Every now and then there are times when you get a chance to hang out with some people you met in your past, where you get to talk about those days and look back with 20-20 hindsight and see why and how you and others have changed. What better way to do this than with a few good beers...well, what situation can't be improved with a beer really.
Like last Thursday, Beer Deluxe was the venue, so with Z, Stroudy and Seb, we had a bit of a beer journey while discussing old times and new. Having heard good reports from some boys over the weekend on Southern Bay's Metal Head Robust Porter, decided to start on this. Not being a massive fan of the dry roasty dark malt character typical of this style, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it that much, but have to say I did enjoy it more than I expected. While there is definitely the roasted quality, there is a fuller body and sweetness with the dry to fill out the palate with a decent balance of flavour. The body helps it keep flavour across the palate too, but it is still subtle enough overall so that the typical beer drinker can easily enjoy it without the sense of it being overbearing in one, or many different flavours. Was a good one to start on actually as could easily focus on it whenever I had a chance between conversation, or just sippingly slip into the background when the conversation was key.
From here the boys let me direct the journey for us, and being excited seeing the Bridge Road B2 Bomber on tap, I wanted to taste this while the tastebuds were fresh enough to appreciate it. I dare say Ben has picked up some tips from collaborating with Mikkeller earlier in the year, and the malt character had some real Scandinavian qualities with it dense, which is a bit surprising to see, as many Black IPA's try to tame the dark malt so it mainly just adds colour. I have to say, it does diminish the other flavours, but not to their detriment, so I am personally happy to see someone has been bold enough to let the malt be what it is (OK, I was always going to say that). I think it sets up the palate for the contrast that is to come with the Belgian yeast and hops towards the back, which compliment each other nicely with the late zing of bitterness cleaning up the syrupy malt that dominates the front of the palate. Having had it on tap, look forward to seeing if the yeast picks up a bit more in the bottle to help balance of the flavours.
Moving on, and wanting to up the yeast character from the previous beer, I went back to the Unifikator to see how it had aged over the week. Honestly, the banana was really dominate, but seeing it is such a clean yeast quality, it doesn't take away from the beer, and still retains a good flavour profile. It is good to see there is a beer out there with a yeasty character that doesn't not need an acquired taste to appreciate it, as the boys dug it. For me, I really like the caramel and banana combination that was happening in this beer.
Letting Stroudy have a say on the last beer, he asked for a lighter styled beer (yeah, bit disappointing), so went with a pilsner...a 'cough' (imperial) pilsner. The collaboration of Dogfish Head and Birra del Borgo recommended by Mike has some good caramel malt character to continue the trend for the previous beer, but as I tend to get from imperial pilsners, the alcohol hits very early on the palate seeing there isn't anything dense enough in the other ingredients to balance it out. Not that is it a bad thing, just means it is a harder job for the brewer(s) to give a good profile. I wasn't getting a heap of hop character, but by then my tastebuds were probably dying off. Mind you, could have also bee the conversation. Still, the overarching flavour for me is the alcohol itself, which while didn't spike to heavily, was definitely very dominate in the profile.
With the boys needing to leave at that point, I decided to hit Mrs Parma's for a Bolognese Parma and a 2 Bothers Grizz then had to settle for an overcarbonated pint of Coopers Pale Ale while watching a great gig from the Twoks (can't have it all I guess).
Thanks to the ex-Goodman boys for being able to hang out for the first time in a few years, and letting me infiltrate/hopefully improve our interaction with beery goodness.