Category: Beer Tasting Notes


Crew Republic Detox

Crew Republic: Detox (Germany: Session IPA: 3.4% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon to apricot. Large sudded yellowed head. Unsure on carbonation due to the cloudy nature.

Nose: Pineapple. Pine cones. Custard. Sweet lemon curd. Crisp. Cream. Present hops. Apricot.

Body: Good bitterness. Malt drinks. Hop character. Slightly chalky. Dirty water. Kind of lemon touched.

Finish: Malt drinks. Bitterness. Granite. Dried apricot. Malt chocolate. Kind of floral.

Conclusion: Ohh, and it was doing so well! Interesting look on the pour, a nice hazy character and it follows that up with an appealing smooth, fruity, and slightly hoppy aroma. So, all that going on and it has a low abv that should make it a session beer.

Then I took a sip.

Yeah, well, you know what I said in my last review about beers that don’t live up to their aroma? That would be this beer. This so does not live up to its aroma.

The main body is just kind of malt drink, mixed with muddy water. OK, tad over harsh, it does have admittedly good bitterness, but the rest of the beer’s body is so leaden. It is so very disappointing. Then the finish just puts the nails in the coffin of the beer. It is just granite, malt and bitterness. There is no good hook to this beer. You can feel the ghost edge of fresh fruit flavour trying to push past the muck, you almost get lemon and apricot. Almost, but failing.

So, it is just dull, not chemically and offensive. The dirty water bit is pretty bad, but that is a quite minor touch thankfully, mostly it is just really dull. Like drinking stale bread and hops.

Ah well, can’t win them all.

Background: So this is called a session IPA. Now at 3.4% BAV it even fits my definition of session, but the idea of a session IPA confused me so I had a look and…that is an actual recognised style now? Ok, huh, erm, ok. But, but an IPA is supposed to be high alcohol, that is pretty much the definition! Ah screw it, I accepted Black IPA, White IPA, Red IPA and Brown IPA. I can live with session IPA. Anyway, on first glance I thought this was a Czech Republic, but no, it is actually part of the small craft beer scene of Germany. This was drunk while nursing my aching hands after failing to complete the final level of “They Bleed Pixels” with all pages after TWO HOURS. I have since managed it. Ouch that was hard. I’m just rambling now…Oh, did I mention I bought this at Independent Spirit? Because I did.

Black Eyed King Imp

Brewdog: Black Eyed King Imp (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 11.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown bubbled rim and island of suds over the body.

Nose: Vinous. Bitter cocoa and white grapes. Chocolate dust. Rum soaked black cherry. Raisins. Coconut macaroons and treacle. Riesen chocolate chews. Hot fudge cake. Brown sugar. Nougat.

Body: Smooth chocolate liquore. Salt touch. Toasted teacakes. Chocolate chews. Bitter cocoa. Touch of alcohol feel at back of the throat. Sweet red wine. brandy snaps. Raisins. Golden syrup cake.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Oak. Touch of smoke. Toasted teacake. Bitter raw chocolate. Light marshmallow. Some bitter coffee. Fudge cake. Slight clean antiseptic alcohol.

Conclusion: There are so many beers in existence that, if they could deliver on what their aroma promised, would be the greatest beers ever. This is one of those beers.

It has all of my favourite things for an Imperial Stout aroma: Coconut macaroons, seriously, coconut notes in stouts are a thing of wonder – Vinous notes, always good for a bit of depth and a chewable aroma – chocolate, this beer definitely goes the heavy chocolate route with bitter, sweet and dusty chocolate elements. Oddly, up front I got none of the coffee notes that I would have expected in the beer. Finally hot fudge and brown sugar, to make sure the sweetness is not all chocolate based. Ok not quite final, there are side notes that pop up occasionally, the most fascinating of which is a faint nougat. I love how it uses the bitter chocolate to break up the sweetness, without breaking the overall feel of the aroma.

So, yeah, note how I bring this all up in relation to how it only shows up in the aroma. I’m about to slag off the main body aren’t I? Actually, no. The body is smooth as hell, some occasional harsh notes, especially at the back of the throat, but for the most part close to the too light side, without becoming so. Still all about the chocolate, but a bit more standard than the aroma. Great chocolate, great vinous and dark fruits, but loses a lot of the other elements. Still cool, but a bit more mainstream than the excellent aroma.

No coconut. No nougat. *Sob*.

First world problems eh?

The finish against is its own thing. It is dominated by bitter chocolate, and a slight clean alcohol touch, with a few hints of oak and smoke for weight. Here, finally, some bitter coffee becomes evident. It is the harsh end of the flavours, but no burn at all here.

So the progression from aroma to finish is one of simplification at each step, but matched by a sweep from sweet to bitter. It works, the aroma drags you in, the body satisfies and the finish locks it down so it doesn’t outstay its welcome and become sickly.

Not the awesome coconut and nougat beer the aroma promised, and I so wish existed, but I can dream. The only real flaws is a tiny touch of alcohol in the super smooth body that keeps it from being the most deluxe decadent stout out there, but it is lovely chocolate and bitter imperial stout.

So, not the beer the aroma says it will be, but still an excellent beer.

Background: I think I saw mentioned somewhere that the base for this was the prototype that became cocoa psycho. I could be wrong, anyway, it was a prototype, made with cacao nibs and coffee beans, and aged in oak for two years. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was drunk shortly after I had heard that the opener of the new series of Doctor Who was going to be shown in cinemas. So I put some Dr Who OST on to enjoy with it.

Stone Enjoy By IPA

Stone: Enjoy By IPA: 08/16/14 (USA: IIPA: 9.4% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold, large off white tight bubbled head. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Hops and bitterness. Pineapple. Very crisp. Custard cream biscuits. Woods after rain. Resin. Hop oils. Passion fruit. Fluffy popcorn. Dried mango.

Body: Very crisp. Lime. Toffee. Resin. Dried apricot. Juicy peach. Gingerbread touch. Greenery. Hop oils. Custard.

Finish: Hop oils. Resin. Very good bitterness. Musty mouth filling elements. Passion fruit. Gingerbread. Gooseberries. Pomegranate. Lime. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: I cannot do an unbiased review here. It just isn’t possible. I have Enjoy By IPA in the UK with about three weeks to spare. Holy fuck. The very occurrence is going to introduce bias.

So, let’s try anyway. How is it? The first impressions are all crisp hops and bitterness. We have some tart pineapple here, but mainly I am just thinking how crisp and bitter it is. Maybe I’m easily influenced by the name, but there is just a ton of hop oils, wet woodland greenery notes and resin. Here up front it really is that most base of hop characteristics, not much range, just raw hop influence.

The first sip is, again, just crisp as hell, resin and hop oils. There is a small amount of toffee in the malt presence, but not heavily so, and I’m not getting any real range yet. It is all in the bitterness. At this point there is an impressiveness to the sheer raw character, but not enough to make an exceptional beer overall, just exceptional in that one characteristic.

Then it all builds, as the beer warms the texture seems to thicker, and a very musky element comes out, like hop spores just bursting out. Here it starts gaining pungent dried fruit, like passion fruit and mango, against sweeter notes of apricot and peach. The sweet notes are the quietest, but the two type still struggle back and forth, warring for control of the glass. Juicy and dried fruit mix against the ever present desiccating bitterness. The real raw hop greenery rises, it is not what some of my friends would call a Cannabis like element, but it puts me in the mind of a room that has had seen some of that action. Very green, very oily and resinous.

The finish becomes pretty much pure pungent fruit and bitterness, the crispness subsiding below the flavours that the hops finally deliver. I only poured about of a third of the bottle initially, and each fresh pour revitalises the bitterness and crispness. I would recommend doing it this way, as it keeps the beer feeling fresh throughout.

So a very good beer. Unquestionably. Is it that damn good? Well first let me ask if I can actually be unbiased here? The answer to that is no. The answer to the first question? Well, it is lovely. The flavour progression is from crisp and clean to complex, musky and robust. The bitterness just rises and rises. The flavour is full American style hops, with hints that call to the more NZ style.

It is a beer of utter raw hop use, you barely get any show of the base malt, and what you do get rapidly vanishes before the bitterness. It is an ode to hop use and is brilliant. So to finally answer. It is that damn good.

Background: Where do I start with this one? This is the beer I never expected to see in the UK. Stone Brewing are notoriously short dated at the best of times, and we tend to get their bottles just before the best before dates if we are lucky. This beer was brewed not to last. Six weeks from brewing to Best Before date if I have calculated it right. Six weeks to ship, buy, and drink. The entire beer has been brewed to enjoy fresh and hoppy. Brewdog managed it. Delayed by about a week by customs, but still arrived about two to three weeks after brewing. The beer was available at bars from 18:00 hours. I arrived 18:15. For the best by the sounds of it, some bars sold out in under an hour. I was expecting a 330ml bottle, so with 660 ml of near 10% abv I took my time, kicked back and just enjoyed some conversation with fellow enthusiasts. As you can guess, I was very excited for this beer. I hoped to get this review up last night, but was delayed coming back from a “The Eels” gig, which rocked, but I was nackered.

ReAle Extra

Birra Del Borgo: Re Ale Extra (Italy: IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow. Moderate carbonation. Small white head. Leaves a lot of suds around the glass.

Nose: Crisp lemon and hops. Passion fruit and cheesecake.

Body: Custard. Shortbread. Lemon. Kiwi fruit. Lemon filled hops. Cheesecake. Sherbety. Light crisp bitterness. Green apples. Apricot and melon.

Finish: Kiwi cheesecake. Hop bitterness. Passion fruit. Lemon. Sprite. Jammy. Melon. Jolly ranchers.

Conclusion: Why is this 6.2% darn you? I could session this until I fall over. Which at 6.2% and my rubbish alcohol capacity would not be very long. This is a lovely fresh crisp beer, it mixes custard sweet, lemon fresh and lovely crisp hop bitterneess. It opens up so easily and welcomes you in, but keeps notes back, such as the green apples and kiwi that you only get rolling around underneath when you have had enough time to get used to the beer.

The light sweet notes are the ones put all up front, all cheesecake and sherbet – that is then backed up with that understated bitterness. There is a huge range of flavours, but no matter how many I find it always hints that there may be more underneath. Even after I found the kiwi and passion fruit I kept digging, trying to put words to the hints of elements that I could taste, their description just out of reach.

It is smooth of main body, ridden over by a light hop grit feel. As with taste, the texture hints that there may be more to be found.

But, I return again, why, darn you why is it 6.2%. I know, it is what they needed to make it taste as it does, and I know that some people consider 6.2% sessionable. For me though, I’m old school, and for me 6% and up is a big beer, I wish I could easily drink more of this.

A wonderful, balanced, bitter and easier to drink than its abv should be, beer. Feels like a Belgian IPA with its lovely texture. I don’t know if they used Belgian yeast, but that is how it feels. It has the excellent texture combined with remarkable hop use. So, yes, I am impressed.

Background: Huh, ratebeer says 6.4%, wonder if the keg version is slightly lower abv. It’s about time I returned to Birra Del Borgo, but they are so damn hard to find in the UK. This was found at The Beer Emporium, and as I settled down to review, some Willy Mason came on the sound system. Good tunes were following me that day I tell you, Also, just as I finished my review, some friends arrived, making for good chat as well. A very delightful day of coincidental joy. I approve.

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.

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.

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.

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