Archive for April, 2017


Brewdog: Hop Fiction (Scotland: India Style Lager: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Small amounts of carbonation. Large white, mounded solid head that leaves suds.

Nose: Floral. Coriander. Light bitterness and hoppy character. Wheaty. Orange zest. Light lemon. Slight carbonation.

Body: Dry. Slight lemon cake. Some bitterness. Slight granite. Moderate hop levels. Some toffee to caramel if held. Light brown sugar.

Finish: Some bitterness. Cardboard. Good hop character. Lemon cake. Light orange notes.

Conclusion: You remember those “Backyard Brew” beers from a while back? Beers from a large brewer trying to pass themselves off as a faux craft kind of thing? Well, if you had handed this to me blind and told me it came from them I would not have been surprised. Not to say that this is terrible, but it is so very meh, which is a bad sign. Incidentally, unlike 99% of the population I am actually quite fond of the word “Meh”. Just some random trivia for you.

Anyway, like a lot of the early beers Brewdog did after moving to their new brewery, this feels over attenuated and too dry – losing what should be a refreshing lager character and instead giving slight cardboard notes and granite. So, a few definite down sides to this beer are immediately obvious.

On the up side this does have a fairly solid bitterness and a mix of light lemon and orange notes. A lot of the early brews at the new site also had massive loss in hop character as they dialled in the recipes, so it is good to see that this did not get hit with that problem on rebrew.

However, even the original version of this – going by vague memory – was only ok but not world shattering. This, more attenuated version, means that the positive notes are far from enough to make it a beer I can recommend. Not terrible, but when a faux craft brewer is turning out a better larger than yours, you have a problem.

So – not similar enough to the original brew to be worth it for nostalgia. Not good enough by itself to be worth grabbing. Just meh. Meh. Meh. Meh. So, cannot advise buying.

Between this and the terrible rebrew of 6% abv Punk IPA it really feels like not much effort was put into these rebrews. A great dissapointment.

Background: Was wondering what style to put this under lager wise, so I gave up and checked ratebeer – turns out they now have decided India Style Lager deserves its own category now. Since they managed to resist calling it an India Pale Lager like every other IPA variant name, I have no objection to this. Anyway, this is a rebrew of one of Brewdog’s original three beers which I grabbed from their online store. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. I had tried Hop Rocker back in the day, but not much and never got around to drinking it. Mostly grabbed Punk IPA back then. Speaking of Punk IPA, they also did a rebrew of the original 6% abv Punk IPA. It was terrible, far too over attenuated – looked like they hadn’t tweaked brew times and recipe to make it work with their new kit. So, I was a tad nervous if this was going to be shit as well. Drunk while listening to a bit of “Hate In The Box” – nice kind of electric punk goth mash up in feel.

Kinnegar: One for Ronan (Ireland: Saison: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Caramel to chestnut brown body with a massive browned mounded head that leaves suds.

Nose: Malt drinks. Crushed peanuts. Cinnamon and orange skin. Perfume. Mild ground chocolate. Very milky coffee.

Body: Soft lemon and lime. Light cream. Rustic feel. Good bitterness and gritty hop character. Chestnut mushrooms. Smooth base. Malt drinks. Peppery. Very slight sweet sugar cane.

Finish: Peppery. Wheaty. Cornflakes. Moderate bitterness and light gritty feel. Soft lime. Charring. Malt chocolate drinks. Nuts. Slight yeast funk. Very slight sweet sugar cane.

Conclusion: An odd mix of several varied Belgian characteristics here in this beer. The smooth Belgian texture that is used well in a wide range of Belgian beers. The more rustic saison notes which match with a light peppery character. Then finally a level of hop prickle and bitterness that … is actually fairly odd for Belgian beers, even their more bitter beers don’t tend to express it in quite the new wave prickly bitter style like this does.

It keeps things interesting I’ll give it that.

Despite mentioning new wave hopping styles above, the best way I can describe the resulting mix is like a smooth Belgian saison meets a British best bitter. The hopping is prickly, but the overall feel of Belgian style meeting that bitterness is that kind of heavy and solid Best Bitter style, but with a bunch of Belgian twists.

The main flavours are in that robust middle – good bitterness, peppery spice, malt drinks and such. Nothing too unusual but well delivered. However there are some soft creamy citrus notes in there as well – more so early on, as he bitterness rises during the beer’s lifespan they end up pushed to hints around the edges. There is also a bit of the fun Belgian style with yeast characteristics in there giving light esters to a mild as can be sweet cane sugar touch. Not the most complex set of notes but covers the base set of bitter/sweet/etc pretty well. It more uses that varied set of textures to keep things interesting rather than the flavour.

So – it isn’t a classic – but it feels like a very polished remix of the saison and the bitter. It adds a few twists to each by matching them with the other, and it ends up more than the sum of its parts. A solid drinking pint for the pub, with a lot more to it than that term may indicate. Basically, the next level of a solid standby drinking ale.

Background: A beer brewed in memory of Ronan Walsh – I have to admit I do not know who this is but will raise a drink to their name. Was unsure on beer style for this – the label says “Belgian Amber” but also refers to it as a saison. In a pinch I’ve gone with Saison even if it is a tad atypical for that style. This was grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer section and drunk while listening to some of The Kominas. Not much else to say at this point. Enjoy your drink!

Douglas Laing: Big Peat (Islay Blended Malt: No age statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale grain touch and with hint of brackish green.

Viscosity: Very slow thin puckering.

Nose: Lightly medicinal but clean. Salt and moss. Light alcohol air. Peat smoke. Water makes slightly harsher medicinal but cleaner alcohol with more moss.

Body: Beef. Vanilla and toffee. Light chocolate to praline notes. Salt. Crushed nuts. Peat. Light alcohol air. Water makes smooth – caramel and fudge notes. More water makes slight golden syrup.

Finish: Peat smoke. Smoked beef slices. Light cherries. Chocolate. Salt. Lightly medicinal. Nutty. Water makes more beefy and peaty.

Conclusion: The odd thing I find with vatted malts is that, unlike single malts or standard blended whisky, they often can work best without water. It is a miracle! I guess since they have more room to design the exact nature of the whisky it may be easier to get just the balance they want.

Anyway, that is to say, this is a good whisky with water, but best tried neat.

This is, well – not a simple whisky, but a fairly straightforward whisky if you get the difference. It seems very clean, but despite that a typical Islay style on the aroma. Not heavily done, smooth as vatted malts often are, but balances the peat, salt and medicinal notes.

The body is the biggest difference from an Islay single malt – it is very sweet for an Islay. Most Islay have some sweetness, but this has a thicker toffee, caramel or even fudge character depending on the level of water used, and behind that some chocolate notes mixed in there. A much more solid base in the sweetness. From that the peat, beef smoke and salt that the Island is famous for seem much more well contrasted and a smoother experience because of that.

So, why do I say it should be drunk with no water? Well, without water it feels more intense and – despite the alcohol being slightly noticeable – it still seems less harsh in the medicinal notes that with a little water. Now, if you add a lot of water, rather than a little water, then it gains the caramel character and becomes very smooth indeed in all things, however that comes at the cost of a lot of what you came here for – the peat. So, yep, without water is the way for me.

Now, on that note, for something call Big Peat it is, well, moderate peat on the Islay scale. So, not one in you want it super intense and peaty. However as a smooth, balanced, sweet and peaty whisky it is very good. So, not as super intense as the name suggests but that does not make it bad in any way at all.

Background: Had a few run ins with this one, first at a tasting session at Independent Spirit, then a Douglas Laing tasting at The Hideout. I never had my tasting note kit on me though,I was going for more social nights out at the time. So now, finally I get to do my notes as Independent Spirit kindly donated a measure of it for doing some notes on. Many thanks. This is an Islay vatted malt made with Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and the closed distillery Port Ellen whisky! It was drunk while listening to some Meshuggah – hard music for heavy peat. Also drunk after watching some new Doctor Who, so in a generally good frame of mind. Also, because we are childish, at the first tasting note we were amused by the idea of having some of Big Peat in our mouth. Also we were drinking, which may explain it. Also that works better when said rather than written down.

Mikkeller: Drink’in Berliner Yuzu (Denmark: Berliner Weisse: 2.7% ABV)

Visual: Very pale lemon to grain. Very large white head that laves lace. Clear. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Musty fruit. Slight fruit syrups. Stewed peach and apricot mixed with tart white grapes. Fresh. Light menthol. Peppermint. Dry lemon juice.

Body: Fresh and lightly tart. White wine and juicy grapes. Stewed peach. Vanilla. Light squeezed lime. Light acid at the back of the throat.

Finish: Light acidic apple to cider. Tiny chalk touch. Lime cordial. Slight dry oak. White wine.

Conclusion: You know, generally I don’t add anything to a berliner weisse beer – if it comes neat, I take it neat. If it comes with fruit, obviously I have it with fruit. The thing is, the level of soft syrup and fruitiness they have used here does such a great job of muting the harsher edges, while adding complexity to the base beer that it makes me rethink that policy. If I can come close to this by adding syrup to a standard berliner weisse then maybe I should start looking into that.

This is a very interesting beer, with a very white wine style at the base – which reminds me of how the Belgian sour beers, the lambics, are often describes as the wines of the beer world. Obviously this beer is after that title. It has a similar dry character matched with sweet grape fruitiness. On the subject of fruit, I have only tried a few Yuzu related drinks, but what it seems to add here is a set of slightly tart grapes, lemon and lime squeezed citrus notes and a soft strewed fruit character. I think. Some of that is probably the base beer.

Anyway, a mix of the expected berliner weisse, white wine and a mix of sweet and tart fruit makes this a surprisingly easy to drink beer. A light level of tartness and acidic that makes it refreshing, but never reaches a level that would be harsh for any but the most sensitive taste-buds.

At under 3% this is a great summer refresher – Drink in the sun series indeed! Not a world beater for complexity, but gives it a good go – and fresh, flavoursome, low abv and satisfying.

A spot on summer beer.

Background: I love Mikkellers “Drink in the” series. A bunch of very low alcohol, high flavour beers. Now, this one is not as low as some of those sub 1% abv beers, but still definitely in the session range, so seemed an easy one to pick up from Independent Spirit. As a beer it seems mix of two odd styles – “Berliner Weisse” – a sour beer from Germany, often mixed with syrup to take away the sour character, and Yuzu a fruit with which I have had but a little experience, but what I have had has been fascinating. Anyway, for such a light beer I went heavy with music – Metallica: The Black Album. Just because. This was drunk after listening to a few Philosophy Bites podcasts, so I was feeling fairly chilled.

Cloudwater: DIPA v13 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy apricot colour. Large yellow white mound of bubbles for a head.

Nose: Tangy. Hint of gherkin. Apples. Slightly musty. Light raspberry.

Body: Thick and creamy. Slight gherkin. Stewed banana. Big peach. Tart raspberry if held. Toffee backbone. Hop oils. Tangy. Slight pineapple. Vanilla yogurt.

Finish: Raspberry pavlova. Tart. Light gherkin. Apricot. Low level bitterness. Bready. Banana sweets. Vanilla yogurt. Chinese stir fry vegetables.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a mix of the great, and the kind of shit. An odd combo. So, erm, here goes. This has a real thick texture – heavy duty and gives a good grip to the flavour. The malt base comes with some toffee character, but is generally a neutral creamy to vanilla yogurt style. Basically something to give room for the hop flavours.

So, onto those hop flavours – well, there is nearly zero bitterness here. A bit unusual for an IPA – even the fruitiest and sweetest tend to have at least a tiny touch of it in the body. Here the only sign is in the bready finish – with some hop oils giving a sheen to the feel, but not a bitterness. Generally this is a bitterness free zone. So, yeah very unexpected for an IIPA.

Ok, so we have a solid base, and a slightly unusual start. Where is the kinds shit stuff I mentioned? The gherkin. The slightly tangy, sour, vegetable gherkin notes. It is very intense early on, especially when first poured – but is still present in a diminished form by the end of the beer. Now, this is an element that can work in beers, but has to be used very carefully. Here it just makes for an uneven, overpowering element that stamps all over the fruitiness the beer has underneath it. I can see what they are trying to do – it feels like it is aiming for a thick, almost crushed cannabis, muggy strength – but in my opinion it severely hurts the overall experience.

Underneath that there is a sense of good stewed fruit and peach melba. Lightly tart in a good way this time – very creamy and moderately sweet. The beer is mostly good in what it does but that one, greenery packed heaviness just makes it one that I really cannot get into at all, instead feeling even sludgy at times. It ends with an almost stir fry veg air – another off note in a beer that felt like it had promise otherwise

I really hope this is not used as the base for any of their new DIPA range.

Background: Had a few of the Cloudwater DIPAs over the past year – didn’t really keep up to date with trying them all as they came out so thick and fast. This one however is their last prototype one off release before they setup a regular line of DIPAs based on what they found out from these. So, thought it may be worth giving another, final go. Unlike some people I have no negative attachment to the number 13, so have no probs with this being their 13th release. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Ulver: Childhoods End.

Brewdog: Paradox Rye (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15% ABV)

Visual: Black. Short lived brown creamy head that settles to a loose bubble dusting.

Nose: Milk chocolate. Tiramisu. Bourbon. Caramel. Crushed rye crackers. Praline. Crushed walnuts and coffee cake.

Body: Bitter chocolate and coffee cake. Smooth. Low alcohol character. Caramel. Vanilla fudge. Cocoa dust. Slightly bready. Bourbon comes out as it warms.

Finish: Coca dust. Rye crackers. Crushed peanuts. Chocolate cake. Coffee cake. Crushed walnuts and pecan pie. Spirity air. Bourbon.

Conclusion: This has been less influenced by the rye bourbon ageing than I had imagined – at least at first. Initially the alcohol feel, and bourbon feel, in this is pretty low. Alcohol warmth but that is about it on that side.

Instead it is very smooth – chocolate cake and coffee cake styled luxury imperial stout. A lot more nutty that previous Paradoxes though – which I presume is a more subtle piece of influence from the time in the oak.

Strangely there is very little of the big vanilla notes that you tend to get with American oak ageing. Even as the beer warms, and a bourbon air comes out in the finish, it is more subtle than usual. This finally revealed oak ageing influence seems a mixed blessing. It gains a slight spirity feel as it warms. I prefer this sort of thing to feel integrated into the beer, while here it seems to float as a separate note rather than part of the beer itself. Also, for all the beer seems to gain a good nuttiness, in general the beer feels like a very smooth base Paradox separate from those spirity notes. There are comparatively few added elements outside the bourbon air.

So, a mixed blessing, but still a blessing to have spent time in the oak. The oak rest has made it smooth as hell, and the base notes are emphasised in exceptionally good ways because of that. Praline for the chocolate, rich for the coffee cake, and the aforementioned great range of nuts. Very good – it just feels like it needs either less oak influence to ditch the spirity air and indulge the luxury, or more oak influence to add more complex layers to justify the spirit air.

So, not perfect, but a very luxurious smooth imperial stout. Feels like either a great example of what you would want from an unaged imperial stout, or a slightly weak take on an aged one. Make of that what you will.

Background: Ok, we all know the drill by now – big imperial stout. Aged in barrels – in this case Rye bourbon. As always I am not an unbiased actor in Brewdog beer. Grabbed from the Brewdog store. Think that covers the usual stuff. Despite being canned now, this still comes in a presentation box. Which seems a bit of a waste of material, and looks a tad silly. I used to be up for the more fancy things around beers, when they were used occasionally for really special stuff. They are used for so much these days the novelty has worn off and it just looks like an unnecessary waste of resources. Wanted some simple but heavy music for drinking this – so shoved on some Obituary. Nice, heavy and guitar led. Job done.

Mikkeller: Nuclear Hop Assault (Denmark: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Apricot skin colour. A lot of carbonation. Hazy body and thin off white head.

Nose: Nettles. Greenery. Lime. Dried apricot. Dry. Slightly rocky bitterness. Heavy hop feel. Closed and musky. Dried passion fruit.

Body: Solid bitterness. Greenery and hop oils. Nettles. High levels of gritty hop character. Dried apricot and vanilla. Dry body. Light brown sugar sweetness. Tart lemon sherbet. Tart orange juice.

Finish: High hop oils. Heavy bitterness. Heavy hop character. Vanilla yogurt. Dried apricot. Dry in general. Slight squeezed lime. Pineapple air. Orange juice.

Conclusion: Ok, this lives up to its name – it feels on a hop level akin to 1000IBU but with a much drier, less malt led body against it, resulting in an overall harsher, hoppier and heavier beer loaded with bitterness.

Initially that is all you get. Hop oils, harsh bitterness and harsh hop character. Lots of it expressed with greenery and prickling nettles. With nothing to intrude into that bitterness it does hit hard. Not a beer for a lot of people then – but for hopheads you have to respect how it delivers raw hop bitterness with nothing in the way, without feeling just rough and undrinkable.

Time does give it another layer – but only just. So, let’s be plain. It is still a brutal hop bomb – but now there are a few other elements struggling to get out there. The first one noticeable is a dried apricot note -which matches the dry character well, and meshes well with the bitterness. The next few are more contrasting – lemon and orange notes, and a pineapple air – all which freshens the beer oh so slightly. It gives nothing near the freshness of, say, a New Zealand hopped IPA, nor the fruit level of the fruit smoothie style IPAs that are so popular these days. It just adds a little extra, a touch to take the edges off.

Without that extra note this would be an interesting, but only try one, assault of a beer. With the extra notes? Well, I think for most people this would still be try once – it is rough edged and unbalanced. However for people, like me, who have become a tad blasé due to over exposure to high hop levels – this is very nice. The dry character gives it some extra punch to surprise without making it utterly one note, or undrinkable.

So – not a super flavour range – but, there is definitely something here for a masochistic hop head. In a lesser brewer this would be undrinkable shit. From Mikkeller, it just about holds together.

Impressive and intense. Not for everyone, but achieves its goal well.

Background: Ok, this is called Nuclear Hop Assault. An IIPA made with Hybrid hops. From Mikkeller who made the awesome 1000 IBU. There was no way I was not going to try this, was there? Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – This was drunk after catching up on some Progress Wrestling – they have seriously got me back into Wrestling in a big way over the last few years. So in a fine mood for an intense beer. I wanted equally intense music so put on Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip’s Repent, Replenish, Repeat. Utterly brilliant album with the haunting Terminal being a stand out amongst many great tracks.

Omnipollo: Buxton: Original Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie (England: Fruit Beer: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice look with a thin white head.

Nose: Freshly squeezed lemon and traditional lemonade. Meringue. Milk touch. Apples. Squeezed lime.

Body: Tart lemon juice and lemon curd. Apple pie. Sugar dusting. Very fresh. Thick texture under the sharp front. Cream. Lime cordial. Tart grapes.

Finish: Lemon juice and pancakes. Squeezed lime. Peach and vanilla. Cream. Toffee ice cream syrup.

Conclusion: This is fresh, very fresh – lemony as all get out – yet despite that it is not overly acidic, nor sour as you would often expect with that fresh kind of lemon flavour. It is actually sweet, while still keeping that freshness and surprisingly creamy under the sharper front.

Not that lemon is the only note here – there is plenty of tart lime elements, and even a few sweeter fruit notes such as peach and apple. However, lemon definitely dominates, with lime as a close second. Anything else is way down the intensity list.

It is decent -fresh faced and pretty easy to drink. Not quite lemon meringue for me, nor quite ice cream – but there are enough calls to it that I can see why they picked the name. It is creamy, and as mentioned, very much lemon.

It isn’t the most complex thing though – shoot, barring the thick mouthfeel I would understand mistaking this thing for fruit juice. Alcoholic fruit juice admittedly – they don’t 100% hide that alcohol, but still fruit juice.

So, aye, super complex it ain’t. One for examining it ain’t. For something easy going, easy drinking and refreshing – sure! It is sweet, creamy and fresh – hits a lot of the instant satisfaction buttons there. So an immediately satisfying, tasty and fun beer – but with no depth under the surface. Good for a warm day, good for when you want to enjoy a beer but not get too deep into it.

Background: Ok, this is actually a beer that was conditioned with lemon juice. Huh, did not realise that – the bottle ingredients only list barley, wheat, oats and lactose – so I was surprised to find it listed as a fruit beer. Guess it explains how they nailed the lemon flavour so well. Anyway, I grabbed one of the ice cream series (easily recognisable by the walking poo on the bottle) tail end last year – so when I saw this one back in Independent Spirit it had to give it a go. Both Omnipollo and Buxton are rock solid breweries in my eyes, so a good background to this one. This was drunk while listening to Ritualz CDR. A haunting weird set of electronica I have not broken out for a while.

Talisker: Storm (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: No age: 45.8% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Medium streaks.

Nose: Tarry peat smoke. Dried beef slices. Honey. Peppery. Noticeable alcohol. Sulphur. Charred oak. Cigarette ash. Water adds more smoke, salty rocks and caramel. Slightly floral.

Body: Smooth – caramel and custard. Alcohol if held. Tarry. Dried beef slices. Red cherries. Water makes more caramel and more tarry notes. No alcohol evident now. Peppery. Even more water increases the caramel.

Finish: Bready. Peaty. Some moss. Malt chocolate. Red cherries. Dry. Water adds salt, charring and mild chocolate cake. Fudge. Peppery.

Conclusion: Quick summary – with no water, meh this is ok. With water – oh yeah, this is what I am looking for. Either way, the aroma tells you exactly what is coming.

The aroma is tarry, peaty and evident from way across from the glass. I could pickup the first notes while still doing the photo shots at the start. Lots of thick notes here, but without the harsh or medicinal notes that an Islay would have in a similar whisky.

Neat it is fairly smooth – if held too long alcohol does develop, but generally nothing too heavy. However when neat the flavours doesn’t hold half the weight that the aroma promises – it is generally more dominated by the smoother caramel notes. There is some rounding – some dried beef slices and interesting cherry notes, but really lacking the tarry thickness of the aroma.

As I have been indicating at the start, water really does the job here. The alcohol is all smoothed away – a slight island salty and rocky character gets added to the smooth caramel base. More importantly the bigger notes promised come out – peppery, thick, tarry. It is still smooth bodied but now with a weight of flavour which then leads out into a chocolate and fudge finish that is matched by peat and salt.

It feels like it takes all the benefits of a harsh Islay, strips the harshness and adds it to the traditional island Talisker complexity.

Another stormer (ha-ha) of a whisky from Talisker.

Background: The final of a pack of three Talisker miniatures grabbed from Independent Spirit. This one is described as a more intense flavours take on the standard Talisker. Which sounds good by me. I was a bit nervous as I know either Storm, or Dark Storm has a really bad reputation. But, since I couldn’t remember which I tried to not let that influence me. This was drunk while listening to Ulver: The Assassination of Julius Caesar again. Still getting used to the very different nature of it, but good background drinking music.

Wild Beer Co: Smoke ‘n’ Barrels: Winter (England: Smoked Dubbel: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin dark brown dash of a head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Sulphur and eggs. Lightly acidic. Bready. Malt chocolate. Smoke. Brown sugar. Creamy banana. Slightly dry.

Body: Sherbety feel up front into smoother back. Smoked meats. Brown sugar. Banana notes. Malt drinks. Slight chalk. Light tart grapes. Blackpool rock. Slight chocolate. Slight liquorice. Slight dry vinous influence.

Finish: Caramel. Smoked bacon. Hints of black cherry. Brown sugar. Light liquorice. Slight cherry pocked biscuits.

Conclusion: I came to this with a mix of nervousness and anticipation. Anticipation as Wild Beer Co’s Smoke beers have been improving with every release – and, better still, dark beers tend to carry smoke better in my experience. However there was nervousness as well – Liquorice seemed to be mentioned quite prominently in the description, and too much liquorice can really hurt a beer for me.

Thankfully the liquorice influence here is a small backing and rounding note. Instead this gives us something soothing, in a similar fashion to the chocolate and brown sugar touched Belgian dubbels but with a drier, slightly vinous base. This then has just a touch of Flemish bruin style being added to the mix. It results in an interesting mouthfeel and subtle cherry and tart grapes roundings to a very solid base.

The smoke, coming in as a sulphur to smoked bacon character is again a rounding note – giving extra weight and body to the beer. It is evident, but does not dominate. It feels a very balanced beer, all things considered. It even brings some banana and other fruity Belgian ester notes into the mix giving a lighter touch dusted over.

Probably could do with a touch of ageing – it can feel a tad chalky and fizzy at the moment, though that does settle to a smoother feel if held on the tongue for a moment. Any which way, could be polished with a few years I feel.

As it is it is a solid Dubbel, with lots of little tricks that make it atypical. Not an instant classic, but good, and I think it may have room to grow.

Background: I got an automated phone call today it said “With it being winter it is the perfect time to”. I have no idea what it said next. I hung up. Mainly because fuck automated phone calls, but also because it is Spring. If they get literally their first point wrong, why should I trust anything else they say? Anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying I finally got around to drinking the winter edition of Wild Beer Co’s smoked beers. I may have taken a while. It was a high abv dark beer, it was hardly like it was going to go off. Anyway this is *Deep breath time again* a Dubbel style beer, but with smoked malt, aged on liquorice smoked tart sloes in foudres that previously held red wine. This had been grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Bikini Kill. Only found out about them recently – angry and awesome music.

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