A Year of Beer 2009 #12 - BrewDog How to Disappear Completely
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 How to Disappear Completely
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BrewDog How to Disappear Completely
This isn't happening. Fireworks and hurricanes. Strobe lights and blown speakers. Yes, I know, it seems like pretentious nonsense, but BrewDog's How To Disappear Completely is one of the most unusual and enjoyable beers I've tried in ages. It's so hard to get a handle on, so maybe that's why they named it after a lyrically oblique Radiohead song. Sure, there is a massive hop load, but it's the malt bill that throws you for a loop. Or maybe it's the practice of mash hopping, adding hops into the mix of malt and hot water right at the start of the brewing process, that does it.
On the nose, there is a fabulous pine-resinous hop character, which overlays a nutty chocolate note. As you drink the beer, there is a huge hop attack that is initially fruity (tropical fruit, peaches), but then that impression is swept away by a wave of slightly smoky chocolate malt character. Just as you brain is going "what the fuuuhhh..??", a squad of hops in tight formation come tramping onto your palate, restoring balance like a lorryload of weightlifters on a see-saw with an elephant. Then it flips back the other way, with the caramelised peachy fruit flavour receding and the chocolate coffee malt coming to the fore. Maybe the speed of these flavour oscillations is a reflection of the speed that my brain works at. Disappointingly slow, but then there is an awful lot of processing involved
The darker malt notes are unusual in an IPA, an perhaps that's why some have dubbed this ale an imperial mild. In fact, BrewDog refer to it as such on their blog, and who am I to argue? Actually, scratch that, I am going to argue the point. The hop character is totally off the scale for a mild, so although the nutty, smoky chocolate malt character is text-book mild, the hops make it something else again. It's an extreme, American inspired take on the style - make a beer good beer and chuck a load of hops at it.
It's brews like this that shake up the world of beer. It's Braque's first ventures into Cubism. It's Primal Scream releasing "Screamadelica". It's Stravinsky's "TheRite of Spring", a composition so unsettling that at its premiere, it sparked a riot in the audience. It's only been produced in limited quantities, so get yourself to their website and buy some, sharpish.
I didn't get around to tasting the food on the video. The mix of spicy lamb sausage, earthy, slightly smoky lentils and a glass of How To Disappear Completely was seriously good - hearty, solid, but also light and airy. A dinner of contrasts and contradictions. This is a lovely way to cook sausages, and you can mess with the recipe depending on the style of sausage - more garlic and herbs for Toulouse, a dollop of cranberry sauce for game - but the basic idea is the same. Cook lentils, brown sausages, poach in with lentils. Fast food made good. Oh, by the way, the sausages I use and endorse come from Ricky the Butcher at Lomber Hey Farm. He's a nice chap, and a great butcher, despite his slightly, erm, unconventional appearance.