Being involved in IrishCraftBrewer.com, I was always well aware that there can be a real, physical, social side to on-line communities. It's easy in the case of ICB, as there are regular social meet-ups, just to go for a few pints (500ml) and swap homebrew and the like. However, since starting a blog, and then dabbling on Twitter, I've been pleasantly surprised by the long-distance social scenes that can grow out of these on-line communities. Recently, I've sent beer to Mark Dredge of Pencil and Spoon fame, and he reciprocated. He shared my beers with his friend, and brewer from Hopdaemon, Pete Brissenden, who later sent a selection of their beers, just because! It's bloody great, although with such wonderful beers, I'm slowly getting disenchanted with German beer again, and every time I go down to the cellar, I reach for something non-German first. Who can blame me? As a result, over the past couple of nights I've had the pleasure of trying out a trilogy of beers from Hopdaemon.
The first was sent by Mark, and I now have a second bottle in the cellar thanks to Pete. Skrimshander, described as a Kentish Ale and IPA, pours a pale amber with a loose, fluffy head. The aroma is one of those that I always have trouble describing, but it's common to many of my favourite, rich IPAs. Kind of like toffee, with cheap, chocolate toffee undertones, like the candy coins you got as a kid. Candyfloss maybe? I'm sure people think I'm mad when I mention chocolate toffee in relation to an IPA. Ayway, along with that, there's a pleasent orange-pith undertone, and I find it mouthwatering. And the good news (for me at least)? It tastes like it smells. There's a satisfying caramel and biscuit base with an earthy wash of hops amidships. They might be a little subdued when compared to US-style IPAs, but the combination is rather juicy. It has a gentle bitterness, but it builds up, leaving a slight pine-like touch and a hint of orange pith. I would personally prefer a touch more carbonation to lift the hops up, but overall, a lovely, nicely balanced beer. I'm looking forward to the second bottle.
Green Daemon Helles is accurately described as a Golden Beer on the label, as it is, with a slightly orange-tinted pale gold. It looks well carbonated, with a steady stream of bubble supporting the dense, white head. It gives off fruity, bready and slightly yeasty aromas. On first sip, it's surprisingly loaded with fruity, floral flavours A suggestion of pear-drops with an ever-so-slight hint of solvents after swallowing. It's not as bitter as the big hop aromas suggest, but is definitely hop driven in the flavour and aroma department, again with masses of fruitiness. Underneath is a pleasantly biscuity maltiness that lends its own subtle sweetness. An intersting, juicy-fruit set of flavours. The finish is dryish, with lingering floral hops flavours.
Leviathan. I love that word, and I love the artwork on the label. As for the beer, it's an appealing ruddy brown with a juicy aroma, leaning towards light chocolate, marzipan and blackberries. Promising. On first taste, it delivers a soft caramel backbone with what must be chocolate malts on top, lending a touch of roastiness alongside dried fruits and a touch of fig. The hops are delicate, but bring in a nice spiciness that sits well with the dark, fruity flavours. There's a slight alcohol warmth, making it feel a little more than it's 6%. The finish is dryish with a touch of spice and a lingering roasty bitterness and more blackberries. A lovely autumnal drop.