PICK YOUR POISON: Warpigs Tap Takeover at Gollem’s (Antwerp)

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Bands, festivals and the lot are releasing branded booze by the dozens these days. GRIMM makes it its mission to get to the bottom (of the bottle) of this trend with insightful reviews and extra backgrounds. So sit back, PICK YOUR POISON, and discover all you need to know about your favorite band’s alcoholic brands!

We’re going to take a trip outside of our general format this time… But when the Danish Warpigs brewery comes over to Belgium to present us some of their beers, we did not hesitate! Our place of choice was Gollem Burgers & Beers in Antwerp. A fine venue with good food, rare and outstanding beers and – for the occasion – heavy music!

But this is still a website dedicated to metal music. So why were we so interested in a Warpigs tasting, you wonder? Take Mikkeller, one of Denmark’s finest and most innovative brewers in the world. They also created the beer Mother Puncher, a funky farmhouse IPA with grapefruits in collaboration with Mastodon. Add 3 Floyds, the #8 brewery in the world in 2016 according to Ratebeer, and perhaps the brewery with the most metal attitude out there. They collaborated and brewed beer with Amon Amarth, High On Fire, Pelican, Cannibal Corpse and many, many more. Annually, on Dark Lord Day, the release day of their hard sought after Russian imperial stout, they even throw a music festival with some of these metal bands. We make it our goal to feature their beers here on our column one day, we promise! So, when these two breweries join forces to open a brewpub/restaurant in the heart of Copenhagen, that sure gets us interested. Warpigs is the name and, yes, that should make you think of the Black Sabbath classic. Just as their American big brother, Warpigs too does not shun collaborations with metal bands. Mastodon dropped by here as well to brew War Canoe. Entombed A.D. actually even made a whole music video on their visit to brew the Freeman. Unfortunately, no metal beers made it to the line-up of the tasting. We were, however, presented with seven beers from the tap and one from the bottle. During the tasting we got interesting introductions from one of Warpigs brewers herself, Lan-Xin Foo.

Biirru for Ramen – We started off with a 6.1% pilsner with yuzu. Yuzu is an Asian type of citrus fruit, offering the pilsner a very tart flavor. This made it a very welcome alternative to many of the sweet pilsners we know here in Belgium (Yes, I’m talking to you InBev). I would easily serve this beer as an aperitif to guests in my house, if it wasn’t so damn hard to get my hands on. Lan-Xin Foo told us the beer was originally brewed to accompany the ramen noodle dishes they served in the Warpigs restaurant. A great starter, just as the Metallica music  from the Load era that was playing from the speakers.

Frank The Tank – while presented as a New England style IPA the golden liquid we got was much less hazy as the style would suggest. However, while the looks did not gave it away, you still have the massive fruity aroma and a soft silky mouthfeel. An explosion of mango, lychee and tropical hop flavours greeted us with every sip. With its 5.3% this boy went down really, really easily. In the meantime some classic Guns ‘n’ Roses drifted through the bar.

Mo’Saic Mo’Problems – If you are familiar with Mikkeller’s single hop series you have an idea what to expect here. Only brewer Lan-Xin Foo presented the Mo’Saic Mo’Problems to us as a ‘single hop on steroids’. Not too much seems to happen at first when you whirl this 6.2% IPA around in your mouth, but then the peach and grassy flavors kick in. Once you swallow an interesting and long lasting dry, earthen finish embraces you. This is a complex beer, difficult to get your head around. In the meantime, the music’s tempo was turned up a notch with Slayer‘s classic Reign in Blood album. We enjoyed our beer piece by piece.

Slime Time – Introduced by Lan-Xin Foo as an old school IPA, I feared this beer might be less to my liking. However, there was not too much straight in your face bitterness for my taste. This 7.2% American style IPA was really enjoyable. I particularly liked its spicy touch and resin finish. We left Slayer behind us in the meantime and relaxed with Black Sabbath classics playing out loud.

Youfuckedmeup & Imfurious – Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening for me was this pretty angry 6% coffee stout. Generally, I dislike stouts that are brewed with too much coffee. So yes, I’m one of those people that does not really enjoy Mikkellers’ Beer Geek Breakfast stout with plenty of roast coffee. So I did not know what to expect as Lan-Xin Foo explained how they experimented with several brewing methods to get the best flavor in the beer. In the end they settled with the ‘cold brew’ method as you would find in many cold served coffee drinks. Add the lactose and you have this iced latte beer, which I preferred much more than stouts aiming for the French press style. For the connoisseurs: Warpigs cooperated with the Danish Coffee Collective to get high quality in the beer. Why the angry name, you wonder? As many of the Warpigs and 3 Floyds brewers hail from the United States where the rules on naming a commercial beer can be quite strict, they were relieved they could just use swear words in the names here in Europe. So, yeah fuck yeah! For this experimental beer a progressive tune was in order, alright. So Mastodon‘s The Motherload made the trip so much better.

Big Black Bicycle Sour Cherry – As the bar opened up again for the general public after the tasting, the tempo was kept pretty high. Next up, was a 7.1% black IPA with added sour cherry juice. Personally, I found the contrast between the roasted black IPA and the sour of the cherries a bit too extreme. While the idea was pretty interesting, the end result was rather a dissociated Jekkyl and Hyde. Unfortunately, for me this was the disappointment of the evening. Why the name Big Black Bicycle? The main brewer for this beer used to drive around in his big black van in the States, but now that he moved to the bicycle capital of the world in Copenhagen he felt forced to switch to a big black bicycle! We fell back to the rest of Slayer‘s Reign in Blood album and just as Mr Jekkyl & Hide the music in Gollem was criminally insane.

Smoldering Holes (bottle) – I felt I was not alone in my disappointment with the last beer so people’s anticipation was high for the only bottled beer of the evening. An impressive Russian imperial stout brewed with no less than 12 different malts. Lan-Xin Foo explained how the leftover malts are used to create a syrup that gets thrown in a bourbon milkshake. Nothing goes to waste in Copenhagen! With its 9.6% alcohol this dark beauty is rather light for its style. A thick tasty flavor of chocolate and the illustrious umami taste makes you sip and enjoy this beer slowly. Seriously, this beer was so nice I forgot what music was playing…

Varg Taß with Yuzu – At first we were surprised to find this cute 3% Berliner Weisse at the end of the tasting line, but eventually it made sense. It was a perfect face twister to wake up your taste buds again after that rich and heavy beer we just sipped on. Pucker up and taste the juicy fresh lemonade! This last beer made me reminisce of the kids selling their fresh squeezed lemons at the Metaldays campsite in Slovenia in soaring temperatures…

I’m sure the wake-up call allowed many attendants to linger behind and crack open another beer of Gollem’s impressive catalogue. Too bad for me I had to catch the train back home!

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