Category: Beer Tasting Notes


Kaiserdom: Lager Beer: Alcohol Free (Germany: Low Alcohol. 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Large white mounded head of loose bubbles. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Wet cardboard. Soft banana. Creamy lime. Vanilla. Low bitterness.

Body: Wet cardboard. Slightly sulphurous. Charred bitterness. Sour-dough. Slight chalk.

Finish: Slight charring and bitterness. Wet. Sulphur. Sour dough.

Conclusion: This is so “meh”, just sub par in most elements and in general mildly, though not offensively, bad.

Unlike that start to the notes, the start to this beer is actually not too bad. It looks like a larger, being fairly bright in colour and clear, with a good sized and robust head. Beyond clearing that very low bar it also had a passable aroma. While it opens with less pleasant wet cardboard, it also brings some soft fruit notes around it which hold some promise. So, not the worst way to kick off.

The body is, well, to put it bluntly, fairly shit. Still wet cardboard, but now matched with vaguely sulphurous elements, and, at best, it can be described as sour dough like. The sulphurous element means that it doesn’t refresh like a cleaner lager would. Worse still, it doesn’t give an extra flavour to make you want to take your time with it and examine it if it isn’t going the refreshing lager route. It has no way to look at it where it works.

The finish continues to be sulphurous and charred, and in general just stuffy feeling. So, it isn’t actively terrible, it just tastes like what uncomfortable feels like is the best way I can describe it.

So, not enjoyable, and nothing actively going for it. Even the aroma which is the best element barely passes ok and that is the only bit that manages that.

In this time of amazing low alcohol beers there is no excuse for one like this.

Background: This is a fairly simple story, saw a bunch of canned low alcohol beers at Independent Spirit from Kaiserdom, a German brewery I had not tried yet. Needed some low alcohol, or this case no alcohol, beers for a few days dry, so grabbed some and decided to do notes on them. Ta dah! Decided to do the lager one first, see how they manage the basics before trying the more fancy beers. Music wise Garbage had just released No Gods, No Masters, so as a huge fan of them from the 90s I picked it up and put it on while drinking. Pretty impressed so far.

Cushnoc: All Souls IPA (USA: IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold to yellow. Massive white mounded head that leaves lace. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla fudge. Pine needles. Light crushed custard cream biscuits. Lightly resinous. Soft kiwi. Light flour to floured baps. Apricot touch. Cake sponge.

Body: Prickly bitterness. Dank hop oils. Light charring. Kiwi and grapefruit. Popcorn hop feel. Floral. Vanilla. Dry fudge. Moderately dry overall. Lightly chalky. Slight sweet grapes.

Finish: Flour. Popcorn hop feel. Good bitterness. Light charring. Slight chilli seeds.

Conclusion: This has a nice range of notes from the hops, yet keeps the bitterness on point. While I knew this was made with a mix of West Coast and Australian hops it didn’t explicitly say it was West Coast style, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but I kind of hoped for west coast influenced at least.

Anyway, it is very west coast like. Yayz! And it does it well as well.

So, let’s dig into things, how does it feel?

Base body is pretty dry, not bone dry – there is some vanilla and drier fudge notes in there, so the malt base isn’t completely out of the way. It is however dry enough to be exactly what I want for a hop delivery system.

Those delivered hops emphasise bitterness, mainly in the popcorn feeling hop kick and some charring notes. I will admit the charring isn’t my favourite thing, but in general I am down for what this beer is selling on the hop bitterness side.

Outside of that it is more subtle. There is some tart grapefruit and hints of apricot sweetness and soft kiwi. They are not pushing any element too heavy but they are there – little grace notes around the edges.

It is lovely being able to try more USA made West Coast style IPAs, even if again I think this comes from the east coast. I think. This is quality made – light charring aside- there is nothing unusual, but is another good example of exactly how to do a lovely bitter kick IPA with just enough release and interesting qualities that it isn’t one note.

I may just be recovering from the NEIPA trend and just jumping onto any proper clear and bitter IPA, but I am loving these in general and enjoying this in specific.

Background: Another IPA grabbed from Beer Bruvs, this one with canned on date of 22/12/20. So a bit older than perfect, but on the line where I would expect it to still hold a lot of the flavour, if not the full effect. I have had two other IPAs from them that were older, around the 9 month to year mark and they were definitely past their best by that point so I didn’t do full notes on them. The oldest one was on sale, but still felt it lost too much to be worth it even like that. At this point I would say most of their beers are from very fresh, to decent if not great freshness, but if you want fresh IPAs it is worth keeping to their more recent arrivals. Again, I have sympathy, as a new start up in these times, but I would not be doing my best for you all of I did not advise. Hopefully as they get more established their turnover will increase keeping things fresh. Anyway, this is made with a mix of Australian and West Coast hops, which is what caught my eye. Not much else to add, put on a mix of Television Villain tunes while drinking. I am biased as I know one member, but I think they are amazing.

Rothaus: Hefeweizen: Alkoholfrei (Germany: Low alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Ripe banana. Huge yellow to white bubbled head. Quite bit of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cinnamon. Carrot and coriander. Cloves. Paprika. Soft lemon.

Body: Peppery bitterness. Vanilla. Shreddies. Mild toffee. Slightly watery. Lime. Bready bitterness.

Finish: Wheaty. Milky. Peppery bitterness. Soft lemon and lime. Flour. Slight ginger. Brown sugar. Cloves.

Conclusion: When I popped this open and poured it out I was shortly after hoping that this to be a low abv weisse to compete with the recently drunk Maisels. The colour on the eye was spot on, the aroma was more spice led but very discernibly weisse like. In fact the aroma just rolled off the glass, with soft lemon pushing its way out from under the spice.

Very nice.

The body is, well, lighter. Initially a bit watery but builds up pretty quickly to an average, if not notable weight over time. Here the more spice led character seems less impressive as it only has a faint bready character backing it up. Now, it is still some nice spice range, especially leading out into some gentle ginger like notes in the finish, but without Maisel’s style weight, or a more distinct set of flavours main body to back it up, it ends up feeling nondescript.

The finish is, oddly similarly to the Maisel, better than the body. The nondescript sweetness mid body gains a brown sugar character, and a soft citrus backing comes out giving something for the spice to work with.

Overall it uses the spice well but is too reliant on them doing the work, and doesn’t have the weight to pull that off.

Mediocre but not terrible.

Background: After the Maisel’s low alcohol weisse went down so well, I saw this at BeerCraft as part of their large low abv selection, so thought I would grab a bottles and see if it could compare well, or even top that beer. Rothaus looks really familiar for some reason but I don’t think I’ve ever done notes on them before. Went back to Korn: See You On The Other Side for backing music, something a bit heavier and rough edged.

Ingenious: Smarty Champagne Sherbet (USA: Berliner Weisse: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Strawberry juice red. No real head, just a handful of bubbles. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Strawberry jelly babies. Crushed love hearts. Palma violets. Fudge. Seville orange.

Body: Light sherbety mouthfeel and sherbet lemon. Fudge to chocolate fudge. Grapes. Strawberry. Raspberry soft drinks. Crushed love hearts. Sweet white wine. Grape juice. Orange jelly sweets.

Finish: Chocolate fudge. Chocolate orange. Sweet raspberry. Lemon sorbet. Green grapes. Slight funky feel. Palma violets. Red grape juice.

Conclusion: This is nothing like what I expected. Which is partially my fault, with something called Champagne Sherbet I should not be surprised when it has lemon sherbet flavours.

My bad.

What is unexpected is how restrained the Berliner sharpness is. There is a soft, tart, fizzy character but nothing like the acidic pain from my first Berliner Weisse experience. It may help that I don’t have an unknown tooth cavity this time.

Again, my bad.

It is fruity, with the expected strawberry and raspberry notes coming through quasi naturally, but what really sticks out in this is that it feels like some one took a ton of crushed love hearts and dumped them into the beer.

But in a good way.

It results in an odd mix of natural fruit and super artificial sherbet fizz. Then you back it with soft white wine like notes and a bit of yeast funk at the end and you have something that should not at all mesh together, but somehow does.

It has a champagne feel only in the funk in the finish, and the fruit used comes across cleanest in the aroma; In-between the two there is a massive mix of everything that went into this. So, yeah somehow they manage to make drinking crushed sweets through fruit stewed in white wine work. Which is impressive.

It is fun, but unlike a lot of “fun” beers it feels well brewed and almost could even be called balanced. Almost. Lets face it, something that tastes like crushed sweets will never be 100% balanced.

Fun, funky. Fruity and sweet. I need a word that means sweet but begins with f to continue the alliterations. Fructose? Nah that is rubbish. Anyway, if this was a lower abv this would be a perfect drinking in the sun refresher. As is I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway.

Background: Ok this is a (Deep breath) Berliner brewed with champagne yeast and conditioned on raspberry, strawberry, orange, lime and vanilla. Which is a bit of a mouthful. At time of doing the notes initially I was only aware of the strawberry and raspberry, so I am happy I picked up on some of the others as well. This is listed everywhere as “Smarty Champagne Sherbet” but on the can I could initially only see “Champagne Sherbet” and that is from an additional label stuck on it. Anyway, yeah I see it NOW! Go figure. Additionally the label, and most of the internet calls this at 6.8% abv, but if you peel off the label the can calls it as 6.1% ABV. Again, go figure. No canned on date for this one, so not sure how long it has been since it was brewed. As you may have guessed from that, this is another one grabbed from The Beer Bruvs website. Went with Evan Greer’s Spotify Is Surveillance as backing music again. Easy to listen to but politically sharp. I like it.

Hammerton: Crunch AF (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)


Visual: Very dark brown. Thin, off white, bubbled head.

Nose: Peanuts. Slightly musty. Fatty butter. Chocolate spread.

Body: Peanuts. General nutty character. Mild peanut butter. Fizzy mouthfeel. Chalky. Charring. Touch of sour cream.

Finish: Slight fatty butter. Light charring. Sour cream and chives. Peanut butter. Bitter cocoa. Cola bottles.

Conclusion: Stouts are very heard to do well as a low abv, mainly because a full abv stout tends to rely on being thicker and more malt led than most other beers, which are two things that a very hard to get right at a lower abv.

Now that is totally a good start to a low abv stout’s tasting notes eh?

Ok, let’s open up with what is usually the strongest point of a low abv beer – the aroma.

It is pretty good – a bit musty but clearly showing both peanuts and fatty butter, even if it doesn’t quite mesh the two flavours together to come across as peanut butter. It is close enough. Where there are cracks it uses a few chocolate spread like layers to paste over them.

The body has a similar slight musty feel to it, while also being a bit thin and chalky. It doesn’t set a good first impression. Over time more peanuts, or even at times peanut butter, grow. Though even late on there is an oddly fizzy mouthfeel, even if it isn’t as thin as it was early on. I’m not sure where the fizziness comes from, as it doesn’t seem that carbonated – I can’t attribute it to any one element, it just feels odd.

On the way out this beer is at its weakest, with slight charring and a kind of sour cream and chives note. It feels generally kind of artificial, which should not be a surprise in an peanut butter beer, but also in a way that doesn’t properly underline the whole experience.

It is kind of artificial feeling overall, again even for a peanut butter beer. Not bad, but feels odd. As of such I’m finding it hard to recommend. It is too musty and odd feeling to session and not enough in it to slow examine.

It is an interesting experiment but feels like a prototype for a better beer to come.

Background: Have been looking for some more varied low alcohol beers recently, and thankfully reality seems happy to fulfil this one specific wish. I found this one at Beercraft. They tend to the expensive side, even for craft beer, but they keep a very well stocked low alcohol selection that I like to raid. This one is very odd, being made with lactose, wheat, and peanut in order to try and make a low abv peanut butter milk stout. Think this is my first time with the Hammerton brewery, so nothing much to say on them. Went with Faithless: Reverence as backing music as I’m on a bit of a Faithless kick at the moment, Or poss just in a retro 90s place at the mo.

Maisel’s Weisse: Alkoholfrei (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Overripe banana yellow to caramel. Cloudy body. Very large mounded white head.

Nose: Wheat flakes. Soft lemon. Cloves. Subtle pomegranate. Coriander. Toffee.

Body: Wheaty. Slightly milky. Good thickness. Carrot and coriander. Soft lemon. Lightly peppery. Toffee.

Finish: Soft lemon. Carrot and coriander. Light hop character. Soft lime. Toffee and soft caramel. Palma violets.

Conclusion: A lot of low alcohol beers suffer from a lack of weight to them. They taste good, but there is nothing to stop you necking them down, so often they can vanish too quickly and feel kind of empty, despite the flavour, compared to a heavier beer.

I would guess it is the wheat that does it, though I can’t be sure as I have had other wheat beers that still have the issue, but this definitely doesn’t have that problem. This has a lovely, slightly milky, wheaty thickness. A weight that makes you take your time – so a good start for the beer there.

The aroma promises a lot as well. There is lovely soft lemon, which is the first of the hefe weisse style hints, followed by a lot more – giving the spice some room, some sweet notes, and even on the eye this has a cloudy, rich colour that shouts the beer style. So far not losing much to the low abv at all.

Main body doesn’t quite follow through. It is more milky, and with that not quite pushing the flavours promised by the aroma, however that does help with the good, solid texture and mouthfeel. It isn’t completely lacking either, with a light but pleasant spice and sweet character that does the job well enough to be enjoyable.

The finish brings things back though, with that soft lemon coming back along with a heavier spice and sweetness. Throughout it feels like a thicker and more generally satisfying beer character than most.

So, generally good, not 100% on flavour but good enough that, when you add it to the weight and mouthfeel, it manages to more than do the job.

A very solid, slower drinking, low abv beer.

Background: Had this one quite a few times before I decided to finally do notes on it. Odd that this is comparatively easy to get – I don’t see many Maisel’s Weisse beers around – wish they were easier to get, they tend to be quite nice. Anyway, a low alcohol weisse beer, grabbed from Independent Spirit. I have a ton of beers I want to drink right now and I am relying on these low alcohol beers to give my liver a break. Went back to the 90s for Faithless: Sunday 8pm for backing music – While I prefer Reverence as an album, this has “God Is a DJ” which is so awesome. I do like their mix of dance sensibility and more melodic electronic music – I should return to them more often.

Big Oyster: Hammerhead IPA (USA: IPA: 6.4% ABV)

Visual: Clear, darkened yellow body. Large white mound of a head that leaves suds. A small amount of small bubbles for carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla fudge. Pine cones and needles. Slightly oily, resinous character and bitterness. Lime cordial. Cake sponge. Apricot. Flour. Grapes.

Body: Good bitterness. Oily hops. Prickly. Kiwi. Light charring and gunpowder tea. Tart grapefruit. Tart white grapes.

Finish: Greenery. Hop oils. Oily charring and good bitterness. Good hop punch. Light grapes and grapefruit. Flour. Kiwi.

Conclusion: While I have been on a right West Coast IPA kick recently, this is the first USA made one I have had for a while – so as the originators of the style, are they still the masters of it?

Well, first impressions are what you would expect. Clear on the eye, simple but effective on the nose.

The aroma opens up with sweet vanilla, though that definitely diminishes over time; In return more oily, pine cone hop character comes out backed by a light freshness.

The body delivers on that promise of the aroma. It is mainly straightforward hop bitterness, light charring and a slightly dry kick, but with resinous edges. The bitterness goes hard, into occasionally harsh with gunpowder tea like notes, but with just enough grapefruit release for it to work

There are sweeter notes, with apricot and kiwi, but fruit wise the tarter grape and grapefruit notes are doing the heavy lifting. Even that is never the main course of the beer, but they are evident enough to freshen it up and keep it from being too harsh.

As time passes the bitterness, greenery and hops rise to dominate the beer, and it is the main thrust at the end. Which admittedly is exactly what I wanted from a west coast.

Not unusual, or fancy, but as I say, damn this does exactly what I want from a west coast. Bitter, resinous and just enough release from the harshness.

I have missed this.

Background: It is getting hard to get American craft beer over here in the UK, outside of a couple of regulars that have become commonplace, so when I saw that there was a website called “Beer Bruvs” that was importing and selling some lesser seen craft beer from over there I thought I would give them a go, see how they do. Even if Beer Bruvs as a name is like nails on a blackboard for me. I will not judge them on that. Mostly. While I am not cult like in my need for freshness, I will be posting canned dates where relevant, as a new importer am am interested in what sort of turn around they have on beers, especially the hoppy ones. Now, these are cans which will help, and frankly with COVID, Brexit and the like hitting the entire infrastructure right now I am more than happy giving them leeway, but is is still useful info for you all to know when I am doing notes. This one is dated as 16/03/21 (Yes I changed to UK style dates), so pretty good – probably the freshest of the IPAs they sent. A few different IPAs were back from Sept last year, which isn’t the worst, but may put off people who want them super fresh. Anyway, I don’t know much about the brewery, but was excited to try a proper old USA made West Coast IPA (Even if the brewery is, I think, based on the east coast) – been a while and I adore the style. I went with Mclusky: Mcluskyism as backing music for this for some random energy.

Trappistes Rochefort: Tripel Extra (Belgium: Tripel: 8.1% ABV)


Visual: Hazy lemon juice colour. Evident sediment in the body and a moderate sized white tight bubbled head.

Nose: Slight lemon. Bready hop bitterness. Dry. White pepper.

Body: Sherbety mouthfeel initially. Dry attenuated character later. Naan bread. Lemon sherbet. Cheese puff crisps. White pepper. Slight mature cheddar. Lemon juice.

Finish: Moderate bitterness. Moderate yeastie funk. Wotsits crisps. Slight mature Cheddar. White pepper. Dry lemon. Slight sulphur.

Conclusion: Now this is definitely an interesting one. A lot of Tripels go for the sweeter route, with either evident residual sugar, or a smoother malt sweet style.

This says “Fuck that noise”

This is dry, very well attenuated, with lots of flavours that would normally be expressed in a sweeter way instead being so dryly done that they come across almost savoury here.

Yet it also defies the smooth American take on the Abbey Tripel style – it has good levels of bitterness, which is very unexpected, a savoury yeast funk that calls to the rougher edges of some of the best Belgian takes. It has all the polished brewing skilled mixed with a touch of rough gem style you would expect of a Belgian Tripel, just drier.

This slightly different take allows it to play with more unusual flavours. The dry lemon matched with an unleavened bready bitterness for a refreshing yet savoury base – then with white pepper spiciness and subtle mature cheddar notes that give the complexity and challenge. There is a lot more savoury style than you would expect.

So how good is it? Well it may not win a place as a favourite, return to often beer for me, but it 100% got my attention, and with that I enjoyed it more than most other Tripels I have had recently.

It is a challenging one, and doesn’t declare itself as a must have for me as there are just some aspects that don’t quite click – but those are more personal things than signs of its quality, I still dig it, and would still recommend it in general.

A more bitter, more attenuated, more different Tripel. Brilliantly made, just not for everyone nor one for every time.

Still worth trying.

Background: I’ve had a few of these, before doing notes today. This is the first time it poured with the very evident sediment mentioned in the notes. As a huge fan of Rochefort, hearing that they were turning out this – a rare new beer release from them, was very interesting so this was a must grab. So grab it I did, from Independent Spirit. Yes again. Went with Stay Alive by Laura Jane Grace as music while drinking. I’m a big fan of Against Me! So was interested in this solo album. In other thoughts, was nice to have an excuse to break out the Trappist beer glasses again

Elusive Brewing: Oregon Trail – West Coast IPA (England: IPA: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly less than clear, yellowed body. Medium carbonation and a medium sized centimetre of a white foam head.

Nose: Vanilla yogurt. Flour. Popcorn feeling bitterness and hops. Slight lemon sherbet. Generally quite clean. Bready as it warms.

Body: Good bitterness. Bready, doughy character. Peppery. Brown bread. Subtle grapefruit. Lemon sherbet. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Dry. Peppery. Harsh bitterness. Resinous. Sour dough. Dry lemon cakes. Vanilla fudge.

Conclusion: So, since it seems that the classic West Coast IPA is getting a bit of a resurgence, it is only right and proper that, after I have been calling for more of them, I at least drink some of them as well. So I did, and this is one of them. Naturally.

Initially this is very bready, and surprisingly sturdy with that, along with a slightly sulphurous dough like character – however with that said, this still brings the bitterness well, along with a peppery character, giving a recognisable west coast style hop character.

As it warms it becomes slightly drier, which makes it much more evidently West Coast, but it still has more of a bready weight than I would otherwise expect. I am used to a more clean and dry west coast, but this still utterly rocks the bitterness and the resinous character, so gets a lot of the basics right.

The citrus hop character promised is less evident. There is a gentle background of grapefruit notes and a slight sherbet lemon. Nice, but very restrained. It feels like a bit bigger citrus pop over the generally good base would really make this shine. While a bit over weighty in general, this has the attenuated bitterness set, and if a more fresh punch was there as a contrast the two would really set each other off well.

So, a nice bitter kick, not fancy, but it is an IPA that remembers to be resinous, bitter and hop forwards and I will never not respect that!

Background: I have been on a heck of a West Coast IPA kick recently, it is just me being rubbish at actually doing notes recently that explains why this blog hasn’t been awash with them. Thankfully, after a bit of time away during the height of the NEIPA craze, the West Coasters have started showing up again, giving me a lot to pick from. West Coast IPAs tend to be be drier, and more concentrating on bitter hops that their sweeter and more full malt bodied East Coast cousins. Which is fine by me. Elusive are a brewery I have only hit a few times before, generally good if nothing standing out as a must have so far. This was grabbed from the ever reliable Independent Spirit. Shocking I know. Music wise I went with a mix of Prodigy tunes while drinking, mainly from Experience and Music For a Jilted Generation. Classic tunes.

Beavertown: Lazer Crush Alcohol Free IPA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Lightly hazy, pale and clear lemon juice colour. A very thin white head.

Nose: Flour. Light lemon juice. Squeezed lime. Kiwi touch. Dried banana.

Body: Iced tea. Lemon juice. Squeezed lime. Light prickly hop character. Vanilla. Dried banana.

Finish: Squeezed lime. Flour. Some wheaty bitterness. Dried banana. Moderate hop character.

Conclusion: Ok, this concentrates heavily on the fruit juice side of things it seems. It is basically a big burst of lemon juice and lime as a base, with some banana and kiwi notes at the side.

So, as you may have guessed, the first impressions are not overly beer like. This is heavily because of that fruit juice character, but is also backed by that common low alcohol beer character of an iced tea kind of feel to the whole thing. The only really beer like counterpoint is a vanilla touch to the base that hints at a malt character, and a wheaty hop bitterness that can prickle away. Nothing too heavy, but that moderate prickle does say “beer”, and does grow heavier in the finish.

So, in general not very beer like, it reminds me of a low bitterness New England IPA, but minus the more hazy look, and with all those noticeable low alcohol characteristics. So, with that established, is it any good?

It is, eh, not bad. The fruitiness is well expressed but the base lemon and lime is a bit generic. Though I will say the odder side notes do bring some interest out.

Overall it is a light bit of fluff, with a dash of beer style, but generally just a fluffy citrus burst. So, not really beery, not terrible, but just doesn’t really grab me as being more satisfying that just having a juice drink. It feels just like a hopped juice drink and not really special as that.

So, kind of average, does the job, but average.

Background: Saw that Sainsbury’s had another batch of new low alcohol beers when I was in there so decided to give a few a try. Beavertown tend to be pretty decent and are much easier to get hold of these days so grabbed this one for a quick go. Not much else to add, no music as backing this time, was doing notes as I chatted with friends. Hope you are all holding up ok in these still odd times.

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