Tag Archive: 3-5% ABV


Mill’s Brewing: Oliver’s Cider and Perry: Foxbic (England: Cider/Sour Ale: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon to apple juice – goes very cloudy on later pours. Large white mound of a head that quickly vanishes. Lots of small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Dry. Apples to cider. Vanilla. White grapes.

Body: Dry. Oaken. Fresh cut apples. Slight yeastie feel. Slight soft mushy apples. Apricot on later pours.

Finish: Tart grapes. Vanilla. Moderate oak. Moderate bitterness. Flour. Dry white wine. Fresh apples.

Conclusion: OK, I am moving outside my comfort zone by doing notes on this one, as it seems closer to the cider side of things than the beer side – albeit with some lambic style notes in there. Any which way, I’ll see what I can do.

It is on the very dry cider side, with only as little sweetness there in the middle. This then meets a white wine and oaken character akin to the drier lambics. So it is slightly tart, very dry but not especially sour, and has very little mouth puckering character considering the flavours.

Flavour-wise it mixes fresh cut solid apples with their softer, more mushy apple type. No I don’t know the names, unfortunately; My obsessiveness already has an outlet in beer and whisky so I don’t know all the apple names as well. There is also a vanilla sweetness to it that feels more beer than cider, one of the few sweet notes it uses.

It feels reasonable – if you handed me this and told me it was a cider I wouldn’t have guessed otherwise – thought with the heads up given, there is a kind of brett funky yeast character to it, and a slight beery thickness that cider doesn’t often have (in my limited experience).

It’s not one I would return to often, as cider is something I only have occasionally, but it does seem to do it well – a white wine to lambic feeling cider thing that is dry and fairly easy to drink.

Background: Ok, grabbed this one from Independent Spirit as it is, in my experience a unique one. Feel free to tell me if I am wrong on that one. It is a mix of brewing styles from beer and cider to create this – the closest thing to cider I have ever done notes on here. Lots of people ask me to do cider notes, but I’m not quite sure if I’ve got the knowledge or the language to do it justice. Anyway, this is made with the turbid mash method to make the wort in the style of a lambic, but the wort was fermented with Foxwhelp juice by cider lees in old oak barrels for eight months, then bottle condietioned for 8 more months. I had to google some of those terms. Drunk on a far too bloody hot day while listening to a relaxing mix of Ulver music

Ilkley: North Brewing: Bonaparte (England: Berliner Weisse: 3.2% ABV)

Visual: Light clear grain yellow body. Thin white head that leaves some white suds.

Nose: Apples and lime. Key lime. Kiwi. Fresh lemon.

Body: Apples. Dry. Flour. Dry hop bitterness. Slight cider vinegar. Pears. Lemon.

Finish: Flour. Apples. Slightly sour. Pear. Vanilla. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Dry hopping made this promise so much, so much lovely fruit in the aroma. However, it seems that the aroma is writing cheques that the body can’t cash.

The aroma is full of fresh green fruit, tart and with a good chunk of complexity – lots to invite you in. That first impression is genuinely amazing. The body that follows is light tart apples to apple cider, with apple vinegar touches and, well, that is just about it.

It is kind of bitter, kind of flour like in the hop grip, but somehow it manages to mute what is usually the huge freshness of the berliner weisse style. In muting that it also seems to mute the complexity and masses of fruit range that the aroma promises. It feels like a real let down.

The finish does manage to recover it again slightly, some of the green fruit comes back and plays again. However generally it feels quite empty – the main body just feels like empty, mild sourness and really doesn’t pay off its gimmick of the dry hopping. Then again, I know dry hopping is basically about adding awesome aromas, but I expect it to follow through with it – I expect it to give something beyond that.

The idea does have promise, adding extra layers to the sour style, and I have seen dry hopped lambics and other sours that do good things with the idea – however in this instance it needs a lot more work to, well, work. This really isn’t worth it.

Background: This was drunk at the Port Street Beer House up in Manchester – was in the area before heading up to Leeds for the NXT wrestling show the next day. Had some good friends with me and was having a very chilled time. Tried a few beers there, they had a very nice tap selection including a good chunk of Cloudwater and a decent, if expensive, bottle selection. Very good beers, if expensive in general. This one is dry hopped berliner weisse which intrigued me.

Fantome: Vertignasse (Belgium: Saison: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Bright green. Massive green to white bubbled head.

Nose: Minty. Wheaty. Lamb stew. Lime. Coriander.

Body: Lime. Sage. Wheaty. Moderate bitterness. Peppery. Minty. Peppermint and mint leaves.

Finish: Lime jelly. Moderate bitterness. Wheaty. Malt drinks. Greenery. Peppery. Mint.

Conclusion: This is the, I think, 2nd green Fantome beer I have had. I think. It’s not something you expected to see more than one per brewery of at the most. Anyway, considering that there is strong suspicion that woodruff is used to make this green, that could explain that flavour that I am having a very hard time pinning down. I have never tried woodruff in anything except a Chorlton beer which a) similarly confused me and b) wasn’t green. So, anyway, could taste like woodruff for all I know, I’m doing my best here.

What seems to come out of the beer is a mix of lime and herbal sage notes over the usual peppery, high quality saison from Fantome. The result is good, but seems slightly less than the sum of its parts. The base seems to lead towards their awesome Spring Saison but the … you know what, right or wrong I’m going to call it woodruff for now just so I have a word for it rather than just saying “green thingy influence” … the woodruff influence does overpower a lot of the lighter subtle notes that made that beer so awesome.

Now, it’s still good – but also more one note, or really more two note with the strong lime and sage like notes. There is an impressive, slow building, bitterness backing it, but again this is matched by the fact it overpowers the lighter notes.

So, fairly decent – though another one I would say to share – despite the lower abv the flavours can get wearing if you solo this beer raid (If you forgive the video game reference). There is a cloying note and a minty character that raises up, adding complexity, but it still becomes heavy going over 750ml.

So, good, kind of one note – I would say to go with some of Fantome’s other excellent beers over this merely ok but not great one. The curse of having such a great line up is that only ok ones like this seem weak by comparison.

Background: Another beer with style disagreement online- depending on where you look it is described as a wit or a saison. Frankly, considering whatever was added to it to make it green, it isn’t close to any style really – but I have leant towards saison based on my experiences. I don’t think official word has been given on what makes it green, but a few people have guessed woodruff, which seems a fair call. I adore Fantome saisons, they rate from ok to bloody excellent, and from just excellent takes on a standard saison, to weird mad experiments. All good. This one was grabbed at Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to some Rhapsody – great fantasy, storytelling metal. This was drunk the night before heading up north to go watch NXT wrestling – so I knew good times were ahead.

Kefalonian & Ithaca Microbrewery: Kefalonian Beer (Greece: Premium Lager: 5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow, clear. Massive white head and masses of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla. Wet cardboard. Slight sulphur eggs. Slight wheat. Orange fruit sugars. Slight banana and funky yeast.

Body: Moderate hop character. Fresh lemon. Light brown sugar. Slightly muggy hop middle. Prickly feel. Vanilla. Light orange jelly sweets. Slightly chalky. Banana. Cheese puffs.

Finish: Lemony. Popcorn hop feel and light bitterness. Slightly watery. Slightly chalky. Cardboard. Banana. Cheese puffs.

Conclusion: This is the more interesting side of meh and shrug compared to the pretty damn bad meh and shrug that was Mythos.

Like that beer, this has some rough notes. It is a bit chalky, a bit watery -which is admittedly an unusual mix. You usually only get one or the other. The aroma was a very bad first impression as well – seeming dull, and mainly giving wet cardboard notes.

However it turns out when you hit the body it does have some actual flavour in there. There is some lemon freshness, some orange notes, even a moderate hop character. Not world shaking but it is something, they are trying to put out an actual beer with flavour. As time goes on the rougher elements get more prevalent, with the dank wet cardboard notes rising, especially in the finish.

There is a slight funky character to it – kind of cheese puffs and banana. If the beer didn’t have the rough notes then I think these would be quite interesting and even give some play to the beer – with the rough notes however they bounce badly off each other so it just seems like a missed opportunity,

So, it does have some promise, some good notes but badly delivered. I cannot in any way recommend it, but unlike Mythos they do have something. If they do a heck of a lot of work with it there is an enjoyable beer in there somewhere. Until they find it however, I say avoid.

Background: The second of two beers Tony brought back from Greece for me – many thanks! This one from a Greek microbrewery, very interesting, hope it will be better than the macro beer that I tried before. Don’t know much about this – it calls itself “The First Kefalonian Beer” So that is a thing. To match the lack of knowledge on the beer I shoved music on random for this one – had no idea what I was getting.

Boglers Braustube: Dinkel & Weizen (Germany: Hefeweizen: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow to lemon juice. Very large white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat and crisp hop bitterness. Popcorn hop notes. Vanilla. Peppery. Slightly fresh.

Body: Slightly thick texture. Caramel. Cloves and dried banana. Orange segments. Vanilla toffee. The head is bitter and yeastie. Wheaty and moderate bitterness. Palma violets. Kiwi. Lemony. Hop oils. Hard rock candy. Slightly milky. Slight raspberry yogurt bits.

Finish: Soft toffee. Palma violets. Banana custard. Vanilla. Just bananas. Moderate hop character. Slight kiwi. Cloves. Slight chestnut mushrooms. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: This seems a lot smoother than your standard weisse beer – the harshness and texture seems set half way between a kristall weisse and a standard hefewizen, though with an extra touch of thickness to it

The thickness seems to bring a lot of toffee and caramel notes that usually don’t get much play in a wiesse – mixing with the more expected banana and clove notes. It also has sweeter kind of cane sugar notes – it feels actually like a more traditional pale malt base that you would use for an IPA or an APA mixing with a bit extra from the weisse addition. This gets less obvious as time goes one, with a cloudier visual and more wheat character coming out over time. I guess that, despite my best efforts, the sediment was mainly in the lower half on the pour.

The bitterness and hop character are more present that normal, but not massively so. Well that is unless you take a sip with some of the head in it – then it comes with a brash intensity indeed. Otherwise, well the extra thickness merges well with some hop oils, and bring some unusual flavours – palma violet like from the noble hops, and light raspberry yogurt notes. If held on the tongue the bitterness grows, but also a fresh lemon contrast as well.

Overall it mixes a smoother base and a bigger hop character with a decent weisse wheat character. It is a balance of style – the base feels like that of a sweeter IPA as already mentioned, along with some, but definitely not all of the hop flavour and intensity – the rest is full wheat character.

It is a very solid beer, and another one that is a bit off the standard style path, which is nice. The huge bottle is a bit much for one person, as I found. The bitterness rises at the end and can come to dominate. Shared I think this would work well.

A nice experiment with a hopped hefeweizen without (generally) being dominated by it – well unless you have the entire 1L yourself. Pretty good, not super polished but there is a lot going on. Tad rough edged, but I had fun with it.

Background: Grabbed from Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover, excellent stocked wee shop. I grabbed this one for a few reasons, one of which was the silly sized bottle and the utterly packed with text label that put me in mind of the overwritten Japanese style labels. Also best I could tell it was a weisse done craft beer style. Though I have to admit I read “Dinkel” as “Dunkel” so was expecting a dark beer. Whoops. Turns out dinkel is a speciality malt. My mistake. On first pour this was about 90% froth – a very energetic one, but a few careful pours later I had a drinkable beer. Due to the huge bottle I had more time that usual to get notes, hence this may be a tad overwritten. Drunk while listening to the awesome final David Bowie album – Black Star. Still utterly haunting.

Mythos Brewing (Carlsberg): Mythos Hellenic Beer (Greece: Pale Lager: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Large amount of small bubbled carbonation. Thin white head.

Nose: Mashed grain and wet rice. Mild palma violets note. Vanilla cream. Light hop character and bitterness.

Body: Vanilla. Slight brown sugar. Musty at the back. Slight palma violets and mild hop character. Rice crackers. Slight sugar dusting.

Finish: Dry rice. Some bitterness. Wet air. Moss. Vanilla. Some hop character. Rice cakes. Greenery and musty dust. Granite.

Conclusion: This is inoffensive for the most part. Kind of bland. If it wasn’t for a few rough notes at the back I’d even shrug and call it passable. Unfortunately, at the back there are some rough notes. So I can’t. Go figure.

Anyway, all this is predicated on it being a mass market lager that isn’t German, Czech or Polish. So expectations were low going in anyway. If I was expecting anything from it I may have been harsher.

So, I’ll come to the rough parts later – lets look at the rest. The base beer is fairly bland, kind of rice cakes with some vanilla and a mix of brown and white sugar dusting. Hop character is low and kind of musty. Nothing really to write home about.

Even that brings no worse than a shrug from me, I’ve had worse, but then in the late end of the beer to the finish it falls off the road. Dusty notes come up, slightly rough greenery, dry rice notes and such like. For a beer that main audience is one expecting inoffensiveness a rough, muggy, slightly rough tasting finish is a killer. It takes the beer from meh to pretty much avoid.

The thing is, even with this I can’t get up the energy to be annoyed by it. It isn’t Fosters style soda stream fizzy, it isn’t Tesco Value Lager level rank, It is just very dull and a touch badly made.

There really isn’t much to say if I can’t even be arsed to rant about it. The rougher side of dull and it gets worse as the beer goes on. So, avoid.

Background: This was a kind gift from Tony – many thanks! He was in Greece while I was in Germany and brought back a couple of local beers for me to try. Think these are my first Greek beers, so adding a bit more to my beer map! Always good. Anyway, don’t know much about this – had it chilled down on a far too warm day, while listening to Two Steps Form Hell: Archangel. I didn’t know if the beer was going to be epic, but I wanted the music to be.

Herrenhauser: Premium Pilsner (Germany: Pilsner: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to gold. Moderate white head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Light popcorn hops and vanilla. Quite clean. Toffee.

Body: Vanilla toffee and light custard. Smooth hop oils. Present but low to moderate bitterness. Light greenery backing. Slight chalk and fizzy character. Moderate thickness. Lightly peppery after a while.

Finish: Clean sheen. Low but present bitterness and a popcorn hop character. Slightly dry. Maize/cereal. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: While the tap version of this is definitely better than this bottled version I have here – this local Lower Saxony lager still holds up pretty well.

First up on things it does well is the feel – A slightly thicker than normal texture for a pilsner. It gives a smooth, slight hop oil touched experience. The lead out into the finish is dry, but the body much less so because of the thicker mouthfeel. Good for me as I’m not much of a fan of an overly dry lager – for you a thicker texture may be a benefit or a flaw – judge as you may.

Flavour-wise it leans towards the gently sweet, but with a moderate but not particularly heavy hop bitterness. The sweetness definitely leads and makes it very easy to drink – it doesn’t go too heavy on this elements so doesn’t end up sickly. A pretty simple beast, that uses the hop character to give a similarly gentle robustness that develops into pepperyness as a secondary characteristic over time. This peppery character is especially present in the finish, as the sweetness from the front soothes away. Simple – but not one note.

Looking at lagers that eschew the craft trapping and keep to the more traditional notes, this is one of the more satisfying I’ve had in a long time. Good texture, good sweet to bitter balance. Not revolutionary, but I’ve returned to it a lot over the trip as a good standby – and if you are around the area it is on tap I recommend you give it the chance to be the same.

Very enjoyable.

Background: This was pretty much everywhere in Hannover, during my Lower Saxony holiday. I first encountered it at the Kleine Museum restaurant – a nice, atmospheric joint with good food and super friendly staff – oh and a crocodile hanging overhead. Lots of weird nick-nacks and items around made it a great place to enjoy this on tap. Since it was one of Michael Jackson’s 500 recommended beers in his Great Beer Guide I also grabbed a bottle at a local corner shop to do some tasting notes on. Which are these notes.

Brauhaus Goslar: Gose Das Harzer Urbier Hell (Germany: Gose: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Some small bubbled carbonation. An inch of loose bubbles head that leaves suds.

Nose: Small amounts of soft lemon. Carrot. Coriander. Orange peel.

Body: Slight honey. Barley biscuits. Slight salt. Lemon. Vanilla touch. Slightly cloying touch. Mild coriander.

Finish: Slight sea salt. Salty vinegar. Tangy – gherkins. Slight soft lemon and lime. Vanilla. Light orange. Slightly wheaty. Slight hop bitterness.

Conclusion: So, an actual gose, in actual Goslar. Time to try a beer from where was born! Softer and more gentle that I expected. Though I had been warned, it still was a mild surprise that it doesn’t have the sourness associated with the gose name, more just a gentle kind of clotting style. Instead it comes in showing light citrus notes, closer to what I would expect from a Belgian wit, matching it with soft vanilla notes backing it.

The saltiness expected is more of a thing, though even with this in the main body it is fairly gentle. The finish is where the full effect comes out. Kind of sea salt in style, with mild vinegar notes, akin to what you get on crisps , and with a low level bitterness. Not harsh, but quite the thirst inducer, and not an unpleasant end to the beer, for all it may sound otherwise. A very nice unusual note.

It is refreshing and thirst inducing at the same time – smooth to drink, and subtly backed by the more expected wheat beer characteristics. It worked very well in the sunny environment I was in and was far easier to drink than I imagined it would be. Without the salt and such it would be a very solid, middle of the road wit style beer – it is definitely the salt that makes it distinctive, adding a tang, while not having much overall sourness – more sough dough and sour cream mild notes coming it lightly at the tail end as the cloying notes rise a bit.

Very glad to have tried this – very far from the horrid “sweaty sock” reputation that some recent gose clones have gained – I can see what great promise the style has and it is a solid beer in itself.

Fascinating.

Background: A gose in Germany! In Goslar itself, birthplace of the style. The gose style, a slightly salted, often slightly sour wheat beer has had a resurgence in popularity over the last year or so. Considering only Goslar and Leipzig made it for many years,and the style had nearly died out- it is pretty cool to see it back. However, every gose beer I have tried from craft brewers have been quite different – from quite horrid sweaty sock tasting beers, to tart fruity beers, to quite well hopped or spiced beers. So, I was very interested to try one of the originals to see what the base of the beer style was like. I had been informed by the staff of Craft Beer Kontor that Goslar breweries hold that the beer should not be that sour – that the Leipzig version is only sour as it is based on the Goslar exports which had gone off slightly by the time it had reached them. Because of that I was braced for this to be less sour than I would have otherwise expected. Anyway, drank at the Brauhaus Goslar itself – the staff were very helpful as well when we had a very minor injury that needed napkins to stop blood flow. Many thanks to them! This is listed as 30 IBU – higher than I would have expected, if not overly high in general.

Welde: Himburgs: Pepper Pils (Germany: Pilsener: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Golden and clear with a yellowed huge head.

Nose: Peppery. Floral. Slight menthol and herbal character.

Body: Lightly herbal. Light peppery and minty character. Quite clean. Light vanilla and grapes.

Finish: Minty. Clean and fresh. Sage and onion. Light peppery and peppercorn. Later a kind of beef slices comes out.

Conclusion: I was expecting a pepper touch to this, because of the name – but was not expecting this very fresh and herbal lager that manages very well to keep the lager feel despite the very clear influence of its unusual ingredient. It is mainly a pretty clean feel, and shows what I presume to be noble hop influence but matches that with a lot of sage and general herbal taste that works well. Now, while I say there is clear influence from the unusual ingredient, I was expecting for it to be expressed in a more traditionally peppery style. That more traditional influence is held back until a kind of peppercorn style in the finish, everywhere else gives that more herbal feel to it.

The lager is pretty one note, if well textured and delivered – with the subtlety coming from the rising herbs, peppercorn, and even some beef notes which were very unexpected – All of these seem to wait until the finish and gives a completely different layer to play with compared to the main beer. It makes for an easygoing lager with a robust but still not heavy finish.

The menthol and herb freshness is brilliant mid body – the pepper and meat finish grounds it so it doesn’t get wearing. There isn’t a lot in the central lager pils character, but the soft vanilla and noble hops give an easy drinking stage for the more unusual elements to work off.

So, not a world shaker but different and appealed to both myself and more traditional lager drinkers with me. When you want something easy to drink but different this holds good variety and fits that niche very well.

Background: While I was grabbing a few bottles to bring back from the excellent Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover I found out they had two taps on as well, one of which was this beer. So what could I do but try a quick one before heading out? Anything else would be rude. This is made as a collaboration between Welde and Himburg BrauKunstKeller – a pilsener made with pink and black peppers. Interesting. It was another hot day on trying this, so I was glad to hide away in the shade. Since I was on holiday I was more relaxed than normal, which always put me in a good mood for beer. This is listed as having 25 IBU, not bad – I always like when they list extra info like that.

Artesans Maians: Espiga Blond Ale (Spain: Golden Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow blond. An inch of white head.

Nose: Grapefruit. Shortbread. Mandarin orange. Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Crisp hops.

Body: Tart. Vanilla and cream. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Just slightly gritty feel, but generally smooth. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Soft pink grapefruit and mandarin orange. Light cream. Solid bitterness and hop character. Light raspberry.

Conclusion: Ok, that is a lot of hops for a blond ale. A heck of a lot more than I expected, and bringing with it a good level of bitterness as well. Not a challenging level of bitterness, not super high, just more than I would have expected based on the style.

It comes in very fresh with that as well – working tart fruit in a grapefruit and orange style, with a fairly big bitterness to match those tart flavours. It sure as heck doesn’t feel like a traditional blond ale – with the hop level if feels IPA influenced, but the gentle blond ale base is still under there. It has a soft, milky and creamy character with a slight buttery shortbread feel. It is there, but with the high level of hops you won’t see much of it. It is nice to know it is there though, and it does give a solid base for the rest to work from. Generally fairly smooth, but occasionally a grittier touch rises, I presume from the hops.

It is very enjoyable – but doesn’t quite win my heart as it feels trapped between the two styles it is influenced by. The mass of hops works a lot better with an IPA base, and because of those hops it doesn’t really make the best of the blond ale base. Even I as a huge hop head has to admit beers don’t have to be all about the hops all the time. However, being torn between two worlds doesn’t make it a bad beer – it still pushes a lot of the tart fruit notes while keeping a suitable soft blond base – it is getting something new out of the deal.

So, a very good beer, not super special, but has a very good set of flavours to be had in the midst of a drinking session to revitalise without being too harsh.

Background: A beer from Spain! Beer trying to grab some from Spain in a while, I hear they have a pretty good craft scene going on at the moment. Yes that is mainly the reason I grabbed this from Independent Spirit, but since I grabbed it I found it out in it in the top one percentile by style on ratebeer – so has a damn good rep it seems. If I remember rightly it is also gluten free if that stuff is of use to you. Anyway, drink while listening to some more Miracle Of Sound, just before heading out to Germany for my recent holiday.

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