Tag Archive: 3-5% ABV


Moor: All Dayer Deadpunk Session IPA (England: Session IPA: 3.5% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly cloudy yellow with middling off white head.

Nose: Brown bread. Quite fresh. Floral and lemon.

Body: Fresh lemon sorbet. Creamy vanilla ice cream. Pineapple. Brown bread. Prickly nettles. Slight dried apricot.

Finish: Brown bread. Mild lemon curd. Nettles. Mild guava. Vanilla. Peppery. Wheaty. Moderate hoppy bitterness.

Conclusion: A session IPA that is, for once, actually delivered at a session ABV. I haven’t brought this up too much, but most so called session IPAs are not really session abv for me – lower than a standard IPA yeah, but for me you need to be 4% abv or below to be genuinely a session beer. I will admit that very few beers keep to that these days, as abvs have ballooned a bit. This, at 3.5% abv, is nicely in the session bracket for me. So, with that discussion aside, how does it for flavour in this hard to master style?

Average. Which, compared to a lot of its contemporaries in the session IPA range, isn’t that bad. It is quite bready, which seems to be a common theme in session IPAs, but it avoids the excessive dryness that makes many of them wearing.

It also has a general lemon character to it – straying occasionally into fresher pineapple or more peppery finish at times. Not a huge range, but it does the job. Similarly the body is present in feel, and in malt flavour, but not exactly heavy. I guess it helps with the session characteristics but means it is much more average when you are having just the one.

As a session beer it isn’t stand out and it feels more like a lower abv APA than any kind of IPA. However it does do the job – The flavour works over several drinks and it has the abv to carry it.

Not a must have but does what it sets out to do, and is far from the worst session IPA I have had.

Background:Ok, I will admit it – I mainly grabbed this due to the whole “Brewdog trademark the word Punk in beer” controversy. Because I have listened to their arguments, and them pointing out some errors in reporting, and it still sounds bullshit to me to try and stop people using the word “punk” in beer. Seriously – limiting use of “Punk IPA” sure, just punk? Nah, sod off. So this beer, so named for, and made for, the Deadpunk festival amuses me. Also Moor make good beer, so that helps. So, I listened to some punk music when drinking it, right? Nah – still on a metal kick, so went with some Evil Scarecrow. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, yes again.

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Wild Beer Co: Rooting Around: Autumn (England: Brown Ale: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Moderate sized, short lasting brown to grey head.

Nose: Tobacco. Malt chocolate. Aniseed. Cinnamon. Slight wet twigs.

Body: Very lightly tart. Malt chocolate. Hazelnuts. Milky coffee. Figs. Praline. Slight plums as it warms. Tobacco.

Finish: Walnut cake. Malt chocolate. Coffee cake. Sultanas. Slight wet twigs. Figs. Port. Apples. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Once again Wild Beer Co’s seasonal range seems to get going as we hit the darker months, and with it the darker beers.

Despite the special twist of this beer being the foraged figs added, it is not hugely fig dominant – but they do their part. Instead the base brown ale does most of the heavy lifting here. The usual malt chocolate character is there, but here it is delivered in a nuttier fashion resulting in praline like flavours dominating the beer. It does feel slightly light in mouthfeel though – there is a slight tartness to the beer, probably brought in by the foraged ingredients, which seems to also slightly thin the beer. It isn’t a terrible trade off – you do get light apple notes beneath the darker figs and plum fruits, which balances out the flavour – but it is a slight minor off point.

The balance show in the mediating between the heavier tobacco notes up front, and the smoother barrel ageing influenced vanilla notes at the back, all resulting in a very comprehensive ranged brown ale. Frankly this is a beer that puts all that “Boring brown ale” stuff in its place.

If it managed to take the light tartness without the hit to the texture then this would have been perfect. As is it is a solidly complex brown ale that uses the special ingredients subtly and well. You can do a lot worse than that.

Background: Now this, the third release of Wild Beer Co which is made using locally foraged items, really caught my attention. For one thing its base beer is a brown ale, a nice style, oft accused of being boring, and not used enough these days. Next up is the special elements foraged – figs, fig leaves and fig branches. I’m a big figs fan, so that sounded right up my street. Finally, this has been aged in bourbon casks, which should give a bit extra smoothness and flavour. Overall something I was looking forwards to. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to some Meshuggah. Still just basically going on a metal kick for drinking times.

Warpigs: Lervig: Socks ‘N’ Sandals (Norway: American Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Very hazy lemon juice looking body with a moderate sized crisp white head.

Nose: Lemon – fresh to lemon meringue in style. Slightly wheaty. Becomes dry, salted lemon over time.

Body: Fresh lemon. Brown bread. Light milk. Light kiwi and lime. Light chalk. Salted lemon. Dried pineapple. Sweet vanilla to vanilla toffee.

Finish: Nan bread. Moderate hop character and bitterness. Lemon. Drying. Slightly peppery. Slight chalk.

Conclusion: Flavour-wise this is simple and refreshing – it is another beer where the complexity comes with how it feels. Frankly, it declares everything about its flavour to the eye. It looks like lemon juice; It tastes like a range of lemon based substances backed up by a dry APA character, moderate hops and bready backing.

Anyway – about that feel – it is slightly wheaty feeling against the traditional APA breadiness, against a slight fresh feel from the lemon side of things, into slightly chalky texture on the way out. Not a world shaking set but it is an ever changing range that keeps the simple flavour from getting samey. It also helps that, as time and warmth affects the beer you do get some variety late on. Some toffee sweetness gets added to the body in the middle and a peppery outro helps draw a line under each sip to break things up.

It is both solid and satisfying – a mix of fresh lemon and dry bready APA that balances both elements resulting in something that is not too heavy a drink. The flavour does expand slightly as I indicated before – even the fruit range expands with some pineapple and such joining in – not much and not for long, each time doing just enough to keep you interested. It never reaches the level where you go “wow” but each time you think you are going to get bored, it throws out a little bit more to bring you back in.

One you are never going to complain about, not a must have but solid craftsmanship.

Background: This is listed as a mixed fermentation double dry-hopped APA. Which sounded interesting, also the can looked interesting, and I don’t see why people rant about socks and sandals so much. If they look stupid, but you like them, then who cares? Anyway, so this was a beer for me it seemed. Another beer grabbed from good old Independent Spirit, drunk while listening to a bit of Carcass – on a general metal kick currently.

Brewdog: Prototype: Blond Ale (Scotland: Blond Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to blond. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Moderate whiteish head.

Nose: Cheese puff crisps to cheddar slices. Slight yeast funk. White pepper. Light lemon. Slight dry champagne.

Body: Vanilla and soft lemon. Crusty white bread. Dry. Light bitterness and hop character. Milky. Light orange. Light grapes. Dry champagne.

Finish: White bread. Lemon and lime cordial. Popcorn. Orange zest. Light hop character. Cheese puffs.

Conclusion: This both feels like a good base to work from, and something that definitely needs some hard work to reach its potential.

So, let’s go with the good first – the feel of this beer is spot on. It is slightly dry and refreshing, with just a hint of yeast funk calling very mildly to Belgian blond ales, or good quality, slightly dry champagne. It lets out the light cheese funk into the aroma and backs it with a popcorn hop feel. As a feel this beer has range and delivers a very distinctive blond ale, making the most of the variety of what you can do with that. It leans towards dry, easy drinking lager influenced beer but with that milky blond ale middle.

So, let’s move onto the bad – flavour wise it adds little to that base – some light citrus, but it feels like you get a lot of setup for something bigger to happen and then get no pay off. It doesn’t need huge flavour, just something to feel like a capstone for the beer, and some subtleties to tease out over time.

It probably has the most promise of the four prototypes that came out this year, but also will need a lot of work to get it to be worth a regular release. The Double IPA prototype is significantly better as a beer in itself and would be a great regular beer release, however if they could add some better favour to this it could end up a very good beer in a style that Brewdog have not yet done a stand out beer in.

So, well worth giving a kick and if they do release a reworked version I will have my eye on it.

Background: So, the final prototype that came out from Brewdog this year, the one that came out too late to be in the original batch as they felt their first take on the beer wasn’t up to it. Grabbed from the Brewdog shop as part of a different batch pickup. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. This is a blond ale. Erm, that’s it. Not a style Brewdog does often, so interesting to see what they do with it. Drunk while listening to some Louise Distras – love the kind of folk punk mix of it.

Brewdog: Prototype: Tangerine Session IPA (Scotland: Session IPA: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly burnished gold. Clear. Small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized off white head.

Nose: Very clear tangerine. Light hop character. Orange jelly to marmalade.

Body: Brown bread. Moderate hop character. Light greenery. Fresh oranges and tangerines. Orange jelly sweets.

Finish: Tangerines. Moderate hops and bitterness. Popcorn feel. Orange hard sweets. Blackpool rock. Bitterness grows over time. Brown bread.

Conclusion: A few things stand out here. First, and quite importantly, this manages to successfully avoid the overly dry character that seems to come with a lot of session IPAs. You can still feel the dryness and accompanying well attenuated character – especially in the finish – but due to its core tangerine conceit it bursts with sweetness that hides that aspect well.

Onto the tangerine then – it is very fresh and shows itself in several different ways throughout the beer. In the aroma it is very natural feeling, very fresh and very clean – it utterly dominates the nose. In the body it is now working against moderate bitterness – so not quite as dominant. It is still very present, but not as cleanly delivered – now with some soft orange sweets adding to the sweet character. Finally in the finish the sweetness takes on a more artificial kind of Blackpool rock and hard orange sweets feel against a growing hop bitterness. Not bad, but different and less cleanly done, much more artificial feeling.

While the orange is well done, this is not a varied beer in any way – you get orange flavours and bitter hop flavours laid over a dry attenuated bready base. It is well done but the simplicity means that it doesn’t play in the top ranges of beer. A one trick, fresh fruit, session beer. Probably has a place in the line up if they can add a bit of range to it – it fits a needed niche and is nice enough – however it really is not a beer for contemplation.

Background: Prototype time again! A time when Brewdog put out a bunch of new beers and the one I like least is voted to be the one they keep. Sorry. I may be a bit down on the results of voting these days. Mainly for reasons with nothing to do with beers. Anyway… They only put out three beers this time, they had a blond ale but decided it wasn’t up to snuff. All 3 are IPA variants, generally the darkest, strongest beer wins. Because of course it does. So my guess is the black rye IPA will win this year. It fits the pattern. Anyway, this is the session IPA – a style I have had many issues with over the years as 1) IPAs are by definition strong beers and 2) lots of session IPAs are crap. There have been a few good ones though, so I’ll give this a fair shake. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This is 40 IBU, low for the insane scales we have these days, but still a fair decent chunk of hops. Looking at the bottle they use actual tangerine to make this, which may be just what is needed to break the session IPA curse. This was bought from the Brewdog store and drunk while listening to Svalbard – Gone Tomorrow.

Kennet and Avon Brewing: Dundas Best Bitter (England: Bitter: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Caramel brown. Very large caramel brown touched white mounded head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheaty and peppery. Slight earthy touch. Light lime and greenery.

Body: Peppery. Lightly milky. Coriander. Solid bitterness. Brown paper. Light caramel. Light cream and orange backing ovaltine.

Finish: Coriander. Peppery. Slight sour tang. Wheaty and earthy. Moderate hop feel. Choco toffee malt drinks. Charred notes.

Conclusion: You know, on the first sip I had of this, I was ready to give it some shit. It comes in slightly light, dominated by a peppery chunk that made it seem rough edged. “Why?” I was about to whine. “Why is so hard to make a good best bitter?”

A few sips later I was instead nodding appreciatively – it is lightly earthy, and still definitely peppery, but the beer had balanced itself pretty quickly – there was now a gentle toffee sweetness backing it, but more importantly that slight sour, almost brown paper feeling backing character that makes for the more refreshing aspect of a well developed bitter. It has some grip now, where it felt light before, a slightly thicker texture that lets the hop character and moderate bitterness grab your attention without getting super intense.

So, now kind of answering my opening paragraph question, in a round about way – yes it is hard to make a good best bitter – and while this isn’t a showstopper it has a good mouthfeel, solid flavour and balances mild sweetness, good earthiness and a slight sour touch – all which combine to make it a solid beer for a session.

This, I think is what makes it so hard to do a good best bitter – here you have nothing super stand out, but everything in the right proportions. It manages to deliver a good beer and has had to do it without the crutch of being able to use high amounts of fruity hop, heavy amounts of malt, nor high bitterness. Instead it has had to use everything it can get out of restrained bitterness, malt and less showy earthy and spicy notes to give a complete experience.

It is hard because you are working with a comparatively limited selection of tools – if you push too much experimentation you lose a lot of what makes the style – and when done right it is unlike any other beer style – a very savoury experience in a lot of ways – a satisfying liquid meal of a drink. This isn’t the best of the best bitters, but it manages that and makes it a a good one.

Background: So, a quick google tells me this is gluten free. Huh, usually gluten free beers shout it more on the label, while this tucks it away on the back. Anyway …. the best bitter isn’t one that turns up very often in the new wave of beer scene, so when I saw this at Independent Spirit thought it would be cool to give it a go. Drunk while listening to more Warrenpeace – yep this was pretty much directly after doing one of the Jefferson Wood Experiment notes.

8 Wired: Hippy Berliner (New Zealand: Berliner Weisse: 4% ABV)

Visual: Pale lager yellow to grain look. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation. Thin white head.

Nose: Quite thick. Passion-fruit. Oily resinous feel. Light bitterness and hop character. Slight apple. Oats. Slight fresh lemon.

Body: Fresh and acidic. Tart apples and tart white grapes. Dry mango. Slight cloying twist centre. Oats. Light kiwi. Light bitterness.

Finish: Tart white grapes. Elderflower. Vanilla. Light hop bitterness. Flour. Light salt.

Conclusion: This is very unlike most Berliner Weisses that I’ve had – in fact it feels like what Bonaparte wanted to be; It is a berliner that tries to match that freshness with extra flavour from a good use of hop character.

Things are distinctly different from the off – while it has fresh undertones, the aroma is quite resinous with this muggy passion-fruit character. It feels like a heavy resinous hop styled beer, not something I’d associate with most sour beers, but it doesn’t eclipse that aspect either.

The beer below that aroma is closer to expectations with fresh lemon and acidic apple; Smoother and lighter than most berliner weisses in harshness but still recognisable in the style. It actually feels kind of elderflower drink like as an additional unusual characteristic – the sour character mixes with the moderate fruit hops to give this refreshing characteristic about halfway between the two. Odd, but nice.

Overall it is refreshing – despite its unusual takes it ends up not feeling that revolutionary. The odder elements come together over time to balance pretty well, losing some of the odder edges, but making for a better beer.

It is not a must have, but does the job well – the hop usage feeling like a nice replacement for the adding of syrup that is traditionally common. Not bad at all.

Background: 8 Wired! I love these lot’s stuff, but they turn up comparatively rarely in the UK – so when I saw this one in Independent Spirit I grabbed it. With it being a brightly coloured, hip and happy bottle, I decided to put on Paradise Lost – Gothic as music. They just seemed to go so well together. This is a Berliner weisse, hopped with American and New Zealand hops – wasn’t sure how well that would work – oft hops get over used these days to wreck an originally not hop based style. Still when done well a pinch of hops can really rock a beer in new ways, so happy to give a go.

Downton: Pumpkin Ale (England: Spice/Vegetable/Herb: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy ripe banana to gold. Some sediment. Large mounded ice cream float looking off white head.

Nose: Pumpkin. Earthy hops. Cinnamon and coriander. Low but present bitterness.

Body: Earthy bitterness. Slightly peppery. Some pumpkin comes out if held. Greenery. Soft soil. Orange zest. Slight brown sugar.

Finish: Peppery. Earthy. Moderate bitterness. Paprika. Soil.

Conclusion: This is a fairly earthy beer, almost soil like at times. Not something I would generally associate with a pumpkin ale, but there you go. While pumpkin isn’t a super fragile flavour, it isn’t exactly a dominant one either. And here it really seems to suffer against the earthy bitter weight that this brings.

It is odd that the pumpkin gets such short shrift in the body as the aroma manages to push those notes very well – they just get lost very easily when you start sipping the beer itself. If you hold the beer on your tongue for a while it does start time come out, but basically you have to seriously dig to get the element to be anything but the lightest of notes.

So, as a pumpkin beer this is definitely a fail – but how does it do just as a beer in itself? Fairly dull; It is a soil dominated, earthy bitter – which, let’s face it, is a style that is hard to do in an interesting fashion – not impossible, just hard.

This is a bit dull, a bit leaden, a bit too much earth and too little pumpkin. As both a beer in itself and a pumpkin beer it is a let down. Avoid.

Background: This beer was kind gift from my work college Matt – Many thanks. He informed me that he had it for a while before giving me it, however looking at it the best before date is still way in the future so it should be ok. Then again,as a pumpkin ale I’m guessing this came out Halloween last year, so damn that must be a long best before date. I did wonder if this was the same recipe as their other Dial’s Pumpkin Beer but it did seem to taste very different despite the same abv. Anyway, in some act of insanity I bought the Afterbirth+ DLC for Binding Of Isaac in the latest steam sale. This was drunk after I finally managed to stop playing that stupidly addictive game. Why did I do it? WHYYYY? Anyway, drunk while listening to some Rob Zombie to keep in with the macabre atmosphere of playing that game!

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.

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