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Rubaeus

Founders:Rübæus (USA: Fruit Beer: 5.7% ABV)

Visual: Deep cherry red. Dash of an off white head.

Nose: Tangy and musky mix. Raspberry. Strawberry undertones. Brambles.

Body: Sweet strawberry ice cream syrup. Tart raspberries. Slight cheeseboard character. Twigs. Raspberry ripple ice cream, Grapes behind.

Finish: Sweet raspberry syrup. Oak. Malt chocolate note. Raspberry ripple ice cream. Cheese cake.

Conclusion: Hmm. You know I really should stop starting conclusions with “Hmm”. Hmm, you know, syrupy sweet fruit beers tend to have a rep as being a bit crap. Bit sugary sweet, inoffensive, that kind of thing.

The thing is, this is quite syrupy sweet, but actually pretty good.

Its sweetness is not a million miles away from New Glarus’ Raspberry Tart, and has a similar very full raspberry character, with tons of genuine fruitiness. Where it differs is in an almost ice cream and ice cream syrup styling that is streaked throughout. Despite that though, you really get the raw fruitiness and a good light tartness. There is even unexpected notes, some strawberry in particular – I have no idea where that come from.

It also shows similarity with New Glarus in that it has that twig and cheeseboard character for complexity, though here the increased sweetness moves it more into cheesecake territory. Even with all the fruitiness the base texture is readily identifiable as beer, if perhaps beer that has had syrup squirted in it. It seems half way between a Fruli and New Glarus, with a call to the flavours of both.

The syrupyness does occasionally work against it, but with that exception it is a very tasty fruity beer, like a raspberry ripple beer.

You know, I think that is the second time I have used that description for a beer.

Tasty, easy to drink, very good fruit character but just a tad too syrup filled. Still pretty good.

Background: Yes I copy pasted the name to save looking up all the special characters. This is a raspberry beer, and the first time I have seen Founders on tap outside of the USA. So I decided to do a review. While I was drinking away The Eels, White Stripes, the Radiohead came on the sound system. It was like a flashback to my late teen years. Not entirely a bad thing. Anyway, it was sunny. Again. My attempts to extinguish the sun with pure hate are yet to be successful.

Timmermans Oude Geueze

Timmermans: Oude Gueuze (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Dash of a white head.

Nose: Crushed nuts. Apricot. Light lemon.

Body: Very tart. Apples and cider. Lemon meringue. Fluffy feel behind initial sharpness. Vinegar touch. Some nuts. Jiff lemon.

Finish: Dust balls. lemon curd. Acidic. Vinegar note. Jiff lemon.

Conclusion: Lemony. Very lemony. Very very lemony. Generally I have found lemon is not an uncommon element of gueuze beers, but this is damn near lemon juice. With jiff lemon squirted into it. and then blended with lemon meringue. With lemons.

It is a bit much really. I can live with a sharp beer, hell, done right I love them. I can ever live with a beer with vinegar notes, a la Rodenbach, even if they confuse the hell out of me they can be good. This is just too one note. Ok, maybe not quite one note, but someone is letting the drummer of the band have an extended solo on the middle of the song.

Metaphorically speaking.

There are some of the other traditional lambic notes here, some nuttiness, a nice Belgian texture behind the sharpness. There is nothing that makes it really stand out though. It has a lot of the challenging notes of the style, but I don’t feel it gives you enough in trade off for that. It just rocks that one lemon filled element far too long.

Now it isn’t terrible. It is very refreshing, especially when chilled down, and the initial sharp feel giving way to that fluffy grip is interesting. However, I can’t see myself returning to the beer. If I want a sharp beer Cantillon is better in nearly every way, giving you more for the challenge, and if I want a more easy going been then this is not it.

It needs a few more notes, or maybe just to cut the metaphorical drummer’s hands off.

Background: Found this at “Independent Spirit” of Bath. I’ve been on a bit of a Belgium kick recently and thought I would give this a try, lambics are always intriguing to me, though I don’t always get them. When I find one I like though they are amazing. Anyway this was drunk while listening to some OCR Remixes of Streets Of Rage tunes, because that game had awesome music.

Springbank 12
Springbank: 12 Year: Cask Strength (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky:12 Years: 50.3% ABV)

Visual: Custard gold.

Viscosity: slow thin streaks.

Nose: Raisins. Dry shortbread. Prunes. Stewed fruit. Water adds a familiar grassy character.

Body: Thick. Treacle. Burning warmth. Raisins and sultanas. Vanilla toffee. Charred oak. Plums. Water adds fudge, grassy character, fruitcake and apples.

Finish: Warming. malt drinks. Chocolate liquore and plums. Water makes grassy, adds liquorice and charred oak.

Conclusion: This thing is thick. Initially it was almost treacle textured as you sip it, and warming on the tongue with it. The flavours were completely unexpected based on my previous experience of Springbank – fruity and robust with a mix of stewed fruit and prune notes. Despite the warmth it had a sweetness to it, but very weighty in how everything was delivered. It is lovely but nigh unrecognisable as a Springbank.

A touch of water doesn’t disperse the dark fruit, or that very distinctive feel that says “whisky”, but it does bring out that familiar, slightly grassy character that I always associate with Springbank. The sweetness becomes better defined as a sweet fudge, and the dark fruit does alter, it mellows to be notes in the mid range rather than up front. Here you an detect a restrained amount of peat that had previously been hidden by the sheer weight of the neat whisky.

The finish is long lasting, with charred oak, dark fruit and that aforementioned distinctive “whisky” character. I’ve been writing notes for a while now, intermixed with reading a bit of “A dance with dragons” and I can still taste my last sip.

More water mellows the warmth but the flavour never loses its weight, mixing that raw heavy stewed fruit with *ahem* lighter Springbank house character.

Frankly the whisky can take an extraordinary amount of water, it has about a quarter higher abv, but can take about double the water, each addition adding an extra layer as it tends towards the grassy and peated base.

While a huge whisky, for me, it is that bit too heavy to be a favourite, even with water it feels huge. This does not make it bad, oh no I like a good heavy whisky, but it is a styling that seems odd in contrast to the lighter notes.

However it is a wonder of exploration, and of sheer range, for which it is a fascinating choice. I would probably not grab a bottle, but every now and then it would be nice to settle down with a double and just re-examine it.

Background: Springbank was the first Campbeltown whisky I tried, and is still a favourite. There are only three remaining Distilleries in Campbeltown: Glen Scotia, Springbank (Who make Springbank, Hazelburn and Longrow) and Glengyle which makes Kilkerran (Which is owned by Springbank). Despite the small variety they are still a great whisky region. All this is to say, when I saw a cask strength Springbank it was definitely time to give it a try. As you can see I had THE WORLDS TINIEST WHISKY GLASS. (Disclaimer: Probably not the worlds tiniest. Some hyperbole may be in use) It was actually kind of fun to use.

Rugbrod

The Bruery: Rugbrød (USA: Speciality Grain: 8% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to black. Large brown bubbled head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. All bran. Wheat. Earthy.

Body: Vinous. Sour grapes. Cherries and raisins. Port. Raspberries. Chocolate milkshake. Sugared shortbread. Fruitcake.

Finish: Madeira cake. Sour red wine. Glacier cherries. Malt chocolate. Choc orange. White grapes. Black cherries.

Conclusion: So I took a few sniffs of the beer after I had just poured it. Not unpleasant I thought to myself. Bit earthy. Bit light malt chocolate. Doesn’t say very much though, which is a bad sign for 8%. So I put on my “Prepared to be disappointed face” and took my first sip.

Holy Buttesticles. Where the hell did that come from? Like, what? Where? How. What? There is a very vinous beer that they hid in here. Malt chocolate and choc orange as a solid base, but that is just a launch pad for sour wine and grapes mixed against port and Madeira, then all mashed up with fruitcake and raisins.

It is just slightly soured, with an almost wine sediment feel at times. The mouth tingling sour grapes style is brought to heel by the solid robust malt when it looks like it is going to get too heavy. All together it is delivered with a very smooth character. The malt base is so easygoing that it almost decries the abv, while the vinous elements happily declare it.

It is kind of ESB styled, but both bigger and smoother. it is a bigger jump from Vintage Ale as Vintage Ale is from ESB, if that makes sense, and even if it doesn’t.

So, of the full package for an excellent beer, all it lacks is the aroma. The rest is delicious, with vinous, malty beery goodness. It is not the very best of the best, but it comes in just a shade below. It lacks the perfect package yes, but seriously, do not let that put you off. One small flaw does not a beer ruin. If you like big vintage ales then this is that and more. Enjoy it.

Background: I googled Rugbrød, apparently it is the name of Danish rye bread. That is my new fact of the day learned. This is my first The Bruery beer, I’ve heard their name come up a few times, and never with negative connotations, so I thought it worth giving them a try. Apparently this can be aged a few years. I can’t see a bottled on date so I have no idea how old it is. That is all.

Kilchoman 2007
Kilchoman 2007 Vintage (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 6 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Greened grain. Very light in colour.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Dry earth. Peat. Astringent.

Body: Beef stew. Golden syrup. Peat. Sweet lime. Dried banana. Smooth. Charred oak. Water softens and brings barley, malt chocolate, some peat and energy still, and a tar like touch.

Finish: Dry. Smoke and warmth. Sweet syrup. Maybe a raspberry syrup like touch at one time? Possible psychosomatic. Peat. Beef slices. Malt chocolate. Salt. water adds a custard sweetness.

Conclusion: The newest Islay has always impressed me in prior encounters, and here is the first time I have managed to put the impressions of being impressed on indents (or impressions if you like) on the paper.

It is a whisky that really shows the Islay character, you can feel a barley like texture running across the tongue, the smoke rising, and a robust peat warmth the builds up inside you. It doesn’t just define itself by the expected character though – there is a mix of sweeter notes from dried banana to several sweet syrup notes, and they give a more subtle set of lower notes that back against the big Islay beef broth of the main character. The subtle elements are what makes it stand out from the pack.

It is still a booming whisky, especially neat, yet for all its youth in years it manages to give you all of the warmth and yet none of the fire. Even at this point it is showing very distinguished characteristics, and that bodes well for the future. It will be interesting to see what happens, as in later years peat tends to drop slightly, and I wonder how the lighter elements will progress.

This is balanced, big, intricate and evolved. The barley character grounds it, and gives a texture you don’t see often with whisky these days, the peat lets it boom and the sweetness lets it mellow. A great whisky already, and a promise of special things ahead in the years to come.

Background: Bottled 2013. With this I get to call full house on Islay bingo. I have now reviewed one expression from each distillery there. Which was not the reason I bought a measure bit it didn’t hurt. I’ve tried a few Kilchoman’s at whisky shows over the years, but have yet to do a review from this, the newest Islay distillery. A quick bit of research shows that the distillery not only does its own floor malting, but also has all parts of the process from growing to bottling, on Islay itself. Yes by research I mean “I looked on wiki”. Yes, I know that doesn’t count. This was drunk at Brewdog Bristol in their new, slightly rolling tumbler glasses.

Blitz Redcurrant

Brewdog: Blitz Redcurrant (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 2.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Half inch of white tight bubbled head that leaves suds. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Ribena and earth. Lemon.

Body: Sharp. Red berries. Sour tang. Lime cordial. Cake sponge. Sour apples. Light funky yeast or cheese puffs character. Late on some cheesecake.

Finish: Lime cordial. Red berries. Tart. Apples. Sour lemon. Sour grapes.

Conclusion: I’m hiding from summer and its accompanying sun, but at least I can take advantage of the summer beers. Let’s find out if it is worth the trade off.

This has a nice balance in its use of refreshing sharpness, it isn’t mouth puckering, but simply enlivening. I was unsure of how well the redcurrent would be shown, due to the colour of the beer, but it is there, pocked amongst lemon and lime cordial and tart apples. So, not the dominant force, but they combine to make a refreshing base.

There is a bit of fun with the texture, a kind of cheese puff or Belgian yeastie character that gives a bit more grip and lets the beer have a bit of grounding to counter the sharpness.

While you get a very ribena like aroma, the red fruit mid body is definitely just an element, not the defining element, so I couldn’t recommend the beer if it is the redcurrant that made it appeal to you. Of all the blitzes, this is the one that seems to show the most of the raw beer’s character.

However if you just want a refreshing summer drink, that happens to have some tasty bit of red fruit to it. then this is very nice. The base calls more to an easy going lambic than a harsher berliner weisse, it reminds me a bit of Mikkellers spontanale. As you go along the beer expresses a different range of soft fruit and at the end even some cheesecake notes.

Very refreshing, enough notes to be interesting, balanced, and very low abv as well. This doesn’t quite justify summer’s existence, but it does a lot to help it go by.

Background: I am currently campaigning for the sun to be banned. On account of it being evil. Enforcement and the survival of the entire species may be an issue of I succeed, but I still think it is a worthy goal. Which is my way of saying it was a warm day in Bristol when I tried this. This is the latest of Brewdog’s varied berliner weisse with fruit beers, which have generally been enjoyable so far.

Sainsbury Low Alcohol Czech Lager

Staropramen: Sainsbury’s Czech Low Alcohol Pilsner Lager (Czech Republic: Low Alcohol Pilsner: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow grain. Moderate carbonation. Had a white head, but by the time I had finished kicking my errant camera it had nearly vanished.

Nose: Wet cardboard.

Body: Moderate malt. Slightly chalky. Soft vanilla and palma violets. Light bitterness. Cereal grain. Soft lemon and fruit very late on in the beer.

Finish: Vanilla. Dry. Dried banana touch. Palma violets. Soft lemon on pancakes.

Conclusion: A low alcohol beer night. Because obviously I know how to par-tay! After having been to Prague I figured the best way to recreate that feeling was with a low abv beer from a supermarket brand*.

*warning, some unnecessary sarcasm may be in use.

It is kind of an empty beer. Thankfully not chemically, not an abomination against all things good and proper. Just…empty. There is just about enough to identify it as that elusive pilsner character. Just about. There is a soft palma violet vibe, and an ease of drinking to it. The bitterness is way below the expected level, but on mouthfeel it isn’t terribly done.

I am damning with faint praise aren’t I? It’s intentional.

There just isn’t a huge amount to it. A light kind of grain cereal flavour, some vanilla sweetness to round off the edges. At least it is better than the aroma, which is basically wet cardboard.

It is effectively inoffensive, nowhere near as bad as say Tesco Value Lager or as chemically as Becks Alcohol Free. Also not huge and flavoursome like Drink in the Sun/Snow. It is just, well, there. Beer feeling and lager tasting, but not much more than that.

Late on it does manage some soft fruit, so manages to touch base with enough elements to say it is a Czech Pilsner, but they are so lightly done that it is nowhere near a well crafted one. At 0.5% abv I would think I was being picky, if I had not tried so much better examples.

I guess it keeps your hand off stronger beers if you are driving, and it just about calls to Czech Pilsners so you don’t hate drinking it.

So, ok, not terrible, but far from any form of excitement that a beer should bring.

Background: looking at rate beer apparently this is identical to, or very close to Staropramen Nealko. Never tried it, couldn’t say. Anyway, after coming back from Prague and their excellent Bohemian Pilsners, I saw this. and because I obviously wanted to shit all over my memories I bought a few bottles. Well, it was more that I like to keep an eye out for low abv beers that don’t actually suck. Some of them actually do exist. So I thought I would give this a try. Drunk while listening to some “Hate In The Box”, which may give an impression of my expectations for this beer.

Sugar Lumps

Elixir: Sugar Lumps (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 7.7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Browned dash of suds.

Nose: Roasted and boozy. Chocolate treacle. Dry roasted peanuts. Brown sugar. Bitter. Orange sherbet.

Body: Treacle. Milky chocolate. Lactose. Chocolate liquore. Fruit sugars and sugar cane in a Brighton rock stylee. Rhubarb and custard hard sweets (but nothing like actual rhubarb). Orange sherbet.

Finish: Brown sugar. Cashew nuts. Candyfloss. Raspberry hard sweets (but nothing like actual raspberry). Orange sherbet.

Conclusion: I can see why they called this Sugar Lumps, you can almost feel two cubes of sugar dropped into this beer. It is like an oversweet cup of tea. If that tea was an imperial stout. That sentence made sense in some universe I am sure… It’s because it has that same feel on the mouth, despite the smoothness of the body you can imagine sugar granules wearing away at the upper roof of your mouth and teeth enamel as they pass by.

Oddly enough for that it starts off tasting quite like a traditional imperial stout, delivering roasted nuts, treacle, chocolate and lactose. Together it does give a milk stout touch, but mainly standard strong stout. and then the sugar rises.

Lots of elements float up, half way between fruity Belgian esters and the artificial flavours of hard sweets. These grow to an almost orange sherbet presence that becomes as present as the stout itself.

I found myself licking my teeth as if trying to dislodge an errant sugar grain, the sweetness matches the name that much, with the more bitter stout darkness submerged below. It is tasty but I will admit I kept expecting that if you put a spoon in it, that it would point straight up and not move an inch. For me that is a tad too sugary. Yes, that is the beer’s unique element, and the candy cane/hard sweets elements are nice, just a tad overdone.

Great idea, but pushed a tad past its welcome. The first half a bottle is very welcome, the second half less so. Make of that what you will.

Background: Apparently this was brewed in collaboration with Ben Hislop. A quick google brought up a mercenary from Mass Effect. I presume it is not that Ben Hislop. Unless fictional characters have started brewing now. Which would be kind of cool. I call dibs on reviewing Hank Schrader from Breaking Bad’s home brew. That is pretty much all I have to say on background this time. Picked up from the ever awesome Independent Spirit of Bath.

Provenance Glen Spey 2012

Provenance: Glen Spey: Single Cask 2012 (Scottish Single Cask Malt Whisky: 11 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Brackish water.

Viscosity: Mix of fast and middling streaks.

Nose: Strong cheap vodka spirit. Fiery. Raw make spirit. Pear drops. Green apples.

Body: Surprisingly smooth. Vanilla toffee and apples. Fire rises. Zest orange, quite sweet into orange crème. Smoothes over time. Water smoothes the fire massively but flavours diminish. More apples come out though.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Pears. Vanilla. Orange sorbet. Shredded wheat. Lime sorbet. Cheap vodka. Water makes less distinctive, adds digestives.

Conclusion: I’ve said it a lot really but…huh. It is a good word/utterance. You could hold an entire conversation with it if you add enough body language to aid.

The first sniff of this was pretty much rocket fuel. It felt half way between cheap vodka and raw make spirit. Now, I will admit I hadn’t given it long to air before drinking, but it was still far rougher than usual. So, I waited, and then took the first feared sip and…

Pretty darn smooth. There is a thick feel like cheap vodka spirit in the middle but the fire is way down. Subtle green fruit and vanilla notes against a lovely sharp orange. So, confused, I held the glass to the light. It still looked the same, brackish greened water, so light that it could be mistaken for very young spirit. Yet here it was, the flavours were similar to younger spirit, but far smoother than the aroma warned. There was that thicker texture, like cheap vodka, and the fire never completely dies down but still much more impressive than expected.

So onto the next step, adding water. It kills the fire, but the flavours become more indistinct with it, making for a whisky that tastes like a mix of biscuits and lime. Not unpleasant actually, not as harsh, but I did prefer the sharp fresh notes you got neat, for all the issues. So a bit of a trade off then. There’s also quite a bit of apples with water, like calvados aged whisky against malted drinks. Again interesting, but not as fresh as when taken neat.

So, a very interesting experiment, very fresh and raw. Even with water you do get good flavour, all green fruit and limes (which yes, I know is a green fruit, but I felt was worth pointing out separately for its prominence), if muted. If you ignore the aroma it is even nicely smooth. With the aroma it is a bit rough, and far from the compete package for a whisky. I would compare it as a rougher Hakushu 12, and it feels younger than its 11 years, but it does have charm in its exhuberance.

I cannot recommend this over the Hakushu, which does everything better, but it is a lively one to visit, for all its raw spirit like issues.

Background: 20cl bottles, a nice compromise between the risk of buying blind 70cl of spirit, and the one off visit of a 5cl mini. This independent bottling was found at The Tasting Rooms in Bath. I’ve never tried Glen Spey, nor any bottling from Provenance before, so it seemed a god time to give them a shot. Looking online, this seems to be one of their seasonal set of releases, this being a spring release. This is single cask and unchillfiltered. Broke out a bit of Nine Inch Nails as a backdrop to this tasting.

Everyday Anarchy

Brewdog: Everyday Anarchy (Scotland: Belgian Strong Ale: 10.3% ABV)

Visual: Burnished red. Short lived off white dust of a head that quickly drops to islands over the liquid. Still with no evident carbonation.

Nose: Stewed apples and dates. Raisins. Burnt marshmallow. Brandy cream. Madeira cake. Brandy snaps. Wine.

Body: Raspberry pavlova. Apple slices. Spotted dick. Fudge. Very smooth and light. Stewed apricot. Syrup. Vanilla. Wine grapes. Red berries. Croissants.

Finish: Apples. Cinnamon. Meringue. White wine. Fudge. Brown bread. Stewed apricot. Malt chocolate. Shortbread Cranberry.

Conclusion: A beer that is, somehow, simultaneously thick feeling and yet too thin to hold. Huh. To the eye you can see a viscous haze in the midst of the body, and the aroma is full in promised stewed fruit and brandy cream. Here as you let the different elements waft it is intense, with dark fruit and spirit mixing.

The first sip then is a bit of a surprise and disappointment as it felt almost empty. There was no alcohol burn, which is good, but also no weight, it felt viscous as you ran your tongue through it, but it came with no real discernable elements.

So, nervous, I took another sip. This time giving it a good roll around the mouth. Slowly apple and pavlova flavours came out, along with a syrup sweetness. The flavours somehow feeling thick on the tongue despite the lightness of the beer delivering it.

While the flavours do built up over time, they don’t come to you. You really have to dive into it and investigate, if you don’t give the beer a good roll around then virtually nothing seems to show itself. Because of this, at no point did the beer feel over 10% ABV.

Similarly the beer never felt particularly saison like, with flavours that mix spotted dick, apple and syrup, it feels more like a very smooth barley wine. Probably it is coming through too smooth, while there are complexities to the beer you really have to work very hard to get them. When you do it does taste nice, wine touched in a very light influence, very graceful, but it never feels overly special. This is odd as it has an impressive range of flavours to find , it just delivers them too lightly. When it is at its best you do get intricate elements that are worth examination, as long as you are willing to put the effort in to find them.

I think the problem is that it feels like an over aged beer, there is the benefit of the smoothness and subtlety of character, but the flavour seems to be atrophying away so they are not as notable as they once hypothetically may have been.

The evil twin of Black Jacques, and inversed in its issues. Where that overly heavy and unbalanced this is over smooth. So, very complex, very smooth, but a bit to light to be great.

Background: Brewdog call this an Imperial Saison that has been aged in a white wine barrel. The art on the bottle reminds me slightly of Flex Mentallo or the Invisibles, both of which are Grant Morrison comics that I hold in high regard. I was in quite good mood as a discussion with Hit Box had resulted in me finally getting the Double S achievement for Dustforce after the game had originally not recognised I had completed Giga Difficult. This was drunk while listening to Unknown Music From Dream Quest of Kadath, for some haunting and unreal sounding background music. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

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