Stewart Brewing: First World Problems (Scotland: Belgian Ale: 6.2% ABV)
Visual: Thick dark gold. Large yellow white frothed head.
Nose: Crushed bird seed. Soft banana skin. Mild apples. Yeastie and light bitterness. Nettles.
Body: Creamy texture. Pear drops. Apple. Moderate bitterness. Hop oils. Nettles. Slightly acrid. Light banana. Cumin. Soft pastry. Apricot.
Finish: Good bitterness. Charred wood. Slight hop oils. Nettles. Cloves. Custard cream biscuits. Peppery.
Conclusion: This is on of those beers that, on paper, look right up my alley, but there is just something off about it in practise. There is a big mix of stuff I like, I mean I am well disposed towards Belgian IPAs in general and this blends a soft Belgian ale with a good level of spice influence, Belgian IPA hoppyness and bit of funky yeast character. Ok, near all of those are Belgium related – I just happen to like Belgian beers, ok?. I was surprised by the spice level, I couldn’t find any indication of added spice so I must guess it is all from hop choice.
However despite my love of individual elements, overall it didn’t quite mesh, and I’m having a hard time quite saying why. The soft sweetness is well done – soft pears, apples and the like. The hops are present, but possibly could do with a bit more traditional hop character. In fact a lot of what I would expect from an IPA is actually provided by the spiciness not the hops. I think this may be my main issue. The emphasis on the spice gives a bit of a greenery character that makes the beer feel slightly acrid in the harsher notes and that becomes dull fast – leaving the better elements hidden behind.
A pity as with a bit more clean hop and a bit less acrid I could see this having a lot of legs. The base texture works very well, and the clean custard like sweetness is very much in its favour, but everything ends up leading to that peppery and clove filled finish that seems to dispatch all the subtlety that came before.
So, close, but needs a bit of work. Or so I think. A quick google seems to indicate most of the internet disagrees with me. Oh, the pain, the pain, the regrets. Such first world problems eh?
Background: Ok, I bought it mainly for the funny name and cool can art (hopefully shown in more detail below). I’m allowed to be shallow once in a while. Anyway, a Belgian style IPA with an IBU of 80 and made with wheat and oats. I was listing to my friends band Television Villain (plug plug) while drinking this. Yeah, I know, mates and all but it is genuinely good in my opinion as well. Bought at the increasingly well stocked Independent Spirit.