Archive for February, 2018


Big Drop: Lager (England: Low abv Pale Lager: 0.5%)

Visual: Very pale yellow to grain. Thin white head. Not much carbonation.

Nose: Water. Some soft citrus.

Body: Chalky. Woody. Watery. Slight hop oils. Slight vanilla as it warms. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Cardboard. Twigs. Chalk. Sulphur.

Conclusion: After the great Pale Ale from Big Drop (Which has become an even better beer since I did notes on it – recent bottlings have been amazing) this is a pretty big let down I am sorry to say.

So, to be fair, to get a genuinely decent lager without resorting to tricks is a hard enough task, without having to try and do it at low abv, but even with that taken into account this comes out very flat. The main notes are chalky and rough so it doesn’t have that traditional lager drinkability, nor the excellent use of texture in the best lagers. Similarly it doesn’t bring any of the subtle flavours that a good lager gets from having a long time from cold lagering. It ends up one dimension, rough, watery and without weight.

I did allow this to warm up a bit to see if that altered the profile at all. A small amount of extra flavour comes out – some vanilla, some hop oils, but it is vague and gets lost behind the rougher notes.

Unfortunately there is not much else I can say on this one – it is weak feeling and rough. I think it needs a heavy rework, or just started again from scratch to get a decent beer out of it. I hope the Big Drop crew do take another shot at it – they have shown a lot of skills in their other beers, so I figure they are up to the challenge – but right now? This is one to avoid.

Background: Big Drop are tuning out a range of 0.5% or less beers, including their great Pale Ale which I highly recommend. So I saw that they had a lager out now at Independent Spirit, so decided to give it a go. This was drunk on a bloody cold night so I actually slammed the heat up for drinking this, and I say that as someone from the north. Put on Lacuna Coil – Unleashed Memories while drinking – I prefer their old Gothic influenced days over the heavier style they seem to do recently. Good stuff.

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Brewdog: Omnipollo: I Wanna Be Your Dog (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 12 % ABV)

Visual: Thick oily black. Thick creamy brown head. Still.

Nose: Nougat. Condensed cream. Sugared nuts. Milky chocolate. Black cherry yogurt. Black forest gateaux. Vanilla.

Body: Black forest gateaux. Vanilla fudge. Black cherry yogurt. Milky chocolate. Bitter black chocolate. Bitter cashew nuts. Slight caramel.

Finish: Black cherry yogurt. Vanilla fudge. Black forest gateaux. Truffle oil. Unsweetened cocoa. Crushed peanuts. American style pancakes.

Conclusion: Damn. This is two great beers. It is the beer it wants to be and manages to be, then the beer it didn’t set out to be but also is. That was a convoluted sentence, let’s try and break that down.

The beer it wants to be, and is, is pretty good. It is intensely creamy and nougat like from the get go – heavy but not sickly. Lots of the sweet touched nuttiness, and lots of vanilla fudge. It is definitely going for the creamier, nuttier, fudge filled style stout and does that well. That is enjoyable, but if that was the only beer it was then I would be disappointed. By itself an overly fluffy, milky style stout can end up feeling like you a drinking a glass full of marshmallows while trying to play a variant of the fluffy bunny game.

Then there is the beer that it did not intend to be but it is – and this is what makes it special. A black-forest gateaux to black cherry yogurt beer. This is more emphasised up from, letting the creamier notes take centre stage later as it fades.

Thus, I am a fan – up front the cherry meets cream comes across as a balance of bitter chocolate, dessert styles against savoury and sweet nuttiness – and this balance last pretty much to the end of the beer. Near the end the creaminess does become over done – but you can counterbalance that by holding the beer in your mouth longer and letting the bittersweet balance come out – it just takes more work than normal.

So, a bloody good beer – lots of depth – eventually seems to move away from its best points and makes it an effort to get back that beautiful balance but it is still possible. Depending on how you like to try your beers that may be an acceptable trade off or not, but for me it is very impressive.

Background: This is described as a whisky barrel aged coffee pecan mud cake stout. I figure of all of those, the only parts actually used in making it is the oak ageing and possibly the coffee. I couldn’t read most of the can as it was in Swedish, so I am guessing. Yes, I know I could have typed it into google translate, but I am feeling lazy today. At least I’m honest on that. Anyway, Brewdog have had a bit of a rough patch recently but are generally very good brewers – Omnipollo generally knock stuff out of the park, so hopes were high. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was grabbed directly from Brewdog’s store. Due to “I Wanna be your dog” sounding vaguely S&M themed I put on some Genitorturer again. Also because that band is ace.


Robinson: Beardo (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clean gold. Good amount of small bubbled carbonation. Thin mound of an off white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pine fresh spray. Lime. Cardboard. Cake sponge. Wood polish.

Body: Sulphur. Some hop character. Popcorn. Cardboard. Kiwi. Cut apples. Malt drink. Solid bitterness. Slight chalk.

Finish: Kiwi. Vanilla toffee. Cardboard. Nettle tea. Some tannins. Gritty bitterness. Charring. Sulphur. Brown bap rolls.

Conclusion: What is it about otherwise good breweries turning out really dull and uninspiring IPAs recently? Though at least this one is recognisable as an IPA, even if it is not a good one. It has bitterness but just in a cardboard and charred way – it has hop character but kind of gritty and rough in that.

This follows through into the malt – kind of dull, some vanilla and some dull malt drinks. The fruit hop flavours that you would expect of a craft IPA are there in a green fruit way, but very underwhelming. The entire beer has a sulphurous touch in an old British IPA way, but without the rest of the British IPA notes that make that work.

It feels like a British IPA style, trying to do the USA style hops without changing anything else and therefore not getting the point of either. It is dull, flawed and rough edged. Admittedly still a better IPA than Indie Pale Ale, but like that has a lager feeling edge that weakens it, again without gaining any of the benefits of that style.

This is a genuinely bad beer – it takes the weak points of everything it is inspired by and puts in in one beer. It isn’t isn’t utterly ruined from the brewing standpoint – but from the combined elements it has that don’t work it becomes a very bad beer. Genuinely avoid this one.

Background: This was a birthday gift from my mate Tony. Many thanks. Even though it is shit 🙂 He did also give me other, not shit, beers. Robinson’s are generally a good brewery, but never really struck me as craft, so I was in mixed mind about this, obviously craft inspired, beer. Not much else to say put some No Doubt on while drinking. That is about it.

Burnt Mill: Green Path (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Apricot, mix of clear body with hazy streaks throughout. Large yellow mound of a head. Some hop bits floating within.

Nose: Woods and pine needles. Floral. Good hop feel. Moderate bitterness. Moss. Dried apricot.

Body: Good bitterness. Pine needles. Resin. Dry. Dry grapes. Dry mandarin orange. Soft notes of toffee. Dried apricot. Flour. Light custard. Soft lemon.

Finish: Light charred oak. Solid bitterness and hop character. Drying. Flour. Sulphur. Moss.

Conclusion: This is pretty dry, pretty good hop character and has a solid bitterness. All of that is a good start for an IPA – especially the west coast style. Whoop!. It has got the base concept down well – the question is what garnishes it manages to add to the dish to take that beyond that.

It starts off with quite a floral, flour touched character in the aroma – lots of outdoors imagery and flavours coming in with this one. It is interesting but not quite blowing me away. Now this beer has an awesome hop selection – but it seems to bring its notes in subtly. The fruit notes are very dry, and with it comes the drying bitter character.

It feels like a beer that I really want to like as it gets the base so well done – so drying yet with just enough tartness to not make it painful to drink. It has only the tiniest hint of sweetness against the bitterness but again good enough to offset it. It is just the rest of the beer doesn’t quite pay off that base.

In fact, the name “Green Path” does seem appropriate to sum up the beer – the greenery and moss like notes grow over time, feeling like a more earthy and grounded UK take on an IPA matched to the west coast style. Fascinating, but that doesn’t make it a must drink for me. There aren’t many flaws – the hop remnants left in the beer were a surprise on the pour, and made it feel a tad bitty near the end – but for the most part it is less that it has flaws, but that it doesn’t quite make the most of what it has.

Lots of talent went into a beer that doesn’t quite click for me **Shrug** make of that what you will.

Background: Listed as a “Citra and Mosaic IPA”, some reviews online list a cask version as “Citra, Mosaic and Enigma” So I’m guessing they have mixed up the recipe for the canned version. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit – Burnt Mill was voted best new Brewery in England 2017, so I thought I really should check them out. This is listed as a West Coast leaning IPA, which is a style currently oft overlooked in the New England craze so I figured it was worth giving a shot. I put on some Genitorturers to listen to while drinking this – heavy hops deserve some heavy, out there industrial metal music.

Brewdog: Abstrakt AB24 (Scotland: Baltic Porter: 12% ABV)

Visual: Deep brown to black. Light toffee brown creamy head.

Nose: Brown sugar. Clotted cream. Bitter coffee. Dry roasted nuts.

Body: Treacle. Milky chocolate and cream. Sour cream. Bitter coffee. Pecans. Nettles prickle. Roasted nuts.

Finish: Sour cream. Milky chocolate. Pecans. Brown sugar. Clotted cream. Hop oils. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: I’ve often tried to work out where Imperial Porters differ from their close cousin, Imperial Stouts. Now we have this – an imperial strength Baltic porter. That is just trying to make me confused. It is different, but I guess it is one of those you know it when you see it kind of things. However I think this is a good example for me to take a run and and try to elucidate the differences.

The coffee is dominant – creamy and milky but still bitter. This tends to be a good tell that you are dealing with some kind of porter in my experience, rather than the weightier bitter coffee notes I tend to find in an Imperial Stout.

The other real stand out difference is a savoury to sour cream thickness – It has similar thickness to an imperial stout, but without as much dominance of the sweet character. Much more grounded, though with some sweet notes around the edges.

Now, that isn’t to say that there aren’t separate sweet notes – there is a real brown sugar character – but the base is roasted nuts, thick sour cream and coffee. The sweetness feels more likely to come out as a slight sweet pecan nut character than anything else.

There, in this particular case this is how an Imperial Baltic Porters stands out from an Imperial Stout – which will help you not a jot with any other example, but I tried, right?

Anyway, that said this is delivered very smooth, with strong hints to the abv in alcohol feel not burn – they match with the thick, heavy sour cream notes so actually don’t seem too out of place here. It results in a well delivered beer, well made, but the more savoury notes are a tad over emphasised for my tastes, so it isn’t always for me. Still, I appreciated what it does, and being so well made means I can enjoy it despite that.

So – well made, a good example of the style, not 100% for me.

Background: Wasn’t quite sure if I should list this under Imperial Porter, or Baltic Porter, or go the whole hog with Imperial Baltic Porter. Went with Baltic Porter in the end. Not for any particular reason beyond the fact it is such a little used tag. I was intrigued to find out, on googling to make my mind up, that a Baltic porter generally uses lager yeast, or cold fermented ale yeast. Huh, never knew that. May be worth mentioning at this point that, as always, I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This Baltic Porter is made with coffee and brown sugar. I grabbed this directly from Brewdog’s shop and was drunk while listening to some of the over the top sound of Mclusky.

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.

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.

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