Tag Archive: 3-5% ABV


Kinnegar: Black Bucket (Ireland: Black IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black body with a good sized creamy brown head.

Nose: Citrus. Pineapple, grapefruit and lime. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Cocoa. Brown bread.

Body: Prickly. Pineapple. Vanilla touch. Tart grapefruit. Dark malts. Sour dough. Light cream. Quite tart. Light charring and charred bitterness. Peppery. Brown bread.

Finish: Charring. Slightly rough bitterness. Bitter black coffee. Grapefruit over that. Raspberry tartness. Bitter cocoa. Peppery to rye crackers.

Conclusion: This is a Black IPA that leans towards my preferred take on the style. While it is dark of body and backed obviously by the darker malts, the first impression you get is citrus heavy, fresh and quite tart in the hop expression.

The main elements in the lead in are pineapple and grapefruit notes, but late on in the body into the finish you get a spritzy raspberry like set of tart notes that I would not have expected at all. It is all very refreshing and prevents the roasted hopped stout take that a lot of BIPAs head towards.

Initially the freshness controls the front, with hints of darker malts behind, leading into a much more evident charred, bitter finish sprinkled with a touch of pepper. However as time goes along you get the malt rising in the middle with a bready base, more peppery rye character and more bitter charring, becoming more like the finish for the full BIPA experience.

It’s not quite got the balance of the best black IPAs, that hard to describe touch that makes them so good – but it is still darn good. The rye is mostly used well, initially quite quiet allowing you to appreciate the open beer, it builds to a heavy rye cracker and peppery presence by the end – possibly a tad too heavy at the end for me – it mutes the brighter, slightly tarter notes, but generally a decent progression of flavour over time for an enjoyable BIPA.

Pretty satisfying.

Background: This was found while heading around Dublin as part of a holiday in Ireland. Oddly, the pub I had intended to hunt out was shut down, so I stuck my nose into a place called Tapped that boasted 50 taps, figuring that should have at least something I want to try. A good chunk of the taps turned out to host cocktails and wine, which were not to my taste, but I noticed in their can list they had this – which was in ratebeer‘s top 50 beers from Ireland, so I figured I would give it a go. It’s a rye black IPA – I am an utter sucker for BIPAs, and a rye touch never hurts so I had high hopes – especially as the BIPA seems an underused style these days which makes me sad…

Advertisement

Brewdog: Jet Stream (Scotland: American Pale Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow colour. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation to the body. Massive white mounded head.

Nose: Unleavened bread. Ovaltine. Choc orange. Light grapefruit freshness.

Body: Frothy mouthfeel. Choc orange ovaltine style. Gritty bitterness. Orange crème. Fresh pineapple.

Finish: Choc orange ovaltine. Gritty bitterness. Kumquat. Slight fresh pineapple. Light strawberry.

Conclusion: It is odd that this is a pale ale, as the flavour actually remind me a bit of the amber ale 5 AM saint. Well one of the version of 5 AM saint, I think it has changed recipe a bit over the years. I mean, on the eye this is very obviously a pale ale – light and clear, but flavour wise the malt load hits a lot different than you would expect.

The flavour is very choc orange but done in a more malted drink style – with Ovlatine being the good go to reference for that. On top of that it has a slightly gritty bitterness doing the main hop work. The bitterness is fairly moderate mid body but lasts just slightly too long and too dry in the finish, making it end just slightly too harsh. The mid body is better done though with a light grapefruit freshness that smooths it and also helps alleviate the dominance of the heavier malt character.

Overall this is a bit of an odd mix – again the 5AM Saint feeling come up, or at least the more malt led version of 5 AM saint that has existed over the years – and it does make the beer interesting. It is a solid beer, the malt is well done, the fresher feeling lightly done do help, but the lead out is not so great. Overall it feels a bit of a disparate mix of elements rather than a coherent beer but not a bad one.

So, not bad, not great, probably better than most beers available on a plane. Probably, I haven’t drunk on a plane for a while – ever since I found out how much faster I get drunk in a pressurised environment!

Background: Deeeep breath. Ok, long time readers may have noticed for all I was a huge fan of Brewdog I have not done much on them for years. Simple reason – we have seen over and over that the owners are bellends and the company treats people terribly. So, erm bias warning. Also bias warning, back in the day I was excited about them I got shares, so I am influenced in that way as well. I will say from the times I have had their beers recently they generally continue to be good, but I cannot be excited about a company that treats people as badly as Brewdog has. So,why notes on this one? Well this is the final gift my mate Mushroom brought back for me, a beer traditionally only sold on airline flights. My wish to show thanks to my mate for the gift weighs higher than my wish not to give Brewdog publicity, soooo, a rare modern day Brewdog tasting note!

Tasting Notes: Lion: Lager

Lion: Lager (Sri Lanka: Pale Lager: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear gold. Moderate small bubbled carbonation and a good sized loose white bubbled head.

Nose: White bread hop character. Clear. Flour.

Body: White bread. Slight hop oils. Moderate bitterness. Vanilla. Prickly mouthfeel. Slight dry toffee. Brown bread.

Finish: Bready. Lightly bitter. Lightly chalky. Fluffy hop feel. Sulphur touch to the air. Lightly earthy,

Conclusion: This is a fairly bready, fluffy hopped lager. Nothing too out of the normal but it has a greater than normal hop bitterness. Still fairly gentle, but gives a present bitter character throughout, especially out into the finish which helps it last longer than a lot of the “Wet air” like lagers that exist.

It is not an unusual take on a lager, unlike a lot of the craft beer takes, nor the super polished, lightly oily feel of the polished pilsners but similarly it does not feel like a lot of the more mainstream lagers – and, for Sri Lanka at least this is pretty much their mainstream lager best I can tell so, the fact it rocks a bit higher hop character and bitterness makes it stand out when compared to them. It helps that there are no real evident rough spots and the bitterness work pretty well. It is not stand out but it is more enjoyable than most mainstay lagers.

It is a gentle lager base, with a heavier than expected hop style and feel. Not a must have or even one to hunt out, but if you are in Sri Lanka it will do you reasonably.

Ok, if not special.

Background: Thanks to Mushroom who bright this back from Sri Lanka for me – (Also a can of the Lion Stout, which I have tried before and quite enjoyed). He really does spoil me. Not much more to say, a lager from Sri Lanka. Tidy. I put on Laura Jane Grace: At War With The Silverfish as background tunes. My music choices are having less and less to do with the beer as time goes on.

Lost and Grounded: Brave Noise Lager (England: American Pale Lager: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear, lightly yellowed colour. Good sized mounded white head. Moderate to a lot of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Fresh crusty white bread. Light sulphur touch. Light lime cordial touch.

Body: Sweet. Light honey sheen. Vanilla. Slight liquorice like backing. Slightly oily hop oil sheen. Crusty white bread. Mild mead.

Finish: Light chalk and flour touch. Mild bitterness and hop character. Vanilla. Hop oils and lightly resinous notes. Honey. Dried apricot. Mead.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected from my first impressions up front. On the eye it looked a pretty darn pale lager, and on the nose nothing really stood out beyond the usual lager character. So I have to admit I was expecting something kind of dull.

On first sip it was thicker than I expected from the pale, light and clear body – though admittedly by now I should know than to make assumptions based on that. It had more grip than I expected with a good level of hop oiliness and even a light amount of resinous notes in the finish. Very light, but there.

It is not heavily bitter, and the bitterness that is there is oily not prickly, but it is a nice gentle weight and shows a bit of a different style of hope usage than often comes from fancy takes on lagers.

Behind that is a fairly sweet base, from a honey sheen up front, through vanilla into dried apricot in the after effects. Combined with the oiliness it gives the lightest mead like imagery to the whole thing.

Now, before I put people off by making them think this is nothing like what they want, while it is a tad thicker, sweeter and oilier than the norm, this is still a lager. While it gets a tad more sickly as it warms up in this current absurd heat, when it is chilled down it is pretty easy drinking despite that extra weight, so still gives a freshening lager style.

Overall it is not bad, it seems much more a set of feels than flavours for the most part, but it has a lot of interesting character there. I enjoy it, but it doesn’t feel like one I want to have too often, more an interesting, quirky lager to occasionally indulge in than a mainstay.

And, that ain’t a bad thing at all to be.

Background: :Not done a lager for a while, or in fact many notes for a while. Trying to pull my thumb out. Anyway I saw this in Independent Spirit – a collaboration with brave noise beer, who are dedicated to a safe and inclusive environment in the beer industry without discrimination – something I can definitely get behind. Also it was waaaaaay to hot that week so a lager looked nice, but I’m going to claim the anti discrimination was the main cause. Had seen UK Subs warm up for Bad Religion in a gig recently so was listening to their “Before You Were Punk” compilation while drinking.

Cantillon: Zwanze 2021 – Parasol (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly darkened apricot skin. Brown bread colour touched thin head.

Nose: Very fresh lemon. Citrus tart orange. Slightly bready. Light horse blankets and hint of sulphur.

Body: Pancakes. Jiff lemon. Crumpets sans butter. Peppery. Lemon juice. Orange juice. Honey. Gooseberries.

Finish: Peppery. Orange juice with bits. Lemon juice. Tart grapes. Menthol touch. Light peppermint.

Conclusion: This is so freaking citrus as heck and fresh. It absolutely bursts with the citrus notes from the aroma right to the last embers of flavour from the finish of the last drops that you sipped. There is so much orange and lemon styled notes and they all feel so natural and so fresh. Clearly themselves , something a lot of other fruits seem to find hard. Those fruits are still enjoyable in how they mesh with the sour lambic, but these are possibly the most cleanly identifiable fruit notes in a lambic I have encountered.

Like nigh every Cantillon that exists that isn’t the whole story though. This isn’t as sour or mouth puckering as you would expect from a Cantillon. It feels like the citrus character has mellowed the tartness, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to examine. There is a lovely low level peppery character that is such a good underline to the very fresh experience. On the other end of the scale it has a sweet honey touch that just pops up the experience a bit.

It hasn’t got the grace of a lot of Cantillon beers, but it is just bursting with flavour in every direction. I really enjoy it, even in its graceless nature. Is is so different, that freshness is unlike anything I have seen in lambics before, a very clean bright freshness rather than the sour, puckering freshness of most lambics. It may not be classy, but I just love that it shows there are still things to be discovered in what can be done with lambics.

We need someone, possibly even Cantillion to take this idea and run with it as if they can do this on first try (or technically second based on their attempt 70 years ago) then I’m sure that they can polish it up to something special. As is this is still fun as hell.

Background: This is it, I finally did notes on a Zwanze day beer! I have had two before, but never did notes. For those who are not aware, Zwanze day is when Cantillon releases a unique beer each year, and a limited number of places around the world have access to put it on tap. I happen to be lucky that Moor’s Taproom is competitively easy to get to and have had Zwanze day events for a few years now. I missed last years Zwanze as, well covid and lack of vaccines. This year I was still nervous, but they split the event into three smaller groups, with drinking done outside and that helped me decide to give it a go. This years Zwanze is a blend of lambic and citrus fruit (mostly orange says nigh every site I look at). Apparently they tried a similar thing about 70 years ago, but ended up with corks exploding out of bottles from the re-fermentation and the brewers running for cover and getting drenched. Thankfully it seemed more stable this time. I love that little story, tales behind beers and drinking them is one of my favourite things about this pastime. I nearly missed out on this despite being at the event – my booking was for between 16.00-19.00 and I am used to the Zwanze pour being later in the event in past years, so was not too worried when my train was delayed so I was 15 mins late. Turns out they did it as the first pour of the night! Thankfully they trusted me that I was not trying to grab a second and poured my Zwanze for me. Many thanks! There was no abv listed but the staff let me know if was 5% abv when asked.

Portmeirion : Cwrw Du Rhif 6 / No 6 Stout (Wales: Stout: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large caramel brown head.

Nose: Roasted. Cashews. Generally nutty. Clean cocoa notes.

Body: Smooth. Smoothed out chocolate liqueur. Cream. Milky coffee. Roasted nuts. Cashew.

Finish: Menthol. Mint leaves. Charring. Black cherry. Cashews. Chocolate bourbon biscuits.

Conclusion: This is a very solid stout, with a few nice touches that make it definitely a bit better than the average. Though I will admit that as a The Prisoner fan I am probably biased.

Though I am also biased in many other things.

At its base this is a very nicely roasted and gently nutty stout with that sort of slightly savoury sour green flecks and cashew nuts character, and that extends into a generally savoury sour style that permeates the whole thing.

Early on there is a strong cocoa and smoothed down chocolate liqueur flavour that hints at a much sweeter beer. The flavour is like the chocolate liqueur in that creamy smoothness, but with none of the accompanying liqueur intensity

As time goes on the more savoury elements become heavier in the body, offsetting the initial sweetness. Similarly, on the way out in the finish, it initially has an unusual menthol to mint leaves touch under the charred style. But again the nutty savoury notes take over as time passes, in an inverse progression to the main body.

It is a solid stand-alone pint. A bit of sweet shine up front, savoury solid over time. Due to that savoury presence it doesn’t feel like one to have several pints of, the flavours would get wearing, but as a stand-alone it is a bit above the norm.

So if I asked “Who is number one?” what would I reply? Unfortunately not “You are Number Six”, as this ain’t that good, but it ain’t a number two either if you get my drift.


I’m saying its not shit.

I case I was being too subtle.

Background: So, this was gifted to me by my friend Will, much appreciated thanks! As a The Prisoner fan a set of beers based on the series was something I did not want to miss – and number 6 was of course the perfect pick. Though I am disappointing to find out number 1 and number 6 are not, in fact the same beer. (one for fellow Prisoner fans there). Not sure if Portmeirion have their own brewery for these, as some sites suggest so, but others indicate Bragdy Nant at least used to brew it. Though that version is listed as 5.5% abv. So I don’t know. Portmeirion was the village where The Prisoner was filmed, hence the connection. Music wise I went back to the Celeste OST while drinking as it is such chilled tunes that reminds me of good gaming time.

Westmalle: Extra (Belgium: Belgian Blond Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Straw coloured, lots of carbonation. Medium sized white bubbled head.

Nose: Hay fields. Lightly earthy. Very crisp. Palma violets. Lightly peppery. Lemon cakes. Doughnut dough.

Body: Good bitterness. Earthy and doughy hop character. Mineral water. Vanilla. Dry fudge. Greenery.

Finish: Good bitterness. Slight granite touch. Mineral water. Lemon cakes. Greenery. Good hop character. Dry honey.

Conclusion:So, this is the for so long hidden Trappist. I will admit this is not like what I expected. For on thing, mineral water like notes? What is up with that?

I guess that that odd character may be part of why this is viewed as the session Trappist beer, so now I just need to work out if that is a good thing or not.

Ok, so let’s warm up gently and start on the more standard side of the beer; The body is gentle in the malt styling with vanilla and dry fudge character. It is nicely attenuated, not too heavy. It is flavoursome but sessionable. A good start.

The hops character is probably the strongest point of the beer. This is heavily hopped for a Belgian beer and done in a crisp way that is very drinkable. Starts out very crisp on the nose, then lightly earthy and peppery. It manages to give a real solid bigger character and a doughy hop feel that adds character and heft without an accompanying weight that would ruin the sessionable character.

There is also some light citrus counterpoints that keep it fresh, but the more bitter hops are what keep my attention.

So after all that, mineral water character. This is very minerally. Initially I disliked it, it felt watery, and intrusive. Now, after a few bottles tried on separate occasions I actually find it interesting. I’m not 100% sold, but the mineral side of it adds flavour and the water side seems less intrusive, which means I am interested enough to grab a few more and see how I find them. It is different, and not unpleasant now.

Right now it is very good, and interesting even if I am not 100% sold on it. Well worth a try to see how it suits you. Probably not the “ultimate Belgian session” in my opinion though. Possibly got hyped up due to how hard it was to get.

Background: Oh this is something I was very excited for. I first heard of this in “100 Belgian Beers To Try Before You Die” Where it is described as “The ultimate Belgian session beer”. At the time it was only available to the monks in the monastery, and occasionally to visitors to the monastery. So, pretty unlikely to get hold of. It only just got a general bottled release so I jumped on that as quick as I darn could. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, my old faithful during lock-down, I drank this while listening to Billy Nomates: No. A quirky, politically active album, which still warms my heart. Worth noting, the 100 beers book lists it as 5.5% abv as opposed to the current 4.8% so it is likely the recipe has changed slightly over the years. Also the book lists it as having “like mineral water” elements, though it seems to view them more favourably than I did.

Williams Bros: Birds and Bees (Scotland: Golden Ale: 4.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Large mounded frothy white head.

Nose: Lemon cakes. Lime sorbet. Crisp hop character. Clean. Cake sponge.

Body: Lime zest. Bread dough. Slight sulphur. Lemony. Peppery.

Finish: Dough. Light sulphur. Lime. Lightly earthy and peppery. Decent hop character and bitterness.

Conclusion: This is what I would call a simple beer, but done well. It had a few points I initially took as flaws, that I am now enjoying as I come into the tail end of the beer.

So, to take the basics first, this is a gentle lemon and lime filled golden ale with crisp hop feel. Gentle up front, saving the bitterness for a hoppy and bitter finish. Tidy. Simple, but refreshing and pops the bright notes.

The flaw? Or the initially flaw seeming element, is that it is slightly sulphurous, especially in the finish. It felt kind of like it is backed by partially cooked dough amongst that and early on it felt a bit stuffy, which got in the way of the gentle sipping golden ale character.

So, yeah, early on I disliked it, but as time went on it altered, adding an odd steam beer like feel to the experience. A kind of fluffy feel that I oddly associated with direct gas heated whisky. Long story. Anyway, it is a rougher edge but now goes well with the hop punch at the end of the beer to give a nice underline to the thing.

For me anyway, your mileage may vary.

Nowt too showy, but a drinkable hoppy golden ale that slips down nicely.

Background: Back to Flavourly again, where my parents kindly bought me a box of beer to be sent to me. As always many thanks. A few I had done notes on before, and a few I just drank in general, but I made an effort to keep a few for doing tasting notes. Of which this is one. See, backstory is easy! William Bros first came to my attention years ago, back when they seemed to concentrate on brewing with older traditional ingredients. They have widened their range a lot since those days. Anyway, went with New Model Army: Impurity for backing music while drinking. Remember seeing them live a few years back, epic show, man I miss live music shows.

Fourpure: Flavourly: Geyser Session IPA (England: Session IPA: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear to just slightly hazy yellowed body with a thin white head and not much carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla. Light fudge. Crisp hop air. Light grapefruit. Fresh cut apple. Fresh in general.

Body: Prickly bitterness. Moderate hop character. Slightly bready. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Good, solid hop bitterness. Greenery. Sulphur. Peppery. Some very light grapefruit.

Conclusion: I’m finding it hard to write a lot about this one. It is solid. Solid is an admirable quality but it makes it hard to write something interesting for people to read.

Sooooo, it’s a session IPA. A style that often gets on my nerves as a lot of brewers seem to just continue throwing in the high IPA hops into an otherwise standard pale ale, without considering how the lower malt with affect how those hops are expressed, resulting in an overly dry and harsh beer. So far Beavertown’s Neck Oil stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the competion for the style by managing not to fall into that mistake.

This is pretty dry, but manages to keep it on the drinkable side of things. It also manages a good bitterness and lightly peppery character that gives the IPA punch of hops despite the low abv not giving much malt to contrast them.

Now the aroma is the most interesting part of this deal, and promises a lot more than I just described above. It gives a lot of malt sweetness hints somehow, despite the abv, and a little touch of tart grapefruit notes that promises some release from the bitter hops.

None of this follows through into the body, which is a pity. The base is, as previously said, solid. Well done bitterness, easily drinnkable, dry but not drying. It just needs some pep adding, some metaphorical spice thrown into the mix. The grapefruit hints out again in the finish, but just doesn’t manage to push through mid body.

It isn’t 100% of nailing the body – occasionally being a tad sulphurous, but generally a really good base that puts it above 80% of session IPAs I have tried. It just needs some experimentation to add some range to it. Hope they give it tweak.

Background: So, my parents kindly got me a box of beer from Flavourly – they were doing one of their many offers and it seemed a very decent price as well for a bunch of beers. Many thanks! Time to see if there is quality for that price. This is listed as a Flavourly collaboration with Fourpure. Now Fourpure already have a session IPA at 4.2% abv. Is this a tweaked version of that recipe? Or possibly just rebranded for Flavourly? I dunno. I Never tried Fourpure’s session IPA so can’t say, but something to keep in mind. Had on varied versions of Faithless’ Insomnia for backing music while drinking. The recent heat made that song seem very relevant at the moment.

Donzoko: Northern Helles (England: Dortmunder: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Very large mounded yellow/white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat fields. Lime zest. Fresh lemon. Subtle kiwi. Lightly peppery.

Body: Solid. Slightly peppery. Watered caramel. Earthy. Lactic notes. Slightly cloying. Slight fuller caramel notes. Slight kiwi.

Finish: Good bitterness. Light charring. Earthy notes. Bitter caramel? (Is there such a thing?). Lactic touch. Peppery. Dried fudge. Slight lime and kiwi.

Conclusion: Contrary to what the can says this doesn’t look hazy on the eye to me, and I would not describe it as refreshing to drink. Doesn’t mean it is bad, but it definitely isn’t what I expected from the description on the can.

On the nose it is fairly light, with a soft, inviting citrus take to it. The body is then an utter surprise – pretty thick feeling, earthy, heavy and with a slight cloying lactic touch. The lactic touch helps with an unusual mouthfeel which I would say is one of the more interesting elements of the beer.

Oddly the hop flavours feel close to what I would expect from an earthy British bitter rather than a helles lager. There is similarly a slight watery caramel touch that calls to a British bitter. In fact, I feel that trying this blind, and by which I mean blindfolded, and so I couldn’t see the gold colour and large head, I may even mistake it for a bitter.

OK, not quite that close to a bitter – the mouthfeel is drier up front even if it becomes heavy at the back. Also underneath everything there is a slight green fruit freshness which I would not associate with a Bitter – but you get my point, this is a non standard helles.

So it is different, but is it good? It’s, well, average. Solid, heavy flavours, but gets a tad dry and wearing in everything over time. Despite its unusual character it doesn’t really benefit from examination over time, and lacks the refreshing character to be sessionable or thirst quenching.

Not bad, just not one I would really pick to return to.

Background: Been meaning to grab and do more notes on lagers, they are easy to overlook, rarely coming with fancy eye-catching labels or odd twists. Not tried anything from Donzoko before and they seem to have a range of lagers, so thought I would give this – their mainstay – a go. Another one from Independent Spirit. I was going to list this as just Helles but Ratebeer lists this as Helles – Dortmunder Export. I did a bit of googling and after a while concluded that sounded about right. I’ve still not had many Dortmunders, so am not 100% but seemed to be around the style guidelines. Went with X-Ray Specs: Germ Free Generation for music backing this – as you can probably guess I’ve been poking around in early punk bands again.

%d bloggers like this: