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Oud Beersel: Green Walnut: 2017 (Belgium: Lambic – Fruit: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark yellow. Large yellow-white head.

Nose: Oats. Horse blankets. Crushed nuts. White chocolate touch. Dried apricot. Moss.

Body: Acidic apple. Acidic pears. Lemon sherbet. Tart and acidic. Tart grapes. Cashew nuts. Dry white wine.

Finish: Lemon sherbet. Cashew nuts. Moss. Tart apples to cider. Dry white wine. Earthy notes, Charred notes.

Conclusion: Now this is nutty, very distinctly nutty, however lambics are fairly often nutty so I am unsure where the lambic base influence ends, and the green walnut addition begins. So, Let’s look at it as an overall beer for now, and see how things go from there, ok?

It comes in initially pretty tart and acidic on the main body, after you have moved past the fairly stereotypical horse blankets and oats aroma. The body comes in as a dry cider to dry white wine mix that gives a short sherbety burst before heading back to drying the mouth, leaving just a slight sweet sheen to keep it away from its ultra dry brethren. Throughout this is a kind of cashew nuttinesses, along with a mix of green nut flecks and moss notes that definitely call to its name. Psychosomatic due to the name? Who knows, but it gives an earthy, savoury middle to the beer that works well. Now, as mentioned the nuttiness becomes quite a bit element to the beer, maybe walnuts, but I would find it hard to say specifically.

Slightly sweet, but still tart, grapes come to again offset the hugely dry character so it doesn’t become harsh. Despite that, over time, the finish does gain a slight charred note that can come with a dry lambic. While this is not perfect, so far it has not harmed the beer as much as similar encounters with that element, so it isn’t a show stopper.

So, this feels pretty close to the standard lambic at the base – definitely more nutty than most, but I’m not sure if it is the most nutty. Time has brought out a lot more nuts than were evident at the start though, and considering the fact I have run into some pretty darn nutty lambics without the walnuts it seems to be doing ok. It is pretty dry, but not super dedicated to that part so doesn’t go too harsh or hard. Not a real stand out lambic, just a very solid one that leans into the nutty side of a lambic. I can’t complain, but it doesn’t feel super different for the odd ingredients used.

Background: This one has been on my radar for a while – a lambic made with green walnuts, a fairly unusual choice and so something worth checking out I felt. However at over 20 quid a bottle I kept finding other things to try. So, I finally bit the bullet and grabbed it from Independent Spirit. Hope it works out. Put on Heavens To Betsy – Calculated. Recent bullshit on various places online have put me back in a listening to Riot Grrrl punk kinda mood again.

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Loch Lomond: 18 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Slow, thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Alcohol air. Dark fruit. Blueberry. Twigs. Vanilla. Raisins. Caramelised brown sugar. Water adds menthol and gooseberries.

Body: Very smooth. Blueberries. Raisins. Light alcohol taste. Small red berries. Moss. Dried teabags and tannins. Water adds apricot syrup. Oak. Custard slices.

Finish: Moss. Charred oak. Light alcohol air. Malt chocolate. Slight sour toffee. Teabags. Water adds fudge. Tart grapes. Lightly metallic.

Conclusion: This feels like it is aiming to take Loch Lomond on the same sort of spirit journey that the more prestigious distilleries such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet do with their 18 years. You know, the ones where they emphasise the dark fruit a bit more, make the main whisky very smooth, that kind of thing. Now, those famous whiskies aren’t perfect in my opinion, but still this one feels like it isn’t really reaching their level.

Now let’s look at what it does have. It has the dark fruit – in raisins, blueberries and touches of slightly tarter small red berries. That aspect works. It is pretty smooth as well, especially with water, so not too bad on that side either. It comes within spitting distance of what it is trying to do is what I am saying.

However there is, well, a kind of alcohol air, like cheaper grain spirit, along with heavy teabag like tannin notes that would have worked in a heavier whisky but felt odd in this smoother fruit fest. Water does help with that, bringing out a smoother flavour, but still with an odd, slightly closed element that is half way between tart grapes and slight metallic notes in the finish.

It feels close to what it should be – the flavours are big all the way into the finish, which is good, it is smooth in the body which is good, but tainted by those off notes that makes it feel like an also ran of the whisky world.

Ok, but far behind the competition.

Background: This is another one grabbed from The Whisky Shop in town, they had a huge range of Loch Lomond in minis so I decided to grab a bit older one to see how it goes. Not been a huge Loch Lomond fan up to now, but some whiskies only really shine in their later years. Put on The Eels: End Times while drinking- only just grabbed it. I always like The Eels, they always feel happy in a sad way, or sad in a happy way, and says that is ok either way. Which is nice.

Wild Beer Co: Funky Dory (England: ESB: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lager to lemon juice. White medium sized head.

Nose: Lychee. Soft lemon. Mango. Tart. Cider touch. Wheat dust air. Fresh cut apples.

Body: Lychee. Mild yeast funk. Brown bread. Peppery. Lightly earthy. Dry lemon. Vanilla. Dry. Light apple. Mild blueberry backing.

Finish: Peppery. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Funky yeast. Dried mango. Dry lemon. Mature cheese and cheese puff crisps.

Conclusion: This tastes like an earthy old school British bitter matched with a new wave fruity pale ale, then they both went home and shagged in a pool of brett. Then nine months later this happened. Or something like that.

The front of the beer is full of soft, but quite dry, fruit – tart but in a way that still feels well attenuated and drying. Like a dry lemon drink, but with more range if that helps. That dry fruit works against the lightly funky brett character creating an easy drinking yet dry beer with a lot more weight behind it than such a beer often has.

What builds from that is a really earthy, peppery character that starts low and builds up slowly over the life of the beer. By the end it is very earthy, but backed by a tart character so it calls to, but is very different from the traditional earthy British bitter style.

It isn’t as great a beer as Brett Brett IPA or Chronos, but is another beer that shows that Bretting up other beer styles is where Wild Beer co really shine. The only flaw is that it ends up a bit too earthy dominated by the end and that keeps it from the great highs of the other beers.

Previous Bretted up beers from Wild Beer have aged well, So I’m planning on ageing up one of these for fun – see if it helps it get over the rough spots at the end. As is now it is a very nice take on the British bitter. Not their best, but a lovely twist on the Brit hop style.

Background: I’ve been mixed on Wild Beer Co’s beers recently, but when I saw this is looked like something that sits perfectly in the middle of what they do right. A British hopped ale, but funked up with Brett. Their Brett Brett IPA, Evolver IPA and Chronos Lager all were brett takes on other beer styles and generally were all impressive, so had good hopes for this. It helped that the image is a David Bowie reference – very cool, so I put on his Black Star album while drinking. Some tracks still give me chills even now. I bought one for ageing, to see what the brett did and one for drinking now. Then it was boiling hot so I drank both. This is my second attempt, grabbing two and doing notes on one. It is still too warm. All were grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Northern Monks: Sharknado 5 – Global Swarming (England: IPA: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Reddened apricot. Large strawberry touched head. Hazy body. Lots of small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Blood orange. Crisp hops. Salt touch. Moderate bitterness. Vanilla. Coriander.

Body: Blood orange. Sour cream. Lime. Thick. Brown bread. Hop oils. Pink grapefruit touch. Strawberry. Milky.

Finish: Sour cream. Blood orange. Salt. Fresh lime. Hop oils. Pink grapefruit.

Conclusion: Ok, a beer based on the delightfully shitty Sharkando movies should not be actually this good. Seriously. It feels a lot thicker than its 5.5% abv should bring giving a real creamy and milky feel, but in a slightly more savoury sour cream style so that the bright blood orange and pink grapefruit notes have something solid to work against.

The tart fruit needs that base, and boy does it use it – the beer feels very thick and heavy, but despite that the tartness manages to make it refreshing. The blood orange is really clear and sharp in its expression and the light sea salt touch accentuates every other flavour that it rubs up against.

The IPA feel is impressive in its precision of expression. There is a crisp hop aroma that prickles on the way in, but then the body leaves that out so it doesn’t break up the tarter character, instead expressing itself in a hop oiliness that adds to the thickness and lets the bitterness wait to seep in slowly during finish when the tart notes have finished doing their thing. It doesn’t feel like a traditional IPA while still being recognisable as being within the style.

Very bright, tart, and yet late on strawberry sweetness and vanilla notes come in to round it out. It is wonderful in how it uses all the extra ingredients to make it a bigger and better beer. Now we just need Northern Monk to make a “The Room” beer, or more likely a beer to promote the Best F(r)iends part 2? Please. It would be awesome.

Background: So, I tried this a while back, saw it, grabbed a can, drank it, but didn’t do notes. Mainly grabbed it for fun, but it was a genuinely good beer so I went back to buy another can to do notes on and … they had sold out. I had underestimated the demand for beer based on shitty movies. Then again, I enjoy the sharknado movies – they are terrible, yes, but enthusiastically terrible, and that counts for a lot for me. They are no “The Room” sure, but it is self aware stupid, and I saw an interview with … the director I think .. where they actually used the word “logic” in relation to the movie. Because of course. Anyway, the beer, I found one final can available at the Beer Emporium and grabbed it, resolving to actually do notes this time. Which I did. This is a beer made with blood orange and sea salt, which both sound tasty and are thematically appropriate. Put on Testament – Low again while drinking. No real reason, just really been digging that album recently.

Wild Beer Co: Rooting Around: Winter (England: Vegetable/Herb/Spice: 7% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Massive browned head. Very lively to pour.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Choc limes. Earthy. Sweet, cloying apricot. Dessert wine. Pine cones. Orange rind. Paprika.

Body: Orange jelly sweets. Sour grapes. Cloying sweet wine. Treacle. Chives and other herbs. Mulled wine. Rye crackers. Liquorice. Cherry pocked biscuits.

Finish: Cherries. Dried apricots. Sugary sweet wine. Boiled bark. Mulled wine. Malt chocolate. Rye bread. Rock salt. Golden syrup. Palma violets.

Conclusion: Well, this is very much dedicated to the foraged elements conceit, but despite that remember to be a beer as well – a beer that is backed by a heck of a lot of vinous notes from the barrel ageing. They are trying to pack in a lot here, let’s see if it works.

The base feels closer to a dubbel than than the actual dubbel I tried recently for their 2018 Smoke N Barrels, though that isn’t saying much. By itself it feels more towards an ESB style malt character with chocolate notes coming out -however it is pepped up by rye spice notes and a liquorice element that makes it all feel more earthy and more ready to fit in with the foraged root character.

Onto that is layered the sweet, thick Sauternes wine notes that go from cloying stewed thick apricot to the sour grapes of a tarter wine, to a golden syrup like dessert wine style. It seems to have reacted here with the base beer to show off a real fruit sugar styling to the sweetness. Initially it felt intense and cloying, but soothed over time as the more grounded base worked with it.

The rooting around foraged style is actually a robust middle to this beer. It is oaken like stewed bark, matched with herbal and spicy notes. The spiciness blends nicely with the rye to create a robust, forest imagery filled, set of notes.

It is a weird beer. Lots of intense notes, lots of prickly notes, lots of elements that don’t blend in with each other, instead all struggling for dominance. However it is never dull and never bad. Not a favourite of mine, but probably the best of the rooting around series, and the best at showing what foraging can add to a beer, especially if you make it one element rather than the sole element.

Background: I left off grabbing this one for a while. The Rooting Around series, a series of beers made with locally foraged items, missed more than it hit in my opinion. However it was recommended to me on the Alcohol and Aphorisms Facebook page, so I thought, what the heck, why not? This is a beer made with rock samphire, Douglas firs, tonka beans, orange peel and a mix of oats, rye and barley in the malt bill. Then that whole mixed up mess was aged in Sauternes casks. This is either going to be great or terrible with a set-up like that. Put in Ozzy Osbourne again while drinking this, prefer the earlier years tracks on the album I think. Anyway, another one grabbed from my Wild Beer supplier that is Independent Spirit.

Loch Lomond: Inchmurrin: Madeira Wood Finish (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Salty. Cooked fish skins. Hard sweets. Raisins. Sour red wine. Strong alcohol air. Light turpentine. Peppermint. Water adds menthol and cherries.

Body: Smooth. Oily. Cherries. Smoke. Salt. Shortbread. Vanilla. Lightly waxy. Water adds golden syrup. Brown sugar. Soft peat and dried beef. Apricot. Spicy raisins. Madeira cake.

Finish: Peppery. Light charring. Dry peat. Oily. Vanilla custard. Water – raisins. Smoke. Menthol. Madeira cake and salt.

Conclusion:This is not an Islay, I am aware of that before you all jump on me, however it does seem to be trying to pick up a lot of the Islay traits, so I will be referring to that region quite a lot here. I think it is as most not Islay/Island whiskies that use peat only take the peat element, and none of the rest of the Islay character. Which is cool, it creates a different experience. This however has a saltiness and an oily, fish skin character that actually brings to mind the less brutal and medicinal of the Islay range. This is especially true neat where it is a bit of a harsher edged thing.

Neat it has a touch of red wine in the character, and some cherry notes, all of which I presume are due to the odder Madeira barrel ageing, but I have to admit it doesn’t seem like how Madeira usually shows itself – in fact it is a tad sour red wine rather than the sweeter notes I would expect. This results in the neat whisky feeling like someone took a lighter Islay and added a bit of a heavier wine barrel ageing to it. It has what would be rougher notes if they were heavier and thicker, but are manageable as it – something like turpentine if it was heavier, but thankfully not so at the moment.

Now, when you add water to this it does two big things. First it brings out the more neutral natural sweetness and the fruitiness of the unpeated side of the whisky. Second it brings out the more traditional Madeira styling with fruity raisin sweetness. Both element involve sweetness yes, and fruit, yes I did already notice that.

Overall it is an ok bit of peat, an ok bit of base spirit and an ok bit of Madeira ageing. It is not a common combination of styles so I will say it has value for that, but each individual element has been done better elsewhere – it is only the combination that makes it stand out.

Still an Islay influenced Highland whisky in Madeira oak, something a bit different and ok as that.

Background: People who have been following these notes for a while will know I like getting the chance to try a lot of different whiskies, but often miniatures only have the more common expressions. Which means you have to buy a big bottle – yes I know, woe is me, but it still means you are taking a risk dropping money sight unseen. So when I saw a bunch of Loch Lomond, and their peated offshoot Inchmurrin at The Whisky Shop in Bath I decided to grab a few. This one is a Madeira finished expression, which I tend to be a fan of, though I don’t think I have tried many, if any peated whiskies with Madeira finishes. Should be interesting. I’d grabbed Ozzy Osbourne – Memoirs Of A Madman recently and was listening to that while drinking. I prefer the Black Sabbath stuff, but still some great tunes in there.

Founders: CBS – Canadian Breakfast Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 11.7% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted, rich coffee. Vanilla. Toffee. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Peanuts. Slight bubblegum.

Body: Maple syrup. Black cherry. Chocolate liqueur. Oily mouthfeel. Eel sashimi. Liquorice touch. Toasted teacakes. Cashew nuts. Muted but complex toffee. Fudge. Frothy milky chocolate.

Finish: Oily sheen. Riesen chocolate chews. Light liquorice. Maple syrup. Vanilla toffee. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallow. Caramel. Cashews. Bitter coffee. Ash. Bitter cocoa. Cloyed sour cream touch and chives.

Conclusion: Oddly, my mate also got a bottle of this – and he handed it to me to try once without telling me what it was. On fist sip I went “Hold on Maple syrup? This tastes of maple syrup. Wait, is this the CBS?” So I’m fairly confident that when I say I taste maple syrup notes in this that, for once, I know they are not psychosomatic.

So how is it? Surprisingly bitter considering both the maple syrup and the barrel ageing. Both the coffee and the cocoa push out in quite a bitter but complex way – holding the middle ground of the beer nicely.

The maple syrup gives a more oily sheen and some sweetness against that bitterness. The bourbon barrel ageing seems to be lost within that heavier maple character – it gives lighter vanilla notes than usual, mainly showing itself in the very smooth character of this high abv beer.

So, as a beer it definite rocks the maple syrup – despite the high bitterness presence this still comes in over that and stomps all over it. I kind of wonder what the base beer would be like without the coffee, cocoa, barrel ageing and maple syrup, as it is pretty much lost under them. Then again I think that is kind of the point.

I do feel that its reputation is somewhat exaggerated by its original rarity but … it is still a good beer; this has tasty contrasts – bitter coca vs sweet maple syrup. Bitter coffee smoothed by barrel ageing. It is a good look – a tad artificial tasting – but you know – maple syrup. I kind of expected that.

I would say that their KBS is a better beer on the technical side of things, and more balanced, but this has an element of silly fun amongst a solid beer and I dig that. If you can get this at a non silly price then it is worth it. It is fairly single minded but with subtle bitter, umami and savoury notes so it is balanced better than you would expect.

Is it a top 50 Imperial Stout, let along top 50 beer? No. It’s bloody good though.

Background: So, this is a beer that used to go for about a hundred dollars a bottle on resale when it first came out, It had jumped straight into rate beers top 50 beers and people were desperate to get hold of it. Though it is is still in ratebeer’s top 50 I managed ot get it at a far more reasonable price of seven quid fifty from Beer Hawk. Which was nice.

Anyway, this is the same beer as KBS, but while this has also been aged in bourbon barrels, those bourbon barrels previously held maple syrup. Hence Canadian Bourbon Stout, despite the fact this was not made in Canada. Makes sense, right? Anyway, this was drunk while listening to Two Steps From Hell – Archangel, aka epic music made for movies and trailers, which always makes for great backing music when chilling and drinking.

Northern Monks: Patron’s Project 11.01: Rhubarb Sour: Made In The Dark (England: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Reddened apricot. Cloudy. Large off white and slightly yellowed head.

Nose: Dry and tart. Turmeric and tannins. Dry rhubarb. Cooking apples. Strawberry.

Body:
Without Popping Candy: Gentle rhubarb tartness. Red Grapes. Hop Oils. Light vinegar notes. Plum. Strawberry. Turmeric.

With Popping Candy: Similar but with popping feel in your mouth. Rhubarb and custard sweets. Raspberry hard sweets. Oilier and thicker. Lightly creamy.

Finish:

Without Popping Candy: Apples. Rhubarb. Tart sheen and lightly oily. Brown bread. Plums. Earthy notes. Lightly creamy.

With Popping Candy: Sweeter. Blackpool rock. Strawberry.

Conclusion: Initially I though that the popping candy I got with this was defective. You see I put it on my tongue aaand .. nothing happened. So then I took a sip of the beer to go over it. Nothing happened. I then took a larger mouthful and held the beer in my mouth and … nothing happened. Then finally the little fuckers started popping. If you are wondering why I am eating sweets and drinking, well, I kind of explain in the background. Kind of. As much as it can be explained.

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself here. So, they recommended trying the beer with the provided popping sweets, which I eventually did, but I decided first to do some sips au naturel and compare the beer from before and after. Because that is the kind of rebel I am.

As a stand-alone beer it is a solid enough sour. The rhubarb is there, there is a decent thickness, but not so much it gets sticky. It shows both the tart and earthy side of the rhubarb, along with some darker fruit notes and a nice oily hop sheen.

So how is it with the popping candy? Well the first thing I noticed is that by itself the sweets seemed to have a slight rhubarb character of its own. The second thing is that it kept sticking to the bloody roof of my mouth in a lump. Anyway, once I started drinking I noticed it seemed a little thicker – I don’t know if that is just I am holding it longer, but it definitely felt thicker, creamier and heavier.

Apart from that it seemed very much the same beer – there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference apart from the performative aspect – which I think is the whole point of the beer. The drinking ritual it creates is fun – especially when the sweets finally start popping and you enjoy the drink amidst the feeling of impacts in your mouth. However, for all it is fun, I don’t think the beer is overly enhanced by it.

Then again, the base beer is pretty decent by itself. Probably The best of the rhubarb sours I have encountered. There is good rhubarb character, good hop oil thickness and good plum backing and nicely tart and earthy as previously said. I actually would be interested to see what happens if they ditch the sweets touch and just concentrate on re-brewing this a bit bigger and thicker as I think that could be an excellent beer.

Background: Ok, this is one of the odder beers I have done notes on. In fact that was pretty much why I grabbed it – it is a sour beer made with forced rhubarb, which sounds up my alley enough. It also contains a small packet of popping candy, tucked away in the beer’s base, to eat while drinking it, which is another level strange. Hence why I have two sets of notes above. I decided to first try the beer just as is, then add in the popping candy and see how it changed things. If you peal back the label you find underneath a guide to tasting this – which is in the dark, lit by a single candle, put candy in your mouth then take a sip. Now, I cannot be trusted near naked flame when drunk, so I did the closest I could. I tuned off the lights and lit the from only by the shine of my VDU, with the Fire Watch desktop background glowing out. Similar enough, right? Anyway, all this theatrics seems to come as this beer is a collaboration with Lord Whitney – so yeah, that explains a lot. To add to the mood I put on Ulver – Shadows Of The Sun to listen to. Still the most genuinely beautiful album I have heard.

Kilchoman: Comraich: Batch 3 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 year: 55.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold with a mix of fast and slow streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke and honey. Thick stewed fruit and raisins. Barbecue glaze. Water adds beef slices.

Body: Thick and oily. Smoked gammon. Stewed apricot. Big peat and well done steak. Charring. Honey. Water adds cherries, fruitcake and more oily character. Shortbread. Sticky toffee.

Finish: Oily, kippers. Oily smoke. Ash and charcoal touch. Water adds raisins and sultanas. Black-cherry.

Conclusion: This is absurdly easy to drink for an over 50% abv whisky. I was half way through it before I realised I should think about adding water and seeing how that altered things. Now don’t be tricked into thinking that this means this is a light whisky though. This is a thick, oily and heavy thing – it is just that it is delivered absolutely smooth with pretty much no alcohol character at all. If fact it turns out adding water made the alcohol just slightly more evident as there was no way it could make it any less. This is an impressive beast from the get go.

It has bloody big flavours to match that big body as well – smoked thick cut gammon, thick stewed and dark fruit against a heavy sweetness. Everything is thick, oily and smoked – in fact the smoke and the oil mix perfectly to create the feel of the ideal of the concept of peat juice dripping on your tongue.

So, with it being that impressive neat, does water weaken the experience? Hell no! There is now big sweetness but still heavy character – dark fruit comes out to match the meat and smoke, making fruit cake and black-cherry along with more traditional beef notes for the meat. Everything fills your mouth with its oily sheen and peaty air. This is all underlined by an oily by more understated finish – dry ash, smoke and charring all add up to draw a line under each sip’s experience.

So, to conclude, this is amazing neat, amazing with water as it adds to an already exellent experience and the alcohol strength gives a lot of room to experiment.

For Islay fans, if you can find it, this is a must try.

Background: Oh man, this is a rare one – the Comraich series is, best I can tell, a whisky that is released only to select bars around the world. In this case there are only three bars in the UK that have it – thankfully The Hideout of Bath is one of them! So, yeah, bias warning, I was hyped to get to try this. This was my second time drinking it, the first was, as you might expect, also at the Hideout, but had come after an absolutely brilliant Irish whiskey tasting so I realised I may not have got all of the subtlety, so I returned, pen in hand to try it on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Oh the hard life. It is a mix of three ten year old casks, two bourbon and one sherry aged from 2007 to 2017. While drinking I noticed a little dinosaur hiding in the wall, so grabbed a shot of him to add below.

Little Earth Project: The Brett Organic Stock Ale 2017 (England: English Strong Ale: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot.

Nose: Funky. Lemon curd and lemon cake. Crushed nuts. Oaks. Stewed apricot. Cake sponge.

Body: Tart yet oily. Acidic apples. Tart grapes. Stewed apricot. Dry white wine. Dried apricots. Hop oils. Lemon. Slightly dusty. Yeastie. Raspberry late on. Toffee.

Finish: Dried apricot. Tart jiff lemon. Lemon cake. Dry white wine. Gooseberry. Hop oils. Popcorn. Brown bread. Raisins and dry sherry. Vanilla yogurt. Dusty bitterness. Funky.

Conclusion:This is both heavy duty and tart freshness, with both elements complementing and contrasting the other so neither become too overwhelming. A good start.

First impressions are of a yeast funkiness worthy of a lambic coming out in the aroma, with oats, nuts and similar backing it up in that lambic way. However, instead of the crisp dry notes of a lambic what it is backed by is thick, heavy stewed fruit that tells you instantly that something different is coming up.

The body is next, tart but thick with hop oils giving an oily base of stewed fruit acting as a solid middle. The tarter lambic like notes are laid on top of that robust body, used sparingly like spice to add to a meal.

The after that tart notes lead out into the finish and it then it finally sinks back into hop oils, darker fruit and dry sherry notes as a distinct contrast to the brighter middle. Even here though there is a white wine air that the brett uses to bring more lambic imagery.

Despite the lambic like calling this is a thick oily, almost old ale feeling traditional styled British beer. There is lots of the slightly more cloying tartness and thickness rather than the clean lambic sheen – however in the middle of the beer the flavours owes little to the dark heavy old ales. While it has the tart and thick old ale character mentioned, but here it is pushed in a brighter, lighter fruit and tarter notes. Mixing the thickness of an old ale with the freshness of a lambic, and pushing stewed apricot and lemon fruit notes that actually feels like a call to new world hop stylings. Eventually these bright notes do descend though and it falls back into those darker fruit notes of the more traditional take in the finish.

This isn’t super polished, it feels more like a beer that evolved naturally, left to find its own way rather than being polished and designed to an ideal. It feels organic in how it developed within the guidelines of the ingredients used, and it shows that in the wide range of elements delivered. It is nowhere near single minded as a beer, nor organised -scatter shot in how it throws things out. However it throws them out full bodied, mixing traditional elements with twists of style. Well worth trying as long as the idea of something a bit more haphazard does not put you off.

Background: This one caught my eyes for a number of reasons – the very simple label, with seemingly hand stamped details upon it of the beer’s name. The fact it is a take on the old stock ale that was traditional for so many years in the UK, the fact it is loaded with brett which is always an interesting yeast to see that adds acidity and funk to a beer, or the fact that over 10% abv this is never going to be dull. Any which way I grabbed it from Independent Spirit and tucked it away for trying on a later day. So, the day finally arrived, I put on the ever good for slow, heavy duty drinking music – Godspeed You! Black Emperor! – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, and broke it open.

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