Tempest

Fundamentals #4 – Tempest Mexicake Imperial Stout

When I think of chillis and Hop Burns & Black, my mind is immediately transported back to the first ever Chilli Karaoke event that HB&B supremos Jen and Glenn organised. The event, which took place at the short-lived Beerkat on Holloway Road, involved singing half a song, eating a Scotch Bonnet pepper and then attempting to sing the remainder of your chosen tune.

For some reason I decided to be the event’s first ever competitor. I had picked Yazoo’s 80’s synthpop belter Don’t Go as my track of choice and as I began to channel my inner Alison Moyet it was all going swimmingly - that is, until, I ate (and subsequently spat out) the pepper. The remaining minute or so, which felt like a great deal longer, was spent attempting to sing while fighting back a near uncontrollable urge to vomit up the contents of my stomach. It was a lot of fun and should Jen and Glenn decide to hold the event again I strongly encourage you to take part.

This week’s beer has nothing to do with Scotch Bonnets but it is from current Scottish Brewer of the Year Tempest Brewing Co. Mexicake is an adjunct-laden imperial stout that features cinnamon, vanilla beans, cocoa along with a large addition of Ancho, Mulato and Chipotle chillies. With Hop Burns & Black being slingers of excellent hot sauce as well as beer, it’s the latter that has piqued my interest.

As its name would suggest, Mexicake is a Mexican inspired imperial stout and it’s that which has influenced that impressive bill of adjuncts. I caught up with Tempest’s Head Brewer Douglas Rowe to find out what the addition of three different varieties of chilli adds to this beer.

“The combination of these flavours along with the heat compliments the other flavours in the beer nicely and helps balance the sweetness in the beer,” Rowe says. “Achieving the correct balance is the key to making a good beer, no matter which style.

“We dose the chili at different stages throughout the process to achieve various levels of heat and flavour. We also make up a fairly spicy chilli extract, which we can then dose in later in the process depending on how the beer is shaping up!”

However, don’t expect Mexicake to blow your head off. Instead, expect a mellow wave of heat that is balanced by the sweetness of the vanilla and cinnamon along with a wave of what tastes to me like black treacle from the ton of malted barley used in each brew of this beer.

What’s most impressive about Mexicake is just how well all these flavours work together, creating a very balanced beer that drinks easy, especially when you consider its hefty ABV of 11%. It’s a winner for me and on this evidence it’s not at all surprising why Tempest has won the lofty title of Scottish Brewer of the Year.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of the amazing Tempest Mexicake in store or online now.

New stuff in store: 9 July

This week's blog post is brought to you by the letter B, which stands for BAGNUMS and BLUBUS.

What the heck are bagnums? They're 1.5-litre bags of wonderful wine from Burgundy of course, made by our friends at Le Grappin. Perfect for festivals, parties, BBQs or smuggling into hot and sunny sporting events. Although you didn't hear that from us.

And yes, we've got the hugely anticipated Wild Beer and Beavertown collab Blubus Maximus. The sequel to last year's raspberry ripper Rubus Maximus, Blubus is a riotous creation of spelt, buckwheat, bay leaves, wild yeast and "a **** ton of blueberries". This WILL sell out - be quick.

We've also got what was one of our favourite light beers last summer, Wild Beer's collab with Fyne Ales, Cool As A Cucumber. Beer and cucumber - together at last. Could there be anything more refreshing?

On a hyperlocal front, we've got Clarkshaws' lovely new Coldharbour Hell Yeah Lager and their brewery co-op mates London Beer Lab's Tip Top Citra Pale and Mosaic IPA.

From Moor, there's a glorious new hefeweizen, Claudia, and the Marmalade on Rye Imperial IPA from Scottish favourites Tempest, plus a new pale, Kiwi Lilt, and IPA, White Cloud, from Bristol's Wiper & True.

Finally on the cider and perry front, there are two new ones from Newton Court in Herefordshire: the Gasping Goose medium cider (which some of you may have enjoyed on flagon-fill, and the delightful Panting Partridge perry.

Oh, and we're now on to our second batch of our HBB1 Hopped & Burning Hot Sauce. Our fastest selling hot sauce ever!

New stuff in store: 23 April

It's another beer-valanche of amazingness this week. Bullet points don't do this lot justice but we'll try our best:

  • Our best-selling Mikkeller beers! Now in giant 500ml cans! At an insanely good price!
  • An exciting new To Ol and Naparbier collaboration - the Sai-Kaki-Son saison! We can't wait to try this one from these two exceptional European breweries.
  • A tasty new summer brew from our neighbours at Brick Brewery - look out for the Hefeweizen, with its fetching lemon-yellow label.
  • Brew By Numbers Nut Brown Ale is back - and if you're quick you can also pick up a BBNO Rastal glass to enjoy it and the rest of the BBNO range in.
  • Fourpure's new limited edition saison, Roux 2015, brewed with Michel Roux Jr hits shelves tomorrow.
  • We introduced One Mile End Brewery to HB&B last week and it's been so enormously popular that we've restocked and extended the range. New in, their Ancho Cocoa Porter - brewed with ancho chillies. (You know we're a sucker for anything chilli...)
  • New brewery klaxon! We've jazzed up our German section with the addition of & Union, a range of eminently drinkable Bavarian lagers and ales. Check out these deliciously colourful beers nestled next to the fridges...
  • You wanted more Tempest - we've got it. Newly rebranded and now in 330ml bottles, we've got shedloads of this always-sublime beer. Look for it, as always, on our well-stocked Scottish shelves. (Hey, HB&B is run by a Ferguson and a Williams - our love for all things Scottish is in our blood...)
  • And saving the best til last (according to Ratebeer at least) - in Burning Sky news, 750ml Cuvee bottle joins the 330ml Saison a la Provision.  Treat yourself - you're worth it.

Finally, in non-beer-related news, we've still got some fantastic vintage vinyl waiting to be snapped up from all the  stock we brought out for Record Store Day. The Smiths, Joy Division, The Breeders, The Cure, Joni Mitchell, The Fall, The Beatles, Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson, Isaac Hayes, Bobby Womack... Gloriousness awaits.

New stuff in store: 9 April

A quick round-up of all the AMAZINGNESS that's new on shelf this week. It's been a bumper week.

  • The stunning sours from Chorlton Brewing Co have been such a hit that we've extended the range - you definitely need to check these bad boys out.
  • Orbit's new seasonal, Peel (named after one of HB&B's heroes, the late great John), also hits the shelves - a delicious session blonde.
  • Siren's delectable peaches and cream IPA Life Is A Peach sold out in record time both times we had it on flagon-fill - don't miss it in 330ml bottles.
  • Three very special new releases arrive from Buxton Brewery - one we weren't allowed to name until it launched on Friday 10th, the mighty Two Ton DIPA,, plus two exceptional barrel-aged numbers, Very Far Skyline, a Berlinerweisse aged in chardonnay barrels, and BA Dragon Tips, brewed with maple syrup, chilli and "dry-baconed" with actual bacon.
  • Plus - hold on to your hats - we've got Burning Sky on flagon-fill AND bottle. Burning Sky was named one of the world's top five breweries by Ratebeer this year and is always incredibly popular at HB&B.
  • Be quick... Also on flagon-fill - Magic Rock, Tempest and Beavertown Gamma Ray and Bloody Ell (!!!). We're also now doing cider fills - first up, the delightfully dry Oliver's Gold Rush #3.
  • Oh, did we mention new bottled beers from superstar breweries Stone and Mikkeller?

It's a wonderful time to be alive, people.