Archive for December, 2017

Wild Beer Co: Yokai (England: Sour Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Very clear, pale, yellowed colour. Thin white head. Still.

Nose: Popcorn. Flour. Peppercorns. Lime cordial. Wet cardboard. Grapes. Slight yeast funk.

Body: Tart. Lime cordial. Lightly sherbety. Light chalk. Warming peppercorn sauce. Mild chilli. White grapes. Slightly oily – eel sashimi. Slight peach.

Finish: Tangy. Slight chalk. Mango. Mild chilli. Lime cordial. Yeasty funk.

Conclusion: This is a hard one to pin down. It is lightly tart, with slight yeast funk that suggest a hint of a Brett yeast kiss, but not more than that. It brings tart fruit flavours, dryly delivered; A kind of sweet peach meets tart lime cordial kind of thing. It could be that is just me trying and failing to describe the yuzu that was used in making this. Been a while since I last ran into it, so I don’t have it quite fresh in my memory. That lightly tart, fruity note is then set against a savoury backing – slight chalky dryness, and slight chilli warming with the peppercorn character.

Everything is done gently – a kiss of yeast funk, a light peppercorn warmth, a waft of tart fruit. It is a very unusual beer, but kind of refreshing in the tart and dry mix, matched with a satisfying, well they call it umami and who am I to argue with that, kind of character. It gives a slightly oily gripping centre to an otherwise lighter beer.

Unusual and nice. Kind of gentle, but satisfying in what it does.

Background: Ok, I couldn’t find the o with a dash over it to indicate a long o sound You can see it on the can, you know where it is. We are all happy with the pronunciation, right? Ok, cool. Been grabbing less Wild Beer Co beers recently as their hit to miss ratio on experimentation has been going down a bit, but this new canned release sounded pretty cool. It is made with yuzu, seaweed and Szechuan peppercorns. Now, the can says that this beer is inspired by the Japanese folklore – but Szechuan, and therefore Szechuan peppercorns, is from China. Which is odd. Maybe they still get used a lot in Japan – I frankly have no idea. It just stood out, having had my taste-buds blown out by a Szechuan hot pot in China this year. It was bloody warm, and turns out the guide had ordered us the mildest version available. Anyway – continuing the trend of drinking beer with classic music albums, put on the collection of The Prodigy Singles for this one. Yes I’m a 90s teen. Another one bought from Independent Spirit.


Lervig: Cloudwater: There’s a Cold Beer In My Fridge And I Need A Drink (Norway: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Murky dark apricot with a massive yellow-white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Pine needles. Resin. Oily hop character. Pineapple. Vanilla and custard cream biscuits. Watercress. Wheaty air.

Body: Sticky, oily hop bitterness. Apricot. Kumquat. Soft grapes. Love heart sweets. Thick creamy texture. Peach juices.

Finish: Stewed apricot. Sticky oily hops. Solid bitterness. Moss. Raw eel sashimi. Resinous. Brown bread.

Conclusion: On first glance I rolled my eyes at this one, as this came out looking like the prototypical New England IPA. It is all cloudy and hazy on the eye, which is a nice look I will admit, and the NEIPA is not a bad style, but it is not my favourite style due to often taking a light, low bitterness take on the style which is not what I was looking for right now.

This beer quickly kicked that idea into touch. Pine needles and oily hops come out in the nose, then into sticky, oily bitterness in the body, and a solid bitter kick on the way out. This packs in all the nice alpha acids and oily hop character that I like in an IPA. Obviously if you like the low IBU, smooth NEIPA style, your mileage may vary significantly.

Beneath that the fruit is juicer and thicker than in most NEIPAs – using the creamy texture for extra mouthfeel but not tying the fruit character to a similar smoothness. Instead they give sticky stewed apricots and grapes to match the sticky hops punch for punch. There is good use of a savoury kumquat style backing and moss like notes underneath – mixed with a umami, kind of eel sashimi, hard to place kind of character – basically savoury grounding notes against a big peach syrup sweetness that adds range around the solid bitterness.

All together a great IPA – uses the creaminess of NEIPA, the “dank” hops of current popular trends, and the fruit use of a more traditional USA IPA. What keeps it from classic status is a lack of range to come out throughout the beer- it just lacks extra notes to dig into as time does on, but that is about all. Another great IPA.

Background: Ok, this was basically pressed into my hand at Independent Spirit, and I was told to grab it. So I did. Let’s face it Cloud water know their hop beers, and Lervig have a good rep – plus the can looks like someone vomiting up green. Which is nice. Always the best reasons to grab a beer. Anyway, made with rye in as well, so that is an actual thing about the beer.

Founders: DKML (USA: Malt Liquor: 14.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale brown to apricot. Large creamy bubbled white to beige head.

Nose; Vanilla. Bourbon. Condensed cream. Toffee. Crushed Blackpool rock. Raspberry yogurt.

Body: Vanilla. Fudge. Cream. Rye biscuits. Grapes. Brown bread. Peppery. Cardboard. Cherries. Brown sugar. Liquorice.

Finish: Pepper. Rye crackers. Fudge. Cream. Brown bread. Rough alcohol edge – cheap spirit. Vanilla. Slight dried apricot. Unflavoured puff crisps.

Conclusion: I am fairly sure that this is leaning very, very heavily on the bourbon ageing to make it manageable. Now, for all that, I will admit the bourbon ageing does do its job well – lots of vanilla, toffee, cream and fudges notes. That part is very well done.

The base finds it hard to peak through all that bourbon, but when it does, it does seem like more of a mixed bag. There are cherry notes, grapes and even occasion apricot elements which are good, though none are too formidable, they are all lighter, harder to find elements. On the bad side of things, well there is an unfinished alcohol sheen, a kind of rough pepper to rye crackers thing, and even the dreaded cardboard notes. Some of these are elements that can be used well, but are just a tad rough here, some is just rough alcohol notes.

Taken in small amounts it is quite appealing and better than most examples of the… style that I have encountered; There has been a lot done to make the top half of the beer quite appealing. Unfortunately in the latter half of drinking this the body starts pushing the rough edges and unfinished alcohol style into a more unenjoyable look.

An interesting experiment and half a good beer, but also half a massive failure of a beer, and together not one I would say to grab.

Background: Malt Liquor? Something I’ve pretty much only ever encountered in the USA, and, frankly, tends to be more than a tad grebby. Thus I was intrigued by this – a malt liquor by the respected Founders brewery, aged in bourbon barrels, and one that actually has a decent reputation on review aggregation sites. So, ok, I thought – let’s do the first malt liquor review of the site and hope for the best. Yet again, one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on Miracle Of Sound’s Level 8 collection of film and video game inspired music while drinking this – the guy is a genuine music maestro.

Evil Twin: Even More Coco Jesus (USA: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Creamy brown head.

Nose: Hazelnuts. Cocoa dust. Bitter black chocolate. Burnt brown sugar.

Body: Creamy thickness. Treacle toffee. Chocolate fondue. Caramel. Nougat. Coconut. Burnt brown sugar. Frothy. Golden syrup. Slight smoke and slight medicinal.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Dry coconut. Bitter coffee. Brown sugar. Treacle. Smoke. Maple syrup late on. Slight salt touch.

Conclusion: Oh hello Even More Jesus, welcome back! So, how are you? Still big huh? Still creamy and full of flavour. Cool, though it does feel a tad drier this time around – possibly the coconut notes are doing their thing which causes it – they seem to come out more natural and dry here rather than the sweeter, gooier coconut macaroon style I am more used to.

Anyway, this is still recognisably Even More Jesus – still a huge beer – the sweeter elements are more evident here, with the smoke touch and such kept until the end. Oddly, for all I love coconut in Imperial Stouts, here it feels like a weaker element. It is a little too dry, as I referenced before, not so much as to heavily hurt the beer, but it doesn’t feel like it enhances it either. A kind of natural change that seems out of place when put against the intense treacly, syrupy sweetness that is also thrown into the mix.

This, therefore is a mix of a more sweet up front, with the extra syrup notes, and a drier end as the finish finally comes out with the medicinal and smoke notes meeting the dry coconut.

Still great, but I would say not as great as the standard edition is – there is less balance between each note – something the original has down to a fine art. If this is the only Even More Jesus you can find it is still worth it, but if you can get the original, do. It is the best and fucking amazing.

Background; I keep going to place Evil Twin in Denmark, even though they are based in the USA now – it is going to take me a long while to get used to the switch over. Even More Jesus is one of my favourite Imperial Stouts of all time, and I have grabbed every chance I can to do notes on a different version of it. So, this one, made with maple syrup and coconut practically leapt into my hands from the shelf. I’m a big fan of coconut in beer, so hoped this could take Even More Jesus to the next level. Another Independent Spirit grabbed one, drunk while listening to Propagandhi – Potemkin City Limits, in my opinion easily their best album and an utter classic of punk.

Odyssey: Simcoe DIPA (England: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Large white head with a yellowed hue.

Nose: Pineapple. White crusty bread. Good crisp hops and bitterness. Light flour.

Body: Juicy peach. Brown bread. White grapes. Tart pineapple. Slightly dry back.

Finish: Hop oils. Palma violets. Brown bread. Moderate hop character and bitterness. Egg plants. Dry apple.

Conclusion: Ok, this is good, but surprisingly one dimensional. Ok, it is single hopped which may explain some of that, but Simcoe is an awesome hop and can usually bring an entire beer worth of flavour by itself. I am surprised to not see more range here.

Still, I’m opening up with too much negativity for such a well brewed beer – well attenuated to give a dry, but not drying, backing. The malt base is quite flavour neutral, just setting itself up as a well attenuated, dangerously easy to drink beer. It feels more like a slightly bigger flavoured IPA than a big malt DIPA – the mouthfeel is akin to “restorative beverage for invalids and convalescents”, and by that I don’t mean the newer version which Brewdog tinkered with and made not as good as before – I mean the sublimely awesome original version.

It keeps itself solidly fresh and with pineapple tartness for the most part. Early on there was a big juicy peach interlude which led me to expect more complexity but that was short lasting. Instead it plays the tart notes with savoury egg plant like backing and a good use of hop character – nicely bitter but without the booming bitter bite I normally expect with Simcoe.

Still, slight lack of complexity aside this has awesome dry drinkability and tart character and actually compares well with old school Restorative Beverage, even if it doesn’t quite reach those heights. Still a bloody good beer to be compared to. Dangerously easy to drink for the abv – is pretty good as a stand alone beer, and if they used it as a base to make a multi hop beer with? Well I think they could have something amazing on their hands.

Background: So, this is an Odyssey beer – yep. Hop lead which is their speciality – yep. Single hopped with the awesome simcoe hop – yep. Ok, this was a must have and grabbed from Independent Spirit as soon as I saw it. Basically I am a huge mark for Odyssey beers, so was hyped for this. Drunk while listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hyaena, an old album but comparatively new to me and I love the strange surreal sound to it.

Mikkeller: Brandy Barrel Aged Raspberry Quadrupel (Denmark: Quadrupel: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black with a thin brown head. Had a slightly purple hue on pour as it hit the light.

Nose: Raspberry. Fig rolls. Suet and mince pies. Raisins to fruitcake. Brandy cream hints. Sweet sherry. Marmalade. Crusty bread rolls. Calvados.

Body: Thick. Raspberry. Cream. Cognac. Marmalade. Tart grapes. Sherry and port. Malt chocolate and oatmeal biscuits. Apples. Stewed apricot. Raisins. Toffee. Liqueur.

Finish: Marmalade. Raisins. Oatmeal. Port. Tannins – tea. Calvados. Raspberries.

Conclusion: OK, this has a lot more beer at the base of it than the recently tried Trippelbock did, and the barrel ageing has given it a lot of spirity high points to make it interesting. Which means, unlike the Trippelbock, that as big as the raspberry character is in this thing, they don’t run the show – and the beer is much better for having that range.

I have the feeling that the base quad is slightly dry – it delivers figgy, sweet dark fruit notes, but in a seemingly a slightly dry way. I have to say “I have the feeling” as it is hard to tell with everything else that is squashed into this beer. The barrel ageing mixes with the tart fruit to crate a cavalcade of spirity expressions – from sherry, port, to apple Calvados. The mix creates so many of the high, spirity notes that I mentioned earlier. The most obvious of them is the thick cut marmalade character, a sugary sweet cognac chunk of character squatting in the middle of the beer, which I presume is the Brandy ageing. By comparison the raspberry influence seems fresh, tart and natural, offsetting the artificial feeling, spirity flavours.

So, does it work? As a quad, probably no – the base beer is recognisable, but is surpassed massively by the other elements. The artificial feeling spirity notes colliding with the tart natural raspberry take up the vast majority of the beer.

It is big, brash and … yes, enjoyable – pretty much by shoving everything in at once and hoping it works. It is about as subtle as a sledgehammer shot. It is far from a carefully layered masterpiece -more a dodgem car collision of notes- but it has character and value as that. Make of that what you will.

Background: OK, this I had to grab, a big quadrupel, barrel aged in brandy, and stuffed with raspberries. The barrel ageing is indicated by a discreet BA on the label, and the specific type is only detailed in tiny text on the back. They seem to be almost anti-advertising this. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and poured into a Westvleteren glass – I decided a huge beer like this deserved the glass. Continuing my attempt to revisit classic albums I put on Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death while drinking this. Easily my favourite of the Iron Maiden albums since their resurgence with Brave New World.

Springbank: Bourbon Wood: 14 Year (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 14 Year: 55.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened gold. Thick slow streaks.

Nose: Pencil shavings. Moss. Dry nuttiness. White chocolate and vanilla. Water adds vanilla toffee to fudge.

Body: Thick and spirity. White chocolate. Grassy. Oily character. Vanilla. Orange notes. Shreddies. Water adds lime and fudge. Still strong feel. More grassy and moss. Apples. More water adds toffee liqueur.

Finish: Menthol air. White chocolate. Nutty oils. Creamy orange. Light smoke, Water adds lime, grassy character. Peat character comes out. Apples. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: I tried this whisky first at one of Independent Spirit’s Uber whisky tastings – I was taking it easy that night so did not take any notes at the time. What I did take though was a bottle of this home with me. Ok, technically I took it home a short while later – I try not to make such purchases after alcohol has influenced my decisions.

On first sip of this, my own bottle of it, I feared that my drunken memory had fooled me – it was still a solid Springbank – grassy, mossy, smoke and hint of peat, but it didn’t live up to my memory of an excellent stand out whisky. The alcohol character gives this thick, warming, oily character that is really overwhelming and lets little of the subtlety out to play.

Still, at an abv like this has, why was I surprised? So, let us hope that water, as is usual, is the difference maker. So I added a little. Daaaamn. That was indeed, the difference maker. This is now sweeter than the average Springbank – it seems that spending its full time in bourbon wood has given a solid vanilla toffee, fudge and white chocolate set of notes that make a huge contrast to the native grass and peaty character that makes this stand out. Odder still you have this lovely apple character behind it that seems to be an element of the spirit that has not really shown itself before.

It is delightful – the slightly heavier, but not Longrow level peat character comes out now. The savoury grass notes work brilliant against the bourbon backed white chocolate sweetness. Despite me mentioning them several times the sweetness is used in a subtle way – not sickly and nowhere near overpowering the basic Springbank character. They just come together naturally to make a whisky that is very different, while still giving what makes Springbank enjoyable.

While this is not my favourite Springbank, it is probably one of the more unusual, and considering some of the odd oak casks Springbank has been aged in, that says something. It is not that it is radically showy, just that the elements come together for a very different experience – an almost marshmallow like backed Springbank thing of joy. Enjoy it if you can.

Background: As mentioned in the notes I tried this at an Uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit and was very impressed – so was at least confident that I was going to enjoy this one when I got home. Springbank is from one of only three distilleries in Campbeltown and is probably my favourite (Though I am unsure if the Springbank set, or the more peated Longrow expressions are the best the distillery turns out). This one is, as the name would suggest, purely aged in Bourbon casks which should give quite a different character. Continuing recent efforts to break out classic tunes when drinking – put on some Jack Off Jill – Sexless Demons and Scars. Such a great, angry and powerful album.

Pirate Life: Mosaic (Australia: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to apricot skin. Mild haze to the beer but mostly clear. Good sized sturdy white head. Some small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Dried apricot. Gentle nutmeg. Moderate hop character and some bready bitterness. Stewed fruit – both rhubarb and apricot stand out.

Finish: Peach melba. Dried apricot. Good hop character and bitterness. Custard. Light mint and juniper berries. Crushed love heart sweets.

Conclusion: Now this is what I like – a bit of body to my IPAs. This has a lovely creamy and fruit syrup thick body to it while avoiding that artificial syrup crystallised sugar feel. Instead it just has that oozing fruit styling, and bringing similar fruity notes with it. It takes a very thick, stewed fruit set of notes from apricot and even rhubarb, mixed with lighter peach melba like notes.

The body, while thick and creamy, feels comparatively flavour neutral. It feels like a weight attached to the hop flavour, deliberately trying not to be a flavour entity in itself – it is just happy to be the foundation and let the fruity hops do their thing.

Unlike the current trend, this also shoves up the hop bitterness to go with the hop fruitiness. Initially fairly gentle at first, letting the fruit do all the work, it rises to a good intensity while never eclipsing the juicy fruit flavours.

This is full, fruity and sense tingling with the hop kick. It really makes full use of its abv, not by showing it as burn or boozy character, but instead giving that thickness to really let the flavours grip in a way that only a higher abv beer can. A genuinely enjoyable ipa – I love it as a beer in itslef and a a brilliant Mosaic showcase. Now please don’t ruin it InBev!

Background: This is why we can’t have nice things in life. About a week or two after I bought this, InBev go and buy the brewery. Now it is possible they won’t fuck it up – however I am not holding my breath. Anyway, an Australian brewery! And one I have not previously encountered. Mosaic is an awesome hop, and I love IPAs, so this seemed like a good beer to use to check them out. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for an absolute classic of the gloomy metal genre for listening music – Paradise Lost – Draconian Times. Bloody love that album.

To Øl: Santa Gose F*** It All (Denmark: Gose: 4% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark yellow. Massive sud leaving yellow white head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Gooseberry. Light wheat. Light white pepper. Dry passion fruit.

Body: Tart. Gooseberry. Salt. Tart grapes. Slight guava. Light chalk. Dry mango. Flour.

Finish: Lime. Tart. Pineapple. Salt. Slight sweat. Wet cardboard. Guava juice. Dry mango. Dry bitterness. Flour. Slight grit. Charring.

Conclusion: So, after trying an authentic German gose earlier this year, and after trying a couple of the varied new wave craft goses that have come out recently, I find myself with this – THE CHRISTMAS GOSE!

I’m not sure what part of this makes it a Christmas beer, but what it does have is that it opens with an appropriately tart gooseberry like base that seems to be moving more towards the new wave craft interpretation of a gose, backed by soft salt, almost sweat like notes. Man the things you write that sound terrible but actually are not. Anyway, initially that salt character is pleasant but by the end the salt does become very drying in the finish.

More on that later – for now we shall look at the mid body, which is where the fruit infusion comes in. It is quite subtly done, with sweet guava and dry mango notes around the edges giving some much needed extra body. It isn’t that the main body is bad, just a little light, but still very fresh and easy to drink.

So, the first half to two thirds of this beer does the job well – tart, fruity, fresh with subtle salt over time. Then, we get that finish…

The finish starts ok, with some pineapple but also a slight cardboard touch which does not work. Then that cardboard touch becomes gritty, then charred and matched with rough, dry salty bitterness. It is harsh and feels like it works against everything the rest of the beer sets up.

Two thirds of this is a good beer, with a third of fuck no. Nearly good but that finish hurts it so bad I can’t recommend it.

Background; The censorship is on the can, not because of me – I would happily have written “Fuck It All”. In fact I just did. A beer for the Christmas period, with appropriate sentiments. I am not a total Grinch, more nonplussed than angry about Christmas – for me it is just a nice time to catch up with friends and family. Anyway, this is a gose – a salted wheat beer style that nearly died out, but has had a recent resurgence. Like a lot of the craft beer interpretations this one is made with fruit – Passion fruit, guava and mango to be exact. Picked up from Independent Spirit. I got into the festive spirit by putting on Testament – Low. Ok they have nothing to do with Christmas, so I was in the right spirit for me.

Stigbergets: Amazing Haze (Sweden: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon to peach colour. Cloudy body and thin white head. Some carbonation is visible.

Nose: Smooth hop character. Cake sponge. Peach skin.

Body: Smooth hop character and crisp bitterness. More oily hops as it warms. Soft apricot. Some greenery. Milky. Peach.

Finish: Cake sponge. Milky. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Slightly resinous. Greenery. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Short way to describe this? It does what it does well, but I want it to do a bit more though.

This is more, well, hoppy that a bunch of the New England IPAs I’ve encountered – it has a good use of the hops in the mouthfeel producing a resinous and hop oily character. It has a solid level of bitterness and generally a solid hop character all around. As a hop head I have to admit a higher level of bitterness and hop feel in an IPA definitely draws me to it, even if that isn’t really what the NEIPA style is all about.

Flavour wise is seems a bit more simple – rather than the huge range you get with the hop feel – the mix of oily, hoppy and resinous characters – for the flavour it leans into soft peach and apricot in a creamy fashion. It is nice, but feels weak against the bigger hop character. It is an ok, if not wide ranging flavour, but that is the main point that comes to mind when I say that it needs a bit more.

It needs either more range, more subtle notes, or more push of the limited flavours it does has – as tight now the milky NE fruit style can’t compete with the bigger hops.

It is a good beer at what it does, but I want more.

Background: Saw this being hyped up a bit when it arrived, hadn’t heard about it so did a quick look round and yeah, this is seriously well rated IPA online so I thought it would be worth a try – even if the New England interpretation isn’t my favourite of the IPA styles. So, grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Broke open this while listening to Rise Against: Siren Songs Of The Counter Culture – I know it catches some shit as the first time they went with a major label, but I still think it is a decent album.

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