Tag Archive: 10-13% ABV


kees-barrel-project-06-2016

Kees: Barrel Project 06/2016 (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin off white head.

Nose: Creamy vanilla and very evident bourbon. Very smooth. Caramelised brown sugar. Chocolate liqueur notes. Fudge.

Body: Treacle. Cherries. Vanilla. Soft fudge. Massive bourbon. Very smooth. Malt chocolate. Caramel. Soft alcohol presence with a slight tingle. Brown sugar. Chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Toffee. Vanilla. Golden syrup. Smooth bourbon. Chocolate liqueur.

Conclusion: Ok, this is both smooth as sod and bourbon backed to buggery. This is nice is what I am saying. Despite the darker colour it does not lean away from the intense sweetness of the traditional barley wine – though it does express it with more chocolate and fudge as well as the more excepted golden syrup style. Still, very recognisable straight out of the gate.

If I had to dig into what exactly is the major sweetness here I would say it has a lot of caramel, backed by huge amounts of vanilla – it is delivered with the slightest amount of alcohol prickling, but in general it slips down like quality liqueur. Or, considering the range of flavours, more like a blend of liqueurs – aged in a bourbon cask of course, you cannot deny that influence at any point. Seriously this is possibly one of the most clearly and evident defined beers for showing the bourbon ageing’s influence. It has all of the vanilla, that rugged sweet undertone and slight sour mash notes – all so very clear.

It is only because the base beer and the ageing are so in line that the ageing doesn’t overwhelm the base beer. While the base beer has a lot of flavour it is not so epically big to overpower the bourbon ageing, instead it relies on the base caramel and chocolate complementing rather than fighting the bourbon notes.

So, I enjoy this massively – thought not quite enough for it to be one of the rare “my favourites”. It is classy as all hell – smooth and with full flavour – the only thing it does not have is that unique element that pushes it to the very top and makes it an all time great. Still, that is possibly the weakest criticism there is. It is still great.

So, genuinely great, even if not an all time best, but there is no way you will regret this if you are a fan of bourbon and barley wines. Full on bourbon. Full on barley wine. Full on beer.

Background: This is the third of the Kees Barrel project beers I grabbed, and probably the one I was most looking forwards to. You seem to get less barrel aged Barley Wines over here, so this – aged in Barton Bourbon barrels looked like just the thing for me. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, it was drunk listening to the every energetic indie pop electronic tunes of Grimes for a bit of extra fun.

Kees: Barrel Project #04/2016 (Imperial Stout: Netherlands: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey-brown dash of a head.

Nose: Toffee. Prickly alcohol. Bourbon. Vanilla. Treacle toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Wet wood. Chalk dash. Mild ginger bread.

Body: Chocolate liqueur and frothy chocolate fondue. Vanilla. Blended whisky. Slight sour cream twist. Prickling alcohol touch, but light and smooth underlying texture. Caramel. Light peppermint. Cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal and charred oak. Milky chocolate. Slight gherkin sour fresh note. Caramel. Cocoa pops in chocolate milk. Light peppermint. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: I found the oatmeal stout from Kees in this Barrel aged project to be a tad too smooth and light – oatmeal stouts should have a bit of weight to them. This as “just” an imperial stout, is still a tad light in its smoothness, but is in a style that suits more, and also, oddly actually has a bit more weight to it.

Flavour wise this really runs straight down the middle of what you would expect for what it is. It’s a barrel aged Imperial Stout and brings cocoa, smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee at the base – the barrel ageing bringing in caramel and vanilla notes. So nothing really unexpected. Warmth actually thickens it up just enough from the slightly light touch when chilled. So all very competently done.

Not having had many grain barrel aged beers, I would say that this comes across as a mix of prickling blended whisky character and bourbon sweetness – which sounds about right from what I would expect single grain to give. So again, it is spot on to expectations – not more – not less. Very smooth, very refined, but doesn’t surprise in the least. Not a bad thing when what you expect is a high quality imperial stout. Doesn’t stand out beyond that though, still can’t complain about it being very well done.

So – basically a very good, treacle toffee, smooth chocolate, vanilla caramel and touches of bitter coffee Imperial Stout. If you want to dig there are slight sour cream notes and slight peppermint hints, but mainly it plays in straight. No regrets, but no soaring new experience.

Just a very good barrel aged imperial stout. Just I say….

Background: Second of the Kees’ Barrel Project beers I have grabbed from Independent Spirit. The first I tried was good, but a bit light – but generally good, so decided to give this one a go. This one has been aged in Girvan single grain barrels – since I had a bit of a Girven experience last year it seemed a nice thing to try. I am as big fan of Imperial Stouts, but try and pace out having them, lest they become commonplace to me.


De Molen: Cuvee #5 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey brown dash for a head.

Nose: Slightly salty, medicinal air. Peat and dried beef. Cocoa dust.

Body: Sweet chilli and hoisin sauce. Brown bread character. Sour cream. Dried beef. Plums. Slight funky feel. Slight smoke and salt. Mature cheese. Cherry. Creamy texture. Green peppers.

Finish: Chilli jam. Charring. Bitter. Salt. Green peppers. Slight mature cheese. Sweet chilli. Smoke.

Conclusion: I was worried that the chilli was going to be dangerous here. My last, and previously only, experience with De Molen chill imperial stouts was at GBBF a few years back and was like drinking molten lava. As in the flavour was great but I couldn’t finish a third as the heat just stuck to your mouth. This, this is pretty sweet chilli styled. I had been steeling myself up for a while before going in for the first sip and the relief when it turned out to be manageable was immense.

This is, as seems to happen a lot with varied De Molen Imperial Stouts, is quite a mixed up set of flavours. The chilli is sweet, the chocolate is bitter, the air medicinal, smokey and peaty, the base kind of fruity and mature cheese touched. Out of all this I noticed that a lot of the more dominant flavours were on the savoury end – with, in an unusual twist, it being the chilli that actually gave the main sweet contrast. You don’t get to say that often.

It is a very interesting beer, I don’t see many Imperial Stouts, or even standard stouts, go heavy and all in on the savoury character – with the big malt used there tends to be at least a slight sweet leaning; Less still do you find that savoury matched with such big Islay flavours – usually big harshness like that is matched by bigger sweetness to contrast. For all it is interesting, you may have guessed that a beer I find interesting and a beer I genuinely enjoy are two different things.

I generally appreciate something a bit different, and I can dig this for that. You really can take your time digging into this, almost always finding new notes – but when the new notes you get are such like green pepper it does not feel like you are rewarded so much for your effort. So, a very layered and interesting savoury fest, but one I bounce off when I try to just sit back and enjoy it.

Background: Ok I grabbed this one as it is a blend of Hel & Verdoemenis and Spanning & Sensatie, aged on Octomore and Bruichladdich whisky barrels The words that grabbed me was the Octomore Barrel ageing. I tried Octomore Hemel & Aarde at a London beer show a few years back and it was glorius. I have since been trying to, if not find that beer again, find a beer that comes close. Hel & Verdoemenis variants have been from good to great for me, never tried Spanning & Sensatie, but looking at the bottle it seems that it was an Imperial Stout made with cocoa, chilli peppers and sea salt. Unusual. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit .

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 21 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of caramel brown froth. Redish if held to the light

Nose: Dry black liquorice. Blackberry. Sour cream.

Body: Liquorice all-sorts. Blackcurrant. Sour chewy sweets. Sour black cherry. Dry. Slight charred wood and charcoal. Slight funky, yeastie note. Some bitter chocolate. Light toffee. Creamy as it warms, yet still dry late on.

Finish: Black liquorice. Tart black cherry. Black currant. Bitter and lightly charred. Black pepper and pepper seeds. Charcoal dust. Gooseberry and Ribena as it warms.

Conclusion: Erm, well, it does what it says on the tin – well, bottle anyway. Blackcurrant? Somewhat. Liquorice? Very much so. Aaaand, that’s kind of it.

The base Imperial Stout is kept to simple notes – fairly polished simple notes though – predominantly using a charred, bitter back with some hints of bitter chocolate, but not much. The main thing the base gives is a very good texture – it is a nice, kind of oatmeal stout thickness kind of thing – just the kind of feel and grip the beer needs.

The berries come out more with warmth, the liquorice plays with the cold. With the liquorice ascendant it feels very dry, and very, very liquorice filled. I will admit it tastes better than most uses of liquorice in a beer – there is a slight sweetness that makes it feel like all-sorts, and that helps it get not too dry, which is a common problem I find. However it is much better as it warms, the light tart edges becoming a more fruity front face.

It gains a mix of Ribena, tart black cherry and tart fruit gum sours. A more bright mix and far more enjoyable for me, plus a bit more complex. However, while it is more complex than before, it still isn’t very complex in general. It is a good drink, but very similar to already existing blackcurrant and liquorice stouts that aren’t ten quid a bottle. It is well made enough, but not better than those, nor is it particularly innovative or unique. As a standard Brewdog beer, I would give this a thumbs up. As an expensive Abstrakt it doesn’t earn its place with either ingenuity or complexity, Good, but too costly for what it is.

Background: This seems kind of normal for an Abstrakt beer – for those who don’t know Abstrakt is Brewdog’s one off specials, and tend to be pretty out there. This one is an Imperial Stout made with liquorice and blackcurrants. Grabbed straight from Brewdog’s shop, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Abstrakts have started waxing their bottles – eh, it is done kind of ok – wax does get on my nerves these days due to overuse, but at least this one was fairly easy to get off. Think that is everything for this one.

Chimay: Grand Reserve 2016: Viellie En Barriques (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Moderate creamy brown coloured small bubbled head.

Nose: Crushed almonds and peanuts. Funky yeast. Popcorn. Dry. Wholemeal bread. Fig rolls. Sour red wine.

Body: Smooth. Carmalised brown sugar. Fig rolls. Plums. Hazelnut liqueur. Vanilla toffee. Lactose. Fizzy and sherbety. Liquorice. Malt chocolate. Gummed brown paper. Raisins and sultanas. Red wine and Madeira.

Finish: Hazelnut liqueur. Cream. Plums. Vanilla toffee. Lightly woody. Gummed brown paper. Slight sulphur and smoke. Brown sugar. Slight funky yeast. Cloves. Cognac.

Conclusion: Chimay blue by itself is a big, rewarding beer. In fact one I really should have done notes for by now. This is bigger, and possibly even more rewarding. At this level of quality it is hard to say.

At its base it is a very familiar, big dark fruit, brown sugar, creamy and malt led drink with obvious Belgian yeast influences. So, at its base still the same dark heavy delight the blue is.

So, what makes this different? Well the ageing has given it smoothness. You still feel the weight that says this is an alcohol heavy drink, but a lot of the rough edges are worn down. Thankfully not completely – it still has enough charming prickly edges to not be mistaken for the (in my opinion) overly smooth American take on the style.

Ageing in the barrels seem to have given it some unusual characteristics to play with. There is a light oaken sour note mixed with malt drinks below that which remind me of a good quality Flemish red. There is also a definite mix of sour red wine and sweet Madeira styling – the second of which I’m guessing may be from the cognac ageing. Maybe. Any which way it works very well backing up the strong dark fruit flavours. The final odd note is a much larger nutty character – generally it stands well, though it is slightly overly dominant in the aroma which gives a weak first impression to what is an excellent beer.

As you can probably guess from the examining above, I am very impressed by this. Very smooth, yet booming in flavour. The only difficulty in detecting new flavours is managing not to get washed away in the flood of what you have already encountered as there is so much going on.

The only real flaw is the nuttiness which can be too present occasionally. Everything else is an excellent Trappist beer carefully nurtured in oak. Slightly less nuttiness would let the other notes roam more, but that is a minor thing.

Suitably subtle Flemish sour ale notes meets Trappist dark ale meets multiple barrel ageing. Not perfect, as said above, but definitely very well done. Wish I had one to age further.

Background: OK, this is a big one, Chimay Blue at the base, aged in a mix of French oak, new chestnut, American oak and new cognac barrels. Fermented in tank, barrel and bottle. It was an expensive one picked up at Independent Spirit, but you don’t see many barrel aged Trappist beers, and I am a huge fan of Chimay – I think the blue was the first Trappist beer I ever had if I remember rightly. There are very few Trappist breweries, and the beer has to me made or overseen by the Trappist monks themselves – so they don’t tend to play with the more new wave brewing tricks, like this. Drunk while listening to a mix of History of Guns tracks on random.

De Molen: Hel and Verdoemenis: Bruichladdich (Peated) BA: Brett Edition (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown rim around the glass but no real head.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust. Smoke. Cedar wood. Charring. Bitter coffee. Honey and treacle mix. Pecan nuts. Blueberry. Smoked meat.

Body: Smooth. Big bitter chocolate. Smoke. Big bitter coffee. Charred meat. Thick sour cream mouthfeel. Slightly soured. Beefy. Bitty feeling. Orange juice notes. Blueberry touched.

Finish: Bitter chocolate and bourbon biscuits. Smoke and ash. Sour cream. Bitty feel. Bitter coffee. Slight wet rocks and salt. Nougat.

Conclusion: Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect here with the brett involved. What I got was something big, something full of bitter chocolate, slightly cloyed, thick, and bitty feeling, all backed up by a lot of smoke and beefy flavours.

So how does it compare with the real ale, non brett version of this? Very favourably actually. It seems less harsh, thicker, letting more of the subtle notes come out. There is an odd sour cream kind of twist to it – at a guess I would say that is the brett playing about – thought I couldn’t be sure. It also makes it feel kind of bitty, and it seems to be this character that breaks up the harsh notes from the real ale version.

It really booms out the flavours this time around – still not up there with the Octomore aged Hemel and Aarde that I still kick myself for not doing notes on, but what is? Not as good as the 666 either, but there still feels to be so many odd notes hidden inside this that it has appeal. At times there are subtle hints of orange juice, blueberry and nougat that are just teases at the edge of the beer. I am so tempted to grab one of these to age, just to see what happens.

Still, as it currently is it is a solid set of flavours; Big, surprisingly mellow in the barrel ageing compared to the harsh real ale version – there is a lot of smoke but little harshness. Not a stand out favourite in the Imperial Stout crowd, but utterly rock solid and a bit unusual. That different texture really makes it with that cloying yet bitty mouthfeel. Worth a try as it is, and I am intrigued to see what a bit of brett ageing will do.

Background: Damn that is one long name to type out. Some people may wonder why I am revisiting this, as the Hel and Verdoemenis: Bruichladdich I tried at the Great British Beer Festival didn’t impress me too much. Two main reasons. One, I can find that the real ale delivery can sometimes not suit high abv beers like this. Two, this is a Brett edition, as marked by a tiny label on the side, and I was intrigued by what that would do to this. So, yeah – I tend to return to De Molen for their Imperial Stouts a lot – I really should try more of their other styled beers as they are an excellent brewery. This was grabbed from independent spirit and drunk while listening to Carcass- Surgical Steel. Big beer- big music!

Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Imperial Stout

Omnipollo: Noa Pecan Mud Imperial Stout (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Dark caramel rim of a head, and some small suds over the main body. Leaves a viscous sheen in its wake.

Nose: Massive dry roasted nuts. Pecan pie. Brown sugar. Milk chocolate and chocolate fondue. Fudge. Madeira cake. Custard.

Body: Moderate milky coffee. Pecans. Bitter cocoa and milk chocolate mix. Light choc orange. Sherry trifle. Creamy. Vanilla ice cream

Finish: Milky chocolate. Pecans. Fudge. Creamy. Bready notes. Bitter cocoa. Rum and raisins ice cream. Nutty.

Conclusion: Big imperial stout time again! Oh, how I have missed you. This one opens up big with an aroma that just booms nuts – both pecan and dry roasted. Initially it is an all nut assault that slowly slides out into chocolate and Madeira notes at warmth opens it up. Good start.

The first sip didn’t impress quite as much, it took a few seconds to get going. It was never empty but there was a moment where it was more just feeling the texture rather than tasting the flavour. It wasn’t until the second sip that I really started getting more than that. It is worth the wait though – that pecan and chocolate style comes through – initially light then building to an intensity to match the aroma. The flavours progress interestingly as well. Initially big and creamy, as it warms it becomes drier in the pecan notes and a slight chalky backing grounds it and stops the sweetness from becoming sickly.

The finish takes all that and adds a little bit of rum and raisin sweetness, matched by the aforementioned light chalkiness, giving a little twist on the way out. This however is only a small overview, as the notes above attest there are lots of subtle complexities to find in here.

So, this is big and sweet, booming and nutty that makes for a savoury contrast, all complemented by side notes that fill in the Pecan Mud Pie imagery excellently. The only thing that stops this being one of my favourites is the strength of competition in the Imperial Stout range. That is it. On like for like comparisons this is far better than Genghis Pecan, and so stands out as the top of these sweet yet savoury touched Imperial Stouts. So, very good job, good quality, and because of the pecans a bit different. A good package all round.

Background: Had a hard time finding the name for this, it is only written on the back of the bottle and was partly smudged away. Yes the big smily face of this is what caught my attention, the promise of a pecan mud stout what made me buy it. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Alleujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! By Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I had been playing Dark Souls for the first time during the day, and after dealing with that brutal difficulty I needed good music and beer to relax. That game does not hold your hand at all.

Brewdog #Mashtag 16

Brewdog: #Mashtag 16 (Scotland: IIPA: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold with a moderate off white creamy bubbled head.

Nose: Cherry pocked biscuits. Thick hops. Pineapple. Both bitter and fresh. Pine needles. Light sulphur. Thick and musky. Heather.

Body: Clear cherries. Vanilla toffee. White grapes. Good hops and bitterness. Pineapple. Slight golden syrup. Moderate thick texture. Custard. Malt drinks.

Finish: Fudge. Light glacier cherries. Chocolate malt drinks. Custard. Golden Grahams. Good hop character and bitterness. Grapes. Resinous.

Conclusion: Ok, I can admit when I was wrong. I can take the high road and admit my mistakes. Which is my way of saying that I voted against every choice in every category that won this years online poll to decide which beer to brew. So, yeah, this is freaking lovely.

It feels like a raw, big hopped, musty and thick textured beer with good bitterness and a just noticeable alcohol character that makes you aware of it, but doesn't break the smoothness. With the fruity hop character it has, and that description before, you may be thinking that it sounds like a well made IIPA, but it sounds like nearly every American hopped IIPA ever. Why am I raving about it? Well, for one is is very smooth and very well made, but also what breaks the more generic style is the cherries. I knew cherries were being used in the brewing but I expected them to have little impact on the actual beer itself, I thought they would end up using too few for it to alter the flavour enough. Again, I was wrong. There is a lot of cherry influence and combined with the big, sweet main body the cherries end up giving a cherry picked digestive impression which is utterly clear and well used. In fact the toffee from the malt and the cherries from the..well, cherries, pretty much defines the base and everything else works off that.

The hops are big, in a Hardcore IPA style, bitter and pineapple laden, but that backing base is strong enough that you can slide from cherry biscuits early on, into an intensely bitter finish, without ever really noticing at what point it changed. They just shift very organically in a natural progression from one note to the next. You are never shocked and it never feels out of place.

So, yeah, it is like a smoother Hardcore IPA, still resinous and bitter, just packed full of cherries.

Big fan!

Background: I tend to distrust voting. Not that I have ever worked out a better way of doing things, but they tend to go the worst way possible in my experience. And no I am not just saying that because of a recent referendum. Anyway, yeah, so, a beer that people vote on. This time we ended up with a Triple IPA with American hops, sour cherries and oak chips. I had already tried this on tap by the time I did the notes on this bottle – the tap was a bit smoother and the cherries more evident – I would say the tap version definitely is the superior of the two. This was grabbed directly from Brewdog's store, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Drunk while listening to some B Dolan – mainly Kill The Wolf. Not a big hip hop fan usually, but he is one of the ones that really stand out for me.

Weird Beard Hanging Bat Jack's Rye Smile

Weird Beard: Hanging Bat: Jack’s Rye Smile (England: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark red brown. Large inch of creamy brown froth head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Chocolate cake sponge. Bourbon. Orange. Tart raspberry crème. Lightly milky. Coffee cake. Light cellar’s air.

Body: Malt chocolate. Coffee cake. Vanilla. Bourbon. Orange. Slight sour lime spirit. Slight rye crackers. Tingling alcohol feel. Custard slices. Golden syrup.

Finish: Sour lime liqueur. Vanilla toffee. Bourbon. Sour dough. Malt chocolate. Light pepper and spice. Alcohol air. Caramel. Coffee cake.

Conclusion: I’ve really been working my way through the different adjunct wines recently. This one is probably one of the better ones to have come out of my recent flirtations with the styles. If I had to say why, I would say it is because the base beer seems to match the barrel ageing so well.

The rye influence makes this taste a tad black barley winesque, albeit this is smoother than most black barley wines I have had – it plays with soft coffee cake, nuts and malt chocolate. There isn’t as much rye spice character as I would expect, possibly because of the big sweet malt dose, backed up by the barrel ageing. There is a lot of big flavours to overwhelm more subtle spice.

Speaking of the barrel ageing, it comes across very clearly, without dominating – they instead seem to complement each other very well. There is lots of vanilla, and in fact more raw “Bourbon” feel than almost any barrel ageing I have encountered. I think this may be because the base, whilst big, is less dominating that say an Imperial Stout, so it really seems to let that spirit character play. It adds a distinct alcohol air to it all in a boozy fashion.

The two work very well together, with vanilla backing the coffee cake, and the bourbon air lasting out over the slightly peppery finish. The bourbon ageing also seems to bring some of that orange spirity notes into play as well – at least I think it is the bourbon, it seems to have shown up in a lot of American wood barrel aged beers recently.

While not superlative, it is good. Unfortunately the high golden syrup sweetness plays away from its strengths. The main core of sweetness is average, all the fun comes from the more mellow surrounding notes. However there is a lot to recommend in the surrounding notes. If the alcohol had been a tad better hidden this could have been a very luxurious, sipping, malty rye ale. As is it is still very welcome and with a hell of a lot of character.

Background: Grabbed from Independent Spirit this is a rye wine that has been aged in bourbon barrels – and from the name I would guess Jack Daniels, but that is just a guess. I ended up losing half of the bottle in a slight mishap, so this was based on about 300-400 ml worth, which I figured was more than enough for a set of tasting notes. Drunk while listening to the Jet Set Radio OST, which is fantastically funky and awesome, even if it does miss out my two favourite tracks from the game.

Magic Rock Un-Human Cannonball

Magic Rock: Un-Human Cannonball (England: IIPA: 11% ABV)

Visual: Deep hazy yellow over ripe banana to bruised peach. Thin white bubbled head and some carbonation.

Nose: Mango. Dry. Dried apricot. Dried banana.

Body: Hugely juicy, yet with dry undertones. Banana. Lychee. Peach in syrup. Hop oils. Thick. Low level hop oil bitterness. Toffee.

Finish: Very full of lychee. Resinous. Peach. Key lime. Tart white grapes. Pineapple. Hop oil bitterness slowly builds. Very long lasting.

Conclusion: Wow, the aroma on this in no way hints at how booming it is going to be. The aroma is quite muted, with some dry fruit – not bad, but very restrained. There is no hop bitterness or even, in general, any hop feel, just subtle fruitiness.

Then you take the first sip and – boom! There is still no real bitterness, or much traditional hop character, but the fruit level just explodes. At this point there isn’t even much evident from the malt base, just a slight hint of a drier character under the massive amount of fruit, but that is about it.

However, the fruit, wow. Lychee, lots of lychee. Peach. Key lime. Sweet syrup and tart notes mixing in delicious ways – the sweeter mid body leading out into the tarter notes that last long into the finish. And oh does that finish last, I can take an age between sips and still those fruit juice notes cling.

Warmth does let a slight toffee base show itself, but it isn’t really the thing this beer is about. The body feels attenuated just enough to let it slip out of the way, but still have just enough base to really let the fruity hops explode. The more traditional character builds up over time and it both gives the body a bit more grip and makes the finish last even longer – it builds up more in a hop oil fashion than a crisp hop character, and gives an oily bitter character.

With the thickness of texture and flavour it often feels like a stewed fruit IPA, yet it still has that aforementioned dryness, especially in the finish, so it doesn’t get sickly and cloying.

Frankly an excellent IPA – juicy yet dry backed – well made with big flavours without needed to be a bitter hop bomb. Excellent and distinctive. I am always nervous approaching massively hyped beers like this, as you can find an average beer buoyed up by its rep, or a good beer that feels like a let down compared to its reputation. This, however, is great and well worth trying to find.

Background: I nearly didn’t get to try this. I missed out on a chance to sample it last year, and this year the shops sold out before I could grab a bottle. Thankfully someone mentioned that Colonna and Hunter had it on tap. So I grabbed my review kit and ran over to grab it. Apparently the most expensive beer C&H have had on, and they had special 1/6th glasses for it. I went for a half, because if you have the chance, you might as well. I don’t do many “In the field” tasting notes these days, when I am out with friends I try to be more social, as the more extended notes I do these days take a while to do. This, however, was a special occasion.

unhuman cannonball notes

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