Archive for February, 2018


Lost and Grounded: Cool Bananas (England: Hefeweizen: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, lemon colour. A pale thin white head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Chocolate air. Dried banana. All bran. Wheat. Banoffee pie. Lemon.

Body: Prickly peppery feel. Pineapple. Wheaty. Crisp hop character. Chocolate toffee. Dried banana. Apple.

Finish: Pine needles. Resin. Sulphur. Light pineapple. Cooking apple. Malt chocolate. Dried banana.

Conclusion: Ok. An interesting balancing act going on with this one. It is taking the prominent characteristics of both a weisse and a NZ hopped beer and is trying to isolate elements from them, and then combine them. A noble challenge.

Most obviously, from the aroma onwards, is the eponymous banana influence, It is almost banoffee like in the aroma, though it becomes more subdued, dried banana style in the body. At pretty much any point that you come to this is will be showing some of the banana notes that a hefeweizen is known for. The other weisse nots are still there as well, the peppery spice and wheaty character. They just haven’t been pushed to the fore as much as the banana sweetness has. The difference in balance gives a mild dessert like character to the beer.

The second element is how they choose to emphasise the New Zealand notes – I tend to know NZ hops for their big tart character but that is used here in a much more mellow fashion than usual. There are pineapple, cut apple and lightly tart notes that work as a freshness against the sweeter character. The light acidity slightly downplays the sweetness, mellowing the beer, making it much more pleasant to drink in the long term.

It is nicely easy to drink, doesn’t sacrifice the weisse on the altar of hops as too many do, but also doesn’t ignore the joy that is what they can get from NZ hops. I live seeing beers that manage to do this balancing act well.

I approve – YAYZ ANOTHER GOOD WEISSE!

Background: Ok, I like New Zealand hops and this has NZ hops. I like hefeweizens and this is a hefeweizen and I like banana notes in wheat beers and this is called Cool bananas. Seems like a solid pick. It helps that Lost and Grounded are fairly cool, a chilled bunch of people working at their brewery tap-house as well. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to some Nightwish and chatting with mates.

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Douglas Laing’s Provenance Single Cask: Auchentoshan 11 Year (Scottish Lowland Whisky: 11 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very light and pale, with a slight brackish hue. Very slow streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Strawberry crème. Viscous alcohol notes. Dark Belgian chocolate. Pine cones and pine needles. Water adds peppermint, more water turns menthol.

Body: Warming. Grapes. Shortbread. Vanilla fudge. Oak. Lightly peppery. Water adds slight sulphur. More water adds creamy notes and lots of grapes. Cinnamon doughnuts.

Finish: Oaken. Pine spray. Menthol. Fudge. Strawberry crème. Water makes more menthol. Mint leaves. More water adds grapes, light cinnamon and Belgian black chocolate.

Conclusion:There are lots of different elements in this – ones I would never expect to see side by side. The most disparate elements never seem to overlap, instead you get each of the distinctly different elements coming out one after each other.

First aroma notes come out like Belgian chocolate and strawberry crème- yet the body after that comes out as tart grapes and light fudge. Then, as that goes out the strawberry crème comes back out in the finish.

On another run it was alcohol strong, piney and heavy on the aroma, going into a peppery body, then somehow out into menthol freshness in the finish. I’d like to claim that it is water, or time that makes this change – but while water does bring changes, it seems like any of the prior elements can return at any point.

So, to try and generalise a whisky that seems to actively resist categorisation – well, generally there are some grapes. Generally there are slight pine to pine cone notes. It is generally smooth but warming and generally there are some sweet notes behind that – be it toffee, chocolate of strawberry.

What is oddest, for all that is odd about this whisky, is that for all the odd notes, this does not actually really stand out as a whisky. It has the odd moments, as described above, but they all clinging around a solid but unexceptional whisky. Very contrary, no? Not bad, hard to sum up which is a value in itself. Not a must have, not one to avoid. Not bad.

Background: Yay, mini hip flasks of whisky- chances to try different experimentations without spending a vast amount on a full size bottle. It is especially nice with lowland ones like this as I can be a bit mixed on how I find stuff from this region. The Provenance lot, whisky taken from a single cask and bottled at just a tad stronger strength than normal, has been pretty solid so far. I grabbed it from Independent Spirit and put on Miracle Of Sound’s Level 8 while drinking – very cool drinking music.

Beavertown: Alvinne: Tempus: Uptown Monk (England: Abbey Tripel: 9.3%)

Visual: Deep apricot skin. Small off white dash of a head. Semi clear and still body.

Nose: Peppery. Cane sugar to brown sugar. Rye crackers. Dried apricot. Crushed Blackpool rock.

Body: Smoke. Vanilla slices, but dry. Dry lemon. Light lime funk notes. Apricot. Tart notes – tart grapes. Vanilla yogurt. Orange. Cane sugar. Champagne.

Finish: Dry cheesecake. Rye crackers. Pepper. Darkly bitter. Malt chocolate drinks. Dry lime. Tart apples. Slight yeast funk. Vanilla and lemon yogurt. Champagne.

Conclusion: Oh, there is a shit-ton going on with this beer. On the front I seems to be a simple literary conflict – peppery spice rye versus a cane to brown sugar tripel style sweetness. An enjoyable pulp tale of beer rather than an intricate layered script.

Time brings funk influence and side characters of tart lime and drier lemon yogurt notes that explore further themes of the beer. In fact the beer in general has a drier, yet tart backing character that creates layered and complex characters that accentuates that initially simple base conflict. The peppery character expands into bitterness, showing the futility of attempts to map reality linier plotting while hanging a lampshade on its own beery progression.

Dried, fruit sugar apricot comes out – giving a nod to crowd pleasing simple beers but here deconstructing that in its contrast to the complex developments below, showing both funk and barrel ageing influence in equal share rather than being shunted to sub plots as the more simple beers would do.

It does however revel in its barrel ageing, gaining a champagne character that freshens your mouth, allowing for tart grapes to join; Here the subtext of the tart funk becomes the text, the funk joining the barrel ageing to make the beer’s theme plain to all.

Hopefully the above has allowed me to explain how complex this layered beer can be, and to illustrate its character to you clearly. It is unusual, deep and one I enjoyed very much.

Background: I have no clue why I wrote the notes like this – I mean obviously I was drinking, but due to the oddity of the beer I decided treating it like a book review seemed a thing to do. I have no reason, no excuse and no excuse would be accepted. Anyway, decided to leave the notes as is an upload them because, well it amuses me if no-one else. Anyway, this is a beer I grabbed from Independent Spirit before Christmas – as a heavy rye Triple aged in white wine barrels I figured a bit more time would not hurt it. Been a while since I had an Alvinne beer, even as a collab, but this should go some small way to correct that. Drunk while listening to some Testament again, no real reason, just did.

Verdant: Putty (England: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Huge white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Dried apricot. Custard. Fluffy hops. Light bitterness. Mandarin orange. Palma violets. Purple peppers. Light hop oils and resin. Aubergine. Flour.

Body: Oily – very oily in a hop oil way. Cream. Good bitterness. Resinous. Grapes. Kiwi. Apricot. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Aubergine. Kiwi. Milk. Good hop oils and bitterness. Apricot.

Conclusion: “Oh no, not another New England IPA hidden away under the Double IPA label” I thought as I popped this one open and poured it out. Woe is me. I was not really looking for a bitterness light, creamy beer. I wanted hop kick and big flavours.

Turns out I didn’t have to worry. This is great. Or more accurately – this is aimed directly at my preferences, which, given this is my subjective opinion, works out as exactly the same thing. This is great.

The initial aroma seems lightly fruity, but not special -which continued my first impressions that this was going to be be another light side of the New England style. The first sip though … oh that kick of so much hop oils, followed by more hop oils. The bitterness here is delivered mainly through that oily character, that only slowly subsides to reveal the fruity notes.

You do get the creaminess of the NE style here, but with a ton of hop character – while it is bitter that aforementioned oily character actually makes it more manageable. It is slowly building and easing rather than the straight up punch of crisper hops.

If I had to change one element, I would probably up the fruit hop character at the back, behind the oily hops. The fruit you already have is good, but sometimes it gets lost under the oily bitterness. Apart from that this is a wonderful, oily feeling, big flavour, great mouthfeel and bitterness beer. For comparison Snake Fear is similar, but with the better range of flavour that makes it that touch above. This is still pretty damn shiny though.

Background: I nearly didn’t grab this beer. I’ve had a few verdant beers and they have been ok, but never quite up to their rep. However the people at Independent Spirit sung this thing’s praises – mentioning that it was originally a one off batch for a beer show and considered the stand out beer of the show. So I succumbed and bought myself one. Big fan of IPAs and imperial/double IPAs so this thing is right up my alley. Drunk while listening to a random bunch of The Offspring tracks – while I still enjoy them I can’t help but notice certain things such as,well, blatant transphobia in the song” Don’t Pick It Up” and similar, questionable notes in other songs. A pity, but the past is a different country as they say. Hopefully they will have changed their views over the years. Hopefully.


Nomad: Saltpan Desert Gose (Australia: Gose: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Large white head over a hazy and still body.

Nose: Sulphur. Sour dough. Lime cordial to squeezed lime. Buttery shortbread. Straw. Flour. Butterscotch.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Lime. Buttery shortbread. Light salt. Light chalk note. Butterscotch.

Finish: Soft lime. Shortbread. Light salt. Key lime pie. Slight meringue. Flour. Butterscotch.

Conclusion: First up – yes I know butterscotch is generally considered to be an off note in beer, but here it is awesome, so I’m not complaining about that at all.

What this does right? – well for one it avoids the ultra salty, sweaty sock like interpretation of a gose which is fine by me. It instead goes for a softly sweet wheat interpretation that reminds me of the varied gose of Goslar. It has soft buttery shortbread, vanilla toffee and such notes (oh and butterscotch) that give a nice, but not heavy nor sickly, sweetness.

The sweetness is counterbalanced by a light lime character that gives just a slightly fresh character alongside a slight salt – showing the gose style without ramming it down your throat. While none of the flavours are heavy, it has what feels like a kind of lactose thickness – it is still easy to drink from the lime notes, but that extra grip just makes everything much more evident without being more intense.

Together, the light tartness makes it refreshing, the thickness gives it grip and the sweetness (again, including the butterscotch – I will defend it to the end!) makes it flavoursome and complex.

This is both a good call to the traditional gose, and good at adding in that lime twist. This is like a fresh, salted, lime covered piece of shortbread. On of the best gose I have had – easy to drink, yet full of flavour and grip. Lovely.

Background: I’ve been split on the gose style – a slightly sour wheat beer made with salt and spices. Some are awesome, some taste like sweaty socks. Having travelled to Goslar last year, I found that their interpretation was much more mellow than most other ones I had run into, being much more wheat beer like than most. Anyway, saw this – from a brewery in Australia I had not tried before, made with pink salt and desert limes, and I thought this might be one to my tastes. It was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Bayley and Shinsuke Nakamura’s theme songs on loop. No I did not get bored of them. They are awesome.

Brewdog: Choco Libre (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Small dark brown head but one that froths up easily on a swirl.

Nose: Bitter cocoa. Brown bread. Chilli seeds. Slightly milky coffee.

Body: Brown bread. Chilli seeds. Milky chocolate. Light chalk touch. Bitter coffee. Light cream at back.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Chilli seeds. Bitter, roasted coffee. Hershey’s chocolate. Light chilli warmth, Pepper.

Conclusion: For an imperial stout that shoves a whole mess of damn skulls on the bottle, and packs itself with tons of ingredients, this actually feels kind of middle of the road.

Let’s address the chilli first, as that is the part you would expect to stand out the most. Well, it doesn’t do much. Now, I’m not a huge fan of chilli heat – so not being a mouth burner doesn’t bother me. However I am a big chilli flavour fan, so the lack of any real influence in that area does bother me. What we get us a light tingle character which tastes kind of light mild chilli seeds being chewed, which develops into a mild warmth in the finish. It adds savoury notes to the beer but little else.

So, onto the base beer then – not particularly thick for an 8% and up beer. It isn’t that it feels overly thin, just not particularly present. It could be the chilli – it does seem to have an odd influence on the mouthfeel. So possibly that is another (negative) influence that ingredient is having.

Apart from that there are moderate coffee and chocolate notes – not bad, not stand out. Solid but unexceptional and without a huge range to them. The savoury notes from the chilli mix with a set of bready notes that gives a solid flavour profile, if not mouthfeel.

The most unusual element that comes out is a slight sour cream touch to the chocolate – kind of akin to Hershey’s chocolate. An interesting touch, but doesn’t really lift up the beer to make it stand out.

Average, which is a disappointment – with all the extra ingredients it shouldn’t seem so mediocre. Meh.

Background: Ok, let’s open up with, as always, I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Cool, that is that done. This is an attempt to recreate a spiced Mexican chocolate drink, but in a beer, which seems cool. Looking at the ingredients it is made with oats, coffee, cocoa nibs, cinnamon and chilli and well as the usual four. Quite a set. This was grabbed directly from Brewdog’s store and drunk while listening to Ulver – Childhood’s End. I seriously love Ulver’s work, and this set of covers of psychedelic 60s tracks is another brilliant haunting set of music.

Lervig: Cloudwater: I’ve Got Pils, Now What? (Norway: India Style Lager: 5.8% ABV )

Visual: Clear pale yellow with just the lightest amount of haze. Medium white bubbled head. Initially large amounts of carbonation that soon settle.

Nose: Soft lemon and lime notes. Clean. Light hop character. Bready.

Body: Bitter. Lemon and lime. Fresh but mildly so. Peppery. Moderate hops. Mild golden syrup. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Lime cordial. Bird seed. Light bitterness. Brown bread baps. Noble hop oils. Soft lemon. Passion-fruit. Peppery. Sour cream later on.

Conclusion: You know, this is a lager but feels closer to an IPA than Brewdog’s Indie pale Ale did. Which isn’t saying much.

Ok, cheap shot out of the way, the heavy use of hop fruitiness that makes me think of an IPA with this beer also ends up giving this a very different mouthfeel to your average lager. It brings a fluffy hop mouthfeel as well as the big fruit hop flavour.

Despite that thickness of the hop feel, it does keep some of the lighter, easier drinking lager elements – it especially shows influence from its claimed pils style in a hop oil sheen that comes with it, accompanying a peppery character that nicely accentuates the bitterness of the beer.

A lot of heavily hopped lagers are good, but suffer as they feel like a weak IPA while also losing the advantages of the lager character to do so. This doesn’t entirely avoid that, in that it does kind of feel like a lighter IPA, but it manages to leverage the lager character better to make this refreshing and easy to drink.

So, not 100% a success, but very full of fruit flavour, and matches a good peppery character to the bitterness that benefits both while still keeping an easy drinking lager character. One of the better IPA/Pils style mash ups out there.

Background: Been enjoying the Lervig collabs recently – so decided to go for this one. Not done many lagers recently so it seemed like a good way to get back on that train. It seems that there is also a version of this called “I got pils, now what?” going around. I presume it is the same beer. This one was grabbed at Independent Spirit again. Decided to go with something from a smaller band to listen to while drinking this – Hate In The Box – Under The Ice. Kind of electro – goth – punk mix and nice one to return to.

Frontaal: Imperial Dutch Stout (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Small, short lived creamy brown head.

Nose: Medicinal – iodine notes. Peat smoke. Sugared pastry. Brown sugar. Doughnuts. Tobacco.

Body: Medicinal. Peppermint. Chocolate. Peat smoke. Custard doughnuts. Sour green nuts – cashews. Iodine. Roasted potatoes. Caramel.

Finish: Dry. Bitter. Charring. Roasted potatoes. Medicinal.

Conclusion: Not … not what I was expecting. This is a medicinal, iodine touched, charred and slightly peaty stout. Which if they had pitched it as an Islay barrel aged stout would be exactly what I expected. This however has not been aged in Islay barrels and tastes nearly nothing like the imagery of the waffles that were used in making it. There are some sweet notes in the centre of the beers – calls to caramel notes, but that is nestled within the heart of a very medicinal feeling stout.

As what this beer wants to be, that of a sweet waffle stout, it is a mixed bag – with a tendency towards the bad. It really does not deliver the idea of a stroopwafel in the beer. Now it does have doughnut like elements, some caramel, but generally it is a beer that leans on the harsh side of the style. So, don’t buy this beer if it is the gimmick that appeals – it kind of sucks at it, so that way lies disappointment.

Now as an Islay style beer, which it never wanted to be and has no element listed which can explain why it is so close to it, well as that it is pretty good. Lots of medicinal and smoke notes over those light sweet notes and a thick base – it is fair intense – not perfect – but definitely one I can enjoy as that.

So, to paraphrase something I once heard – This is a beer that misses its aimed for style by so much it ends up as a good example of a completely different style. Make of that what you will.

Background: OK, I grabbed this because it is a beer made with stroopwafels. I didn’t even know what stroopwafels were at the time. I just knew I wanted a beer made with them. It turns out stroopwafels are waffles made with two layers of dough and a caramel syrup like filling. Sounds awesome. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to what I consider to be one of the most beautiful albums of all time – Ulver: Shadows of The Sun. So haunting, so amazing.

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