Tag Archive: 3-5% ABV


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.

Crate: Sticky Toffee Stout (England: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black and opaque body. Still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Oh yeah, sticky toffee pudding. Roasted notes. Sticky toffee sauce as well. Chocolate.

Body: Light charred bitterness. Bready. Golden syrup sponge. Burnt sticky toffee pudding. Burnt brown sugar. Unleavened bread.

Finish: Sticky toffee pudding. Charring. Brown sugar. Slightly earthy. Golden syrup. Peppery.

Conclusion: This tastes slightly burnt. I mean it tastes super sticky toffee pudding styled, but also kind of like they burnt it while it was cooking. So, very much a good news / bad news kind of situation.

Chilled it also feels too thin, but give it a bit of heat and that sorts that out sharpish. It is still not thick, but feels very much present.

The main core is that sticky toffee pudding – a bit heavy, a bit burnt, but definitely recognisable as the dessert it is emulating. It is rounded out by earthier, breadier notes. They come across as what would be grounding notes in a sweeter beer, but here it seems very heavy as what would be the sweeter notes are instead delivered in a very dry and slightly charred way.

So, that sounds quite harsh on it, it is ok as a beer. I mean, very good at delivering its core conceit, but feels like it leant in too hard on trying to counterbalance the dessert style with dried, charred and earthy burnt notes when it was already fairly heavy and results in feeling a bit stodgy, and never hits the high notes that would help it rise to the occasion.

It’s ok, again I say that but I feel I must emphasise that as I feel like I am really slagging on it. It is ok but doesn’t really grab me. It doesn’t really deliver the standard stout notes that would work as nice rounding here, nor willing to go full crazy with the sticky toffee sweetness.

Great on implementing the idea, only reasonable as a beer.

Background: Sticky Toffee Pudding. Yep I’m a fan of that, so despite the fact I am slightly worn out on the dessert take on stouts I was attracted to this one. Helps that it was a normal abv stout, rather than its imperial variant as most of the dessert beers are. Noticed that Warren Ellis had put out another Spektrmodule, so listened to that while I drank this. This was another grabbed from Independent Spirit. Good luck to them in these hard times!

Boxcar: Mills: Best Bitter (England: Bitter: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Caramel brown. Slightly hazy main body. Beige touched thin head that leaves a sud rim.

Nose: Malt drinks and crushed malt biscuits. Light orange zest. Lightly earthy. Caramel. Apple.

Body: Caramel and toffee mix. Orange skin. Lightly earthy. Hops prickle. Choc limes. Nettles. Light grapefruit. Moderate bitterness.

Finish: Choc orange. Orange skin. Caramel. Grapefruit. Peppery. Malt chocolate drinks. Earthy. Tart grapes.

Conclusion: Man, this isn’t what I think of when I think of a best bitter. Ok, correction, it somewhat is, but also heavily isn’t.

Why are things so hard to explain? Probably because I drink. Anyway, let’s give this a go…

This has a solid caramel to toffee base, which is in line with what I expect from the style, but delivered sweeter and more evident. I can see how a lot of places are listing this as an ESB with the heavier malt sweetness.

More notably best bitter like, this has the earthy, slightly pepper bitterness and hop character. Initially milder than I expected, giving the malt a lot of room to show, but it gets more present as time goes on, leading into a very earthy filled finish.

What makes it more unusual is that it leans more into the hop fruitiness – most best bitters have some fruit notes, but generally they are subtly used. Here it starts subtle with orange notes, but gains apple and grapefruit freshness. These are especially evident early on but struggle against the late earthy character as it sinks back into more traditional best bitter stylings.

It gives some range and progression to the beer without fully sacrificing the base bitter – it makes for a refreshing yet earthy bitter with just a touch of sourness. A lovely dash of a few extra layers over a traditional take. Nice.

Background: You don’t see many of the newer small brewers do Best Bitters these days. It seems to be a style that has fallen out of fashion with the new wave of brewers – though it is still fairly easy to find existing examples in real ale pubs so it is not like it has gone away. Still, that made this catch my eyes, and I quickly grabbed it. I know Mills better for their sour beers, and I don’t think I’ve grabbed anything from Boxcar before, so it is one I was really not sure what to expect from. Went with Arch Enemy: Will To Power for music while drinking. Mainly as their tour has been delayed due to the Coronavirus and I wanted to listen to them. This was a beer grabbed from Independent Spirit after I got back from India.

Cerana: Bira 91: White (India: Belgian Wit: 5% ABV)

Visual: Dark cloudy lemon juice. Large yellow white bubbled head.

Nose: Orange zest. Lemon cream. Vanilla. Creamy. Quite sweet. Lemon curd.

Body: Lemon curd. Wheaty. Orange zest. Vanilla pods. Peppery. Grapefruit.

Finish: Wheaty bitterness. Sour lemon juice. Peppery. Grapefruit. Dry lemon.

Conclusion: This is the best Indian beer that I tried during my holiday in the north of India! Ok, admittedly that is a low bar to clear considering that the competition has been varied Kingfisher beers and Boom Strong. So, instead of damning it with that faint praise how about we just ask the question, is this any good then?

It is sweet on the nose and fruity, which resulted in me expecting a very Hoegaarden like sweet and heavy wit beer – however what I got was a body that leans more toward a traditional wit with drier lemon and lightly peppery touches. Interesting.

There’s some orange zest, which is not unexpected for a wit, but it goes into light grapefruit notes which is a bit more new hops than I would expect. Nice touch and it takes it a touch tarter and sour at times, refreshing, but always returning to that dry lemon base.

It is very slightly rough edged around the wheaty and peppery notes, but generally pretty decent, if still on the lower half of Belgian style wits. It isn’t bad – and if fact if you are looker for a non lager beer in India this is a pretty inoffensive one. It is just it is nothing special compared to the wide range of awesome wits out there.

Does the job though.

Background: Found this one near the end of the holiday in India, a few days after being violently ill which seemed to be the common tourist event for our group in India. I had been wandering and spotted an alcohol store. As always there were not many local beers, but they did have this from Bira 91, and since it is not part of their Boom line I had hopes it would be more interesting than that, cheaper, more mainstream aimed, line. I had been hoping from something from a brewery I had not tried yet but ah well, ya can’t have everything.

Martens: Buho Strong (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Massive white head that leaves lace.

Nose: Cane sugar. Clean. Candyfloss. Naan bread like hops. Lightly earthy. Brown bread. Watermelon. Nail polish.

Body: Banana sweets. Cane sugar. Jolly ranchers. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Coriander. Apple sweets to apples. Vanilla.

Finish: Apple hard sweets. Candyfloss. Unleavened bread. Earthy bitterness touch. Watermelon. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This beer I took to be a strong lager on first pour. It was pale, fizzy, and let’s face it lager is by far the most popular beer style in India so I wasn’t exactly betting against the odds by thinking that was what I had here.

A quick sniff told me that I was way wrong. While this has a touch of nail polish oddness around the edges this is very evidently a strong Belgian blond beer, with even hints leaning towards a Tripel interpretation. Though the abv tells me that it most definitely is not that.

It has those cane sugar notes, and is quite fruity, though in a quite artificial kind of hard sweets styling. Like crushed fruity sweet had been dissolved in the drink. It leans very heavily into banana sweets in the sweetness even more so than the cane sugar – and, considering the abv, I was surprised there were not any custard like malty notes here, all of which remind me again of a tripel.

Despite the abv and those sweet notes it actually feels quite well attenuated and dry in the mouthfeel. Very drinkable in feel, even if that comes with a few rough edges in the flavours, though thankfully not too many. The big thing to stop it being an easy drinker is, you guessed it, the high abv.

Shock that.

It is pretty well balanced, with the dry mouthfeel working well with the sweet and artificial main flavour so neither gets too heavy. It has a slightly earthy, bready hop character and light spice that grounds it nicely through that. Not the most polished Belgian beer but it shows all the expected characteristics in nicely contrasting layers.

Not a must have, those few nail polish like notes that I think are hints of alcohol don’t show the beer at its best. However here in India where I am doing these notes I am happy to find something a bit different, and it is a well enough done release from all the lagers I see that I am enjoying it.

Background: Ok, googling gives me very little info on this. I had grabbed it at a beer store in India thinking it was another untried local beer, but a quick check of the can shows that it is actual made in Belgium. Which is odd as I have never heard of it. The can says it is part of Martens set of beers, but I can find nearly no record of its existence, and what little I do is from in India, so maybe it is a beer they brew for that market? No idea. Anyway with these notes I am doing my little bit for increasing its web presence a tad for future searchers.

Arbor: My Little Sabrony (England: American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy darkened lemon juice. Crisp inch of white bubbled head.

Nose: Lemon juice. Wheaty hops. Dry grapefruit. Low to moderate bitterness. Vanilla. Cut apple. Mango.

Body: Peach and grapefruit. Vanilla. Slightly creamy. Good bitterness. Dry. Custard. Flour. Vanilla fudge. Peppermint. Lemon juice.

Finish: Soft peach. Peach melba. Custard. Moderate hop character and bitterness. Pineapple. Marshmallow. Apple. Grapefruit. Flour. Lemon juice. Tangerine.

Conclusion: This is a single hop beer? I could have sworn they would need at least a couple to get the range of fruit notes that this is showing. Also, this is an APA? It is dry I will admit, but with enough creamy malt use and large hops that I would have guess IPA if I had to. They are doing a lot with a little here.

It’s got the oddest (Disclaimer: I am using hyperbole, it is merely odd, not the oddest) mix of peach sweetness and grapefruit tartness – with both pushing at the same time without either being eclipsed. It has that dry, flour touched APA style and good bitterness, but also those aforementioned creamy, almost custard touches. A lot going on, with elements you would not usually find together working very well here. I think this is my first encounter with this hop, it is definitely the first single hop use I have seen of it and I am digging it a lot, and also digging the well used sweet and dry malt backbone it has behind it.

This is really good. The sweetness flirts with marshmallow and vanilla. The fruit touches on tangerine, pineapple and apple. So fresh, just sweet enough and so drinkably dry yet full. This is very rewarding, easy to drink and vaguely moderate in the abv to manage that.

This is a great APA. Buy it. Drink it.

Background: Arbor look a lot different in style to how I first encountered them, back on cask tap in the Royal Oak. Were decent even back then. This is a Sabro single hop beer. I have no idea about the Sabro hop. It does make for a good My Little Pony pun though. Also I am a sucker for any beer with a rainbow. So sue me. Grabbed from Independent Spirit of Bath and drunk while listening to Jack Off Jill: Clear Heart, Grey Flowers – always wonderful acid caustic tunes.

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