"Excuse Me, Waiter..."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Yeah, there's seaweed in my beer."

Normally, I would send a product back to a kitchen if there was seaweed in it. A guy's got to draw the line somewhere after all. But today is a different day. I went down to one of my two Beer Meccas in town, and discovered Heather Ale Ltd's Kelpie Seaweed Ale. Seaweed beer. Hm.
The bottle itself boasts that seaweed from the beautiful Argyll coast is mashed-in with the malts to impart an historic flavor achieved in older times by fertilizing barley fields with seaweed. I guess having my 'druthers, I'druther that this was the "old" way. But what the Hell. If I can go to my buddy Greg's house and eat a kind of fruit that you're not supposed to eat until it's rotten, then a seaweed ale is pretty tame.

My brain prepared my tongue for an onslaught of fish, salt, seaweed...in other words, my brain prepared it for sashimi or sushi rolls. I like those flavors in sushi. Probably not in my beer.

Boy was my brain wrong. This beer is excellent.

Kelpi poured into my Imperial Pint Glass a deep, nearly opaque brown; dark mahagony with ruby-red highlights. It poured a creamy light-brown head, thick and tall, that stood quite well before slowly dissipating. But it wasn't the appearance that proved my brain wrong.

It was the aroma. Sweet, creamy milk chocolate hit my nose like I stood in a Nestle factory. This chocolate dream was supported by a beautiful roasted malt aroma. Not coffee at all. Just pleasantly toasted. The malt backbone of this beer is tremendous. It reflects some of the best 80-shilling scotch ales I have tasted, plus a load of chocolate. And then there it is...way underneath all of this lovely window dressing...that scant hint of salt. I am transported to Scotland, outdoors at a pub drinking a lovely local ale, and a light breeze carries in from the ocean just that tad of sea salt that those of us surrounded by fresh water get occasionally jealous of.

The taste paralleled the aroma. Chocolate is the first and the last thing you taste. Throughout the beer your tongue is comforted by that lovely Scottish toasted-meets-malt flavor (which comes in part from kettle-roasting their malts as opposed to fire or giant ovens). And like the aroma, there is just that bare, scant saltiness that dries the tongue, as this would otherwise not be a dry beer. It reminds me of drinking beer after swimming in the ocean, my tongue and lips still salty from the surf. It's almost not there at all; the taste itself is almost a memory. Perfect.

This full-bodied beer has a creamy texture, accentuating the milk-chocolate qualities of the aroma and taste. It finishes malty with that toasty undertone, and makes you want more. People who are wary of "dark beers" I think will actually be surprised with how good and drinkable this beer is. You just have to trick your brain to get over the whole "seaweed" part of the label!

This beer surprised me with how good it is. I will be back for more.


Mike 7:54 AM  

Wow. That sounds wild. Seems like something Sam Caligione would've thought up.

Sopor 9:53 AM  

What an awesome review! Mah Scottish blood sings! I gotta try some o'dis ... I've looked at it time a'time again, always skipping o'er it for somet'in "safer". How silly o'me.[/horrble socttish accent]

"a kind of fruit that you're not supposed to eat until it's rotten"
What fruit are you referring to?

Sopor 10:53 AM  

Smitty... interesting link on Lifehacker.com today that I believe *might* be potentially very useful for you ;-)

Share High-Res Videos with No Sign-Up at TinyPic

(*I'm a good IT guy... I will never tell you "will" or "won't", it's always, "might", "should", or "shouldn't"...)

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