The Sample Room: Have a Brazilian

Fruit beers divide opinion. Some really love a tart, cherry-stuffed kriek but others have only come across very sweet fruit beers and loathe them as a result. There are those that think fruit just has no place in beer and others who think it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it. I fall into the latter camp.

If it’s done well, if it’s made with real fruit, if it tastes good then it gets my vote. Fruit beers I love include Burton Bridge Damson Porter (4.5%), once described to me as being like an orgasm in a glass; I was blown away the first time I had De Keersmaeker Morte Subite Oude Kriek (6.5%) because it was tart and fruity – nothing like the horrid sweetened krieks I’d been given previously – and perfectly matched the suckling pig I was lucky enough to be eating and then there’s Cantillon. I was lucky enough to visit the famous Cantillon Brewery in Brussels last year and while there tasted their frambozen. As with my kriek experience until then I’d only been given frambozens (which are made with raspberries) packed with added sugar. Cantillon think added sugar is an unnecessary evil. They don’t even call their frambozen a frambozen because of the negative connotations with the horribly sweet versions. Instead they call it Rosé de Gambrinus (5%). It’s a gorgeous reddish-pink beer, smells of flowers and raspberries and is gentle but tart like a raspberry sorbet – or perhaps a pavlova as there’s hints of creaminess too. I am misty-eyed just thinking how lovely it was.

So I was intrigued to be contacted by a brewery from Brazil which makes beers with fruits native to the rain forest – most of which I’d never even heard of. Amazon Beers are based in Belém in the north of Brazil and their labels were designed by US beer evangelist Randy Mosher (I’m not sure if he is also responsible for their logo but in any case it is a clever little design featuring a monkey whose tail forms the ‘o’ in ‘Amazon’). As I understand it the fruit used is made into a puree and added after fermentation.

I started with Cerveja Stout Acai, or Acai Stout, (7.2%) partly because I love stout but also Açaí Stoutbecause I’d heard of acai berries, which are meant to be an antioxidant-rich superfood. I didn’t get round to trying any before writing but apparently they taste like a cross between blackberries, raspberries and dark chocolate and have a fairly bitter character. Sounds a perfect match for a stout! It’ll be no accident as Amazon Beers employ a beer sommelier who works with the brewer to create the recipes – which are tested on a pilot brewing kit before going into full production. The Acai Stout was delicious. It had a big, dark chocolate aroma with hints of tobacco and liquorice and a tangy, chocolatey flavour with a herbal, piney bitterness. It somehow managed to be both rich and full-bodied but light and refreshing too.

Amazon TaperebáNext up Cerveja Witbier Taperebá or Taperebá Wheat Beer (4.7%). Taperebá fruits look a bit like potatoes but apparently taste like mangoes. They are often made into ice creams in Brazil. I didn’t get mangoes when I tasted the beer but a mixture of mandarin, melon and apricot. There was an initial juicy-fruity tart bite to the beer which gave way to a refreshing, fuzzy sherbet-like flavour and then to a balancing cereal aftertaste. Overall a zingy, little wheat beer with an unusual fruity character.

Finally I tried the Red Ale Priprioca (6%). Priprioca is a root rather than a fruit and is said to have a woody, vanilla flavour and even an aroma of patchouli! (You can find an excellent video about it, and its use by Brazilian chefs, here). I didn’t pick this up in the beer, instead it reminded me of a strong British-style bitter but with rhubarb crumble and baked apple flavours (the latter in a good way – like a spiced apple baked with sultanas and raisins – NOT a green apple off flavour). I was sorry I only had one bottle of this beer, both because I enjoyed it but also I wanted to re-taste it after researching priprioca.

At the time of writing Amazon Beer’s UK website is down but I understand the beers are available in Britain and there are plans to increase exports. I hope so as I definitely want to quaff more Acai Stout and further investigate the flavour of priprioca. Priprioca beer

You can find Amazon Beer’s website – which is in Portuguese – here.

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Beer is back at the London Wine Fair 2015


It’s the London Wine Fair at Olympia this week from Mon 18th – Wed 20th (inclusive) and beer is back at the Fair.

As well as brewers and distributors exhibiting within Brewhouse I’ve also put together a programme of talks and tastings at The Hopsack – which can be found at stand F400.

Below is the foreword I wrote for the Brewhouse catalogue – which just about sums up why beer is back at the London Wine Fair.


It’s an exciting time to be a beer buyer

Whether you see it as evolution or revolution the world of beer has changed dramatically during the last decade. Where once the choice was simply lager or ale, today there are thousands of breweries making dozens of styles and hundreds of different beers.

Leading the charge are legions of hoppy US-style IPAs, but their popularity is no reason to neglect other more sessionable styles, or boozy, high ABV delights and everything else in between. Variety is the key to making the most of beer and essential to taking advantage of the interest in beer and food matching.

Thanks to the information age of internet, blogs, social media and smartphones – drinkers are now instantly able to research and review beers and places to drink. They expect increased choice and high standards. Get it wrong and you’ll miss out not just on making a profit but also the good PR beer know-how brings. Get it right and you’ll be on track to benefit from a boom in sales of craft beer which market analysts predict will continue to grow. Brewhouse at the London Wine Fair brings together a diverse mix of breweries and distributors presenting some of the best beers currently available.

Beer genie toasting pic lower res

This year’s beer exhibitors include:

Bear Brewery Co. Ltd, Love Drinks Ltd, Duvel Moortgat,

Brasserie Meteor SA, Wild Card Brewery, Thistly Cross Cider,

Freedom Brewery, Westside Drinks, Elgood & Sons,

Fordham & Old Dominion, Siren Craft Brew, Alivini Company Ltd,

Harviestoun Brewery, Budvar UK, By The Horns Brewing Co,

The Wild Beer Co, La Rulles and Meantime.

Download the full Brewhouse catalogue – which includes a list of exhibitors and beers as well as details of what’s on at The Hopsack here or find The Hopsack programme on the London Wine Fair website.

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Beer and pasta making with Brooklyn Brewery


From the archive comes this post I wrote last summer about the Brooklyn Brewery Mash – which is basically a tour by BB beers and people and a week-long beery celebration in a host city.

The Mash hits London this week 27 Apr – 3 May 2015 with events including debates on the State of Craft Beer and IPA on trial (the latter with one of BB’s top women, Brewing Technical Director Mary Wiles), some beer and food specials and some evenings of cultural entertainment too.

Beers to look out for this year include the excellent 1/2 Ale (a session saison and a bit like the baby sister of Sorachi Ace); Wild Horse Brett Porter and K is for Kriek.

It’s going to be delicious so be there or cry on your own in a corner (or raid your beer cupboard for something to console yourself with).

Full details here:

Originally posted on A FemAle View on Beer:

Brooklyn Brewery’s Mash Tour rolled into London this week. It’s a week of various foody and cultural events in partnership with local venues and people all lubricated by BB’s marvellous beers. I joined one of the events, an educational session about pasta making, in Shoreditch.

I’m going to be honest with you. I wasn’t sure how interesting a pasta-making demonstration was going to be. I was more keen on finding out what beers Brooklyn Brewery’s new(ish) chef Andrew Gerson was going to pair with pasta – particularly those in tomato sauces which I think can be quite tricky to match. But I went with an open mind and ended up learning more than I thought I would.

The event was held at a tiny ‘pastificio’ – meaning ‘artisan’ – called Burrio e Salvia (where if you don’t want to get practical with pasta you can simply go for lunch) and…

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