Category: Beer Tasting Notes

The Kernel London Sour Raspberry
The Kernel: London Sour: Raspberry (England: Berliner Weisse: 2.9% ABV)

Visual: Beautiful deep hazy strawberry red. Red fizzing head that vanishes quickly. Good level of carbonation in the body.

Nose: Tart raspberry. Light acidic apple. Strawberry yogurt. Twigs. Lemon sherbet.

Body: Sparkling and dry. Dry raspberry. Bitter middle. Tonic water. Light strawberry. White wine. Lemon.

Finish: Dry white wine. Dry raspberry. Tonic water. Lemon slices. Sulphur. Light salt. Mild apple cider.

Conclusion: I’ve given this time to warm up, lest it be the chill that is affecting it, but no, this still tastes kind of empty in the middle.

Good start, eh?

The aroma is great, with softly done acidic and tart fruit – a grace that matches the beauty of the deep red body. That body, when sipped, is like dry white wine with subtle fruit floating within.

Now it actually is sounding really good, right?

It really plies the dryness, tingling in the mouth and giving a clean teeth feel as the acidity strips them down. It has the mouthfeel just right. Problem is that the wine like notes are a backdrop, and the fruit burst is too short and it leaves you with just a middle that feels like tonic water with a slice of lemon in it. Just slightly murky, slightly sharp, but not doing too much in there. When the raspberry is rising it does the job nicely, but that experience is too intermittent to be relied on.

The finish especially ends up feeling just like tonic water,and feeling that way for so very long – normally a long finish is a good thing, but you need positive notes to last out with. The fruit needs more presence, or the base to have more character, or something.

The best bit is probably the start of each sip, when the fruit hits clear and refreshingly – everything after that is downhill. I seem to be going against the trend of opinion on this one it seems – I don’t think it works too well. The end feels slightly salty, like a gose, but without all the character that a gose brings to match that.

To be fair to the beer I did then try it with cheesecake, and the contrast does help, making the lighter notes more evident, but overall I would say avoid; The rest of the internet says they love it. So, take your pick and take your chance I guess.

Background: Apparently this was very popular when it was on tap at Collona and Hunter, me, I just grabbed it at Independent Spirit as I had never tried a sour from The Kernel and wondered how they would do. The Kernel are a solid brewery that I tend to turn to more on tap than in bottles. I am not as big fan of them as many, preferring Wiper and True who I refer to as “The Kernel of west country”, but still a good brewery. According to rate beer this is in their top 50 Berliner Weisses. Huh. Drunk while listening to a random mix of tunes for general chilling.

Hawkshead Wild Beer Oat Wine Cider Brandy Barrel Aged

Hawkshead: Wild Beer: Oat Wine: Cider Brandy Barrel Aged (England: Barley Wine: 9% ABV)

Visual: Deep hazy dried apricot darkened body. Moderate dark brown bubbled head.

Nose: Oily and apples. Hop oils. Stewed apricot. Alpen – with raisins and sultanas emphasised. Dried banana. Raspberry tart notes. Syrupy.

Body: Raspberry. Malt chocolate. Fudge. Apple syrup. Vanilla custard. Hop oils and accompanied bitterness. Alpen. Peach.

Finish: Apple syrup and hop oils. Malt chocolate and fudge. Dry oats. Vanilla and vanilla pods. Raisins. Spicy rum. Greenery bitterness.

Conclusion: Oat Wine! Apple filled oat wine! Now, the original Oat Wine collaboration didn’t really grab me. This is similar, but the cider brandy ageing has had an interesting effect.

That base muesli style and those apricot fruit notes, are still there. In fact the pre hop styling greenery bitterness is kind of still there as well, but leaning towards a more hop oil evident character here.

What is added is a sweet syrupy character, very apple flavoured – though very artificial tasting due to the sweetness. It made me think of apple ice cream syrup, if there is such a thing. I have never encountered it, but if it does exist I would imagine it tastes like this.

Does the beer work? Hmm. Well, while artificial feeling, the sweetness of the apple adds a strong note that does help the beer early on. It adds an easily identifiable element at a point where the base beer was struggling to find itself – this strong character added to the Alpen like base does help sooth some of the flaws.

Later however it does become kind of wearing – the bitterness and oats mix in a slightly leaden fashion. However, overall I will say it is a slight improvement. It still feels like it doesn’t really do enough to leverage the strength of the oat style, but the early,bright, moments are pleasant.

Still weak, but less weak than before. At 9% abv kind of ironic, no?

Background: Not an auspicious start for this one. I had grabbed it at the same time as the standard Oat Wine, a beer which didn’t really impress me. Then I was warned by one commenter to avoid the Cider Brandy barrel aged version. Which I already had. Fuck. Ah well, I oft go against common consensus on beers so let’s give it a go anyway. Drank while listening to New Model Army: Thunder and Consolation. NMA are such a great band.

Cloudwater DIPA V3

Cloudwater: DIPA V3 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Deep cloudy apricot coloured body. High carbonation. A centimetre of apricot to brown touched head that quickly leaves sud rings.

Nose: Kumquat. Slight egg. Quite musty. Sour gherkin. Lime. Apple.

Body: Lime and kiwi. Sour grapes. Sour dough. Lime sour sweets. Pineapple. Grapefruit chunks. Slightly funky cheese notes. Custard. Slightly acidic. Melon. Apricot and peach.

Finish: Sour white grapes. Lemon sherbet. Kiwi. Apple. Sour dough. Haribo sours. Cheese. Acidic cider. Pepper. Peach.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve just had to google Vemont yeast half way through doing the notes, just to check that it was not a brett variant, or acid malt, or some other weird thing. But, no, my initial thoughts were confirmed, it is in fact just a specifically DIPA aimed yeast. So why does this test Bretted as fuck? Or Bretted as funk if you want a poor pun.

The unusual character meant that it took a while for me to try and work out what the beer was trying to be – and, partially because of that, initial impressions were terrible. The beer’s aroma felt closed with sour gherkin, eggs and acidic notes. The body helped a bit with tart fruit, but the mix of light acidic notes and attenuated style did make me wonder if it had a light yeast infection. After a while I concluded that the acidic, feeling brett touched, style seemed to be intentional, so lets look at it as that.

It is unusual – not really bitter, more acidic and funky with sour dough and yeast characteristics – it reminds me very much of Wild Beer’s Evolver and Brett Brett beers. This becomes fruitier and sweeter over time, much more pleasant, but still interrupted by sour stabs that make the beer feel off.

The funk character of it can be fun, the fruit range is very good, but that base character just keeps intruding – too dry and acidic, and not in a way that complements the beer. There is a lot of good in this beer, but those notes initially up front end up hanging around in the background dragging it down.

Lots of good high points utterly let down by a few flaws in the base character.

Background: Not tried any Cloudwater before this, another brewery with a good reputation. We have a seriously well growing beer scene in the UK at the moment and it is awesome. Anyway, grabbed this at Independent Spirit. Again. Thought I would go for the Double IPA as the heavy hop stuff is always a good start for me. Drank this quite late at night, with music on random.

De Molen Hemel & Aarde

De Molen: Hemel & Aarde (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate brownish creamy head.

Nose: Iodine. Peat bogs. Smoked kippers. Seaweed. Blue cheese. Beef broth.

Body: Smooth textured body. Iodine. Light cherries. Chocolate. Salt. Caramel. Beefy – soft and falling apart beef chunks. Milky coffee. Cane sugar. Smoke. Light blue cheese comes out late on.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Iodine and salt. Coffee. Charred oak. Smoke.

Conclusion: Ok, first things first – this is not as good as the legendary Octomore Barred Aged version of this. How could it be, that thing was liquid heaven; I seriously wish I had done tasting notes on it. This, unfortunately does not manage to quite scale those heights.

The aroma does come close though – big, chewy with blue cheese, seaweed and peat. Beefy, yet medicinal, it is an absolute luxury of big, strong flavours – albeit ones that are learned pleasures – everything is challenging and all mashed up in an aromatic meal.

The body doesn’t quite match that – it still kicks the iodine out, backed by caramel sweetness – still a mix of sweet, bitter and beefy notes, but not overly well integrated. This is where the Octomore barrel ageing in the other version took it to the next level – it took each of these strong elements and mixed it into a coherent whole. Here it is still a mix of big flavours, but you get either the strong medicinal, or the strong sweetness but rarely both at once.

It still has a lot of punch – smoke, cane sugar, coffee – Unfortunately the blue cheese takes a very long time to turn up in the mid body, which is a missed opportunity I feel. I love a good blue cheese filled strong beer. Filled with flavour, not literally blue cheese, of course. Anyway, this is utterly unbalanced – in can be sickly sweet at one moment then drying medicinal the next. I love the flavours it uses but it is very far from polished.

As you have probably worked out already, the octomore aged version rocks on toast. This one is an interesting, but not coherent, experience.

Background: I have tried this beer before! Well, not this exact beer, the octomore barrel aged version. It was heavenly (no pun intended, as the beer name translates as “Heaven and Earth”), an absolute legend of a beer. Unfortunately I did not have my review kit to hand, so now, I try this, the standard version grabbed from Independent Spirit. This imperial stout is made with the most heavily peated malt from the Bruichladdich distillery, so is right up my alley. Drunk while listening to The Algorithm: Brute Force – originally on their youtube channel, but have since bought my own copy of it as I enjoyed it.

Wild Beer Co Sleeping Lemons Export

Wild Beer Co: Sleeping Lemons Export (England: Gose: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear apple juice with short lived white fizzy head.

Nose: Cider apples. Salted lemon. Musky grapes. Vinegar touch. Sweaty socks. Slightly sharp. Jiff lemon.

Body: Tart lemon. Mild golden syrup. Salty. Pocari sweat drink. Chalk touch. Tart apples. Light brown bread. Caramelised brown sugar. Lime notes.

Finish: Lemon juice. Strawberries. Salt. Vanilla. Pocari sweat. Tart apples. Light chilli warmth.

Conclusion: Looks like Sleeping Lemons just needed a bit more weight to make it work. Which may note have been the opening line you expected from a tasting note with the words “Sweaty socks” in it. Don’t worry, that is a very mild note, and in it’s place is pretty inoffensive. Really.

Anyway, with the extra strength the lemon now really comes across. First like sharp lemons, then like dried salted lemons, then a mix of both. It has a bigger sweet body that the original as well – the tart character is the the main part – front and centre, but now it doesn’t feel light behind. It has something to push forwards when the citrus fades.

I think, by my poor memory, the hibernating lemons keg version was slightly better – probably the slight extra keg carbonation actually helped there – it made it feel like a fresher and more lovely drink. One of the flaws here is that it feels slightly still so it doesn’t liven up the mouth as you would expect. Therefore over time it can become a tad heavy on the tongue.

However, despite that, In general this is a big improvement. The traditional Wild Beer apple character meets a beefed up lime gose with hints of the Japanese Pocari Sweat energy drink in there as well, because of course!

Not perfect, but a big improvement.

Background: I am fairly sure this is the same as, or very similar to, “Hibernating Lemons” which I ran into on keg a while back and very much enjoyed. They have the same abv and are both beefed up versions of Sleeping Lemons. Sleeping Lemons didn’t do much for me, so I was surprised by how much I liked Hibernating Lemons, so when I grabbed this from Independent Spirit I hoped it was as good. Drunk while listening to The Algorithm: Brute Force. Very strange mathcore and electronic mash up music. Very fun.

Magic Rock Un-Human Cannonball

Magic Rock: Un-Human Cannonball (England: IIPA: 11% ABV)

Visual: Deep hazy yellow over ripe banana to bruised peach. Thin white bubbled head and some carbonation.

Nose: Mango. Dry. Dried apricot. Dried banana.

Body: Hugely juicy, yet with dry undertones. Banana. Lychee. Peach in syrup. Hop oils. Thick. Low level hop oil bitterness. Toffee.

Finish: Very full of lychee. Resinous. Peach. Key lime. Tart white grapes. Pineapple. Hop oil bitterness slowly builds. Very long lasting.

Conclusion: Wow, the aroma on this in no way hints at how booming it is going to be. The aroma is quite muted, with some dry fruit – not bad, but very restrained. There is no hop bitterness or even, in general, any hop feel, just subtle fruitiness.

Then you take the first sip and – boom! There is still no real bitterness, or much traditional hop character, but the fruit level just explodes. At this point there isn’t even much evident from the malt base, just a slight hint of a drier character under the massive amount of fruit, but that is about it.

However, the fruit, wow. Lychee, lots of lychee. Peach. Key lime. Sweet syrup and tart notes mixing in delicious ways – the sweeter mid body leading out into the tarter notes that last long into the finish. And oh does that finish last, I can take an age between sips and still those fruit juice notes cling.

Warmth does let a slight toffee base show itself, but it isn’t really the thing this beer is about. The body feels attenuated just enough to let it slip out of the way, but still have just enough base to really let the fruity hops explode. The more traditional character builds up over time and it both gives the body a bit more grip and makes the finish last even longer – it builds up more in a hop oil fashion than a crisp hop character, and gives an oily bitter character.

With the thickness of texture and flavour it often feels like a stewed fruit IPA, yet it still has that aforementioned dryness, especially in the finish, so it doesn’t get sickly and cloying.

Frankly an excellent IPA – juicy yet dry backed – well made with big flavours without needed to be a bitter hop bomb. Excellent and distinctive. I am always nervous approaching massively hyped beers like this, as you can find an average beer buoyed up by its rep, or a good beer that feels like a let down compared to its reputation. This, however, is great and well worth trying to find.

Background: I nearly didn’t get to try this. I missed out on a chance to sample it last year, and this year the shops sold out before I could grab a bottle. Thankfully someone mentioned that Colonna and Hunter had it on tap. So I grabbed my review kit and ran over to grab it. Apparently the most expensive beer C&H have had on, and they had special 1/6th glasses for it. I went for a half, because if you have the chance, you might as well. I don’t do many “In the field” tasting notes these days, when I am out with friends I try to be more social, as the more extended notes I do these days take a while to do. This, however, was a special occasion.

unhuman cannonball notes

Bristol Beer Factory UnLimited Wheat Wine

Bristol Beer Factory: Un\Limited: Wheat Wine (England: Barley Wine: 10% ABV)

Visual: Apricot. Hazy. Thin white dash of a head. Still body.

Nose: Apricot and fruit sugars. Peach schnapps. Boozy. Vanilla. Bourbon. Banana. Cinnamon sticks. Raspberry. Toffee and toffee liqueur.

Body: Mildly bitter. Wholemeal crackers. Dried apricot. Ovaltine. Mild milky coffee. Bourbon. Chocolate and toffee. Light banana esters. Smooth. Custard slice with their pastry. Blackpool rock.

Finish: Bitter. Earthy touch. Mild charred oak. Coffee cake. Caramel. Bourbon. Chocolate toffee. Fresh pastry. Cane sugar.

Conclusion: This is quite a mixed up experience of a drink and it shows all its included ingredients well. I seem to be on a Adjunct Wine kick at the moment, and, so far, this is one of the most impressive of the set.

First impressions a a mix of raw bourbon boozy imagery and smooth banana and apricot ester notes. The intensity of that alcohol belies the actually very smooth body and the impressively subtle fruity notes. There is a bitterness to the beer, but it isn’t in a hop style. I wasn’t sure initially what it was, but over time it finally becomes identifiable as coffee like bitterness. Speaking of the coffee, the coffee influence is present but it feels like it is being used as a grounded base. It mixes with the occasional earthy notes and only really comes out near the end of the beer as it settles down.

As well as the house yeast that the bottle mentions, I’m guessing the wheat is what to thank for a lot of the light fruit notes and smooth character that very slightly calls to a very boozy hefeweizen. It is an odd mix of very smooth at the base, and yet boozy as hell when the bourbon hits. The flavours and alcohol of the oak ageing are very evident.

The odd stand out element is a very chocolate style character that seems to rise from the coffee influence. Maybe it comes from the coffee merging with the sweetness of the * Wine base, but it is unexpected. It gives a dark chocolate toffee sweet core that the rest of the beer can then hang off. It gives that base to a beer that otherwise would be a mix of good but unrelated notes.

Overall it manages to mix smooth character with quirky rough edges with compromising either. I’m impressed. It is literally just one “Je ne sais quoi” away from being one of my favourites, and as is it is easily in the top set of beers. A very good wheat wine.

Background: Bottled 2014, drunk just under two years later in 2016. Been a while since I tried what once was a regular to these pages – Bristol Beer Factory. So, grabbed this, with its long list of ingredients and twists. 75% wheat, uses triple strain house yeast, aged in oak bourbon barrels and blended with cold brewed coffee. Quite the mix up. Drink while listening to Dope: Life, which seems to have become a generic go to for music for a while. Probably because of the song Die Motherfucker Die. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, like approximately 90% of my beers recently.

Beavertown Bloody 'Ell Blood Orange IPA

Beavertown: Bloody ‘Ell: Blood Orange IPA (England: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy ripe banana yellow and moderate sized, sud leaving, white head.

Nose: Mandarin orange. Chocolate toffee. Crisp hops. Quite malt led.

Body: Orange. Pumpkin. Some greenery. Hop oils and good bitterness. Fudge. Malt chocolate. Mango.

Finish: Chocolate toffee and fudge. Moderate bitterness. Fresh orange juice. Hop oils.

Conclusion: For a blood orange IPA I have to admit I was expecting a crisper, drier, IPA in order to really let the tartness show itself. Therefore I was surprised by the level of very sweet character in the malt led base of this beer. It runs with darker sweet flavours, a kind of chocolate toffee to fudge mix – far darker notes than the very light body’s colour would suggest.

The orange is present, but not as prominent as I would have expected. The tart, fresh and fruity notes are fleshing out the malt base and accentuated by similar hop choice that brings mango and pumpkin like notes that complement the orange well. The orange notes do build up over time, which leads to them having a more prominent character by the end.

It is bitter but not heavily so for an IPA, with the hop seem to be giving more of their hop oils for the mouthfeel rather than for bitter hop character.

Without that hop character the beer would feel a bit like an orange topped sweet dessert – maybe chocolate cheesecake and orange style. Maybe. With the, mild, bitter hops and hop oils it ends up a bittersweet and fresh mix. Not blowing my world, and a far more gentle beer than I expected, but uses its flavour range well. So ends up a slightly bitter, orange topped, chococlate cheesecake in the end.

I am great at descriptions. Honest.

A bit odd, but decent. I’m not a sold on it as many people are, but have no particular complaints.

Background: Last time this turned up in Independent Spirit it vanished before I could grab a can, so this time around I made sure to get a can. From a quick google looks like they did use orange zest and orange juice late boil to make this – I wasn’t 100% sure without checking. Drunk while listening to Ulver: Shadows Of The Sun – seriously amazing album and brilliant for relaxing and drinking, just so haunting and beautiful.

Siren Le Grappin Funkier Feet

Siren: Le Grappin: Funkier Feet (England: Sour Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Pinky brown with caramel edges to the body. Large off white head with brown sediment in the middle of the mound, coming out from the pour.

Nose: Rose wine. Alpen. White grapes. Lemon. Light cherries. Fresh.

Body: Tart raspberries and juicy red grapes. Lemon undertones. Acidic at the very back of the throat. Tart apples. Strawberry yogurt. Champagne yeast character. Vanilla sweetness. Mandarin orange and pink grapefruit.

Finish: Fresh and lemony. Red grapes. Sweet. Cheese-boards. Champagne. Strawberry. Vanilla yogurt. Rustic notes.

Conclusion: Sour beers can often be oh so fruity, and this, with all its wine influence as well, well it just booms with it. For a beer called “Funkier Feet” I am surprised that it doesn’t actually have that much funky yeast character going on in it, or for that matter it isn’t overly sour. Don’t get me wrong, it is a sour beer, and it is acidic at the very back of the throat. However, generally it feels more refreshing than harshly sour.

In fact it is remarkably sweet with tons of juicy grapes, cherries and strawberry sweetness and all pretty smoothly done. Despite that it keeps that hard to define beer character – there is a rustic note in the finish, and a very “beer” gripping texture, with lambic like dry notes and alcohol character. It is generally very different to a standard beer, but doesn’t fall into the trap of feeling like alcoholic fruit juice or just the wine influence.

As time goes on it descends into more tart apple and pink grapefruit notes, but even here it is still more in the flavour than the acidity. It is very easy to drink considering the big flavours it pulls out, possibly due to the grounding by slight cheeseboard styling that I always associate with a good sour beer.

Overall it is very impressive with mouth sparkling refreshing character, yet much sweeter than most sours, thus avoiding their harsh dryness. It is that character that makes it easy to drink. It is full of fruit, sweetness, and just a tiny touch of funk that gives a kind of bready champagne feel.

It is a delight of a beer. Impressive, progressing, wine touched, yet still beer like, lambic influenced. Both a sour that can be enjoyed by those new to the style and by those who want something with depth to appreciate.

Background: Ok, I never tried the original Funky Feet, but this is the updated version – a brett beer, blended with rose wine, aged with grapes for three months. All in all a bit of a non standard beer. Also a tad unusual in that as I was trying to open the cork it popped off into my hand with the crack like a bloody bullet. A quiet bullet admittedly as I still had my hearing, but still more force than expected. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit a while back and now finally drunk.

Siren Evil Twin Barrel Aged Even More Jesus VIII - Hazelnut Liqueur Barrel Aged
Siren: Evil Twin: Barrel Aged Even More Jesus VIII – Hazelnut Liqueur Barrel Aged (England: Imperial Stout: 11.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate brown head.

Nose: Thick and oily. Green olives, Balsamic vinegar. Walnuts. Chocolate liqueur. Burnt sugar. Caramel.

Body: Very thick. Brown sugar. Hazelnuts. Chocolate liqueur. Crème brulee. Chocolate fondue. Also slight bitter chocolate. Fudge. Brandy cream. Nougat.

Finish: Custard and chocolate mix. Bitter cocoa dust. Bitter coffee. Sherry trifle. Cherries. Rum. Hazelnut liqueur. Brown sugar. Nougat.

Conclusion: This is such a wonderful example of how to have a huge, thick feeling, big tasting, high abv, Imperial Stout, without having to have it taste overly boozy. In fact, it is worrying how well it does that, I could drink this all down without realising how much I had just drunk.

All the old “Even More Jesus” traits are here – dangerously decadent, thick like chocolate fondue, creamy liqueur notes building up over soft crème brulee mixed with rum spicy complexities. The Siren version was always the louder yet less well integrated version of the two. Here the barrel ageing has papered over the cracks, smoothing, enhancing and integrating the base – and when it can’t quite manage full integration it just layers sweet hazelnuts over it, managing to do with pure force what it cannot do with subtlety and giving yet another string to its bow.

It is therefore still the less subtle of the two, but now it actually manages to shine by itself. It feels like it is trying to show you everything it has at once. The chocolate liqueur – the nuts – the spirit notes – the cream – the nougat. Everything is in your face and awesome, but all manages to complement each other now. It is hard to get bored with it, even before the alcohol hits. After it hits everything just looks warm , fluffy and happy.

So, it is its own thing, not just Evil Twin’s Even More Jesus, but what would happen if all that was turned up to 11 and dosed in Hazelnut. Love it.

Background: Well, any excuse for more “Even More Jesus”. I adore this beer. Yes, grabbed from Independent Spirit. Again. They are close, friendly and have a great selection, so I end up using them a lot. Anyway, this version is aged in Hazelnut Liqueur barrel’s which is enough for me to give it another try. This needed big metal music, so Metal Up from Miracle Of Sound was the order of the day.


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