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Paulaner: Salvator (Germany: Dopplebock: 7.9% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Large overripe banana bubbled head.

Nose: Cinnamon. Dried banana. Cloves. Wheat. Toffee.

Body: Fruitcake. Madeira. Glacier cherries and port soaked raisins. Marzipan. Bitter wheaty centre. Cinnamon. Dried banana. Clove. Dry liquorice. Earthy. Dried apricot. Spicy notes.

Finish: Raisins. Dry liquorice. Dried prunes. Dry cinnamon. Wheaty. Cloves. Earthy. General dried spice.

Conclusion: This tastes like Aventinus‘ more bitter, charred and spicy cousin. It plays with similar raisins, banana and cloves – that sort of thing – but it has a more bitter core character, with much heavier earthiness and actually quite a wheaty feel despite, I think, not being a weizen.

It has heavy dried fruit and heavy spice to it. In fact, the longer I spend with it, the more it seems to move away from Aventinus and more become its own thing. I mean, Aventinus is still a good starting point for a reference but this deals with harsher flavours without moving away from being enjoyable.

It is also very robust, much more so than the bottled version which I also enjoyed. In fact that extra weight really does give it an extra intensity that takes a bit of time getting used to – rather than a smoother dopplebock this feels much heavier spiced – so much that if you told me it wa a spice beer I would not have been surprised.

Because of the above it is a very complex beer – from the toffee base, the spice into what really does taste like wheat beer notes and dark fruit, it has a lot going on. There are a few notes which means that it is not quite as beloved as Aventinus for me – for one the dry liquorice notes are a bit harsh for me, but it is a sign of how well it is made that I really enjoy it despite that.

So, it has a few flaws and rough edges, but behind that is a fruity, spirity, heavy beer that has a lot to recommend it. Lots of the banana and cloves notes I love – all done with a bit more British feel earthy hop twist. A lot of these are pronounced than in the bottled version, so if the idea of earthy earthiness and spice doesn’t put you off then this is an excellent beer for you. Only have one in a session though I would say – both the abv and flavours are too heavy for any more than that.

Background: The first beer notes of the Germany trip! This one was drunk at Paulaner Am Thienlenplatz near the Hannover train station after doing a few hours walking tour of Hannover itself. I’ve had Salvator a few times before and very much enjoyed it, but this is the first time I’ve had it on tap which was a nice special touch. I don’t think this is actually a wheat beer, even if it does taste like it at times- I did a quick google and I think this is just a dopplebock not a weizen bock, but I could be wrong. Anyway, after all that walking I definitely had earned a beer, so this was a welcome treat.

Artesans Maians: Espiga Blond Ale (Spain: Golden Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow blond. An inch of white head.

Nose: Grapefruit. Shortbread. Mandarin orange. Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Crisp hops.

Body: Tart. Vanilla and cream. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Just slightly gritty feel, but generally smooth. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Soft pink grapefruit and mandarin orange. Light cream. Solid bitterness and hop character. Light raspberry.

Conclusion: Ok, that is a lot of hops for a blond ale. A heck of a lot more than I expected, and bringing with it a good level of bitterness as well. Not a challenging level of bitterness, not super high, just more than I would have expected based on the style.

It comes in very fresh with that as well – working tart fruit in a grapefruit and orange style, with a fairly big bitterness to match those tart flavours. It sure as heck doesn’t feel like a traditional blond ale – with the hop level if feels IPA influenced, but the gentle blond ale base is still under there. It has a soft, milky and creamy character with a slight buttery shortbread feel. It is there, but with the high level of hops you won’t see much of it. It is nice to know it is there though, and it does give a solid base for the rest to work from. Generally fairly smooth, but occasionally a grittier touch rises, I presume from the hops.

It is very enjoyable – but doesn’t quite win my heart as it feels trapped between the two styles it is influenced by. The mass of hops works a lot better with an IPA base, and because of those hops it doesn’t really make the best of the blond ale base. Even I as a huge hop head has to admit beers don’t have to be all about the hops all the time. However, being torn between two worlds doesn’t make it a bad beer – it still pushes a lot of the tart fruit notes while keeping a suitable soft blond base – it is getting something new out of the deal.

So, a very good beer, not super special, but has a very good set of flavours to be had in the midst of a drinking session to revitalise without being too harsh.

Background: A beer from Spain! Beer trying to grab some from Spain in a while, I hear they have a pretty good craft scene going on at the moment. Yes that is mainly the reason I grabbed this from Independent Spirit, but since I grabbed it I found it out in it in the top one percentile by style on ratebeer – so has a damn good rep it seems. If I remember rightly it is also gluten free if that stuff is of use to you. Anyway, drink while listening to some more Miracle Of Sound, just before heading out to Germany for my recent holiday.

Wild Beer Co: Chronos (England: Premium Lager: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Good sized white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Vanilla and butterscotch. Light cheese puffs. Palma violets. Clean. Soft orange sherbet.

Body: Sherbet orange and lemon. Light lime and kiwi. Chalky touch. Hop oils. Slight funky mature cheese. Palma violets. Slightly fizzy.

Finish: Hop oil sheen. Orange sherbet. Palma violets. Mature cheese. Apples.

Conclusion: It has always been true – a good lager takes a good long time to make. Here we have a been to add weight to that statement as this is a spot on, bretted up, foudre aged lager.

At the base you have a solid, if unexceptional, lager. It is playing with palma violet notes and a hop oil sheen that makes me think of the noble hopped European lagers. At this point it may not be out of the ordinary but it is still a lager that I wouldn’t push away – I could definitely enjoy it like this. On top of that comes a lovely cheese puff crisps to mature cheese solid character from, I presume, the brett yeast. Yet another layer on top of that is sherbety citrus fruit notes that sparkles, refreshes and excites.

It’s a three layer strategy of flavour and it works so well. The funkyness, unusually, is a grounding here – the citrus works the high notes and the clean noble style hops notes work the middle. Together it makes an intensely satisfying lager to drink. It’s like someone took a bohemian pilsner and added a bit of funk to it.

Fresh, easy to drink, but the brett has given a wonderful layered character to it. Lager is a much, and wrongly, maligned style. Shove this into an unbelievers hand and show how good they can be.

Wild Beer Co have had a week run for a while, for me at least – but this shows where their experimentation pays off. A top lager. A top beer. Fantastic.

Background: Another interesting one from Wild Beer co – this time a beer that has been lagered in Foudre and then Brettanomyces yeast added. Sounds fun. A top notch lager can be hard to find, and this sounded definitely interesting enough to give a shot. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, broken open after watching the excellent Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and drunk while listening to some Within temptation. So a good environment for hopefully enjoying a beer.

Been a busy couple of days in Lower Saxony – seeing deer in Tiergarten in Hannover, wonderful architecture in Goslar. Buuut…

Yeah, I’m here to talk about the beer. First up – found an excellent craft beer store. Now, your mainstream beer is generally good in Germany – their lagers are well made, weisse beers are very easy to find, even some bocks and above pop up regularly. The supermarkets don’t seem to have the widest range – but you can get very high quality lager for virtually nothing. However, it is good to see that now on top of all that, there is a craft range available and Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover had a jaw dropping range. Huge amount of imports, and a very good showing of the local scene as well – right down to a good range of beers from Hannover and the surrounding area – even better it has two taps on site. The people running it were very helpful – my only regret is not having room to bring back more beer.

Also they gave me some useful information about the second big beer news recently. Gose! Got to go to Goslar and try gose beer in the city it was born in. The ones I tried were a lot less sour than I would have expected if I had not been warned by the owner of Kontor. Apparently, Goslar consider the Leipzig version to be based on what Goslar exported, and it was slightly soured by the time it got to then. They hold the original, as their version reflects, was a sweeter wheat based beer with the salt and spice providing the unusual elements rather than full on sourness. Will talk more when I do my notes when I get back on how well the beer worked.

Anyway, only a couple of days left – Will have normal notes up soon. Until then, enjoy your drink!

Lowering Into Saxony: A Germany Trip

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Currently in Germany on holiday. Bit of a blast from the past as I lived in Germany when I was very young but don’t have much in the way of memories from that time, so good to see around where I was.

But, of course you are here for the drink thoughts – found a lovely place to eat and drink in Hanover – Kleines Museum Restaurant. Not the biggest drink selection, but the local Herrenhäuser pils they have on tap is smooth and easy drinking, and their bottle selection have some hefty dopplebocks so I can’t complain. It’s a lovely looking place as well – I’ve shoved a photo up above – lots to look a and enjoy as you sup your drink.

Also managed to try Paulaner Salvator on tap – full notes to come, but it seems much fuller bodied spice than the bottled version I get in the UK. Hoping to hit Goslar over the next few days and try Gose in the town of its birth.

Apart from that been busy sightseeing in Hanover and Celle – enjoying a lot of good German meat and the fact they have apple strudel available at breakfast which makes me a very happy bunny.

I’ll keep you up to date, and until next time – enjoy your drink!

Brewdog: The Physics (Scotland: Amber Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany to slightly browned. Large browned mounded head that leaves lace.

Nose: Malt chocolate and choc orange. Light crushed peanuts. Milky coffee. Lightly fresh feel.

Body: Nutty with slight cashew nuts. Orange and choc orange. Lightly milky chocolate. Soft fudge and toffee.

Finish: Roasted nuts and roasted hop character. Light orange. Creamy lime. Toffee. Light bitterness.

Conclusion: OK, of the three Brewdog re-brews this seems to have fared the best. Probably because it is malt led I imagine. The malty beers seemed to be the ones that fared best on being moved to the new site, back when Brewdog had about a year of very variable beer quality just after they set up their new brewery.

From the three beers they rebrewed I really am thinking that they didn’t bother trying to customise their brew time, etc for their new Brewery kit for doing these beers; as the beers that work and don’t work, and their flaws are so similar to those first batches after they moved over. Or if they did, they sure as hell didn’t do it well, and yet still put the beers on the market. Which really comes across as slapdash for a set that is supposed to be a celebration of their old beer.

Anyway, that rant aside, unlike the other two beers , this is still very decent. So I may have started ranting too early. Or too late and I should have put it in the prior set of notes. Anyway…. As said, this is well done with a soothing toffee led base matched with lots of choc orange that is laced throughout It has a fresh and sweet feel to it, but not excessive in either of them – Instead it is grounded very well by a solid dose of nuttiness and a little bit of roasted hop character. The fresh elements are helped by a taste not unlike those green flecks you get when you unshell nuts, which again means it never gets too heavy.

Yep, this one brings back memories of why The Physics was the beer that cemented by respect for Brewdog after Punk IPA had first blown my world. It is still solid with the malt chocolate and a mild, very milky, coffee set of notes giving a robust base behind the sweetness. All very easy to drink, and if it wasn’t for the 5% abv it would be kind of sessionable.

So, still got it, all these years on.

Background: I think The Physics was the second ever Brewdog beer I tried after Punk IPA – back before I had starting doing this little blog of mine. So, when Brewdog was doing a rebrew of their original three beers to celebrate their tenth anniversary it brought out a bit of nostalgia for me. Then again, their other two beers in the rebrew turned out to be sub-par, so by this point I was more nervous. This was grabbed direct from Brewdog’s store, and as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Had a bit of Faithless playing while listening to this, some good old 90s electronic nostalgia. So, really a nostalgia overdose for this set of notes.

Hubris Id: Tempus (England: Saison: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy streaks in the bottom of a gold main body. Large white head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Lemongrass. Dill pickle. Soft toffee. Pepper. Soft cream and milk. Orange rind.

Body: Soft kiwi and lime. Moderate bitterness. Earthy notes. Salted lime. Coriander. Peppery. Gentle middle. Lemongrass. Salted wheat. Slight chilli seeds. Charring late on.

Finish: Kiwi. Earthy character. Malt chocolate. Lemongrass. Milk chews. Slight chalk. Slightly salty. Orange rind. Charring later on.

Conclusion: This is a pretty unique take on a saison. Ok, that sounds very much like damning with faint praise. Kind of like when someone says the food is おもしろい in Japan. It really sounds like you are just trying to be polite, apparently I come across like I am doing that a lot. Well, let us examine this and see if it is just interesting, or interesting good.

This has an earthy, rustic, peppery saison base. So fairly standard in that way – but it is very unusual in that it is also slightly milky, making a mix of rough and smooth in the base to work from. Then it brings in the odd hop choice – with Sorachi Ace bringing lemongrass, dill pickle and kiwi into saison territory where it is not normally used. That however isn’t the odd part of the flavours though, that is the comparatively normal part. What is really odd is the salty, wheaty character that makes this actually feel like a more robust take on a gose. So, yeah. Nigh unique in my experience that one.

So, is it good different, or bad different? Well, for the first half it actually really works. A mix of unusual textures and unusual flavours gives you a lot to get your teeth into. It feels very grounded, with an earthiness to it that feels closer to earthy British hop character than the natural rustic saison character, but still enjoyable for that.

Late on the rougher notes start to dominate. A more charred character starts rising to overpower the hop character and brings with it a taste like crushed chilli seeds. It could be due to the beer warming I think, rather than just extended exposure to the beer, but any which way it adds a rough edge that does not benefit the beer.

An interesting one to try, and close to being a good one – but that latter half means that it falls short. Ah well.

Background: Second set of tasting notes on a Hubris ID beer – a tiny nano brewery around the Bath area. This is me being ultra hipster and trying beers that really won’t turn up far from where they are made, most likely. This one caught my eye as it is a saison made with good old Sorachi Ace, my beloved, odd as hell, hop. It also uses the jarrylo hop – an experimental hop from the look of it, and not one I know much about. Interesting. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk with a random bit of music going on in the background.

Bushmills: Steamship Collection: Sherry Cask (Irish Single Malt Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Light bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Medium size and speed streaks.

Nose: Cream and strawberry. Soft alcohol air. Heather. Mild oak. Black cherry and dried raspberry bits. Dry honey. Water adds slight menthol and greenery. Sour black cherries.

Body: Smooth. Strawberry. Red grapes. Port. Slight black cherry. Warming. Red cherry. Mild oak. Light menthol. Water make smoother. Sour black cherry. Blueberry. Cake sponge. Dark fruit yogurt. Cream. Dried apricot.

Finish: Light oak. Slight charring. Slight alcohol air. Water gives malt chocolate. Cherry pocked digestives. Cake sponge. Blue berry.

Conclusion: I’m a sucker for Bushmills – I always have been. The Bushmills 10 was a standby for me for many a year. This therefore has my love as it keeps that smooth, gentle Bushmills character that made the 10 so easy going. It has that lightly fresh feel, but here it matches it to lots and lots of red fruit character from the sherry ageing. Lovely jubbly.

So, as indicted, the base is still Bushmills. Still smooth and easy to drink. Still, with water, got some light menthol fresh character. Here however it is playing with full on Sherry character that you don’t see often in Irish whisky – the full spicy and fruity character without needing that heavier scotch whisky style to deliver it.

What results from this sherry and Irish whiskey combination is a light, smooth strawberry character early on that develops into red cherry quickly, then slowly develops onto black cherry blueberry and more along similar lines. More and more red and dark fruit are delivered alongside a nice, easy going creamy character. Delicious indeed.

There are some notes outside this area – first is the aforementioned menthol – and then for the backing a light, soft sponge cake to digestive biscuits that gives the softest grounding notes you will ever encounter – but they do the job without hurting the easy drink feel of the whisky.

Water isn’t really needed for this. It does remove the slight alcohol character that this has, which is nice, but not overly necessary considering how smooth it is – and it does round out some of the fruit notes, but in general I kind of prefer the slight extra intensity you get neat. Both are good though.

Now this doesn’t do anything outside of its main two concepts – matching red fruit with Bushmills – but for me that is enough. Easy drinking and flavoursome. The best combination of Sherry and Irish whiskey I have seen so far. An easygoing joy.

Background: Bit of a storied background, trying to get hold of this one. This is a travel exclusive, purely sherry cask aged Bushmills. I was glad to see this – Bushmills used to do some nice alternate cask ageing beers, but seemed to move away from them recently. So seeing them experimenting a bit more was good by me. Now if they can just bring back the 12 year Caribbean Rum cask finished Bushmills – That is still my all time favourite Bushmills and has not been seen for over a decade now. Anyway, I digress. I saw this when I was going on holiday last year and tried it at the duty free. Since it was nice I planned to grab it in the way back – however my flight was delayed so all the duty free shops that would have stocked it were shut by the time I was back in the UK. Not to be deterred I annoyed the shit out of all my friends and relatives going on holiday asking if they would pick it up for me and I’d pay them back. So – Thanks to my parents, who went on holiday and grabbed this for me! Yay. They nearly didn’t make it back with it though – they didn’t realise that you couldn’t bring it back in carry on, even if it was duty free, if you bought it on the way out. Still, they managed to get it into the hold through much effort and the whisky was saved. I have a great family. Anyway, drunk while listening to the Paranoia Agent soundtrack music I had only recently got back when Bushmills Caribbean Rum cask was last available. Not that I am pushing for that to be the next in this line or anything.

Brewdog: Dog F (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 17.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Small brown grey head.

Nose: Cocoa dust. Chilli smoke. Barbecue sauce on ribs. Beef stew.

Body: Barbecue sauce. Chocolate. Moderate chilli heat. Golden syrup. Sugared orange sweets. Cognac late on. Smooth. Dried banana. Brown sugar. Smokey.

Finish: Chilli heat. Chocolate. Orange liqueur and caramelised brown sugar. Smooth cognac. Cocoa dust. Banana custard.

Conclusion: I’m glad I jumped back onto the Dog ( Ascending Letter) series with this one. I was considering holding off, as the last one was very similar, but the promise of cognac ageing lured me in. I try only to do new notes when the beer is reasonably different – and trust me, this is definitely significantly different.

Smooth, and because of that feels far below the heavy duty abv it is packing. There may be some alcohol heat to it, but I wouldn’t know from drinking it – mainly because this packs a higher chilli heat than any of the rest of the Dog (x) series up to this point, so any alcohol heat it does still have is lost under the respectable level of chilli heat. It isn’t overpowering – I definitely like my chilli more towards flavour than heat, and I found it reasonable – but it is still a very distinct presence here.

It is strange, this uses habanero as its chilli, but the smokey heat and flavour actually reminds me more of my favourite chilli – the chipotle! This definitely means that I am looking on the beer more favourably as it has that lovely flavour mixed in with a smooth and viscous texture which creates a distinct almost barbecue sauce type of flavour as a base for the beer.

Now the beer does lose some of the complexity that usually comes with the Dog (x) series due to that heat being so present. A lot of the coffee, black cherry and such are gone. Thankfully the cognac ageing is here to bring some all new complexity back into this! It brings golden syrup and erm .. cognac, orange and such notes. The oddest additional note is a set of banana notes, which I have no idea which ingredient caused them but I am very glad they are there – adds a soft sweetness under the intensity. This is very far from the original Dog A in flavour, and even further from the AB 04 roots before that. This is distinctly its own thing

The beer that existed before is barely seen here – now more a texture, and a chunk of bitter chocolate – the beer it has become however is awesome.

A great entry into a high quality series.

Background: Dog F is the distant relative of one of Brewdog’s early hits of a beer – Abstrakt AB 04 – a chilli, chocolate and coffee infused imperial stout – it evolved a bit into their anniversary beer Dog A which upped the chilli, altered the coffee and added vanilla, which then had a a bourbon aged version when they hit Dog D, and now a cognac version with this one Dog F. I think the recipe has changed a bit each time, but I’ve only gone back to do new set of notes on the really big changes. As well as the barrel ageing, this has changed the chilli used this time – going with habanero, while AB 04 used naga chilli. Probably some other changes as well, but those are the big ones. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. I grabbed this from the Brewdog online store and put music on shuffle while drinking, so a fair eclectic mix of metal, punk, electronic and anime soundtracks came up. These days I am getting a bit weary on the waste associated with things like boxing up bottles as this does – however as a 10th anniversary beer I guess it has better call to do so than most.

Douglas Laing: Timorous Beastie (Scottish Blended Malt Highland Whisky: 46.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain with greened edges.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Alcohol touch. Lime. Caramel. Orange crème. Hint of smoke. Dry raisins soaked in sherry. Water gives grain fields. Dry sherry. Red cherries.

Body: Slight beefy character. Slight alcohol air. Slight musty character. Malt chocolate. Raisins. Water adds light liquorice. Dry sherry. Light orange skin. Slightly vinous. Green grapes. Slightly waxy. Marzipan and almonds.

Finish: Dried beef. Slight raisins and fruitcake. Musty character. Water adds fruity red wine. Black cherry. More fruitcake and some Madeira cake. Slightly waxy. Slight sour grapes touch. Almonds. Light custard slices.

Conclusion: Ok, this is completely opposite to what I said in the “Big Peat” tasting, but this vatted malt is definitely better with water. Odd how these things work out.

Neat this is ok – it has a lot of evidence of dry sherry notes that show its oak ageing well. However despite that it is a bit closed – slightly dusty, musty and with some alcohol notes that – while not harsh – do seem to obscure the flavours a touch. Still not bad, but a sub optimal way of enjoying this whisky.

So, let’s add some water and concentrate on enjoying this the way it should be enjoyed! All hail the water! Now the sherry is definitely the core at the centre. Very evident, very fruitcake, raisins and cherry in the notes as you would expect. While not as awesome in this as the Sherry Cask 21 year Beastie, it is also far cheaper. Which does have a lot to say for it.

What I find very intriguing though is that this also has some of the odder edges that typified the 40 year old. Some of that unusual take on light tart gapes, some waxy texture to which it adds a similar, but distinct set of notes in a mix of light marzipan and almonds around the edges. All very light, lightly fresh notes around the sherried core. While they are fresher notes the intrinsically very dry sherry character of the core is what really shines through.

This is good – not quite enough to be called great – but good. A lot of depth and room for water, just not quite distinct enough to stand out. However a very solid, above average whisky.

Background: Another whisky I have run into a few times before – tried this at both an independent Spirit and a Hideout tasting over the years – neither time with my notebook with me. I also got to try the excellent 21 year Sherry Cask Timorous Beastie, and the 40 year at another of Independent Spirit‘s tasting. So, quite a history. Anyway, the self same Independent Spirit kindly provided this sample for me to do some notes on. Much appreciated. Anyway this was drunk while listening to Hate In The Box again – this time the “Under The Ice” album.

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