Archive for September, 2021


Buffalo Trace: Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye (USA: Straight Rye Whiskey: 64.5% ABV)

Visual: Bright orange gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Very peppery and rye crackers touched. Stewed apple touches. Vanilla. Sour dough.

Body: Honey. Peppery. Rye spiciness. Quickly becomes tingling. Pumpkin and pumpkin spice. Oily. Water adds a strawberry touch. Slight grapes. Lots of oily charring. Orange cream touch.

Finish: Dried mango. Oily character. Smoke touch. Tobacco. Chewy. Pumpkin. Water adds tropical fruit.

Conclusion: Another very, very strong whiskey, but this handles the abv so much better than the George T Stagg before it. There is still the spice and the rye, even more so with this being a straight rye, but it manages to make room for more evident fruit notes to round it out. The mix of the spice and fruit manages to come together in a lovely synergy of pumpkin and pumpkin spice among the heavier charring and peppery notes.

Even though it does work as a whiskey neat, I will say a drop of water, and just a drop is needed, and really brings out the character. This big oily charring character comes out, with the oiliness really helping to balance the charred style, and under this thick heavy character you find more subtle notes poking their way through.

It is dark, oily, and while stealing the word dank from beer notes would be the wrong term, it calls a similar set of imagery to mind. The oiliness can however express itself as oily grape notes or even occasionally adding an oily strawberry character into the mix.

Later on an orange cream note comes out – while this is not part of the Van Winkle mash bill set it seems that orange character is still hard to avoid. Not that I am complaining. While this is very impressive, the abv of this still numbs things for me. I just don’t have a system that can handle this abv and still notice the subtleties that this may hold even with a drop or so of water to help break it up. However, even taking it as is, I’m feeling so many hints around the dark, spicy core that I feel that people who can handle the abv will appreciate more. If it wasn’t for the nature of the tasting, I would have experimented with water more but I wasn’t confident I could use the available water and not drown it.

Another utterly fascinating one, still not 100% for me as that abv is punishing but there is so much going on I very much enjoyed its massive weight of character despite that.

Background: One more time – So, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the sixth and final whisky of the evening. This, a straight rye, was the first non bourbon of the evening and with its huge abv the second that I had to add water to in order to manage to appreciated. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info on the naming background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. Thomas H Handy was the creator of a famous rye cocktail in New Orleans called the Sazerac and this is named after him basically.

Buffalo Trace: George T Stagg (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 65.2% ABV)

Visual: A darker bronzed gold, with more orange gold hints. Thin slow puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Heavy. Rye crackers. Wisp of smoke. Dry. Dry treacle. Touch. Chilli seed. Paprika. Burnt brown sugar.

Body: Thick, Oily. Gets fiery quickly. Strawberry touch. Very drying. Water adds a tiny touch more of the strawberry, Quite oily. Almost a hop oil feel but not flavour. Brown bread.

Finish: Oily. Charred touch. Spicy. Chilli seeds. Nutmeg. Mulled spice. Touch of greenery. A touch of water adds tannins and fatty notes.

Conclusion: Unsurprisingly for the abv, this is freaking massive. It has a fiery touch, which, again is not unexpected, but there is a lot more than that. When you sip it rapidly evaporates, drying and desiccating your mouth, and leaves behind a real chilli seed spicy tingling character that fires up that now sensitive tongue.

Neat it is so very harsh, with a treacle character that still comes across as very dry and spicy. So, for the first time in this tasting session’s notes I added water, and boy did it make it a lot more manageable. Now it has an oily thick feel that allows it to very mildly sooth your mouth to manage the heavy spice and burning, and so you can finally appreciate that wide spice expression more fully.

With this just a drop of water this still has really heavy, dark and charred notes, but no longer harshly so. It has as more neutral, savoury bready character at the base to work from, oiliness for the grip and the spice doing the main show. There is even an almost smoke touch, but not in a traditional peaty way, just an edge note from the spice. There are now even hints of softer notes at the edges, nothing I could quite get a grip on though. Possibly they would develop with more water, or if I had a better handle on the high abv but as it was they were just hints of more that may be there but I could not really describe.

It is formidable and challenging. In a way it feels like the Islay of bourbons. Not in direct flavour, peat or Island character but in that it has those challenging, heavy flavours that take time to get used to and are definitely an acquired taste.

More intriguing than enjoyable for me, but I can see the appeal for others.

Background: So, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the fifth whisky of the evening. While not a straight rye, this apparently has a moderate amount of rye to it, making it the first bourbon to have a different mash load of the evening – with the various Van Winkles and the Weller all starting from the same mash load out. While most of the bourbons I had neat as bourbon often doesn’t take water well, this was the first one where I had to add a drop as it was too massive for me neat. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info on the naming background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. Basically George T Stagg was a big name, so the whiskey is named after him.

Good Karma: Love That Feeling Hefeweizen (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice coloured, just slightly hazy clear body. Very thin white head.

Nose: Lemon juice. Creamy. Cinnamon. Scones with strawberry jam and cream. Scones with raisins. Slight wort mash. Fresh sour-dough.

Body: Orange zest. Lightly creamy. Cinnamon. Strawberry jam on scones. Sweetened lemon juice. Traditional lemonade. Slight sulphurous dough. Greenery bitterness.

Finish: Lemon juice. Strawberries and cream on scones. Orange juice. Traditional lemonade. Iced tea.

Conclusion: First things first, this doesn’t really taste like a hefeweizen. On the other hand it does taste reasonable. It tastes kind of like a fruity cream ale but with some low alcohol tells. Which isn’t the worst thing it could have been.

So, what elements are there that do seem hefeweizen like? Well there are lemon and orange citrus notes, albeit in a sweeter way than a traditional weisse. There is some bitterness but very gentle, also tiny hints of a wheaty character but nowhere near standard weisse levels. Similarly it is quite clear of body for a hefeweizen. It isn’t quite krystall weisse looking on the eye, but still pretty clear.

What it shows mostly though is something very different – a creamy character and the most odd scones with jam and cream style. Not unpleasant but deeply unusual. It is an enjoyable, creamy, fruity thing that seems closer to a cream ale than a hefeweizen.

There are low alcohol tells that show over time, most notable the iced tea like character. However since the beer already doesn’t feel much like its designated style, and the flavours match the thing it actually it, it doesn’t hurt the beer that much.

A bit odd, with nice and unusual flavours. A beer that manages to miss its intended style so much that it ends up as a reasonable example of a different one.

Background: This is another one from the Light Drinks batch I ordered of low to no alcohol beer. Good Karma list themselves as “We’re part of a culture shift towards a more sustainable, diverse and equal society.” I don’t know any of the details but I applaud the sentiment. They also say they “ brew beers that are made traditionally without any unnecessary fancy processes or even need any additions like lactose..” which must make it especially hard to make low abv beers, so I respect their dedication as they are really make life hard for themselves. Apart from that this is my first encounter with them so not much to add. No music this time, notes were done while chatting with friends,and sharing my thoughts on the beer live.

Buffalo Trace: Old Rip Van Winkle: 10 Year (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 53.5% ABV)

Visual: Bright orange gold, in an almost lucozade style in the light. Fast thick steaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Touch of smoke. Lots of varied breakfast cereals. Shreddies. Maize cereals. Moderate rye crackers and peppery character. Brown bread. Crushed leaves. Brown sugar. Thick and slightly musty.

Body: Thick and warming. Oily. Vanilla. Dry oak. Treacle touch. Heavy. Buttery. Fudge. Brown bread. Orange cream.

Finish; Tannins and astringent. Peppery. Toffee and vanilla. Dry fudge. Buttery and slightly fatty.

Conclusion: This is heavy. Now the alcohol is doing a lot of the work in making it so, with a more dry character up front, but then allowing the fattier, oilier notes to come through after. There is a lot about the mouthfeel and texture that it doing the heavy lifting here to make seem very different to the other Van Winkles.

It is still slightly peppery, but initially it has none of those orange notes I usually associate with the Van Winkles. Instead, behind the fatty character is a mix of brown bread and lots of breakfast cereals into a sturdy toffee and fudge character. Still quite dry in how it is delivered, thick of body and very heavy.

Like this it is very much about the feel for me rather than the flavour. The oils, the thickness, the fatty character that is all what makes it interesting. The flavours are not unusual, but that feel really works what can be done with the abv.

Finally, late on after some time to air, the orange cream notes do finally make an appearance. It seems no amount of abv can fully hide this Van Winkle note for too long.

Not a favourite of mine, but a stand out for being different from the usual Van Winkle fare.

Background: So, writing this for the second time, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the third whisky of the evening and the only Van Winkle of the set I had not tried yet. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info the background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. This is a wheated bourbon, and each of the Van Winkles use the same mash load. After trying this I had Pappy Van Winkle 15 again for the first time in years – this time I found a softness of mushy cooked apples and pear notes, and some tropical fruit I had not found before, making it a smoother thing than I remembered before.

Buffalo Trace: W L Weller Special Reserve (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 45% ABV)

Visual: Very bright gold, almost lucozade bright. Very fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Peppery spice. Rye crackers. Orange sorbet. Honey. Cream. Light milk.

Body: Honey. Honey nut cornflakes. Wheaty thickness. Lightly peppery. Smooth, but with a grip. Toffee to toffee liqueur. Cream. Orange cream. Oily. Sap. Apple notes over time.

Finish: Slight sulphur. Honey nut cornflakes. Touch of smoke. Wheat flakes. Peppery. Vanilla. Charred oak. Toffee liqueur. Grapes. Menthol and sap mix.

Conclusion: The first impressions I got from this was of a lot of spice – mainly a mix of peppery character and a touch of rye crackers. Which is more what I would have expected from a rye heavy whisky than a wheated bourbon like this. It reminds me of the Van Winkle range (for a reason that turned out not to be a coincidence as I note in the background below), even having that slight orange note to it.

That spice I mentioned is there for the whole whiskey, but it is far from the whole story. It is smooth, yet with a slightly fluffy grip that in some ways reminds me of the soft grip you get from a weissebier. I would say it makes sense but I have not encountered this in any other wheated bourbon, so I think it is just a coincidence.

Flavour wise it has a soft toffee to toffee liqueur set of notes underneath, a gentle slightly milky feel and sweeter flavours under the spice front notes. The ahem wheaty feel and pepper character makes it never completely smooth, but the toffee cream touch to the core does make it a lot smoother than most of its similar contemporaries and calls to the impressions of a far smoother whiskey.

Now, as discussed in the background, it has a lot of reason for tasting kind of similar to the Van Winkles, especially in that orange touch, but it has a lot of differences apart from that smoother character. It has a slight menthol touch that makes it fresh, and lots of honey assisting the sweetness. While it starts spice and rye, the longer you take to sip it the smoother and smoother it will get, with more vanilla, honey and finally even apple coming out for a more soothing end to the dram.

It is basically a smoother, slightly more toffee take on the Van Winkle style, but that description doesn’t do it justice. There are touches from grapes, to that creamy note. I actually mildly prefer it to a good chunk of the Winkle range. It is not as forthright, but smoother and with that character of its own that makes it distinctive.

Background: I’m going to be copy pasting the bulk of this over the next few notes, so apologies if it becomes repetitive but a lot of the info will be the same – So, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the first and allegedly easiest to find whisky of the evening. Well I guess it is easier, just that does not mean easy. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info the background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. This is a wheated bourbon, and uses the same mash load as the three Van Winkles that came after it. Apparently the main difference is that each barrel is sampled and select ones chosen for the Van Winkle range, the rest for this cheaper but still expensive on the aftermarket bottling.

Spaten: Oktoberfestbier (Germany: Oktoberfest Marzen: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow. Some small bubbled carbonation mid body and a surprisingly small white bubbled head.

Nose: Slightly gritty hop bitterness. Quite clean overall. Palma violets. Cake sponge.

Body: Vanilla. Toffee and caramel. Slight oily character and good bitterness. Cake sponge. Very light greenery. Touch of sweet raspberry.

Finish: Palma violets. Green grapes. Hop oils. Good bitterness. Slight fluffy hop character. Sweet raspberry yogurt chunks.

Conclusion: You know, while I wouldn’t say I have given Oktobetfest beers grief here on this site, I would say I have underappreciated them in my writing.

Some of that comes from the fact that I have not always been drinking and doing notes on the best examples of the style. Some of it comes from the notes that I did in my earlier days where I had less appreciation for the finer points of the varied lager styles.

Anyway, I am enjoying this. The body uses a surprisingly thick mouthfeel, with good but not excessive bitterness, a reasonable oiliness and a range of sweeter and fruitier notes that are quite unexpected.

The sweetness here was a lot more than I expected, slightly toffee and caramel in way that gives a slight extra weight of flavour to match the extra mouthfeel. This then seeps out into a fruity and sweet raspberry yogurt chunks that gives a bright end to the beer. I both really like this, and can’t have too much of it. The thickness makes it a comparatively heavy and slow drinking beer.

Though with that said it thankfully never gets too sweet. The bitterness and oily character, while not heavy, does the job just enough to balance it flavour wise. So the flavour is good, but it can’t hide the impressive weight that makes it slow drinking despite the not too huge abv.

It’s a nice range of flavour and experiences, with the bitterness and hop character always bubbling along underneath even when the sweeter notes are ascendant. This is not a favourite beer, but probably my best experience with an Oktoberfest so far, and still pretty darn good with that.

Background: I think this is my first encounter with Spaten. It is, at the very least my first set of notes from them. With that out of the way Oktoberfest is here! Ok, technically it is not, Oktoberfest is cancelled due to covid, which makes sense, but the time for Oktoberfest beers is here! Which is predominantly in September despite what you would think from the name. Spaten is one of the official six of Oktoberfest – the others being Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau and Paulaner. Of which Hofbrau is the only one I have done notes on. I really should pay more attention to beers from such a big event. Anyway, to try and set things right I grabbed this from Independent Spirit. I don’t have much German music so went with Bad Religion: The Gray Race as backing music for this as it has a German language version of Punk Rock Song on it. Yes it is a loose tie, sue me. I really should have at least one Rammstein album I could use for such things. I’ll add that to my to do list.

Nirvana: Dark and Rich Stout (May Also Be called Kosmic Stout) (England: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Black, with red hues at the edges. Still body. A thin grey dash of a head.

Nose: Musty. Wet cardboard. Wet teabags.

Body: Wet teabags. Iced tea. Nutty. Chalk touch. Mild liquid chocolate. Wort.

Finish: Wet teabags. Tannins. Lightly nutty. Slight chocolate. Wort. Mild coffee comes out very late on in the beer.

Conclusion: This is a stout? Wait, I’ll go one further, this is a beer? Wait I’ll go further, this is not considered cruel and usual punishment if served to prisoners? Going back to the first question, they do realise there is more to a stout than just being dark, right?

This is utterly dominated by low alcohol tells. There are so many tea bag notes, and iced tea tells, and even worse this generic wort mash just mehness that fills so much of the beer. Again this is in something called a stout. It feels very artificial and raw, as if it only got half way through the brewing process. Which, considering the abv makes sense, but not in a good way.

Over time you get a generally nutty character, even some melted chocolate notes, but they are pushed so far below the general wort like character that it really isn’t worth the effort to excavate them.

The wort character gives it a rough edge, that oddly even feels like an alcoholic rough edge in an ALCOHOL FREE DRINK. This is either impressive or a crime so bad it should be punishable by death.

So, erm, this barely counts as a stout so calling it one feels like false advertising. It is also terrible as any kind of beer.

Avoid it. It is shit.

Background: Ok for once I will open up with the music I listened to while drinking this, as I have since realised I 100% should have gone with Nirvana Nevermind. I did not. Instead I went with Ulver : The Assassination of Julius Caesar, which is awesome as most Ulver is. Anyway, this is another one from Light Drinks from the batch I grabbed. Not tried any from Nirvana before, but I have seen them advertise a lot of Facebook. This may or may not be a good sign. Stouts seems especially hard to do in low alcohol beers, though a day before having this I tried another stout from that Light Drinks batch that was amazing. However I did not do notes. I must try to grab another can to do. It was spot on. Not much else to add – This is listed on the bottle as Dark and Rich Stout, but everything I can see online suggest that this is the same beer as their Kosmic Stout even though I couldn’t find that name on the bottle. I may be wrong though. From the ingredients list it seems actual chocolate was used to make this. Also “natural favourings” which is an ever usefully vague term.

Insel: Skipper’s Wet Hopped Pilsner (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy banana yellow body with toffee hints. Massive yellow white mounded head. Some very small bubbles in the body.

Nose: Very herbal. Greenery. Sage and onions. Slight vanilla. Very slightly oily.

Body: Charring. Herbal. Charred bitterness to gunpowder tea. Slight sulphur and smoke.

Finish: Gunpowder tea. Greenery. Dill leaves. Very herbal. Sage and onion. Charred bitterness. Paprika.

Conclusion: Ok, I know that it says wet hopped in the name, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this damn evident. This has greenery, sulphur and high bitterness to a level I would have expected in a moderate wet hopped IPA, so it is a bit of a surprise seeing this level of intensity in a lager.

So, this is still a lager, but quite thick feeling and sticky. A lot heavier that your standard clean pilsner, and with an even higher level of charred bitterness than I see from even the more hop forward pils.

Initially I found it too harsh, and I say that as a lover of hugely bitter IPAs. I am an utter fiend for the bitter hops normally. This, however had bitterness in a very gunpowder tea, charred and heavy way with very dry bitterness. Thankfully the thicker body to the lager I mentioned gives a lot to work with that bitterness so it makes it manageable.

Apart from that bitterness, this beer is also super herbal. Intense amounts of greenery themed spiciness that sticks around for a very long time. On that note, I am amused that since herb means bitter in German (or so google translate tells me) the back of the bottle lists herb/bitter as one of the flavour poles and is marked very high in that, inadvertently being more true than it ever intended as this is both super herbal and super bitter. So, they managed to sum up both of the main poles of this beer with just one entry. Very efficient.

This is so very different. I’ve seen very few lagers anywhere close to this, and absolutely no low alcohol beers like this. It feels like someone half and halfed a wet hopped IPA and a super bitter pils then just dumped a ton of herbs in it.

For me, it is too herbal for me to want it as a general drinking beer, but I am fascinated by it. Really well made, very different, just another one that is not 100% for me.

Background: So first time I read this breweries’ name I misread it as “Incel” which gave me pause. Thankfully I was wrong. Anyway I had heard very good things about this wet hopped pilsner, and it has won a bunch of beer awards that I was too lazy to look up. It may even have been some of the awards that actually mean something. Anyway, I put in an order of low abv beers from Light Drinks. We are blessed with a bunch of websites that sell a huge range of low abv beers these days, and this seemed to have a bunch I wanted to try so I gave them a go. Went back to Berried Alive: Fuego as background music for this, some intense stuff against the low abv. Though it turns out not low bitterness.

Trillium: Fated Farmer Blackcurrant (USA: Fruit Sour Beer: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black-cherry red. Thin purple hued rim of a head.

Nose: Wet oak. Blackcurrant. Tannins. Sour red wine to Pinot Noir. Cake sponge. Walnuts.

Body: Dry. Dry white wine. Sour blueberry. Sour cherry fizzy sweets. Acidic apple and acidic at back of the throat. Vinegar touch. Sour black cherry. Dry mead touch.

Finish: Sour cherry fizzy sweets. Blueberry sherbet. Sour cider. Slight vinegar. Blackcurrant. Pinot noir. Sour black-cherry.

Conclusion: Ok, some sours suit chilling way down brilliantly. Not this one. You can chill it down a bit, but any more than that, as I did, and the mid body loses pretty much anything but acidity and vinegar touches. So, give this just a lick of warmth, ok?

Though, that said, chilling never seems to hurt the aroma. Even fairly heavily cooled down this boomed dark fruit, red wine and oak. Very full bodied, very sour, but not so much it loses that fruit that really reminds me of a New Zealand style Pinot Noir.

As previously mentioned the body is very harsh when overly cold, oddly dry white wine like more than any other flavours, which is very unexpected for something this dark fruit led. As it warms though it brings a lot of sour fizzy dark fruit sweets and blueberry mixed with black-cherry notes. Oddly there are very few blackcurrant like elements – it seems the beer saves those for the finish. Even like this, slightly warmer than before the body is probably the weakest element, with an acidic apple to light vinegar character that seems to push the fruitier elements way.

As the main acidity seeps away in the finish then the blackcurrant really comes out. It is still sour, just now sour in a blackcurrant style. It really hangs in the air, very obvious, very long lasting and still fairly darn sour.

The sour beer aspect of this beer feels unpolished, but the fruit seems to hold up well. It doesn’t have the huge, almost shimmer holographic range of flavours I associate with some sours, but it still has good depth beyond the blackcurrant. It sits very solidly in the range of notes you would expect from a New Zealand style Pinot Noir, with some sour black cherry fizzy sweets and blueberry thrown in there as well.

So, between those two poles, this is a reasonable beer. At its best when showing that Pinot Noir like style matched to the sourness, at its worst when it is mostly acidic and vinegar styled.

Not a must have but uses a fruit not often seen in wild beers, and shows off the fruit well, even if it doesn’t do it consistently. I dig it at its best, I just wish it was more consistent.

Background: Independent Spirit has had a couple of batches of Trillium in, first up a huge amount of their New England IPAs, then a bunch of their fruited sours. I kept meaning to do notes on one of them as Trillium has a fairly huge rep, but they are also kind of expensive, so I put it off. Until now! This one, as you may expect is a sour ale made with Blackcurrants. Shocking I know. The only date I can see on the bottle is 02 May 19, which I presume is the bottling date. So about two years old, which would be worrying if this was an IPA, but for sours like this it should be fine. Fruit does wane over time, but with fruited lambics coming out with a few years under their belt, I’m guessing this will be fine. Not much to add – I went with Jello Biafra: Tea Part Revenge Porn for background music (No I am not typing out the bands whole name, even though me saying I’m not typing it probably took me longer). I’m a big Dead Kennedys fan but have never checked out his solo work. Pretty good so far, a lot of that old school DK energy still there.

Deya: Boxcar: Crocodile King Barley Wine (England: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach skin to gold. Moderate yellow white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation to the body. Some streaks of sediment visible from the pour.

Nose: Honey to mead. Golden syrup. Blueberry touch. Light earthy hop prickle. Golden Grahams cereal. Nettles. Light chalk touch. Peach. Cake sponge. Apricot.

Body: Vanilla. Peach syrup. Honey. Hop prickle. Very syrupy. Custard. Apples. Blueberry. Vanilla cake sponge. Thick alcohol tingle. Treacle. A mix of brown and crusty white bread. Apricot. Orange juice.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Boozy alcohol air. Cake sponge. Licorice touch. Blueberry. Crusty white bread.

Conclusion: This is made with lots of English hops, and for once that doesn’t mean “tastes like soil”. There are flavours I recognise from single English hop beers, but also this shows a lot of influence from flavours I would normally attribute to older school USA hops, but more on that later.

Anyway, with the hop talk pushed to later – this is big! I know, shocking for an 11% abv barley wine, they are notoriously so subtle normally. This is straight up honey and golden syrup style early on into vaguely more restrained vanilla and toffee liqueur mixed with custard as you get into it. It is thick and syrupy from the aroma through to the mid body. It is very sweet but shy of becoming actually sickly. Now, mid body is where the weakest element of the beer hits – a dry, slightly rough alcohol character. In an 11% abv beer some alcohol tells are expected, and in fact sometimes welcome, but this shows itself in a quite raw way that doesn’t really work well.

To look on the bright side this does mean that the later end of the beer expresses the sweet notes in a more dry way which helps ground the beer – but even with this taken into account it isn’t the best element for a beer.

Now if it stopped here it would be a decent, if slightly rough in the middle barley wine.

So, those hops, huh?

There is a low level hop prickle, and a touch of earthiness which may be what came to mind when you heard this was made with English hops, but after that is a layer of blueberry, touches of apple and the like. I don’t know what exactly was used to make this but the blueberry reminds me of what you can get from Bramling Cross when it is used right. Then, there is a layer of apricot and peach hops, stuff that I would normally attribute to USA based hops, from the wealth of those notes that used to exist in mid 2000s USA IPAs. So, since this is made with British hops I’m guessing that it comes from the big malt sweetness interacting with the hops, but however it is made it is a nice note.

The hops add a nice extra touch, not something that dominates, not ignored, just adding some layers to that super sweet malt body.

So, it has some issues handling the alcohol, but has a lot to offer to offset that which I appreciate. A pretty darn nice barley wine that has just a few issues.

Background: Boxcar, Boxcar, Boxcar, I know that brewery name. Why do I know that brewery name? **Searches this site** Ah that Best Bitter they did that was pretty good. I swear sometimes I only do this site as it makes up for my memory being shit. Anyway a Deya Boxcar collaboration – a Barley Wine emphasising English hops. Fair enough, that bitter I mentioned used the hops well while keeping a call to traditional styles. This should be interesting. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went back to teen years for the music – with Republica’s Live At The Astoria album. Still got a soft spot for that band. As is to be expected, teen years tend to leave an impression.

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