Sunday, 4 January 2015

12 Beers Of Xmas - Day 11

The Twelve Beers Of Christmas
Day Eleven
Elixir Brew Co. - Sugar Lumps 7.7%

Today was a sad day. Today was the day that we carefully packed Christmas away for another eleven months, shut the boxes and put them back in the loft.

Even though there's still one day left, and therefore another post to come after this one, today was the by far the best day to get it all sorted, dismantled and stored. Consequently the room looks rather bare, but soon enough the everyday paraphernalia that we acquire throughout the year will start appearing in the gaps until next December I have to find somewhere to store it. This is usually right on top of the previous years detritus, and so the loft gets fuller and fuller. 

I expect you have a similar tale to tell, pack and pile, pack and pile, and so the sequence continues. This year I however I have resolved to break the cycle and clear out the attic in the Spring and uncover some of the treasures I have squirrelled away since we moved in. I'm rather looking forward to it as I know that I have quite a few beer-related items up there, books, glasses and other ephemera that I haven't seen for at least ten years, and the prospect of discovering these things again is quite exciting. Rest assured if I find anything that I feel merits attention then I'll be sure to share it with you and hopefully write something interesting about it too. 

Much as yesterdays beer was one I picked up on my travels, so today's beer is one I bought over the Autumn half-term holidays on a trip to Edinburgh. 

The Elixir Brew Co. was formed late in 2012 by Ben Bullen, a keen home-brewer who had moved from Freemantle, Australia to the UK, finally settling in Edinburgh after four years, and Barry Robertson, manager of the Cloisters Bar, which I found to be one of the friendliest pubs in the city. They picked the name Elixir as they thought it typified their ethos, little realising it would land then with a 'cease and desist' notice from Everards Brewery in March of 2014 who had produced a seasonal beer of that name in 2012, and indeed had trade-marked it. Fortunately common sense prevailed and, after some considerable outrage on social media, Everards backed down and withdrew their objection to Elixir Brew Co. trade-marking their own brewery name. 

A small digression, but 2014 will partly be remembered in UK craft beer circles as being a year of accusations and threats of litigation with Camden Town vs. Weird Beard, Red Bull vs. Redwell, and later Camden Town vs. Redwell being other notable examples, but it was Everards vs. Elixir that seemed to start the whole thing off.

Elixir also have the distinction of producing one of my favourite beers of the year, not just for it's taste, which was like a really good liquid Turkish Delight, but also for it's name. In a collaboration with the excellent Pilot Beer from nearby Leith, Sumac Me Feel Like A Natural Saison was brewed with sumac (unsurprisingly) as well as rose water and even couscous. 

Today's beer is not quite so adventurous although it is a collaboration, this time with local home brewer Ben Hislop. Brewed using the kit from Alechemy Brewing in Livingston, West Lothian, this Imperial Stout lists dark malts, oats and both Demerara and Belgian sugars amongst it's ingredients. Let's get that bottle open.

It's dark, very dark, which you might expect with a beer of this nature and certainly those ingredients, and the beige head that adorns it lets you know that this is a beer rather than a cold black coffee. The aroma is rich and dark too, with raisins and prunes providing the sweet notes, whilst good Belgian chocolate and a decent shot of espresso give it a bitter balance. There's a good prickle of carbonation that rolls across the tongue with a deliciously bitter chocolate flavour following in its wake. There's some fruitiness too, black cherry and prune, but this is muted and sits right at the back of the palate, it's the bitter chocolate that's the star here, and it oozes bitter decadence. The finish is a more straight forward aware with a peak of dark fruits at the beginning leading to a relatively fast-fading coffee chocolate flavour that leaves a wonderfully light oiliness that lets you know it was there.

This is another fantastic beer from this super little brewery, and I'm looking forward to drinking more of this high calibre in 2015. Before I sign off for today I will just mention the Great Grog Shop in Edinburgh where I picked this, and many other good beers up from, and if you're ever in the vicinity then make sure that you pay it a visit as you won't be disappointed. Scotland is producing some amazing beer at the moment, make sure you get yourself some of it.

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