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Top 3 craft beer recommendations for January 2021 - S&A Brewing - La Débauche - Põhjala

It is time for the first Zurich Beer Tour's Top 3 beers in 2021. Simona decided to feature a fantastic imperial stout from Zurich. Sandro's hoppy beer choice is from a country that makes its first appearance in our top 3 recommendations. This month's staff pick is again a dark beer aged in #whisky barrels, but this time from #Scotland. Let's do this!


Simona's pick: S&A Brewing (CH) - Blåck Imperial Stout (Vanilla)

The Beer:

Blåck with Vanilla was in the lineup of our first Zurich Beer Tour online tasting, which was dedicated to the beloved beer style: stout. This beer pours dark as the night with a texture that is close to motor oil, as your glass starts to fill up, aromas of #chocolate and #coffee start to wander up your nose. On the palate it starts with a bit of sweetness upfront, accompanied by notes of #cocoa, roasted malt, slight vanilla and a smoky backbone. It finishes sweet and slightly bitter, leaving you with a long lasting delicious chocolate aroma. An imperial stout just as it should be: big, bold and #beautiful.

The Brewery:

S&A Brewing (formerly known as Storm&Anchor) that is Tom Strickler. Tom is a so called #gypsy brewer, which means he doesn't own his own physical brewery but brews his beers at other already existing breweries that rent out their brewing equipment. Tom's love for craft beer started a long time ago when he traveled to #Australia and got to know the awesome craft beer scene in down under. He is very famous for his really hoppy beers, but his stouts are also fabulous, get them if you can.

Our food pairing recommendation:

A box of chocolate pralinés to share, just like the stout itself.


Sandro's pick: La Debauché (FR) - Tōbō-sha Hops Experience (Mosaic BBC, Sabro, Mosaic)

The Beer:

Tōbō-sha is a series of beers that compare different hop combinations. Actually we compared this version that is hopped with #Mosaic BBC, #Sabro and Mosaic with one that was hopped with Mosaic BBC, #Loral, #Citra. First of all you might wonder what are BBC hops. #BBC hop pellets are the result of a collaboration between the Barth Haas and the Boston Beer Company (BBC). These hop pellets are produced with a finer grind than standard ones, and also they are produced at -31°C, so that no aroma components get lost. You can say they are more efficient than the normal hop pellet in giving #aroma to the beer. And this beer is full of aromas: pine, grass, peach and tropical fruit. This one was the winner of the two versions we tried, even though the other beer was also fantastic (but this one was brewed with Sabro hops and you could say Sandro loves Sabro hopped beers).

The Brewery:

La Debauché is the first French Brewery that made it to our monthly top 3, which is probably because this was the first time we had the chance to taste some of their beers. La Debauché is located in Angoulême, in the western part of #France. They were founded in 2013 and have produced over 130 beers until today. They produce many different types of beer from barrel-aged stouts and experimental beer styles to hop bombs like the one mentioned above. They brew on a 50HL brewing system, which they also rent out to gypsy brewers. We are looking forward to try a lot more of their beers. We are pretty sure their name could be on our Top 3 list again soon.

Our food pairing recommendation:

A spicy thai curry


Zurich Beer Tour's pick: Põhjala (EST) - Glen Noble Scotch Ale

The Beer:

This beer is part of the very famous #cellar series by Põhjala, where they brew dozens of beer styles and then age them in almost every spirit #barrel you could imagine: rum, bourbon, sherry, just to name some of them. We chose this one, because on the 25th of January the Scots celebrate Burns night, which is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns. So for this we needed the most #Scottish beer we could get our hands on and this one pretty much nailed it. A scotch ale is a dark strong ale which was invented in #Scotland and this version was also aged in Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan Scotch whisky barrels. They also added wildflower #honey to the brew. This masterpiece of a beer could only be brewed by a Scottish brewer and even though #Põhjala is an Estonian brewery, their head brewer Chris Pilkington is a real Scotsman.

The Brewery:

Põhjala was founded in #Tallinn, Estonia at the end of 2011 by four Estonian beer enthusiasts and home brewers. They were then later joined by Scottish brewer Chris Pilkington and released their first beer, an Imperial Baltic #Porter with the name "Öö", in 2013. They contract brewed their beers in other breweries until in April 2014, they opened their own brewery in Tallinn. Because of the rising demand for their fantastic beers they had to move to a bigger facility again in 2018, where they now brew on a 50hl brew system. Põhjala is for us one the most interesting breweries in the world, especially with their cellar series beers, we were never disappointed. They also have a very nice #taproom with 120 seats and 24 taps, so go and visit them as soon as you have the chance.

Our food pairing recommendation:

Haggis, neeps and tatties


These are our three beers for January. Which ones were your favorite brews this month? Tell us in the comments!

Are you looking for more personalized recommendations, that are made to fit your taste? Check our Pocket Beer Sommelier.

Stay tuned for our February recommendations!


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