Monthly Archives: November 2013

Evil Twin beers will garner your attention for many reasons

Evil Twin logoIf the eye-catching labels of Evil Twin’s distinctive brews don’t get your attention, their names — among them Bikini Beer, Plastic Man, Femme Fatale, Justin Blåbær, Imperial Biscotti Break—will do the job. And once you’ve tasted them, they’ll have your full attention.

Recently, I tasted a selection of the beers created by Evil Twin’s Danish creative genius, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, who is the twin brother of the equally iconoclastic Mikkeller founder and brewmaster, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. The tasting, which I curated, took place at a meeting of a local beer club, Long Islanders for Fermentation Enjoyment, which meets monthly to share new beers.

Evil Twin is a gypsy or nomadic brewer (not unlike Mikkeller or Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project), producing its beers at breweries with extra capacity and a willing brewer. Evil Twin’s beers originally were produced at various breweries around Europe and were first imported to the U.S. two years ago by Brooklyn-based Twelve Percent Imports. Now, having moved from Copenhagen to Brooklyn, Jarnit-Bjergsø utilizes Westbrook Brewing in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., to produce the beers under contract.

The tasting included beers across a wide range of strengths, styles and flavors. Some were easy to drink; others made with Brettanomyces (a yeast sometimes known as Brett) had a more distinct flavor profile as did a beer made in the style of a Berliner Weise. And, the most potent beer of all proved to be, perhaps, the most interesting and most pleasurable of the bunch.

Some of my notes from the tasting:

Bikini labelBikini Beer, IPA. 2.7% abv. A bottled version (it’s also available in cans) of this lightweight IPA, brewed at Lervig Aktiebryggeri, Norway, that Jarnit-Bjergsø describes on his web site as “a sissy beer” for inexperienced craft beer drinkers. It’s a golden, extraordinarily light-bodied brew with a big hoppy nose. ★★★

Plastic Man labelPlastic Man Saison Farmhouse Ale. 5.5% abv. Brewed at Westbrook in collaboration with Chicago’s Local Option Brewing, this cloudy, gold brew offers up a spicy nose and a spice-box palate. Bitter and dry on the finish.  ★★½

Yazu labelFemme Fatale Yuzu Pale. 6% abv.  An American-style IPA flavored with Yuzu, a small, citrus fruit that tastes like a cross of a lemon and an orange, and fermented with Brettanomyces. Originally brewed in Denmark, it’s now made at Westbrook Brewing, Mt. Pleasant, It’s a pale, cloudy gold with a white head and lemony nose There’s lemon and a bitter funkiness on the palate and it’s surprisingly refreshing. ★★★★½   

Femme Fatale Noir lableFemme Fatale Noir. 6% abv. Originally brewed in Demark and now at Westbrook, this is an American-style black IPA fermented with Brettanomyces. Ebony in color with a mocha head it offers notes of chocolate, smoke and licorice notes. The funky character seems muted. ★★★★

Nomader wit labelNoMader Wit. 5% abv.  Brewed at Westbrook, this is a Brett-fermented wit beer with traditional coriander and orange peel seasonings.  It’s a cloudy gold and exudes funk and spice. Wondering if it might be more pleasurable sans Brett. ★★½

Justin Blaber labelJustin Blåbær Blueberry Beer. 4.5% abv. Brewed at Westbrook in collaboration with the  Charleston Beer Exchange, a craft beer store, this is a blueberry flavored brew in the Berliner Weise style. Blåbær, by the way, is the Danish word for blueberry. It’s cloudy gold with a white head. The nose is tart, as is the palate and the finish, well, strongly acidic. You’ve got to be a fan of the style to appreciate this. ★★★★

Biscotti break labelImperial Biscotti Break. 11.5% abv. Another Danish original now brewed at Westbrook, this is an imperial Porter with coffee and, perhaps, vanilla and almonds (they’re not identified on the label. This is a deep-brown hued brew with a short mocha head. On the nose there are notes of coffee and vanilla nose. On the palate, layer after layer of flavors unfold with notes of raisins, nuts and chocolate. Perfect for after dinner. ★★★★★

Based on this tasting, I can’t wait to try the many other Evil Twin brews. Which have you tried? What were your impressions?



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Whisky expert Jim Murray picks Bourbon-style, single-malt Scotch as 2014 World Whisky of The Year

Jim Murray's Whiskey Bible 2014The well-respected English whiskey expert Jim Murray has picked a single-malt Scotch whiskey distilled as Scotch but matured in the style of American bourbon, as World Whiskey of the Year in the just published 2014 edition of his “Whisky Bible.”

Murray awarded 97.5 points out of 100 — his highest score this year — to the whisky, Glenmorangie Ealanta, a limited bottling.

Glenmorangie’s Ealanta, released in January as the fourth annual release in the company’s Private Edition range, is a 19-year-old expression, fully matured in virgin American white oak casks with a provenance that stretches all the way to the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri.

Ealanta’s innovative aroma and taste profile blew Murray away, he said. “It gave an aroma and taste profile completely new to me in over 30 years of tasting whisky.”

He described it as having “one of the longest finishes of any Scotch this year … and borderline perfection.”

Murray tasted more than 1,100 new whiskies from around the globe that reached market in the last year for the 10th anniversary edition of his popular whisky reference.Ealanta Packshot

“This is major coup for us,” said Dr. Bill Lumsden, director of distilling and whisky creation at Glenmorangie. “It’s no secret in our industry that it’s the wood that makes the whisky, and for many years my team and I have been carrying out detailed research in this area.”  Lumsden,  a  pioneer in researching into the effect of wood on whisky maturation, is also well known for traveling the world to search out the best oak casks in which to mature his whisky.


Published by Dram Good Books priced at $19.99, the “2014 Whisky Bible” is available in bookshops and liquor stores throughout the world. Signed copies by the author can be purchased at

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1 month, 3 NYC area beer festivals

Get those pretzel necklaces ready. It’s festival time in New York.

Three beer festivals are scheduled to take place in and around New York City over the next few weeks.

Spider Bite Beer Co. pours at last year's Belmont Park beer expo

Spider Bite Beer Co. pours at last year’s Belmont Park beer expo

First up, is the International Great Beer Expo at Belmont Park in Elmont with day and evening sessions scheduled for Nov. 9.  Samuel Adams Rebel IPA, a hopped up West Coast-style brew, will make its East Coast debut at the sixth annual edition of this event, which features some 50 breweries and a hundred-plus. Tickets are $45 online and $55 at the gate, although a $23 discounted admissions can be found at Goldstar. A word of caution: the event space is partly open to the elements and unheated. Photos from last year’s expo showed many attendees attired in warm clothes and coats. Starfish Junction Productions is the event promoter.

Craft ExpOn Nov. 13, from 7-10 p.m. Great Brewers/Union Beer Distributors presents The Craft Experience, which they described as “the most exclusive event of its kind.”  The event pairs an impressive list of 125 domestic and international craft breweries and 30 little-known craft distillers under one roof. That roof is Center 548, a three-floor event space near the Chelsea Piers at 548 W. 22nd St. Manhattan. Brewery owners, brewmasters and distillers will be hand, too, to talk about their products.  Regular tickets are  $89 and a VIP admit, which offers an opportunity to start tasting an hour before the official start, sells for $125. Union Beer is a major craft beer distributor in New York City, Long island and five other downstate counties in New York as well as a distributor of Anheuser-Busch InBev products.

The scene last year at the Lexington Avenue Armory

The scene last year at the Lexington Avenue Armory

Finally, there is the New York City Craft Beer Festival spread over three sessions on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 at the Lexington Avenue Armory at E. 68th St. in Manhattan. The Hand Crafted Tasting Co. (an affiliate of concert promoter Mad Dog Presents) puts on the event, which is focused on fall and winter seasonal beers. Seventy-five breweries are expected to participate, each serving up two beers. There’s also an extra-charge Connoisseur Club, which includes harder-find beers and edibles and an extra hour of sampling. Tickets are $55 for general admission,  $75 for VIP admission (an extra hour to sample) and $25 for the Connoisseur Club. Saturday general admission tickets are sold out.

Are you planning on attending any of these?

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