Advent Calendar Day 8 – This is Craft!

day-8-evil-twin

So far as I can determine, there are no AB-Inbev ties with the brewer Evil Twin? I don’t think I have tried any of their beers before neither, despite them being highly regarded.

The term Gypsy brewer augurs romantic ideas of a mysterious wild rover with dark curly, flowing locks. Whoever coined it wasn’t familiar with the class of Gypsy who roam the West Yorkshire metropolis preying on the vulnerable and elderly, setting up illegal sites and bare knuckle fights, generally leaving a trail of rubbish and animal cruelty in their wake.

All that said, I don’t think my experience of Gypsys bears any resemblance to Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø founder and brewer at Evil Twin. Currently they brew at ten different breweries in six countries, although I read they are opening a permanent brewery and tap room in New York sometime in 2017. Although Jepe now lives in New York with his family, his Danish roots are reflected in the breweries .dk web extension.

Okay, Hipster ale might be in the lower price and rarity echelons of Evil Twin products when compared with brews like Even More Jesus which costs around £14 a bottle(660ml) in the UK , it is however a nice introduction to the brewer and the concept of Gypsy brewing. Hipster ale is actually brewed at Two Rivers, the brewers of the Day 1 beer of the Beer Hawk Advent Calendar.

If I’m honest, I’m hoping the people (the ones not reading this) who’ve got an Advent Calendar and aren’t familiar with the beers are doing a bit of research of their own, learning something about the brewers and the styles; rather than just drinking the beers and saying … ‘ooh that’s nice!’ or ‘I’m not keen,’ or whatever. That’s why I’d expected to see a little literature accompanying the box, or at least a pointer to the tasting videos, which aren’t immediately apparent on the Beer Hawk web site, I discovered you have to go onto Youtube to find all of them.

Strangely the Beer Hawk team are a little out of sync with the contents of my Advent Calendar and they’re not always discussing the same beer that I got. Instead of FUBAR on Day 4 they have a Blue Point Hoptical Illusion, on Day 6 they have a bottle of Ilkley beer instead of the Blue Point Mosaic I drank, and on Day 7 they got a Leffe Blonde, thankfully I got a bottle of Kwak. Personally I cant see Beer Hawk spending money on videos that don’t match the product? Maybe someone in the warehouse is inadvertently putting the wrong beers in the wrong slots? I hope not, there’s nowt wrong with it, but I wouldn’t be impressed with a bottle of Leffe Blonde – £4.97 for four 330ml bottles in the local Morrisons!

I guess Evil Twin tick all the craft beer requirements and I think these are a brewer that can safely be called craft; styles, geographical location, ethos. Even the description of todays beer on Evil Twin’s web site reads;

Perhaps you heard of a worldwide beer-movement that tributes favorite hipster neighbourhoods across the globe. If you feel excluded because you’re hip but your city is not, this cutting-edge, ‘hip without border’ pale ale is an homage to you – the global hipster. Cheers!”

Despite all this waffle, their inclusion in the Advent Calendar is a considered one. A brewer you have heard of, but might not be familiar with, full marks to Beer Hawk for this one.

Okay, after all the hype, what was the beer like? Not much pssshhhhtttt! when you crack the can. I didn’t pick up a great deal of aroma beyond a few hops. Hazy, and left a rim of head around the glass after the initial pour effect had settled. Juicy, touch of citrus, hops, a hint of biter almond and soft toffee.

After the previous US stye beers in the case, this one at first might appear to be a bit tame to those expecting another hop forward beer. It’s not though, it’s actually very, very subtle. Everything is in there, but it exists in balance with everything else. Its a considered beer with a taste that has to be considered and the more you sum it up, the more you appreciate it.

We’ve all watched football teams that rely on a single striker, or one or two key players to achieve results, it often works. It’s only rarely that we see a team that has quality players across the park, none of them stand out, but they all play a key role, and when they play well then they are unbeatable. Hipster ale.

Verdict – top pick, I am really wanting to try more of Evil Twin beers.

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10 thoughts on “Advent Calendar Day 8 – This is Craft!

  1. Well, all of the credentials apart from, y’know, actually being a brewery…

    Anyway, like John has been saying, why all the fuss about craft or not? It’s something that really has been done to death on blogs and people don’t really care now.

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    • Thanks for the comment Rob, it’s appreciated. I get what you’re saying and I understand where you are coming from. The worrying phenomenon for me at the minute is ‘Craftsploitation’ (Boak & Bailey’s terminology – not mine). There’s some really good craft style beers around. There are also some poor imitations. I see decent traditional brewers indulging in this and jumping on the craftsploitation band wagon. I hear people talking about it and confusing mediocrity with quality and not actually knowing and just blowing their cash anyway. I see the current moves as divisive – proper traditional bitters being branded as Amber Ales FFS! Confusing Mr & Mrs Average when really we should be saying that there is lots of really good beer out there in many different styles and from diverse traditions. I hope that makes sense? My personal view is that Craft beer is an American phenomenon and nomenclature. Some of it is really good. If you bring these styles to the UK then we will be brewing British beer in a ‘craft style’, but to me it shouldn’t be craft beer, just craft influenced.

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      • Well craft beer is definitely american led though it isn’t all IPAs, even if that is how it can come across, and how it seems you perceive it (sorry if that’s not the case, but that’s the way it feels from your blog). Problem is there are some ‘craft brewers’ making crap beer and there are ‘evil multi-national corporations’ who sometimes make good beer.

        There are many UK brewers who would be classed as ‘craft’ by the american definition who are essentially traditional bitter brewers but have attempted to keep with the times by having craft sub-brands and are doing a really bad job of it.

        I actually think the more significant moves are what is happening in retail. You’ve pointed out Morries offers, but what about Tesco local having Dales PA and Flying Dog on offer?? That really is pushing things….

        Ultimately though, people aren’t stupid, they do tend to see through hype and can use their tastebuds. The people being swept along by the hype are probably the same who 5 years ago would happily spend 5 quid on a bottle of peroni in town.

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  2. I’ve always thought of “craft” as a combination of approach, localism and independence, in the sense of beer at least, rather than a particular style (in as much as I’ve thought about it at all 🙂 ).

    I’m familiar with the idea of “gypsy” brewing, after a couple of local small brewers couldn’t keep their own concerns going, and did guest brews on other people’s kit.

    I think it’s interesting, as well, that the calendars seem to be randomised. If that’s the case, Beerhawk are missing a trick, I think, as if everyone has the same bottle on the same day, this could be a great shared experience for the folk with the calendars. (Getting together to compare the day’s bottle, sharing the tasting notes, &c &c)

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    • You would think that all the beers would be the same in all the cases and be the same as those Beer Hawk are showcasing in the video blog? My son has the same beers as I have, but the cases were ordered/delivered at the same time. Other people I know and from FB seem to be getting different beers. Be interesting to see if there is a) same selection in all cases, just packed in different days OR b) Different selection combinations of beers entirely?

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