Christ, Holland is flat. From the upper deck of this train, you can see for miles. Well, you could see for miles if the Dutch nation, no doubt freaked out by the endless expanse of Netherlands all around them, hadn't planted a lot of trees. The trees follow the road, they follow the canal, they act as waymarkers, and they break up the agoraphobia-inducing sense of colossal sky pressing down with biblical force on the horizon all round.
Buxton SPA (4%abv, Nelson Sauvin dry-hopped special edition) - straw gold colour, slightly hazy. Nose is a touch dieselly, like Riesling (diesling?), almost certainly from the Nelson. Tropical fruit, then slightly tart bitterness. Good.
Thornbridge Baby Black Harry (2.8%) - given that it's advertised as being dry-hopped with Amarillo and Citra, I was expecting a bit of oomph, but it's a pretty straight down the line dark mild, roasty, designed for pints rather than dinky tasting glasses. Nice.
An adapted line from Salt N Pepa's Grammy-winning smash hit "None Of Your Business" loops over and over and over in my head: "If he wants to be a freak and be a beer geek then its none of your business". I'm heading for the Borefts Beer Festival at De Molen brewery, for two days of unashamed beer-geekery. I've got a leather-bound notebook, a purple corduroy jacket, and a mischievous intention to try and introduce the phrase "boutique brewery" to the lexicon over the weekend.
Thornbridge Wye (4.7%) - pale, nay limpid gold. Fresh air (?) and pale malt on the nose, and then the palate bursts at the finish with cucumbers. Yes, it's wet-cucumbered (the antithesis of dry-hopped) in the conditioning tank. Very good, but again, needs at least a half pint to get it.
Mikkeller SpontanDoubleBlueberry (8.5%) - thick indigo, with a persistent purple head. Tart funky nose, intense jammy aroma, violets. Fruity and tart on the tongue, big bursts of red fruit and funk in the finish. Symphonic, superb.
Bodegraven is such a sleepy, two-storey sleeper suburb of a commuter town that it's hard to believe there is anything going on here at all, let alone a dozen or more of the worlds hippest brewers in town pouring beer for a couple of thousand fans. Which makes it all the more thrilling to turn the corner on Overtocht to be confronted with the the mill, De Molen, in full sail, turning briskly in the breeze. My stomach actually lurches at the romance of it all.
Evil Twin Gooseberry Danbic (5%) - hazy pink (aged in red wine barrels) with a weirdly nutty nose. Faint hints of oloroso sherry (oxidation? age? barrels?). Tartly fruity (although could be any fruit), slightly acetic, oddly mousy finish. Interesting.
De Molen Nat & Droog (6.2%) - hazy orange - end of the keg. Massive hopsack and marmalade aroma. Big sweeetness on the palate, then spicy, then a bitterness that after a while develops an oddly chemical note to the hop character, which m'colleague The Beer Nut describes as beeing "too much like sucking hop pellets". Good, becoming odd later.
Soaking up the easy-easy nature of it all. You can wander round the brewery and look at everything, from the shiny stainless beer porn of the brewery itself, to the bottle store, to fresh-filled barrels, to the pallets upon pallets of Keykegs waiting to be filled. Mind gently boggles as it realises there are far to many beers to try.....
Jester King Petit Prince (2.5%) - hazy double-shine gold, appealing witbier/saison nose. Full carbonation, silky and smoothly drinkable, again on the palate a witbier/saison cross. Totally sessionable, and the sun has come out in agreement. Excellent
Jester King Buddha's Brew (4.7%) - cidery nose, slightly mealy and slick on the palate. Gently tart, slightly mousy, but hangs together nicely. Honey, lemon, dry cider in the finish. Good.