Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV

Weird Beard Boring Brown Beer Bourbon Barrel Aged

Weird Beard: Bourbon Barrel Boring Brown Beer (England: Brown Ale: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark brown. Moderate beige wet bubbled head.

Nose: Citrus fresh. Roasted nuts. Malt. Sourdough. Dried apricot.

Body: Vanilla. Roasted nuts. Kiwi. Cherries. Malt chocolate. mint leafs and dough. Citrus edge. Slight alcohol burn on swallow. Toffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Spirit air. Bitter and charring. Prickly tingle. Bitter hops. Toffee.

Conclusion: I am a sucker for a bit of tongue in cheek. *rereads first line* Maybe I should rewrite that…nah it’ll be ok. Anyway, a barrel aged “Boring Brown Beer” that has to be…

Eh, ok, kind of dull.

Ok, that was harsh. What we have here is a brown ale. I’ll call it an American style brown ale as it seems to lean more to the malt chocolate interpretation over the slightly refreshing UK fare. The base style has been enhanced with a few soft vanilla oak aged notes, thought it doesn’t seem to be a heavy influence. The bigger alteration is the large infusion of hop bitterness. The roasted nut style it has calls a bit back to the UK style, but mainly I see USA influence.

It is ok, but I think they made a mistake with the base beer bitterness being a bit high. I get a lot of the generic hop bitterness character in the main play, but the more interesting notes are lost out at the edges.

Hmm again maybe a bit harsh there, there is a sort of mint leaf prickle very subtly done low down in the beer, and the hops do give a bit of citrus and kiwi at the edges, or so it seems. They aren’t very well pushed so it is hard to say. I think because they threw everything and the kitchen sink at the beer, I can but feel disappointed that it us just ok. Not actually really dull, but in no way lives up to its idea.

It is an ok brown ale, a bit spirity in the finish, and some of the flavours don’t mesh, but ok. There is a kind of sour dough element that just doesn’t work here, but the rest mainly holds up. Overall, probably not really worth grabbing I would say. Not bad, but you can easily find better. I still love the idea though.

Background: Ok I bought this because of the name. Ok, and because it sounded cool. Huge IBU, bourbon aged, chinook hop brown ale. Sounded fun. I really should get around to reviewing Weird Beard’s “Little Things That Kill”, which is an awesome beer. So awesome I tend not to wait until I am in a reviewing mood before drinking it. Anyway, trivia! I bumped into Bryan Spooner from Weird Beard at GBBF once. My attempts to subtly work out if he was who I thought he was resulted in him thinking I was hitting on him. So, that’s my meet the brewers tale of the day. Oh, the heat wave was back while I drunk this. Which is not nice. Drunk while listening to “Suffer” And “Recipe for Hate” from Bad Religion. “Recipe for Hate” is still probably my favourite album of BRs. Oh, also this was bought at Independent Spirit.

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.

Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux

Dupont: Avec Les Bons Voeux (Belgium: Abbey Tripel: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Large mounded bubbled white head. Some sediment.

Nose: Crisp. Bitter and wheaty. Apricot and cinnamon. Jiff lemon. Brown bread.

Body: Bitter. Cinnamon. Earthy spice. Sour dough. Slight honeyed barley. Steam beer. Light lemon sherbet. Soft apricot and dried banana.

Finish: Bitter. Liquorice. Lime hops. Cumin. Treacle notes. Dried apricot. Slight chocolate chews.

Conclusion: I have the horrid urge to have the entirety of this conclusion be “Not as good as Saison Dupont”, but I think that would be slightly unfair. For one thing, despite the house style similarities, this is not a saison.

Spoiler warning, this is not as good as saison dupont.

Then again, Dupont Saison is one of my favourite beers. This takes a similar approach to hops, very crisp and bitter styled, and it adds a large amount of spice into the mix, from heavy grounding spices with a turmeric style to sweeter cinnamon notes. There’s even a cloying liquorice stick like finish. It is very flavoursome and complex, but, for me at least, the spice feels like it is a set of heavy boots stomping over the interesting elements below.

Underneath is soft lemon and apricot notes, into dried apricot and lime on the send off. There’s even an interesting texture. The best was I can describe it is like the Californian common/steam beer. That almost hazy feel that is almost evanescent on the tongue. It reminds me a bit of Saison De Pipaix in feel, but with a better base. Despite these interesting notes the cumin and liquorice elements weigh in so heavy that it still feels over spiced. I don’t even know if this beer is made with spices, It’s just the flavours I get, however I would not be surprised.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Dupont couldn’t just turn out their Saison again and say “Hey, a new beer”. There just would be no point. Even with all the spice and higher abv, it does have some saison like notes, and some notes in common with that legendry beer, while still being a very distinct beer itself. It brings so many elements even with the spice, there’s great dried banana and apricot notes

It’s just…well I can’t see a reason to go with this one. What it does well is what it has in common with their saison, and the spice notes don’t enhance it and at times actually hurt it, making it slightly closed.

Not bad, and with a very complex base, but suffers due to the spice.

Background: Saison Dupont is easily one of the best saisons in the world, and has given Dupont a very high reputation with me. This is their seasonal beer, with Bons Voeux translating as “good wishes”. This was drunk while listening to The Eel’s live album “Oh what a beautiful morning”, which I , of course, listened to in the evening. This was picked up from “The Beer Emporium” while I was on a big of a Belgian beer kick. Which admittedly is 90% of the time. Belgian beer is awesome.

Mashtag 2014

Brewdog: Mashtag 2014 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black cherry red. Off white dash of bubbles for a head. The body is clear with low carbonation.

Nose: Cherries. Bitter hops. Malt chocolate. Raisins. Orange crème centres in bitter chocolate. Liquorice. Brown bread.

Body: Barley. Thin when chilled. raisins. Malt choc orange. Glacier cherries and fruitcake. Bready touch. Fresh feel. Hop oils. Pink grapefruit.

Finish: Black liquorice. Raisins. Orange liquore. Bitter chocolate. Fruitcake. Barley. Light spiciness. Pineapple.

Conclusion: “This democracy? I think I’m sick of it. Constantly politicking chicken shit liberalists”. Ah, Scroobius Pip, always worth a quote. Anyway, so, how does this *ahem* democratic brewed ale hold up?

Well, I may have over chilled it just a tad originally. That sucked. The first few sips were very thin, which is bad for a 9% abv ale. However that was my fault, I left it in the fridge too long (Would you believe this is the same person who adamantly didn’t put beers in the fridge only a few years back? How times change.)

Anyway, leaving it to warm up gave me time to examine the aroma as it did so. Here, even chilled, it entices. Lots of cherries, bitter chocolate and sweet orange crème, grounded by a bready character.

By the time I had finished luxuriating in that the body was only slightly chilled so I returned. Fruitcake, cherries and raisins came out against orange crème filled chocolate sweets. Very much delivering what the nose promised, again with the bready touch which kept it from being sickly. Reminds my of some rye ales in a way, with a light dry spiciness.

There is a nice balance to the hop oil bitterness against a fresh feel. Your mouth feels clean after drinking, sparkling, despite the heavy dark fruit and chocolate flavours. As it warms more the sparkling feel starts to become more apparent as pineapple which leads out after the chocolate and orange finally fade. A mouth refreshing final element.

It really does show more citrus as it warms, and slightly more resinous, and it balances very well. It is shockingly easy to drink for a 9% abv ale – You get so much in it with the fruitcake against citrus against bitter chocolate and orange. It feels like a decadent chocolate box with extra hops.

When I started this review I wanted to make a few jokes about how direct democracy tends to suck donkey balls, but, here it appears to have worked. They have made a very proficient ale. Complex yet easy to drink red ale. So it has ruined my dreams of donkey balls jokes.

And that is your ad copy quote right there “…has ruined my dreams of donkey balls…”. and you can quote me on that.

A very nice beer.

Background: The second mashtag beer, a beer with various elements voted on by the public to decide what is made. This ended up being an imperial red ale brewed with global hops , blood orange and lemon and orange peel. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. As you may have got the impression in the review, I tend to favour representational democracy over direct democracy for many and varied reasons that are nothing to do with beer.

De Struise Tsjeeses Reserva BBA

De Struise: Tsjeeses Reserva: BBA (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Dark red. Large yellowed frothy inch of a head. Small amount of sediment visible.

Nose: Barley. Juniper gin. Custard. Wheat. Pencil shavings and fruitcake. Lightly yeasty. Orange peel.

Body: Gin. Greenery. Fruitcake. Green grapes. Toffee. Candyfloss. Golden syrup. Glacier cherries. Aniseed. Frothy sherbet texture. Lemon sherbets. Orange zest. Cinnamon.

Finish: Liquorice. Vanilla toffee flavoured vodka. Digestives. Malt chocolate. Chives. Dried meat. Orange. Slight Belgian yeast. Cane sugar. Cinnamon.

Conclusion: Well, if nothing else, it isn’t boring. I find myself saying that a lot recently. That is good, boring is bad. Anyway this is a shifting quicksand trap of a beer. It is an eternal moving target, shifting away from the very expectations it builds up and then drags you under with a new flavour.

There is ESB style fruitcake and cherries, delivered with Belgian funky yeast and light citrus fruit and esters. Then there’s bourbon influenced vanilla toffee and smoothness.

Simple enough so far.

It also has aniseed against cinnamon spice, layered over flavoured vodka and varied gins, then stuffed with greenery. Contrasting spice notes, evident alcohol airs, and slight artificial flavours grounded with a herbal mix.

But wait, there’s more. Super sweet golden syrup, candy cane and candy floss with a sherbety texture when it froths up, that becomes almost sickly sweet.

This is the same beer, just examined at different times of the proceedings. an that is before the orange and lemon zest came out. So, interesting, but also a tad mental.

How well it works seems to depend on what combination you get in any given sip. If you get all the sweet elements at once it is sickly, if you get aniseed unopposed it is somewhat off putting. When you get fruitcake, citrus and flavoured spirits together at once it is a bit tasty.

So, a gamblers drink maybe, nothing is assured. At its most common experience it is decent, smooth and fruity, but not exceptional for this type of beer. At its highest it is an intriguing mix of flavours, ones that rarely meet and even rarer meeting with such quality. At its lowest it is sickly sweet and aniseed filled.

Worth a punt, if only because it holds the attention so well, and when it is on, it earns that attention. The barrel ageing seems to actually struggle to overcome the madness of the base beer, but when it does it makes an impact. It is such a strong base beer, influenced but far from dominated, and that is what appeals.

A beer that goes from class to crass depending on the moment, but not a beer I would turn away.

Background: I picked this up from the Beer Emporium, as well as being a great bar they also have a great bottle shop. So far my encounters with De Struise have been excellent, and I was in the mood for something bourbon barrel aged (Which is what BBA stands for if you hadn’t guessed) so picked it up. This is the 2012 edition and was drunk in mid 2014. Drunk while leaving my computer doing a full backup – recent issues with a certain game has left me even more paranoid than usual about doing backups. Also drunk while listening to some “Hate In The Box”, the “Under The Ice” album to be precise. The combination worked well.

Hello My Name Is Paivi
Brewdog: Hello My Name Is Paivi (Scotland:IIPA: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear bronzed gold body. large cream topped tight bubbled head.

Nose: Crisp hops. Tangerine. Sea breeze. Custard cream biscuits. light bitterness. Pineapple.

Body: Tart berries. Thick texture. Astringent touch. Passion fruit. Gooseberry. Raspberry. Sweet honeyed barley. Syrup sponge cake. Sharp lemon curd. Toffee malt.

Finish: Light bitterness that grows. Brine touch. Gooseberry. Vanilla. Light honey and golden syrup. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Psychosomatic warning. I was half way through this beer when I remembered that it had been made with fruit called sea buckthorn. I then looked back at how I had interpreted some of the odder astringent touches, and noticed mention of brine and sea breeze. Possible subconscious influence? Anyway, it definitely has those harsher edges, but just the words to describe them may have been influenced.

It could also be an expression of where the tartness of the berries runs up against the seemingly just slightly over attenuated body. Make of that what you will. Anyway the mix of tart to drying character, especially in the end, seems to be the defining point of the beer, however you describe it.

Anyway, this seems to be halfway between a lot of different “Hello My Name Is” beers. The berries are definitely contributing a lot of sharp and tart flavours, almost cuttingly so, which seems to be the trend with the more recent expressions of the beers. The hops are more present than in most of those beers though, giving some pineapple, and the sweetness of the earlier versions comes through in the malt, which gives a sweet honey or golden syrup style. Then there is the already mentioned drying character, parchedness inducing and what caused the digression at the start of the review. Quite a storm of elements.

Despite the sharp and astringent notes it is still quite easy to drink. The bitterness comes in at the end with good hop character and really entices you to drink it again. The strength of this beer then is dangerous, as, for whatever reason, the beer really does dry you out so you find yourself taking another sip without thinking about it.

Overall the mix of flavours is a bit of a challenge – the usually useful toffee malt backbone mid body doesn’t really integrate well here against the sour notes. Drying yet tart, bitter yet sweet. I find it enjoyable, but it isn’t for casual drinking, the strong flavours tend to intrude into your thoughts. As well as the not really integrating elements the other main flaw is it is all up front. There are a lot of elements, but all shoved at you early on, so leaves little to be learned later. A more slow progression would have solved a lot of my issues with this beer.

So a brash wee bottle, fun, if all over the place, and a bit up front, but for all that it gives enough that you can forgive a lot.

Background: Brewdog seem to really be turning out the beers in the “Hello My Name Is” Series recently, a set of Imperial IPA’s made with varied fruit in them. In this case sea buckthorn is used from Finland. This was being reviewed while I was awaiting my system restore to finish after bloody Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs managed to crash in such a way it stopped Windows booting. I’m not even kidding. Anyway, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

614 Annees

Celt Experience: Saint-Germain: 614 Annees (Wales: Imperial Porter: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Loose off white head.

Nose: Rye. Toffee. Bourbon. Orange zest. Malt chocolate. Peppercorn. Vanilla. Light nuts. Treacle.

Body: Chocolate liquore. Thick. Brown bread or bagel. Molasses. Treacle toffee. Fudge. Rye spice. Sweet orange liquore. Cinnamon. Cream centres.

Finish: Rye. Orange. Dry spice. Light lime sorbet and orange sorbet. Charring. Smoke.

Conclusion: A competitor for the place of awesome cask porter that can go head to head with Bristol United’s Collaboration Smoked Porter. Both are collaboration ales, both porters, though this is a tad stronger, and this uses rye instead of smoked malt.

This thing is smooth, sweet and huge. Even the aroma feels chewable, and the body more so. It mixes molasses, treacle and fudge, with even the spice coming in as sweet cinnamon. You do get hints of the drier rye spice, but far from too harshly, just harsh enough to add a bit of backbone to it.

What brings such joy for this is the unexpected level of chocolate fruit centres you get in the sweetness, light orange and lime in a subtle sorbet style some times, and in line with the thick creaminess of the over the top flavours at other times. The texture definitely helps – it is very creamy, very much a feel that allows the flavour grip. It is like a slightly harsh dessert with smoke and spice.

The treacle and toffee are thick as sin, but they do not overwhelm, there is so much going on. The flavours are complex, from the sweet surface notes, to hints of spice below. There is such great contrast, and such a great feel that you can return to it again and again.

Easily a competitor with Collaboration Smoked Porter. Not session beer, no, a heavy and decadent Celt Experience. They have done themselves proud here. This is lovely.

Background: Last of the three cask ales I reviewed at the Cardiff CAMRA beer festival. I drank more beers after, but I don’t tend to trust my tastebuds enough for a review after three. This big boy I saved for last, a strong porter made with rye and cascade hops. This was made in collaboration with the French craft brewers Saint-Germain, who I don’t think I have run into before. Incidentally this beer fest had a bloody Fosters stand. A busy Fosters stand. My friend, below, shows our shared opinion on this matter.



Tiny Rebel: NP10 (Wales: Abbey Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Clear with a colour like tropical fruit juice. Froths up a bit but the white head does not settle. Some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Yeastie. Dried banana. Fresh white bread. Mango. Candy floss.

Body: Banana. Candy Cane. Watermelon. Apricot. Hard Sweets. Yeastie middle.

Finish: Light bitterness. Dry malt. Pineapple. Yeastie. Candyfloss.

Conclusion: Ok, this is nice, maybe a bit rough around the edges, but, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I prefer a bit of a rough edge to my Belgian style beers, both because it feels closer to the native Belgian interpretations and also because that roughness often provides a lot of charm.

The thing is, that this never goes beyond just nice. It doesn’t use the rough edges to do anything. For that matter it doesn’t even seem to leverage any of the opportunities brought along with its high abv. It doesn’t do anything to push the boat out and make something special. When you have such a high abv, and when you have a roughness to your beer you really need that something special to make it worthwhile.

The elements of the beer are by the numbers Belgian ale. The yeast feel is there, the banana notes, the candy cane and hard sweets. The necessary elements are present, and all nice, if a bit more boozy feeling than it earns, but again none of them shine. The Belgian market is already flooded with very high quality examples of these kind of beers, and this needs something to stand out.

So, I guess in the end it is slightly disappointing. It is nice, but for an event beer and a beer from such a good brewery it doesn’t have any spark. It apes the Belgian style well but does not add anything nor stand alone.

So, not bad, just an underwhelming 10%er.

Background: Tiny Rebel seems to be finally getting the exposure they deserve, showing up around Bath and Bristol, and have their own craft beer bar in Cardiff. This was however found at the old trustworthy Independent Spirit. Tiny Rebels first attempt at a Belgian abbey style I think so I definitely wanted to grab it.

Neither Imperial IPA

Siren: Cigar City: Grassroots: Neither Imperial IPA (England: IIPA: 8.3% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to orange. Large sudded yellow to white head and some sediment in the body.

Nose: Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Fluffy hops. Custard cream biscuits. Rhubarb. Tangerine.

Body: Grounded bitterness. Slightly earthy. Rhubarb and gooseberry. Light raspberry. Tangerine. Creamy feel. Vanilla and toffee. Grapefruit. Strawberry notes. Honey.

Finish: Earthy hops. Soil. Robust bitterness. Gooseberry. Malt chocolate. Raspberry notes. Light toffee. Honey.

Conclusion: Hmm, odd one this. Reminds me a bit of Shiga Kogen SOBA. It has a similar texture and those rhubarb like notes. It has that slightly thicker creamy texture that makes the earthy bitterness used here a bit more grounded and clinging.

Contrasting that earthy bitterness in the finish the main hop usage is fresh. (No and I don’t mean in a 1980’s slang fashion..ok, ok, well that as well, but that wasn’t my first intent). It has slight tart pink grapefruit and rhubarb. This element comes through clean as a whistle in the aroma, but the more grounded feel of the body calms the hop freshness, turning it into a dessert like mix with creamy and toffee notes. Less sharp, more rounded. The finish then feels old school English IPA in its slight soil character, pushing the tartness to the edges. You also get a discernable honey element that can be discovered early on in the beer, even if it never becomes a front note – more just increasing the sweetness to make up for the reduced malt.

I’m mixed in my opinion, the variety is impressive, the contrast interesting and frankly works better than most beers that try to mix earthy and sharp characters, so in that they have done good. That earthy finish though is just a tad too heavy, it doesn’t leave you appreciating what came before as much as it tramples upon it.

Still, interesting up until that point and so I will not linger too much on it, much as it is a notable flaw. The rest of the beer shows a mix of styles from American IPA aroma, hybrid body and English IPA finish. The hybrid body is where it peaks as the best of both worlds, and so it does earn its place as a beer to enjoy. So despite the flaw it is well made enough and interesting enough to be worth it.

Great aroma and body. Crap finish. It does enough to pull beyond that.

Background: Siren, upcoming UK Brewery, Cigar City, USA Legend. Grassroot. I dunno, I’ll have to look into them. Anyway, put it together and I just had to grab this Imperial IPA. Yes Imperial IPA, it still counts to round off IPA week. This is made with the adjunct corn which is usually avoided by most brewers – here used in a call back to early post prohibition ales. Also honey, because, well, honey. Drunk while listening to “Gold Teeth” by Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac.

Brooklyn Silver Anniversary Lager

Brooklyn: Silver Anniversary Lager (USA: Dopplebock: 8.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear reddened gold. Large mounded yellowed head. Good level of carbonation.

Nose: Raspberry pavlova. Banana. Light yeastiness. Custard cream biscuits. White grapes. Apricot. Caramel.

Body: Spiced fruit. Bitter hops and malt drinks. Dry. Choc orange note. Raisins. Shortbread. Pavlova sweetness.

Finish: Dry bitterness and malt drinks. Nutmeg. Meringue. Alcohol air. Mixed spices.

Conclusion: I…erm…I know this meant to be a brewed up version of Brooklyn Lager. It it really weird that I find it more like Samuel Adams lager than Brooklyn lager? Even more embarrassing, I kind of prefer the Sam Adams to this. A bit embarrassing for a big celebration beer.

Now that definitely needs some context. This thing is interesting, very interesting, and definitely has more going on than the aforementioned Sam Adams. However I can’t find a point where this would be the beer I choose to be drinking, and I can with SA.

Hmm, needs more explaining I feel. Let’s run from the start, and see where that gets us. The popped cork first impressions were great, as is the aroma. A great discreet but present yeast character, big pavlova sweetness and a fruit element. It is smooth, very different to a lot of dopplebocks and this all bodes well.

The body opens up on a completely different front, spiced but backed by light sweetness and fruit. Initially appatising, if the beer is held for a while it develops a less pleasant gin like air.

The finish.. ah well this is the first sign something is wrong. Dry, with a gin like air and heavy malt drinks. The finish just doesn’t work, especially not in conjunction with the rest of the beer. Worse than that, it brings into relief the flaws of the body that could previously have been overlooked. The gin air becomes heavier on second sip, and having been made very obvious in the finish the dry maltiness seems intrusive now in the body. It is a kind of malt heaviness that needs a good hop opposition rather than the light fruit you find here.

The beer is still interesting, and it is a nicely different take on the dopplebock, but the elements wander a path from aroma greatness to the let down of the finish and leaves you disappointed. Worse still it a journey you take again and again over the lifetime of the beer.

So, that is why I prefer basic Sam Adams, not as complex a beer, but one you can happily drink easily, it has its time and place This doesn’t have one for me.

An interesting beer, and not without elements that charm but…no, not a beer I would recommend.

Background: I mainly picked this up because of the odd art on the front of the bottle. Yes I am easily influenced. This was found at the always excellent Independent Spirit This is apparently a brewed up version of Brooklyn lager, and was done for their 25th anniversary. So, happy birthday Brooklyn Brewing. Drunk while listening to a bit of Anti Nowhere League who I’m hoping to see lie later this year.


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