Category: Beer Tasting Notes


Unity: Quorum Brune (England: Belgian Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Brown/ Moderate brown bubbled head with lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cardamom. Black pepper. Chives. Paprika. Very spice led. Greenery.

Body: Cardamom. Malt chocolate. Menthol touch. Liquorice touch. Light chalk. Milk chocolate. Light yeastie character.

Finish: Mint leaves. Menthol. Malt chocolate. Chives. Milk chocolate and milky coffee. Some yeast character. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This opens up overwhelmingly dominated by the spice side of things and it isn’t a good look. The cardamom notes are interesting, but intense. Most interestingly they seem to interact with the rest of the beer to create a wider range of spice notes. However, as always I feel that spice should be an element of the beer, not the whole beer as this first appears.

Time helps it find its feet. It has a gentle malt chocolate to milk chocolate body with a light dash of Belgian yeast funk. The spice is still fairly heavy. But now more mint to sage in how it comes across. The balance is better, it is still heavy on the spice but the base beer shows itself reasonably.

As a beer it seems fairly simple – malt chocolate notes, yeast funk, a little coffee late on but not a huge amount. Much as I find the spice use too heavy done, the beer really relies on it to give it some range.

So, it is an average beer that uses unusual spice slightly excessively. I’m not hating it, at least after the first few moments, but it lacks both complexity and subtlety. It seems to lose a lot of the joy that comes from the Belgian Bruin and the spice can’t fill that hole.

Background: What to list this as, ratebeer lists it as a an Abbey Dubbel but it seems a tad too low abv for that and not quite in style. Untapped calls it Belgian Brown Ale, which seems closer – I’m going with a more generic Belgian Ale for now. Bit of a cop out but it fits. Anyway, I’m always interested in other countries re-interpretations of Belgian styles so decided to grab this from Independent Spirit and give it a go. This is made with Cardamom and cocoa nibs. Drank while listening to Sabaton – Attero Dominatus, been a while since I listened and music that includes songs about smashing Nazis is always good for the heart.

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Mikkeller: Beer Geek Fudgesicle (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick with a small brown head. Still main body.

Nose: Creamy to condensed cream. Liquorice. Bitter coffee. Marshmallow. Toffee.

Body: Creamy fudge. Liquorice. Bitter cocoa. Marshmallow. Chewy. Light rougher nut character. Praline.

Finish: Cocoa. Marshmallow. Fudge. Toffee. Hot chocolate. Butterscotch,

Conclusion: Ok, this is very creamy, big, sweet, thick and …very liquorice touched? Ok, there is one element I did not expect in there. Wonder if you can guess which one?

Though in the description above I have kind of reversed the order. From the first moments after pouring the beer I was surprised that a beer with such a sickly sweet name as Fudgesicle opened with such a strong dry, savoury set of black liquorice notes in the aroma.

As you sip your way slowly through the beer it becomes easy to see how it earned its name though. – there is very thick marshmallow to condensed cream mouthfeel and flavours that create a very heavy and chewy beer. Oddly the fudge flavours are probably behind the more bitter cocoa in the list of flavours by intensity, but there is still definitely enough creamy fudge for it to earn its name.

It is also slightly savoury backed – a the liquorice grounding never really goes away. It works well at keeping the beer from becoming sickly sweet, but I will admit I would have preferred a different grounding notes as the liquorice can get wearing over time.

Now it is still bloody enjoyable – one note in the sweet flavours side of things, but very thick and well done. A simple, but enjoyable party of a beer where everything is layered over with sweet heavy creamy weight.

Not Brunch Weasel level awesome, but a creamy, heavy beer that is technically impressive in the grand scheme of things, even if not every element is to my tastes. It you want sweet boozy fun, grab it. With polish I think they could take this even beyond that if they manage to add a few layers. As is, I loved my time with it, even if it is a tad simple.

Background: So, I am a huge fan of the Beer Geek series, with Beer Geek Brunch Weasel probably still being my favourite, and still one of the best imperial stouts of all time. So, when Independent Spirit got in this oatmeal stout made with cocoa and vanilla it damn near leapt into my hands. This was done by contract brewing, rather than at their new USA based brewery, hence still listing it as Denmark where Mikkeller is based (I generally gave up listing by where it is contract brewed as that just got confusing). Put on Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance while drinking. Amazing album, a kind of Clash meets post hardcore punk with emotional openness, self respect and utter contempt for toxic masculinity. Great stuff.

Mikkeller San Diego: The G.O.A.T. (USA: IIPA: 12% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Some sediment. Large peach touched head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pine cones. Pineapple. Oily. Resinous. Light cannabis. Sage. Vanilla custard. Wheaty bitterness. Peach. Sushi rise and pilau rice.

Body: Peach. Creamy. Strawberry. Oily, resinous bitterness. Slight olives. Cake sponge. Brown bread. Light pepper.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Flour. Olives. Slight charring. Lots of hop oils. Good hop character in general. Greenery. Honey. Slight pepper and rye. Brown bread.

Conclusion: This is so very, very average. Which is highly disappointing for two reasons. The first being that usually Mikkeller blows my expectations out of the water with beers like this. The second is that this beer costs over ten quid. I expect a hell of a lot more when I am dropping that much on a beer.

I mean, I do enjoy the beer – when I say average that isn’t some passive aggressive way of saying bad, trust me on that. It uses New England style creaminess but being a triple IPA it is far more full bodied than they usually are – oily and slightly resinous to give a very solid hop backing to the main peach sweet body.

It is decent, ya know. Thick in a cake sponge kind of way with slightly peppery grounding, moderately oily and resinous in a way I would not usually associate with the New England style of IPA. In fact, if I was just going by the base texture/body/mouthfeel etc then I would be saying that this beer is very well done. It has a nice balance of savoury and sweet, spice and sponge, elements mixing for a nice balance, feel and weight.

The problem is that on top of that well done base is a simple peach and vanilla set of sweet notes that just don’t excite at all. There is no real progression, no spark, nothing I haven’t seen done better in a thousand IPAs before. It is a pity as so much is done right on the technical side of brewing – impressively done but with a very mediocre set of flavours used that do not show that impressive brewing off at all.

So, a wonderful base that does absolutely nothing with it. As a standard price IIPA I would call this worth grabbing in a pinch, but not one of the better ones. At its cost this is not worth it at all.

A great base, a very average beer overall. Lots of good ideas that I hope they use later in a more exciting and hopefully cheaper beer.

Background: You know when I bought this is didn’t know what G.O.A.T. meant. I was wondering if it was like S.P.E.C.I.A.L from the Fallout games. Anyway, I googled. It means greatest of all time, but I’m guessing most of you already knew that. My finger is on the pulse of modern culture. Anyway, while Mikkeller usually contract brews their beers at other breweries this one is from their own brewery in San Diego. Which is kind of obvious from the breweries name. I am stating the obvious here. Other obvious facts, this was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit in Bath. I get a lot of beers there. Had been to see Garbage live recently, and found a new band called Honeyblood as one of the warm up bands, so was listening to some of their stuff while drinking – nice alternative indie pop kind of stuff, light but far from empty if that makes sense.

Northern Monk: Wylam: Moobing On Up (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy opaque apricot. Large loose white head.

Nose: Peach. Apricot. Peppermint and menthol. Mild bitter hops. Hop oils. Palma violets. Resin. Vanilla.

Body: Resinous. Creamy peach. Peach melba. Oily hops. Dried apricot. Peppermint. Menthol. Grapes. Cream. Prickly hops underneath. Blood orange. Vanilla toffee and vanilla custard.

Finish: Hop oils, seeping dark bitterness. Resin. Heavy hop bitterness. Grapes. Menthol and peppermint. Blood orange. Charring. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: Ok, this is cloudy, is it a NEIPA? Or at least a Tripel IPA style of NEIPA? If so I may have to temporarily revise my opinion of the style.

From the first moments of pouring it is oozing peach and apricot notes as the aroma seeps out of the glass. There is a kind of menthol, peppermint note that I was intrigued by, but simultaneously I was worried that it would get wearing over time.

I shouldn’t have been worried – while the fresh fruit notes are accompanied by those menthol notes as we head into the body there is a lot else in there to contrast it – from cream to blood orange notes. It is very fresh and fruit up front, but it hints at resinous elements and hop oils already, elements that are going to play a much bigger part as time goes on.

The bright, creamy front sinks into resinous, oily hoppiness – a slow progress that assimilates and overwhelms the menthol notes. It lets them be interesting at the start, but moves them out of the way before they can overstay their welcome. It does keep the fruit, but builds up the oiliness, and bitterness slowly so you don’t notice until it takes the front and it is kicking your throat out. In a good way.

Then it allows the malt through, soft sweetness with toffee and such balancing the now “dank” oily hop character. In the last few moments rougher notes come in – charring and gunpowder tea – what would be off-putting if they had arrived earlier but gives just a final pep as the beer is heading out. This beer is lovely, intense and with a huge range.

It is such a fine beer, that if the bullshit tabloid articles were true, would definitely be worth getting moobs to drink (or … foobs? Hmm, that probably doesn’t work. i tried for not assuming all beer drinkers are blokes, anyway …) . I am very impressed. So much so I am tempted to imitate the can and throw an unironic dab. It is that good.

Background: I missed out on “I Like To Moob It, Moob It” – a beer taking the piss out of the ill researched articles in papers about hoppy beers giving you man boobs. It sold out damn fast, and seems to have bloody good rep. So when I saw this brewed up triple IPA version, hopped with Citra, Ella, Vic Secret, Enigma and Topaz I figured it was definitely worth a grab. Though I nearly made a mistake – with it being high abv I thought it would be ok to sit a short while before drinking, thankfully I overhead in Independent Spirit that it had a short three month best before, so managed to drink it before it went out of date. From past experience I figure the beer would be fine, but I always feel I should try and do notes while the beer is still in date, to be fair to it. Since it is the 20th anniversary this year, I put on Garbage v2.0 yet again. Bloody awesome album.

Kaiju!: Cthulhu On The Moon (Australia: Black IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Creamy inch of a brown head.

Nose: Nutty. Bitter chocolate. Bitter hop character. Lightly earthy. Bitter raw coffee.

Body: Earthy bitterness. Chalk touch. Sour cream twist. Bitter cocoa. Tofu. Light charring. Light toffee/Choc Toffee.

Finish: Earthy. Greenery. Bitter cocoa. Bitter coffee. Pepper. Sour cream. Kiwi.

Conclusion: This is a take on the black IPA style that I was not expecting. Most BIPAS I’ve seen either go the hoppy stout route, or in the fruity smooth way with chocolate backing. This feels like a black IPA take on an earthy English style IPA. Intriguing.

The base is quite stouty and on the harsher end of the stout scale, showing more raw notes from the bitter cocoa and coffee. There’s even a chalk touch and a slight sour cream twist under that, which would act as a grounding notes in most beers, but here just pushes it further into the heavy, slow drinking style.

Onto that heavy base the earthy, bitter hops are another weighty layer – peppery, nutty and earthy. This brings none of the fruity high notes that I usually expect of a black IPA.

So, not a showy beer, instead a slow, heavy beer. There is the slightest touch of toffee sweetness in the mid body, and slight kiwi that rises in the finish. The offsetting notes are used sparingly to make the heavier notes more manageable. There are hints main body of similar green fruit, but it never fully develops, instead keeping to the more earthy bitter notes.

It is not one I would have often, but it is a solid one. It reminds me of a Best Bitter, mixed 50/50 with a British style IPA, the kind of drink you could drink a few slow pints of with in mates in a traditional pub, near a warm fire.

Not a must have, but an interesting take and solid enough.

Background: So, I’m kind of partial to the Kaiju movies, if not a massive dedicated fan – loved the recent Shin Gojira so that was a good start for this. Big Lovecraft nerd, so a Cthulhu reference is my jam. This is from Australia, and I haven’t tried many beers from there, so always a chance to expand. Finally not had a good BIPA for a while – so yeah, out of the Kaiju! Beer stuff that turned up at independent spirit, it was almost inevitable that this would be the one I’d grab. I did miss a trick on music though – just put on some Anti Flag out of generic annoyance at the world today, when I had perfectly good Lovecraft themed rock from Darkest Of Hillside Thickets right there and I didn’t use it. Shame on me.

Mikkeller: Henry and His Science #1 (Denmark: Low Alcohol: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to grain. Medium white head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Jiff lemon. Wheaty. Fresh. Lime cordial. Soft milk. Slight hop prickle.

Body: Lucozade. Chalk touch. Strawberry. Lemon curd. Fluffy hop middle. Hop oils. Lime cordial. Malt toffee. Golden syrup.

Finish: Lemon hard sweets. Lucozade. Strawberry. Lemon curd. Vanilla toffee.

Conclusion: This is not 100% beer feeling – it is about 50% glucose energy drink and 50% beer. Which is a bloody odd experience let me tell you.

The lucozade energy drink style elements are the first hit – sweet, slightly syrup tasting, though not in texture, and sugary. The citrus notes that make up the more beer side of things come in after, lemon and lime notes – very fresh and backed by very subtle fluffy hop feel and hop oils that are the most direct beer feeling element but very subtle. There is a slight chalk grounding touch but that again is very mild

Like a lot of low abv beers it seems to find it difficult to create that elusive “Beer” texture and taste – but here it feels like the beer leans into that, creating a distinctly different drink that uses the low abv to create something new in the beer arena rather than trying to replicate what came before.

Soft strawberry notes develop over time, along with a recognisable, if subtle, toffee sweet backing. The hops lean tart and fresh in a NZ hop style which helps quench the sweetness and make the beer easy to drink.

As an attempt to replicate other beer styles in a low abv I would have to call this a failure. As an attempt to use low abv to create a beer influenced experience that stands on its own two feet this is lovely. Lots of flavour, lots of tart notes and sweet notes, and all just about recognisable as beer touched if nothing else.

Very easy to drink, tasty, and low abv – I’m happy with that.

Background: Low abv beer time again! Along with Big Drop Brewing, Mikkeller are at the forefront of low abv beers in my opinion. Though I think they have a brewery in the USA now, this is one of their “Gypsy brewing” style ones, still done by contract brewing in other breweries. Anyway, this was a nice one on a night when I didn’t want to kick off anything heavy, but felt like a beer. I’d had it a few times before so had a good idea of what to expect going in. Put on some Mclusky while drinking, love their out there, rough sounding, awesome music. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Buxton: Medusa Bay (England: IPA: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow-apricot. Huge white head, with a good chunk of small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Dried mango. Fluffy, bitter hop character. Dried apricot. Light greenery. Prickly character. Mild hop oils. Sweet peach syrup. Palma violets,

Body: Raspberry and yellow raspberries. Tart pineapple. Prickly hop character. Greenery, pepper and hop oils. Kumquat. Kiwi. Palma violets. Pink grapefruit.

Finish: Hop oils. Greenery. Dried apricot and sweet peach. Sour cream twist. Good bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Yellow raspberry. Tangerine.

Conclusion: An IPA. A genuine IPA. Not a NEIPA, an IPA. Yes I know, I’m a grumpy old man shouting for the NE to get off my lawn. I keep trying not to dump on the New England take on the IPA style, but, after so many NEIPA takes on the style, a rock solid, slightly west coast IPA leaning if not perfectly fitting that style, take on the IPA is exactly what I need. That and long run on sentences it seems.

The base is fairly dry and clean – lightly sweet but mainly out of the way. The hop fruitiness and bitterness does most of the heavy lifting here. It mixes up a few different IPA hop takes in the flavour profile. There’s tart pineapple and pink grapefruit that make up a fresh middle to the beer – feeling a bit NZ hopped style, but there’s notes like a varied raspberry tartness that means it doesn’t fit neatly into that box. There are American style apricot notes, always backed by that slight savoury to vegetable touched bitterness. It feels like a mid 2000’s style IPA remade with access to the modern hop varieties, giving a new spin on an old classic.

The bitterness is present but not harsh – mixing lightly oily but solid bitterness with a peppery present character for weight. It feels like a subtle re-imaging rather than a revolution of an IPA, but it is solid as hell. Big flavour, nice hop choice, and IPA that is exactly what I wanted right now. The classic USA style IPA brought right up to date.

Background: This was a fairly simple choice to grab. I was just looking for a straightforward, no frills IPA and 1) Buxton have been very reliable as a brewer and 2) It is made with a solid dry hop selection of Citra, Mosaic and Ekuanot. Not every beer needs to be something out there – I just wanted a solid IPA and hoped this would be it. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for a similarly solid music choice with straight up Metallica – Master of Puppets. Was bloody humid and sticky, so I had this chilled down a touch more than I normally would.

To Øl: Põhjala: Graff Gadient – Rye and Apple Gose (Estonia: Gose: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Light clear brown to apricot. Short lived off white head.

Nose: Cloying sweet apricot. Crushed palma violets. Stewed peaches. Apple. Thick syrup character. Apple pie fillings. Cough syrup.

Body: Apple pie filling. Oak. Apple juice. Tart. Rye bread. Acidic front. Oats.

Finish: Tart cider. Dry fudge. Acidic pear. Varnish air. Fresh cut apples. Menthol cough sweets. White wine.

Conclusion: I’ve come to accept that the goses I encountered in Germany, and the goses I encounter in the rest of the world are going to be totally different things. That’s cool, styles cross pollinate and pick up local character. Even with that said, this, this is unusual.

It is tart, kind of gose meets lambic or berliner weisse – that bit sharper and tarter than most gose are, and with lots of the apple on show. It is a mix of tart cider like notes, matched with thick apple pie filling sweetness, all over dry rye bread notes.

Now that is odd, not not that odd, definitely not odd enough to trip my WTF? radar. So what is unusual, ok, but unusual is this menthol cough sweets to cough syrup set of notes that come across in a medicinal but very syrupy way. That was unexpected. It matches with the stewed apricot and peach notes, so is not as out of place as you might expect – but is still a strange feel and taste based on 1) My expectations of a gose 2) My expectations based on the special ingredients and 3) my expectations of any beer ever.

It isn’t bad, but it feels weird – you can be enjoying those tart apple notes, and general acidic character – when suddenly you are hit with the cough syrup notes and it just takes out out of it. It breaks up the experience in a way that ruins the flow of the beer.

Interesting but the medicinal cough syrup notes just make it one I can’t get into properly.

Background: This is described as both a rye and apple gose, and half beer half cider. Made with spontaneous fermented cider, Estonian apple juice and three varieties of thyme, this sounded odd enough to be worth a try. Not tried anything from Põhjala before, but To Øl tend to be pretty good. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on a mix of Jonathan Young stuff while drinking, mainly his excellent track “Bait”- an original track rather than the covers he tends to do. Well worth checking out.

Neon Raptor: Island Party DDH Pale Ale (England: American Pale Ale:4.3% ABV)

Visual: On first pour clear lager yellow colour with huge yellow-whitehead. Tons of small bubbled carbonation. Later pours are cloudy and opaque.

Nose: Dry bitter hops. Soft pineapple. Floral. Chalk touch. Flour.

Body: Dry, hoppy bitterness. Flour. Soft vanilla. Soft apricot. Prickly. Light gherkin. Mango. Strawberry touch.

Finish: Strawberry. Flour. Soft pineapple. Vanilla yogurt. Crushed love heart sweets. Solid bitterness. Kumquat.

Conclusion: This pours oddly. The first pour was utterly clear and lager like, with a massive head. However it seems I should have given the can more of a shake before pouring as later pours were cloudy in a NEIPA style. (or maybe not – again, massive head already – but you get the gist).

So, once I had let the head settle a bit I found that this was pretty subtle in the aroma. Soft pineapple and dry, bitter notes. While it never hits that super dry, super harsh take that some APAs do, this still leans into the drier take throughout the rest of the beer.

It has a fairly creamy mouthfeel, but very dry around that. Kind of a flour dryness that seems to be a common APA shtick. There is some soft apricot and pineapple notes packed around that which freshens it up a touch, along with some savoury vegetable notes and sour gherkin notes rounding out the range.

Altogether it is ok, but gets wearing as times goes on and the drier notes take over, leaving more flour notes on your tongue as a desiccating experience. It is a just slightly too far into the harsh dryness in style, rather than the super drinkable dry style.

So, it had good first impressions, before the flour notes got too heavy, as the soft fruit is appealing, but it just gets bogged down over time. Ok at the start, but definitely sub-optimal and gets worse as time goes on.

Background: Neon Raptor. Neon. Raptor. There was no way I wasn’t going to try something from this brewery. Decided to go for the APA as been trying a lot of IPAs recently. Also the IPAs were New England style. I’m trying to not hate on NEIPAs too much, but the way they are saturating the market at the mo is not exactly my scene shall we say. Anyway, not much else to add – picked this up from Independent Spirit and put on B. Dolan’s House Of Bees Vol 2 while drinking. Should be seeing the Epic Beard men live soon, so gets me in the mood for cool socially conscious rap.

Stillwater Artisanal: Casita Cerveceria: On Fleek (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick. Small brown head.

Nose: Caramel. Milky chocolate. Cream. Marshmallows. Praline. Nougat. Smooth. Rich milky coffee. Brown sugar.

Body: Thick. Fudge and chocolate fondue. Rich creamy coffee. Very smooth. Toffee liqueur. Nougat. Bitter cocoa. Chalk touch as it warms.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Chocolate liqueur. Easter egg chocolate. Milky coffee. Cocoa.

Conclusion: This is a very sweet Imperial Stout. Very creamy, using the malt load for a thick character but with the barest hint of its 13% abv. Well, my current pissed squiggly handwriting is probably a dead giveaway, but thankfully by the time these notes are typed up that will be hidden from you.

Whew.

Anyway this is a very well balanced imperial stout – showing a lot of the usual coffee notes, expressed here richly and creamily. It also shows the expected chocolate notes, expressed creamy and and as bitter cocoa dust. It manages big flavours without becoming sickly sweet or harshly bitter.

The sweet high notes come in liqueur like with chocolate and toffee elements, laid over a chewy, thick nougat and creamy mouthfeel and taste. Bitter cocoa and more savoury notes ground it, making for a rewarding imperial stout experience. As it warms a light chalk note adds itself to the grounding – very subtle but underlining the beer along with slightly more bitter, but still milky coffee notes – all making it very robust and keeping the sweeter notes under control.

For the first half this beer is perfectly done, but as you go into the second half you hit the only real flaw – a lack of any real progression in the beer. It is always the same creamy and coffee, bitter and sweet notes. It is still, very good in fact, but there are no surprises as it goes on.

That is a very minor nitpick though – it keeps it from being one of the world’s greatest imperial stouts – but that is just because there are so many great imperial stouts out there. It is still super well crafted and well worth grabbing.

Background: Ok, I only own this beer as my mate hates the idea of it. Long story shot – my mate had to explain to me what “On Fleek” means as he saw this thing’s name and the can design and hated the “Hipster” idea of it. So, anyway that stuck in my mind, so when I saw it on Beer Hawk I had to give it a try. Odd how these things happen. So if I hate it, it is indirectly his fault for hating it for different reasons. Anyway this is an imperial stout made with … dark sugar and molasses if a quick google is to be believed. Which possibly it shouldn’t. Anyway, put on Arch Enemy: Will To Power for this – big metal for big imperial stouts.

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