Tag Archive: 3-5% ABV


Beavertown: KCBC : Unity Makes Strength (England: Belgian Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy peach skin to lemon colour. Moderate white mounded head.

Nose: Funky. Peanuts. Yeastie. Crusty white bread. Soft peach. Peppery. Dried banana.

Body: Peppery. Lightly milky. Good bitterness and prickly feel. Banana. Light apricot. Fluffy bready character.

Finish: Lemon. Wheaty. Peppery. Prickly. Funky yeast feel. Popcorn. Vanilla yogurt.

Conclusion: Table beers are nearly always an odd one for me to do notes on. I enjoy them for the most part, but they are intentionally a lighter beer style – both in abv and flavour ( though at 4.5% abv this actually seems like a fairly standard abv beer to me. Then again I lean old school on my views of beer strengths). Anyway, so while nice, they tend to not have much to do notes on.

So, what do we have with this one? Well, what we are looking at mainly is the yeastiness that seems to make up a good chunk of the character. It has a funky aroma, a fluffy feel in the body into the prickly hop character. It adds a level of interest to what is a comparatively Milquetoast milky middle that is the core of the beer. The yeast influence is further evident as it warm, bringing peppery flavours and light banana notes.

The rest of the flavour is much lighter – soft apricot, vanilla yogurt – quite neutral – the beer definitely relies on yeast feel and notes to rock it through. The hop prickle isn’t as light as you would imagine given all that, so the beer isn’t quite as mild as you would think – but it is far from a hop assault – more the hops’ way of keeping your taste-buds awake.

Considering the gentle main flavour this is still enjoyable. Easy going and doesn’t add any extra weight to the beer. Not a must have, keeps to the table beer style well, but is interesting enough in how it uses the yeast.

Background: After a quick google I find that KCBC is King’s County Brewer’s Collective. So now you know – a Brooklyn based brewing group. Anyway, I misread this beer’s name as Make Strength Belgian Style Table Beer on first glance, and wondered how strong it was going to be of it was “make strength”. Anyway, no, just a Belgian style table beer – though the 4.2% abv is a bit higher than I would expect of a table beer. Put on some Taiko Drumming music in the background while drinking this – haven’t seen Taiko for years – I loved the way the beats just wash over you. The CD can only capture a tiny amount of a live performance but is still good backing to drinking. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Advertisements

Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales: Stallion Amber (England: Bitter: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Light chestnut to gold. Clear. Moderate off white bubbled head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla. Nutty. Musty sour dough.

Body: Light earthy bitterness. Fluffy mouthfeel. Lightly creamy. Palma violets. Light marmalade zestiness. Toffee. Marshmallow.

Finish: Fresh sour dough. Chives. Light earthy bitterness, that grows to moderate bitterness. Light marmalade. Very milky coffee. Marshmallow. Lightly prickly.

Conclusion: Ok, the beer I had in my hand when I first stared drinking this, and the beer I am supping on now are very different things to each other. Usually I would blame such a shift on me getting drunk while doing the notes, but since this is a moderate 4.2% ABV I think that is unlikely to be the case here.

Early on it is fairly earthy, with sour dough like notes amongst the earthiness – so a fairly standard earthy hopped British bitter dressed up in light calls to amber ale style clothing then. Then, over time it gets … creamier .. or maybe fluffier, then light marmalade notes and toffee sweetness comes out while still being nestled in the earthy bitter heart.

It feels marshmallow like in fluffiness, but without the sweetness you would associate with that. It has all the elements that make an earthy bitter work, but then a bit of extra, more unusual note such as palma violet like notes which call to more noble hop styling, and marmalade notes that give it a bit of extra pep late on.

It is definitely not a must have, but it is more than it first appears. Ok, nice progression definitely, but far from a world shaker.

Background: Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales – man it has been a while since I drank one of these – anyway, my family were visiting from Yorkshire so they brought down some good old northern beers for me to try. This being the first. Many thanks! I am a tad biased towards the North, but not so much as it should affect the notes. Not much to say – put on Foo Fighters – The Colour and The Shape to listen to, which had been on my mind since Scroobius Pip mentioned them in his podcast.

Wiper and True: Amber Ale: Red Orange (England: Amber Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Treacle to dark brown. Only amber hints at the edges. Large browned mound of forth head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Bright oranges. Pine needles. Passion-fruit. Grape touch,

Body: Good bitterness. Palma violets. Vanilla toffee. Mandarin orange. Prickly hops. Gooseberry. Greenery. Light resin. Pine. General oranges. White bread.

Finish: Rye crackers. Vanilla toffee. Orange crème. Menthol notes. Mint leaves. Tangerine. Chocolate dust. Pepper.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer called an Amber Ale, this is murky brown as hell on the eye. I’ve seen bike and trolley filled ponds that were easier to see through than this. Still, I can live with that as the beer tastes bloody great.

There is an odd mix of a grounded hop character, pine and resinous hops which are used as a prickly, grounded base – which then put against a real bright burst of mandarin, tangerine, and just, well, orange notes.

On taste I would say it doesn’t fit quite under what I would expect of an Amber Ale either – for all that the style definition is loose in the first place. It has IPA style hop flavour in places, and a real ale ESB style use of malts. However, whatever the hell it is, it does well. The more down to earth malt usage brings out almost rye beer style dry spice and pepper – it pushes both the bright and the grounded characteristic out as far as it can without feeling overdone for a general drinking beer – and it manages to define them very well.

Really malty, really orange hopped with mild, but solid bitterness and prickly hop character. Just a tiny touch away from being a favourite, but genuinely a beer worth a try. You don’t get something that push the grounded and the bright so well without compromising either done so well often.

Wiper and True pull out yet another really good beer.

Background: Been a while since I have done notes on Wiper and True beers -still grab them regularly on tap when out and about, just never done notes. So decided to grab one of their Amber Ales again from Independent Spirit – W&T really seem to have the nack of the Amber Ales down pat. Wiper and True are one of those great quality breweries that use kind of generic labels so it is really hard to tell at a glance if you have tried the beer before or not. Ah well, it works for The Kernel, so should work for Wiper and True. Which reminds me, not done notes of Kernel beers for ages either. Anyway, put on the electronic mathcore oddity that is “The Algorithm” while drinking this. Not to everyone’s taste but weird intricate, computer sounding music that works for me.

And Union: Unfiltered Lager (Germany: Helles Lager: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Moderate white head. Hazy. Some bits visible at the base of the beer. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Wheaty. Light cream. Bready hop bitterness to crusty white bread. Flour.

Body: Lemon. Crusty white bread. Clean hop character. Light hop oils. Lightly fresh, Soft lime. Soft kiwi. Light prickle to the mouthfeel. Vanilla ice cream. Moderate bitterness. Zesty.

Finish: Lightly creamy. Creamy kiwi. White bread hop feel. Light bitterness. Flour. Palma violets.

Conclusion:Lager really should be drunk unfiltered in my opinion. Pretty much always unfiltered, yep. Maybe a few exceptions, but generally unfiltered is the way to go. There. My cards are on the table. Now, with that said, we have a great example here – fresh, lemony, with a wonderful bit of extra mouthfeel over a filtered lager but without losing that very drinkable and thirst quenching character. The body has a crusty white bread weight and a similarly white bread kind of neutral backing character that lets the citrus notes float in a soft and refreshing ways.

For flaws, well it has very few – there is a flour touch to the texture that is a pleasant weight early on, but slightly wears thin by the end. Only slightly though. This is still a beer that stands up to repeated drinks.

This feels like what a lot of the heavily hopped lagers are trying to do and failing – It grains lovely soft citrus hop flavours, but keeps the more gentle hop bitterness along with than larger style mouthfeel all the way through. That lager character especially accentuated by the unfiltered nature.

There is a slight noticeable, noble hop feeling, oily and palma violet set of notes but they are a minor backing showing the more traditional side of its lager roots – the fresher notes are the mainstay.

So, not flawless, but still a hell of a good lager and a comparatively easy unfiltered lager to grab, which is a rarity for me. Well worth keeping a few to hand for easy drinking flavour whenever the mood takes you.

Background: This is one I’ve had a few times before – it came up in conversation when I mentioned how much better I found unfiltered lagers than their filtered siblings, and how they are so comparatively rare. It was pointed out that Waitrose had this in and it was well worth trying. So I did. This was drunk while listening to Television Villain’s new album, having been to the album launch gig a few days before. Now, I am biased as I know a couple of the band members but I think they have some proper great tunes there – Bevvy especially.

Founders: Green Zebra (USA: Gose: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Slightly dark lemon juice. Some carbonation. Large fluffy white head.

Nose: Slight sulphur. Distinct watermelon.

Body: Golden syrup. Vanilla. Watermelon. Cane sugar. Grapes. Honey. Apples. Salt. Shortbread.

Finish: Golden syrup. Watermelon. Salt and vinegar crisps. Honey. Apples. Crapes. Lime cordial.

Conclusion: This is possibly the sweetest gose I have ever had. It eschews the harshly salty and tart recent craft takes on the style, even goes past the light sweetness of the Goslar breweries’ take in the style, and instead goes into a full on honey beer thing that tastes more like a watermelon mead than anything else.

Now the salt notes come out softly later, so it isn’t abandoning the gose side – but what really sells this beer is the watermelon. I was imaging this would be fresh watermelon over a tart gose- instead I’m getting sweet watermelon doused in syrup and honey. It is a simple joy. It is shockingly sweet for a sub 5% abv beer – I don’t know how the heck they manages that without a higher malt load, then they use an impressively detailed set of watermelon notes, along with apples, grapes and other green fruit to add contrast and complexity to the beer.

The most gose like element is the slightly drier and saltier finish, but even that is fair honey dominated. Time allows you to get used to the sweetness, and then the watermelon and the rest of the fruit can really rock – in fact, at this point I kind of dig it.

Now – this is a simple sweet crowd pleaser of a beer and far from what you would expect from a gose, but frankly I enjoy it. Go in to it with the right expectations (i.e. not expecting heavy tartness or saltiness) and this does the watermelon thing in a really fun fashion. It it a classic? No. Is it a joy to drink? yes. And some days that is all you want.

Background: I’ve been meaning to pick this up for a while, a watermelon gose just sounded off enough to be fun. Unfortunately other beers kept jumping ahead in the queue. But now, finally I have it. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Goses are now far from the nearly dead style they once were – slightly salted wheat beers that vary massively in level of tartness, sweetness and saltiness in the expressions I have encountered. This was drunk while listening to Andrew WK’s new album again – it is just so damn joyous.

Oakham: Inferno (England: Golden Ale: 4.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale and light yellow. Clear. Still. Small white head.

Nose: Thick, muggy passion fruit. Vanilla hop character. Doughnut. Pineapple.

Body: Grapes. Moderate bitterness. Soft golden syrup and vanilla. Soft kiwi. Good hop character and prickle. Soft fudge. Light strawberry. Soft lemon.

Finish: Good bitterness and hop oils. Pineapple. Good hop character. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: Ah, Oakham, the experts of getting the best bits of traditional British ales and matching them with the craft hop style with subtle mastery. Always good to see these beers again.

This has the traditional, kind of Real Ale in a bottle feeling base (of note, it doesn’t say on the bottle that it is real ale, best I can see, it just has that feel). It has a nice thickness and slight call to, but not heavy, sulphur touched weight – hope that makes sense. It hints at the characteristic rather than having overt flavours. Behind that the base is soft vanilla and lemon notes, with occasional stronger but not overly heavy golden syrup notes.

The front is taken by excellent hop usage- tart grapes and pineapple – used in moderation for a balanced, flavoursome but easy to drink beer. The flavours are clean as can be – adding freshness, but holding back from being a full on hop assault.

Big juicy flavour over well set golden ale base, dry enough to be drinkable, juicy flavoured with just slight oily hope bitterness. At a touch lower abv that would be an utterly awesome session beer – as is it is a solid one to have one or two of with mates, or at pretty much any drinking occasion.

Excellent work again form Oakham.

Background: Oakham! How long has it been since I went back to Oakham? These lot balance the real ale and craft tricks perfectly – used to love finding them on cask at random pubs. Anyway, Tony, in his great taste, gave this as the final of his birthday presents for me. Much appreciate mate. Went with Nightwish – Dark passion Play again for this one – been really enjoying them since my mate Andy introduced me to them.

Wychwood: Dr Thirsty’s No 4 Blond (England: Golden Ale: 4.1% ABV)

Visual: Gold, clear and still. Moderate white head that leaves lace.

Nose: Sweet lemon. Vanilla. Wheat to muesli. Mild cream. Orange zest.

Body: Lime, lemon and orange. Lightly tart in the fruit. Light chalk. Light milk. Moderate bitterness.

Finish: Lemon curd and cream. Light chalk. Moderate bitterness. Orange. Wheaty. Light sour grapes. Muesli. Lime. Muggy bitterness.

Conclusion: This an unusually tart blond beer. I am 90% sure that this, and most of Wychwoods bottled beers, are pasteurised and I think that could be part of what causes it, oddly enough. The pasteurised bottled beers tend to have a different mouthfeel that makes the flavours of the base weaker, but here contrasts the tarter flavours so they seem to pop more.

Generally it works pretty well – you have a mild, slightly milky, blond base contrasted with a good range of of orange, lime and grape notes all delivered with freshness and tartness. Now, it doesn’t all work – the pasteurised feeling body also seems to make the bitterness come in slightly muggy and rough which works against the gentle feel of the rest of the beer.

I am wondering if this would work a lot better on cask. It is ok, but it feels like one of those beers that would really benefit from the bit of extra body and character that you could get from a real ale on a hand pump. It especially feels like it would help give a better hop presence as that element gets a bit wearing in its roughness by the end.

So, good in its use of citrus, has a slightly weak base, and results in a reasonable, if middle of the road beer. Not stand out nor terrible.

Background: This was another gift from my mate Tony – many thanks. Also this one doesn’t suck. Wooo! Wychwood beers used to be a standby of mine in the old days – not so much these days, but they are still an ok go to. Not tried this one, and I don’t drink as many blond ales as I should – it is a decent style but easy to overlook for more shiny styles. This was drunk while listening to Bratmobile – Pottymouth. Really cool Riot Grrl style punk that I should listen to more than I do.


Nomad: Saltpan Desert Gose (Australia: Gose: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Large white head over a hazy and still body.

Nose: Sulphur. Sour dough. Lime cordial to squeezed lime. Buttery shortbread. Straw. Flour. Butterscotch.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Lime. Buttery shortbread. Light salt. Light chalk note. Butterscotch.

Finish: Soft lime. Shortbread. Light salt. Key lime pie. Slight meringue. Flour. Butterscotch.

Conclusion: First up – yes I know butterscotch is generally considered to be an off note in beer, but here it is awesome, so I’m not complaining about that at all.

What this does right? – well for one it avoids the ultra salty, sweaty sock like interpretation of a gose which is fine by me. It instead goes for a softly sweet wheat interpretation that reminds me of the varied gose of Goslar. It has soft buttery shortbread, vanilla toffee and such notes (oh and butterscotch) that give a nice, but not heavy nor sickly, sweetness.

The sweetness is counterbalanced by a light lime character that gives just a slightly fresh character alongside a slight salt – showing the gose style without ramming it down your throat. While none of the flavours are heavy, it has what feels like a kind of lactose thickness – it is still easy to drink from the lime notes, but that extra grip just makes everything much more evident without being more intense.

Together, the light tartness makes it refreshing, the thickness gives it grip and the sweetness (again, including the butterscotch – I will defend it to the end!) makes it flavoursome and complex.

This is both a good call to the traditional gose, and good at adding in that lime twist. This is like a fresh, salted, lime covered piece of shortbread. On of the best gose I have had – easy to drink, yet full of flavour and grip. Lovely.

Background: I’ve been split on the gose style – a slightly sour wheat beer made with salt and spices. Some are awesome, some taste like sweaty socks. Having travelled to Goslar last year, I found that their interpretation was much more mellow than most other ones I had run into, being much more wheat beer like than most. Anyway, saw this – from a brewery in Australia I had not tried before, made with pink salt and desert limes, and I thought this might be one to my tastes. It was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Bayley and Shinsuke Nakamura’s theme songs on loop. No I did not get bored of them. They are awesome.

Brewdog: Indie Pale Ale (Scotland: English Pale Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Clear. Large mounded bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Noble hop style hop oils. Light greenery note. Vanilla toffee.

Body: Hard fruit sweets. Creamy hop oils and light bitterness. More hop oils. Clean lager feel. Cardboard. Light chalk. Soft lemon.

Finish: Hop oils and light bitterness. Flour. Clean lager like feel.

Conclusion: What sort of beer is this supposed to be? Indie Pale Ale suggest an IPA – which this sure as fuck is not. It could also be an EPA/APA I guess, which this could be called if you were feeling kind. But, basically, it feels like a lager – or maybe a low bitterness Kölsch if that makes sense – but not as good.

Early on there is some promise – creamy and hard fruit sweet notes, but they soon vanish. You are left instead with a substandard lager mouthfeel and some oily hop character and … that’s it. This is, well, dull. I’ve had shitter Brewdog beers, but they tended to at least be adventurous and experimental. This is just dull and empty. It is almost a slightly chalky mass market lager masquerading as an *PA. I mean, come on, it is some sort of wildcard-PA – that is the style that is right in the centre of Brewdog’s beer set and this is still complete tug.

There is a touch of vanilla, but the chalky touch makes it so you can’t really enjoy this as a lager. In the first few moments it has flavour but soon becomes watery and empty. The oily hop character, while it does have a nice texture touch, is the only thing this beer has going for it.

Tripe. Utter tripe. Avoid.

Background; Ok, As indicated in the main notes I am kind of guessing when I list this as English Pale Ale. I put that as “shit” turns out not to be an accepted style category. Who would have thought? Ratebeer lists it as Session IPA. From the name I would guess IPA but it does not explicitly state that so I can’t use my usual “Go with what they call it” definition. So, kind of close to English Pale Ale I guess. If you squint and presume the brewer didn’t know how to brew. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers – but as this review probably shows I try not to let that alter my tasting notes. This is one of Brewdog’s new core beers and was grabbed directly from their online shop. This was drunk while listening to the Paprika OST – such an awesome surreal anime move and such good music.

3 Fonteinen: Hommage (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry red. Hazy. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Light horse blankets. Oats. Light acidic apple. White wine. Black cherry and red cherry mix. Mashed raspberries. Sherry. Cake sponge.

Body: Tart. Tomatoes. Oats. Lightly bready. Raspberries. Cakes sponge. Tart cider. Sour white grapes. Sour cherry. Sour pear. Greenery.

Finish: Tomatoes. Yellow raspberries. Cucumber. Tart air. Bitter dustiness. Raspberry. Cherry. Twigs. Oats. Sour cherry sweets. Dried raisins. Smoke. White wine.

Conclusion: Ok, something causes me to taste a tomato like character in specific lambics – I say that as it happened to me again with this one. I am starting to develop a hypothesis that it is the interaction of the sour cherry with the lambic base that causes it – as it seems to come only with beers that specifically use sour cherries. I could be wrong though, will keep an eye on it.

So, yeah this has that tomato set of notes that I don’t really find pleasant. Thankfully they are far less evident here than in previous beers I have encountered them in, so it doesn’t impact the beer too much, but it is still there.

Aside for that the base of this beer is lightly acidic, not too heavily so, instead leaning more towards a kind of cloying sourness that meshes with the tomato notes – A thick, oat, muesli and raisins kind of character, heading out into a dusty, slightly smokey bitterness in the finish

The beer is surprisingly savoury – coming into the tart raspberry and grape notes much later on that you would expect – then ending up in a light, dry white wine character that comes out. So you have a lot of savoury, backed with light tartness with a thick savoury-sour and thick, slightly musty feel to the character.

As time goes on the tomato notes recede allowing a more tart, sour cherry flavour coming out in a kind of sour sweets kind of way – it is much better here, and more full bodied, still over that more savoury than usual base though.

It is interesting, and the range of characteristics as it goes from cool to warm is very large, but I can’t overly say I like it. It feels cloying and considering the cost this goes for I really can’t recommend it for just finding it interesting. An unusual lambic, but unfortunately kind of sub average for enjoyment.

Conclusion: OK, this was bloody expensive, so I had to think hard and do a bit of research into it before finally grabbing it from Independent Spirit – it is a lambic made in memory of Gaston Debelder , the foudner of 3 Fonteinen and is made with 30% raspberries and 5% sour cherries. Sounded interesting, and had bloody good rep online, so I decided to shell out the cash for it. Continuing my attempts to put on awesome music for beer, I put on the indie pop joy that is Grimes – Visions – an utter burst of bright joy in music.

%d bloggers like this: