As a big fan of owls, I really cannot resist the ridiculously cute labels on the Kiuchi Brewery‘s Hitachino Nest range of beers. Kiuchi have traditionally brewed Kikusakari sake but branched out into beer in 1996 and have scooped a number of awards for their range since. A while ago the Brewdog online store had them in so I just had to snap them all up. They’re so cute that I’ve almost been reluctant to drink them as they’re a joy to just have out on the shelf but, since we were having an Asian-inspired dinner tonight, I decided this was the perfect occasion to open the White Ale (5.5%) I had been hanging on to.
Owl drink twoo that!
In the glass, it’s a really beautifully cloudy golden yellow with a crown of joyful, albeit fleeting white clouds, reminiscent of the autumn sun through the trees. Fresh, sweet orange and corriander leap out on the nose. The flavour is clean and dry and has a really well-balanced herbal nutmeg and corriander twang up-front followed by a bitter and super-dry marmalade orange. Throughout the whole thing there’s a rustic wheatiness and a touch of tropical pineapple acidity, elegantly topped with a sprinkle of white pepper. This is possibly my favorite of all the Hitachino Nests so far. It was the perfect refreshment for my spicy, salty black rice and salmon dish but the style was decidedly more European than Asian. Delicious nevertheless! Another win for those owls but then everyone is fond of owls.
Autumn’s arrived folks! There’s a lovely nip in the air, the leaves are turning and pumpkins, sweetcorn and mince pies are back on the menu. I love autumn; the uncertainty of British summertime means lugging around layers for any eventuality and putting all plans on hold to hit the seaside at the first sign of sunshine because you don’t know if it will be back again. You know where you are once the nights start to draw in. The weather’s either wet or crisp – no sweltering heat broken by unforseen showers. Summer was fun, especially with the Olympics and all the other fun stuff, but now we can get into our snuggly pyjamas, turn the heating back on and break open a comforting dark beer and a lovely warm mince pie (it’s never too early). I am a firm believer that dark, warm beers are for any time of the year but there’s something so soothing about a rich porter or stout to unwind with the wind and rain beating the window and regular readers know I really don’t need an excuse anyway.
Poochie Pearly Queen!
It’s been one of those weeks which has left me seriously considering throwing my pc through the window and walking out the door so, as a reward for not doing such a thing, I think I’ve earnt that insane-looking bottle of Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout (5.5%ABV). The label features a typically eccentric Ralph Steadman illustration of a rather Pat Butcher-ish dog in bright red lipstick and a pearl necklace which made me smile before I even opened the bottle. Pouring it out, the colour is reminiscent of Minstrels with a short-lived fluffy head. It’s quite thin, escpecially in comparison to how they do this style in Ireland, but the aroma is what you would expect of an Oyster Stout; dark roasted malts and a little fruitcake. It’s brewed with real local Oysters and money from each sale goes towards the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) which is working to restore Oysters back into Chesapeake Bay so there’s a good reason to pick up a bottle. The flavour’s pretty dry and has plenty of smooth bitter cacao, but there’s also something a little woody and even a bit of salt in the aftertaste. It’s a perfectly fine stout but I’d love this beer to have a bit more oomph because it’s for a good cause and the illustration is awesome. It’s just a little too thin for my liking.