Category: Beer Tasting Notes


Siphon: White Frontier: Contreras: Krypton Blood Orange Weissbier (Belgium: Hefeweizen: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy banana body. Inch of yellow white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Fresh dough. Slight sulphur. Ripe banana. Coriander. Carrot sticks.

Body: Wheaty. Slightly milky. Banana. Tangerine. Blood orange. Fresh dough. Slight sulphur. Coriander.

Finish: Blood orange. Dried banana. Slight cloves. Moderate bitterness. Peppery. Moderate hop character.

Conclusion: Ok, first things first. This is actually a good old school style weisse at its base. Very evident in the classic notes – the banana, the cloves, the wheaty feel. It doesn’t over hopped for bitterness, nor new school hop flavours. It keeps the base familiar and well done. Now I like a well hopped weisse on occasion, but doing it this way really works here as it means the one deviation from tradition – the blood orange notes, really stand out more.

So, at that base it is well made with a nice weight, and good flavour. It wouldn’t beat out, say, a weihenstephaner, but it goes well from first impressions on the eye, to a nicely solid bitterness into the finish. I’d enjoy it even like that, even though there are better weisse out there it would be a welcome entry.

But that is not all there is, we also have the blood orange! The orange is far from omnipresent, nor absent, instead it feels like a very good example of how to use fruit in a beer. It adds a light tartness, orange notes coming out at a level just slightly above the banana and spice notes but don’t eclipse them. If it wasn’t so natural feeling I could have mistaken it for just another hop note, it is balanced so well – but the fresh character of it is unmistakable.

A few off notes – it is slightly sulphur touched which doesn’t quite work, but generally I quite enjoy this. A traditional weisse with one well used twist. It shows a level of restraint that is oft missed these days and is much better for it.

Not top weihenstephaner level awesome, no, but it isn’t playing that game – and it rocks at what it is doing. I respect that.

Background: This is one of the six beers in the Noble Gas project – each one a collaboration with one Belgian and one international brewery. Was wondering about the name so I googled and got “In the right hands, the six noble gases are a powerful source of light, bringing illumination and colour to people’s lives. We want The Noble Gas Project to shine a light on the values that make us excited about beer: Belgian tradition, international influence, collaborative learning and being unafraid.” A bit silly sure, but I’ve heard worse excuses for a project name before. Plus, ya know SCIENCE! So I can live with that. This one, as you may have guessed, is a hefeweizen made with blood orange. It is in the name, right? Anyway, another beer from Independent Spirit. Went with Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hyaena for music. Still can’t believe it took me so long to get into them. Such off beat but polished tunes.

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Boon: Oude Schaarbeekse Kriek Boon 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red with a cherry-aid coloured inch of tight bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Smooth cherry. Black cherry yogurt. Light acidic apple. Pencil shavings. Brambles.

Body: Acidic and tart. Slight charred oak. Tart cherries. Tart apple. Dry white wine. Slight yeast funk. Slight peperami. Cherry jelly tarts. Dry cheesecake late on.

Finish: Tart red and black cherries. Gooseberry. Twigs. Puff crisps. Strawberries. Slight charring. Tiny amounts of marshmallows.

Conclusion: Most of the fruity Boon lambics I’ve encountered have leaned more towards the sweeter takes on the style, admittedly with one very notable exception. This definitely leans the other way – dry as can be at the base, which gives the moderate sweetness of the fruit influence a lot more punch.

While we are on the subject of the fruit, this is remarkably well developed in the fruit expression. From a tarter, slight sweet dessert style cherries, to black cherry yogurt style, to tarter notes that give an almost gooseberry tartness to the finish.

Despite the beer being dry, the sourness is restrained, coming across more as dry white wine (infused with red fruit natch) than, say, Cantillon level mouth puckering.

It really is a treat – there’s even a few rounding notes to add a few edges to it – mild oak influence and slight yeast funk. Beyond that there are some odd, possibly hallucinatory notes brought on by the acidity, but I’m listing them anyway – tiny sweet marshmallow notes in the finish and tiny pepperami meaty solid note to the middle. Again these could just be due to my sense being confused by the acidic character as I have seen before with similar beers. Besides those it is generally a dry wine like lambic base and well expressed cherry fruit.

Very dry, just sweet enough. Very fruity and subtly funky. Do you like lambics? Do you like tart cherry? Then I would highly recommend this. So easy to drink and so rewarding.

Background: Schaarbeekse Kriek! A very rare kind of cherry, which I have encountered once before in Drie Fonteinen’s take on a Schaerbeekse Kriek. That one really caught my attention, back when I was still getting used to lambics, so a chance to try a different interpretation from Boon was definitely a must have. Another one found at Independent Spirit – they recently got in a huge batch of sours and lambics. Went simple for music with this one – Metallica; Master Of Puppets. Metal. It goes with anything.

Broaden and Build: Tired Hands: Awamori – Koji Saison (Denmark: Saison: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice colour with small bubbled carbonation to the mostly clear body. Massive white mounded head that leaves suds.

Nose: Jiff lemon. Slight lactic notes. Peppery. Coriander. Slightly sour but milky. Lightly earthy. Bread dough.

Body: Coriander. Lightly earthy. Light tart kiwi. Peppery. Tart grapes. Lactic notes. Cut apples. Tannins and dry teabags.

Finish: Kiwi fruit. Earthy. Coriander. Cut apples. Dry teabags. Peppery. Light vanilla. Light apricot.

Conclusion: This is completely on the other side of the saison style from my usual preferred take – that being the more clean hopped takes by brewers such as Fantome and Dupont. However with that said, this is really good.

The beer is heavily leaning towards the earthy, peppery and spicy take on a saison at its base, this is very much on the robust side of the possible takes, but it doesn’t end there.

There are fresher lemon and fresh cut apple notes that brighten into tarter sour grape notes. Kind of lactic, lightly acidic, sour notes, kind of lactose touched. It results in something that is umami, tart yet slightly savoury, all odd yet mouth filling notes. It is very different, keeping the earthiness from becoming wearing and resulting in a beer that can very much stand on its own two metaphorical feet.

Beyond that there is a kind of Steam Beer, or Saison De Pipaix, oddly gassy texture as well. Not carbonation, just a slightly odd feel, something unusual again in an already strange beer.

Very non standard, mixing earthy, fruity and a mix of odd notes together easily. Not one to have a lot of – the earthiness is balanced well over a single can, but feels like a one and done beer rather than one to session – but lovely to have for one.

A great twist on a familiar style and a very good beer.

Background: Ok, this is a koji saison, so, what the fuck is Koji?
https://www.clearspring.co.uk/blogs/news/8024723-koji-the-culture-behind-japanese-food-production

Ok, well now I know, I guess. Thank you google. This is the second time I have tried this. First time I was just having general drinking and was very impressed so grabbed another can for doing notes on. Don’t know much about either of the two collaborators on this one, so can’t say too much there. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, and I went with Miracle of Sound – Metal Up! For some melodic but thrashy metal tunes. Miracle of Sound is insanely talented, so always a good one to go back to.

Oersoep: Madame Funky 2018 (Netherlands: Sour Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach skin colour. Thin white rim of a head. Some small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Tart. Cider. Soft peach. Wet oak. Peach Melba yogurt. Lemon squirt.

Body: Soft peach. Tart apples. Cider and perry notes. Acidic to slight vinegar. Charred touch. Some yeast funk. Vanilla.

Finish: Acidic apples. Vanilla. Slight sulphur. Slight charred oak. Sour grapes. Yeast funk. Puff crisps. Peach syrup.

Conclusion: This is a tasty mix of a fresher, tart lambic style sour with gentle peach sweetness, with neither getting lost in the mix. That ain’t an easy balance to pull off.

Initially it is pretty cider and tart apple led, tart, with even a slight vinegar like touch at times. ( though don’t worry it is generally smoother than that, this isn’t a Rodenbach Grand Cru harsh tart and sour notes bomb) The peach notes are there at this point but subtle. Time lets the peach build up, getting a just slightly more syrupy touch against the dry main body, along with a hint of vanilla sweetness that soothes everything nicely.

So a sour, very gueuze like thing, using an odd fruit in a way that balances the tartness, yet also accentuates the contrast which means all the positive elements stand out so much better while hiding the usual negative qualities that can come from a sour.

As time goes on even more a slight yeast funk is added to the previously dry and clean sour. Oddly for a beer called “Madame Funky” that element is fairly restrained and only really prevalent in the end third of the beer. That element brings out a slight puff crisp (sans cheese dust coating) kind of fluffy feel, adding a bit more thickness to the mouthfeel and more grip for the flavour.

This is really good, smooth and dry for the main part, with hints of harsher and more solid notes. Well used but not dominating fruit that brings the sweeter notes when needed.

Highly recommended.

Background: Ok, another new brewery on me – Oersoep are one I had not heard of before, but this intriguing little sour ale caught my eye. Made with white peach – which is another thing I had not heard of before. White peaches. So many new things I am learning today. Anyway, a new brewery, a new sour made with a new fruit. Lots of new experiences to try so of course I grabbed it from Independent Spirit. Went with B.Dolan, Kill the Wolf for music while drinking. Feeling a lot of the more politically active tunes recently for some reason. I wonder why…

Cloudwater: Are We Unique? (England: IIPA: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy, dark yellowed to apricot body. An inch of bubbled white head and lots of small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Vanilla. Custard. Crisp hops. Tangerine. Lemon sherbet. Banana custard. Guava.

Body: Juicy. Guava. Dry underneath. Kiwi. Grapes. Peach and peach syrup. Slight cucumber. Banana.

Finish: Grapes. Moderate bitterness. Slight gritty bitterness. Mandarin orange. Good hop character. Slight cucumber. Slight sulphur. Lettuce leaves. Resinous.

Conclusion: Ok, yeah, I can see what they mean now. As mentioned in the background this was described as a mix up of west cost and hazy style IPA, which seemed a contradictory mix – but I get it now. Mostly.

Up front this is pretty juicy and feels thick (well, I say “feels” – I will get to that in a moment). Lots of juicy, fruity notes. It was described as hazy IPA style, but in all honesty it feels more like the sweet juiciness of an East Coast IPA, just with a lot less malt backing, if that makes any kind of sense. Lots of grapes, peach and some bright mandarin orange notes.

So, back to that comment, I said that it “feels thick”, that’s because despite that feel, it quickly falls into a drier west coast out of the way body, making me feel that it is not that the body is thick, but that the flavours give an illusion of extra thickness. Up front there are hints of vanilla and custard which just never come to the front and bring the body they promise.

There is good, if fairly moderate, bitterness and hop character that comes along with that drier body – the balance between a juicy fruit front and drier bitter back is enjoyable, but not without issues of its own.

Where the two sides meet there is a kind of greenery, water cucumber, savoury kind of note. It is not terrible, but not the best way to make a stepping stone between the two sides. It is a kind of neutral to slightly bad note in itself, stuck between two much better sides.

Still, in general a very enjoyable IIPA that wears a lot of influences on its sleeve. In fact it feels more an IPA that an IIPA in general, probably due to the more out of the way malt, but maybe does use the abv to push a bit more of the fruitiness.

Fun flavours, not perfect but bloody enjoyable and a heck of an experience on the way.

Background: So, Cloudwater are known for their hop forwards beers. Tend to be pretty good, if not quite up to their insanely high reputation. This caught my eyes, promising to mix west coast IPA dryness, with hazy (so I’m guessing NEIPA) IPA style juiciness, but in an Double IPA. Ok, sounds fun. Hope they can pull it off. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had just picked up Le Tigre’s self titled album after being introduced to them via Jessica Jones. Thought they sounded familiar so wasn’t surprised when I found out they had the same lead singer as Bikini Kill. More pop and catchy than Bikini Kill but with non of the vitriol lost.

BioNoc’: Asso Di Coppe Impombera (Italy: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red. Clear body. Thin dash of a reddened head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cherries. Tart raspberry. Clean. Light twigs. Tart. Blueberry.

Body: Dry. Tannins. Brown bread. Yellow raspberries. Black cherry and red cherry. White wine. Gooseberry.

Finish: Full and tart raspberries. Astringent. Light wood shavings. Gooseberry. Yellow raspberry. Jammy blueberry.

Conclusion: This is dry, almost wine like and matched with a very fruity take on a red wine in how it uses the berries, matched against a crisp, kind of lambic like take on a sour base character. Initially the beer is slightly closed, but as you get used to the dryness it really opens up into a range of tart fruit. Until that though, well it isn’t Cantillon level mouth puckering but it is very well attenuated.

The fruit pushes the raspberry tartness up front, with a darker set of black cherry like fruit notes and such making for a sweet but still refreshingly tart backing note. Time lets a more jammy sweetness come out, making fuller notes that had been hinted at before. The aroma especially hinted at sweeter notes that only really develop in the body later on.

This is very good, initially dry and wine like, later on full bodied and, erm, wine like but a different kind of wine. Always fruity giving a good range of fruit notes from raspberry, through puckering gooseberry and into sweeter cherries. Only slightly closed a for a short while, and for the rest progressing in delicious and fascinating ways.

Very much worth getting your hands on, this is a treat of a fruit sour.

Background: Second and final bottle that I brought back from the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at Moor’s Tap Room. This is from a brewery I have not encountered before, but was highly recommended, and looks to have had a few awards so I decided to give it a go. I googled what an Impombera was and ended up very confused. Anyway, by googling the beer I found out it is a raspberry sour, so I presume at least one of the many variants has a raspberry style fruit. Had just picked up Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind so put that on as background music. Had heard it was a return to form and, yeah it is amazing, heavy and brutal. Thought I was slightly going off Slipknot but nope, I am back in.

Double A Brewing: Autre Chose (Russia: Sour Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Darked apricot gold. A centimetre of bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Horse blankets. Oats. Musty. Brown bread. Peppery. Cake sponge.

Body: Bitter almonds. Cocktail bitters. Brown bread. Tart apples. And cooking apples. Dust-ball bitterness. Cake sponge. Oily.

Finish: Dust-balls. Charred oak. Bitter nuts. Cocktail bitters. Tart apples. Sour apples. Oily. Dried apricot. Vinegar at back of throat.

Conclusion: This is quite thick and musky, with a lot of charred bitterness going on. It is oily, got a lot of nutty bitterness, resulting in a lot of savoury and hard edges notes in this apples based sour beer. Not what I was expecting and a tad rough.

So, ok, lets put that to one side and look at the rest of the beer. This opens up with that kind of horse blanket aroma that gueuzes so often have, giving a nice first impressions – however I will note that the rougher notes that put me off come in fairly quickly after with a rough grab bag of various notes. Ok, so I didn’t manage to put that element aside very long. It’s not my fault it is all over this beer.

I gave it some time to settle, to see if we could dig a bit more out and time brings a thicker cake sponge like body weight, that similarly gives the base apple character a bit more weight, which is pleasant. It doesn’t bring much range with it unfortunately – some apricot notes, with those fruit sugars, but generally it is fairly simple behind the roughness.

I want to like this, cognac ageing is usually my jam, and French oak is generally interesting – and let’s face it, it is a sour beer from Russia, I want it to be fascinating. However it is rough edged, simple and with a kind of vinegar burn at the back of the throat. It feels like I am wading through all that to get at the elements that are more worthwhile.

Not my best introduction to Russian sour beer.

Background: This was picked up at the Arrogant Sour beer festival at the Moor Tap Room. It caught my eye as a sour beer that came out of Russia, something I have not encounterd before. Googling doesn’t seem to give much info on this, even when taking advantage of google translate, so is the best I could find out. This is a sour ale aged in French Oak miked with cider that has been aged in an oak cognac barrel. Interesting mix. Went with Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle for background music while drinking.

One Mile End: Morello Cherry Gose (England: Gose: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot, that turns rose hued at times. A thin dash of bubbles for a head. Fast, small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Salt touched and musty. Shortbread. Subtle cherries. Fresh dough and yeastie.

Body: Soft, tart red cherries. Strawberry. Slight chalk. Tart apples. Pear perry. Cake sponge.

Finish: Tart red cherry. Black cherry yogurt. Slight salt. Brown bread. Juniper berries. Petals. Wet socks. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Hmm, a generally quite nice one here – ok that may seem like I am damning with faint praise, but let me give some context. For some reason, despite the fact I really love morello cherries, most beers made with them have hit some rocky waters. Thus I am pleased that this is fairly decent.

First impressions are good, it hits nicely on the eye- at worst being a pretty but generic apricot colour, but moves to a nicely rose hued glimmer when the light hits it right. Unfortunately the aroma doesn’t sell it to a similar extent – it is quite yeastie and musty, in a fresh dough kind of fashion. It has some refreshing tart notes but is generally quite simple.

The body comes through though, using a lovely pear perry to cider apple styled base, lightly salted in way that makes drinking it far too easy. The cherry notes are understated but well expressed – giving a tart red cherry character that is always present, but doesn’t dominate – tart but with sweet edges. So, yep, the lovely fruit that is Morello cherry is used right in this oh so easy to drink tart beer. There’s even a slight vanilla note in the finish that give a cream like note to go with the cherries. Nice.

It isn’t perfect, as it can be a little chalky at times – but mixing that cider and perry like base, with a slight salty gose style and bring red fruit makes something very drinkable.

I appreciate both it and the good use of fruit within it.

Background: Ohh Morello Cherry! I am a big fan of those cherries. Gose I have had mixed experiences with, probably because there seems to be such a range in how people interpret the style. Any which way, glad to see the style getting more show these days considering it was down to two breweries in Germany that made the style at one point. Don’t know much about One Mile End – they are a new brewery on me, so let’s see how they do. I put on the amazing, Svalbard, It’s Hard To Have Hope while drinking. Such a good album. This beer was grabbed from the ever reliable Independent Spirit.

Top Out: First Ascents – Yukatan Honey Wheat Wine (Scotland: Bearley Wine: 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to brown. A beige, thin bubbled centimetre of a head.

Nose: Honey. Brown bread baps. Dry mead.

Body: Honey. Black pepper. Brown bread. Dry mead.

Finish: Brown bread. Black pepper. Clear honey. Flour. Cloudy honey.

Conclusion: Ok, honey, bready, black pepper. That was a fairly short set of notes. Ok, I put a bit more than that but it took a while, for nearly half the beer that was all I had written down. Let’s take a moment and see if I can find a bit more to dig into here.

Ok, well, the honey character comes across very thick and full initially, but quickly become a kind of dry mead character that then just lasts and lasts – so, some kind of progression going on there.

The peppery and bready notes mix well to create an oddly savoury experience in the midst of this, especially considering the sheer amount of honey flavours. Despite occasional sweet honey notes it is generally very well attenuated with little residual sweetness.

And with all that said, eh, I have to admit I am having a hard time getting excited. I like mead. I like honey. I just kind of need a bit more in a beer than only that.

So, to look at the positive, it does express the honey in a very varied way – dry mead, cloudy thick honey, clear honey sheen. All good, but I need more.

A very honey beer that ends up kind of boring.

A pity.

Background: While I haven’t grabbed many of their beers, Top Out have been pretty solid in what I have encountered from them. This is a wheat wine made with Mexican yucatan honey, which is something a bit different. Been on a barley wine kick recently so a mead like take on that sounded right up my street. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with Getter – Visceral for this while drinking. Not my usual kind of music but works nicely for a backing to drinking.

Kompaan: No 45 Vrij Buiter (Netherlands: Porter: 7.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to black. Thin browned head that leaves suds.

Nose: Creamy. Roasted. Liquorice. Coffee.

Body: Creamy. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate to bitter chocolate cake. Smooth. Brown bread. Black cherry delivered slightly tart.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate. Bitter chocolate. Slight black cherry. Sarsaparilla. Pepper. Peanut butter.

Conclusion: This is a pretty smooth porter, but still with a bit of a bite. The smoothness is shown from the start, with an initial aroma that is smooth but simple. The oddest tell of more to come is a decent amount of liquorice that manages to show itself here. For some reason liquorice seems to be a popular thing in the Netherlands, with even liquorice ice cream, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The body follows through but with more complexity. The liquorice is heavy, backed by bitter cocoa and this is the main two strings that play throughout the beer – bitter cocoa, savoury liquorice. There are some rounding notes, most notably a creamy smoothness that helps deliver the whole thing in a manageable package, but also a light tart black cherry note that refreshes just slightly. After a discussion, my friend Emerald suggested that sarsaparilla notes were there as well, and I just had to steal that as it perfectly describes the slightly spicy soft drink feel that comes out in the finish.

So a few notes. First, you need to like liquorice to like this as it is very liquorice heavy. Second, it can get a tad wearing at the end of the beer as the smoothness gives way to more of the spicy notes. However, generally this is smooth, very smooth and with good depth of flavour. A lot of the notes are those Marmite like love it or hate it notes but they are very solidly delivered.

So, with that said, look at the notes, if the flavours sound good to you then this is smooth, creamy and well brewed around those notes. If not, ah well, look elsewhere.

Background: Second, and unfortunately last of the tasting notes from my Netherlands trip. It wasn’t really a beery trip but I had to get at least a few in. This was from when, walking through the high street, I spotted a wall of beers inside a shop so stuck my head in. This is a local beer from The Hague, where I was at the time, so decided to grab it and give it a go. It is listed as a double porter, which confused me as the abv didn’t seem in that range – a quick google seems to indicate it intended as a dubbel/porter mix, which is interesting. Again it was very warm while doing the notes, but not as bad as before.

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