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Inside the glass, the Crimson beer bloomed with taste.
“I give this a superior rating,” said Chris Aho, 36. “I’m a fan.”
After joining Chris, a regular beer drinker, and sipping this fine red ale at the bar BrewDog in Helsinki’s Ullanlinna district at Crimson India Red Ale’s official launch event on Saturday afternoon, I am sold. It’s, indeed, a delicious craft of art!
The taste is bitter, nutty and hoppy – a lovely blend, stirred, bottled and brewed by three lovely ladies from Tampere.
“There’s a mysterious flavour that leaves you on the backside on the palate, which is good,” said Chris and continued, “It’s not harsh. It’s not like drinking Lapin kulta, ‘Oh, I’m drinking water’ or something heavy like when I drink one I’m like ‘Oh, I just ate a meal.’ ” “It’s a great session beer but it’s still fulfilling.”
I found one of the brewers, Anette Aghazarian, 23, a brunette with a beautiful smile, from the backside of the craft beer bar. Anette explained how the demand for the beer has exceeded all expectations. “We were supposed to make a batch of 300 litres,” she said. “However, the demand grew so large that we decided to make a batch of 3,000, which is now sold out.”
In Helsinki alone one can buy Crimson from 17 places. Seven pubs serve the red delight in Tampere. In total, one can drink Crimson in 43 different locations all the way up to the Ostrobothnian city of Vaasa.
The slogan of the beer is genius in Finnish: “Tytötkin panee!”, which translates into raw English as “Girls Screw Too!”. In this case, however, the English equivalent for “panna” is not “to screw” but “to brew.”
To find an equally intriguing slogan in English is hard but Jose Ahonen, a magician and a partner in a brewery, tried to help his lady, Laura Weckström, who’s the head brewer for Crimson. “I came up with ‘Bitches Brew’, but then it makes more sense if you know the album Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.”
Their team and label sounds pretty catchy though: Brewcats!
How do you like the beer?” asked Linda Silvonen, 23, the third brewer, another lovely brunette, shorter than Anette.
“I think it’s really good!” I said.
“But I have to admit that I am more of a weissbier guy.”
“Oh. We just dissed wheat beer,” Anette laughed.
“I am not picky but something bothers me with it . . . it’s sweet,” said Linda and continued, “But I believe that if I would drink several I would start liking it.”
“I like smoky weissbier, ” Anette said.
It makes sense . . . If Crimson is a reflection of the girls’ taste, ale and weissbier foam on the opposite spectrum like wine and whisky.
The three ladies started stirring the first batch in autumn 2015, using a rental brewery, thus saving in investment costs. Laura had decided to quit her job at an airport, because beer crafting, her true passion, had started to obscure her hectic day job in logistics. She asked Anette and Linda, both pursuing careers as actors with sliding schedules, to join her. The newbies learned from Laura as the process advanced.
Linda shared some of the malts used as ingredients in Crimson. “It’s a blend of blend of Pale ale, Munich, Crystal and Black malt.”
Without dwelling too deep into the chemistry, Pale ale gives a solid foundation providing most of the grist, Munich reddens the beer, Crystal malt adds a toffee-like flavour and Black malt darken the beer, while providing some ashy undertones.
India pale ale’s history reaches back to the days of the British Empire, which shipped the beer to India in the mid-18th century. In fact, in the beginning of beer making all beers were ales. Even the great French 19th-century impressionist Édouard Manet depicted bottles of pale ale in his painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.
Lagers – the most common beer occupying the shelves of corner stores and markets – came on the scene only 150 years ago, and becoming popular in Finland in the ’60s, filling the fridges with Lapin kulta after the arrival of refrigeration.
A Chocolate Labrador Retreiver called Freija, a three-year-old lady with a nose for good beer, rubbed my leg and after I went for a slav squat, she sniffed my glass filled with Crimson. She wagged her tail for a sign of approval. Freija is the mascot of Brewdog, a lady not shy of cats I heard – especially Brewcats!
After finishing my beer, I swayed back and forth from heel to toe – enjoying the aftertaste, slightly tipsy. The aftertaste definitely fulfilling and nutty and like with fine whisky the bitterness flirting like a bitch in heat: after a strong leap forward, a full spring around the corner.
“Do you think your popularity has skyrocketed due to your slogan?” I asked.
“I think it has a lot to do with our slogan,” Anette said.
But after the wheat has been separated from the chaff, and the slogan is nothing but a horny memory, it all comes down to the quality and taste of the beer.
I have a feeling that Crimson India Red Ale will delight friends of beer for decades to come.
If the Bitches keep brewing.