Archive for September, 2018


Unity: Quorum Brune (England: Belgian Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Brown/ Moderate brown bubbled head with lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cardamom. Black pepper. Chives. Paprika. Very spice led. Greenery.

Body: Cardamom. Malt chocolate. Menthol touch. Liquorice touch. Light chalk. Milk chocolate. Light yeastie character.

Finish: Mint leaves. Menthol. Malt chocolate. Chives. Milk chocolate and milky coffee. Some yeast character. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This opens up overwhelmingly dominated by the spice side of things and it isn’t a good look. The cardamom notes are interesting, but intense. Most interestingly they seem to interact with the rest of the beer to create a wider range of spice notes. However, as always I feel that spice should be an element of the beer, not the whole beer as this first appears.

Time helps it find its feet. It has a gentle malt chocolate to milk chocolate body with a light dash of Belgian yeast funk. The spice is still fairly heavy. But now more mint to sage in how it comes across. The balance is better, it is still heavy on the spice but the base beer shows itself reasonably.

As a beer it seems fairly simple – malt chocolate notes, yeast funk, a little coffee late on but not a huge amount. Much as I find the spice use too heavy done, the beer really relies on it to give it some range.

So, it is an average beer that uses unusual spice slightly excessively. I’m not hating it, at least after the first few moments, but it lacks both complexity and subtlety. It seems to lose a lot of the joy that comes from the Belgian Bruin and the spice can’t fill that hole.

Background: What to list this as, ratebeer lists it as a an Abbey Dubbel but it seems a tad too low abv for that and not quite in style. Untapped calls it Belgian Brown Ale, which seems closer – I’m going with a more generic Belgian Ale for now. Bit of a cop out but it fits. Anyway, I’m always interested in other countries re-interpretations of Belgian styles so decided to grab this from Independent Spirit and give it a go. This is made with Cardamom and cocoa nibs. Drank while listening to Sabaton – Attero Dominatus, been a while since I listened and music that includes songs about smashing Nazis is always good for the heart.

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Mikkeller: Beer Geek Fudgesicle (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick with a small brown head. Still main body.

Nose: Creamy to condensed cream. Liquorice. Bitter coffee. Marshmallow. Toffee.

Body: Creamy fudge. Liquorice. Bitter cocoa. Marshmallow. Chewy. Light rougher nut character. Praline.

Finish: Cocoa. Marshmallow. Fudge. Toffee. Hot chocolate. Butterscotch,

Conclusion: Ok, this is very creamy, big, sweet, thick and …very liquorice touched? Ok, there is one element I did not expect in there. Wonder if you can guess which one?

Though in the description above I have kind of reversed the order. From the first moments after pouring the beer I was surprised that a beer with such a sickly sweet name as Fudgesicle opened with such a strong dry, savoury set of black liquorice notes in the aroma.

As you sip your way slowly through the beer it becomes easy to see how it earned its name though. – there is very thick marshmallow to condensed cream mouthfeel and flavours that create a very heavy and chewy beer. Oddly the fudge flavours are probably behind the more bitter cocoa in the list of flavours by intensity, but there is still definitely enough creamy fudge for it to earn its name.

It is also slightly savoury backed – a the liquorice grounding never really goes away. It works well at keeping the beer from becoming sickly sweet, but I will admit I would have preferred a different grounding notes as the liquorice can get wearing over time.

Now it is still bloody enjoyable – one note in the sweet flavours side of things, but very thick and well done. A simple, but enjoyable party of a beer where everything is layered over with sweet heavy creamy weight.

Not Brunch Weasel level awesome, but a creamy, heavy beer that is technically impressive in the grand scheme of things, even if not every element is to my tastes. It you want sweet boozy fun, grab it. With polish I think they could take this even beyond that if they manage to add a few layers. As is, I loved my time with it, even if it is a tad simple.

Background: So, I am a huge fan of the Beer Geek series, with Beer Geek Brunch Weasel probably still being my favourite, and still one of the best imperial stouts of all time. So, when Independent Spirit got in this oatmeal stout made with cocoa and vanilla it damn near leapt into my hands. This was done by contract brewing, rather than at their new USA based brewery, hence still listing it as Denmark where Mikkeller is based (I generally gave up listing by where it is contract brewed as that just got confusing). Put on Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance while drinking. Amazing album, a kind of Clash meets post hardcore punk with emotional openness, self respect and utter contempt for toxic masculinity. Great stuff.

Mikkeller San Diego: The G.O.A.T. (USA: IIPA: 12% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Some sediment. Large peach touched head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pine cones. Pineapple. Oily. Resinous. Light cannabis. Sage. Vanilla custard. Wheaty bitterness. Peach. Sushi rise and pilau rice.

Body: Peach. Creamy. Strawberry. Oily, resinous bitterness. Slight olives. Cake sponge. Brown bread. Light pepper.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Flour. Olives. Slight charring. Lots of hop oils. Good hop character in general. Greenery. Honey. Slight pepper and rye. Brown bread.

Conclusion: This is so very, very average. Which is highly disappointing for two reasons. The first being that usually Mikkeller blows my expectations out of the water with beers like this. The second is that this beer costs over ten quid. I expect a hell of a lot more when I am dropping that much on a beer.

I mean, I do enjoy the beer – when I say average that isn’t some passive aggressive way of saying bad, trust me on that. It uses New England style creaminess but being a triple IPA it is far more full bodied than they usually are – oily and slightly resinous to give a very solid hop backing to the main peach sweet body.

It is decent, ya know. Thick in a cake sponge kind of way with slightly peppery grounding, moderately oily and resinous in a way I would not usually associate with the New England style of IPA. In fact, if I was just going by the base texture/body/mouthfeel etc then I would be saying that this beer is very well done. It has a nice balance of savoury and sweet, spice and sponge, elements mixing for a nice balance, feel and weight.

The problem is that on top of that well done base is a simple peach and vanilla set of sweet notes that just don’t excite at all. There is no real progression, no spark, nothing I haven’t seen done better in a thousand IPAs before. It is a pity as so much is done right on the technical side of brewing – impressively done but with a very mediocre set of flavours used that do not show that impressive brewing off at all.

So, a wonderful base that does absolutely nothing with it. As a standard price IIPA I would call this worth grabbing in a pinch, but not one of the better ones. At its cost this is not worth it at all.

A great base, a very average beer overall. Lots of good ideas that I hope they use later in a more exciting and hopefully cheaper beer.

Background: You know when I bought this is didn’t know what G.O.A.T. meant. I was wondering if it was like S.P.E.C.I.A.L from the Fallout games. Anyway, I googled. It means greatest of all time, but I’m guessing most of you already knew that. My finger is on the pulse of modern culture. Anyway, while Mikkeller usually contract brews their beers at other breweries this one is from their own brewery in San Diego. Which is kind of obvious from the breweries name. I am stating the obvious here. Other obvious facts, this was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit in Bath. I get a lot of beers there. Had been to see Garbage live recently, and found a new band called Honeyblood as one of the warm up bands, so was listening to some of their stuff while drinking – nice alternative indie pop kind of stuff, light but far from empty if that makes sense.

Northern Monk: Wylam: Moobing On Up (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy opaque apricot. Large loose white head.

Nose: Peach. Apricot. Peppermint and menthol. Mild bitter hops. Hop oils. Palma violets. Resin. Vanilla.

Body: Resinous. Creamy peach. Peach melba. Oily hops. Dried apricot. Peppermint. Menthol. Grapes. Cream. Prickly hops underneath. Blood orange. Vanilla toffee and vanilla custard.

Finish: Hop oils, seeping dark bitterness. Resin. Heavy hop bitterness. Grapes. Menthol and peppermint. Blood orange. Charring. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: Ok, this is cloudy, is it a NEIPA? Or at least a Tripel IPA style of NEIPA? If so I may have to temporarily revise my opinion of the style.

From the first moments of pouring it is oozing peach and apricot notes as the aroma seeps out of the glass. There is a kind of menthol, peppermint note that I was intrigued by, but simultaneously I was worried that it would get wearing over time.

I shouldn’t have been worried – while the fresh fruit notes are accompanied by those menthol notes as we head into the body there is a lot else in there to contrast it – from cream to blood orange notes. It is very fresh and fruit up front, but it hints at resinous elements and hop oils already, elements that are going to play a much bigger part as time goes on.

The bright, creamy front sinks into resinous, oily hoppiness – a slow progress that assimilates and overwhelms the menthol notes. It lets them be interesting at the start, but moves them out of the way before they can overstay their welcome. It does keep the fruit, but builds up the oiliness, and bitterness slowly so you don’t notice until it takes the front and it is kicking your throat out. In a good way.

Then it allows the malt through, soft sweetness with toffee and such balancing the now “dank” oily hop character. In the last few moments rougher notes come in – charring and gunpowder tea – what would be off-putting if they had arrived earlier but gives just a final pep as the beer is heading out. This beer is lovely, intense and with a huge range.

It is such a fine beer, that if the bullshit tabloid articles were true, would definitely be worth getting moobs to drink (or … foobs? Hmm, that probably doesn’t work. i tried for not assuming all beer drinkers are blokes, anyway …) . I am very impressed. So much so I am tempted to imitate the can and throw an unironic dab. It is that good.

Background: I missed out on “I Like To Moob It, Moob It” – a beer taking the piss out of the ill researched articles in papers about hoppy beers giving you man boobs. It sold out damn fast, and seems to have bloody good rep. So when I saw this brewed up triple IPA version, hopped with Citra, Ella, Vic Secret, Enigma and Topaz I figured it was definitely worth a grab. Though I nearly made a mistake – with it being high abv I thought it would be ok to sit a short while before drinking, thankfully I overhead in Independent Spirit that it had a short three month best before, so managed to drink it before it went out of date. From past experience I figure the beer would be fine, but I always feel I should try and do notes while the beer is still in date, to be fair to it. Since it is the 20th anniversary this year, I put on Garbage v2.0 yet again. Bloody awesome album.

Teeling: Stout Cask (Irish Blended Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear golden touched grain colour with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Strong alcohol. Lime touches. Thick chocolate. Crushed palma violets. Caramel. Raisins. Raspberry yogurt. Spicy rum. Coffee. Water adds slight menthol note.

Body: Smooth. Caramel. Port. Cherries. Honey. Smooth chocolate liqueure. Chocolate toffee. Water adds grapes, spiced orange and cake sponge. Smoother chocolate. Praline.

Finish: Chocolate. Fudge. Trifle. Sherry. Cherries. Light oak. Milk coffee. Water adds praline and nuts.

Conclusion: So, this is the second stout aged whiskey I have tried in recent weeks, and damn this is bloody lovely. I think that this has still had rum ageing, and that may be part of what makes it so great. I’m not sure if it is that, the slightly higher abv, or what, but this has much stronger whiskey style at the base that the stout has just added to rather than being dominated by the stout. That extra bit of character from the whiskey means this is far more complex that the already nice Jamerson’s stout aged expression I tried, and this all just comes together for something special.

Up front it is honey sweet, with raisins and spicy fortified wine notes that are very recognisable as Teelings. It is a tad strong in the alcohol neat. But that is very easily soothed over with a few drops of water.

Behind that is a very smooth chocolate liqueur character – very stout like, especially the sweeter of the imperial stout takes. I’ve seen chocolate notes in whisky before, but never so clearly used in counterpoint to the sweeter, lighter main whiskey,.

It’s wonderful – easy drinking despite the slightly higher alcohol strength, even with the slight rougher elements neat, and that is perfectly sorted with a drop of water. There is that wonderful Irish whiskey smoothness and honey sweetness, but the multiple unusual barrel ageings lets it run the range from light Irish citrus notes, spicy rum notes and the dark chocolate stout notes. The spicy rum works well, with the stout it create a real rum barrel aged imperial stout character, and definitely shows the spicy extra character to the main whiskey. It feels like those rum notes act as a stepping stone between the two sides of the whisky – making what could be separate quality Irish whiskey and stout elements become a smooth progression of flavours.

Sp. basically you get the smoothness of a good Irish whiskey, the complexity more associated with the Scottish whisky from the barrel ageing, and together it works so well.

Not stupidly expensive, very high quality, highly recommended.

Background: So, I’ve enjoyed past experience with the Teeling range of whiskeys – and this one caught my eye as something a bit different – from a quick google it starts with Teeling Small Batch as the base, Irish Whiskey that has been finished in rum casks. Some casks that had been used for ageing Teeling Small batch were given to Galway to age Galway Bay 200 Fathoms Imperial Stout beer in. These casks were then given back to Teeling and Teeling Small Batch whiskey was then put back in for a final finish to gain notes from the Imperial Stout. Whew. Think I got that right. Anyway, did notes on this after seeing Epic Beard Men live, so was listening to their new album “Season 1” which you can download free from – http://epicbeardmen.com/. I’m a big fan of B. Dolan, and his work with Sage Francis here makes for some tight tunes. This whiskey was another one grabbed at Independent Spirit.

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