Ben Dean-Titterrell

Politics and beer

1001 Beers: 10. Thornbridge Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg Imperial Russian Stout

From: England

Brewed by: Thornbridge Brewery

First brewed: 2005

ABV: 7.4%

Obtained from: Beerhawk

I’d never tried a stout before I picked out this beer. It already felt like it was more than about time I did so. And yet I tasted this beer with some trepidation. As a well established fan of lighter, hoppier, fruitier beers I had the lingering belief that stout may be too adverse a taste for my liking. Yet I tried as best I could to take this beer as it was rather than how I thought it would be.

My first thought remained my overriding thought: “Damn that’s bitter.” The bitterness was deep and strong, it descended into something of a sourness. It was incredibly full bodied and dominated the mouth, almost burning on the tongue. The north of 7% strength left a kick in the back of the throat that stayed for some time.

Bottle Cap

Speaking of the strength of this beer; it may have been a mistake to start off with such a strong stout as my first. Having say for instance an IPA that was 7% as mys first IPA may have warranted a similar reaction. Starting with stronger beers seems like quite a backwards way of doing things; like putting the stabilisers on a bike after learning to ride unaided.

So a mistake on my part possibly. But the strength of this stout doesn’t change the simple and unavoidable fact that I just don’t really like bitterness in beer.

This really wasn’t for me. It’s nothing personal, but a two out of five.

2 out of 5

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1001 Beers: 9. BrewDog Punk IPA

Punk IPA

Punk IPA

From: Scottish

Brewed by: BrewDog

First brewed: 2007

ABV: 5.6%

Obtained from: Beerhawk

When you read of BrewDog you read of a brewery that started with the goal of pushing the boundaries of brewing. They were rebels that didn’t care for established order of things. I care little for mythologising the history of beer and its makers, so I’ll take Punk IPA on its merits.

The hoppiness is rich and far-reaching. The mix of hops is strong and forceful, but not so strong as to be off-putting. The flavours are complex and they give you a lot to think about. I definitely found the hop flavours more prominent than the malt ones; its a personal preference but I think this ranks as a positive aspect to the beer.

Bottle Cap

One of the things I noticed first about this IPA was how fizzy it was. It seems like an odd thing to make note of, but the fizz in this beer was more prominent than many others I’ve tried. It gave each sip a real edge to it. This strong fizz worked well with the tropical fruit flavours that I’m also a big fan of in beers generally.

A strong showing here from Punk IPA. There’s a definite re-drinkability. A well deserved four pints.4 out of 5

1001 Beers: 8. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

From: United States

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

First Brewed: 1980

ABV: 5.6%

Obtained from: Beerhawk 

This beer, according to my book, has a very important place in the contemporary history of beer. I try my best to ignore any kind of mythologising about the importance of the beers I try for this project, but its hard to avoid how much this beer is talked about in treading new ground in the realm of small, pioneering breweries.

Taking the beer on its own merits, it has an immediate freshness. The hoppy tastes are crisp and light. They sit loosely on the tongue while the fruitiness comes in. The fruity tastes are sweet and rich, they linger in the mouth long after every sip. It feels very summery, it would be best drank outside on a warm, sunny day.

This beer gives you all the vital elements you want in a pale ale. It doesn’t blow you away or change the way you think about beer in one can. But it does give you everything you want from a fairly strong pale ale. It feels like a real classic; something that you can absolutely rely on.

This beer is really good. It’s up there with the beers I’d have first off on a visit to a pub or a bar. A very respectable four out of five.

4 out of 5

1001 Beers: 7. Arrogant Bastard Ale

Arrogant Bastard Ale

Arrogant Bastard Ale

From: United States

Brewed by: Stone Brewing

First Brewed: 1997

ABV: 7.2%

Obtained from: Beerhawk

The first thing I noticed upon drinking this dark coloured ale was how forceful and intense the bitterness was. The writing on the can boasts of how strong and aggressive it is in a very self-aggrandising paragraph; with regards to the bitterness of the hop flavours it certainly tells the truth. The bitterness stays in the mouth and lingers a while after each sip.

Speaking of sips, this is a beer that must be consumed in small increments. Taking large gulps of Arrogant Bastard Ale would be too overpowering to be enjoyable. In such a large can this becomes a beer to drink slowly and thoughtfully, and at over 7% ABV each sip packs a punch. Despite its strength one can is unlikely to get you drunk, but I reached that point where you’re aware for some time that you’ve had a drink.

There are some very dark fruity notes to this beer as well. The fruitiness tastes most like some kind of dark berry. This brings a sweetness that in my opinion is much needed, if the bitterness was left unchecked it really wouldn’t be tolerable. This is a good bitter beer that even a fan of sweeter beers can enjoy.

I wouldn’t rush to get this beer if given the option but its still enjoyable and certainly makes its way into the list of beers I would drink again. All things considered I give this a well earned three pints.

3 out of 5