Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV


Brewdog - U Boat

Victory: Brewdog: U-Boat (Scotland: Smoked Porter: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Small browned head that diminishes to islands. Still main body.

Nose: Smoke. Cured ham. Dry roasted peanuts. Beef brisket.

Body: Slight medicinal. Smoke. Dried beef. Light vanilla and caramel. Salt rocks. Dusty touch. Malt chocolate and coffee. Slight sour cream. Soft lemon underneath?

Finish: Bitter chocolate and smoke. Smoked beef. Light salt. Pulled pork. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, high concept review. This is Alice Porter, but smoked. Boom! Job done. You are welcome.

What? You haven’t drunk Alice Porter?

Fuck.

Guess I’d best do a proper review then.

Up front the smoked character is evident, lots of smoked meat, with even a slight salt rock character, reminiscent of Islay whisky style, but lighter. However under that is a solid porter, though the chocolate and coffee notes are actually quite at the back – informing the character without being the character. Instead there is that kind of sour cream character that Alice Porter had, backed by caramel sweetness which combines in a soft of salted caramel way with the main notes, a nice kind of swing to the beer.

So, we have here a smoked, salted caramel, porter chocolate and coffee, contrasted by sour cream kind of beer. Try saying that three times fast.

It is good. Surprisingly moreish for the high abv and the weight of flavour, that slightly cloying sour cream manages to make it very drinkable by taking off the edge of the harsher characteristics . The salt elements give it a nice tingle of harshness, but not too heavy – just enough to dry the mouth and make you want to indulge more.

An evolution, not a revolution of the style, but a very good one.

Background: You can ferment a porter with lager yeast? Apparently so. At least if you use smoked malt as well. This is the latest in a long line of Brewdog collaborations – as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Drunk while listening to Rise Against’s Endgame. Yes Rise Against are definitely growing on me.

Alesmith Wee Heavy

Alesmith: Wee Heavy (USA: Scotch Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Dark mahogany to black. Small brown bubbled head.

Nose: Chocolate liquore and chocolate dust. Figs. Raisins, in fact, rum soaked raisins. Boozy. Brandy cream.

Body: Frothy. Shortbread. Rum soaked raisins. Figgy pudding or Christmas Pudding. Chocolate and chocolate fondue.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Sweet red wine. Slight spice warmth. Rum soaked raisins and brandy cream.

Conclusion: Scotch Ale. Now, there is always one awesome thing about having a scotch ale. It gives me an excuse to break out the thistle glass! However, often scotch ales are not to my taste. Yet I keep returning to them. Call it indestructible optimism. Or sheer bloody mindedness. Anyway, this one is from Alesmith, and while I don’t always agree with the view that their beers are some of the best USA beers, they are generally very good. So, it was with anticipation I took my first sip, and , it is very evident – this one is coming in big and boozy.

What stands out initially is how quickly the beer froths up into a very nice chocolate fondue feel. The texture and sweetness eases off a lot of the bigger boozier elements. It does have a lot of those bigger elements to offset – rum soaked raisins, red wine, brandy cream – it is never burning, but there are a lot of warnings about the alcohol level you are taking in.

It really does taste like Christmas pudding in a lot of ways, lots of dark fruit, the brandy cream. It takes a lot of the natural Scotch ale elements and harmonises them in a way that is stronger than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t go far from the scotch ale elements, but it does them very smooth and well – even better, it doesn’t get sickly, which is one of the common failings for the style.

Because I am not the biggest fan of the style, and it does play it fairly straight, I merely find it a very good beer rather than a great beer. However considering my bias against the style, I think that bodes very well for fans of the style.

So, very enjoyable, and, trust me, it is a beer than can compete with anything you drink before it. I have had it before at the end of a session and it never suffers for it. A well crafted show of the style.

Background: DOCTOR WHO DAY! This was drunk while waiting for the second Doctor Who episode to be available on Iplayer. As you can probably guess from the glasses in shot, this was drunk with friends, who declined doing a guest tasting. Which makes me sad. I have drunk this before, shared with groups in bars, but never got around to reviewing. It’s always been near the end of a session as well, so I was never sure if I was giving it a fair crack of the whip. Oh, also, I picked this up from Brewdog’s Guest beer selection. Because it is a nice selection.

Alchemist Melgian Tripel

Alchemy: Melgian Tripel (Scotland: Abbey Trippel: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany touched gold. Thin dash of off white islands for a head. Still and clear of main body.

Nose: Hard boiled sweets and candyfloss. Strawberry sweets and soft banana sweets. Brown sugar.

Body: Caramelised sugar. Crème brulee. Pear drops. Fruity esters. Brown bread. Vanilla slice. Treacle.

Finish: Crème brulee. Candyfloss. Brown sugar. Hard boiled sweets. Bready. Banana chews.

Conclusion: OK, i will put my hands up and confess that for the dubbel and tripel styles I am massively biased towards the common rough edged diamond Belgian take on the style as opposed to the smoother craft wave interpretation. This, therefore, grabs my affections early on by its very evident rough edged sweet flavours. The texture is smooth, but the flavour isn’t afraid to leave a few unpolished edges.

It is very sweet, more so than the Belgian takes, and while it does have the same nice funky yeast and esters, it doesn’t use them as heavily so doesn’t have as much contrast to give it the counter balance it needs.

Still, saying that, I am slowly getting more pear drops now. Admittedly pear drops, dropped in treacle and coated in banana chews, but it is that kind of flavour mash up that I love from the style. The big sweetness you get from the brown sugar and crème brulee make for a backbone which it uses as a base for exploding into more subtle elements.

Over time that pear drop style gets bigger and bigger until it finally becomes the proper contrast the beer needs, and it is in the final third of the beer that is where it finally shines. It manages to both show respect to the style and bring its own quirks.

So, it has flaws, it is a bit too sweet, but it does give you a rough edged ride with green fruit against dessert and hard sweets in exchange. Which is awesome.

I am wondering how it will age now. Probably well, though I fear it would smooth the rough edges too much and lose some charm. You can’t tell until you try. As is, it ain’t perfect, but it is a joyous wee burst of a tripel.

Background: This was brewed with Melissa Cole, I thought I had encountered the name, so I did a search and she made the Thai Bo with Otley a few years back. She also does a very good beer blog, which you should check out. This was drunk while listening to a mix of some Heavens to Betsy and Grimes. I had just rewatched Peter Capaldi’s first Doctor Who episode on iplayer, so was in a right chuffed mood.

Brewdog Sub Hop

Brewdog: Sub Hop (Scotland: Imperial Pilsner: 9% ABV)

Visual: Banana gold. Large yellowed froth head and some carbonation

Nose: Floral. Light pumpkin (or at least what pumpkin in beer tends to smell like). Vanilla slice. Digestives. Passion fruit.

Body: Very ripe banana. Pumpkin. Custard. Dried apricot. Very ripe fruit in general. Light hop character. Golden syrup cake. Thick texture. Light bitterness and prickle. Light greenery. Pink grapefruit. Rhubarb crumble and custard hard sweets.

Finish: Ripe banana. Light bitterness. Vanilla slice. Golden syrup. Digestives. Pink grapefruit. Toffee.

Conclusion: I think I must have had a cold the first time I tried this, as back then it seemed kind of dull. So, not expecting much, I broke my second bottle open for review.

It’s actually pretty nice. Doesn’t scream lager, not even imperial lager. The first thought that came to mind was actually an easier going Hardcore IPA, for malt influence and level of hop flavours. However it has nowhere near the bitterness of that beer.

The flavours are different though, lots of overripe banana, what seems slightly pumpkin like to my non pumpkin expert mind, and a chunk of the more traditional dried apricot and pink grapefruit flavours. It is very sweet, there is some tartness from the grapefruit, but mainly it emphasises the sweeter element. It is a bit different then, like three separate dessert wrapped up in ball of hops, but kind of nice.

For all its big flavours, it is still pretty slick to drink – a bit syrupy so it is not like the crisp lagers in ease of drinking, but the flavours don’t weigh you down. They do hang around and trade taste tales on your tongue, but happily leave when requested rather that setting up a squatters block.

Overall, as stated before, it is pretty nice. A bit different in flavours, and doesn’t really shout the style, but it does use it for a bit of slick character. I return here to the concept of it as an easygoing Hardcore IPA, via lager, and via rhubarb and custard hard sweets of all things. It is maybe a bit too sweet, maybe a bit too syrupy, but for the mix of quality to different flavours I enjoyed it.

Background: This was brewed for Brewdog Firenze. Which wikipedia assures me is in Italy. Geography never was my strong suit. Sorry to my Italian readers. Anyway, a small amount was available online so I grabbed a few bottles. This was drunk while listening to some of the Guilty Gear soundtrack. I have never played the game but the soundtrack is cool. I had just finished watching some Doctor Who in preparation for going to see the new Doctor on Saturday. Unfortunately I picked Planet Of The Dead, which turned out to be terrible. Or at least started out so terrible I had problems taking the rest of the episode seriously. Unlike the episode before it, “The Next Doctor” which was good for the first 45 minutes and then sucked so hard that everyone remembers the entire episode as being bad. I’m just rambling about Doctor Who now aren’t I? As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

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.

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