It doesn’t seem five minutes since I pretty much by chance arranged an impromptu mini Twitter session for the original version of Summer Wine Brewery Kopikat. It’s the breweries Imperial Vanilla Coffee Stout, stuffed to the gunnels with the finest Madagascan vanilla pods, Kopi Luwak and various other high quality coffee beans for those if you unfortunate enough not to have tried it.
I remember it very well though. The initial frenzy as people hacked furiously away at bronzed wax, desperate to get in to taste the dark and deliciousness within, (before realising they were actually pretty easy to open). Then the collective calm in the Twittersphere, as across the land beery folk sought superlatives of enough descriptive suitability to express how good this beer was and oh how it was..
Well now it’s back and it means business!
Back then, roughly around nine months ago, brewers James and Andy squirreled away some Kopikat for whisky ageing, one batch went into a Caol Ila barrel the other a Clynelish.
Some lucky folks got to taste the results of this fine work back in May at the mammoth SWB, 20 beer, meet the brewer session in CASK (Pimlico), but tonight it makes it’s debut in the North at Manchesters Port Street Beer House.
Interlude… (music plays)
OK, so I wrote the first part on the train into Manchester, fast forward three hours and multiple crazy beers later, including Brewdog Libertine, Kernel Citra IPA, Odell Dunkel Rye Zen and at least four halves of Hopping Frog Hopping To Heaven IPA.. The spelling and grammar could go way downhill from here on what is likely to be yet another semi inebriated iPhone blogpost.
First up Caol Ila, one of my all time favourite malt whisky’s, rich, indulgent and peaty. The Kopikat follows suit, at the first taste (and a little cold) quite light on the nose, with only the peat creeping through, this lifts a little as the Caol Ila warms to reveal its chocolate & wonderful coffee aroma. The taste is everything you remember about Kopikat (original) but with a humongous hairy Islay Scotsman breaking your nose and kicking shit out of your palate. It’s warm, roasty, mocha-coffee-fullameatygoodnessly yum..
Clynelish, hmmmm…. I’m really disappointed in this beer or should I say disappointed in myself..
Really disappointed because I’d been building up to this moment since the guys announced their plans. I love Caol Ila and knew it was going to be my favourite out of the two, even though everyone said the Clynelish was the better beer I still believed…
I was wrong, so very wrong.
With the Caol Ila, the whisky is upfront, the alpha male, it’s a rabid ginger Tom Kat that takes all the other flavours, sniffs them, then cocks a leg up and pisses over the lot making sure you know he’s been there and he is in charge.
The Clynelish doesn’t, it wants to join the party but not spoil all the fun. It takes the coffee, vanilla and chocolate flavours, gathers them up in big soft fluffy arms for a group hug and softens all the edges out beautifully. The result is just plain delicious, a gentle sipper that gives you a warm feeling inside and snuggles up to you like Bagpuss.
So there you have it, both cracking beers but completely different animals, I’d suggest trying both side by side as I did here to see for yourselves. You can still get them at Port Street fresh on the bar if you are quick as once they are gone they are gone, both are also available bottled direct from the SWB shop. If you have to choose and one only one to try the choice is yours, a night on the tiles with Tom or cuddles by the fire with Bagpuss, my money is on the pink and white stripes.
Thanks as always to Port Street Beer House for hosting another great night, to James and Andy from SWB for setting this up and coming along to meet everyone and a big CHEERS to everyone I shared a beer or two with yesterday.