Archive for November, 2016


Kees: Barrel Project #04/2016 (Imperial Stout: Netherlands: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey-brown dash of a head.

Nose: Toffee. Prickly alcohol. Bourbon. Vanilla. Treacle toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Wet wood. Chalk dash. Mild ginger bread.

Body: Chocolate liqueur and frothy chocolate fondue. Vanilla. Blended whisky. Slight sour cream twist. Prickling alcohol touch, but light and smooth underlying texture. Caramel. Light peppermint. Cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal and charred oak. Milky chocolate. Slight gherkin sour fresh note. Caramel. Cocoa pops in chocolate milk. Light peppermint. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: I found the oatmeal stout from Kees in this Barrel aged project to be a tad too smooth and light – oatmeal stouts should have a bit of weight to them. This as “just” an imperial stout, is still a tad light in its smoothness, but is in a style that suits more, and also, oddly actually has a bit more weight to it.

Flavour wise this really runs straight down the middle of what you would expect for what it is. It’s a barrel aged Imperial Stout and brings cocoa, smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee at the base – the barrel ageing bringing in caramel and vanilla notes. So nothing really unexpected. Warmth actually thickens it up just enough from the slightly light touch when chilled. So all very competently done.

Not having had many grain barrel aged beers, I would say that this comes across as a mix of prickling blended whisky character and bourbon sweetness – which sounds about right from what I would expect single grain to give. So again, it is spot on to expectations – not more – not less. Very smooth, very refined, but doesn’t surprise in the least. Not a bad thing when what you expect is a high quality imperial stout. Doesn’t stand out beyond that though, still can’t complain about it being very well done.

So – basically a very good, treacle toffee, smooth chocolate, vanilla caramel and touches of bitter coffee Imperial Stout. If you want to dig there are slight sour cream notes and slight peppermint hints, but mainly it plays in straight. No regrets, but no soaring new experience.

Just a very good barrel aged imperial stout. Just I say….

Background: Second of the Kees’ Barrel Project beers I have grabbed from Independent Spirit. The first I tried was good, but a bit light – but generally good, so decided to give this one a go. This one has been aged in Girvan single grain barrels – since I had a bit of a Girven experience last year it seemed a nice thing to try. I am as big fan of Imperial Stouts, but try and pace out having them, lest they become commonplace to me.

Siren: Ten Dollar Shake (England: IPA: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy and hazy apricot to fruit juice with some bits visible. Large off white head.

Nose: Mango. Hop oils and resin. Slightly musty. Quite bitter. Smoother late on. Mashed banana. Cream. Apricot and peach.

Body: Creamy. Banana milkshake. Light hop oils and bitterness. Mango, kumquat and kiwi.

Finish: Shortbread. Cream. Hop oils and bitterness. Banana. Slight flour. Kiwi. Lemongrass. Pineapple.

Conclusion: I’m so glad that this didn’t cost me an actual ten dollars, or it’s current UK equivalent. Mainly because the pound exchange rate is in the toilet right now. Fucking Brexit. Anyway, that is not to say this is not good. In fact give me a 75CL bottle of this and I will not just happily drop best part of ten quid on it, but I would happily drink the entire lot myself as well. Bloody lovely it is. So that is any suspense gone from this set of notes now isn’t it?

This sells the “shake” aspect of its imagery very well – creamy, a good, almost thick milky texture, but doesn’t go so far as to compromise the elements it has chosen to accentuate from the IPA style. It is thick, fruity as well, with all those banana and mango notes that go very well with milkshakes. Also kiwi, which I don’t think is a big milkshake choice – it may be – buggered if I know. Anyway, there are the hop oils, moderate bitterness and resin character that tells the IPA style – not too heavy in that bitterness but it keeps a lot of the familiar hop character despite the creamy nature of the base beer. In fact with the creamy sweetness it feels like a creamier, fruitier take on a USA East Coast IPA style.

This is just wonderfully juicy – I am sure that some of the flavours came from the hops – especially ones such as banana and kiwi where that fruit was not used in making this, but in general it feels like far more comes from the fruit infusion. It just feels juicier and clearer than you normally get from hops alone. So this is creamy, hoppy, fruity, smooth and big. Good set. This is good both as a beer and for delivering on the promise the beer’s name makes. Definitely try this one, it is top bombing.

Background: After a quick google I confirmed my suspicions that this was originally brewed in collaboration with a Brewdog pub (in this case Shepherd’s Bush) for collabfest 2016. Then I looked at the back of the bottle and found that it was mentioned there, so I could have saved a few mins. I have not done a collabfest run the past few years – they were fun but I’m trying to spread out my notes a bit- was very Brewdog heavy during that time. Any which way, this is the bottled version grabbed from Independent Spirit. This is an IPA made with lactose, mango, papaya and passion-fruit. Another quick google told me this was not, in fact,a Pulp Fiction reference as I thought – theirs was a 5 dollar shake. Maybe it is just inflation. Drunk while listening to the Diamanda Hagan anthems – if you have a high tolerance for B move excesses in every fashion her reviews are great – check them out. If any of gore, nudity or swearing put you off – best avoid.

de-cam-oude-lambiek

De Cam: Oude Lambiek (Belgium: Unblended Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to lemon juice. Loose, real ale like large bubbled dash of a head.

Nose: Dry. Fresh crusty bread. Sulphur and hard boiled eggs. Smoke.

Body: Sulphur. Hard boiled eggs. Still. Oats. Light dried apricot sweetness. Light vanilla. White grapes. Dry lemon. Nutty. Dry Madeira. Palma violets.

Finish: Dried oak. Eggs. Sulphur. Dry raisins and Madeira. Tannins.

Conclusion: As I started sipping this I thought – Am I a philistine? On this matter and in general. This is a very well reputed lambic, and, while I am not going to insult it, on first sip I really couldn’t see why the massive raving about it. Could be a hype issue. Once you have your expectations way up for a beer, it is hard for anything to live up to that. Well, let’s just take a look at this again, as just another beer, not as a hyped up lambic, and maybe I will get a better handle on it.

Ok, well chilled down it is a bit empty – odd as often lambics work very well cool, but without the liveliness of a geuze this doesn’t seem to able to trade as much on the dryness, tartness or sparkling mouthfeel. Because of this it needs to do more with the subtle flavours, which it doesn’t manage initially – just an empty kind of eggy and sulphur character. It still has quote a dry base, but not with that teeth tingling character I get with geuze – just around equivalent to a good APA level kind of dry.

So, let’s let it warm up a bit – now the flavours develop. A more nutty, dry Madeira touched undertones come out. Ok now I can see what people like about this a bit more. As mentioned, oft lambics work well chilled – this seems to need a bit more heat than most – still cool, but not fully chilled.

So, now with light fresh notes – not many but there. It actually reminds me a bit of aged sake in a way. Both share the similar dry Madeira notes and dark fruit touched character along with a few lighter fresher notes. Though this differs in that it has a slight, but distinct, sulphur character and a real ale like beer texture backing it up.

So, as mentioned I am starting to get the love for this beer. It isn’t a must have for me, but it is very nice – like the negative exposure of a standard lambic; Still instead of fizzing like a geuze, dark fruit notes instead of fresh ones, but still a lambic. Still drinking it now, and it gains more as it warms more – more nutty, more tannins and more subtle dried dark fruit notes. Ok, not quite up to the hype, but each time I let it warm a bit more I have come to appreciate it more as more Madeira base and rich complexity comes out. I can take my time happily with this one.

Background: I am not 100% sure this is an unblended lambic as it is generally listed as – the name makes me think it is – blended lambics tend to be called Geuze in the name. Also the fact it is still and not fizzy unlike most geuze. However Belgian Experts website says “The Lambics used to make this unparalleled blend come from Girardin, Drie Fonteinen, Boon and Lindemans, while the casks used to age the beer come from Pilsner Urquell.”. I think I can square this circle by maybe a) There are two different beers by this name? b) One of the sources is wrong? or c) Possibly the lambics are blended then aged in oak at De Cam and it only counts as geuze if they are blended after oak ageing? I do not know – if anyone has more information please let me know in the comments. Any which way, something unusual grabbed from Independent Spirit. Drank while listening to Anthrax – Amongst the living. Yes again. I am excited that I will hopefully see them live next year.

Wild Beer Co: Of The Sea (England:Wheat Ale:7% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold with a thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Bubblegum. Calamari. Slightly salty.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Raspberries. Slightly rubbery. Oily. Mussels. Salt. Crab paste. Slightly cloying. Bubblegum. Sour cream.

Finish: Raw eel sashimi. Slight brown sugar. Slightly rubbery. Slight cardboard. Charred bitterness. Thousand Island Dressing. Sulphur. Salt. Lemongrass.

Conclusion: Ok, first up – It has been ages since I had lobster – I tend to use my available funds on expensive beer more than expensive food, so it is not something I am much of an expert on. So, when this is inspired by lobster bisque, I really can’t tell you if it matches that. However, I have tried to match the closest flavours I could find while drinking this.

It, well, it isn’t a total train wreck, I will say that. Though admittedly that is never a good start to a set of notes. It is pretty much the second worse “damned with faint praise” after “It doesn’t taste like Hitler’s putrid puss filled jizz”. So, let’s move on and examine the beer shall we?

Well, to concentrate on the positive – solid toffee base with some tart raspberry edges, nothing too intrusive, a solid back for the unusual character to work from. Also, there is definite seafood character – kind of calamari, crabs and mussels. They have completely dedicated themselves to this thing’s seafood concept.

Ok, right, so, the downsides. This is really rubbery and salty – not in an awesome Islay kind of booming way, More in a kind of sulphur filled, bringing the beer down with off flavours kind of way. In fact there are a lot of off notes, maybe they are intrinsic to the seafood being used to make it, but they taste very similar to mistakes during the brewing process.

Overall, in the seafood notes that work the crab paste and calamari are the highest and most dominant. The other dominant notes, well there is a bubblegum and lemongrass like character, which actually makes me think a lot of the Sorachi Ace hop – no idea of they used it here, but the tastes are similar. I love that hop, but the flavours here make it feel more artificial which is something this beer really doesn’t need.

So, I love the idea, and dig the innovation, but – this beer really doesn’t work. Sorry.

Background: I have no idea what style this is. There isn’t an acknowledged seafood category that I am aware of. The bottle mentioned a large amount of wheat being used, so I’ve shoved it under Wheat Ale. I also considered spice/herb/vegetable beer, but that seems to ignore the main point of it. I also considered traditional ale, as that is a good catch all, but this seems pretty much the opposite of traditional. Anyway, this was a beer I was excited to try for sheer audacity, but was nervous it was going to suck. The reason why is kind of simple to see – this is and ale made with – Cockles and lobsters, kombu (edible kelp), dulse seaweeds, sea salt, saffron and star anise. I love Wild Beer Co’s innovation, though as of recently they have been about 50/50 with on if they actually work. Sometimes their ideas outreach their ability to implement them. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Anthrax, Amongst the Living.

To Øl: Roses are Brett (Denmark: Saison: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep cherry red. Red touched inch of froth. Some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Tart raspberries. Natural yogurt. Slight yeast funk character. Strawberry. Light pepper.

Body: Raspberries. Sour cream. Charred bitterness. Rose wine. Slight bready backing. Milky character. Slight funk sourness. Sour lime. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Rose wine. Sour dough. Charred bitterness. Raspberry. Orange juice. Lemon curd. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Sometimes I praise beer for their complexity – sometimes being able to dig deep into a beer; being able to take your time and find a shifting, ever evolving beer is a great reward. Other times it is enough just to find a beer that does what it does very well and doesn’t shift from that. This is that second type of beer.

It is a very raspberry filled, slightly tart beer with a bready backing, some funk and sour character and a few sour fruit notes that spin off from that main core set. It is that beer at the beginning and that beer at the end.

What sells it as a beer that is more than that simple description is the feel – With a very recognisably saison mouthfeel, slightly rustic and bready, kind of funky with a slight milky smoothness. It lets that lovely sharp raspberry float in the air and do its thing, without losing such a distinctive beer character. It has a feel that doesn’t interfere with the main flavour that lets it keep it simple without being dull. Bravo.

The other fruit flavours mentioned earlier are an extra note there, though they definitely feel like they spin out of the sourness of the main raspberry flavour – you get lime sours, notes of lemon freshness and the like. They are all similarly fresh, tart and sour notes that just add a bit of sparkle. The oddest other flavour you get in the mix is a kind of rose wine feel – possibly that is why the beer is named as it is, or maybe that beer’s name is what caused the image to come to mind for me.

Any which way, this is lovely – from a minute or so in you know what you are getting for the rest of the beer, but it is polished so well that you can just lean back and enjoy it as it is. It strips out everything it doesn’t need and just delivers what it does best. Very good indeed.

Background: This is one grabbed on a whim from Brewdog’s guest beer selection -To Øl, like a lot of the Scandinavian craft beer scene, is solid as hell and the idea of a brett and raspberry saison sounded like just the thing for me at the moment. As the second raspberry infused beer back to back for doing notes on it was interesting to mentally compare it to the De Molen raspberry beer. Anyway, felt like some weird and heavy music to go with this so put on Buckethead’s Cuckoo Clocks Of Hell – a guitar virtuoso’s crunchy, metal like, heavy album.

de-molen-framboos-and-framblij

De Molen: Framboos and Framblij (Netherlands: Fruit Beer: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Massive browned white loose bubbled head.

Nose: Cinnamon spiced raspberries. Strawberries. Raspberry Liqueur filled dark chocolate. Fresh and sweet. Light coriander.

Body: Earthy hop character. Peppery. Quite bitter. Very frothy feel and slightly wheaty. Raspberry yogurt. Malt chocolate. Vanilla.

Finish: Earthy notes. Wheaty and popcorn feel. Malt drinks. Hoppy bitterness. Pepper. Greenery.

Conclusion: Well, this is lively -the head keeps frothing on pour to a massive mound. No matter how gentle I tried to be, it always filled the glass. Maybe I should have used a glass with a bit more room, like the Tripel Karmeliet one.

I was expecting something more out of both the base ale and the raspberry infusion I have to admit – This feels like an solid, earthy, British style bitter that has then been subtly influenced by the raspberries to create a sweeter backing for that bitter style ale. It has a bit higher hop character and bitterness than that description would call to mind -but hopefully you should get the gist.

The raspberry is far more evident in the aroma – which leads you to expect a fruitier beer than the one you finally get. While the earthy, slightly greenery tinged hop character is much more what you actually get, laid over a malt chocolate drink bitter chocolate base. It actually feels like a hand pumped real ale in some ways – with that slightly bitty sediment touched texture – really grounded which the raspberry doesn’t challenge, but does enhance by the way of contrast.

So, you get a much more bitter led beer than expected – fairly simple in the flavours delivered but solidly done. Without the raspberry this would be a fairly middle of the road bitter. With the raspberry, well it give it a bit of sweetness and subtle tartness that it really needs to give it some depth.

An ok ale, considering who comparatively rare it is I wouldn’t say it is worth taking your time to dig it out – it is very similar to a group of raspberry dark ales that I have run into on a real ale tap around town over the years and it doesn’t really add much above that. If you run into it that this is fair enough, but hardly stand out, or probably even the best of what you would find in the style.

Background: Apparently this is a fairly rare one, originally for Borefts Beer Festival 2016, there has since been some bottled, of which I grabbed one from Independent Spirit. This is a dark ale made with raspberries. Drunk while listening to some Anthrax, after finding out they will be touring again next year. De Molen have been pretty darn reliable at turning out decent beers, especially kind of unusual ones, so I though this should be decent. Apparently the name is some kind of pun, but one that doesn’t really translate well. Ah well.

Northern Monk: Double Heathen (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very hazy to cloudy apricot. Moderate off white head.

Nose: Pine needles. Resinous hops. Passion fruit and dried mango. Banana. Moderate bitterness. Thick.

Body: Thick fruit juice texture. Guava. Banana. Creamy bitterness. Moderate hop character. Dried mango. Custard. Pineapple. Dried apricot.

Finish: Solid bitterness. Lightly creamy and light custard notes. Mango juice.

Conclusion: Ok, this doesn’t sit neatly at either of the usual ends of the DIPA spectrum. The base isn’t a super dry, out of the way, leave everything to the hops style DIPA – but neither is it a super sweet, making heavy with the malt to contrast the hops style beer either. OK, there is a lot more range to DIPAs to that, but they tend to cluster somewhere around those two extremes in my experience.

So we have something in-between – the base feels fairly dry, especially on the way out, but you can still really taste and feel the base with custard like sweet notes. It straddles the DIPA line.

Similarly it straddles the hop line. Nor a beer of unrelenting bitterness, not one of super fresh fruit. It is fruity, don’t get me wrong, but in a dried fruity, musty thick kind of way – lots of thick flavour – with enough sweetness to deliver what would otherwise be quite the drying flavour profile and backed by juice guava notes. Never one thing or another, never leaning too far in any direction, it trades everything off to create a big and satisfying IIPA.

It really does work. While its style straddling method means that it never hits the pure high notes that you can get by going all in with one interpretation, it also means that it doesn’t tie itself to the flaws of any one take either. It feels like, as long as you like a bitter beer, and can deal with big abv – and let’s face it, what IPA fan does not? Then you can just dive into this and enjoy it. Very good, and it is not afraid to show some musty, slightly rough edges – it doesn’t polish off the edges that makes a beer charming. This brings together so many good IPA element that I can unashamedly recommend it as a proper job done good. A fine IIPA.

Background: I’ve been trying a few new breweries recently – I’ve tried going for more standard, less experimental beers so to get an idea of what their main beer’s quality are like. After a few meh beers, I’ve decided to revise this policy – so I grabbed this big DIPA from Independent Spirit– not a standard beer, but none of those weird extra ingredients – should make a nice balance of showing brew techniques while still allowing me to enjoy some bigger beers. Hopefully. After going old school with Prodigy for music before, going even older school for this one with some Madness. Probably one of the first bands I ever really got into. Good times. The can lists this as a nice 70IBU. Should be bitter enough for my tastes.

green-flash-cellar-3-blanc-tarte-barrique

Green Flash: Cellar 3: Blanc Tarte Barrique (USA: Sour Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Dry and lemony. Light pepper. Cheese puffs. Orange rind. Pomegranate. Heather and light smoke. Mild Madeira.

Body: Quite tart. Apples and tart cider. Crushed meringue. Vanilla. Passion-fruit and pomegranate. Quite smooth. Light cheddar. Lemon juice into lemon curd. Madeira cake. Tart white grapes. Subtle raisins. Dry white wine.

Finish: Sweet cider. Vinegar touched notes. Sweet meringue. Smooth Madeira. Dry oak. Light ginger. Jiff lemon. Orange juice. Tart white and red grapes.

Conclusion: On first sip I was nearly ready to, well – not write this off but, file it under the interesting cider like beer but without much depth cupboard. I have oddly specific mental cupboards. Sue me.

Damn I am glad that I took a bit more time to get to know the beer. I am doubly glad that, at 750 ml, there was plenty of time to get to know it.

Initial notes are a mix of tart apples and sweet cider – quite dry on the feel despite the sweet notes that pop up, and the vanilla contrast it holds. There is a bit more to it, a few nice fruit notes underneath. It is pretty nice at this point – not too sour, but fairly – some feel of the spice used rather than any immediate flavour, but overall refreshing.

What changes it from that level is when the more subtle notes come out. Underneath everything is a Madeira cake and raisin character, while at the high end tart grapes and white wine character make it sparkle. This takes from a good but standard beer to one that travels a journey – one that goes from dry and sparkling, through the fresh cider like notes, to subtle soothing dark fruit and wine. Never is any element isolated, each managed to bleed through slightly to the others – but each one has its time to shine and show off.

You end up with a beer with just enough acidity to hit the back of the throat and remind you, but that is as harsh as it gets. In return it gives plenty of flavour, a soothing but rich experience. The bottles says they aim for a lambic like ale, and while it does not feel overly close to that, it manages to be an excellent distinctive sour in itself.

Background: 2016, batch 1 it says. So hopefully they will do future batches of this. Drunk 2016, so without additional ageing time. Also says 14 IBU. I love it when they give you all these extra details on your beer. Anyway this is sour ale, intending to call to the lambic tradition that has *deep breath* Seville orange peel, Chinese ginger and grains of paradise – it was then aged for between 12 and 36 months in red and white wine barrels. Damn. Anyway, first time doing notes on Green Flash beer – think I have tried them on tap at Brewdog pubs before. Drunk while listening to The Prodigy – Music For Jilted generation. Going a bit old school for a while it seems. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit of Bath.


De Molen: Cuvee #5 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey brown dash for a head.

Nose: Slightly salty, medicinal air. Peat and dried beef. Cocoa dust.

Body: Sweet chilli and hoisin sauce. Brown bread character. Sour cream. Dried beef. Plums. Slight funky feel. Slight smoke and salt. Mature cheese. Cherry. Creamy texture. Green peppers.

Finish: Chilli jam. Charring. Bitter. Salt. Green peppers. Slight mature cheese. Sweet chilli. Smoke.

Conclusion: I was worried that the chilli was going to be dangerous here. My last, and previously only, experience with De Molen chill imperial stouts was at GBBF a few years back and was like drinking molten lava. As in the flavour was great but I couldn’t finish a third as the heat just stuck to your mouth. This, this is pretty sweet chilli styled. I had been steeling myself up for a while before going in for the first sip and the relief when it turned out to be manageable was immense.

This is, as seems to happen a lot with varied De Molen Imperial Stouts, is quite a mixed up set of flavours. The chilli is sweet, the chocolate is bitter, the air medicinal, smokey and peaty, the base kind of fruity and mature cheese touched. Out of all this I noticed that a lot of the more dominant flavours were on the savoury end – with, in an unusual twist, it being the chilli that actually gave the main sweet contrast. You don’t get to say that often.

It is a very interesting beer, I don’t see many Imperial Stouts, or even standard stouts, go heavy and all in on the savoury character – with the big malt used there tends to be at least a slight sweet leaning; Less still do you find that savoury matched with such big Islay flavours – usually big harshness like that is matched by bigger sweetness to contrast. For all it is interesting, you may have guessed that a beer I find interesting and a beer I genuinely enjoy are two different things.

I generally appreciate something a bit different, and I can dig this for that. You really can take your time digging into this, almost always finding new notes – but when the new notes you get are such like green pepper it does not feel like you are rewarded so much for your effort. So, a very layered and interesting savoury fest, but one I bounce off when I try to just sit back and enjoy it.

Background: Ok I grabbed this one as it is a blend of Hel & Verdoemenis and Spanning & Sensatie, aged on Octomore and Bruichladdich whisky barrels The words that grabbed me was the Octomore Barrel ageing. I tried Octomore Hemel & Aarde at a London beer show a few years back and it was glorius. I have since been trying to, if not find that beer again, find a beer that comes close. Hel & Verdoemenis variants have been from good to great for me, never tried Spanning & Sensatie, but looking at the bottle it seems that it was an Imperial Stout made with cocoa, chilli peppers and sea salt. Unusual. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit .


Brewdog: Beatnik Brewing Collective: Imperial Red Ale (Scotland: Amber Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Reddish brown clear body. Small bubbled carbonation. Thin off white head.

Nose: Crisp clean hop character. Slight resin and hop oils. Mild malt drinks – ovaltine. Slight kiwi. Mild cherry pocked biscuits. Black liquorice.

Body: Slight cherries. Liquorice. Malt drinks. Malt chocolate. Smooth. Quite clean hop character. Kiwi. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Liquorice. Toffee sweetness. Clean hop character. Palma violets. Slight glacier cherries. Slight hop oils.

Conclusion: Ok, first thing up – they avoided calling this a Red IPA, despite it having a fair good hop load in with the higher abv due to the high malt. So, good. They have got off on the right foot with me. The wildcard IPA naming convention for everything gets on my tits.

Speaking of the hop load, the hop character is delivered remarkably clean here; Some hop oils resin and bitterness but it is all smooth and easy drinking – The hop use seems to be all about the feel, with most of the flavour coming from the malt it seems, rather than late addition hops. Interesting choice.

Under the smooth, but well used, high hop level, the malt has a similarly soothing night cap, kind of ovaltine via vanilla fudge kind of character, with the fruit flavours from the hops ebbing below that. Early on there were darker liquorice notes, but they don’t seem to last as the beer warms even slightly. It hides the 8% abv very well, giving a few of those bigger flavours you would expect with the extra malt but little apart from that. In a blind testing I am fairly sure I would not have guessed it above 6% ABV.

It doesn’t overly surprise – I have seen people call it a ramped up 5 AM saint, and while not spot on, that isn’t exactly wrong – however after having a few I will say, surprise or no, I am in favour of it. Very no nonsense, very smooth. Brewdog has had a lot of experience with this kind of beer and it shows – they can deliver everything balanced so well. Doesn’t challenge expectations – instead matching them as well as could ever be wanted. If they decide to turn this into a regular I think this could be a very solid core beer for them. It feels odd as Beatnik special beer, but as a beer that you can get regularly I could see this as a more malty replacement for the gap left by Hardcore IPA in their line.

Background: So, as I may have indicated in my bias warning, I am a Brewdog shareholder, as well as being a reason for possible bias, it also means I have access to this beer; A beer voted for and made by the shareholders. I can’t remember the process too well, but we ended up with this, a high hopped, high abv, amber ale. Frankly any time you let beer geeks vote chances are you will just ended up with a vote for max everything. Ever. Subtle we are not. Anyway, I’d had a few of these in the week before doing the notes – first one I very much enjoyed, second I found average – however those were had amongst food, other beer, etc, so I was coming at this one clean to see how it help up on its own two feet. The glass used for this is technically intended as an IPA glass, but I figured a high hopped beer like this wouldn’t be hurt by it. Drunk while listening to Svalbard’s great new tune, amongst other of their tracks.

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