Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Craft Beer Tasting @Bier Bier in Helsinki by Viinitie

Some people are working on bringing new flavors in and for this reason we met in the craft beer bar Bier Bier on the first Monday of May after the people of Viinitie's call for it. Okay this is a business, okay they are looking for selling their products, because we all need to earn money, but in a country like Finland where the alcoholic beverage sales are strictly controlled and under the monopoly of the state, to focus on such specific area of business requires to be little bit crazy and I am proud my own craze and my crazy friends who are passionate about wine, premium beers, good whiskies and more. Please do it, dear friends, more please.

So, for all these related, Dominic Lombard, an Irish man from Spain who has got the title "Beer Sommelier" there, has gone with the wind in Helsinki and hopefully will be back with the wind soon. He is first of all a trained chef, which means he knows the food preparation methods and effects of different ingredients on the beverages, which is highly possible to give him a better understanding of food&beverage pairing, is the representative of some beer producers which we tasted that day and he gave us a presentation about the products and Spanish producers that he represents in Bier Bier, here surrounded by some professionals, some I know well, some I dont. Meanwhile we can learn more about Dominic by some words telling about him:

"Trained as a chef in Ireland and France working in several different restaurants up to 3 star Michelin and for U2 in their studio when they where recording the POP album. For health reasons had to stop and started working for a cheese importer distributor in Dublin buying over 250 different types of cheeses. Then working with wine for over 10 years, has WSET higher certificate (Ireland) and a Master in winemaking, viticulture and marketing of wine (Spain). His great grandfather, grandfather and father worked for Guinness so he has been from a very young age involved with beer working in pubs during holidays, weekends and running a Irish pub in Spain. Since 2013 he is working with young up and coming wine producers and craft brewers in Spain and in 2014 became the first Beer Academy Beer Sommelier in Spain and is now looking to study the USA equivalent cicerone certification."

When we started the tasting, first we talked about the drinking habits of the Spanish and what the young generation is looking for, as easy to guess, such a warm climate, people are mostly looking for a cold simple lager to cool down themselves sitting at the shadow. Flavorful craft beers which are more food-matched rather than drinking like water, are quite slowly coming to the scene. Dominic also talked about the Parkerized wines after the American wine critic Robert Parker, which brought out strong, almost over-matured tannic wines, Dominic pointed out that today same thing happening in beer which the hop is overused by some breweries. It is true that I really had so much beers that are really hard to drink, some not possible to enjoy at all. I like the taste of hop, yes, but too much is too much, that simple it is. But since the consumers re-discovered the cool-pronounced IPA -ay-piy-ey- hops become something people started to demand more and more, I personally think this is just a fashion that is coming and will for sure fade away.  

Anyway, we continued to talk during the tasting, about consumers, drinking habits to the philosophy of the beverages and food, then the first producer we went through that day was Dougall's, located in Santander, close to Bilbao, up very north of the Spanish peninsula, started commercial brewing in 2007. They exactly have some products that will make the usual Spanish consumer very happy, easy going yet nice to drink, fun, happy beers which some kind of a brewery's "hello" to the locals. Especially Dominic told that there is a big local cheese production in the area and one of Dougall's beers called Leyenda, I would love to try this beer with the local cheeses since I believe beer is a great match for cheese, the carbonization of the beer is the key to wash down the fat of the cheese. I even did a beer-cheese pairing workshop in Nomad Cellars, click to see photos from that event. Also with the oceanic shellfish dishes of the north Spain, Leyenda and Tres Mares beers would be something to try. More of that, with trying the beer Django with a barbecue steak, slightly burned surface yet juicy and fresh inside, it would be also very possible to search for the G-Point in our mouth. Mhhhmmm, yes baby right there, don't stop...

After that we went through a very interesting producer, "Mateo&Bernabe and friends" which is already interesting with their location, a wine kingdom of north, La Rioja. Sounds like from Game of Thrones. Again a man with a chef-background, Alberto Pacheco who went to Italy to learn more about brewing then started this brewery. They have these parking beers available in Finland by Viinitie,  Labelled B with a crab on it, C with a duck and A with a gorilla. quite interesting and delicious beers with high alcohol volumes, but their big bomb is actually a beer they called 29 Daniel made together as a collaboration with the Beancurd Turtle Brewery, made as the same principal as sherry, kept in wine barrels, a perfect match for desserts that are light on sugar, or some washed rind cheeses. I might be wrong. Hard to talk about certain pairings without trying it.

But definitely I got it as a mission to myself, I am a man of wine, but I will conduct this mission that I will make people to eat more cheese with beer because it might even match better than wine in some cases, I will, hopefully, in my own bar/restaurant/gastro pub someday or anywhere that I would be in charge, I will put more and more cheese and beer workshops that I organized before and hopefully people of Finland will add more cheese next to their beers someday ;) 

Thank you Viinitie, thank you the smiley man of Viinitie, Santeri, for this organization and the opportunity to be with you in this tasting.

May your glass be filled with well-made craft beers, greetings.