Monthly review – September 2019

It’s official: summer has already been put behind us, but it looks like the brewers have yet to get the memo. While this month has seen a constant flow of new releases, everyone seems somewhat loath to leave the sunny days behind. And if there’s not much to be done about the days getting shorter, at least the brewers can still capture some of that summer glow in their IPAs and pale ales. So let’s take a look.

Bottled sunshine for rainy days

This month has seen a blissful 21 new beers flowing into the glasses of beer drinkers across the country. Starting with a couple of beers that fit the paler colour spectrum, it’s great to see Klausen Burger tackling more modern styles. Since they opened in 2011, their relatively traditional core range remained unchanged, and even when earlier this year we finally saw a new beer released in the shape of the dangerously drinkable Amadeus Hefeweizen, the style remained traditional. 

This month changed all of that, with the release of Smuggler and Freyja, an American Pale Ale and Double IPA respectively, both sticking largely to style. These bolder beers are the first from the brewery to utilize hop pellets (after years of favouring hop flowers), and pack a far mightier punch than their tamer core range, balanced by their decision to also switch to Simpsons malts for these particular beers.  It’s an encouraging sign to see that one of the first breweries in Romania begins to adapt to meet the needs of a public that begins to demand more from the beer they drink. All credit goes to their new brewer, Alex, who has a bright future ahead of him, especially considering the changes he’s brought about the brewery.

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For us, it was an honour to host the (un)official launch of the new Klausen Burger beers at our 4th Craft Tranzition Party event (photo via Untappd)

In the same vein, it’s awesome to see another pioneering brewery continue to expand their long established range. This month, Zăganu released their Double Rye IPA, and like the new Klausen Burger offerings, this is arguably one of the brewery’s more interesting beers in terms of bitterness, aroma, and flavour. It packs a largely malty punch, with a delicate sweetness, off-set with an aggressive hop bitterness that suits the style perfectly. There’s also a touch of spice in there from the rye, and while hop aroma is somewhat subdued, it’s by far one of the more complex beers from Zăganu

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Raise it high and raise it proud – here’s hoping for more beers in the same vein, from one of the craft beer pioneers in the country (photo credit: Zăganu)

For beer-drinkers who are looking for something different, they have plenty of choice, and this month has seen a number of interesting combinations and experiments bubbling away in fermenting tanks across the country. Heading to Iași, Capra Noastră became the second (following these rather aloof guys) brewery to lay their beer up in lavender. Their newly released ale Cu Levănțică (Adică Lavandă Mică) features a healthy dose of these perfumed plants, creating a delicate and flavoursome brew that is somewhat reminiscent of the famous Scottish Fraoch. A biscuity (think ginger biscuits) malt backbone prevents the lavender from overpowering the brew, creating a surprisingly balanced beer considering the bold aroma associated with lavender. 

Back in our neck of the woods, Nembeer gave us Zemura. Released during this month’s Craft Fest Sibiu, it is a beer that delivers a crisp and refreshing hit, and is packed full of bio, locally grown raspberries. Labelled as a ‘sour fruit ale’ by the brewer, the tart taste comes from the raspberries rather than sour yeast cultures. Currently only available on tap, it’s one of the many beers we’re hoping to get our hands on in bottled form as well – we’re told this is coming up soon. 

Going slightly more exotic in terms of fruits, White Collar also delivered an interesting concept with their latest amber ale, Hashtag. This tasty little number is brewed with pomegranates and orange peel, which round off the malt sweetness, lending the beer a delightfully fruity finish. They also released their brand new Belgian Ale this month, Vagabond, for those craving something on the traditional side.

Following last month’s surplus of watermelons, it’s nice to see that the guys at Double Drop Crew found a use for them. In a collaboration with OneTwo Brew, they added copious amounts of the succulent cucurbitaceae to their stand-out gose recipe. We have to hand it to OneTwo though: it takes a solid pair of gourds to focus only on sours, especially as a new brewery, but we’re a couple of sour fiends, so we’re not complaining. So far, this new collab beer has only been available on tap, but we hope to see bottles making their way around the country soon.

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Sour, salty, fruity, hoppy – both OneTwo and Double Drop Crew have treated us to some tasty beers in the past, so when great minds come together, it’s only bound to get better (photo credit: Double Drop Crew)

Next up we have Blackout, and while there are no fruit , flower, or herbal additions in this brew, it’s not exactly a strict example of the Reinheitsgebot either. Loaded with oats, wheat, and more hops than a French man’s dinner, the 3rd batch of Delicate Psycho was double dry-hopped with generous amounts of Galaxy. This juicy IPA is packed full of exotic fruit flavours, but finishes dry enough to leave you craving one more – see how it was made here. Get it while you can though, as despite brewing twice as much this time around, Adi still sold out before it had even left the fermenter.

Blackout Brewing was also a key player in the newly released Berea Clujenilor. Our original concept had this beer brewed by the three Cluj breweries after a vote cast at last year’s Cluj Craft Beer Festival. However, the concept had a new spin put on it this year, and while there was no actual voting process set in place, this time it was an opportunity for the city’s gypsy brewers to take the stage. On August 2nd, they took a trip down to the Hop Hooligans, where they decided that the denizens of Cluj were ready to move on from more sessionable IPAs, and hit them hard with a double dry-hopped DIPA instead. Each gypsy brewer chose one of the hop additions, with Blackout picking Idaho 7, Hopdrops going for Nelson Sauvin, and Player One throwing some Mosaic in the mix. 

(Word of advice for those of you checking your beers in on Untappd: pay close attention to where you post about Berea Clujenilor. There’s a different page for the beer made last year at Kutuma, and the one made this year at Hop Hooligans. We’ve already spotted a couple of incorrect check-ins, so caution is advised, unless you want to get the ratings in a twist.)

No monthly review would be complete without at least a hefty paragraph about Hop Hooligans, and besides collaborating with gypsy brewers, this month they’ve put out 5 of their own beers. These range from their 2.8% ABV micro IPA, Fully Functional, to their sumptuous range of barleywines, Mat Øl, weighing in at 13%, proving beyond doubt that the boys can turn their hands to a huge range of styles. The 20th version of Shock Therapy also made the grade, this time single hopped with Nelson Sauvin, delivering yet another mouthful of hops, while the latest Milky Sour Puss features a curiously tasty combo of peaches, Santa Maria pears, and some nectarines thrown in for good measure. Finally, they cobbled together a cream ale, using corn just like the big boys at Bud, yet sweetening the deal with the addition of linden flowers, creating a superbly delicate, supremely crushable, and surprisingly clear beer. Naturally, its moniker was Linden Calling, and while it was brewed especially for the Borefts Beer Festival (which they attended along with with Wicked Barrel), cans were also available in Romania.

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Sublimely clear and flavoured to perfection with linden flowers, this beer seemed to hit the right spots even for cranky old beer reviewers (photo credit: Dorin’s Beers)

There was a time when no one was close to putting out as many different beers as Hop Hooligans, but that was before the boys at Bereta got their own place. Nowadays, it’s almost as if the two breweries are out to top one another in terms of new releases. This month, Bereta managed 4 new beers, including (yet another) once in a lifetime blended keg, Fruitbag. This sour IPA was their gift to us here at Beerologique to celebrate our 3rd year anniversary, and the only keg in the universe was only available for several hours at Craft Tranzition Party #4 – thanks lads, it was mighty fine while it lasted!

Bereta‘s sour beer game is still going strong this month, as they released a second version of the ever-popular What the Fruit!? gose, this time featuring watermelon, honeydew melon, kiwi, vanilla, and lactose, creating a veritable fruit salad in a glass. Their collaboration with the Hooligans, Blueberry Heights IPA, is another must for lovers of fruited milkshake IPAs, and if you’re fortunate enough to be in Sofia this weekend, you should try getting your hands on their spin off blend, Blue Balls, at the White Stork Republic at Koncept, featuring blueberries, quince, lactose, and vanilla (seriously though, these lads seem to have a never ending supply of quince ever since their BBC Berliner Weisse). 

Last but not least, September has also seen an intriguing change in identity for the very small and elusive Amon-Ra brewery in Bucharest. Several months back, we got wind of the brewer, Tudor, heading out to the Netherlands, in what turned out to be more than a courtesy visit to the de Molen brewery. As it turns out, the visit coincided with the decision to switch gears in terms of how artisan beer is delivered to the Romanian market, and the result was a new concept: gourmet beer. The result was the Olovina range, consisting of two beers: a pale ale and a DIPA. While both of them pass muster, we’re still rather unsure about the message behind this image change. Admittedly, de Molen have an international reputation as far as quality is concerned. Also, the word ‘gourmet’ weighs heavy on one’s wallet, yet that doesn’t seem to be the case here. In this case, it seems that time will deliver the final verdict, both in terms of the brewery’s new range, as well as it meeting consumer expectations.

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With cold brew coffee notes and a mild hop flavour, this is an interesting take on pale ales (photo credit: Universitatea de Bere)

A time to reap what you sowed

Autumn usually marks an onset for change, and it seems that breweries are also veering towards it. Not just in terms of beers, but also growing in size and scope. September 10th was an exciting day for breweries in Bucharest, with both Amistad and Anagram proudly announcing their growth.

After years of being dubbed ‘the smallest brewery in Romania’, as well as making a couple of batches over at Carol, Amistad are finally ready to fill in some bigger shoes, and have announced an increase in capacity, taking them to 5600 liters. Looking at their 6 new fermenting vessels, we’re thinking that’s a monthly output, which is a huge step up from the 50 liters setup they started with.

Anagram are one step closer to leaving their gypsy brewing days behind, and after securing a space near Three Happy Brewers, who have fostered them since May 2018, they’re finally ready to assemble their new toys and put them to good use. We’re hoping that this will finally allow Paul to go all out on his sour range, which he has excitedly been talking about for almost a year now.

Meanwhile, Ground Zero are also ready to give their original brewing setup to the younger generation. After relocating to their new brewery in Pipera back in July, they have put their old gear up for sale. So whether you’re looking to get your hands on various odds and ends, or maybe even go all out and buy the entire lot, have a look here and see if there’s anything that takes your fancy – clickety click.

Coming soon, to a brewery near you

It looks like the industry is poised to tackle a busy time of the year, whether it’s new beers or simply bringing some aging treats up from the cellar. Hop Hooligans are well into their barrel aging game, and after treating the Borefts attendants to the unique Buffalo Trace BA Salted Caramel and the Speyside BA Vanilla versions of Mat Øl, it’s time for the local market to take a sip as well. With just 4 kegs for each of these limited edition, draft only releases, giving them a miss is out of the question, and for those sticking to the Romanian craft beer venues, you’ll find them at the up and coming Haze Fest in Timișoara. We’re somewhat torn about this keg-only decision: on one hand, we will always advocate draft-only, as far as most Romanian beers are concerned; but on the flip-side, having a couple of cans or bottles set aside for aging also has a strong appeal.

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Fun times ensuing at Borefts Fest (photo credit: Hop Hooligans)

With a new brewer joining the fun-house, set on wreaking all sorts of havoc, Hop Hooligans are also preparing some exciting new beers due to come out next month, from a Reinheitsgebot-defying pretzel beer (not that they ever stuck to the laws, but oh well) to a special blend that will only be available at Haze Fest (we’re wondering how many times we can get away with mentioning that festival in this article before people start asking themselves if we’re being paid to promote it – we’re not). Keep your eyes peeled!

Also on the BA checklist, the ever so long awaited Mezcal Quadrupel from Oriel Beer has been officially announced as due to launch on October 12. Ioana and Laurențiu have always put out some amazing beers as part of their BA Quad range, and this one is also sure to deliver – especially after maturing away for almost a year (8 months in the barrel, and another 3 in the bottle).

While some breweries are content with the sedentary ways of waiting for a beer to mature for months on end, others are keen on a little wander. Such is the case of Bere Noah, who have been meandering back and forth across the country throughout September, pursuing an interesting take on their brewing practices: collaborations. After popping in for a visit at Hop Hooligans, they also teamed up with Wicked Barrel back at the brewery in Târgu Mureș – something hazy, which will (adequately, might we add) be ready just in time for Haze Fest. Visitors and visits aside, Noah have also been busy with brewing their first NEIPA, a juicy, hoppy treat that is also due to come out in October, so get your taste buds ready.

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For those in Cluj, this new little hop bomb is also coming out soon to a craft beer event near you (photo credit: Wicked Barrel)

Things have also been busy at ye olde Bereta brewery this month. When not too busy expanding their sour beer range in ways we could only dream of just a couple of years back, or doing yet another collab with the Hooligans, they have also kept a fermenter spare for their gypsy brewers. On September 29, after almost three months since releasing their first beer, Owl Brewery have returned to the stage for their second offering. Not a peep as to what this new beer will be just yet, but we’re really eager to see the plumage on their new label.

Speaking about (potential) future gypsy brewers, Bereta are also doing a take 2 on their Brewing Community program. The format is the same as before: eager homebrewers got a chance to post whichever concoctions they wish to see come to fruition, and the lads have already picked 3. Now, there’s one slot left for the 4th lucky winner, so if you want to have a say in what they should try their hands at next, you can cast your vote over here. The new beers will be brewed in the months to come, and will see an official launch in the early months of 2020.

Also, it goes without saying that we’ll be seeing you all at Haze Fest later in October. With the attending breweries lineup fully announced (9 Romanian breweries and 14 international ones), there’s still several tickets up for grabs. As the first craft beer event of its kind in the country, we’re very eager to see how this new concept will be received by the beer loving crowd, as well as the way it will shape the event industry thereafter.

And to wrap things up, here’s the list of this month’s new releases:

Amon-Ra – Olovina range (contract brewed at de Molen):
– Wanna Beer The One – Imperial IPA – 7.2% ABV
– Amon-Ra – Wanna Beer True – Pale Ale – 5.8% ABV

Bereta:
– Fruitbag – Sour IPA (one-off beer blend for the Beerologique 3 year anniversary party) – 5.6% ABV
– What The Fruit!? 2 – Gose with watermelon, honey melon, kiwi, vanilla & lactose – 4.9% ABV
Blueberry Heights – IPA with blueberries & lactose (with Hop Hooligans) – 6.9% ABV
– La Pas – IPA (brewed for La Pas gastronomic festival) – 6% ABV

Blackout Brewing – Delicate Psycho – Galaxy Dry Hop – DDH IPA – 6.5% ABV

Capra Noastră – Cu Levănțică (Adică Lavandă Mică) – Lavender beer – 6.5% ABV

Double Drop Crew – Watermelon Gose – Gose (collaboration with OneTwo Brew) – 5% ABV

Hop Hooligans:
Berea Clujenilor – DDH DIPA (contract brew, collaboration between Blackout Brewing, Hopdrops and Player One) – 8.5% ABV
– Linden Calling – Linden Cream Ale (brewed especially for the Borefts Beer Festival) – 4.5% ABV
– Fully Functional – DDH Micro IPA – 2.8% ABV
– Milky Sourpuss – Peach & Pear4% ABV
– Shock Therapy – Version 20: Nelson Sauvin – 6.5% ABV
– Mat Øl – Buffalo Trace BA Salted Caramel Barleywine – 13% ABV 

Klausen Burger:
– Smuggler – American Pale Ale – 5.5% ABV
– Freyja – DIPA – 8.4% ABV

Nembeer – Zemura – Ale with Raspberries 

White Collar:
– Vagabond – Belgian Ale
Hashtag – Amber Ale (with pomegranate & orange peel) – 6.5% ABV

Zăganu – Double Rye IPA – 8% ABV

 

One thought on “Monthly review – September 2019

  1. BKline says:

    Great article, nice to see a month ending summary style one, an interesting approach.

    I also run a beer blog, we do beer reviews, brewery reviews, all kinds of different blog posts and articles, you can check us out at : http://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/

    Be sure to check us out, leave a comment, and maybe we can collaborate and do guest writing for each other or something. It would be fun! I clicked to follow you.

    -B. Kline
    — The Beer Thrillers
    https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/

    Liked by 1 person

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