This spring Amager Bryghus released three new barrel aged beers, and on July 4, four American collaboration brews followed. Amager Bryghus special releases are always of interest, and last week I reviewed each of the beers in Danish. They are so good that they also deserved a piece in English and that’s what you’re reading here.
The barrel aging program has been around for a while – and by program I mean, it used to be a tiny room with a dozen barrels – but this set of releases were beers brewed with barrel aging in mind, not beers from the regular line-up. Two barley wines and an imperial stout that was quite different from other Amager stouts. The four collaborations were done with breweries visiting Denmark for the Copenhagen Beer Celebration.
My favourite of the lot is probably the one I reviewed last, posted on Sunday. The Days of Barley and Roses Niepoort Edition is a port barrel aged barley wine, and I certainly have a weakness for good barley wine. That, and dessert wines are actually the only sweet things that I really enjoy – no candy or desserts for me, thank you. The beer was sweet, with lots of dried fruit and malt character. It had a light, dusty note of oxidation, but not enough to be a flaw, really. A little fruity tartness in the aftertaste balanced the beer and made it a very tasty dessert beer.
The other barley wine was Barrel Proof, aged on bourbon barrels. It’s the same high quality barley wine, but the bourbon was very dominant, with lots of coconut and vanilla. A sweet beer and with quite obvious alcohol, it’s a beer that would benefit from a year or five in the cellar.
The third of the barrel aged beers is the imperial stout King of Kentucky. A much sweeter imperial stout than we’re used to from Amager, and obviously bourbon barrel aged. I personally don’t think barrel aging makes sense for really aggressive and hoppy stouts, and Amager Hr. Frederiksen is actually better in it’s regular version than barrel aged. But with a sweeter, dessert-like stout, barrel aging makes sense, and this beer with it’s sweet chocolate character and velvet mouthfeel is perfect for it. The result is equal parts bourbon and chocolate, and a really pleasant sipper, though it could also benefit from a little cellaring.
Using the Copenhagen Beer Celebration as an opportunity to brew some collaboration beers is a tradition Amager Bryghus started last year. This year, four brewdays resulted in a saison, a big and a small IPA and an imperial stout.
Amager/Prairie Tulsa Twister is a simple single malt/single hop saison, brewed on Danish pilsner malt and Simcoe hops, fermented with saison yeast and finished with brettanomyces. I wrote about it before and of course I was looking forward to taste it. It’s dry and hoppy and very delicious, though still a little too young for the brett to really play a part.
Orange Crush brewed with Cigar City is a session IPA (though 5%), hopped with juicy Simcoe, Mosaic and Citra hops, and given further citrus character with a special kind of very aromatic orange peel. It’s a really tasty brew and very hoppy. So hoppy in fact, that the beer was cloudy from hop particles floating around.
The other IPA was the 6.5% Todd the Axe Man, named in honour of Surly head brewer and speed metal guitarist Todd Haug. It’s a very pale, golden IPA, using Surly’s signature malt made from Golden Promise barley, and it’s filled with hops. Pineapple, apricot, citrus and pine are the main impressions from a hop combination of Herkules, Mosaic and Citra.
Finally, the only disappointment in this week of Amager Bryghus special releases, was the Jester King collab Danish Metal. Perhaps disappointment isn’t the right word, since it’s a beer based on Jester King Black Metal with a Danish twist, and I’m not a fan of Black Metal in the first place. To me, it’s a beer with too much of the dark malts, resulting in burnt, ashy and soy sauce character. Black Metal scores 99/100 on Ratebeer, so obviously I’m in the minority here.