Einstok Brewery boasts a 60 mile proximity south of the Arctic Circle. The bespoke, glacial-looking design of the bottle reflects this. I have in front of me 4 of these bottles, the contents of which having been happily consumed by myself and a couple of other tasters.
The beers that Einstok have kindly provided us with are wide-ranging and esoteric in style and flavour. There’s a couple of numbers that would work well within the summer months and would also be worthy of brightening one’s mood during this increasingly Autumnal period. Conversely, there’s a couple that would match the season well, molly-codling and warming the taster as they do in the same way that a room heated with an oak fire does.
It is with the two lighter beers that I shall start. It is common-place, if not fashionable, these days to find a wheat beer that is flavoured with X,Y or Z. It’s malleable in this sense; it’s sweetness and element of spice being susceptible to flavours that may off-set this in an additional flavour that is smoky, sweet or sour. It is for this reason that a few breweries have chosen the path of flavouring their ‘Wits’ with coriander seed and orange peel. As is tradition, the ‘Einstok White Ale’ 5.2% is cloudy in colour (an un-avoidable characteristic of its genre). On the nose, there is of course, citrus, though it is an accentuated, almost caricatured version of it that is perhaps more reminiscent of sherbet or fruit and barley waters of one’s youth. With this, there are the usual spicy elements of ginger and cinnamon in the mix that is characteristic of a good wheat beer.
After this, the ‘Icelandic Pale Ale,’ 5.6% which sits in the glass as a dark amber, almost tea-like (there’s an American influence here I sense). On the nose there is a harmonious level of household spice; ginger, cloves, nutmeg and the like. There is a strong malt quality to the beer that is paired well with tastes of confectionary, chewy toffeeness, citrus, subtle meaty garlic and even refreshing notes of mango and melon. With this kind of concentrated sweetness, there is also an air of the botanical that one will tend to find in a good American/American-influenced pale ale.
So, on to the two darker options; the two that in a more conventional way conjure up those images of a comfy chair within the confines of a cottage living room in Autumn or Winter England. I am well familiar with ‘Einstok Toasted Porter,’ 6.0% but do not pass up the opportunity to try it out on my guests and also to remind myself of it. Like any good porter or stout, the malt is prominent on the nose and furthermore, the roasted quality of the beer grabs the nostrils in a tremendously powerful grip. Those of us who know the qualities of a decent, continental Espresso will know this quality, those who don’t, will discover it. As far as taste goes, much of the same scents are translated in to the flavour of the drink. Along with this, my co-tasters witnessed added flavours of bourbon whiskey, oak and a creamy consistency. It is worth noting also, that a colleague of mine considers this drink to be an exceptionally good accompaniment to a well-made kedgeree.
The ‘Dopplebock’ 6.7% is characteristic of its type, an increasingly popular variety of beer with its roots in Germany but with global variants. It is a handsome reddish brown in colour with a lovely mixture of smokiness and sweetness on the nose. As with a lot of beers with a certain degree of strength of flavour, the taste is of the smell. However, the sweetness evolves in to a more specific taste of caramel and the smokiness in to more of an oak-like quality. It is thoroughly satisfying. In my case, the beer was enjoyed tremendously well with an earthy plate of mackerel, the bock enhancing the sea-breeze quality of the fish. This having been said, I can see it being enjoyed perfectly well with the likes of a good red meat, diner-style burger or quite simply by itself.
Einstok beers are becoming increasingly available in the capital these days with a large amount of craft beer bars, shops and outlets stocking them (strangely enough, I recently found a row of the toasted porters within the depths of a seemingly bog-standard offy in Shoreditch). And they are indeed worth looking out for with Einstok currently co-riding the wave of quality Scandinavian beer with the likes of Nogne, Mikkeller and Lervig Aktiebryggeri.