Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: BrewDog Tokyo*
If you'd like to subscribe to my video blog, and be informed when something new is uploaded, then please click here and sign up via the yellow "Subscribe" button. Go on, it'll be fun.
So, one of the most hyped beers of the year finally touches down on its intergalactic fantastic voyage from the conditioning tanks of the Dandy BrewPunks of Fraserburgh, heading straight for the heart of civilisation, with a mission to destroy us all. Well, that's a point of view that has been widely espoused, but what's the straight dope on this beer?
Firstly, it's a beer. It's not a virus, it's not a dirty bomb, it's a beer. Sure, a big beer, wearing its alcohol-soaked heart on its sleeve (this may well integrate with time), and smashing into the olfactory bulb in a rush of cherries, chocolate, molasses and ginger parkin. It's a bloody great big beer, full of spice, fruit and booze. Despite all this, it's surprisingly light-bodied - definitely not the imperial stout style that I was expecting. Sure, it charges over the palate and roughs you up a bit, but it does so with a certain amount of grace - like being bullied by a well-dressed Belgian security guard.
Of course, that's only what I think. I sent an invite out via Twitter, offering tasters of this unique, record-breaking beer to anyone interested. Sadly, I wasn't deluged with guests, but the bottle did get finished - just how was a surprise, but we'll come to that.
One of the first measured responses was from Nicholas King, of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. He happened to be in town, and wanted to score some interesting beers, and was happy to pass verdict on Tokyo* - he found it to be surprisingly light bodied, and although it didn't hide its strength was actually pretty palatable. A few hours after him, I tried to pressgang a regular customer, Saison Steve, into trying some, but to no avail.
Saison Steve (as we call him, due to his love of Saison Dupont) wanted to chat for a bit, as he hadn't been in for quite a few months - in fact, as a victim of the recession, he's been made redundant, and has had to knock his fancy beer habit on the head. Still, he came in to buy a few, and we chatted for a long time about various things - life, work, beer, kids and so on - until he had chosen six or eight beers (mostly Belgian triples - maybe Triple Steve has ring to it?)
He paid for the beers, and kindly bought me one too (Popering Hommel, thanks Steve), loaded up his bag, and headed off. As it was delivery day, I cracked back into it, momentarily wondering where the bottle of Tokyo* had gone, but assuming that in a fit of efficiency, I'd put it back in the fridge. Not so.
About half an hour later, the phone rings. It's Triple Steve: "Oh Zak, I'm so sorry, I've made a terrible mistake. As put those beers in my bag, I accidentally picked up that bottle of Tokyo* and laid it on top of them [it was loosely re-capped]. I was on the bus, and I could smell beer, and when I got off, I saw my bag was dripping. Well, I looked through and found your bottle, leaking everywhere. I pulled a few beers out, and dried them off, and then looked at the Tokyo*. There was about three mouthfuls left, so I thought it would be a shame to waste it. And do you know, it's not my thing, but I've never drank a beer like it, and the aftertaste just went on and on. But as I was stood there finishing it, with a couple of bottles stood up drying out, this tramp came over and said 'Do you mind if I join you?' I was mortified"