Tag Archive: 10-13% ABV


Pilot: Barrel Aged Double Mochaccino Stout (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.3% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still and opaque. Brown rim of bubbles around the glass and a grey dash over the centre.

Nose: Full bitter coffee to coffee cake with walnuts. Vanilla. Rye whisky undertones. Peppery. Carrot cake. Some low level rum notes. Whisky air.

Body: Smooth. Cherries. Palma violets. Black cherries. Milky chocolate to chocolate liqueur. Very light liquorice. Rum. Fruity whisky notes. Orange jelly sweets. Peppery. Coffee cake.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Milky coffee. Coffee cake. Light liquorice. Apple clean spirity notes. Cocoa. Seville orange. Pear drops.

Conclusion: You know, if they haven’t had stated that this was Speyside whisky barrel aged I would have sworn that it had spent some time in rum wood as it has some light rum spiciness in under there.

Anyway, there is a noticeable alcohol character to this, which is to be expected given the high abv and barrel ageing, but despite that it isn’t a “boozy” feeling drink. Instead it is very smooth, and dangerously easy to drink from that. In a way it is a good thing that it is in a tiny 250 ml bottle at this abv or a could quaff a lot of it, with bad results for my health.

It starts off very cake driven, with coffee cake, carrot cake, a whole cake kind of thing going on giving a very thick and often coffee led aroma. Which is part of what makes that smoothness of body such a surprise.

The body therefore starts smooth and sweet with a lot of cherries and black cherries giving a very fruity front. It is easy drinking and delicious here. As time goes on the rum like spiciness and more rye like spicy character rises to make it a slightly more savoury and complex beast that the fruity burst at the front.

The whisky ageing shows itself more late on as a subtly fruity whisky character that floats in the background. It is a clean, slightly spirity and fruity sheen that clings to everything but never dominates.

So this is a beer with a great start, lovely progress and is smooth as silk but with so much progression.

I would say, if you see it, grab it, but I don’t want more competition for getting hold of the remaining bottles!

Background: I’ve had this a few times and kept meaning to do notes, so finally I have. In a tiny 25 cl bottle, this is taken from four speyside whisky casks that were filed with Double Mochaccino Stout. So pretty much exactly what it says in the name. Grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with IDLES: Brutalism again as drinking music. Still listening to them a lot, and looking forwards to when I finally get to see them live again.

Seven Islands: Dulce De Banana (Greece: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Dash of a brown head.

Nose: Banana syrup. Caramel. Licorice. Crumpets.

Body: Toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Banana syrup. Honey. Boozy core. Cream. Chocolate cake sponge. Toffee liqueur. Tiramisu.

Finish: Cream. Banana syrup. Chocolate liqueur. Chocolate cake sponge. Toffee liqueur. Sweet danish pastry. Hundreds and thousands. Blended whisky. Alcohol soaked sponge.

Conclusion: Ok, even more so that their PBJ dessert stout, this is a stupidly sweet, syrupy, mess. So, any which way, I couldn’t wait to get my lips around it.

Also the can image looks rude.

By far the banana is the stand out element – it just booms cheap banana syrup character. Probably not something that sounds appealing to most people, but I will admit I am enjoying its silly, sweet character.

Like their similar pastry stout PBJ this shows its alcohol in a boozy, kind of whisky like set of notes. Here it shows as a reasonable, if not special, quality blended whisky kind of style. An obvious alcohol character, but not a bad one – just very noticeably boozy. Again, it hasn’t been whisky aged, so is a very odd set of notes to find.

Apart from that there is a lot of toffee, and spirit soaked tiramisu style in a cream meets toffee meets alcohol meets everything else kind of mash of …. stuff.

I mean, you saw the can, maybe read the ingredients list, you kind of already knew what this offers, what you probably want to know is it actually any good? Well it is a sickly sweet, thick blended whisky touched .. thing. It could probably give sugar shock just by looking at it.

But that doesn’t answer the question does it?

So, erm yeah. Well it is chewy, and yet still fairly smooth – a decent mix for a mouthfeel. The alcohol, though whisky styled is not rough. For something that plays as cheaply sweet as this done, it is as polished as you will get for that kind of dessert beer trip.

So, cheap thrills, but well made for that. I enjoyed it. If you don’t automatically hate the dessert beer style, then you may have fun with it too.

Background: Soo, I had this a while back and did not do notes on it back then. I will admit, 90% of the reason I bought another was to do notes so I could share the can image with you. Back when Indie Spirit first got it in they put up photos of this and Boi Juice side by side. Which just goes to show they know how to sell beers to me. Another of the silly dessert stouts, made to try and duplicate an existing dessert. To try and do that this is made with … deep breath .. oats, lactose, banana, condensed milk, vanilla and chocolate. With all that I am surprised there is still room for the beer in there. Have been playing the Guitar Hero games again recently so went with Slayer: Reign In Blood for music. Incidentally – Fuck Raining Blood in Guitar Hero 3. Fuck it to hell.

Seven Islands: PJB Concoction (Greece: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Caramel brown rim of a head.

Nose: Massive amounts of peanut-butter. Chocolate. Oats. Strawberry. Touch of liquorice.

Body: Strawberry crème to strawberry jam. Thick, milky chocolate to chocolate liqueur. Boozy alcohol. Toffee liqueur. Blended whisky. Peanut butter.

Finish: Liquorice. Danish pastries. Strawberry crème filled bitter black chocolate sweets. Bourbon whiskey. Boozy alcohol. Toffee liqueur. Alcohol air. Bourbon biscuits. Peanut butter.

Conclusion: Holy fuck this really smells of peanut-butter. Also chocolate. It is like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of beers. And yes despite being British I have eaten Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They get everywhere.

There is also definitely the strawberry notes, not as heavy but definitely enough that this Is matching its core conceit well. Now it isn’t 100% on, being sometimes more strawberry crème than strawberry jam. Also you tend to get either the Reese’s chocolate peanut butter, or the strawberry crème filled quality chocolate sweets, rarely both at once, for most of the beer. It is only in the latter half that they really merge together, and truly match the idea of the beer, but that is nit picking.

Now, much as it does get the conceit, it isn’t all good news. The alcohol is very boozy – at its best it is like lower end bourbon, at its worst it has some of the rougher end of blended whisky feel and taste. Not 100% terrible, but it really doesn’t suit the feel of the beer.

Still, as a pastry stout it even has sweet pastry notes. Then again does PBJ have pastry? I always thought it was just peanut butter and jam in a sandwich. Is there a genuine pastry dessert PBJ? Is this I thing I never encountered?

Anyway, as an imperial stout it has some rough edges. As a PBJ beer it is fun despite the roughness. It isn’t going to win awards for brewing or style, but ya know what?

I had a laugh with it.

Background: Pastry/Dessert stouts seem to be getting a lot of shit at the moment. I guess I can kind of see why, the market is flipping flooded with them. It is kind of the NEIPA of stouts. However I kind of dig them, as long as it is an occasional treat. I think they have the advantage that they are easy to spot, unlike NEIPAs where often the first clue you get is when you pour from the can. Anyway, this is a Peanut Butter and Jelly/Jam inspired beer. By which I mean it is made with peanut butter, strawberry, Tahitian vanilla (which a quick google tells me is more fancy than normal vanilla apparently) and chocolate. Soo, yeah can see how they are hoping to get the PBJ flavours then. Seven Islands is a new brewery for me, and it is only when I googled that I found out it is from Greece, and not Canada as I first guessed. Interesting – not had much of an examine of their beer scene before. Anyway, another new beer from Independent Spirit. I went with Gogol Bordello: Trans Continental Hustle for background music while drinking. Anti immigration feeling is rinsing in the UK again, so a burst of punk energy against that was welcome.

Pipeworks: Imperial Cherry Jones Dog (USA: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

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

Nose: Brown sugar. Warming booze. Chocolate smelling alcohol. Walnuts. Cashews. Liquorice. Chocolate cake. Liquorice all sorts.

Body: Black cherry. Toffee yogurt. Liquorice. Walnut cake. Vanilla fudge. Cherry pocked biscuits. Cocoa backing. Glacier cherries touch. Light chalk touch.

Finish: Coffee cake. Walnuts. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Cherry picked biscuits. Cocoa. Vanilla sweetness. Alcohol air.

Conclusion: You know, for an over 10% abv imperial stout stacked with special ingredients, this is fairly restrained. Which as always, I should point out, does mean it would be considered restrained by any normal beers standards, natch, just for one this big.

The special ingredients show differing amounts of influence. There’s a creamy character, but against that a more solid chocolate cake feel and taste. It has a vanilla sweetness matched to the creaminess as one of the bigger elements, but the cherries come out as a subtle character laced throughout – sometimes even coming through more as black cherry.

These all build up over time to an impressive weight of flavour by the end. This is one of the few 10% abv and up beers where the full pint is worthwhile for appreciating the beer, rather than being better suited to a half of even third.

It is slow to build and subtle up front, with a touch of the alcohol noticeable but it is far from boozy. It doesn’t have any one element that pushes it to a classic, but has a lot that works well together – a great cocoa backing, some sweet bursts, subtle cherry and an initially high liquorice that slips out of the way to give the other elements time in the limelight.

By the end are a bit more obvious – more noticeable alcohol, bigger flavour – it isn’t as good in itself, but shows a progression that keeps the beer interesting, which offsets that. It has a good use of the lactose for sweetness and mouthfeel, nice subtle use of the cherry and so much cocoa.

A very complex and solid imperial stout, not a must have but well worth a look.

Background: Pipeworks, a new new brewery on me, but this one sounded fairly epic, so I decided to give it a try. Also, new beers and breweries from the USA are less common than they used to be – for many reasons, one of which I would guess would be the plummeting pound over the years. Anyway, this is made with cherries, cocoa nibs, lactose and vanilla. Of course. Went with Le Tigre’s self titled album for music while drinking. This was another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Kees: Multi Beer: Pohjala: 4 Wheel Drive (Netherlands: Quadrupel: 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Opaque main body. A grey dash of a head.

Nose: Dry roasted nuts. Malt chocolate drinks. Brown sugar. Figs. Dried banana.

Body: Smooth, slightly creamy mouthfeel. Light cream flavour. Raisins. Plums. Brown bread. Dried banana. Hints of cloves. Malt loaf. Lightly chalky. Light strawberry touch. Milky coffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Brown sugar. Yeastie feel. Banoffee. Milky coffee. Malt loaf. Big chocolate late on.

Conclusion: Ohhh myyyy, this is a complex one. Smooth, despite its high abv, with hints of alcohol at its core, but clean, lightly creamy and very smooth of body. It just slips down the throat and there are no rough edges to hide the many subtleties of this beer.

Now the smoothness is a mixed blessing in my mind. Long time readers may remember I kind of like the rough edges of a big Belgian and miss them when they are gone. The big thing that makes the difference here is that it gives you a lot in return for their absence – the level of depth to this beer is amazing and a lot would be lost to those rough edges.

At its base it is all that quad goodness – malt chocolate and brown sugar – just delivered very smooth. Dark fruit come out to play from time to time, though in an odd quirk it leans into a milky coffee set of notes more heavily than expected in an almost porter way. Though it doesn’t dent the quad character.

The coffee notes aren’t the most unusual thing though – there are lots of dried banana notes under that and a touch of cloves that give a hint of a call to a weizenbock within this quad and that is very nice. It manages to mix a very Rochfort inspired quad with subtle touches from other dark beers, while still staying super smooth, all creating an epic experience.

Different that the standard quad experience, but still faithful enough and every change from expectations gives you a range of subtle extra notes that makes for a super rewarding beer.

As long as you are happy with the smoother quad than the usual Belgian take then this is a must have.

Background: Kees have been pretty epic so far, so I Was interested in a big quad from them. Then I hear it is inspired by Rochefort’s epic quad, and my interest increased. Don’t know much about the collaborators, Multi Beer and Pohjala. Multi Beer in particular is hard to google for more info, for obvious reasons. Anyway, been a while since I put on some Praxis, so feeling for some odd jazz funk electronic guitar mix I put Transmutation on for a play. This was another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit‘s online shop. I actually did these notes about a week ago, will try to get actual notes uploaded more often!

Kees: Wander Beyond: Where the Wild Blackberries Grow (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black cherry red that appears almost black. Thin grey brown dash of a head.

Nose: Boozy. Liquorice. Brandy cream. Brambles – blackberries. Burnt brown sugar. Chocolate bourbons and bourbon whiskey.

Body: Boozy. Red cherries. Treacle. Blackberries. Cake sponge. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Earthy bitterness. Liquorice. Burnt caramel.

Finish: Golden syrup. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Brambles. Charred bitter notes. Blueberries.

Conclusion: This is a boozy one, and a big, dark barley wine with it. Thankfully not shunning the beer side to show only the fruit. I approve.

Initial impressions on the nose lead with almost Belgian dubbel like character – lots of burnt brown sugar and liquorice – and even well used liquorice at that, which for people who know me will know I consider a rarity. The liquorice is quite present which usually puts me off, but here worked very well as a savoury offset to the big, boozy sweet main work of the beer.

Boozy seems to be a term used many different ways, so just to clarify. For me boozy is when a beer had that thick, full of spirity but viscous alcohol style in the air and body, but generally without much if any burn. In this case the beer hints at alcohol throughout. The alcohol feels present all around the edges, in the dry middle and the general air around the beer, but never feels raw or rough.

A good showing, but thought I would detail as that boozy character can put off some people. Me, I like it – as long as it isn’t rough I like the reminder that I am drinking something heavy and should take my time with it.

So dark and boozy with a distinct dubbel influence. However it shows some more traditional bright barley wine notes with golden syrup and the like. Very sweet notes, but that dry alcohol note helps keep in check. Pretty smooth as well considering the over 12% abv – but still distinctly boozy and needs that earthy character underneath to match with the liquorice savoury character and bring it down a touch.

A very good beer, but some of you may have noticed that I’ve not mentioned the fruit much yet. Don’t worry. The fruit is very present, it is just not as much in the limelight as the beer itself – a beer that I feel deserves respect in itself.

There is a present sweet and lightly tart fruit character – oddly slightly red fruit touched with cherry notes somehow showing around the brambles and blueberry notes. It adds to the beer, becoming a definite fresh presence which mixes with the beer’s dark weight of flavour and gives it a brighter and fresher note that makes it slip down nicely.

It takes a good beer and makes it great, bringing extra notes throughout without compromising the base beer. I love it. Utterly fantastic.

Background: This is not the first time I have had this beer. It, along with Kees 05 Anniversary Stout are beers I kept buying and then drinking before I get around to doing notes on them. I must grab another Anniversary Stout and finally do notes on that. It is gert lush. Anyway a barley wine from Kees, who work well with the big beers, and this one is made with blackberries. You may have already guessed that from the name. Only had one or two beers from Wander Beyond, not made any huge impact on me yet, good or bad, will have to give them another look some time. Went back to Nine Inch Nails new albums while drinking this (Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts). I do miss the vocals, but as atmospheric backing music they are great.

Kees: Caramel Fudge Stout: Pedro Ximenez Edition (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown rim instead of a head.

Nose: Creamy caramel. Spicy red berries. Strawberry. Dessert wine. Fudge. Cream chocolate.

Body: Creamy chocolate. Thai seven spice. Spicy rum. Sulphur. Peppery. Fudge. Milky chocolate. Fatty butter.

Finish: Thai spice. Cocoa dust. Bourbon biscuits. Peppery. Brown bread. Fatty butter. Rye crackers.

Conclusions: Wow, I always knew that PX barrels carried some weight to them, but the flavours from it utterly pound over the base beer here.

Now, the base beer still shows itself – creamy and thick with lots of weight to it – but the sweeter caramel notes shown by the aroma seem to be overwhelmed by the time you hit the body and only a little of the fudge shows through. So the name of the beer seems slightly misleading in that it has now become a PX delivery system.

It is slightly sulphurous, dry spice and peppery in a rye kind of way into solidly bitter character. Pretty much the opposite of the base beer, and with surprisingly bitter red wine character hanging throughout. I always thought of PX as a very sweet wine, and sweet in its influence. Here there is very recognisable wine influence but it is more savoury, spicy and sulphury in its influence. Nothing is going as I expected with this beer.

The sweetness tries to swell below, but it is always a second string to this bow, to mix my metaphors. I mean 1) This is still good. But 2) This is nothing like what the name “Caramel Fudge Stout” would make you think. Instead you get what is left of the sweetness used to deliver a slightly bitter, spicy red wine character into heavy spice.

So, very spicy, very intense. I prefer a more subtle spice usage, and barrel ageing, but I am still impressed by it.

People into spicy beers will definitely get more from this than I did, and it is perfect for them.

Background: Don’t think I ever did notes on the standard Caramel Fudge Stout, so jumping right in here with the Pedro Ximenez barrel aged version. Done a lot of the barrel aged beers from Kees and they tend to be impressive for the most part, so was hoping for good things from this. This was just before I went to see IDLES live so put on IDLES: Brutalism to get in the mood. Oh, in related news. Fuck the Tories. Fuck Boris Johnson the fucking piece of shit. Also, this beer was bought from Independent Spirit. Who are nice people.


De Molen: Decadent & Dutch (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 10.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown, with red hints at the edge. A thin off white head.

Nose: Treacle. Charring. Liquorice allsorts. Fresh waffles. Toffee. Salted caramel. Smooth chocolate.

Body: Very smooth. Thick mouthfeel. Creamy toffee. Liquorice. Chocolate liqueur. Salted caramel. Pancake.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Salted caramel. Candyfloss. Liquorice touch. Thick American style pancakes. Sugary honey.

Conclusion: Ok, this manages to be super smooth on the tongue, yet present a decently weighty mouthfeel, while still allowing out a gentle showing of alcohol to warn of the danger of over 10% abv. A hard balance to get right, but done well here.

On things that are not balanced though – this is very sweet. Which admittedly is unsurprising considering the inspiration. Having now had freshly made warm stroopwafels in the Netherlands, I can say that it is not as stupidly sickly sweet as those are though. It is still very sweet.

It is a fairly simple mix of flavours – caramel, toffee, chocolate and thick pancakes. All sweet, all done kind of liqueur style, and all done in a salted variant fashion. That is a big sweet beer.

There is a bit of savoury liquorice in there, though that can tend to a sweeter liquorice allsorts style at times. Not my favourite note in beers in general but the savoury touch it brings is very much needed here.

I love it. Very one style – so concentrating on the sweetness that I cannot have it often, so it cannot be a favourite, but a smooth, sweet beer that just warns of the alcohol and is toffee heavy and makes for a wonderful occasional treat.

It is going to be a Marmite love or hate beer for people – but if you can manage a salted sugar shock assault of a beer then this is as well made as you will get of them. After all that is said, hopefully you will know if it will appeal to you.

I’m a simple soul. I love it.

Background: Stroopwafels! De Molen! Despite being bought up by Swinkels Family Brewers, De Molen seems to be still going strong. Then again looking at the other breweries Swinkels own, they mostly seem to have held up. Which is nice. Anyway, I don’t get to try as many Barely Wines as I would like, Stroopwafels beers always intrigue me, even if they don’t always work out and De Molen are reliably great. So of course I grabbed it. This is made with actual syrup waffles according to the ingredients. And sea salt. A shorter list of odd ingredients than I expected, but definitely an odd one. Bought from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to IDLES – Brutalism. Yes I finally grabbed their first album. Seeing them live soon!

Basqueland: Saveur Bière: Coco Chango (Spain: Imperial Porter: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Medium sized grey-brown head.

Nose: Bourbon. Liquorice. Bunt toffee. Coconut. Cinder toffee. Toasted teacakes. Marshmallows. Coconut macaroons. Slightly spicy.

Body: Thick. Rye spice. Vanilla toffee. Chocolate fondue. Bitter chocolate cake. Slight caramel. Bourbon. Brown bread. Bitter coffee. Peppery.

Finish: Nutty. Peppery. Bitter cocoa. Crushed walnuts. Slight mint leaves. Spicy. Coconut.

Conclusion: Ok, I can see no mentioned of bourbon ageing on this thing’s bottle, so I presume it has not spent any time in the oak – which is odd ‘cos from the experience drinking it I could swear this has been barrel aged. Any which way it is a good sign for the beer. Whatever caused it, it smooths a thick beer and adds a light sweetness to heavy, rye touched, spicy porter.

So, good start. Let’s dig into the details.

This opens up with a kind of burnt toffee, bonfire night and bourbon aroma. Some coconut notes to tease me, as coconuts in dark beer is totally my jam, and hints of liquorice which were a bit of warning as over used liquorice in dark beers can be my ..erm, anti-jam? Still, a good start. Could do with more awesome coconut, but good start.

The body comes in very differently after that. It is thick, with a wonderfully heavy texture with plenty of rye spice against cream toffee and bitter chocolate cake. It starts out on the sweeter end of the spectrum and gets spicier and more bitter as the beer goes along, but still matched against that creamy sweetness.

The finish is the only bit that doesn’t quite grab me. It is quite savoury and spicy without the contrasting notes needed to make that work. Also not enough coconut, but that is true of the whole beer.

Overall it is lovely – great progression both in aroma to body, and in over time within each element. It is thick, heavy but smooth. Sweet up front, spicy at the end. I love it. There is a slightly weak finish, and it could do with more coconut, but despite that it is still highly recommended.

Background: A new brewery on me, and this one caught my eye as it is an Imperial Porter made with coconut and rye. It is the coconut that really caught me. Long time readers will know that coconut porters and stouts are totally my thing. I love them. One down side of the beer though was it is yet another one with wax to seal the bottle. In this case the wax was very brittle, so thankfully easy to get off the bottle, but it was hard to try and stop the crumbs from falling into the damn beer. I have really gone off wax sealed bottles through overexposure over the years. Maybe one beer a year from each brewery can justify wax, all the others can fuck right off. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. I hadn’t heard of their collaborators, saveur bière, a quick google tells me they are an online beer store. Neat. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with Miracle of Sound’s awesome Metal Up for background drinking music again.

Top Out: First Ascents – Yukatan Honey Wheat Wine (Scotland: Bearley Wine: 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to brown. A beige, thin bubbled centimetre of a head.

Nose: Honey. Brown bread baps. Dry mead.

Body: Honey. Black pepper. Brown bread. Dry mead.

Finish: Brown bread. Black pepper. Clear honey. Flour. Cloudy honey.

Conclusion: Ok, honey, bready, black pepper. That was a fairly short set of notes. Ok, I put a bit more than that but it took a while, for nearly half the beer that was all I had written down. Let’s take a moment and see if I can find a bit more to dig into here.

Ok, well, the honey character comes across very thick and full initially, but quickly become a kind of dry mead character that then just lasts and lasts – so, some kind of progression going on there.

The peppery and bready notes mix well to create an oddly savoury experience in the midst of this, especially considering the sheer amount of honey flavours. Despite occasional sweet honey notes it is generally very well attenuated with little residual sweetness.

And with all that said, eh, I have to admit I am having a hard time getting excited. I like mead. I like honey. I just kind of need a bit more in a beer than only that.

So, to look at the positive, it does express the honey in a very varied way – dry mead, cloudy thick honey, clear honey sheen. All good, but I need more.

A very honey beer that ends up kind of boring.

A pity.

Background: While I haven’t grabbed many of their beers, Top Out have been pretty solid in what I have encountered from them. This is a wheat wine made with Mexican yucatan honey, which is something a bit different. Been on a barley wine kick recently so a mead like take on that sounded right up my street. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with Getter – Visceral for this while drinking. Not my usual kind of music but works nicely for a backing to drinking.

%d bloggers like this: