Bergen International Whisky & Beer 2015 - masterclasses
I simply had way too much I wanted to say about the Bergen International Whisky & Beer Festival 2015 to be able to fit it all into one article. As a result you will here get all the details on the three masterclasses we attended. Actually we attended one masterclass on Friday and one on Saturday together. In addition I managed to catch a late masterclass on Saturday, after the festival had formally ended. My better half wanted cocktails instead - go figure!
Friday: Beer for Punks (BrewDog)
OK, this was sort of a shot in the dark. We love the darker, heavier stuff that BrewDog put out. They have some fantastic stouts and porters, but for this masterclass we would probably be subjected to the hoppy, bitter madness. Oh boy, did we ever! Yikes! This was not an easy masterclass for beer novices, let me tell you!
Victoria Scott-Lewis from BrewDog took us through the slecetion of beers, and did so with flair. I was very impressed at how she managed to lead this tasting, starting at 9.15 pm, with about 70 (more or less) drunk people in the audience. With no microphone! Anyways, she told the story, which was interesting, and served beer, which was more of a mixed pleasure:
- Punk IPA
- My score: 2,5/5 stars: Even Steven. Sure it is slightly bitter, but I can still manage.
- Dead Pony Pale Ale
- My score: 1/5 stars: Hippety-hoppety-hidee-ho! Not for me, no no no!
- Everyday Anarchy
- My score: 4/5 stars: Fun, and impossible to describe. It does have a certain farmyard aspect...
- Jack Hammer
- My score: 1/5 stars: See Dead Pony. This pony is possibly even deader.
- Cocoa Psycho
- My score: 4/5 stars: Thank the brew gods for Cocoa Psycho! Whilst a lot of 'beer people' in the audience complained that this was a bit too much, I was just smiling. This is a proper beer, in my opinion.
Saturday: The Oldest Independent (Cadenhead + Springbank)
Mark Watt was scheduled to hold this tasting. Unfortunately he could not make it. We did not have to ask for our money back from Frode, however, as two fresh faced newbies filled in for Mark; David Allen and Martin Mccallum.
No, it was in fact great. David, whom we know from earlier, and Martin, did a great job. They presented three whiskies from Springbank, and three whiskies from Cadenhead. Several of the whiskies are not released yet, which is something that makes a nerdy whisky heart beat a lot faster. There's a good reason why I added 'Happy days' to the title of this blog post.
- Springbank 10 YO, 46 %
- This is certainly a very nice 'everyday dram', but it this company it feel a bit short. Good as a starter though.
- Clynelish 21 YO Small Batch, 51,6 %
- Clynelish = good stuff. That held true this time as well.
- Royal Brackla 1984 30 YO, unknown ABV
- To be released Mar/Apr 2015
- Wow! Not very often we come across bottlings of Royal Brackla. This was great!
- Springbank 1997 17 YO Rum Cask sample, 55,7 %
- Not released, and might not be released either. Could be a future Springbank Society bottling.
- Very good, and should be bottled.
- Longrow 18 YO, 46 %
- A great and robust dram.
- Cadenhead Creations 1991 23 YO - Grey Stripe, unknown ABV
- Also not released yet, but will be released very soon.
- A vatting of a cask of 23 YO Caol Ila and a cask of 23 YO Invergordon
- Cadenhead have previously released (at least) two other Cadenhead Creations, and they were great (see more details here and here).
- This new creation was absolutely fantastic! Can't wait to try it again!
Saturday: Rock & Roll Whisky & Beer (Cask Norway)
This was not really a tasting. This was a combination of a rock concert (with no music) and an educational stand-up show. It was great fun, in fact it was hilarious at times. The hosts for the evening were Martin Tønder Smith and Christian Udjus from Cask Norway. I have met these guys many times before, but never been to any of their tastings. It was very apparent during this masterclass that they have performed together on many occasions before. It was seamless, flawless, with flair and rhythm and massive doses of fun. The only comparable tastings I have been to would be the Battle of the Isles tastings where Vicky Stevens from Laphroaig and Martin Markvardsen from Highland park go head to head.
In short; if you ever get the chance to see Martin and Christian do a tasting - do not hesitate, get your ticket asap!
I won't get into too much detail on what they served, but here were some great and some not so great combinations. The two I enjoyed the most were not well received by most of the others in the audience. Not sure why; maybe a lot of them were mainly there for the beer? Anyways, we were served this (my score for each combination):
- Liberty Ale (Anchor Brewing) vs Nikka Miyagikyo
- Score 5/6: Nice and fruity! Whisky, then beer as a chaser.
- Smog Porter (Beavertown) vs High West Rendezvous Rye
- Score 6/6: Yes! Holy smokes, what a great combination - both ways. Leaves you with a fantastic creamy, smoky, honey mouth-feel.
- 8-Ball Rye IPA (Beavertown) vs Nikka Coffey Malt
- Score 3/6: Meh! The beer overpowers the whisky and vice versa. Did not work.
- Magni Trippel (Ægir) vs Kilchoman for Oslo Whiskyfestival
- Score 4/6: Not bad, but they did not compliment each other.
- Love Child No. 4 (Boulevard Bewing Co.) vs Le Vigoble Zacbé Mezcal Joven
- Score 5/6: Fun, fun, fun!
That's it, that's all I had on the Bergen International Whisky & Beer Festival 2015. See you next year in Bergen!
Sláinte! - Thomas