Tag Archive: 3-5% ABV


One Mile End: Morello Cherry Gose (England: Gose: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot, that turns rose hued at times. A thin dash of bubbles for a head. Fast, small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Salt touched and musty. Shortbread. Subtle cherries. Fresh dough and yeastie.

Body: Soft, tart red cherries. Strawberry. Slight chalk. Tart apples. Pear perry. Cake sponge.

Finish: Tart red cherry. Black cherry yogurt. Slight salt. Brown bread. Juniper berries. Petals. Wet socks. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Hmm, a generally quite nice one here – ok that may seem like I am damning with faint praise, but let me give some context. For some reason, despite the fact I really love morello cherries, most beers made with them have hit some rocky waters. Thus I am pleased that this is fairly decent.

First impressions are good, it hits nicely on the eye- at worst being a pretty but generic apricot colour, but moves to a nicely rose hued glimmer when the light hits it right. Unfortunately the aroma doesn’t sell it to a similar extent – it is quite yeastie and musty, in a fresh dough kind of fashion. It has some refreshing tart notes but is generally quite simple.

The body comes through though, using a lovely pear perry to cider apple styled base, lightly salted in way that makes drinking it far too easy. The cherry notes are understated but well expressed – giving a tart red cherry character that is always present, but doesn’t dominate – tart but with sweet edges. So, yep, the lovely fruit that is Morello cherry is used right in this oh so easy to drink tart beer. There’s even a slight vanilla note in the finish that give a cream like note to go with the cherries. Nice.

It isn’t perfect, as it can be a little chalky at times – but mixing that cider and perry like base, with a slight salty gose style and bring red fruit makes something very drinkable.

I appreciate both it and the good use of fruit within it.

Background: Ohh Morello Cherry! I am a big fan of those cherries. Gose I have had mixed experiences with, probably because there seems to be such a range in how people interpret the style. Any which way, glad to see the style getting more show these days considering it was down to two breweries in Germany that made the style at one point. Don’t know much about One Mile End – they are a new brewery on me, so let’s see how they do. I put on the amazing, Svalbard, It’s Hard To Have Hope while drinking. Such a good album. This beer was grabbed from the ever reliable Independent Spirit.

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Two Chef’s: Tropical Ralphie Weizen (Netherlands: Hefeweizen: 5% ABV)

Visual: Lightly hazy clear lemon juice. Massive white mounded head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Wheat. Light hops. Apricot skin. Cane sugar dusting. White grapes. Dry lemon.

Body: Pineapple. Vanilla. Dry lemon. Grapes. Wheaty. Slight dry liquorice.

Finish: Moderate hop character and light bitterness. Vanilla. Pineapple. Slight dry liquorice. Light tart grapes. Flour.

Conclusion: This is listed as a weizen, but I have to say it doesn’t have much of the banana, cloves or wheaty notes I often associate with the traditional takes on that style. Instead this feels like a traditional Belgian wit that has been punched up with a touch of tropical hop usage.

It isn’t the sweeter more Hoegaarden like take on a wit, and as mentioned it isn’t much like the German take on a weizen, instead it feels closer to a drier more traditional Belgian wit, with that familiar dry lemon character. It has a slight vanilla sweetness, but is well attenuated and generally not too heavy.

Over that dry lemon base is a dash of brighter hops – tart pineapple and a touch of grapes that brings it in line with a more craft beer take on the style. It is refreshing in a way that is perfect for the heat right now – though with a slight flour thickness that works against that. There is similarly a hop feel that gives slight fluffiness, but low hop bitterness. Generally it is a trade off, the extra grip makes it less easy to drink but gives some weight of flavour.

On the downside, there are some slight off notes, that being a dry liquorice touch. Not a heavy note, just a subtle dry savoury note that doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the beer. Similarly that slight flour feel I mentioned can get a bit sticky by the end.

So, decent dry base, nice hop use, a few off notes that don’t quite work, but a decent wit beer that tries to be a weizen.

Background: I was over in the Netherlands recently, only a short trip and didn’t do many notes while I was out there, but it would have been rude of me to not do any at all. So here we go, first notes of two. Not much backstory to this one – saw it in a supermarket, like the bottle imagery – looked a bit Guile from Street Fighter 2 which was nice. I like a good weizen. You may have noticed despite me saying it reminds me of a Belgian Wit in a lot of ways I have listed this as a hefeweizen. In general I go with the brewers description – unless it is seriously and obviously wrong – they listed this as a weizen so I listed it as such. It was stupidly hot in the Netherlands, with up to 40 degrees at times, so I kept this as chilled as I could before drinking.

Northern Monk: Don’t Mess With Yorkshire (England: American Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon coloured body with a massive white bubbled head that leaves some, but not many suds.

Nose: Rhubarb and custard sweets. Custard slices. Sugar dusting. Light orange. Slight apple.

Body: Wheaty. Moderate bitterness. Gentle custard. Hard sweets. Slight rhubarb. Slight orange skin. Slight milk and lactose.

Finish: Flour. Good bitterness. Dry. Peppery. Slightly earthy. Gentle custard. Slight tart rhubarb.

Conclusion: This is a much more straightforward beer than you would expect from the description, and from the first impressions you get from the aroma.

So, since I just brought it up, let’s start with the aroma. It is full on, full of rhubarb and custard sweet notes. Yes, I know generally hard sweets don’t have that much smell to them, imagine them all crushed up and sweet dust is in the air or something, this smells like that. It is very sweet, not super artificial smelling, but definitely calls to the hard sweet style.

The rest of the beer has none of that.

The body, by comparison, is fairly dry and slightly peppery with a moderate amount of hop bitterness. It is not overly attenuated like some APAs, but it still feels within the dry APA range, with all that entails.

The custard notes come across along with a gentle, milky to lactose thickness, and only a hint of the actual custard flavour, and very little of the sweetness. Similarity there is a light tartness from the rhubarb, but it is generally coming across as the unsweetened, earthier rhubarb rather than rhubarb and custard sweets. So, I have no idea where that aroma came from as that is not the beer you get!

It is a solid APA, with a gently used twist to it. Far more subtle in expression that I expected, and probably a better beer for that, if not as showy and silly fun as I hoped. The base APA is not special and without the extra twist would be very middle of the road, as is it is not a must have, but decent enough and a bit different with its subtle enhancements from the extra ingredients.

Background: I spent most of my teenage years in Yorkshire, I have a soft spot in my heart for the place. So, yep, this beer caught my eye. I am also a fan of Rhubarb, Custard and also Rhubarb and Custard, so another thing in its favour as this is a Rhubarb Custard Pale. What does that mean? Well looking at the can it is made with vanilla, rhubarb extract and custard extract, so I’m guessing that. Anyway another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – I put on a band I have only just discovered to listen to while drinking – Bloodywood – an Indian street metal band that rocks!

White Frontier: Northern Monk: Garage: Whiplash: Slow Runnings (Switzerland: Brown Ale: 4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Large creamy brown bubbled head.

Nose: Roasted, nutty character. Coffee cake. Light lactose. Subtle toffee.

Body: Good, lightly creamy, mouthfeel. Cashew nuts and green flecks from the shell. Slight chalk. Bitter cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal touch meets bitterness. Cashew nuts. Nutty bitterness. Roasted character. Coffee cake. Slight malt chocolate.

Conclusion: This is pretty roasted, leaning heavily on that for the character rather than going either towards a sweeter or lightly sour brown ale style. It seems to be walking the middle ground shall we say. So, does it work well?

The mouthfeel is slightly creamy, along with a touch of lactose to creamy flavour, which gives a decent weight and feel for the 4% abv without getting too heavy. So the basics are down pat.

Flavour-wise, apart from the roasted, nutty flavours, it keeps to the more savoury or bitter rounding notes – subtle cocoa and coffee cake for example. There’s a few unwelcome rough elements amidst that, including a kind of charred, charcoal note at times in the finish, but generally it is solid.

So solid, but not really standout – I think the problem is that for everything apart from the roasted character it feels slightly indistinct. There is flavour, but not well defined. It is relying in the nice feel and general gist of the flavours to get along, but it doesn’t give anything for you to really get into.

Decent enough but pretty middle of the road. I’m still glad I had it as you don’t see as many new brown ales these days, at least in my experience, but it isn’t one to draw new people to the style.

Background: Ok, new brewery on me – White Frontier (and one of their collaborators – Whiplash) – so that caught my eye. I don’t see many coming out from Switzerland. Got a lot of trust for Garage and Northern Monk though, so that made me confident I was in safe hands. In fact, that is a lot of collaborators on one beer! You don’t see many craft brown ales, so that caught my eyes as well. So a lot of interest going in. Was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with some lighter indie to pop tunes for this – Honeyblood – Babes Never Die.

Burning Sky: Saison Houblon (England: Saison: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to lemon juice. Large mounded bubbled white head with brown clumps.

Nose: Banana custard. Wheaty. White pepper. Mild grapefruit. Moderate cake sponge hop character. Orange zest. Slight sour dough. Apple.

Body: Slight tart grapefruit. White pepper. Tart grapes. Slight sour dough. Fresh cut apple. Earthy middle. Coriander.

Finish: Wheaty bitterness. Tart grapefruit. Peppery. White pepper. Coriander. Muesli and dried raisins.

Conclusion: This is nice, but boy the aroma promised something with far more subtlety and range. It makes the decent body that you actually get feel slightly disappointing on comparison. Ah well, let’s look at what we actually get then.

The body is fairly rustic style saison – peppery, solid earthy saison style but made fresh with gentle tart grapefruit hops so the body refreshes you before pushing out into a solidly bitter and peppery once again finish.

Refreshing, but yet earthy and grounded. A solid beer and one at not too high abv. The thing is, the aroma has so much more range to it – much more in the tart fruits and hints of a sweeter malt touch that calls to the classic that is Saison Dupont. If those notes had carried through into the body then this could have been similarly a classic beer.

Ah well, let’s look at what it is, not what it could have been. It fits bright hop character well into the base earthy saison without compromising either. A fairly solid twist on the saison, not a classic – it needs a few more layers for that – but it is solidly drinkable with solid hop bitterness.

Could do a lot worse for a saison, give it a go if you are in the mood for something refreshing but with weight.

Background: So, houblon just means hop in French. So this is a hoppy saison. Simple. Burning Sky really haven’t got the attention they deserve from me, may have to make an effort to reverse that. This is step one in trying anyway. Not much else to add – I wanted something comparatively easy drinking, with a not too high abv, so I hoped a saison would do the job when I broke it open for the night. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I returned to IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance to listen to while drinking. Still amazing mix of anger and sensitivity. I still should pick up some of their other albums to see if they are all this good.

7Bräu: Dalseo Orange Ale (South Korea: Fruit: 4.2% abv)

Visual: Lightly hazy apple to lemon juice. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Orange juice. Rose petals. Brown bread to bready hop character. Slight sulphur.

Body: Brown bread. Savoury orange juice. Bready hops. Lemon. Vanilla. Sweeter orange juice later on.

Finish: Brown bread. Light hop bitterness. Crumpets. Petals. Slight lemon. Grows in earthy bitterness over time.

Conclusion: This is a, erm, gentle, kind of bready beer at the base. Imagine the kind of bready, yeasty character of Orval, but imagine it is nowhere near as complex, just in the same ballpark to give kind of an idea.

The orange character feels fairly savoury at the start, a gentle backing that develops a light sweetness over time. While the bready character is generally dominant it feels like a nice balance for a not too fruit dominated beer – it always feels beer first but never loses the fruit character,

However, with that said, the flavours, while balanced are also quite pedestrian. There is early bitterness, simple orange with a touch of vanilla – it isn’t bad but is overly savoury and doesn’t use much of the wit character which I think is there at the base.

It is ok, kind of dull but drinkable. Without the orange character it would have been an exceptionally dull beer, as it seems to very much lean on that extra ingredient for character. With it, it passes the time nicely but really doesn’t stand out.

Drinkable but not much more than that.

Background: This is a nice treat. My mate, Tony, went over to South Korea a short while back and brought a few of their beers back. He invited me over to his place to try them with him, and was willing to indulge me in me doing tasting notes on two of them. Very many thanks! It is not often you see Korean beers over here so I did not want to miss the chance. Also if the photo looks like it is in a much fancier place than normal that is the reason. This one is, I think, a wit made with orange. I have no skills at reading Korean so I am relying on google or this.

Salt: Jute Session IPA (England: Session IPA: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy to cloudy pineapple juice. Medium white creamy head.

Nose: Gentle pineapple. Vanilla. Flour. Soft grapefruit to pineapple juice. Lemon meringue.

Body: Soft,slight creamy to the outside of marshmallows in mouthfeel. Lemon juice. Light nettle hop prickle. Flour.

Finish: Lemon and pineapple juice. Flour. Moderate hop bitterness. Pineapple pieces.

Conclusion: Holy poop, another good session IPA. I was beginning to think that the world had set a hard cap on the number of good session IPAs allowed in the world at one time. Glad to see I was wrong.

This is gently done, soft and almost feels like licking the outside of a marshmallow, for an oddly specific image there. It is slightly dry from attenuation but has none of that painfully dry character that curses a lot of session IPAs.

Helping it is the hop flavour choice – lightly tart pineapple and lemon, freshening and making the beer easy to drink without needing to lean on a larger malt body for contrasting sweetness. The bitterness is moderate, but feels heavier due to the lack of malt contrast. It has picked its presence well to prickle and show the bitterness, but not get up in your face too quickly. It is set up well to take advantage of the beer style and let you have a few in the session.

It is gentle, but prickly – dry but lightly tart and backs it with hops, just enough lovely bitter hops. As a beer it goes down your neck far too easily, which is my excuse for the short notes, I’ve finished drinking it and I’m now trying to fill out the rest of the notes without an example in front of me. Something I am spectacularly bad at doing,

So, I’m going to leave it there and point out the fact I finished the beer before the notes is a pretty good recommendation in itself.

Background: This is one that Chris from Independent Spirit was raving about, so I overcame my slight aversion to the Session IPA style and grabbed it to give a go and do some notes on. Had not tried anything from Salt before, but with a recommendation like that I was intrigued to see how it went. Not much else to add, went back to my youth for tunes with The Eels – Beautiful Freak, some lovely melancholy tunes.

Arcadia Group: Vicious But Delicious – Seriously Hot Sauce Co: Explosive Chilli Beer (England: Spice: 3%)

Visual: Clear, light caramel brown. Thin dash of a head.

Nose: Crushed chilli seeds. Habanero. Watery. Dried green chilli.

Body: Watery front. Chilli seed. Quick growing heat. Meaty chilli notes. Mango chutney. Brown sugar touch.

Finish: Chilli powder. Green chilli. Warm. Slight raspberry yogurt. Barbecue sauce. Slight charring.

Conclusion: This is kind of watery, very light textured and tastes like chilli powder has just been dumped straight into it. Not a good start.

If you pay attention there are hints of better defined chilli notes in there – a meaty, smokey note is hinted at mid body – some crushed green chilli notes in the finish. Generally however, you just get too much bloody chilli powder.

Oddly, despite the fact that this is the “explosive”, highest heat rating of the four beer set, this seems to top out at annoyingly warm rather than any real intensity. Before anyone thinks this is silly macho chilli heat dick waving, I would like to point out I am an utter chilli wimp. I like all the flavour, but little of the heat. So, while this may be hotter than some people like, I am fairly confident it is not the endorphin rush experience that I hear hardcore chilli heads enjoy when they get something seriously hot.

Beer wise this is bland, watery, with maybe some brown sugar notes but lacking in texture or anything more than the most generic flavours to back the chilli. It feels almost like caramel touched water rather than a beer.

Not the worst chilli beer I have had, shockingly enough, let alone the worst beer ever, however, that said, this is still utter shit.

Background: Sorry about the long heading – I have no idea if the spice company is called “Vicious But Delicious”, “Seriously Hot Sauce Co” or what. Googling did help me find out the brewery though – The Arcadia group, contract brewed for a Debenham’s four pack of chilli beers. This is the allegedly most spicy of the four and was given to me by a colleague at work to do notes on. Many thanks. Hot beer called for heavy music, so I put on Lamb Of God – Ashes of The Wake Album. I once did “Laid To Rest” on karaoke in Japan and it damn near did my throat it, so thematically appropriate for a chilli beer. Maybe.

Tiny Rebel: Neon Raptor: Tropical Sorbet IPA (Wales: IPA: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale and just slightly hazy lemon juice colour. Very small bubbled carbonation and a huge white to yellow loose bubbled head.

Nose: Tart grapes. Lemon juice to lemon sorbet. White chunks from tinned tropical fruit. Mild hop character. Crushed palma violets. Grapefruit.

Body: Tangerine. Tart lemon juice. Pink grapefruit. Slight flour like hop character.

Finish: Tangerine. Pink grapefruit. Tart grapes. Crushed palma violets. Pineapple. Standard grapefruit. Mild hop prickle.

Conclusion: Ok, since I have a few spare moments, I would probably argue against this being classified as an IPA, but mainly as an intellectual exercise rather than any genuine gripe. Kind of just trying to work out exactly where the line lies between IPA and not. It is far from the worst offender for not matching style guidelines but it is an interesting one. What do I mean? Well what seems unusual is is the sub 5% abv which, ok has been taken by session IPA but this is definitely not a session IPA. It has low bitterness, which yes is used by NEIPAs, but seriously, screw NEIPAs. It has a mild hop character, and unlike the lower bitterness IPAs I have encountered before the malt character is nearly completely out of the way. The main thing is that it obviously has had a lot of hops used late on to make it very tart and fruit, but nothing is used for bitterness, hop character or similar. Feels more like a very tart hopped APA to me, but anyway.

For the closest IPA comparison it reminds me of those IPAs in style about five years back, utterly smashed with Nelson Sauvin and similar New Zealand hops creating a very tart experience, but with much more out of the way malt styling. On a side note I very much miss those IPAs, I loved the tart, hoppy bombs. Everyone seems to use Nelson Sauvin much lighter these days. Anyway, yeah this beer is like that but with less malt and far more variety in the tart fruit notes.

So, this is very fresh and enjoyable- pushing grapes, lemon, grapefruit and tangerine notes for a great tart medley of an experience. It just lays those tart notes on moment after moment while the actual hop character, when it shows itself, comes across as a subtle flour texture kind of thing – there is no bitterness of hop prickle here. Hence my long ramble on the IPA style above. However, if you ignore the style expectations this is a mouth puckering refresher of a beer and very good at it too.

A tart as heck, kind of IPA if you squint, beer. Please, other people, do this level of tart hops more please. Also, Tiny Rebel please do a variant of this beer, but with more hop character please – that would rock my world.

Background: The …. fourth I think beer from Tiny Rebel’s seventh anniversary box. This one with Neon Raptor, who I love the visual aesthetic of, but their beers have never quite jumped out at me yet. Not much to add really, seems a tad low abv for an IPA, can looks very bright and cheerful. So of course I put on the completely not cheery and angry early era Gallows albums to listen to while drinking. The past few weeks politics bullshit may have left me with a lot of angst and anger to blow off musically.

Tiny Rebel: Magic Rock: Citra Session IPA (Wales: Session IPA: 4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach colour. Moderate creamy off white head.

Nose: Apples. Soft peach. Cream. Creamy strawberry touch. Soft pineapple. Custards. Some sugar dusting.

Body: Bready. Gritty bitterness. Egg plant. Apple. Dry cake sponge. Milky.

Finish: Cake sponge. Sugar dusting. Gritty bitter hops. Apple. Egg plant. Creamy. Unleavened bread. Pepper.

Conclusion: This … is so close to being a kind of ok session IPA. Yes that is intentional damning with faint praise. With the exception of Beavertown’s excellent Neck Oil I just don’t seem to get along with session IPAs. They’ve proven to just not be my kind of thing. Thing is, that one that I do enjoy means I keep trying new ones in the eternal hope that I will find another one I enjoy.

(Update: I have just looked at my old notes, and there are more session IPAs there I enjoyed than I initially remembered. The bad ones must just really stick in my mind)

Now, the aroma on this one is actually spot on – Peach, soft apples, slightly creamy with a gentle hop character. It promises a gentle yet fruity IPA, but at a low session abv. That lying fucking aroma.

The body is kind of milky, but despite that it generally suffers from the overly dry and gritty feel that seems to curse so many session IPAs. The hops here are robust, if – as mentioned- gritty, but the beer feels kind of hollow at the core. Where is that lovely fruit complexity that the aroma promised?

There are some hints – apple notes, creamy notes, but generally a peppery, dry, unleavened bread kind of character dominates. This comes up so many times I have to ask…is this deliberate? Is this actually how the style is supposed to taste and I just don’t like the style, as seriously it does nothing for me.

Anyway, another sub optimal session IPA that promises so much and fails to deliver.

Background: The third of Tiny Rebel’s collaboration beer pack for their seventh anniversary. On opening up the back I find that there is a huge picture to colour in with the provided crayons. Silly, but it made me smile. Seriously need some smiles in the current political climate is all I’m saying. Anyway, I’m not generally a fan of the session IPA style, so, yeah bias warning on this one. Not much else to add, grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on Slipknot’s self titled album while drinking – I had recently found out the lyrics to “Get This” were absolutely nothing like what I had been thinking they were over years of listening to it, so they were back in my mind.

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