So this is the start of a three-part series that I am calling “Study Abroad” where I explore some super fun foreign beers, geek out too much, and probably drink too much. These will be back to back posts as Cassie has graciously allowed herself to take a quick three-week break from writing. The only way this could be more fun for me would be if I actually got to travel to each of these countries/breweries… hint, hint, boss man!
All the beers from this series came from B. United, a beer importer that has one of the strongest portfolios of foreign treats available to us in Minnesota. They have everything from classy ciders, sake, liqueurs and so much more! They are all going to be pretty limited in availability. So if any entice you, I suggest not waiting to purchase. Especially as I go deeper into the rabbit hole.
For this first Study Abroad course, I traveled, metaphorically, to Japan, United Kingdom, and Belgium (I’ll be visiting Belgium a few times), and, boy, was it a trip. I am always surprised with the mixture of complexity and balance with foreign beers. I am also surprised they aren’t more sought after. I can hands-down say that I have had more beers from other countries that I have seen as being truly unique. I think in America, we get to caught up in trends that we miss out on the fascinating world of beers that have been brewed a lot longer than most of us have been alive. There are flavors and aromas that you just can’t find here in the states, or at least they are difficult to find unless you know what you’re looking for.
Join me on this three-week adventure, and grab your reading caps because I’m gonna write way more than I should. I’m geeking out way too much and I don’t even care.
And Now, the Brews
|Kiuchi Brewery | Hitichino Nest Anbai | Ale Brewed with Plums and Salt|
|Kiuchi is known for making, pretty much one beer, Hitichino Nest, and making a bunch of different versions of it. I have had the base beer, and it was great. I have also had a version the went through wild fermentation called 3 Day and now I can check this one off the list. Anbai translates to Salty Plum and it’s aptly named. Brewed with locally grown sour green plums with a pinch of Japanese sea salt. The nose is fairly unique with a sourness that mixes with the plum and salty breeze. There is also a fair amount of wheat and yeast coming through. If you take a nice long deep whiff of this beer, the plums come right out. After you’ve inhaled that, take a sip and you’ll get a fantastic amount of plum. The plum is complimented by a delightful tartness and a kick of sea salt resulting in some nice herbs and a dryish finish. A fantastic showcase of Kiuchi’s Hitichino Nest’s versatility.|
|330 ml Bottle | 7.5% ABV | 10 IBUs|
|Picobrouwerij Alvinne | Cuvee Freddy | Blended Sour Stout|
|I think one of my favorite things about a lot of the foreign beers is the lack a creativity in the labeling. They let the beer do the talking, and you have to know what you’re looking for. It’s great. The best part is that they can sit on the shelf for years, no one grabs it because of the ugly labels, and each time you find it, it tastes a bit different. Beer is fun that way. Cuvee Freddy is a blend of their sour ale “The Alvino”, a sour ale that is aged for 4 months on red wine grapes from the brewer’s mother’s garden, with Mano Negra, their Imperial Stout. The blend is then aged for one more year on burgundy wine barrels. Then, before bottling, it is blended again with 30% of their Podge Belgian, another Imperial Stout. There is a lot going on in the beer, from what it takes to make it, to the nose, tart cherries, yeast, oak, stone fruits and red wine. The complexity pushed even further when you begin to drink it, with flavors of dark cherry, oak earth, slightly tart, unripe plums, red wine, and very well balanced.|
|11.2 oz Bottle | 8% ABV | 10 IBUs|
|J.W. Lees & Co. | 2014 Harvest Ale | Barley Wine Style Ale Matured in Calvados|
|J.W. Lees & Co. has been around since 1828 and Harvest Ale is brewed as a Limited Edition Vintage to celebrate the first brew from each year’s harvest of barley and hops. They rotate what it ages in, and in 2014, the decided to use Calvados barrels. For those of you that don’t know, Calvados is a fancy word for Apple Brandy. The nose on this one has a lot more fruit than you would expect, thanks to the Calvados. Notes of brandy like booze, apples, apricots, maple, oak, and a bit of spice reminiscent of cinnamon or black pepper. Sipping this beer, it’s a total sipper, brings out dates, apricot brandy, maple, oak, vanilla, and almost candy apple? Truly unique, complex, and downright delicious! This bugger can be aged for a long time to come.|
|9.3 oz Bottle | 11.5% ABV | N/A IBUs|