Archive for March, 2017



Talisker: Skye (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: No Age: 45.8% ABV

Visual: Deep bronzed apricot.

Viscosity: Mix of slow and fast medium sized streaks.

Nose: Salt. Wet rocks. Smoke. Seaweed and rich caramelised brown sugar. Crumpets. Black liquorice. Water makes slight golden syrup backing and treacle.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla and soft lime. Rocks. Some alcohol character. Brown sugar. Light peaty and meaty character. Slight vanilla custard. Water makes buttery and smooth. Apricot. White chocolate.

Finish: Brown sugar. Crumpets. Slight chalk. Slight charring. White bread. Cooked pork. Vanilla custard. Water makes buttery with a mix of white chocolate and golden syrup. Tinned tropical fruits and toasted teacakes.

Conclusion: For all this does have an alcohol touch to it, this is a very smooth whisky – one that progresses from gentle sweet elements to entice you in, into the more recognisable, robust Talisker character.

It holds the gentle peat warmth, the slight salt and the gentle not-Islay island coastal character of a standard Talisker, and rides out into vanilla custard and brown sugar as the sweet base develops. This is not too unexpected – while this is less forceful than the 10 year old, it still plays in a familiar ball park.

What stands out here is the gentle bready character to the whole thing – from crusty white bread to crumpets – all touched with buttery sweetness – it gives both a gentle grip and an extra smoothness in the combination. The butteryness especially feels thick – slightly oily – full natural butter feeling with the flavour rather than cheap supermarket stuff.

Water soothes the alcohol touches it had when neat, and brings out some sweet aprictots, but the general gist of the thing remains the same.

Overall a very impressive dram that captures both the expressive island character. And a slightly more gentle sipping whisky, balanced by toasted teacake top and bottom.

A gentle yet complex and toasted dram. Very nice, very easily drinkable – very much up my street.

Background: So, after the uber whisky night I felt like more whisky a day or so later. So, I remembered I had a pack of miniature Taliskers I had grabbed from Independent Spirit a few weeks before. Time to break them out. This one is aged in a mix of refill and toasted American oak casks – apparently to give a bit smoother character. This was drunk while listening to some of the haunting Ulver tunes on the atgclvlsscap album. Very good background, yet atmospheric music for a good whisky.

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Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Caol Ila: 20 Year (Scotland Islay Single Malt Whisky: 20 Years: 51.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale greened grain.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Medicinal. Charcoal. Charred oak. Salt. Quite clean. Moss. Water is similar but smoother.

Body: Clean vanilla and caramel. Tinned tropical fruit. Tingling hint of alcohol. Water adds light custard. Cooked pork meaty notes. Oily and quite viscous. Light lemon.

Finish: Medicinal. Thick sheen. Oily. Slight tar. Mostly clean. Slight teacakes. Water doesn’t completely remove alcohol tingle.

Conclusion: This is a very clean Caol Ila. Very viscous as well in how it delivers the medicinal notes compared to the usual rather dry medicinal character of a lot of these. It really has a thickness to it, giving a thick sheen on your tongue rather than only evaporating to fill the mouth. It makes it a chewable medicinal style, with some, but not a vast amount of the Islay peat smoke coming in with it.

Flavour wise, while peat light, it lands smack solidly in the middle of what you would expect of a Caol Ila. Smooth vanilla and tropical fruit styling that I presume come from time spent in a bourbon cask – warming, with slight lemon notes and the expected salt character – it is not as unusual in flavour as it is in texture, but everything is done very smoothly indeed. So, the expected range, just polished beyond what you normally see.

It is not one that will convert people who weren’t fans of Caol Ila to begin with – but with the smoother character you find the vanilla and toffee being more present and offsetting the more medicinal notes – so it may tip someone on the fence over into liking it. Nothing is too hash, even the alcohol tingle feels more warming than burning – obviously its old age being put to good use. As long as you are not put off by Islay, then this is a smooth take on that, especially with water.

I have made this comparison before with other whiskies, but this does have small calls to Kiln Embers with its smoothness and salted lemon characteristics. This however is far more distinctively Islay and wears it more openly. A classic of Caol Ila, one that doesn’t break the style, but does it very well indeed.

Background: This is the final of the five whiskies had at Independent Spirit‘s latest Uber whisky night. This is an aged independent bottling of Caol Ila. I’m a big fan of all of Islay, and Caol Ila is definitely in the top 50% of them. Any more detailed than that is hard to call with the quality of the area. This should be an interesting one- while not the heaviest peated Islay, Caol Ila still has some character of it, and peat tends to vanish quickly with age. Should be fun. This is one of 316 bottlings for this release. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Highland Park: Fire Edition (Scotland Island Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year: 45.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold.

Viscosity: Moderate speed and thickness streaks.

Nose: Dry rum and brandy cream. Slight smoke. Moss. Thick aroma. Light oak. Butter. Water adds some blueberries.

Body: Toffee. Light caramel. Light treacle. Strawberry. Alcohol is noticeable. Buttered crumpets. Water brings out sweet butter. More strawberry. Fudge. Vanilla and brambles.

Finish: Alcohol air. Toast. Light charring. Red berries. Toasted teacakes. Butter. Smoke. Water brings more butter and red berries. Blueberry.

Conclusion: This is very bready indeed – like a mix of toast to toasted teacakes. Really solid, and packed through with red fruit. It is very interesting examining this one immediately after the Springbank 25 year – they both wear their port influence proudly. This is more solid, and because of that is more immediately appreciable as a whisky. However because of that it also doesn’t wear quite the same range of flavour at the tail end of its life. By the way that isn’t intended as a harsh criticism – more an examination of the trade off you get with whisky. It is very nice, with subtle vanilla sweetness matched with lightly tart red and dark berries.

It is a full on, rich berry expression – very much pushing the imagery of picking your own berries on a summer picnic kind of thing – the Highland Park base giving a solid texture and weight for the fruity experience to work from.

It feels full of brambles – and if this was just slightly jammy it would make a perfect image of full on jam covered toasted sandwiches. It isn’t so it doesn’t, but it is that kind of thing it is coming close to. As it is it is a fresher faced experience, with a solid whisky base. Without water it feels a bit more thick and musky – with water the freshness of the fruit opens up. So, Springbank 25 wins on complexity – but you cannot go far wrong with this for a solid experience. Again, maybe not worth the cost of a fancy bottle, but very much worth trying if you can.

Background: Yep, it is the fourth of the whiskies tried at the recent Independent Spirit Uber Whisky Tasting. This one, well I am a big Highland Park fan, but I can’t quite shake the impression that you are paying a lot for the bottle on this one. It is a pretty bottle I will admit. Not several hundred quid pretty, but pretty. Anyway, this is one of 28,000 bottles and is aged completely in port casks. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Springbank: 25 Year (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold.

Viscosity: Mix of fast and thin streaks with some puckering from the spirit.

Nose: Strawberry. Peach melba. Quince rakia. Smooth. Tinned tropical fruit. Mandarin orange. Marzipan. Water makes floral with lots of red berries and caramel.

Body: Smooth. Mandarin orange. Marzipan. Slightly light. Dry. Water adds custard and makes feel thicker. Dry raisins. Peach. Red berries and grapes. Spiced raisins. Light grassiness. Custard and sherry trifle.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Raisins. Smooth. Light menthol and orange juice. Light grapes. Dry rum. Water adds fudge, red berries, dry Thai seven spice and a light grassiness.

Conclusion: Old whisky tends to feel very smooth, but can also feel kind of light. This can be a shock to people who have not had aged whisky before and expect it to burst with flavour from the first moment. Generally I find you need to take your rime with it, let it fill the air inside your mouth and seep into the taste-buds – that is when they get going. Basically that is what you get with this.

The aroma is complex though – it is that which tells you what to look for in the body, what may come out if you give it time and attention. It bursts with all the levels of notes that you could hope for – rich red fruit, peach melba, orange notes. There is so much going on, and while the body doesn’t quite ever match this amazing aroma – if you ever find a whisky that does – then you will have one of the all time greats.

Therefore, initially as indicated before, the first sip may seem a bit of a let down. It is quite light, and may vanish fast leaving marzipan sweetness, and hints of light fruit. Be prepared though, take your time, and add no more than a drop of water and you will be ready ( lots of people avoided adding that drop of water- feeling it didn’t need it at this age. I found it actually made the whisky a tad thicker, and really opened it up. So I would recommend trying at least before you finish the whisky – but no more than a drop). You get dryer notes coming with that – light dry raisins and sherry spice – now it is good, not exceptional but good – spicy grounding below the fruit notes. Take your time and slowly much more red fruit develops – now you get most of the notes hinted by the aroma, the fruit burst, before that leads out into dry spiced rum and raisins in the finish.

Time again like the water, gives this more body somehow – slight stewed fruit notes, and a more solid, less shimmery light take to the marzipan. This really is one to take as long as you can with.

This is very different to the standard Springbank – there is only a light grassiness, most of that style is lost – and very little of the subtle smoke that the whisky usually trades on. Instead you get a lot more influence from the oak – it keeps hints of the Springbank style, but is drier, and much fruitier with spicy depth. Very nice – very subtle and complex. Not worth the 350 odd quid price, but very nice.

Background: As a huge Campbeltown, and by that I generally mean Springbank, fan (There are a total of three Distilleries there now) I was very much happy to hear that this was part of the Uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. This spirit was aged in Sherry and Bourbon casks, much as you would expect, then merged together in refill Port casks. Which is less expected, but very awesome. This is one of only 900 bottles releases in 2017. Again, I know how lucky I was to get to try this. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Springbank: Local Barley: 11 Year (Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 11 Years: 53.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold.

Viscosity: Mix of slow puckering and fast streaks.

Nose: Peat smoke. Wheat field. Vanilla. Slight grapes. Slight sour character. Buttery shortbread. Sulphur touch. Menthol. Water brings more sour fruits.

Body: Slight sour grapes, alcohol touch. Vanilla toffee. Oily. Water brings slight caramel, lightly grassy character. Apples and peppery character.

Finish: Floral air. Strong alcohol. Quince rakia. Slight white wine. Vanilla. Light oily nuts. Malt chocolate and toffee. Dry Madeira. Water gives a menthol air, smoke and apples. Drying notes.

Conclusion: This is very unusual for a Springbank. It does have the grassy character, the slight smoke – it is identifiable as a Springbank. However it is unusual in that it has a slightly sour, kind of fresh taste to it. It reminds me a bit of quince rakia, and it it makes it a fresher, less heavy base that gives this an entirely different feel overall.

Into that freshness is a light vanilla sweetness – the two interact interestingly with those aforementioned Springbank core elements – the grassiness isn’t very pronounced, instead giving a slight solid grounding to what is actually a quite clean feeling spirit. Also, in that clean spirit some of the younger spirit flavours – apples and green fruits, but delivered in a smooth aged whisky style. It even has a slight menthol freshness mixing in with unusual base, resulting a a minty touched mouth tingling feel overall.

It really does emphasis that unusual base – sour grapes touched and tingling. I would call it unique, except I actually have a recent reference point – this feels like a single malt equivalent to the 40 year Timorous Beastie that confused me so much at the last Uber tasting. This isn’t as complex, but is heavier and thicker – however they both show the same unusual tart mouthfeel.

I find this more an interesting experience than an awesome standout whisky, so it isn’t the best of the Springbank range – however it still shows the Springbank quality and is very good. One I’d say to definitely try if you get the chance, but hard to justify grabbing a full bottle of.

Background: Second of the whiskies I tried at the second Uber Whisky tastings that Independent Spirit have done this year. I am a huge fan of Springbank, so this was one I really looked forwards to. This is the second release of “Local barley”, whisky made with barley from local farms (in this case Bere barley from Aros Farm). The first release was a 16 year, this one is 11 year and one of approximately 9000 bottles. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Càrn Mòr: Celebration Of The Cask: Speyside 1991 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 25 Years: 62.5% ABV)

Visual: Banana gold.

Viscosity: Thin slow puckering.

Nose: Thick. Stewed apricot. Caramel. Floral. Hard sweets. Light menthol and peppermint. Water makes more apples, grapes and light oak. More water and time adds golden syrup and white chocolate.

Body: Strong alcohol. Charring. Apples. Oily. Peppery. Vanilla. Waxy. Water makes butterscotch, oak and oddly stronger alcohol. More water brings more butterscotch – time makes even more so and slight tart grapes. Tinned tropical fruit.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Dry oak. Tongue numbing, Peppery. Water gives more alcohol and butterscotch. More water brings apples, pears and vanilla. White chocolate and tart grapes.

Conclusion: This is heavy duty, high alcohol and high burn whisky. In fact, it gets even higher alcohol character with a drop of water. Which is not what I expected. It takes a serious battering of water to get this thing to calm down.

This is an oily and waxy beast – it brings a huge wodge of sweet stewed fruit and caramel. Initially it is a deeply unsubtle beast – peppery, yes, but really concentrating on the heavy apricot. However as I paid attention I did realise it was a bit odd around the edges, with a menthol and peppermint character.

Water is definitely needed to bring everything in line so you can properly enjoy it. Neat it is fun, but harsh, mostly one track and what else it has doesn’t quite mesh. Time, and all that water makes it a very different experience. It becomes so much smoother, with lots of butterscotch coming out to create a coherent centre for everything else to hang off.

It is a thick, sweet one – some notes of white chocolate come out, matched by some tart grapes which seems to be the remnants of the odd elements in the neat whisky. It is strange that this was aged in a single sherry butt as it brings a lot of tropical fruit that I would usually associate with bourbon ageing. For a 25 year old whisky it is not exceptional in complexity, but gives a waxy texture that really sells what it does have. The texture takes a sweet whisky that would be good, but very simple for a 25 year one, and gives it a lot of grip and some unusual stylings. Very full, very thick – definitely not a bad one – but not great for the age. Solid.

Background: Wow, bottled in 2017, this still holds a massive abv for 25 years of ageing – and was the first of five whiskies tried at Independent Spirit for their second Uber Whisky tasting of the year. I loved the last tasting, so was very excited for this. Also, my first ever set of notes from The Speyside – the distillery, rather than the region Speyside (also called just “Spey” for a bunch of its bottling, probably to stop confusion with other whiskies from the region). This is one of 533 bottles. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Brewdog: Semi Skimmed Occultist (Scotland: Stout: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black with dark brown edges. Inch of mounded, brown creamy froth head.

Nose: Light roasted nuts. Cashew nuts. Light milk. Quite clean. Milky coffee. Light greenery.

Body: Milky and creamy. Creamy chocolate to chocolate liqueur. Rich chocolate cake. Thick mouthfeel. Milky bitter coffee. Fudge. Vanilla.

Finish: Chocolate cake. Light hop earthy notes. Milky coffee. Scones. Bitter chocolate shavings. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This thing uses a shit-ton of ingredients to work out the one thing it wants to do, and then does it well. Basically this takes all the core stout elements spread over several beers, and epitomises them in a single beer. It takes a lovely thick texture, creamy flavour, varied chocolate and coffee notes, and sweet vanilla and just crams them together. It has a few other rounding notes, but basically this concentrates on the core stout concepts and does them very well indeed.

Strangely, I had no idea of this going in as the aroma announced pretty much none of that. In fact it instead brings in the one stereotyped stout style that the body missed -a rough edged nutty character. Overall though the aroma is pretty simple and gives no hint of the rich creaminess to come.

Warning then, since the aroma does not – this is a very sweet stout; Though it is delivered in a creamy, not a sugar shock way. It manages to wear the creamy chocolate styling alongside mild bitter chocolate and coffee opposition so that the base sweetness is big, but not sickly. In fact the biggest sweetness, and closest it gets to sickly is from the strong vanilla backing, it is quite sweet and slightly syrupy, but manages to to only appear for long enough to make an impact, not dominate the beer.

So, yeah, the oats, wheat, et al have all given this a fantastic smooth and thick mouthfeel so it can put on a lesson on how to do a luxury stout. There is nothing unique here, but it does everything well.

Background: Usual disclaimer – I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Anyway, this is their most recent canned release with neat art. I’m not going to complain at that trend – I do like how they are making cans something that are visually appealing, which is seemingly a tad harder to do than with bottles for some reason. This is a stout (Possibly imperial stout – it is right on the line for me on that) made with (deep breath) wheat, oats, cocoa nibs, lactose, coffee and vanilla. None are too unusual, but it is rare to see them all shoved together in one beer. Anyway, due to having grabbed tickets to see NXT Wrestling later this year, this was drunk while listening to a one hour long version of Shinsuke Nakamura’s theme. Yes I am odd sometimes. However it is awesome, and so is he.

Stigbergets: API Lairepmi (Sweden: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, with a milky apricot colour. Moderate bubbled, yellowed head.

Nose: Banana. Creamy hop character. Milkshakes. Mashed kiwi. Vanilla custard.

Body: Pumpkin. Apricot and peach. Slight musty hop bitterness and light hop prickle. Banana and custard. Toffee. Slight kiwi.

Finish: Banana and banana yogurt. Popcorn hop feel. Light greenery and growing bitterness. Dried apricot. Buttery shortbread.

Conclusion: This is very easy going for an 8% abv beer, and, in fact, very easy going for an Imperial IPA. There is very little hint of the alcohol – unless you count the obvious additional sweetness from the bigger malt load as a tell, but in this case I do not.

As indicated above, flavour wise it, initially, seems pretty easygoing as well – feeling like sweet banana milkshake or smoothie. It even matches the character down to the creaminess and the kiwi notes that can be used to beef up a lot of smoothies. There are some other notes that complement this – peach and vanilla custard that really does make it feel like rich, full mix of milkshake and smoothie. The fruit feels full, and far from artificial in character.

However, the eagle eyed of you may have noticed I said “Initially” it was easy going – That is because the hop character does grow, as you would expect of an IIPA. Initially (there’s that word again) the hops are fairly light, which alters into a kind of popcorn texture hop feel, then growing slightly into greenery touched bitterness. It is never particularly heavy, but it does make sure that the beer is recognisably in the IPA range.

For weaknesses of the beer, and I’m not sure if this is just due to travel time to the UK, but the hops can feel a tad muggy, which is an aspect that doesn’t work well with the creamy smoothness and easygoing style of the rest of the beer. It does lead out into a kind of buttery shortbread style finish, which does work ok, so a reasonable trade-off, but one of the weaker elements of a good beer.

So – generally good – not a huge range, but works well with what it does. The hopped banana milkshake of the beer world. Feels like the beer take on a banana cocktail, albeit hopped rather than sugar shock styling – which works for me . Good times of soothing and chilling in the sun styled beer.

Background: Ok, it is no secret that I am a touch of a leftie. So, yeah the rise of the far right has been worrying the shit out of me. So, I must admit the concept for this beer touched a cord with me – a beer hoping for a shift to the left. Now, let’s face it – a beer isn’t going to change the world, but it is nice to see people standing up. Anyway, now I’m fairly sure a chunk of my readers are not lefties, and that is fine – I can accept difference of opinion – it is the massive levels of hate that come with the alt-right (aka fucking Nazis), EDL (Aka bigoted shits), etc that worry me. So, as long as you are not a bigot or someone who shits on the poor, etc, I’m cool with you. Also, yes I know the extreme left can have worrying views and acts as well – however since right now I am more likely to die by being impaled on a unicorn horn than them get anywhere near power, I’ll hold off worrying about that to another day. Anyway, this was grabbed from the Brewdog guest beer shop. Also, lovely metallic style art on the label – absolutely wonderful to look at.

Lawman: Elixir: Zig-Zig-BA: Sherry Halliwell (Scotland: English Strong Ale: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Murky, hazy blond to peach skin. Virtually no head. Rim of bubbles and a thin dash of grey for a head.

Nose: Musty hops. Sour grapes. Peat smoke and bacon. Sherry. Soaked raisins. Sour stewed apricot. Very slight prunes. Fudge. Vanilla.

Body: Vanilla. Quite light texture, slightly watery when cool. Menthol. Sherry trifle. Light citrus undertone – pineapple. Cherries.

Finish: Menthol. Ash. Oatmeal. Raisins. Musty hops. Slight liquorice. Sweet pineapple. Smoked meat. Lemon cakes. Sherry trifle. Hopped bitterness.

Conclusion: Ok, this doesn’t work (Spoiler warning by the way!) but I respect the direction it is trying. It is just, well, it is a bit of a mess, but an ambitious mess. I’m not going to disrespect that.

This has a lot of vanilla laden throughout it – almost enough to suggest it was Bourbon barrel aged, rather than its chosen sherry ageing; but that is soon dispelled by big sherry trifle coming through clearly afterwards. In fact lots of sherry notes hit – with sherries and spice throughout. Underneath that there is some cloying hop character, in a slight citrus styled pineapple coming floating through. The hop character is kind of muggy though – that kind that can get old fast, and doesn’t deliver the fresher notes very cleanly. I think it is due to ageing the beer – time in the wood has given added complexities, but has worn out the pleasant sides of the hop character pretty quickly. Odder still this has smoke and sulphur stylings – moderately used, not heavy – but possibly in a kind of charred woods style? Any which way it gives a sulphurous real ale on tap touch to this.

All sounds interesting, no? What makes it a mess rather than an enjoyable beer is the slightly lighter texture – it is just slightly thin and watery. Not hugely so, but it means that the sulphurous element feel heavier than they should, and the musty hops are given too much emphasis. It interferes with what should be a complex rich ale. The sherry notes, the vanilla, all of them would benefit from more grip, and the sulphur and muggier hops would be mellow background notes with a heavier ale and so would work better.

A beer that aims for the stars, and with a thicker beer may have succeeded. I respect that, but it didn’t really work. Ah well.

Background: So, a Spice Girls reference. Huh. At this point the standard thing would be to bash the Spice Girls, but feh they did well for themselves with some harmless pop. Can’t really get too worked up about it. I think my music snobbery has worn off with old age. Enjoy what you like and all that, even if it isn’t my taste. Anyway- they call this beer a KK ale – a mostly forgotten beer style – which seems to be a heavily hopped, higher abv blond ale. So, that intrigued me, and a bit of Sherry Barrel ageing intrigued me more. So I grabbed it. Another Independent Spirit beer – got some other establishment beers coming up shortly. Decided to go with some appropriate music for this; So, of course, with this being Spice Girl linked, I was listening to Ihsahn -After. Real brain breaking stuff.

To Øl: Sur Sorachi Ace (Denmark: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon yellow to apricot. Very large mounded white froth head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Light cheese puffs funk and wheat. Flour. Lemongrass. Brown bread. Pepper. Bready in general.

Body: Sour. Sour dough. Lemon-juice. Lemongrass. Marshmallows. Brown bread. Dill pickles.

Finish: Flour. Cloying bitterness. Sour cream. Lemon-grass. Dill pickle. Slight charring.

Conclusion: Ok, maybe Sorachi Ace doesn’t go with everything. Which is a pity. I still hold that a single hopped Sorachi Ace barley wine would be awesome – but apparently the hop doesn’t suit a sour pale ale. Pity. Anyway, despite how I just opened the notes, this isn’t a bad beer. I just don’t think that Sorachi Ace added to it that well is all I am saying.

The base is still pretty nice – a tart sour character mixed in with a quite bready grounding. As I found with my experience with Sur Mosaic they have the base sour pale down pat – it is bit charred in the finish, which can be a flaw sometimes, but just about fits in here.

The issue then is that the lovely lemongrass, bubblegum and dill pickle flavours of Sorachi Ace kind of get lost in here – it is already quite sour lemon and slight pickle to the base so instead of the hop adding, you just end up with the vegetable kind of notes of the character, and less of the cool stuff. You still get some lemongrass, but generally what shines through here is the (admittedly good) base. The slight greenery just takes away from that. It is far from a bad beer, as To Øl know their shit – but even as a Sorachi Ace fan I have to say it doesn’t fit well here.

So, solid beer in execution of the concept – but the idea, or at least the hop choice, lets it down. Despite that I can still enjoy it for the quality of the base beer and will probably experiment with more of the sur hops range to see which hops work better.

Background: I love sorachi ace. Seriously love this weird hop. I had a very good experience with my last Sur * beer from To Øl – so this was definitely one to try. A soured pale ale, single hopped – what is not to like? Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while putting on some heavy duty Meshuggah for enjoyment. It is worth noting there is no name on the front of this beer, just a bunch of sperm looking lines. The only place you find the name is in the description on the back. Which doesn’t seem to have been done for the rest of the range. Odd.

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