Archive for August, 2021


Urban South Htx: Triple Spilled: Strawberry, Banana, Vanilla, Cheesecake (USA: Fruit Sour: 6% ABV)

Visual: Pink, cloudy strawberry milkshake look and colour. Utterly opaque. Even the head looks like loose, large bubbled milkshake head that leaves pink sediment clinging to the side of the glass.

Nose: Strawberry milkshake. Tart grapes. Vanilla toffee. Cheesecake. Banana milkshake. Creamy.

Body: Thick and creamy. Tart white grapes. Banana milkshake. Slight acidity at back of the throat. New York style cheesecake. Tart kiwi. Syrupy feel under the milkshake mouthfeel.

Finish: Strawberry milkshake. Green grapes. Banana milkshake. Cheesecake. Kiwi. Apples. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Toffee cheesecake. Sour apple sweets. Sour cherry sweets.

Conclusion: Ok, this legitimately should not fucking work. For one thing it looks exactly like a milkshake.

I poured it, it came out looking like a milkshake, pour and all, even down to the large bubbled head that leaves sediment on the glasses’ edge. Everything looked like a milkshake.

This is a milkshake.

Or is it?

Well, let’s look at the flavours. Flavour-wise you can tell pretty much what you are going to get just by looking at the words on the can – banana (in a milkshake style), strawberry (also in a milkshake style), tons of vanilla (Oddly, not in a milkshake style, a much more pure vanilla to vanilla toffee style). There are very clear cheesecake notes (in a cheesecake style, New York cheesecake style). They aren’t lying to you at any point here, and it is stupidly creamy and edges close to painfully sweet.

Now, this is when things get weird. In the aroma there are notes of tart grapes. Not unexpected, this is a fruited sour, for all the extra ingredients and grapes aren’t unheard of in milkshakes. So unusual but not shocking. However then you start sipping things start going off the rails. Up front it is all creamy milkshake, then, nestled at the core is a syrupy feeling, slightly sour, acidic hit at the back of the throat, green fruit filled sour beer. Which sticks around long enough to confuse the hell out of you then sink back into the creaminess.

The sour side is much thicker than your usual, drier sour beer style, packed with a very syrupy feel, but still, yep there is an actual sour beer nestled away, like a bear hidden in a cave. HOW?

I mean I presume bears hide in caves. I may not have researched that one. If they don’t, then substitute a cave hiding animal.

Also, how do you have a sour milkshake and it doesn’t just like curdled milk that has gone off? HOW?

So, is it any good? Fuck knows what good even means here. I’m having a laugh, I can say that, but this possibly the least beery beer I have had for a long time. Half milkshake, half sour beer to sour liqueur, thing.

There is no way I would drink this regularly. It is too sweet for anything short of a dessert drink, too alcoholic for a milkshake replacement, not refreshing in the slightest.

And yet…

Feck it, this is such a laugh. Somehow leans heavily towards the fruit and dessert milkshake style while still having successful sour edges. Admittedly a lot of those sour edges are like sour chewy sweets, but still.

If the intrinsic idea of it doesn’t put you off, I would say sure, give it a go, have a laugh. Have an oddity of a sugar shock sweet yet sour milkshake beer. You are probably only going to ever want to try it as a one off, a bit of fun. Just don’t expect subtlety or traditional beer character and you will probably get along with it just fine.

Background: Ok, the can lists this as Strawberry, Banana, Vanilla, Cheesecake – but I have seen a few places online refers to it as Strawberry, Banana, Vanilla Cheesecake which kind of makes sense as well. I don’t know how cheesecake even comes into this. From their website Triple Spilled refers to three times as much fruit as normal, and I’m fairly sure cheesecake isn’t a fruit. At a guess they use banana, strawberry and vanilla pods to make this, to give a cheesecake like taste, but for all I know they blended up cheesecake and dumped it in. The craft beer scene does shit like that. Also unsure of the abv as I cannot see it on the can. Beer Bruvs, where I bought it, list it as 6%, the Urban South web site lists the Triple Spilled beers as between 6 and 6.5% abv, so sure something like that. Couldn’t see a canned date for this one, so cannot say how it fits in the freshness scale – but everything else in their recent batch has been fairly darn fresh. Though it did result in this can, like all the cans of this buying batch, being very excitable when opened, but not so much that I lost any before pouring. I just needed to be quick on my feet. Went with Noctule: Wretched Abyss as backing music, just because. Hey this beer makes no sense, why should my music choice?

Lowtide: Forgot To Take My Pils (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale, clear, lightly yellowed colour. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Large loose bubbled head.

Nose: Floral. Peppery. Clean jiff lemon on pancakes.

Body: Peppery. Clean hop oil sheen. Lemon-cakes and jiff lemon. Vanilla. Lime touch. Floral.

Finish: Peppery. Floral. Jiff lemon. Good bitterness. Mild slick hop oils. Prickly hop character.

Conclusion: Ok, this is genuinely the best low abv lager that I have had. Heck it is a bloody good lager even without that qualifier.

Spoiler warning: I like it.

The big thing that grabs me about this beer is the mouthfeel. It has a clean base with more thickness that I’d expect brought in by an oily hop sheen style. There is that thickness, but not in a way that hurts the drinkability, just makes it slide down your throat in an oilier way. It has managed to avoid that empty chalky, slightly chemically tasting style a lot of low abv lagers have been cursed by, and instead works its own smooth but present grip.

It has a heavier hop character than a lot of lagers, but still in a lager way, unlike a lot of the craft beer takes on a lager. It expresses as a peppery and slightly pricky thing, and lets the base lager still show its thing. It feels like it leans towards the more bitter end of the German pilsner style for inspiration and influence.

It gives relief from the bitterness with soft vanilla, lemon and lime notes, but generally it is just rocking the gentle hop oils and solid peppery hop bitterness top to tail. Nothing too rough, so it is still very drinkable, refreshing bitter and with no tells to the nigh absolute lack of alcohol.

This is very highly recommended.

Background: Tried a few lowtide beers before, when having some low alcohol days, but this is the first I have got around to actually doing notes on them. Been pretty good so far. This was grabbed from Beercraft, who, as ever, have an impressive low alcohol selection. Was drunk while chilling out and listening to IDLES: Joy As An Act Of Resistance. Still such a bloody good album. The can has pretty detailed ingredients, which I always like – it has oats and wheat in it, and uses Saaz, Perle and Azacca as hops, plus pilsner and caramalt for the malt.

Struise: Pannepot: Vintage 2020 (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to almost black. Thin off white dash of a head. No visible carbonation bubbles.

Nose: Raisins. Plums. Very rich. Cocoa dust. Licorice. Brandy cream. Slightly dry fudge.

Body: Smooth. Brown bread. Cake sponge. Sherry soaked raisins. Bitter red wine. Bourbon whiskey. Warming alcohol. Licorice touch. Bourbon biscuits.

Finish: Dry fruitcake to Christmas cake. Glacier cherries. Raisins. Vanilla cake sponge. Watered down bourbon whiskey. Bitter red wine.

Conclusion: Shortly after finally doing notes on Chimay Blue, I return to talk about another big Belgian beer that is in the “how have I never done notes on this before” camp. It is a surprisingly well populated camp. I did do notes on the barrel aged Reserve version, but not the standard

So, having had this many a time before, I return to it, with no surprise that it turns out it is great. It opens with full on dark fruit, spirity notes, and with drier takes on what would normally be sweet flavours. The body hides the 10% abv very well. It feels heavy, sure, but always far from feeling boozy. In fact, one of my few minor complaints with this is that it can feel just slightly light early on, leaning into a smoother take on the mouthfeel in a way I associate with the USA take on the style. Now, this is only in the mouthfeel side of things, the flavours always have those delicious edges and the texture does build up over time allowing it to come up to its proper potency by the end.

The body is heavy into the fruit cake, sherry and bourbon, with a mix of other vinous and spirity touches really making it feel like a treat. Not a simple, sweet beer for that pleasure, but a rewarding mix of heavy flavours. In fact, considering the complete lack of any fancy barrel ageing going on here, this somehow manages to taste oak smoothed and spirit aged. Such an impressive feat.

The only off flavour is a liquorice light touch, which isn’t even that bad, it is just liquorice isn’t my favourite flavour in most beers – so with this being well integrated it is just the fact it isn’t 100% my thing, and that is the worst I can say here.

This is complex and rewarding in a huge way – it never takes the easy road to get there, but rewards you with an intoxicating (literally considering the abv) mix of flavours that it restrains just enough to not be overwhelming.

A wonderful, worthy, beer

Background: I tried Pannepot many a year ago, pretty early into my beer exploring days. Think I may have started the blog around that time, or maybe just before. I’d grabbed a batch of beers from a now closed shop in the Netherlands – Which, back then was one of the few ways I could get some of the hard to find beers I wanted. Things are so much easier these days, I am spoiled. Anyway on their website they mentioned De Struise and Pannepot in particular as getting a real buzz about it. Of course they were trying to sell me stuff so they would say that, but I grabbed a bottle anyway and that is how I found De Struise beers. Amazing stuff. I did a set of notes on the barrel aged Reserve edition shortly after, but never actually returned to do notes on the standard beer, though I drank it many a time. So here is me, grabbing a bottle from Independent Spirit and actually pulling my thumb out and doing notes on it. Needed some happier tunes at the time, so went with Andrew WK: You’re Not Alone. It is cheesy, and a lot of the self help sounding sentiments in the spoken pieces are bollocks, but it is such a fun rock album that I adore it.

Big Drop: Wildtrack APA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed clear body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Moderate grey white head.

Nose: Bread dough and flour. Slightly bitter. Mild sulphur. Cake sponge.

Body: Bitter. Dry. Peppery. Slight charred. Light lime.

Finish: Bitter. Sulphur. Flour. Peppery. Slightly charred.

Conclusion: Ok, just some musings before I get deep into the notes here. As you may have noticed from a lot of my comments recently that I am a huge fan of West Coast IPAs. I like them as they are slightly dry, with out of the way malt, and are nicely to super bitter and hoppy. So, why is it I dislike a lot of APAs for being too dry, bitter and with no malt offset? You would think that they would be my jam. Now there is a difference between how those elements are expressed that explains why I like one and dislike the other, but it does seem odd when you write it down.

The APA will never be my go to beer in general I guess. Though individual APAs have been amazing over the years. This beer in particular isn’t going to be the one to break the trend, though I will admit I am going back and forth on is it actually ok despite that. Not good, but maybe ok.

At its best it has a cake sponge touch, good amounts of bitterness. There is nothing special but at its best it hits the beer bitterness spot for me and that does the job.

At its worst it feels charred and peppery, with a sticky flour like mouthfeel that means the bitterness grabs to your tongue for too long in an unpleasant fashion.

these two extremes are somehow both the same beer. After balancing out the two I’m going to lean towards the “It doesn’t quite work for me” side of things. It is too gritty, too dry and empty for the bitterness to feel like it has something to work with. However, I will give it that it has hints that it can do better in there.

There are other Big Drop beers that started fairly weak, but have improved over time – I presume as they tweak the recipe and brewing process. I hope they do some more work here, as there are hints of something better they could do here with a lot of work. As it is currently though it spends too much time on the unpleasant side of things for me to recommend it.

Background: You may have noticed I have done a lot of low abv beers over this whole covid thing. Trying to vaguely take care of myself to offset how unhealthy in general I am being. Though in good news there is such a wealth of low alcohol beers coming out these days I am spoiled for choice. Big drop have been pretty good in general, though less reliably so than in their early days. Guess it is the risk of trying to do a range of stuff. Another one from Independent Spirit. Had the utterly lovely SOPHIE – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides as music to help me relax as I drink.

Drastic Measures: Road Warrior (USA: IIPA: 8.5 ABV)

Visual: Pale, slightly cloudy lemon juice. Large, mounded white frothy head that leaves suds.

Nose: Lemon curd. Vanilla toffee. Cream. Apricot. Grapefruit. Slightly sulphur bitterness. Passion fruit.

Body: Grapefruit. Tart. Resinous. Good bitterness and some hop oils. Apricot touches. Slightly sulphurous. Greenery. Gooseberry. Passion fruit. Marmalade.

Finish: Grapefruit. Good bitterness. Gritty hop character. Resinous. Dry apricot. Gooseberries. Light malt chocolate. Dry mango. Marmalade.

Conclusion: Ok, yep, this is exactly what I want from an IPA (Double or otherwise). Though initially I thought it wasn’t going to be from first encounters with the aroma. It wasn’t that the aroma was bad, it was very pleasant. It was just kind of sweet so not what I was expecting from a beer that was pitching itself as a west coast IPA.

Over time a bit of sulphur and bitterness comes out in the aroma, closer to what you would expect, but by that point I had already started sipping. So let’s jump ahead to that and see how it went.

It opens up tart, with full on grapefruit against sulphurous, resinous bitterness. A dry mouthfeel in general that is offset by the tart grapefruit notes. Over time other dry fruit notes come out,with dry mango and passion-fruit giving a thicker flavour that the dry body would otherwise suggest. The tartness is helped by some gooseberry notes that help contrast, until, at the tail end, a most unexpected dry and yet sweet take on marmalade notes give a final unexpected burst before leading out into the resinous hops in the finish.

So, the beer opens up soft and sweet, rapidly stomps on that with a tart character and dry bitterness, then roaming though dry fruit, before surprising you with the mix of sweet and new tart fruit at the end without sacrificing the dry west coast style.

If it wasn’t so expensive to drink in the UK I would be drinking this a darn lot as it is gorgeous. Which, considering the abv of this big beer, I guess I should be thankful for. The high cost of this is saving a lot of damage to my liver.

A great IPA.

Background: Beer Bruvs got a new batch of beers in recently. They specialise in smaller craft brewers in the USA, so have my interest. People who read this blog a lot may remember last time their canned on dates were very variable – which was quite a hit when you got a nine month old highly hopped IPA that was far past its best. Still, it sounded like these were teething troubles for a new company – it sounds like they got far more stock in than they could turn over quickly for a new start up. So I thought I would grab a batch from this new set and see how they did. It was much better, everything I got was between one and two months old, which is a perfectly fair time to get stuff over from the USA, especially with the current situation. So good news, hopefully will keep it up, as this is looking so much better. Anyway, don’t know much about this brewery, but it was a double west coast IPA and that was all I needed to hear. Went back to Rise Against: Appeal To Reason as backing music while drinking. Not up there with Endgame but still a good album.

Glen Flagler: 100% Pot Still Whisky – Rare All Malt (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, lightly grain coloured whisky. Very slow, medium thickness puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Crushed concrete dust. Wisp of smoke. Noticeable alcohol. Menthol to lime air. Light dried beef slices. White grapes and vanilla. With water it is still rocky but cleaner and with less alcohol.

Body: Wet rocks. Vanilla. Moderate peat. Slightly gritty. Moss. Vanilla fudge. Slight sulphur. Water makes smoother. Still mossy and gritty. Peated caramel. Chocolate eclair hard sweets.

Finish: Wet rocks. Gritty. Vanilla. Moss. Smoke to ash trays. Slight sulphur. Water makes very gritty.

Conclusion: Another peated lowland? Was this a trend in the past that I missed out on or something? Though since it seems every distillery that tried it died there may not be as much demand for peated lowland as I hoped. May be just me wanting it then.

This is slightly more rough edges than the Dunglass I tried – there is definitely a more evident youthful spirit character, even though I *think* they may be the same age. If feels kind of similar to the Dunglass but grittier, rockier and with more evident peat.

Now, this isn’t the experience the whole way through. It does open up to a sweeter vanilla fudge style over time, but even then it has a sulphur led roughness to it.

Water initially just smooths the alcohol, which is appreciated, but keeps it fairly gritty as a whole. However a touch more water brings out a caramel and chocolate set of notes, kind of like chocolate eclair hard sweets. This does mean that the higher levels of peat gives it a peated caramel style which is not something I expected to ever encounter.

Now the peat isn’t heavy, just heavier than Dunglass does it, but the smoke and rocky character is definitely the defining element here.

Since we are comparing dead peated lowlands here, Dunglass did it better. This is a bit more of a rough experience, it doesn’t really full indulge the peat, nor the smoothness of the lowland character, so doesn’t make the most of either style it wears.

It still makes me want more peated lowland whisky, it is just this doesn’t quite have the spark. A nice idea that has been done better by another (also dead) distillery. We so need a running distillery to get on this.

Background: Well, this is hard one to get information on, I have bought or been given a ton of books on Whisky over the years and the vast majority didn’t even mention this one. It is a peated lowland whisky that was made between 1964 and 1985. I saw this miniature at Old and Rare whisky and grabbed it to be able to give this dead distillery a try. This is the last of a small batch of miniatures I got from there. They are a darn expensive web site, even for what they have, but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to try these without having to buy a very expensive 70cl bottle. This is listed as 70% proof, which may confuse some people from the USA as by USA measures that would be 35% abv and so below the 40% abv minimum needed for whisky. However by UK 70% proof that is 40% abv. Confusing, yes? So now you know. There is no age statement on this, but the art matches the 5 year 70cl bottling, sooo, maybe that? Who knows. Went with Pulp: Different Class as backing music. Still good after all this time.

Kaiserdom: Pink Grapefruit (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Deep toffee yellow brown colour, with a red to pink hue that shifts depending on how the light hits it. Large, loose bubbled white head.

Nose: Slight malt toffee. Malt chocolate. Very clear pink grapefruit.

Body: Sweet pink grapefruit. Mild strawberry. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Chocolate cream. Pink grapefruit. White sugar. Chocolate fudge. Strawberry. Slightly chalky.

Conclusion: Ok, first up, this isn’t fancy. This isn’t complex. It is sweetened pink grapefruit for the most part, which is not exactly unexpected when it makes up 50% odd of the actual drink. Despite the amount of grapefruit it is not particularly tart for most of the beer, just slightly fresh. It isn’t very beer like for the most part either – with the beer character mainly coming through in a thicker mouthfeel than you would expect from pink grapefruit on its own. I’m guessing the beer is also part of what is responsible for offsetting the tarter notes you would expect from the grapefruit, but that is mainly a guess.

There is a soft vanilla to toffee character to this, which is, oddly, better expressed in this that their low alcohol hefe weizen. Go figure. Though admittedly that is a low bar to clear. There are some other notes that seem to come out from where the beer and fruit juice mix. The oddest element is a more malt chocolate character that, while rare, is not what you would expect. Less surprising but still unusual is a strawberry kind of note that is hinted at. Between them the two poke their way out at the high and low end of the beer.

As a simple shandy/radler/whatever the heck we call this, it relies on the pink grapefruit which meshes well to cover up the flaws of the base low alcohol beer and the beer adds a nice feel to the pink grapefruit. However, with that said, this is basically pink grapefruit juice that has been sweetened and mellowed. Thankfully I really like pink grapefruit and so this is for me.

Your entire enjoyment will come down to the simple question of – Do you like pink grapefruit? Is so, then this is that but with a different texture. If you are happy with basically that and just a little more then you will enjoy this as bright fun.

It is nothing more than that, but still better than the actual pure low alcohol beers they made.

Background: I wasn’t planning on doing notes on this, I grabbed a can of this at the same time I grabbed the other Kaiserdom low alcohol beers I did notes on, for something light to throw into the mix. Anyway, turned out I actually enjoyed it more than the actual dedicated beers, so decided to grab another to do notes on to reward it. Yes I can be strange some times. Grabbed from Independent Spirit like the others. I went with Svalbard: It’s Hard To Have Hope as backing music.

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