5.99 delivery charge for each box, but please don’t be alarmed. It means the beer will be slightly cheaper (based on the same wholesale cost, and a fixed markup), and with the 10% member discount you’ll get the same great value as a subscription (based on 12 boxes at an average of £47/each over a year).

Buy more boxes, choose more expensive beer and you’ll save even more than before!

We’ve got a brand new distribution partner

In order to get the beer to you we’re partnering with Eebria, one of the largest distributors of craft beer in the UK.

We’ll be using their packaging, couriers and customer service team – which means we get to provide you with first class service and concentrate on sourcing lots of lovely beer.

So when can you start receiving beer again?

Well I’m pleased to announce that we’ve not just one, but two boxes available right now, and there will be at least one more box before the end of the month.

The first is called Dark Side of The Netherlands and features 12 dark beers from four of the best Dutch brewers, including De Molen, Kees, Uiltje and Frontaal with an average ABV of 10.4%.

It includes 14% ABV Mind Your Step Maple Edition from Uiltje (the strongest beer we’ve featured to date), and two previous Imperial Beer Club favourites that we rate as the best Porters in the world; Tsarina Esra from De Molen and Kees Export Porter 1750.

Click here to view the full selection

The second box is a De Molen Barrel Aged Selection, featuring six of their most special wax topped beers with an average ABV 12.25%. It’s a dream come true for fans of De Molen and it’s our strongest box to date.

Click here to view the full selection

So we’re back stronger than ever, but we’re also starting small in terms of volume, with just 24 of each box available to purchase. So don’t hang around if you want one.

Get your membership – cheaper beer for a whole year!

Even if you don’t want to join right away, for this week only you can order a box (or two) at the members price by using the code MEMBER10 at checkout – valid to 16 September 2018.

Click here check out the boxes and place your order

It’s wonderful to be back, and I hope you enjoy the first boxes. If they aren’t to your taste then don’t worry, there’ll be another one coming along shortly.

Cheers

Mark

Thirsty work cycling from Rotterdam to Antwerp

Beer doesn’t taste much better than it does after a long bike ride.

Today was 120km with a lot of headwind (but sun rather than showers) so it was 6pm before I made it to Antwerp. Thirsty.

Starting in the main square at Gollem with a Zeezuiper Tripel from Scheldebrouwerij, followed by Zestig Belgian Strong Blonde from Malhuer, then Uno – a DIPA from Omnipollo vs Stigbergets.

With 30 taps to choose from it would have easy spend the entire evening here, but a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery was in order.

It was a short walk to Billies Bier Kaffeteria and a couple of beers from the US -Speedway Vietnamese Coffee Stout by AleSmith, then Abraxas from Perrenial Artisan Ales which is a Coconut and Cinammon Imperial Stout – thick, strong and delicious.

Antwerp is a terrific place for sampling beer, and it would be easy spend a couple of days here.

However the bike trip doesn’t stop – tomorrow’s ride is to Gent.

Where to drink in Bruges?

Today was the shortest day of cycling – just 46km, but still about 10km further than my legs wanted to go.

Luckily just inside Bruges city walls is the Brouwerij de Halve Maan – where I had lunch washed down with their excellent Tripel. Then a little later it was on to Cambrinus – now this is a beer menu:

 

There were several beers on tap, such as Delirium Nocturnum, and some interesting bottles to try. The horn was a bit gimmicky, but the Tripel contained within it was very good with lots of flavour from the yeast.

Just around the corner is Cafe Red Rose and a chance to swap wooden bar stools for comfy chairs and a couple more beers, such as the 10% Tjeeses Reserva BBA from Struise Brouwers – aged in Makers Mark barrels – and a Troubadour Magma IPA at 9%.

Tasty.

Tomorrow it’s back to a slightly longer day on the bike as I head towards the border with France.

IBC attends the launch of the Beavertown Brewery’s 2017 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA

The change in the size of the crowd at the Beavertown Brewery Taproom, from the 2016 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA launch to the 2017 crop is a metaphor for the growth of the whole London craft beer scene itself. And by that, I mean explosive.

IBC was at the event last year, where a few die-hards had shown up to try the seasonal IPA. However, this year, everyone and his dog had packed into Lockwood Industrial Park to see the new brew.

Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint. Bloody ‘Ell – that’s a nice beer. Tangy, hoppy and dangerously drinkable because it hides the high alcohol percentage (7.2%) in such a way that the Blood Orange IPA could easily be a session ale.

It’s a real summer ale – and it’s as if the chaps at the Beavertown Brewery Taproom had told the weather as much. The sun shone brightly over Tottenham Hale as the taproom and can bar doled out numerous drinks to a full house – it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to being at a music festival in a retail park.

Where else can I buy the 2017 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA?

The famous Beavertown Brewery vans have been hitting the streets again, to deliver the 2017 Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA to 12 launch venues dotted around the UK, below. Click the links to see their Twitter accounts:

, Bath; , Leeds; , Birmingham; , Liverpool; , Bristol; , Manchester; , Edinburgh; , York; , Newcastle; , Glasgow; and Dukes Que and Brew, London.

More details on Beavertown Brewery Taproom

To learn more about how to get to the Taproom and what to expect on a regular (non-launch) day at the Beavertown Brewery, see our article.

3 beers to try at the 2017 Great British Beer Festival

Heading to the Great British Beer Festival this week? We spent an afternoon at the trade session sampling a few of the stronger beers, and we’ve picked a few highlights.

1. Tiny Rebel: Captain Insano – ABV 10% (B14)

I can’t think of a beer that’s had as many mentions in recent months.

Whether you’ve had a good can, a bad can or haven’t tried it yet – this is your chance to taste the beer as it ought to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s also the only British beer over 8% in the whole festival.

What?!

In fact there are only 8 more British beers over 7% which seems like a massive oversight on the part of the organisers with so many amazing strong beers being produced domestically.

2. Rio Bravo Brew Co: Grab Em By The Putin – 13.5% ABV (B08)

The USA cask ale stand was easily the most popular, giving the chance to taste lots of beers you wouldn’t ordinarily come across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s somewhat unusual to have a big boozy, Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout from a cask – but absolutely delicious nonetheless.

You should try it.

3.  Hardywood Park: Raspberry Stout – ABV 9.2% (B09)

This was the beer of the day for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From beginning to end is has the sharpness of fresh raspberries in a superbly drinkable stout, and at £12 for a 22oz bottle there was plenty to share with friends.

It didn’t last long.

The other place you’ll want to spend some time at the festival is the Dutch/Belgian stand (B20) with fridges packed full of beers you might be familiar with from our boxes – including breweries like Kees, De Molen and De Struise.

It is worth going to this festival for the international beers alone, and you certainly won’t be left short of beers to try – but what you won’t find are the best British beers.

Such a shame.

The miracle of St Bernadus

My legs had been hurting on the ride from Gent to Bruges, so I wasn’t looking forward to 72km of pain on today’s ride to Watou.

But when I woke up all the aches and pains had vanished. Could it be the restorative powers of Trappist beer at work?

Not only had the pain gone, but for once the wind was behind me, so the cycling was fast and enjoyable and I made good time to Watou.

Nestling just by the border with France, Watou is the home of the St Bernadus Brouwerij, where I would be spending the night in their guest house.

Punctures usually occur in the least convenient of places, but when I noticed my rear tyre deflating I was just 200m from the brewery.

It was a miracle that enabled me to check in and make use of the help yourself ‘loyalty fridge’ packed full of St Bernadus beers before setting to work changing the tube.

I thought I might be on for a puncture free trip, but if you’ve got to mend a puncture then this is definitely the way to do it.

Drinking in the views and beers of Gent

The 70km cycle to Gent involved all sorts of weather, wind, rain, sun – and at one point even a hailstorm.

Thankfully it brightened up as the day progressed so I arrived in Gent to a sunny late afternoon and evening.

First was the city brewery, only to find them closing early for the day – so it was onwards to TrolleKelder for the first beer; a Maredsous Dubbel, followed by an aged Kriek Boon. Wonderfully sour and woody, this is a terrific beer.

Next stop was Waterhuis aan de Bierkant. In a nice setting by the water there’s a very good selection of taps and bottled beers – including Gulden Draak at 10%.

Great beers, in a great city that’s often overlooked in favour of Bruges. Which just so happens to be where we are headed for tomorrow.

The good and great beers of Rotterdam

I was blown into Rotterdam on a fresh 8°C wind from the Hook of Holland.

I’d no sooner got here than it clouded over, turning rainy and biting cold, so it was an easy decision to head to Sijf for a spot of elevenses – in this case Brouwerij  Noordt’s Dubbel.

It was pot luck on the 7% ABV, as the decent-looking bottle menu was lacking that particular detail, but I picked this because it was a local brew and I hadn’t tried it.

Compared to a Westmalle it’s got less depth and more fruit, and it helped warm me up as I waited for my blue hands to thaw out.

By the time I had finished my pint, luckily the sun had come back out so it was onwards to Stadtsbrouwerij De Pelgrim which has its own beers on tap.

I tried the Mayflower Tripel (7.8%) and Vagabond Stout (8%). Both beers were excellent and very much in the Belgian tradition: high fermentation and a good depth of flavour.

There are some charming bars and restaurants here in Delfshaven, including my next port of call: Tapperij Vanoods ‘t Kraanjte.

To drink it was The Calling IPA from Boulevard Brewing Co, which at 8.5% is every inch a double.

This is the sort of beer where you know exactly what you’re getting and that it is a good thing – in a chewy toffee, citrus/pine way. Lovely stuff.

It was then on to Kaapse Brouwers near the SS Rotterdam, where I’m spending the night.

Here it was possible to sample a few of their own brews including Jaape Red Ale (9.4%), Gozer Imperial Oatmeal Stout (9.6%) and an Imperial Stout made in collaboration with De Pelgrim – they even had #2 Anniversary Quad by Kees on draught.

Of course, this was duly sampled – by the water in the evening sun. Tomorrow, it looks like there will be more weather and also some real cycling. Stay tuned!