We had a hoot at our remote pikkujoulu party, and as part of it we had a beer tasting. As Chief Beer Officer (CBO) it was my duty and pleasure to choose the beers and host the tasting. I’ve hosted tastings before at Valuemotive, but this was my first remote one. The tasting celebrated Finnish micro breweries, and featured beers from four different breweries and beer styles:
Olarin Panimo: Ostarin rokkitähti (pils)
Salama Brewing Co.: Neon Beast (IPA)
CoolHead Brew: Salted Licorice Raspberry Sour (sour)
Hiisi: Ikiiurso Islay Barrel Aged (imperial stout)
I guided the tasting by telling about the beer styles in general, and describing how each beer fits into their style. The beers represented more modern ends of their styles and packed huge amounts of bold flavors.
Ostarin rokkitähti is the most traditional beer of the bunch, and while more prominently hopped than your average Koff, it appealed especially to those who like their lagers.
Salama’s Neon Beast is a New England style India pale ale, meaning it has a lot of hop aromatics while not being very bitter. It tastes very fruity thanks to being heavily hopped using Citra. The cans were fetched straight from the brewery and thus were very fresh. Freshness is especially important in this kind of beer as hop aroma is the first to fade over time. The difference between a fresh can of IPA and one that has been sitting on the shelf for a few months is quite noticeable.
CoolHead’s Salted Licorice Raspberry Sour was universally loved.
CoolHead’s Salted Licorice Raspberry Sour (SLRS) delivers what its name suggests: salted licorice and raspberry flavors beautifully balanced with sourness. This one is a real crowd-pleaser, and was the only beer not ranked as least favorite by anyone. Even if you think you don’t like beer in general, I whole-heartedly recommend tasting SLRS — it certainly tastes nothing like bulk lager!
The strongest and darkest beer was Hiisi’s Ikiiurso which is a whisky-barrel-aged imperial stout sporting a whopping 12% ABV. The smoky peatiness of Ikiiurso was especially polarizing, and to my surprise our resident whisky connoisseur Ville really disliked it, stating it tasted like SodaStreamed whisky. I suppose this is the uncanny valley of whisky. I myself loved Ikiiurso and ranked it as my favorite of the evening.
I introduced a beer rating system for those who wanted to evaluate the beers in more detail, and to support this we used a beer tasting score card. Afterwards I also asked the participants to rank the beers from favorite to least favorite. The beers divided opinions, and every one of the beers was selected as best by at least one participant. Based on the ranking the Condorcet winner was CoolHead Brew’s Salted Licorice Raspberry Sour!
Despite not being around the same physical table the tasting felt very intimate and the beers stimulated discussion. It’s great that each beer was someone’s favorite, and I believe the tasting widened horizons for people perhaps not so familiar with all that modern beer has to offer.
P.S. If you’re interested in hearing more about beer, check out olutradio.fi for my biweekly beer-themed radio show (in Finnish).