Category: Malt Musings

Not A Tasting Note: Old Keg

Old Keg (Sri Lanka: Whisky?: 38% ABV)

First of all, this is not a a tasting note.

I was visiting my friend Mark who had brought this back from Sri Lanka and offered to let me try some – Many thanks! I had eaten some spicy food earlier so was not really in tasting note form, but thought it worth commenting on as it is a tad unusual.

First of all – it is called Old Keg, which is odd in itself. Whisky is generally aged in wooden casks, not kegs. Hopefully just a translation error, if not this is doubly strange! Though considering Sri Lanka doesn’t follow the rules for whisky that Scotland, Ireland, etc follows who knows? How can I be so sure they don’t follow those rules, when I have no idea what rules they follow? Simple, this is 38% abv – not legally whisky in the UK as it is below 40% abv, so I am fairly sure they differ in at least that one fact.

So, an example of those whiskies I keep hearing about from other countries that don’t match UK whisky rules – so, do we have a delicious different whisky?

Eh, not really – They call it Old Keg but this tastes very young – it is hard to say exactly as warmer climes age very differently (depending on where in Sri Lanka this aged of course) – but it tastes very raw and spirity, quite viscous in its alcohol character and quite raw – I’m guessing a lot of grain whisky in here as well.

I didn’t try with water, may have helped, but I did not try – My bad.

Generally this had fairly standard toffee and vanilla whisky notes behind the rough character but that alcohol character was at the forefront.

So, interesting, but not one I’d recommend for having to savour the flavour of.

Still thanks for letting me try Mark, much appreciated!


Malt Musings: Hong Kong Beers: The Lightning Round

Ok, so after doing notes on Cereusly I decided to do a tasters rack to try as many beers as I could, since I only had a few nights in Hong Kong. I quickly realised that Hong Kong had a far better beer scene than I expected – I had done quick googling before heading out and found that even the best beers from HK didn’t seem to have too much buzz, or high scores in review aggregators. By now I really should know not to put too much faith in those. Anyway, I decided that I needed to do some quick notes just to help illustrate what good stuff is coming out of Hong Kong, even if I couldn’t do full notes for each. So, here we have a few quick overviews of some great beers.

1st in rack: Hong Kong Beer Co: Big Wave Bay IPA: 7% ABV

This one is citrusy and creamy with green fruit notes in kiwi and grapes style. The hop character is smooth and generally with restrained bitterness until the finish, where a solid hit comes out. The use of green fruit and bitterness reminds me of 8 Wired’s Hopwired. It isn’t as good as that masterpiece, but even the comparison is a high complement and it is still is a very dangerously easy to drink IPA.

2nd in rack. Yardley Brothers: Quit Your Job! 6% ABV. 28 IBU. Is this a wit beer? Googling on getting home says Saison, and I guess I can see that, but it definitely has wit beer influences. The description given by the bar really got this one spot on – Banana split sweetness with black pepper backing. This is bloody lovely. It is smooth as can be, wheaty and lightly bitter with a tasty pepper finish. Genuinely a gorgeous beer – the spice notes are well used, and the light bitterness gives an offset from the brilliantly done dessert like banana notes. Reminds me of “Not Just Another Wit” but, as it turns out, a saison. Which is a seriously high complement – if you like wits or saisons, and you see this, it is a must try in my opinion.

3rd in rack. Yardley Brothers: Mum’s Rhubarb and Orange Crumble Sour: 6% ABV. This is fairly gentle as a sour – Still rather than fizzy with only light acidity and sourness, instead concentrating on the flavour – pushing lots of fruit character – I am very impressed in that the rhubarb comes across very well – which I think is the first time I have seen that in a beer. With low sharpness and sourness it ends up feeling pretty full bodied for a sour- which could be because of its higher than average abv. Tasty in itself, it worked very well to use as a refresher between the other beers on the rack.

4th: Hero Beers: Black IPA : 6.8% abv 55 IBU. A smooth beer with chocolate, roasted notes and slight sour dough before a bitter chocolate finish. It has bitter hop character, but comparatively low for a black IPA. Not super aggressive like Cereusly but a solid BIPA. Quality wise this feels in line with the best beers of mainland China, so a very competent example of the style, but nothing stand out. Good use of cocoa and bitter chocolate notes, but feels like it needs more hop use with it. Still, if the weakest of the four tasters is this, then it is a great rack.

A Short Break

Just a heads up eveyone – I’m going to be off the internet for three odd weeks, so will be no updates during that time. Will be back though! Don’t worry everything is good, and I will have lots of new notes when I return.

Until next time

Enjoy your drink!

Been a busy couple of days in Lower Saxony – seeing deer in Tiergarten in Hannover, wonderful architecture in Goslar. Buuut…

Yeah, I’m here to talk about the beer. First up – found an excellent craft beer store. Now, your mainstream beer is generally good in Germany – their lagers are well made, weisse beers are very easy to find, even some bocks and above pop up regularly. The supermarkets don’t seem to have the widest range – but you can get very high quality lager for virtually nothing. However, it is good to see that now on top of all that, there is a craft range available and Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover had a jaw dropping range. Huge amount of imports, and a very good showing of the local scene as well – right down to a good range of beers from Hannover and the surrounding area – even better it has two taps on site. The people running it were very helpful – my only regret is not having room to bring back more beer.

Also they gave me some useful information about the second big beer news recently. Gose! Got to go to Goslar and try gose beer in the city it was born in. The ones I tried were a lot less sour than I would have expected if I had not been warned by the owner of Kontor. Apparently, Goslar consider the Leipzig version to be based on what Goslar exported, and it was slightly soured by the time it got to then. They hold the original, as their version reflects, was a sweeter wheat based beer with the salt and spice providing the unusual elements rather than full on sourness. Will talk more when I do my notes when I get back on how well the beer worked.

Anyway, only a couple of days left – Will have normal notes up soon. Until then, enjoy your drink!

Lowering Into Saxony: A Germany Trip

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Currently in Germany on holiday. Bit of a blast from the past as I lived in Germany when I was very young but don’t have much in the way of memories from that time, so good to see around where I was.

But, of course you are here for the drink thoughts – found a lovely place to eat and drink in Hanover – Kleines Museum Restaurant. Not the biggest drink selection, but the local Herrenhäuser pils they have on tap is smooth and easy drinking, and their bottle selection have some hefty dopplebocks so I can’t complain. It’s a lovely looking place as well – I’ve shoved a photo up above – lots to look a and enjoy as you sup your drink.

Also managed to try Paulaner Salvator on tap – full notes to come, but it seems much fuller bodied spice than the bottled version I get in the UK. Hoping to hit Goslar over the next few days and try Gose in the town of its birth.

Apart from that been busy sightseeing in Hanover and Celle – enjoying a lot of good German meat and the fact they have apple strudel available at breakfast which makes me a very happy bunny.

I’ll keep you up to date, and until next time – enjoy your drink!

Hey everyone.

Hope you are enjoying your drinks – was planning to do a new set of tasting notes here on Brewdog’s Born to Die 17/03/2017. I have done notes on Born To Die before, but they have tweaked it a bit recently – upping the abv to 9.5% abv as they are phasing out Hardcore IPA and doing regular releases of Born To Die to fill its place. So, I figured I would see what the difference is. Thing is, having tried it, it seems very similar to the prior ones, and I mean very similar. Each release has been tweaked a bit, but this doesn’t seem significantly different to the prior ones, so the notes ended up being virtually identical.

So, still a good beer, I very much enjoy each release – however feels like it fills a very different area than Hardcore IPA – BTD is much drier, and the hop don’t assault as much. I’m guessing it is a business decision as having two big IIPAs out regularly would clash for sales – and I can’t give them shit for that, especially as this is such a good beer. Just a pity for Hardcores’ passing as this really doesn’t fill the same niche for me.

Still, until next time – enjoy your drink!


Malt Musings: Upcoming Whisky: From Raasay and Boarders

Something a bit different today, I am doing first impressions rather than full notes. The reason why is that these are two new whiskies from Independent Spirit‘s Raasay’s tasting night. Bias Warning: As before I was allowed to try these for doing notes by Independent Spirit for free. Anyway, I have a feeling these may be the follow on releases from Raasay’s While We Wait and Boarder’s Single Grain – however nothing is confirmed yet, so the final releases may be very different from what I tried and these may just be an intermediary step. So, more a state of play than anything else, but I figured the chance to do a glance on these should not be passed up.

Single Grain:

Visual: Pale gold.

Nose: Banana. Vanilla. Walnut cake. Still alcohol touched but smoother. Sugar dusting. Menthol. Toffee.

Body: Sweet toffee. Sherried Raisins. Mild alcohol presence. Water makes thick and viscous. Fudge. Rum. Treacle. Walnuts.

Finish: Sherry trifle. Dry oak. Water has alcohol air and spicy rum.

First Impressions: So, what I guess will be the next boarders release is here. Good news – the cardboard and rough elements are way down. Still a few notes when neat, but fair sorted out with water. It is much fruitier, but in a selective way – the Oloroso sherry oak is doing good work here bringing out lots of raisins and such like. Oddly it means that the brighter fruit single grain flavours are nigh completely lost.

Instead it gains a real thick, treacle, spiced and sherried trifle expression. I don’t think I’ve run into such a sherried single grain before and it gives quite an almost molasses like experience. It is a bit one note but intense. Water is still needed, but less so and to better effect.

It needs a bit more time in the oak for balance I feel – to hopefully give more subtlety- there are hints of walnut and soothing fudge now, but I feel with a bit more time it could build up to become something very nice. As is, it is like being shot out of a cannon – a heck of an experience, but needs the rest of the elements to make a while show.

Definite improvement, bodes very well.

Single Malt:

Visual: Rose wine.

Nose: Cherry pocked biscuits. Pencil shavings

Body: Rose wine. Still noticeable alcohol. Water adds vanilla fudge. Orange zest to marmalade.

Finish: Rose wine. Alcohol. Cherry pocked biscuits. Some smoke and menthol. Water brings malt chocolate, fudge and slight dried beef.

Conclusion: Now this definitely follows on from the While We Wait – it has the similar rose wine and cherry pocked biscuit character that makes me as sure as I can be that it is the inheritor to its mantle. It is slightly smoother, and even neat this is more recognisably whisky like that its precursor.

It seems more complex as well, slight smoke darker notes, slight orange zest lighter notes – more is coming out of the fray. It is still a bit alcohol dominated, even with water, but I’m finding myself enjoying this one a lot more. The more easily found whisky character and feel means that it isn’t just as one note with the rose wine influence.

Unlike the precursor I think I would return to this – the alcohol could do with some smoothing, but considering this is a high strength whisky I can give it some room on that. With water it is better, but not 100% removed, but I’m sure a bit more time will help that out. Another good bit of progress. Worth trying as is, and again, signs of good things to come.


Well, that has been a hell of a few days to round this off. Found a bar that almost felt like home at Norrkoping as it seemed intent on matching the city’s reputation of the Manchester of Sweden by blasting out britpop tunes all night. Starting to see more of the different Swedish breweries’ beers on tap now. It feels like Sweden takes full advantage of its placement to get in lots of imported beers, but seems to have a very solid batch of local brews

Now in Stockholm where we had the most surprising alcohol experience of the trip. Grona Lund theme park has a restaurant nestled away in the walkways that has a great whisky selection that includes Octomore, 21 year Balvenie and more. Pretty much the last thing I expected in the park. Actually the last thing I expected was the sushi and sashimi starters they served at that place, but the whisky came a close second.

Also hit the legendary Akkurat in Stockholm. Stockholm seems packed with bars, and I wish I had more time to explore them all. Akkurat more than lived up to its reputation. Packed to the gills even on a Sunday night, great tap selection that really showed off the Sweden scene, including some real ale hand pumps. Plus some very rare (and very expensive) vintage ales. Some of which will be showing up in the tasting notes over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on the blog. Was a packed night with a great band playing, a Swedish guy buying us beer to try as he enjoyed it so much, discussions with Russian teachers beside us . Fantastic times. Doing a bit more culture stuff today before heading home.

Until next time, enjoy your drink!



Blask is a new word I have found in Sweden, and one that google keeps trying to auto-correct to “black” leading to some accidentally hideously racist search phrases.

“Blask”, as it has been explained to us, is boring, fizzy, generic, bad beer. A useful term. Especially today, where I bring you from Kolmarden Wildlife Park (home of the awesome Wildfire Wood Roller-coaster, a ride that only disappointed in that they did not play the Crossfaith/Skindred collaboration “Wildfire” while you waited.) a beer that is definitely blask.

No full notes, just a quick set of imagery. It was free at an all you can eat buffet, with free refills. Surely a good sign, no? At a powerful 2.1% they definitely wanted to go all out to make a good session beer, yes?

A whiff of rubber on approach, light to the eye, a sip of chalk and soda streams, leading out into painful, tongue scraping cardboard and chalk mix.

This beer is Grängesbergs Lättöl. It is Blask. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

Hopefully better beer news tonight. Out to sample some more local beers. Seems to be more of a range of beers here now, with the lacklustre but not terrible Brutal Brewing’s: A Ship Full of IPA which seems to be the faux craft mainstream beer that pops up everywhere, and few more other similar choices. Will have to see what high quality Sweden brewers I can find.

Until next time, enjoy your drink!


Another short update. Wish I could have had more time on Gothenburg. Someone described it as the beer capital of Sweden, and unless I run into some serious great beer later on, I can see that. Lots of what look like great pubs – I only got to hit a few, but high quality from what I have seen.

Seems to be the usual divide between specialist and non specialist pubs. A lot of pubs have just generic Carlsberg and Heineken, but the specialist pubs have a solid set. What I find interesting in that even the specialist pubs don’t seem to have a huge range of different Swedish brewers. Brewpubs obviously have their own beers, and a couple of others sometimes, but often at least half the selection is taken up by imports. It seems so far that there is very high quality Swedish beer available, but the range of different breweries doesn’t seem as wide as other places. So far. This may change as I travel.

Saying that, I was surprised that the restaurants in the local Liseberg Amusement Park had a reasonable selection of beers including even a barley wine. A dangerous thing to have near roller-coasters. On the topic of coasters, their ride Helix is fucking amazing. Smooth, great airtime, intense speed, very little dead time, great Deus Ex/Mass Effect style music and visuals. Well worth it

Currently in Norrkoping – a quieter city for beer, if not for anything else– spent time in the local Museum of Work which helped explain the cities turbulent history – very interesting. Also they have their own brewpub which has done the job very well with a nice, super fresh, selection of ales and awesome steak.

So, continuing along, until next time – enjoy your drink!

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