Friday, February 22, 2013

This secret will change your life

Black Cuillins. Image: Damian Shields.
Fairy magic by the Black Cuillins. Image: Damian Shields.
I want to share a secret with you. Before you read on you need to make sure no one's reading over your shoulder. This one's for you and you only. Keep on the lookout for prying eyes.

Good. Now, here you go:

It's Fallen's Blackhouse smoked porter and Talisker whisky. In separate glasses.

You should try it, now. It's beautiful. It's a perfect marriage. The smokiness and chocolate and coffee of the porter bring out the peaty potency of the Talisker, softening it in the process. They complement each other beautifully. It's like magic. Black magic.

But maybe you don't have Blackhouse in the house. Or you're just out of Talisker. You should remedy this, now. You should make it your mission.

Until Tuesday I never thought of two drinks complementing each other before, the way, say, wines and foods do. But it seems so obvious now. This folks is why the hauf an' a hauf was invented.

Let's call this miraculous combination a Black Cuillin.

Anyhow, this secret was given to me to pass to you by Paul from Fallen Brewery Company. You should write him, maybe phone or tweet or text saying thank you for this life-changing discovery. It was just one of the many things Mr Fallen talked about at the inaugural Meet the Brewer event at Hippo Beers in Glasgow. (Oh and by the way, when you're writing to Paul thanking him for the Black Cuillin, do bear in mind the sacrifice he went to. He tried a LOT of whiskies to find the perfect malt to complement his Blackhouse.)

Here are a few other things I learnt.

  • Making beer is complicated, but being an applied chemist with a marketing background helps. 
  • There are lots of varieties of hops, some with outstanding names. Sonnet Golding and Tillicum. Cascade and Crystal. 
  • US, Australia and New Zealand are the big growers of hops. British hops are a bit rubbish and all twiggy. 
  • Hop crops can fail, meaning breweries can find themselves short of a flavour one year to the next. 
  • Hops are related to the cannabis family but smoking them won't get you high or drunk. 
  • There's a beery technique called dry hopping which makes beer nicer and has nothing to do with horny frogs trying to procreate with your foot. 
  • You can add hops at different stages of the brewing process, causing different results. 
  • There are things called Hop Bombs. They originated in America. Figures. 
  • Now and then you'll find a cask of Fallen's good stuff on tap at the Red Lion in Doune, Britain's best pub and birthplace of Jum. (By the way, Jum is the nemesis of the Black Cuillin.) 
  • Cloudy pints can be OK. It's to do with hop secretions, temperatures and casks. 
  • In the beer world there's a phrase called mouthfeel. Really they mean texture. Weirdos. 
  • Wild yeast, or the Bacchus particle, can give a brew a sort of beery STD. Some people like this.
  • I really do know near to nothing about beer and brewing, though this is a hell of a lot more since Tuesday. 
Lastly, thanks to my mate Damian for the image. You should visit his photography site. It's really good. 

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