Members' bottle share: CASC, Aberdeen
CASC bar, 7 Stirling Street, Aberdeen, AB11 6ND
Thursday 28 November 2019
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CASC is one of my favourite Aberdeen bars, not only because of its fantastic selection of beers, whiskies and artisanal coffee (not to mention the fully-stocked humidor, if that’s your thing) but also because I associate it with enjoyably raucous nights out. Founded in 2013, it’s unpretentious, welcoming and has a great atmosphere, making it the perfect venue for this month’s member’s bottle share.
We get off to a slightly rocky start when I think I’ve been stood up; 7:30pm comes and goes, and I sit on my own at the large reserved table, wondering if I’d put the wrong details on the invitation. It’s like my 8th birthday party all over again, and this time there won’t even be a cake. Fortunately though, it turns out that almost everyone else in the bar is a Beer52 member waiting for some sort of signal from me that the tasting has begun. People up here are far too polite.
Finally ready to begin, we kick off proceedings with Stone Brewing’s White Ghost, a Berliner Weisse created by the brewery’s ill-fated Berlin operation. It’s still a great beer. As it happens, CASC is hosting a Stone tap takeover this evening, and Joe from James Clay has come along to answer any questions on behalf of the brewery, so I hand over the reins to introduce this one. To be clear, this wasn’t planned at all – CASC is just that kind of bar.
“It’s really clean,” says Maga. “I like it – it’s sour but in a refreshing way.”
Kirk agrees: “I like the fact that they’ve not packed it with fruit and spices. I went to a café in Berlin and their Berliner Weisse was low ABV and they dumped a load of raspberry fruit syrup in it at the bar. It wasn’t great.”
Next up is Brewer’s Bridge, a collaboration between the legendary Brasserie Dupont and Allagash in Portland Maine.
Only the second collaboration in Dupont’s history, Brewer’s Bridge has tonnes of peppery Belgian yeast spice and a very creamy mouthful, with light playful carbonation
Kirk is immediately impressed: “It’s 6%, but you wouldn’t know it,” he says. ”I find that with a lot of Belgian beers – you just don’t realise how strong what you’re drinking is.”
Carlos concurrs: “It’s a nice choice. I really like the peppery yeast character. It’s definitely a beer you’d want to drink slowly. When I went to Portland in 2007, the scene wasn’t really anything special. People were more into Bud Light. So to see Allagash now collaborating with Dupont just shows how quickly has things can move on.”
We switch from keg to bottle at this point, as I’ve picked up a few all-Scottish brews that caught my fancy at Westhill Service Station (see page 43). First up, Brew Toon is a relatively new local brewery, claiming to be the most easterly in the United Kingdom, and who am I to argue with that? Its Raspberry Carbonade cream ale promises fresh local raspberries paired with citrus hop notes and a soft, smooth cream ale finish, so let’s see.
“The raspberry aroma is incredible, as soon it’s poured,” says Maga. “If anything, it’s not quite as strong when you taste it, but it’s still very well balanced – the fruit isn’t too strong for the hops.
Gavin’s not hugely impressed though: “Maybe it’s because it’s quite a sweet beer anyway, but the raspberry tastes quite artificial. It doesn’t have the sharpness of fresh raspberry - more like raspberry sweets.”
Carbonated with nitrogen (nitrogenated?) this beer has a special pouring technique, which results in a thick, creamy head and super-smooth mouthfeel.
Rufus: “It’s weird, but good! It feels a lot thicker than a normal beer, which I guess is a combination of the nitrogen and the lactose.”
Next, I’ve stashed away a couple of big bottles of Overworks’ Cosmic Cherry Crush. Brewdog’s sour beer enterprise raised eyebrows when it was first announced, but I’ve been impressed by everything I’ve tried from it so far. Aged in Italian red wine barrels, this kreiky number claims juicy cherries, brett funk and mouth-watering sourness. I’m keen to know whether our members agree.
“This is my favourite of the night so far,” says Kirk. “It’s not a one-dimensional sourness – there’s a bit of brett wet straw and all the sweetness is fermented out of the cherries, so it leaves this dry, tannin feel.”
The dryness has put Gavin off though: “I can see it’s an impressive beer and there’s loads going on, but I’m not particularly enjoying drinking it! I don’t know how to feel about that.”
Finally, because it’s a week night and we all really need to get home, I’ve included a beer that is almost guaranteed to end your evening (albeit on a high note). Fierce Beer’s Moose Mousse has always been a great stout, so the release of its Very Big Moose imperial strength version was met with understandable applause. Since then, the brewery has been releasing regular riffs on this theme, each seemingly better than the last, and tonight we have three large cans of Bourbon-aged VBM. Anticipation is high.
“That’s really cool,” says Maga. “You can really taste the bourbon.”
Carlos agrees: “Yes, all those bourbon notes are there: coconut, vanilla, caramel…”
At 12% ABV though, this is a beer you know you’re drinking.
“I’ve got to be up at 7am tomorrow, so I hope I sleep well tonight, assuming I can still find my way home,” says Rufus.
I’ve been sipping sample measures all night and am still a little fuzzy, so I hope the gang feel they’ve got good value coming out on this cold and drizzly Aberdonian night. As ever, it’s been a real pleasure sharing some knock-out beers with some new friends, and I soddenly vow to return to Aberdeen soon.
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