Category: Beer Tasting Notes


Pirate Life: Mosaic (Australia: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to apricot skin. Mild haze to the beer but mostly clear. Good sized sturdy white head. Some small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Dried apricot. Gentle nutmeg. Moderate hop character and some bready bitterness. Stewed fruit – both rhubarb and apricot stand out.

Finish: Peach melba. Dried apricot. Good hop character and bitterness. Custard. Light mint and juniper berries. Crushed love heart sweets.

Conclusion: Now this is what I like – a bit of body to my IPAs. This has a lovely creamy and fruit syrup thick body to it while avoiding that artificial syrup crystallised sugar feel. Instead it just has that oozing fruit styling, and bringing similar fruity notes with it. It takes a very thick, stewed fruit set of notes from apricot and even rhubarb, mixed with lighter peach melba like notes.

The body, while thick and creamy, feels comparatively flavour neutral. It feels like a weight attached to the hop flavour, deliberately trying not to be a flavour entity in itself – it is just happy to be the foundation and let the fruity hops do their thing.

Unlike the current trend, this also shoves up the hop bitterness to go with the hop fruitiness. Initially fairly gentle at first, letting the fruit do all the work, it rises to a good intensity while never eclipsing the juicy fruit flavours.

This is full, fruity and sense tingling with the hop kick. It really makes full use of its abv, not by showing it as burn or boozy character, but instead giving that thickness to really let the flavours grip in a way that only a higher abv beer can. A genuinely enjoyable ipa – I love it as a beer in itslef and a a brilliant Mosaic showcase. Now please don’t ruin it InBev!

Background: This is why we can’t have nice things in life. About a week or two after I bought this, InBev go and buy the brewery. Now it is possible they won’t fuck it up – however I am not holding my breath. Anyway, an Australian brewery! And one I have not previously encountered. Mosaic is an awesome hop, and I love IPAs, so this seemed like a good beer to use to check them out. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for an absolute classic of the gloomy metal genre for listening music – Paradise Lost – Draconian Times. Bloody love that album.

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To Øl: Santa Gose F*** It All (Denmark: Gose: 4% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark yellow. Massive sud leaving yellow white head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Gooseberry. Light wheat. Light white pepper. Dry passion fruit.

Body: Tart. Gooseberry. Salt. Tart grapes. Slight guava. Light chalk. Dry mango. Flour.

Finish: Lime. Tart. Pineapple. Salt. Slight sweat. Wet cardboard. Guava juice. Dry mango. Dry bitterness. Flour. Slight grit. Charring.

Conclusion: So, after trying an authentic German gose earlier this year, and after trying a couple of the varied new wave craft goses that have come out recently, I find myself with this – THE CHRISTMAS GOSE!

I’m not sure what part of this makes it a Christmas beer, but what it does have is that it opens with an appropriately tart gooseberry like base that seems to be moving more towards the new wave craft interpretation of a gose, backed by soft salt, almost sweat like notes. Man the things you write that sound terrible but actually are not. Anyway, initially that salt character is pleasant but by the end the salt does become very drying in the finish.

More on that later – for now we shall look at the mid body, which is where the fruit infusion comes in. It is quite subtly done, with sweet guava and dry mango notes around the edges giving some much needed extra body. It isn’t that the main body is bad, just a little light, but still very fresh and easy to drink.

So, the first half to two thirds of this beer does the job well – tart, fruity, fresh with subtle salt over time. Then, we get that finish…

The finish starts ok, with some pineapple but also a slight cardboard touch which does not work. Then that cardboard touch becomes gritty, then charred and matched with rough, dry salty bitterness. It is harsh and feels like it works against everything the rest of the beer sets up.

Two thirds of this is a good beer, with a third of fuck no. Nearly good but that finish hurts it so bad I can’t recommend it.

Background; The censorship is on the can, not because of me – I would happily have written “Fuck It All”. In fact I just did. A beer for the Christmas period, with appropriate sentiments. I am not a total Grinch, more nonplussed than angry about Christmas – for me it is just a nice time to catch up with friends and family. Anyway, this is a gose – a salted wheat beer style that nearly died out, but has had a recent resurgence. Like a lot of the craft beer interpretations this one is made with fruit – Passion fruit, guava and mango to be exact. Picked up from Independent Spirit. I got into the festive spirit by putting on Testament – Low. Ok they have nothing to do with Christmas, so I was in the right spirit for me.

Stigbergets: Amazing Haze (Sweden: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon to peach colour. Cloudy body and thin white head. Some carbonation is visible.

Nose: Smooth hop character. Cake sponge. Peach skin.

Body: Smooth hop character and crisp bitterness. More oily hops as it warms. Soft apricot. Some greenery. Milky. Peach.

Finish: Cake sponge. Milky. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Slightly resinous. Greenery. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Short way to describe this? It does what it does well, but I want it to do a bit more though.

This is more, well, hoppy that a bunch of the New England IPAs I’ve encountered – it has a good use of the hops in the mouthfeel producing a resinous and hop oily character. It has a solid level of bitterness and generally a solid hop character all around. As a hop head I have to admit a higher level of bitterness and hop feel in an IPA definitely draws me to it, even if that isn’t really what the NEIPA style is all about.

Flavour wise is seems a bit more simple – rather than the huge range you get with the hop feel – the mix of oily, hoppy and resinous characters – for the flavour it leans into soft peach and apricot in a creamy fashion. It is nice, but feels weak against the bigger hop character. It is an ok, if not wide ranging flavour, but that is the main point that comes to mind when I say that it needs a bit more.

It needs either more range, more subtle notes, or more push of the limited flavours it does has – as tight now the milky NE fruit style can’t compete with the bigger hops.

It is a good beer at what it does, but I want more.

Background: Saw this being hyped up a bit when it arrived, hadn’t heard about it so did a quick look round and yeah, this is seriously well rated IPA online so I thought it would be worth a try – even if the New England interpretation isn’t my favourite of the IPA styles. So, grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Broke open this while listening to Rise Against: Siren Songs Of The Counter Culture – I know it catches some shit as the first time they went with a major label, but I still think it is a decent album.

Uiltje: Grandma’s Cooking Recipes Vol 2: Lemon & Vanilla Cheesecake Wit Beer (Netherlands: Belgian Wit: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lemon juice. Thin off white head a few seconds in after an initially large head on the pour.

Nose: Fresh squeezed lemon with the leftover lemon rind in it. Cake sponge. Pineapple. Lime touch.

Body: Tart and fresh. Vanilla. Slightly peppery. Lemon juice. Creamy lemon. Sherbety feel. Orange slices. Mild peppercorn. Slightly dry.

Finish: Creamy lemon and vanilla. NY style cheesecake. Fresh orange slices. Salted lemons. Mild peppercorn sauce.

Conclusion: I swear that I didn’t look at the back of bottle before specifying in the notes above that it was NY style cheesecake that this seemed like. It just turns out that my impressions and how they describe it were identical for once – that slightly drier bodied cheesecake style. Good shout from them then.

Despite that, the cheesecake side of this is actually lighter than I expected. This has a drier take on a wit that seems to call to the pre inbev Hoegaarden (Well – I say that – my only experience is of the Celis white which was made by the original brewer, and is apparently very close to the original Hoegaarden, so my comparison is at least a few stages separated from the original). It comes in with lots of tart lemon notes that feel very natural fruit in character. There are some creamier edges as the vanilla mixes in, giving slightly fuller feel on the way out, but main body definitely emphasises the dry and fresh character.

What I did not expect from the bottle’s description though is the peppery character – coming in from standard pepper into subtle peppercorn sauce in flavour – adding that traditional wit spice behind the more creamy lemon notes.

So, looking at this as a cheesecake beer, well it does have influence from that idea, and it definitely shows the vanilla and lemon it uses, but they come more as discrete elements that a coherent cheesecake whole for the most part.

As a beer in itself thought it does it right. Initially it seems only ok, but it develops into a traditional dry wit backed by creamier, fuller edges, and subtle solid backing behind the lemon freshness that is easy to drink while still being rewarding.

It is better to be a good beer that doesn’t quite deliver on the concept that a good concept that doesn’t deliver on the beer, so I am happy with this one.

Background: I’m not sure if that is the longest beer name I have ever had on this site – but it is at least in the top 5. So, a Belgian wit made with lemon and vanilla – a simpler beer than the cool name makes it sound, but still the idea sold me pretty much instantly. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I make no apologies for grabbing so much from them. Drunk while listening to the 50th spektrmodule podcast for some gentle background music.

Mikkeller: Raspberry Trippelbock (Denmark: Fruit Dopplebock: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Thin brown head.

Nose: Boozy raspberry – tart with sweet edges. Raspberry syrup. Dried banana. Creamy, boozy chocolate. Raspberry pips. Gooseberry.

Body: Raisins. Raspberry ice cream syrup. Tart, fresh raspberries. Chewy caramel. Malt chocolate. Hop oils and oily bitterness. Nutty. Dates.

Finish: Strawberry syrup. Red cherries. Tart raspberries. Chocolate bourbon biscuits. Hop oils. Oily bitterness. Slightly nutty. Treacle.

Conclusion: This is another super thick beer – treacle, chewy caramel – lots of boozy sweet characteristics. There is no alcohol burn to it, not even heat, just a syrupy thick weight that tastes alcohol strong. The flavour is just solidly sweet – a hair’s breadth away from being sickly. The beer is utterly reliant on the raspberry to make it a beer that actually works, as without it this would be a sugary disaster.

The raspberry is big and very prominent – there are tart, fresh elements to it, but a lot of the raspberry character has been co-opted by the sweet, thick malt. Thus what you get is an ice cream syrup styled set of raspberry to cherry notes. So, you do get that much needed fresh element, but mostly it doubles down on the the thick, thick sweet notes, just now in a raspberry style.

Now, there is an attempt at contrast – a thick, oily bitterness that comes in like a mix of nut and hop oils. It is an intense oily character, but rather than contrasting it feels like it adds to the thick boozy character.

Now, I wont lie, I’m having fun with this but it is simple as hell and boozy as hell. It is far too thick, too boozy and too sweet. Fun, depending on your tastes, and impressive in how it avoids rough edges despite that alcohol, but not one I can, in general recommend.

Background: Mikkeller! Love the brews from this lot – the so called “Gypsy brewers” who are probably the best known of the large number of brewers that rely on contract brewing to make their recipes. This one, a tripplebock made with raspberries has a pretty good rep all round, and is one I never quite got around to grabbing. So, when independent spirit got both the raspberry trippelbock, and the barrel aged Quadrupel made with raspberries, I grabbed one of each and prepared for some heavy, boozy times. Interesting fact – the quad is also 13% abv, partially because quads are a Belgian style and bocks a German style so they don’t have to line up – partially because the whole double, tripel, etc really never works as an actual multiplier on the alcohol if you ever think about it. Anyway, drunk while listening to New Model Army’s live album – love NMA and I really feel they should be better known in and out of the punk scene.

Haand: Brewdog: Stone: Inferno IPA (Norway: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Caramel brown to ruddy red body under an inch of caramel brown touched head.

Nose: Kiwi, grapes and hops. Shreddies. Ovaltine malt drinks. Brown bread. Dried apricot.

Body: Thick, prickling hops. Nettles. Good bitterness. Hop oils. Toffee. Thick texture. Low hop burn. Sticky apricots. Cream. Kiwi yogurt. Sticky mouthfeel.

Finish: Caramel. Dry hop bitterness. Low hop burn. Brown bread. Good hop character in general and good level of bitterness. Sticky hop oils and resinous. Palma violets.

Conclusion: This is fairly “dank” in its hop use. Yes I am putting quotes around that, I still find the current meaning of the word “dank” to be odd. Anyway, this is sticky, resinous with lots of hop oils and a pretty solid level of hop bitterness. That really seems to be the core of this beer – Thick, sticky and hoppy.

To back that up the malt load is heavy, thick and sweet – almost fondue impression giving thick feel that gives what would be a big sweet character to back up the hop oils. Not too sweet in reality though despite that, with the hop character coming through it ends up as a big bready to shreddies malt style – very stodgy, thick and quite savoury when everything comes together.

Hop flavour wise is a more subtle deal – there is creamy fruit with some kiwi and some apricot that are present but mainly as backing notes. There is a touch of hop burn with it that adds a mild acrid note, but it is low enough to only add a prickle below this heavy beer rather than damaging it.

It doesn’t have a huge flavour range – the sticky hop side of things really dominates. I would by lying if I said I didn’t enjoy thus, more for the feel than anything else, that sticky hop resinous feel makes a very pleasant sensation as it goes down.

However it could do with more to it than just feel. It has a good mouthfeel, but needs to do more with the hop flavours. Still, a sticky hop experience is an enjoyable one. With work this could be the basis of an awesome beer, it just isn’t there yet.

Background: So, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers, best get that out there first as they are a collaborator for this beer. I am an unbiased actor on Stone beers, unless you considerer thinking them an awesome brewery for the quality of their beers, especially their hop forward beers, is bias. Don’t know much about Haand, but always happy to try more beers from Norway. It just feels more metal. So, with metal on my mind I drank this while listening to … No Doubt again. Listen, I only thought up the metal link later on, ok? Anyway this was grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer selection.

3 Fonteinen: Zwet.be (Belgium: Porter: 7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin to middling creamy brown head that leaves suds but has a quite short lifespan.

Nose: Sour red wine. Black cherry. Coca dust. Rum soaked raisins. Chocolate liqueurs.

Body: Tart black cherry. Charring. Black cherry sour sweets. Salt water. Cold stones. Touch of Pocari Sweat drink. Bready. Soft pineapple. Dry raisins. Lightly tart.

Finish: Charring and bitter character. Oats. Bitter cocoa dust. Brown bread. Salt water. Cloying coffee notes. Soft pineapple. Dry Madeira. Tart apple.

Conclusion: The sour stout, or in this case sour porter, is one of the odder styles to have come out of recent years. In fact if anything this is somehow both more odd and more restrained that previous examples I’ve tried. Maybe it is more odd because it is more restrained. Which may need some breaking down to make sense.

The nose provides full on mix of sour wine, fruity experience with chocolate hints – it is something really fresh and bursting with flavour. Unfortunately the rest of the beer is not that.

The body is drier, with charred notes and even a slightly salty character – it is full of the heavier, rougher notes that can come with a porter. The tarter notes are there, but as gentle additions not super sour intrusions – it gives dark fruit early on, but somehow late on lambic like green fruit and pineapple hints give very subtle fresher notes.

Warmth gives it more of what you would expect – tart black cherry and spirit soaked raisins – chilling really hurt this, making it far too pedestrian. Warmth makes this reasonable – still quite dry, but with fruit range of both dark and light fruit. The biggest disappointment is the porter backing to that. The porter character is often relegated to a dank (in the cold wet cave style of the meaning, not the resinous hop style of the meaning) background that seems to bring down the sour notes rather than enhance them.

Overall an ok beer, but one of the weaker sour stouts/porters I have encountered.

Background: So, something more than just a bit unusual here – a beer from 3 Fonteinen, celebrated sour beer makers, but according to a quick google brewed at De Proefbrouweij – a famed contract brewer. I’m guessing they did that to prevent yeast infection issues from the wild yeast. Anyway, this one is a porter brewed with lambic yeast. So, yeah, odd as heck. Drank while listening to some Siouxsie and the Banshees for appropriate backing to that oddness. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Brewdog: Make Earth Great Again (Scotland: Saison: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale light yellow to grain, very clear. An inch of white froth for a head but still main body.

Nose: Wheaty. Vanilla. Light lemon citrus character. Dried banana. Light cloves. Crusty white bread. Light white chocolate. Cheese puff crisps styled funk.

Body: Bitter. Slight cloying cream character. Cream cheese and chives. Slight chalk and prickly feel mix. Cheese puff crisps. Hop oils. Light lemon. Palma violets. Dried banana.

Finish: Cream cheese and chives. Dried banana. Light yeast funk. Light tart yellow raspberries. Hop oils. Palma violets. Light bitterness. Mature cheese.

Conclusion: This actually reminds me of Wild Beer Co’s bretted lager “Chronos” – it has that mix of lager like easy drinking character with a yeast funk style.

At its base it feels clean, slightly lemony and very lager styled with noble hop feeling hop oils and a light palma violets touch to it. Layered over that clean base is a kind of cheese puff into cream cheese and then mature cheese notes – a real contrast of feel and taste going on here. It opens with the cheese funk first, then lets the lighter lager drinking feel through, rather than the other way around that you might expect.

Now, that funk gives some flavour but there is also a light berry tartness below those heavier funk notes that works as a nice bridge between the lager like notes and the more saison like funk. Good use of hop oils smooth out the remaining rough cracks that may have existed, and a moderate bitterness caps off the finish.

Everything works – it doesn’t declare itself as a must drink – instead concentrating on being very easy to drink, mixing smooth feel and funk. The flavour is gentle but tasty, and the beer feels far too close to a session character for a beer of higher abv. It doesn’t break the world, but once you start drinking it is easy to just keep continuing to drink this in a dangerously drunken way – so it definitely has something for it!

Background: So, Brewdog making a beer to protest USA removing itself from the Paris agreement and gives the profits to a climate change charity – I can get behind that. A few gimmicks to go with that, the saison is made with melted ice cap water and cloudberries which are endangered (A few people have asked if that is a good idea, using endangered berries- I presume using the berries isn’t a prob – it’s the plants environment being in danger that is screwing it – I could be wrong). As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was grabbed from Brewdog’s shop and drunk while listening to the final CD of Mclusky – Mcluskyism. So you will probably hear me mention it less for a while. Great 3 CD set and great value. Proper loving the insane energy it has.

Art Brew: Anarchist Party Bitter (England: Bitter: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy caramel brown. Large creamy head in coffee froth form. Some suds around the edge as you drink.

Nose: Malt choc orange. Crushed peanuts. Light fresh citrus.

Body: Treacle. Malt chocolate. Walnuts. Moderate hop bitterness. Caramel. Thick. Brown bread. Prickling feel. Hop oils. Subtle peach. Creamy.

Finish: Choc orange. Good hop character and bitterness. Charring. Peanuts. Brown bread. Hop oils. Gritty. Golden syrup. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a no nonsense big beer. Big malt, big hops, big mouthfeel. It has a real thick caramel to treacle base with choc orange hints – the mouthfeel is really thick with even some syrupy hints amongst the character.

For the hops side, the aroma hints at more fresh notes than the body gives – it starts with moderate bitterness and builds to a mix of impressive roughness, hop oils and hop flavour. Then, over time, more subtle creamy hop flavours of peach styling comes out with a real grounding nutty character beneath that.

So, with the exception of the creamier end of the hop notes late on, this is fairly full bore all the time! It pretty much uses that higher than normal abv to create a base that can punch your taste-buds repeatedly for a good long time.

So, not subtle at all, and so doesn’t have those extra elements that makes an all time great for me, but it has that enthusiasm of a beer than is going for exuberance over fine detail and gives a full flavour assault with that. Approach with caution and enjoy the intensity.

Background: How to list this beer? It says a bitter, but the abv and hop use is a bit high for that style. Possibly English Strong Ale, as a vague catch all style. Possibly IPA with the hop use, but I am trying to avoid falling into the same trap that those red/brown/black/white IPA listings do by putting everything hoppy under IPA. Ok, sod it, I’ll use my general rule of a thumb, list it as the brewery describes it unless you have good reason to do so. So, bitter it is, with some reservations. Anyway, – Art Brew – a local Brewery and one that I have a soft spot for as it used to be tied with the Royal Oak back in the day – spent many a night drinking there. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to more of Mclusky – Mcluskyisms. You will probably see that a lot in the near future – it is a massive 3 CD thing so I have a lot of tunes to get used to – lovely discordant, angry, almost surreal at times tunes.

Odyssey: Fiendish Breakfast (England: Imperial Stout: 9.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large, solid, creamy brown head.

Nose: Salted bacon. Dry malt chocolate. Peanuts. Light smoke. Cocoa dust. Kippers.

Body: Thick textured, with creamy milky chocolate. Slight bitter cocoa and hop prickle. Light tart black cherries. Salted. Bitter coffee. Smoke.

Finish: Creamy coffee. Very bitter cocoa kick. Smoke. Mildly salty. Brown bread and slight sour cream. Slight chives. Dry roasted peanuts. Some dry treacle notes.

Conclusion: This feels heavy – a very thick, creamy body packed with deep bitter notes- most emphasised in the usual imperial stout notes of coffee and cocoa being delivered in a more bitter fashion than normal. Then a salted character shows through, backed by whispers of smoke that give slight Islay whisky styling.

What I find interesting from this is that some of the special ingredients really show through, while other seem but subtle hints. We have already seen the salt doing its thing, and the smoked malt having a subtle influence – The treacle thought? Not really there that much – a few dry notes coating the tongue in the finish, and I’m guessing it contributes to the sweeter notes of the main body, but not immediately evident as itself. The more evident sweetness is instead given when you get sweeter takes on the coffee and chocolate that acts as release from the more bitter cocoa and coffee that dominates it.

As mentioned the salted aspect does not hide itself, but what I found odd is how the smoked character that is so closely linked doesn’t have the huge bacon stylings that the beer’s name suggests – the aroma does show bacon, but the body and finish is more an inhaled ash kind of light dusting over the beer.

There are light off sets to the heavier notes – hints of tart berries, and yes, that treacle in finish – but generally this is big and grounded in bitter and savoury notes making a weighty imperial stout that goes against the showy sweet trend of the moment.

It is a slow drinking thing, definitely enjoyable, doesn’t wow me like Odyssey’s hop master-works do, but I can’t doubt its quality. It feels like a beer to drink, and the just slip down through the floor with. It just drags you down with its weight. Not one I will rave about, but it is a beer that fills its every moment with heavy set character. Intriguing, if not must have.

Background: I’m more familiar with Odyssey for their hop forwards beers, which are bloody amazing, but this Imperial Stout made with oats, salt, smoked malt, roasted coffee beans and treacle did catch my eye, and money from my wallet. Grabbed from … yes, Independent Spirit again … they have tons of good beer, leave me alone. Went a bit unusual with music for this one – put my player to list tunes by least played and check out some tracks I hadn’t listen to for a while.

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