Archive for August, 2021


Orkney: Dark Island Reserve (Scotland: Old Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin brown head that quickly vanishes to just a rim and a dusting.

Nose: Very vinous. Very spirity. Sour red wine. Rich sherry. Alcohol soaked raisins. Rum. Honeycomb. Golden syrup cake slices. Charcoal dusting. Hot fudge cakes.

Body: Cake sponge. Light charring. Smoke. Brown bread. Bitter core. Dry toffee. Thick feel after being light for a couple of seconds. Dry rum. Sour grapes. Dry sherry. Bitter chocolate cake. Lightly sour touch. Brown bread. Dry plums and dry figs.

Finish: Bitter chocolate cake. Sour touch. Sour grapes. Sour figs. Bitter cocoa dust. Wet moss. Smoke. Dry sherry.

Conclusion: Ok, this took me a bit of time for me to get my head around. Mainly because the aroma, the body and the finish all feel massively different while still having enough in common to give a coherent theme.

The aroma is the most spirity, vinous thing you are likely to encounter any time soon. It is thick as hell, heavy, with thick sweet syrup notes and tons of the old ale style and dark fruit notes. Every element you can imagine from its description is here and huge.

So, with that in mind, on first sip I was expecting pretty similar. Instead I got a drier, bitter chocolate cake, smoke and charring thing up front. Bitter in character but fairly subtle despite its weight. Then, over time, the old ale style sourer but still thick and heavy set of notes comes out. Subtle sour grapes, but more evident than that are the dry spirity notes. Far drier in how that are expressed in the full bodied aroma, but most definitely there.

The finish flips that a bit. It still has the bitter opening but then goes heavily into the sour, old ale like notes first, before finally the dry spirit notes show themselves around the edges.

It is not an instantly rewarding mix, which is kind of why I find it so engrossing. It had my interesting instantly with the aroma, but I had to take my time waiting in the body as it slowly laid its cards out after that, making you wait for the best notes at the latter half of the beer. It is never a bad beer, still solid early on, but the best comes to those who wait.

The beer never ends up the boozy beast that the aroma promises, and I kind of miss that – it smelled like it was going to be epic, but the drier, old ale sourness meets dry spirity character meets smoke and dry chocolate cake thing is a heck of an experience, and not one I can say I have seen like this elsewhere.

This earns its reputation, just takes a short while to do so. Give it that time and you will be rewarded.

Background: I have known this beer by reputation for ages, but somehow never got my way around to grabbing a bottle. Which changed last Christmas when I had a 750ml bottle to myself for lock-down Christmas! I didn’t do notes on it then, and have meant to for ages since. So this is me doing that , finally pulling my thumb out and doing something. For some reason this, smaller bottle, stylizes the name as DRK ISLD RSRV. Maybe because they hate me. That is most likely. Anyway, this is Dark Island that has spent time in whisky casks. Makes sense. Though considering the Dark Island I tried was sub 5% and this is over 10% I’m guessing they brewed up the recipe a bit. That or it was a heck of a wet barrel and there is a serious amount of whisky in this. Which seems less likely. Anyway, I think this was one of the earlier attempts at barrel ageing beers in the UK, but I couldn’t be sure on that. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Ulver: ATGCLVLSSCAP. I wanted something haunting to go with something this big, and as always Ulver provides. Considering the album is basically live improvised remixes of existing songs it speaks highly of Ulver that it is still so amazing.

Paulaner: Weissbier Non-Alcoholic (Germany: Low alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy banana yellow body. Huge mounded white head. Lots of small bubble carbonation, but hard to make out in the cloudy body.

Nose: Dried beef slices. Crisp. Brown bread. Vanilla. Cinnamon.

Body: Vanilla. Iced tea. Light fudge. Light banoffee. Cinnamon. Thick mouthfeel. Custard.

Finish: Orange zest. Cardboard bitterness. Malt chocolate. Dried beef slices. Custard. Wheat. Teabags.

Conclusion: Dried beef slices? Dried beef slices notes in a weisse? I’m as shocked as you are, but yep, there it is. Not a heavy note but there is a savoury, kind of meaty thing that hangs around the beer. Straight up, that isn’t the best note to have – but let’s put that to one side for now, look at the rest of the beer, and then we can come back to it.

So, the beer is fairly thick, giving a good texture with quite a sweet set of toffee and custard notes, even a hint of banoffee that calls to the banana notes you would expect from a weisse, just in a more dessert way. This applies to a low of the notes – the spice comes across more cinnamon than cloves or the more savoury spice of a lot of weisse beers. It isn’t bad, just sweeter and more easy going than expected.

The low alcohol is visible, as is often the case, in iced tea like notes mid body and dry teabags in the finish. Despite them managing a good texture with what malt they had, there is no hiding that this is an alcohol free beer.

So, looping back to the start and bringing that dried beef slices back into the conversation. It is still the same – just this dry, savoury note that seems to hand around the beer. With the fairly big sweetness it doesn’t manage to intrude too much – a flaw definitely – but not more so than those evident low alcohol tells. Just something to be aware of.

It is pleasant enough, but has a lot of non beery characteristics. It does the job if it is what is available, but is far from my main choice for low abv drinking.

Background: I don’t think I’ve ever tried the alcohol version of Paulaner Weisse so I can’t make any comparison between the two, but the beers I have tried of theirs have been very enjoyable. So, anyway, I saw this as part of the low alcohol selection at Beercraft, and decided to grab it for a try. Not much else to add apart from the fact I went with a bit of a mix of erock tunes on youtube as backing sounds. Found his most recent take on Mortal Kombat Meets Metal and fell down a bit of a rabbit hole of his music.

Isle Of Raasay: Hebridean Single Malt Lightly Peated (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 46.4% ABV)

Visual:Pale gold with a touch of overripe banana skin colour. Moderate speed and thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Salt. Wet moss. Viscous alcohol. Raisins and dry sherry. Vanilla. Rye crackers. Brown bread. Touch of smoke. Alcoholic raspberries. Water makes peppery. Menthol touch and more smoke.

Body: Honey. Dry sherry. Red grapes. Strong alcohol. Slight sour green grapes. Dry beef slices into a more broth character. Fudge. Raspberry coolers. Slight dry alcohol. Water adds strawberry and more raspberries. Slightly oily.

Finish: Dried beef slices in crusty white bread. Smoke touches. Dry sherry. Touch of alcohol. Vanilla. Menthol touch. Peppery. Water brings out brown bread. Rye crackers. Slight oily. An orange juice touch. More water brings out a touch of malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Well this is an interesting one. There are a lot of different oak ageing influences, a mix of peated and unpeated and a new distillery to me here all in one package. So, how does this mix of things come out?

Well, let’s deal with the bad side of things first. There is still a rough edge to this spirit – expressed in ways that vary from a viscous alcohol in the aroma to a drier alcohol backing on the body giving a slight rough edge behind everything. I’m guessing it has enough younger spirit in this no age statement whisk to explain why it has some grain whisky like touches, which is not a good look in a single malt. None of these elements completely go away with water.

However, and this is a big however, there is so much going on here to examine. I don’t know if it maps mainly to the varied barrel ageings and is being used to overcompensate for those flaws mentioned, or it this is just part of the distilleries house character and will just expand and grow as time goes on, but there is a lot to get into here. I wonder if all their expressions with have similar complexity of barrel work or if we will ever get to see a more pure expression of the house style of whisky itself?

Anyway, Initially this has a salty, mossy, lightly smokey island character but that soon finds itself just another layer sitting on top of a red grapes and dry sherry character, which itself then opens up into alcohol soaked raspberries, sour grapes and a touch of orange. Already so much going on here. It is generally very dry, with evidence of that alcohol mentioned before but when you already have that dry spirity sherry character it seems less evident and sandwiched between the contrasting fruity character and light smoke you find it less intrusive than you would imagine.

Nothing in this whisky is very sweet – there are some fudge hints but it is more restrained in how it expressed that for the most part, and uses rye cracker and peppery notes to hold down any sweetness getting too present.

It results in a dry expression overall, with savoury notes and dry beef working its way around the core that somewhat call to a more gentle Islay . However that core is such very clear dry sherry and associated fruitier notes that this cannot be mistaken for an Islay, even a muted one.

So, this is rough edged and feels a tad youthful in places, but nestled in there is an expertise of barrel ageing that gives layers of Island salt and smoke over sherry and a dry fruitiness which is then over a peppery rye baseline and the whisky slips between and intermixes these three layers frequently.

An unpolished gem, but still high quality despite that. A good whisky as is, but my mind is on what they could do if they manage to smooth out those edges. I will keep my eye on this distillery in the future

Background: I tried the Raasay “While We Wait” a while back, which was not from Raasay, but more using other whiskies to try and express what they were aiming for. Anyway, having now tried this they are very different things, so whoops on that. Anyway, this, while not their first release, is their first regular release and I managed to grab a bottle from Independent Spirit before their stock ran out. Which it did. Very quickly. These seem to be in high demand. This is no age statement, natural colour and non chill filtered, but what makes it really interesting is the barrel ageing. This has a mix of both peated and unpeated whisky, both of which have been aged in rye whisky casks, chinkapin oak casks (I had to google that one – seems to be the new hotness of odd barrels for whisky ageing – a type of white oak native to central and eastern North America – couldn’t tell you yet what its influence is, but I am interested to learn), and Bordeaux red wine casks. That is a lot going on there. According to the box, this had a three to five day fermentation and uses mineral rich water that gives sweet blackberry characteristics before it even touches the oak. Would have to try some that had more standard ageing to be able to tell how true that is, but an interesting promise. I wanted some lovely music for trying this, so went with the ever experimental and wondrous Ulver – in this case “Flower’s Of Evil”. Probably my second favourite of their albums, and with the quality of their albums that says a lot.

Ingenious: Birthday Three (USA: Imperial Stout: 12.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. The head fizzes up but doesn’t last long. Slightly fizzy in general.

Nose: Chocolate cake. Coffee cake. Walnut. Alcohol tingle. Flat cola. Icing sugar. Lactose. Chocolate liqueur.

Body: Thick. Chocolate cake and chocolate cream. Bitter cocoa. An even thicker twist to the feel in the middle. Sweet licorice. Black cherry. Sticky toffee pudding. Light chalk. Gunpowder tea. Fizzy cola bottles.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Bitter chocolate cake. Chalk like touch. Coconut. Treacle sponge. Flat cola. Cinder toffee.

Conclusion: From the clean feeling aroma and the smooth pour I was expecting this to be a tad light in its texture despite the 12.5% ABV. I have seen quite a few imperial stouts from the USA that feel a lot lighter than the abv would suggest.

Well anyway that was stupid of me. This is sticky as heck, gripping like treacle. Odd as the beer doesn’t leave an obvious dark sheen on the glasss as you swirl it, but despite that it clings to your tongue like its life depends on it.

(Maybe it does? Maybe this beer is alive and it realised beyond the throat is a giant pit of acid. Maybe it was sapient and trying to survive. Unlikely though)

Anyway, this starts very much like the chocolate birthday cake and icing style that it deliberately evokes. However over time this gets stickier and stickier, into first treacle sponge and then sticky toffee pudding like character, all drenched in flat cola notes.

Ok, I know that sounds horrible, but it is actually ok. Not great admittedly, but ok. Still, best part of a tenner buys a lot of better than ok stouts, and this costs best part of a tenner is all I am saying.

Still, early on it is a lovely, chocolate cake tasting, slightly bitter cocoa tasting beer. That cocoa especially really helps it not get sickly early on. However as the beer grows that cocoa just can’t compete and this soon becomes sickly, and I mean really sickly.

So, yes this does manage its aim of Birthday Cake the beer at the start, and ends up sticky toffee pudding the stout. Which may be for some people. Apart from that there are slight chalky and gunpowder tea style notes that seem to be trying to rein in the beer and failing, and some intresting cinder toffee at the end.

Even at its stickiest there is still a slightly drier, more standard cake set of notes underneath, but it doesn’t manage to make that the main expression.

So, it is ok, but too sticky by far. That may be making you think “darn this is for me!” and if so, more power to you, but personally I will not be returning to this one

Background: It is surprisingly hard to find information on this beer online, so I’m going to just go with the information on the Beer Bruvs website where I bought it. A blend of imperial stout aged in Blanton Barrels, and imperial milk stout conditioned on birthday cake, frosting, vanilla beans and possibly dynamite?

I presume that last one is a joke.

I presume.

Anyway odd as hell, but sounded like it could be fun and my last encounter with Ingenious was for a similarly odd sounded beer and that was great, so decided to give it a go. From the name I guess they brewed this for their third anniversary of starting? Again very little information I could find online.

Went with a mix of tracks from Run The Jewels :RTJ2 and RTJ4 while drinking. Gave a nice bit of energy to the session.

Turning Point: Milk Foley (England: Flavoured Pale Ale: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Slightly cloudy apricot skin coloured body, that has some red hues from certain angles. Very large white, mounded head. Moderate amount of small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Strawberry. Light peppermint. Flour on white baps. Vanilla yogurt. Orange skin. Slight hop prickle but low bitterness. Light menthol.

Body: Strawberries. Cream. Crushed dry hops. Prickly. Slight charring. Nettles. Slightly dry. Gunpowder tea.

Finish: Dry bitterness. Slight charring to black pepper. Greenery. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: Have I done notes on a milkshake IPA before? Surely I must have? These things were huge and popular for a whole minute or so a while back, so I must have done notes on at least one, as much as I generally avoid them. Ok this is technically described as a pale ale rather than an IPA, but with the abv and the ingredients, it is the same darn thing.

So, if I am not a fan, why am I doing these notes? Well I am a huge Mick Foley fan so was dragged in by a bunch of references to him here, and so we have this aaaaand … eh, milkshake IPAs are still fairly shit.

The aroma is pleasant. Strawberry there in an artificial creamy way, slight menthol, and a touch of hops, but for the most part just that strawberry. Ok, it is doing the job so far.

When you start drinking the beer you get that slightly artificial strawberry again, but now against a kind of acrid basic bitterness and a charred hop character. It feels like dried crushed hops were dropped into it just before you started sipping, so you get a rough feel even though there is no sediment visible. Maybe this is what people come to milkshake pales for, but for me it just feels unfortunate artificial meets ill expressed hops.

The hops really don’t add anything useful here, just kind of greenery notes along with the acrid touch and bitterness. It doesn’t feel like it is adding anything positive you would see in a pale ale – either by itself or as a compliment for the artificial tasting strawberry and lactose

Maybe milkshake IPAs/pales are just not for me, so I may not be the best to judge this but the strawberry notes are basic, but ok – the hops feel harsh and don’t enhance the experience. No subtle hop flavours rounding it out, just bitter harsh notes with no class.

Definitely not for me.

Background: Confession time, I got this mainly because it is laden in Mick Foley references, and as a huge fan of that Hardcore Legend I was tempted to give it a try. From the pun name, to the fact the can is coloured like the flannel jacket he used to wear, to a reference to “All Mankind” in the text (one of his wrestling personas being Mankind), and the name of Cactus Jack, another persona of his, written on the base of the can, they wanted to make sure you got that it was not an accident – this is a Mick Foley homage beer. I’d tried this a while back and wasn’t too impressed due to the intrusive more harsh bitter notes, but saw it on sale in Sainsbury‘s for a large discount so thought I would give it another go. This was canned end March, so I thought maybe that would have given it some time to mellow. It is listed as a strawberry and cream pale ale and is made with lactose, oats, wheat, strawberry and vanilla. Apparently this was first brewed in collaboration with BrewYork but they aren’t mentioned on the can so I presume this is now solo brewed. After my listening to Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes more recent albums to match recent beers I went back to their first album “Blossom” for this one. Such a massive relentless album. I still love it.

Halve Maan: Straffe Hendrik Tripel Wild 2021(Belgium: Sour Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Clear, slightly hazy yellow gold colour body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized, unbalanced layers of white mounded head.

Nose: Funky yeast. Cane sugar. Brown bread. Sulphur. Cheese puff crisps. Sour dough. Pepper. Light greenery.

Body: Lime touch. Vanilla. Funky character. Cheese puff crisps. Mature cheddar. Peppery. Dry. Cane sugar. Greenery. Tart grapefruit,

Finish: Peppery. Mature cheese. Funky character. Smoke. Raspberry air. Dry vanilla fudge.

Conclusion: Ok, I know what a Straffe Hendrik Tripel tastes like. I know in general what sour beers taste like. With all that in mind, I was in no way expecting what this tastes like.

I mean, there are hints of the base tripel here – cane sugar notes, some dry fudge, but way drier than normal. This is attenuated as heck and with that has the peppery character turned way up.

Added into that is a huge amount of yeasty funk, a touch of sulphur, cheese puff crisp mouthfeel and wisp of smoke that gives a wonderful texture and style to this whole thing. This is then tarted up with grapefruit and lime like notes, and in fact a general tart yet dry freshening character that should be familiar to anyone who has has some experience with wild yeast made beers.

It makes for something that calls to the dryness of a lambic, but is most definitely not a lambic. It has the cane sugar notes of a tripel but is definitely not a tripel. It is fluffy , full textured and plays very much to showing this unusual mouthfeel, but is not limited to that. It lets some thicker, sweeter notes out, but still is led on by its dry core. There is such contrast of feels, flavours, aromas and styles that makes it fascinating in every moment to explore.

So, I love it and yes, I have one set aside to age – I want to see what this does over the years. I highly recommend it if you are into wild, sour beers but don’t want to limit your experience to just lambics. This has such good tart, funky character matched to a super dry tripel and works both to perfection.

Background: First problem I had with this is, should I list it as Sour or Tripel? It is based on Straffe Hendrik Tripel but made with wild yeast which make it sour soooo. In the end I went with sour. Sue me. Looking online it seems that there is some variance between the releases of this. The 2015 version came in at 9% as one example. Anyway, this looked very interesting so I grabbed one to do notes on and one to age for later – wild yeast tends to be amazing for beer ageing. I had the chance to visit the Halve Maan brewery while in Bruges – a nice wee tour, great view of the city from the building top, and some unfiltered, unpasturised beer available at the end of it. All nice. Not much else to add, this was bought from Independent Spirit, and I put on Nine Inch Nails: The Downwards Spiral while drinking. Yes I am in a happy mood a lot currently. Why do you ask?

Glenrothes: Whisky Maker’s Cut (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 48.8% ABV)


Visual: Very dark, deep rich gold colour. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Big. Treacle. Wisps of smoke. Tingling alcohol. Warm honey. Vanilla toffee. Cardamom spice. Nutmeg. Strawberry hints. Ginger. Cinnamon sticks to mulled spice. Apple. Gingerbread. Water adds toffee and fudge and a cleaner character. Lots of dry sherry. Grapes.

Body: Thick. Warming. Black cherry. Apple pie centres. Strawberry. wisp of smoke and dry peat. Dry meat to dry beef slices. Fudge. Cloves. Bitter red wine. Water adds lots of strawberries. Orange peel and orange crème. Treacle.

Finish: Cinnamon sticks. Cloves. Slightly numbing. Liquorice. Strawberry liqueur. Black cherry. Fortified red wine. Dried beef slices. Sulphur. Candle wax. Water adds orange crème and bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Glenrothes is often overlooked it my opinion. Despite not often being peated (to the best of my knowledge) it often has this lightly smokey, dried meat touch that I would normally associate with peat but layered into a smooth and sweet spirit. It is a criminally overlooked distillery.

This takes that base idea, and punches it out at a higher abv and a just exploding level of sherry influence. Neat it is numbing, spicy and shows bitter red wine matched with mulled spice notes, underlined by a sulphurous wax candle touch. It is utterly huge, overwhelming but delicious. There are those wisps of smoke and dried meat I mentioned before, that I could swear calls to peat use if it wasn’t for a quick google suggesting I am probably wrong. However they are made they still manage to poke their way through the bigger flavours

Water smooths it out, it is still has sulphur and wax notes but the hinted at dark fruit and sherry that was there neat now take centre stage. There are lots of strawberry and black cherry notes, lots of evident dry sherry. This feels like the epitome of a sherry bomb, sherry aged whisky and the higher abv gives lots of room for water play.

This is sticky feeling, full flavoured and full bore. It reminds me of Aberlour A’bunadh in that it can be a bit much neat, though admittedly this is more restrained and at a lower abv – however it is a rewarding roller-coaster onslaught of flavour if you stick with it.

Very sherried, very red fruit, very spiced neat – less so with water, and just a hint of smoke. Subtle this is not, but very enjoyable it is.

Background: This was a gift from a colleague at work, very many thanks! It is listed as being bottled at abv chosen by the master whisky maker, not to be confused with cask strength, but significantly higher than a standard bottling. It has been matured in only first fill sherry casks. It comes in a showy little cardboard box as you can see, with a little plastic stand inside propping up the bottle inside it for best presentation. I went with Crossfaith: The Dream, the Space as backing music – while not their best album it has a lot of raw, early album energy.

Other Half: Showers DDH Mosaic (USA: IPA: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot juice colour. Massive loose white bubbled head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Gritty bitter hops. Marmalade and orange shreds. Fresh dough. Light greenery and herbal notes. Slight sulphur. Cake sponge. Flour. Apricot.

Body: Egg yolk texture. Tangerine and blood orange. Milky. Eggplants. Nettles like bitterness. Apricot skins. Peach. Hop oils.

Finish: Bitter hop oils. Bitter Seville orange. Marmalade. Melon. Gritty, prickly hops. Slight charring. Egg plants. Nettles. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: This is the tie breaker! So far I have had one Other Half IPA that was kind of meh (Which is the one I did notes on) and one I really enjoyed (The Nelson Suavin hopped Triple IPA – Which, of course, ended up being the one I did not do notes on), So with the score at one all, I decided to grab one more Other Half IPA to see which way it fell on the quality scale. Just the one more though, these things are darn expensive in the UK, so one more is all I can justify splashing out on.

This started out well. Hmm, ok correction, after not getting much from the aroma initially – maybe due to the fecking massive frothy head getting in the way – After that, THEN it started well.

The texture is that odd, thick character that seems to be Other Half’s trademark. A thick, egg yolk feeling thing which seems to come across as either positive or negative depending on the quality of the beer strapped on top of it.

So, what does this do with that texture? Well generally orange to marmalade notes, delivered in varied ways from sweeter marmalade to more bitter orange notes. Not unexpected, that is pretty much what I expect from mosaic hops, though here it does have some edge peach and apricot like notes which were nice.

Early on it has some bitterness and hop character that didn’t mesh too well. As time goes on that element fades, which is a mixed blessing. It reduces the rough edges, but also it removes the hop character which is what I come to IPAs for. Ah well, I guess not all IPAs are aimed at my preferences and that is fine.

FINE!

There is still a nice hop oil character under there, as well as some matching bitterness, but the bitterness is not clearly defined – a kind of general, muggy bitterness for lack of a better term.

As a tie breaker beer this is not meh, but not great. It really rocks the marmalade orange and apricot notes a clear and sometimes bitter way. Very good hop use in that side of things. The eggy, thick texture is ok, so works, but the more general hop prickle and bitter hop character is ill defined and occasionally harsh here.

So if fails to break the tie as it is half way between the other two. Ok, but not great or bad. Fuck. So, not bad but not worth the high UK cost. Lovely expression of the mosaic flavours but the backing beer doesn’t quite pull it off.

Background: Other Half really have to work on making their beer naming clearer. I thought this was just called Showers but nope, there are many beers called Showers, this is Showers Mosaic Double Dry Hopped. That last bit isn’t just a description it is a name indicating this is a different beer to other Showers. Making a name clear and easy to work out was obviously not on the table here. Anyway as indicated in the main notes I have had mixed encounters with Other Half, some matching their apparently huge rep, others less so. So I grabbed this one, going for the mosaic hop as it is one I have grown a huge fondness for. I mentioned when I first grabbed an Other Half beer that it was fairly darn fresh, even now this is canned on 13/05/2021 so at time of drinking was only three months old – pretty good for getting over from the USA. As before this was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I went with Caracas: Surgical Steel as backing music, been on a general metal music kick recently which is the whole of the reason.

Coast: 7 Grain 7 Hop DDH IPA (Scotland: Low Alcohol: 0% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, hazy lemon juice colour. Thin white head.

Nose: Fresh lemon. Tart grapefruit. Light flour. Light brown bread. Light peppery. Melon.

Body: Bready. Malt drinks/ Ovaltine. Bitty orange juice. Light grapefruit. White grapes. Mild iced tea. Peppery. Traditional lemonade. Lightly wheaty.

Finish: Flour. Malt chocolate. Orange skins. Muggy bitterness. Peppery. Traditional lemonade. Lemon juice.

Conclusion: This is fairly mixed up. I hesitate to say complex, it is more that the varied flavours you encounter here aren’t ones that traditionally mesh. Though based on the name and description it sounds like they threw pretty much everything into the brew here to see what stuck, so I guess some confusion should be expected.

Early on the aroma matches the visual – light but clear grapefruit and melon. As well as that it is lightly peppery but still fairly straightforward.

When you get to sipping is when things start getting mixed up. While I do not know what the grains are used to make the beer, I have a feeling this is where they show their influence most. It is more peppery, has subtle malt drink notes, bready notes and a bit of a wheaty grip. Or at least that is the impression I get – since they are not listed I could be so way off on where these notes are coming from.

The bitterness is present in the beer, in a bit of a muggy way as nothing seems to give it the room needed for it to impact but it is still recognisably hop character and bitterness. The small orange and lemon fruit notes, and an almost traditional lemonade character come out amongst the tarter grapefruit. There is no super heavy stuff, but again it is recognisable, definitely light citrus notes that feel slightly unusual under the darker, peppery, subtle malt notes.

Still, this is full of flavour and never boring, even if it is never really coherent in the trends that its flavours follow. There are a few low abv tells here, mainly in some iced tea like notes but it is generally decent. The biggest flaw is that a lot of the flavours feel ill defined, kind of bash into each other in a muddy mess. This seems to be fairly common in IPAs I have encountered that use a lot of different hops and malts so isn’t a huge surprise here.

Still, for all its lack of focus it is tasty. In these days of great low abv beers this cannot compete with the best ones out there at the moment, but it would have been pretty impressive a few years back before the bar was raised.

Background: I had a Coast beer a year or so ago. I don’t know when exactly, time has no meaning after a year and a half of plague control. Anyway, it was ok, but didn’t grab me enough to get any more. Recently I saw Beercraft had a quite large range of their beers, so I thought I would grab one to give another try. This is that beer. They list on the can the seven hops used – Nelson Sauvin (Woo!) Sabro, Simcoe (Yay), Azzaza, Citra, Columbus and Mosaic (yay again). The ingredient list only lists barley, so no idea what they are using that side. Went back to Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ second album Modern Ruin after listening to their newer album last time. Still not grabbing me as much as the first or third album. It lacks the energy of the first, and the variety of the third, but appreciating it more these days as I get more of a feel for the band’s range.

Lowtide: Are Wheat There Yet? (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lager yellow coloured body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized white head.

Nose: Milky. Coriander. Crusty white bread. Light peppery bitterness. Slight sulphur. Orange skin.

Body: Peppery bitterness. Lightly milky. Wheaty feel. White bread. Mild bitty orange juice. Mild iced tea. Coriander.

Finish: Peppery bitterness. Dry. Slight sulphur. Crusty white bread. Mild orange skin. Coriander.

Conclusion: Ok, while this is most definitely recognisable as an American style wheat beer, the dry, clean mouthfeel actually reminds me of some of the more attenuated lagers. It is very crisp, very easy drinking and always has a nice peppery bitterness ready to kick out from it.

There is, just to mess with that, a contradictory milky character to this early on, and that milkiness returns in the finish – but in the centre, as the bitterness comes out to play it seems to push that out of the way. With that milkiness pushed away, the aforementioned dry character is plain to see, along with just a slight wheaty roughness that gives some grip to the whole thing.

The peppery character is matched notably by the coriander used to make the beer. Though the other uncommon ingredient (well uncommon for beers that aren’t wheat beers) used to make this – the orange skin – seems to be mainly coming across as gentle freshness rather than a heavy part of the beer. It is out of the way for the most part of the beer. Though I will say as the rest of the beer fades away in the finish, the orange definitely sticks around a tad longer to show itself alongside the returning milky character.

This is a really good low abv wheat – not as showy as most of the full abv wheat beers, but lovely and crisp – bitter with little subtle notes of interest dancing around. It doesn’t taste high abv, but neither are there most of the usual tells for a low alcohol beer. There is a small iced tea note but even that is integrated well, so it just feels in the lower end of a normal beers abv, rather than nigh alcohol free.

A bitter refresher with a bit of flavour to add. I’m getting seriously impressed with Lowtide’s output. If they can keep this up then they may be a new high bar for low abv beers. We can but see, but I hope so.

Background: After very much enjoying my last encounter with Lowtide I grabbed this as part of another batch of Lowtide beers from Beercraft. Since drinking that beer I did some googling and it looks like Lowtide use contract brewing to make their beers. Now, I have no idea where they make them, I will however point out they are spitting distance from the Electric Bear brewery, soooo, maybe? Who knows? I mean apart from Lowtide and whoever the brewer is. From the can this has oats and wheat in it, as well as coriander and orange peel. Nothing too unusual for a wheat beer, but still nice. I had recently picked up Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ last album, in preparation for their new one coming out soon. Very different from the super heavy style of the first album, very varied in styles but I am super enjoying it.

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