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Mills: Picture Pot (England: Sour Ale: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Solid lemon juice. Inch of white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart apple. Crisp. Some bitter hops and fluffy character. Shredded wheat. Yeast funk. Sulphur. Brown bread.

Body: Apples. Gently fizzy. White wine and grapes. Chalky touch. Pears. Vanilla. Slight cream touch in middle. Dried apricot. Lychee. Pineapple.

Finish: Tart grapes. Slight chalk. Champagne. Lychee. Pears. Cider. Yeast funk. Apricot. Twigs.

Conclusion: Who would have thought that beers that taste kind of like cider would have enough entries for me to consider that a sub-genre now. Yep that is definitely a thing now and this is another cider tasting beer, albeit with a good chunk of lambic influence to it.

This is at the smoother end of the cider style in the taste – tart but very easy drinking – especially considering the touch higher than usual abv. It has a just slightly crisp and gently dry take on the style in its influence.

At its base there area lot of tart pear and apple notes – pretty obvious considering all the cider (and ok, yes pear should be perry) references I am making, but I thought I would just make it explicit. However on top of that the hops seem to carry a decent chunk of the work here.

Initially it only shows as a slightly bitter, fluffy hop aroma. However over time a dried apricot, fresh lychee and tart pineapple hop set of notes come out of the body. This gives a much more beery feel to a very cider influenced drink.

It’s easy to drink, mouth freshening and the mix between sour beer and fruity hops creates a welcome experience that never feels simple. In fact the moderately higher abv is actually quite dangerous considering how easy this is to drink.

Mixing lambic, cider and hops ain’t an easy task, but this does it very well. Well worth grabbing.

Background: Mills seem to very much about their sour beers, and have been pretty interesting so far. This one is a mix of three brews, dry hopped with whole leaf hops. Had fairly young so to experience the hop character influence more predominately. Only had a month or two, and decided to break it open as part of the recent cornucopia of sour beer and lambics picked up. This was one from Independent Spirit. I put on the Roadrunner United album to listen to while drinking -a lovely range of metal tracks from collaborations from many of Roadrunner’s finest.

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Siris: Voreia Stout (Greece: Stout: 6% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Inch of creamy coffee coloured head with smaller bubbles in darker pools around the head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Walnuts. Lactose notes. Bitter coffee. Fresh brown bread. Slight greenery.

Body: Bitter cocoa. Light liquorice. Bitter chocolate cake. Light chalk touch. Bitter coffee.

Finish: Bitter coffee. Slight charring. Earthy bitterness. Light peppery character. Bitter chocolate cake.

Conclusion: This is leaning on the more bitter end of the stout style. Smooth in texture, even slightly light at times in mouthfeel, but just creamy enough to give a good grip to some kicking bitter flavours.

Initially I was not too sold on this. It seemed to work a simple one-two punch of bitter cocoa and bitter coffee. Now, admittedly those are two very good strings to have in your beer bow, but it is a pretty basic set – you need more to flesh it out.

Now, I am changing that opinion over time. The beer is still sticking to those two main strings, but is is layering a lot of character within those two poles of flavour. The flavours are all about the bitter – the chocolate however is really selling the depth of a good block of unsweetened chocolate, and similarly the coffee is selling the bitter layers of subtlety a cup can bring.

It still doesn’t rock the top end of the stout set, but as a bitter drink it does reward your time. All this is underlined by an earthy, slightly peppery, bitterness in the finish; It preserves the purely bitter stout gimmick but adds flavours that are different enough that it is a satisfactory end to a sip.

So a beer without a huge range, but what it does have it works well. Could do with a slightly thicker mouthfeel but works as a solid, bitter stout that brings subtlety from what would often be straightforward bitter notes.

Not bad.

Background: A quick copy and paste from the last time I did this – I was gifted a free month subscription to Beer 52 recently by a mate – Many thanks! – so here it is. They sent a Balkans themed case of beer, of which this was one. Only had a few beers from that area – mainly when I was visiting Belgrade, so was an interesting box to go with. Would I recommend them? Well beer selection seems nice, they include a guide to the beer with some cool articles, so not bad. Warning however – they are an utter fucking dick to cancel. Yes I cancelled after the free box. My cupboard is scary packed at the moment. First world problems. The issue with cancelling the subscription is you sign up online, pause subscription online, but if you try to cancel – after several attempts to make you stay – they inform you that you cannot cancel online via their site. You have to call them, and be put on hold for ages with a painfully scratchy line that genuinely hurt my ears. I was ready to tell them to fuck right off, but I noticed that in smaller text they mention you can cancel by e-mail. Which I did. The person handling that was great, so cool. Did a lot to restore them to my good graces, so may use them in the future for a short while if they have similar interesting region based boxes. Still a crappy set-up though – if you have to make unsubscribing a hassle, then your service isn’t good enough to stand on its own two legs. Rant over. Put on Worriers – Survival Pop while drinking. Had seen them as a warm up for Anti-Flag recently and had grabbed the CD then. Poppier than my normal stuff in sound but with great lyrical work.

3 Fonteinen: Framboos: Oogst 2017 (Belgium: Fruit lambic: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Deep black-cherry red. Still.

Nose: Fresh, tart raspberry. Sweet cherry notes. Sweet black cherry notes. Clean and fresh. Light wet twigs. Rounded red wine – Pinot Noir.

Body: Dry. Dry white wine notes. Tomatoes. Pinot noir. Tart raspberry. Light wet wood. Very clean. Tart cherries. Strawberry. Blackcurrant.

Finish: Tomatoes. Yellow raspberry. Fresh raspberries. Slight tannins. Dry white wine. Plums. Blackcurrant.

Conclusion: I had a bit of a worry on first sip of this. It has some of the tomato notes I had found hurt the 3 Fonteinen Hommage when I had it a while back. When I tried it back then I had thought that the set of notes were down to the sour cherry used in that beer, but I’m having to rethink that now. Anyway, when I encountered them again I was worried, was I going to have another bad experience with a very expensive beer?

Thankfully, no. Though that savoury tomato like element is there, the other flavours, including a mass of tart raspberry, play a much larger part. The bigger fruit character brings an almost pinot noir, heavy, fruity richness and booming character.

So, with that said, let’s take a step back and look at the beer as a whole. It is very clean feeling on the lambic side – tart and fresh but with no funk yeast character and low amounts of tannins – with only a little showing in the finish.

The body is tart, but with a heavier red wine weight, along with lighter and drier crisp white wine notes around the edges. It results in something that plays with sour and tart character, but without getting bracing or mouth puckering as a lot of the classier lambics can.

It shows a lot of the vinous and red fruit notes – now obviously there are raspberries, but also sweeter cherry and even some strawberry notes at times, going into richer plum notes in the finish. In the finish is also where the tomato notes tend to hang around. Not my favourite thing, but the more vinous notes makes everything a bit more balanced here.

Th extra fruit gives some some extra thickness over the dry lambic character – again giving more booming red wine character to the beer. Over time the tannin character does rise, especially in the finish, but now with a slight note to the body. The mouthfeel and flavour both getting more rounded and rewarding as time and heat do their thing.

So a very good beer, albeit with occasional tomato notes. Those few off notes means that I wouldn’t drop the money on it again for myself, but there is enough going on that I think that for people who don’t get the same imagery I get from that then it will definitely reward them even more.

Smooth and fruity up front, hearty, oaken and tannin touched red wine by the end. If only I didn’t get those tomato notes then this would be awesome.

Background: Been looking for this one for a while – it has a very good reputation and is bloody hard to find. So, it turned up in Independent Spirit and I grabbed it, despite it being quite hefty cost to buy. In case you are wondering Oogst 2017 basically means it is the 2017 vintage. Makes sense, right?

Had just finished watching series 2 off Castlevania on Netflix, so put on a compilation of different versions of “Bloody Tears” to listen to while drinking. Again, makes sense, right?

Westerham: Helles Belles (England: Helles: 4% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow to grain. Moderate white head. Moderate amounts of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lightly creamy. Lime. Hop oils. Smooth. Light nutty character.

Body: Very soft, but lightly chalky. Vanilla. Tiny marshmallows. Soft honey. Palma violets. Dried apricot. Soft lychee.

Finish: Moderate bitter hop character. Light chalk. Vanilla. Dried apricot. Soft lychee. Honey.

Conclusion: I’m trying to work out how to describe the very soft feel of this beer’s texture without referring to kittens. Apparently mentioning kittens in tasting notes is mock-worthy and not allowed. Which is a pity, as when I hold this on my tongue it feels like soft fruit just falling apart on my tongue and – no word a lie, makes me think of fluffy kittens. No I don’t know why. My mind is a strange place. I already knew that.

Anyway … this has a very nice, soft texture – maybe like mini marshmallow bits in a dry lager? Does that work as a better description? I dunno. Anyway (again) it is underlined by a slight chalkiness that then goes into a crisp hoppy bitterness in the finish. A nice note that means the soft character doesn’t end up feeling like drinking wet air.

Flavour-wise is fairly simple – vanilla, slight honey, that noble hop style palma violet character. It has a crisp lager base that gets just slightly tart as time goes on, and gains a higher bitterness than is expected for a helles as the beer progresses adding a nice bite to things. A soft lychee flavour joins in as it goes, another light backing note but welcome. It is solid, if not super exciting, but it is satisfying to drink.

It comes in gentle as hell(es) up front, crisp and dry in the middle, into a hoppy end with just enough flavour in-between that it does the job. Ok at the start, with subtle extra flavours by the end – pretty decent all said.

Background: Ok, I grabbed this one for two reasons. 1) You don’t see many new Helles these days, so it is always nice to try non IPA/stout beers. 2) Helles Belles. Heh. It is a pun. Heh. Puns. I am a fully mature adult. Honest.

Not much else to say. Put on Andrew WK’s first album – “I Get Wet” while drinking. Great, silly party fun music. Back at university metal nights (in the dim and distant past) people hated Andrew WK as they felt it wasn’t proper metal. Don’t care, it is glorious fun.

Haand: Cervisiam: Frontaal – Death By Disco (Norway: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Lots of small brown sediment bits visible, especially if held to light. Creamy brown head.

Nose: Syrupy, artificial blueberry syrup. Bitter cocoa. Bitter coffee. Blueberry cheesecake. Strawberry jelly (Jello for non UK). Slight smoke. Sour dough. More natural blueberry. Aniseed.

Body: Thick. Alcohol tingle. Blueberry. Raspberry jelly. Caramel ice creamy syrup. Vanilla ice cream. Mild aniseed. Blueberry cheesecake. Honeycomb. Rough bourbon.

Finish: Blueberry. Lactose sheen. Bitter cocoa. Blueberry cheesecake. Slight bitter prickle. Sour dough. Slight smoke. Alcohol notes. Raspberry jelly. Rough bourbon.

Conclusion: What gets me here is how this seems to artificial when the aroma first slips out of the glass, yet very natural in the berry notes as time goes on. The whole beer feels caught in that dichotomy between natural and artificial feeling notes

This is a big beer with weight that brings a very blueberry cheesecake style, smothered in bitter cocoa style from the base stout. So there are definitely worse looks it could go for as the first impressions for the beer. There is a slight smokiness to the beer as well, a wisp that again adds weight.

So pretty good and very far from sickly sweet which was my first worry from the artificial aroma. At times it even feels like it leans a tad too heavily towards the savoury side, with bready notes becoming dominant – but it doesn’t happen often enough to hurt the beer.

What does hurt the beer is a strong alcohol feel that seems to emphasise the more artificial, syrupy blueberry notes and create a raw and artificial sprit character. These come late on an especially out into the finish where they are most evident.

There is a lot of good to this beer, even some good character in the artificial notes – for example the ice cream syrup, jelly and fruit notes are welcome as sweet bursts against the smokey offset. It feels like it is the alcohol, spirity character that really hurts it. It is a rough kind of neutral spirit to cheap bourbon kind of note that doesn’t ruin the beer, but definitely highlights the weaker artificial elements.

A good base beer, but one that needs to a lot of polish for it to pay off its promise. I can’t recommend it as is, but I do hope that they give it some work to make something really good from this.

Background: Yeah I know it calls itself a sweet stout as well as an Imperial Stout – at 10% abv I am happy putting it in the imperial stout side of things for a category. Anyway, mainly grabbed this as I liked the idea of blueberry sweet stout, and Haand have been interesting so far, if not quite having a beer I have tried yet that 100% wowed me. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had recently grabbed Rise Against – “Appeal To Reason” cheaply so put it on while drinking. Not quite formulated an opinion yet – seems solid so far but not really dug into it yet.

Cantillon: Iris (Belgium: Lambic: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, dark apricot colour. Large off white head of short life.

Nose: Apples. Cider. Tart and fresh. Lightly bitter. Oats. Dried apricot.

Body: Smooth. Mild bitter hop character. Dried apricot. Prickly. Sour cream. Tart apples. Light peppermint. Vanilla.

Finish: Apples to cider. Peppery hop bitterness and charring. More charring over time. Tart pears to perry. Dry oaken notes. Dry white wine. Peppermint. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Controversial opinion time – I prefer this is bottle over having it on tap. I know. I’m a heretic. A recidivist at that. I should be taken away and flogged.

Anyway, potential kink fuel aside, the thing that made the difference here is the tartness. It is more a fresh cider and perry set of notes up front . There is still some lambic white wine like character but less so that normal, so giving a smoother and fuller base than the keg version. As it turns out that is important. Why? I’ll get to that in a moment.

In the keg the hop character was more instantaneous, coming in from the very first moment and it made the lambic side of things more difficult to appreciate. Here you get a fresh, tart cider character first, then slowly the hop prickle comes out – some apricot hop flavours, then pepper, hoppy bitterness. Then the beer slowly fades out into an initially lightly charred then oaked and heavily charred bitterness finish.

It give the beer a decent progression. Since the hops and charring take time to come they feel welcome when they do, rather than slightly wearing by the end if they are there all the time. In keg it was pushing everything, all the time, which was ok in short doses but could get old fast.

Here in a bottle, like this, it is a fruity cider like lambic that slowly builds extra flavour and hops out into a surprisingly harsh hop finish. It brings together two good tastes – the experience of a sour and a hop bitterness, both in one beer,

Even in bottle I would call in a lambic to have occasionally rather than regularly, but it is much more welcome and very enjoyable.

Background: A bit of copy paste for this one – I grabbed this at the Moor Taphouse on Zwanze day – the day Cantillon releases a new, unique beer to a few pubs around the world. Of which the tap-house was one, I didn’t do notes on Zwanze as I was being *shudder* social, but it was very nice. Anyway, they had a good range of Cantillon in bottles as well so I grabbed a couple to bring back. This is one of them. Natch. Otherwise that whole story would have been pointless. For a second time. Like Nath I had some initial worries – on popping the cork there was again liquid soaked through the cork and a vinegar aroma. Thankfully after pulling the cork out the beer below was fine again. Whew. Again. Iris is odd for a lambic, not having any wheat in the mash bill, and using 50% fresh instead of dried hops – then is cold hopped again after two years in a barrel. Very intriguing. Went a bit out there by putting on Selfish Cunt – No Wicked Heart Will Prosper while drinking. It is kind of depressing that album is over a decade old, yet still the anger at modern politics is appropriate in very similar ways.

Dogma: Hoptopod IPA (Serbia: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon colour. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Very large lace leaving loose bubbled white head.

Nose: Piney. Hoppy. Resinous. Slightly oily. Floral. Wheat fields. Pineapple. Jiff lemon. Slight lime. Tangerine.

Body: Bubblegum. Tart pineapple. Raspberry to raspberry yogurt. Dry lemon juice. Sour dough. Lemongrass. Orange juice. Slight oily hop character.

Finish: Bubblegum. Crisp hops. Vanilla yogurt. Slight bitterness. Dry lemon and lemongrass. Slow growing and growling hop bitterness.

Conclusion: Are they sure that Sorachi Ace was not used in making this? It isn’t listed in the hop choice but it sure tastes like there is at least a dash of it in there. So, a bit of an unusual IPA then.

The aroma promises something fairly normal – a piney, slightly resinous hop character. Slightly fresh, so a dry hop bomb with some tart fruit as a mild offset. Pretty standard west coast right?

Not exactly, but not exactly wrong either.

The base is fairly dry, with moderate hop character, but it is absolutely bursting with tart juiciness – almost bitty fruit juice style. Orange juice, pineapple, and … this is where it gets odd … bubblegum with light sweet raspberry yogurt notes. Those last two give a slightly artificial, yet still welcome set of chewy sweet or candy set of notes in the middle of the beer. It results it a more chewy character than the dry start would make you think, but not in an overly malt led way – more like a very bitty fruit shake.

It then leads out into a fruit tart finish that slowly subsides into a growling bitterness that finally pays off the hop promise of the aroma.

Overall, I dig it – heavily fruity but with a dry base that shows the IPA style and uses just enough hop character and bitterness that it is still solidly an IPA. Doesn’t ape other IPAs but still recognisable as one. Tart, unusual and drinkable. A solid hit I say.

Background: I was gifted a free month subscription to Beer 52 recently by a mate – Many thanks! – so here it is. They sent a Balkans themed case of beer, of which this was one. Only had a few beers from that area – mainly when I was visiting Belgrade, so was an interesting box to go with. Would I recommend them? Well beer selection seems nice, they include a guide to the beer with some cool articles, so not bad. Warning however – they are an utter fucking dick to cancel. Yes I cancelled after the free box. My cupboard is scary packed at the moment. First world problems. The issue with cancelling the subscription is you sign up online, pause subscription online, but if you try to cancel – after several attempts to make you stay – they inform you that you cannot cancel online via their site. You have to call them, and be put on hold for ages with a painfully scratchy line that genuinely hurt my ears. I was ready to tell them to fuck right off, but I noticed that in smaller text they mention you can cancel by e-mail. Which I did. The person handling that was great, so cool. Did a lot to restore them to my good graces, so may use them in the future for a short while if they have similar interesting region based boxes. Still a crappy set-up though – if you have to make unsubscribing a hassle, then your service isn’t good enough to stand on its own two legs. Rant over. Anyway – tried for vaguely appropriate music by putting on Goran Bregovic – Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals while drinking.

Bushmills: Steamship Collection: #3 Char Bourbon Cask (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to grain. Clear. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Quite strong alcohol. Lime. Pumpkin. Toasted teacakes. White chocolate. Crumpets. Burnt sugar. Butter. Light charring. Water adds an aniseed touch.

Body: Creamy. Alcohol warmth. Vanilla toffee. White chocolate. Buttery. Toasted teacakes. Water adds fudge. Light pepper. Very smooth. Creamy lime.

Finish: Toasted teacakes. Butterscotch. Buttery. Creamy lemon. Creamy lime. Water adds more creamy lime. Slight caramel. Aniseed.

Conclusion: This a very gentle Bushmills’ flavour-wise compared to the huge cask ageing influence of the previous two steamship expressions I have tried. That is something that seems somewhat of a mixed blessing here, for as much as a gentle, easy drinking Bushmills can be a cool thing it feels like there is some quite young spirit in this which makes it feel a tad alcohol rough up front and runs roughshod over the lighter flavours.

Neat, and on first pour, it is a bit alcohol rough and empty behind that. It is creamy in feel and taste, but it is hard to dig into the whiskey and get any depth from it. Time helps, clearing the rough fumes and gets this one going. The gentle Bushmills’ spirit character is there now, and showing very clearly the bourbon cask influence. Lots of creamy, buttery character with white chocolate and bready toasted teacakes flavours.

It is very much about the Bourbon influence though – the base spirit seems to give only gentle lime notes and a smooth but solid character to work at as the base.

Water helps bring out the creaminess and adds a touch of peppery spice that gives a bit of pep the whiskey needs. This is where it is at its best – creamy and easy drinking with more of the creamy lemon and lime notes coming out, against the bourbon influence of soft fudge and caramel sweet notes, but with just a few spicier notes. Now, at 40% abv and gentle you need to be careful not to add too much water, and what you get is not unexpected for Bourbon ageing, but here you do get a very clear expression of what that charred bourbon oak can do. It feels for the most part that the base spirit is just a delivery system for that experience.

Not the greatest Bushmills – lacking the range or vibrancy of their best expressions – It seems that pure ageing in charred oak isn’t the best use of their spirit to accentuate its strengths, but it is still an easy drinking and creamy whiskey that really shows the cask. Ok, but not a must have.

Background: Back in the day I loved the more unusual barrel aged expressions of Bushmills that popped up every now and then and I was sad to see them vanish. Thus when they started doing these Steamship expressions, aged in odd cask, they jumped onto my must grab list – though they are only available through travel retail which has made hunting them bloody difficult. This one was grabbed by my parents for me while they were on holiday – many thanks! It is a more standard expression that the past two (Port and sherry casks) being aged as it is, in charred bourbon barrels. Still, it was one I was happy to grab. Went with Arch Enemy – Will To Power while drinking, and went through a few measures as I contemplated my thoughts on it.

Big Drop: Sour (England: Low Alcohol Sour: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow and clear. Some carbonation. Short lived white head.

Nose: Wet cardboard. Lightly sour. Apple juice to cider. Wet rocks. Pears. Mild vinegar. Soft lemon.

Body: Tart and tingling. Soft lychee. Slight chalk. Mild cider. Cardboard. Mild vanilla.

Finish: Lightly bitter and charring. Vanilla. Touch. Lychee. Watery.

Conclusion: Chilled down this is fairly empty. It is lightly tart and tingling but without any real grip to it. It is watery with beer like elements floating within that. However for all it was as let down like this, there are hints of something else – slight cider apple and soft lychee notes – subtle flavours that are overpowered by the mild, but still rougher, chalk and charring notes.

So, with not much else to it, I decided to see if time and some warmth could make a difference then.

Warmth helps develop some body, giving it a slighter thicker touch that brings out soft vanilla and allows the soft lychee notes a bit more grip to work with. It is still a gentle beer, lager like it its dryness, with lightly tart and sour notes over that. Even with the aforementioned chalk and charring notes it is still gentle – no real rough edges here, which I will admit is an odd thing in a sour beer. Usually they are all prickly oddities and harsh but joyous notes.

There are light cider and light vinegar touches that would be harsher elements if they did not feel heavily watered down by the lightness of the rest of the beer. Now they are just slightly more acidic notes while gentle apple and pear notes are delivered over it.

Now warmed up it is reasonable – as mentioned a lightly sour touch over a dry lager feel with gentle tart fruit notes as the flavours. Sour beers are not a common entry in the low alcohol range, so for that I commend it – however recently Mikkeller did their low abv take on “Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse” and that set a new bar for low alcohol sour beers. So, while this is ok, dry, drinkable and refreshing it is not a patch on that low abv wonder.

Had cool this is very weak, with warmth it is ok but unexciting outside of its unusual place in the low alcohol drink range. So, ok, but with a lot of room to grow better.

Background: I tried this a short while ago, picked up from Beercraft, but did not do notes at the time. This time it was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I’ve been digging Big Drop’s low alcohol beers, especially their pale ale, and wanted to see how their sour did and how it has progressed since the first batch. Drunk on an otherwise non drinking night I put on one of Eels live albums – “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” while drinking – nice gentle tunes. Always like The Eels’ live stuff -each tour they play old songs in the style of their most recent album so it feels like a fresh experience each time.


Collective Arts: Ransack The Universe (Canada: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear, light hazy yellow to apricot body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Solid creamy white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Resin. Hop oils. Soft lime. Floral. Crisp bitterness. Pineapple.

Body: Oily bitterness. Mild gherkin. Pineapple. Prickly. Resin. Grapefruit. Slight vanilla. Dry body. Slight fudge. Mandarin orange. Tart grapes. Lychee. Peach syrup.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Oily charring. Dry charring. Bitter hop character. Gunpowder tea. Grapefruit. Tart orange. Palma violets.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a punchy wee one. It comes across a lot different from the fresh fruity IPA was was expecting from the hop choice in making it. It has a tart fruit character, but emphasises the dry attenuated base and a bitter, charred to gunpowder tea hop kick that is slightly smoothed by hop oiliness.

It feels like a beer that want s to kick you hard, then gently hug you with flavour after. Initial impression are prickly hops, oily, resinous and quickly leads out into a charred bitter finish. The base is dry and out of the way – not getting in the path of the hop punch at all. Here the beer feels kind a fairly brutal IPA, weighty enough backing that the charring isn’t evil and harsh, but still kind of one note.

Time, heat and the slow build of repeated sipping all come together to give access to a second layer of flavour – tart pineapple into brighter tart orange notes with a sour, mild gherkin like twist to it. The hops rock up front, but now with subtle flavours backing it, giving something hiding behind the harshness. Heck, you even get a soft vanilla fudge note that hints at actual malt presence, but without harming the super dry IPA character.

So it is definitely leaning towards the dry, hop assault IPA side of things, which is super my jam. Thankfully. It doesn’t leverage the favour from the hops fully, and can be a tad harsh in the bitterness, but it is a very satisfying, brutal, hop bomb with a lot to back it up flavour-wise.

In a normal environment I’d call this a good beer – in this world where there are so many milkshake/NEIPA/etcs I’m just very happy that I got my hand on an IPA like this again.

A solid beer.

Background: Didn’t run into Collective Arts while I was over in Canada, so when I saw them turn up in the UK with their wonderfully evocative can illustrations I thought I might as well give them a go. I went through all of them looking for an IPA without a New England before it. Yes I’m still not 100% on board with the NEIPA style. Anyway, saw this, grabbed it, drank it. Simple enough story. Put on Throwing Muses’ self titled album while drinking – saw Kristin Hersh was touring again and it brought them back to mind. Nice gentle drinking tunes.

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