Until now, pretty much every beer I’ve talked about here has been British. This is not because I believe that the rest of the world is incapable of making good beer – it’s just that I have so many great British beers to choose from, I simply haven’t got around to talking about the rest.

Today, I correct this oversight with a monster from Flying Dog, a great brewery from Colorado who are part of that crowd of American craft brewers proving once and for all that not all US beer is flavourless fizzy water (I’m looking at you, Bud…)

Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel

Kerberos is a Tripel-style beer, cunningly named for the three headed dog who guards the entrance to the Underworld in Greek mythology. This is the kind of pun I can get behind, as it’s got both a numerical reference to the Tripel, plus a dog pun. Perfect!

A little under strength at 8.5% (in my book a Tripel is supposed to be 9%), it pours amber and slightly murky with a very fine bubbled, rich and lingering head. The nose is something special, with a yeastiness, a warm rich fruit – perhaps over ripe plums – and a definite alcohol hit.

In the mouth, the fine bubbles give a very pleasant, light champagne feel to the beer. It’s a superbly fruit flavour – almost peach, but richer – with sticky toffee to it as well, leading through to a gentle bitter tang at the end. There’s some alcohol heat underlying it all, but much less than you’d expect at this strength.

It’s not quite what I’d expect from a Tripel, but that’s my only real complaint. It’s a damn tasty beer that’s just the right way to start the weekend.

 

Some whiskies in my cupboard were bought for specific reasons; recommendations from friends or because I knew and loved the area they came from. This week’s whisky is not one of those.

Aberlour 10

I actually bought this in my local supermarket because it was on special offer. It’s a well priced 10 year old Highland; I wasn’t expecting amazing things – it was, after all, little over twenty quid – but hoped for a good, solid ‘drinking’ whisky.

On the nose, hiding behind the grain, are hints of orange peel and caramel. A splash of water brings out some more interesting aromas, of toast and a slight spice.

In the mouth, there is some sweetness but it’s offset by a curious, almost tannic bitterness. Water cuts back the sweetness, and brings some fruitier notes to the fore but it still feels a little rough around the edges and one dimensional.

To sum up, it’s unremarkable. I’ll finish the bottle – it’s not undrinkable – but I won’t bother buying another, no matter how good a special offer it is.

 

The Kernel is a brewery I’ve enthused about before; they were the subject of one of my earlier Brewery Tours At Home and I’ve always loved their beer. Finding myself in the general vicinity of London Bridge recently on a Saturday, I took the opportunity to pop down to the brewery and pick up a few more interesting bottles to try.

The Kernel IPA Double Black

This is their India Pale Ale Double Black, at 9.8% I think, the printing isn’t clear and The Kernel’s beer strength vary considerably! I’ve complained before about the current trend of “Black IPAs” – clearly I’m the only one who knows what the P stands for – so I’ll spare you that rant today.

As is often the case with their beers, there was an astounding quantity of yeast in the bottom of the bottle. I’d been very patient and let the bottle settle for a couple of weeks but unfortunately when I opened it the beer foamed, quite slowly but steadily out of the top. This has the annoying habit of stirring up the sludge in a bottle conditioned beer.

The end result is glass that looks less double black and more murky stagnant river. I don’t mind the taste of yeast, but it’s not a good look – and that’s not even counting the beer that escaped down the sink.

Anyway, on to the beer. The nose is just what you expect from a big IPA – floral hops by the ton, with some caramel and sweet honey under it.

The taste is seriously complex; sweet and malty to start, the alcohol then starting to make itself known along with a serious honey punch. After that the hops start making a comeback, floral, pine resin and a huge bitter tail and all the way through a thick, sticky sweetness.

I’m torn by this beer. It looks, frankly, terrible in the glass and I resent the beer I lost, both down the sink from the overflow and the half inch of sludge I had to leave in the bottle. It’s also been hopped to within an inch of it’s life, even for beer from The Kernel. It’s almost too hoppy.

On the other hand, all those hops cut through what would otherwise be an undrinkably sticky sweet beer and they help turn this into a really interesting, rich beer full of beautifully balanced flavours. I don’t think this is my favourite of their beers, but it’s pretty high up in the list.

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