Archive for February, 2017


moor-bath-ales-st-austell-dark-knight-weisse

Moor: Bath Ales: St Austell: Dark Knight Weisse (England: Dunkelweizen: 5.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark reddish brown. Large bubbled brown head.

Nose: Nutty and soft lemon mix. Tobacco. Wheaty. Malt chocolate. Slight cloying sour cream note.

Body: Malt chocolate. Vanilla toffee. Tobacco. Wheat. Moderate thickness of texture. Light coriander. Smoke. Light lemon and lime hop character.

Finish: Wheaty. Malt chocolate. Brown bread. Lightly nutty. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Smoke. Light lime hops.

Conclusion: This is definitely, well, darker that the usual Dunkel Weisse flavours. A standard dunkel weisse, to my mind, deals with the wheat and malt chocolate notes as a base – which admittedly this does – but I haven’t encountered one that brings this stodgy, smokey tobacco flavour to the middle like this does.

It has just mildly more hop character than you would normally get as well – not hugely so, just some more noticeable bitterness and some subtle citrus hop flavours under the bigger malt, tobacco and malt.

It is pretty pleasant – it has a good texture that is generally smooth but with a bit of a wheat grip. It cleaves close enough to the standard dunkel weisse style but pushes things just slightly towards a heavier experience. Pleasant, ya know?

Nothing in it pushes it to special – but it is a well done beer in a style variant I have not seen done before. I think this could be a good beer to go with beef dishes – it is not complex enough to be heavily examined by itself, but is strong flavoured enough to complement the meat I feel. That is a guess. I haven’t tried it with beef yet.

So, solid, smoked – not stand out great but no complaints.

Background: Hit Moor’s tap-house recently and very much enjoyed the beers there – so decided to grab this collaboration of theirs from Independent Spirit for more Moor beer tasting note goodness. This was back from before I had finished Dark Souls 2 and was hammering my head against the Frigid Outskirts area. Seriously, screw that area. Anyway, basically I needed a good beer is what I am saying. Drunk while listening to more of the epic goodness that is Two Steps From Hell.

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de-struise-st-amatus-vintage-2013
De Struise: St Amatus Vintage 2013 (Belgium: Quadrupel: 11% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thick off white head.

Nose: Raisins. Malt chocolate. Nuts. Liquorice. Brandy cream. Dry red wine. Slightly dry overall.

Body: Vanilla. Custard. Raisins and fruitcake. Cherries. Walnuts. Slight cloves. Condensed cream. Very smooth. Malt chocolate. Marshmallows. Slight cinnamon. Chocolate liqueur. Mashed banana. Bready. Bourbon and orange liqueur.

Finish: Creamy chocolate. Fruitcake – lots of cherries and raisins. Sweet red wine. Dried banana to banana bread. Brown bread. Liquorice.

Conclusion: Ok, super smooth Belgian style beers impress me – be oft feel like they lack something. Rough edged Belgian gems are just my jam, but the rough edges can put others off. This thing walks the fine line between the two perfectly.

It is very smooth textured, but somehow doesn’t sacrifice the weight of the body to do so. Rock! It brings in lots of fruitcake, nuts and malt chocolate – all you would expect from a big quad; It also brings in some unexpected notes – big shots of mashed banana and light clove, even some walnut character to the nuttiness. Together it actually makes me wonder if this is the Belgian Quad equivalent of my beloved Weizenbock Aventinus – it plays with so many of the same notes, and if that was their intent I have literally no objection. Also metaphorically no objection but that is less important.

This is so well done – it even managed to bring in some slight licorice, which is hard to use well, without hurting the overall feel. Also, early on I wasn’t sure if this was barrel aged, however as it warms I am now 100% sure – it plays with vanilla and custard notes mid body – however it seems very different in style to many barrel aged beers and doesn’t break out any obvious spirit notes for a long time. Again that smoothness is done so very well. It has impeccable subtlety in how the barrel ageing adds to the beer.

Late on as it warms you still have that impeccable smoothness from the barrel aging but you finally get the bourbon influence more obviously – just some flavour – that definite bourbon taste and light orange notes – still barely any spirit character at all – I approve.

So, as you may have guessed this is an excellent heavy duty and yet smooth as hell beer. If you like big beer there is no reason not to get this one.

Background: I think, from googling around, that this was aged in Woodford Reserve barrels – however reports differ and the bottle doesn’t say – it definitely is bourbon barrel aged – not sure of the exact nature. I only found out after tasting, so was unsure during the tasting itself if it had been oak aged. I am a big fan of De Struise – they make some huge beers – and I think Belgium is probably the best beer making country in the world. So, yeah, wanted this to be good. Grabbed from Independent Spirit – I’ve had this since before Christmas and was waiting for the right moment to break it open. Drunk while listening to Brassick’s album – only found out they had done a full album recently and quickly grabbed it – some great punk energy there.

douglas-laing-old-particular-laphroaig-18-year

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Laphroaig 18 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Quite light grain gold.

Viscosity: Slow thin puckering.

Nose: Salted rocks. Peat. Medicinal. Dry. Ash. Salted lemon. Water adds ashtray style notes.

Body: Dry. Lemon juice. Vanilla. White grapes. Dry white wine. Salt. Peat. Water adds lemon cordial and wine gums. Slight oily and slight creamy character.

Finish: Lemon juice and dry salted lemons. Slight golden syrup. Cinder toffee. Water adds more lemon. Toffee. Even more water adds malt chocolate.

Conclusion: This is an odd mix of fresh squeezed lemon and dry salted lemons, all mixed up with a medicinal Laphroaig character. It is less harsh than the similar medicinal notes in a younger Laphroaig, but it still shows some of that pure salt behind the more mellow salted lemon character.

Nice as this is it doesn’t have the booming depth or intensity of the Quarter Cask – instead it makes a fresher, and somehow refreshing, yet intense character. The spirit is smooth – showing surprisingly little alcohol character and with that gives a show of an oily base and a slight creamy character that doesn’t seem to come out in other expressions I have tried. With water it becomes more creamy and slightly dessert like making it almost a medicinal lemon meringue of the Islay world. Another case of words I never thought I would type. I know the idea sounds horrible. It is not. This is actually pretty darn nice.

This is a strange expression – the lemon character reminds me of the unpopular Laphroaig Select – an ok whisky but one I tend to refer to as the lemonade of the Laphroaig world due to its lighter character and lack of a lot of what makes Laphroaig recognisable. This however does not sacrifice its fuller character as it brings in the smoothness and lemon flavours, making it far better than that weaker attempt. In fact this lays in the same area as the blended malt Kiln Embers – which is both a complement – as that is a very nice whisky – and a problem, as that was far cheaper than this expression. This is slightly better than Kiln Embers, but only just and for that slight bit extra it costs a lot more cash. So, depending on your cash flow, make your choice. Had as I did, I enjoyed it, but for grabbing a bottle – Kiln Embers is the one I would return to if you can still find it.

Background: One of 317 bottles this is a rare independent bottling, single cask Laphroaig expression and the final of the five whiskies had at the uber whisky tasting night at Independent Spirit. I am a huge Laphroaig fan, and you don’t see many bottlings of these guys so was looking forwards to this. My photo skills were pretty much gone by the time I took a photo of this glass – sorry – I blame alcohol. As before due to the social environ and number of whiskies tried at the event my notes may be less comprehensible than normal – I try my best.

bruichladdich-octomore-10-year2nd-release

Bruichladdich: Octomore: 10 Years(2nd Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 57.3% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very fast thick streaks.

Nose: Smokey bacon. Lots of peat smoke. Slight salt. Smoked beef. Beef stew and pigs in blankets. Slight cherry pocked digestives.

Body: Honey. Huge peat. Lime. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Sauternes wine. Water adds peach and honey and makes much sweeter. Slight custard sweetness notes.

Finish: Alcohol tingle. Salt. Very medicinal. Slightly numbing. Honey. Peach syrup added with water.

Conclusion: This is so much sweeter than the younger Octomore! It still comes in with the heavy peat and medicinal style though, do not worry. As it has soothed a bit with age that now comes across as a massively meaty feast of a whisky – especially on the nose. Kind of a smoked meat (especially smoked bacon) fest, That aroma however does not hint at a lot of what is to come. In fact originally it comes across more smoked meat than even the other Octomores I have tried.

The body keeps the peaty character, but is much more honeyed, and has an almost Sauternes wine sweet character. It is so sweet and fruity under the heavy peat that it is less that smooth assault you might expect and is instead a much more complex yet still peaty beast. Without water the finish is very medicinal, again calling to its roots as a more harsh whisky, water again brings out that sweetness.

It is so unexpected – still meaty. Still peaty – but very much tamed by the newfound sweetness. Even slight custard sweetness over the salted Islay base. If you want sheer assault then this has moved away from that and you will be let down. If you want a big sweet Islay style peated whisky – well this is very good and still intense. The honey wine soaked meat feast peat whisky.

Background: Fourth whisky at the uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. I loved my previous experience with the Octomore so was very much looking forwards to trying this 10 year version. Now, while it is peated at 167 ppm, age tends to take away peat character quite quickly – so wasn’t quite sure how this would work out for intensity. Also this has been aged in both Bourbon and the more unusual Grenache Blac casks. One of 18,000 bottles – so fairly but not insanely rare. My whisky glass photos are getting a bit crap now – sorry – alcohol influence! As before due to the social event and the number of whiskies tried, by notes may not be as detailed as normal – nor it seems my photos. As always I tried my best.

timorous-beastie-40-year

Douglas Laing: Timorous Beastie: 40 Year (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 40 Year: 54.7% ABV0

Visual: Custard gold.

Viscosity: Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Very floral. Slight menthol. Vanilla. Oily and waxy. Heather. Light smoke. Battenberg. Grapes. Cream soda. Water adds sour grapes and sulphur. Butterscotch.

Body: Grapes. Caramac sweet bars. Definite alcohol. White wine. Cream soda. Water makes more marshmallow front and citrus back. Apples in a calvados style comes out over time.

Finish: Strong alcohol. Gin. Elderberry. Grapes. Waxy. Cream soda. Drying. Tropical fruit and white chocolate. White wine. Water adds more grapes and a slight make spirit style fruitiness.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected of a 40 year old whisky, not at all. It has all the vibrancy of a young whisky – especially a fruitiness that hints to make spirit, but it is matched with a smooth character and a very white wine style character that speaks of its age. It even has a very unusual cream soda style side of sweetness. It matches very vinous notes with butterscotch and even a slight sharpness in the fruitiness in a way that is very rarely seen in whisky.

There are elements that range as wide, and are as unexpected as a waxy battenberg, a sharp butterscotch, and a vinous soda. Combinations of words that you would not expect to be seen together, even less so to work as well as they do. It is very distinct and different. Most old whiskies I try are good, but feel so smooth as to be understated – the strong abv of this means that it is still forceful in its odd complexity.

Water integrates the notes and smooths it out a lot, but it still keeps a slight sharpness – what gets brought out is more white chocolate and tropical fruit – really emphasising the bourbon ageing influence.

A spritzy, unusual, gin influenced, winey, butterscotch whisky. It feels like it has been influenced by far more spirits than it can possibly have been – white wine, grappa, gin, rakia, calvados. So many styles resulting in a whisky unlike any other. It does have slight rough edges at times of sourness and alcohol, but I have not seen many spirits this fascinating and unique. So, not the best, but unique and that earns it a heck of a place in itself.

Background: 300 whisky tasting notes! I actually had a bottle set aside for this, but ended up hitting the 300 at Independent Spirit‘s uber whisky tasting. A 40 year old blended malt is one well worth the 300 mark, so what a wonderful coincidence! Sorry the photo is a bit rubbish on this – I started drinking then realised I hadn’t done the photo yet so it is a bit hurried and half empty. My bad. As before as this was a social event with five different whiskies my notes may be shorter and more scattershot than normal but I do my best.

carn-mor-caperdonich-1992

Carn Mor: Caperdonich 1992 (Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 24 Year: 58.9% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thick streaks.

Nose: Clean and light. Citrus lemon and lime. Pencil shavings. Vanilla. Light toffee. Light floral. Water gives more floral. More water brings out peach notes and slight sulphur.

Body: Sweet. Honey and golden syrup mix. Very noticeable alcohol. Water makes much smoother. Butterscotch. Peppery. Lime. More water brings light apricot and dried pineapple and gives a slight waxy texture.

Finish: Alcohol strength. Oily sheen. Sulphur. Floral. Butterscotch. Water makes slightly soapy. White chocolate and tinned tropical fruits. Peppery and slightly waxy. More water adds dried apricot and pineapple.

Conclusion: This is far better than my first experience with Caperdonich. With the high abv this has, cask strength from a single cask, it gives a thicker, waxy texture that gives much more grip for the flavour.

It is a honey sweet whisky, using that and the waxy character as a base for some dried fruit, bourbon ageing tropical fruit and some floral notes floating over that. None of that is a too unusual style but the age of this means that it is delivered in a very clean style and, with water, pretty smoothly.

It carries what feels like a light smoke backing it up – giving it slightly more weight that a fruity floral whisky normally would have. Slight waxy and thick feel, slight sulphur and smoke at the back. In It makes if feel slightly old fashioned – like walking around in old stores and breathing in the air. In fact, while this is not stand out or special in the flavour it is very nice in the mouthfeel. It has a very special mouthfeel – kind of like what you got with direct heated whisky distilling in the old days. Don’t know if that is what is used here but it has that slightly burnt, gassy feel.

Anyway, not a world shaker, but interesting to examine, much better than my last experience, and solid in flavour.

Background: This is the second ever Caperdonich I have encountered – it is a dead distillery- closed in 2002 and demolished 2010, so we will see no more once it is gone. My first encounter was ok but nothing special – so when this was the second whisky in the Independent Spirit Uber whisky tasting I was intrigued to give it a go. As before, due to doing more notes that usual in a social environ this may be less detailed than usual, but I do my best.

timorous-beastie-21-year-sherry-edition

Douglas Laing: Timorous Beastie: 21 Year Sherry Edition (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 46.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thick streaks.

Nose: Strawberry yogurt. Blackcurrant. Moderate oak. Vanilla. Mince pies. Dry. Water adds dried apricot and stewed fruit notes. Treacle. Oily character. Later you get red wine, port and more blackcurrant.

Body: Strawberry. Lots of sherry. Dried spice. Thai 7 spice jars. Dry. Sultanas. Water makes sweeter and spice raisins.

Finish: Blueberry. Mince pies. Dry. Vanilla. Sultanas. Thai 7 spice. Water makes much more spicy. Slight marzipan. Red wine.

Conclusion: This is very sherried, emphasising the drier end of the spectrum as well. It seems sweeter on the nose than it actually turns out to be – on the aroma it promises almost strawberry yogurt kind of notes. However this sweetness doesn’t really penetrate the body. Instead you get darker fruit, mince pies, Christmas spices and dry wine – it gives quite the intense but not harsh character.

There are some light sweet notes – some vanilla, and some parts of the blueberry are sweet, but these elements are rounding ones, not the notes emphasised.

It is nice enough like that – a bit one note but I was enjoying it – water however brings out a slight stewed fruitiness that gives it that tiny hint extra sweetness it needs. Now it is very rewarding, balancing and giving a huge range of flavour within the sherry style.

Then if you give it just a bit of time it rewards you yet again – giving much more red wine and dark fruits amongst the suet mince pie dryness. It is a brilliant example of sherry work here, emphasising it to heavy degree without become so overpowered by it that it becomes one note and dull which can be a flaw on heavily sherried whisky.

It is just fruity enough to let that re-emphasise the dry spiciness. Very nice and complex. I heartily approve. As a vinous, fruity, drying and sherried whisky in equal measure this is a big one I have no hesitation in recommending if you can afford it.

Background: So, Independent Spirit did another one of their Uber whisky tastings – their last one was the first of their tastings I went to and was sensational, so of course I jumped on this one. This is the first of five whiskies had that night. As it was a social event, and due to having more whisky back to back than I normally do for notes these may be slightly shorter and more scattered notes that usual. I did my best for you all though. Kicked off big with a 21 year blended malt. Don’t think I have ever tried standard Timorous Beastie – however its existence led to me winning a pub quiz once as the image of the mouse on the front meant that I knew what animal the term refers to. See? Drinking is good for knowledge.

brewdog-vs-cloudwater-new-england-ipa

Brewdog Vs Cloudwater: New England IPA (Scotland: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale cloudy coconut touched apricot juice look. Large white crisp bubbled head.

Nose: Pineapple and coconut juice. Dried banana. Light hop character. Light bitterness.

Body: Thick, slightly bitty texture. Apricot and pineapple. Creamy smoothie style character. Light hop character. Fresh peach. Crusty white bread.

Finish: Peach. Coconut. Creamy banana smoothie. Milky. Light hop oils and bitterness. Slight musty dust notes. Malty ovaltine. Slightly gritty, rocky character.

Conclusion: Ok, this is far better than the first bottle – as explained in the background my first experience with this was kind of odd. Anyway, this is a much thicker beer with a bit of an unusual texture with it. It mixes a creamy smoothie style with a slight gritty infusion that comes in late mid body and then rises massively in the finish. I am not 100% sure if it works, as I shall explain, but it is interesting.

To begin with the bitterness level here is low, concentrating more on the fresh fruit and using a touch of coconut style for grounding. Here in the early days the smoothie character rules the roost. Very fruity juice smoothie giving a mix of pineapple, sweet peach and mashed banana. Pretty good start.

As time goes on the grittiness rises, bringing initially just a hop feel, then into that rises hope oils and light bitterness. At this point it is a pleasant addition to the beer – but after that it becomes gritty and with slightly musty bitterness in the finish. It is around this point in the finish that I begin to feel the beer doesn’t 100% work. The rest of the beer is quiet restrained – easygoing and fruity for an IPA. It builds up to a slow drinking , leisurely beer for kind of if not quite session drinking (anything over 6% is not a session beer!). The final musty and gritty moments in the finish make it feel rough. Elements that are good in a bigger more brutal IPA feel out of place in an easygoing one like this.

The thing is, the early fruit juice smoothie with a bit of grip to it still works – it is just let down by the end. So, still reasonable and a bit different but doesn’t work either as a big IPA or an easygoing IPA. So, close but not quite.

Background: Cloudwater know how do do very good IPAs. So do Brewdog. Ok, let’s go with this one. I grabbed two bottles of this – first was slightly thin. Think that something went wrong with bottling on that one- it had a lot of brown gunk in the neck of the bottle – filling about 80% of the area. Think some sediment or yeast issues there. Anyway, this was the second bottle – gunk free, so let’s give it a go. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog. Still plaything Dark Souls 2 – finally broke another DLC area so this was my treat to myself for that bit. Drunk while listening to more Louise Distras.

wild-beer-co-billionaire

Wild Beer Co: Billionaire (England: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate caramel brown head.

Nose: Salted caramel. Malt chocolate. Cocoa dust. Bean paste.

Body: Toffee. Chocolate fondue. Slight moss. Slight oily cooked fish skins. Savoury tofu middle. Slight subtle pickles.

Finish: Chocolate milkshake. Toffee. Tofu. Bean paste. Lactose. Fudge.

Conclusion: Well, this is quite the savoury (Well probably umami, but I’ve never really felt quite qualified to describe that taste), yet sweet also mix. The base stout has all the extra thickness that enhances the Millionaire style. It gives a very solid chocolate, salted toffee and fudge base. No real bitter notes but manages to not push itself to sickly sweet despite that. The lactose instead gives a very chocolate fondue to chocolate milkshake effect.

The savoury elements though are what make it stand out. Initially there wasn’t much in the way of these more unusual flavours – There was a slight moss and lichen taste but over time as the beer thickens a bean paste and tofu flavour (the tasty kind not the shitty bland kind) comes out. It gives nice solid weight to the beer, and as time goes on, those lovely savoury flavours take up a more and more central place in the beer.

It is very solid and far above the already decent Millionaire – it uses the large heft of a 10% abv beer to give it all the weight it needs to pull off the slightly unusual elements. The individual elements are not really distinct, but instead combine together to make an overall feel of the elements in a very different beer.

Very much enjoyed this – both as a beer in itself and as an unusual take on the imperial stout. The exact opposite of the sickly sweet style that seems so popular these days and oh so much better for it.

Background: I’m confused – Wild Beer Co made the beer Millionaire, then Gazillionaire – now Billionaire. Now I know Gazillionaire isn’t really a number, but it sounds bigger than Billionaire, it just does – so it seems an unusual progression. Anyway, this is a bigger version of Millionaire – to a degree – it is made with lactose, sea salt. Caramelised miso and tonka beans. Which sounds both odd and fucking awesome. This was drunk while listening to some Louis Distras, and was done shortly after starting the DLC areas of Dark Souls 2. I earned a treat is what I am saying. Not finding main Dark Souls 2 that hard currently, but the DLC areas are nicely brutal. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

coedo-kyara

Coedo: Kyara (Japan: Pilsner: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold with moderate white head and no real carbonation.

Nose: Malt caramel. Light nutty hops. Milky coffee. Dried apricot.

Body: Milky coffee. Honey. Creamy lemon. Light hop crispness. Quite malt led. Creamy. Oats. Nutty. Slight stewed fruit. Dried apricot. Raisins. Hop oils.

Finish: Toffee. Light bitterness. Milky coffee. Porridge. Moderate hop prickle. Walnuts. Slight chalk. Honey. Madeira.

Conclusion: I was not expecting this to have quite as thick body as it does. It packs in lots of caramel, lots of toffee, honey – even some nuttiness in there. I was expecting a crisp, fresh lager – this is a comparatively full force, sweet sipping, thing with a touch of hops layered on too.

Now as I have reference in the background, I tried this when it was just a few days older than it should have been – but despite that it still has some good, but not excessive, bitterness to it, and some light citrus notes working in there as well. Now the citrus would probably be more emphasised if tried when the beer was young but right now it seems like a sweet fruity dusting over the sweet malt base, leading out into a pretty nutty finish.

It is very easy drinking big sweetness. Light chalk and nutty character rises with the bitterness over time which gives a slight grounding to what is a predominantly sweet beer. If you want a refreshing lager then, as indicated before, you might find this a tad of a disappointment. However this still isn’t hard drinking, and gives a good chunk of flavour in exchange for that. While not a world shaker it actually had got quite a bit of range to with with darker fruity notes below. I think if I had it fresher there would probably be a bit more hop prickle to contrast as well, though that is just conjecture on my side at the moment.

A solid thick lager – on the heavier end of the style and better off for it. I approve.

Background: Haven’t had Coedo since I was last in Japan, which is a few years ago now – so when I saw this in Independent Spirit I thought I would grab it. Now it turns out this was very close to best before date when I grabbed it, so when I drank it, it was about a week past its best before date. When I noticed that I considered not putting the notes up – but decided against that for a couple of reasons 1) I still enjoyed it 2) Looking at the profile on the bottle and other notes it seems I have very close matches to theirs, so it doesn’t look like it was hurt too much and 3) beers have to travel a long way from Japan, so they tend to be a few months old by the time they get here anyway. Any which way, just keep that in mind when you are reading these notes. Drunk while listening to Meshuggah – Obzen – fucking brutally heavy, technically awesome metal.

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