Tag Archive: 5-8% ABV



Deya: CGBW Export Stout (England: Foreign Stout: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Moderate creamy brown head.

Nose; Milky chocolate. Crushed cashew nuts. Cream. Ash smoke. Smooth. Mild smoked bacon. Milky coffee.

Body: Thick, slightly cloying sour cream character. Heavy. Creamy mouthfeel but not sweet. Milky. Muted cocoa dust. Slight chewy Reisen chocolate. Slight black-cherry. Honey late on. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Sour cream and sour dough. Bitter cocoa. Brown bread. Light chalk. Milky. Slight choc toffee. Soot. Nutty. Honey late on. Greenery,

Conclusion: This is a pretty savoury stout. Thick sour cream and sour dough feel, with a milky yet stodgy base underneath. Not what I expected from the aroma which was creamy and sweet mixing milky coffee and chocolate notes which are not representative of the chewy weight below.

Large mouthfeels do reveal some sweeter notes in the midst of the milky morass of the main body, but generally this is a bready, milky savoury thing that you feel you should come at with a knife and fork to enjoy. Really not sure what happened to the big cocoa character of the aroma.

Its ok but feels a bit staid – the milkiness is the biggest issue for me. It feels like an empty, neutral weight that doesn’t make room for the other flavours. It does open up a bit as time goes on though, I will admit, a honey sweetness and thickness that gives more grip to the smoke and cocoa notes that had problems finding purchase on your tongue before.

This, late on, addition does add a lot to the beer – still savoury led, it feels more open to exploration with bready, sweet, savoury and greenery notes coming out. Still can be a tad empty on some sips but generally good.

So, a slow starter but with good high points when it gets going. Not as stand out beer, mainly due to the weak start, but it does earn the time spent on it by the end.

Background:So, I listed this as being by Deya Brewing Co. Technically it is a collaberation with (deep breath) Gloucester Brewery, Prescott Ales, Hillside Brewery, Velvet Owl Brewing Co. and Favourite Beers for Cheltenham & Gloucester Beer Week 2018. That many names didn’t really fit on the line though so I went with Deya. Haven’t had a Foreign Stout for a bit so grabbed it from Independent Spirit – it is made with cocoa nibs, which is a fairly common occurrence these days. Also the profits go to the charity National Star, which is nice. Anyway, enough on that, heavy beer time, so heavy music time – went very retro with the self titled Slipknot album. Mock if you want as yes it is pantomime angry nu-metal, but I still enjoy it. Not everything needs to be a work of art. Sometimes you just want people in masks screaming over guitars.

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Mikkeller: Boon: Oude Geuze (Vermouth Foeders) (Denmark: Gueuze: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy pale apple juice colour with moderate white bubbled head.

Nose: White wine. Dry. Oats. Black pepper. Dried apple. Appetizer. Spritzy notes. Yeast funk.

Body: Apple front. Dry. Dry white wine. Oak. Dried apricot. Slight charring. Yeast funk. Slightly sour. Chalk. Menthol Vanilla.

Finish: Dry white wine. Yeast funk. Mature cheese. Peppery. Dry lemon juice. Apple. Sour. Oaken. Champagne. Slight peppermint.

Conclusion: Ok, I wasn’t expecting this to be so apple touched in flavour. It isn’t cider like, which would be how you may expect apple in a lambic to come across, but more like dried apple chunks that have been left in the mix. Beneath that is a very dry, slightly sour, white wine character. It is a surprisingly intense beer though with notes like pepper, slight charring and oak all coming into the mix. While wood notes aren’t unusual in a lambic, this definitely feels more woody than most and more spritzy with it. It has a fizzy mouthfeel that comes across through the dryness.

The rougher edges make it feel like a prickly beer – sour and peppery edges over a white wine and lightly menthol to peppermint touched base. As these settle a vibrant yeast funkiness rises – mature cheese notes complement by the pepper to create a fuller and more rewarding mouthfeel and taste.

It always feel slight sour though – very dry and mouth tingling with an unusual set of minty notes freshening and accentuating the dry base. Its a good look if a tad rough around the edges. It ends up feeling even more mouth freshening that even a lot of other geuzes, which is saying something. At its best it is wakening, at its worst it as an almost freshly cleaned teeth feel – though less gross than that sounds. What makes it work is it never loses that apple character – it is not as strong after a while, but it is definitely the most pleasant characteristic and gives a lot of charm to the beer.

It is definitely an acquired taste – the more peppermint like elements take a while to grow on you. For me it was good but a tad too menthol fresh. I’d go for other geuzes to return to, but this one was definitely interesting.

Background: A vermouth foeder aged lambic? Interesting. I’m not a huge drinker of vermouth, but aware of it enough that this intrigued me. Boon tend to be excellent with their geuzes and a collaboration with Mikkeller tends to add to the quality, so when I saw this at Independent Spirit I grabbed it. Not much more to add – got a whole bunch more lambics and sours to come, what with the recent Cantillon bottle pick up at Zwanze day – so if you like these sort of notes more are to come. Was drinking this the day after a mind blowingly awesome and energetic Crossfaith gig so put their tunes on. Genuinely the highest energy live show I’ve been to in years. If you get the chance and like electronic dance-metal mash ups, definitely give them a go.

Northern Monk: Slim Pickens: Patrons Project: 8.05: Raspberry and Honeydew Melon Kolsch Style Ale (England: Kolsch: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy yellow. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Medium white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fluffy hops. Vanilla. Melon. Slightly oily.

Body: Vanilla. Honey. Crisp and dry underneath. Hop oils. Mild tart raspberry. Fluffy hop feel.

Finish: Vanilla custard. Honey. Slight dry fluffy hop feel. Melon and watermelon. Hop oils. Fresh raspberry. Sour dough.

Conclusion: This definitely is more about the extra fruit flavours and less about the kolsch flavour characteristics, more using the kolsch style as a base for easy drinking style. It shows little of the moderate hop style or bitterness kick that I would expect from a kolsch. Which is fair enough, this is a bit experimental – I just needed to make sure I checked my expectations going in.

So, yeah it is honey sweet – and a I know honeydew melon was used in making this, but I don’t think it came from that, but more obvious is a gentle vanilla backbone. Though there is an extra thickness to the dry and very drinkable base that calls actual honey to mind – a nice extra character, mildly syrupy but smoothed by the beer. It is only a slight extra thickness but occasionally does work against the easy drinking nature of the beer. A trade off I guess, it isn’t bad at all, just slightly off being perfectly balanced.

Flavour-wise it rocks a tart raspberry character which helps offset that thicker sweetness – It is tasty and refreshing. The melon is less obvious but there are some clean flavours at the edges which seem to be it working its way in. So, a tasty beer and despite the few oily notes coming through still fairly drinkable.

The base kolsch shows itself mainly as a fluffy hop mouthfeel and light hop oils. The bitterness is low, the rest of the mouthfeel is dry – when it shows itself from below the other ingredients anyway. The hop feels adds a bit of an edge so it is not too syrupy, similarly the dryness helps put the brakes on the sweetness,keeping everything in proportion.

Overall a fairly simple, enjoyable easy drinking beer that doesn’t push its roots much but does use the extra ingredient very well. Not super polished, but it does the job for a beer in the sun. That I drank after summer ended.

Background: I have been seriously enjoying Northern Monk’s varied patrons projects – collaborations with a fairly unusual set of people compared to the standard brewers, so I tend to keep my eyes on the new ones. This one grabbed my eye due to being a Kolsch – an unusual style that doesn’t seem to get much craft beer experimentations. Kolsch is a beer made with ale yeast, but cold conditional like a lager usually creating a nicely hoppy and bitter but easy to drink beer. Slim Pickens make cider and mead and I’m guessing the idea of adding raspberry and honeydew melon to the beer was theirs. Vague also got involved – a magazine maker who I’m guessing were involved in the skateboard image for the label? I guess. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters. Something about modern politics is making me go heavy back into punk listening again. Can’t imagine what….

Wiper and True: IDLES: Joy As An Act Of Resistance IPA: Collaboration Series 14 (England: IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark caramel brown, with visible sediment bits floating within. Thin off white head.

Nose: Palma violets. Fresh blackcurrant. Lime cordial. Black-cherry jam. Cake sponge. Light hop character. Strawberry.

Body: Palma violets. Cake sponge. Blueberry. Blackcurrant cordial.

Finish: Lime cordial. Blackcurrant cordial. Cake sponge. Palma violets. Light earthy bitterness. Slight rocky to charring notes. Pepper. Sage and generally herbal.

Conclusion: This doesn’t feel super IPA like, it owes more to the special ingredients and seems to just use the IPA character as a dry drinkable base to work from, albeit with a bit of cake sponge weight from the malt load.

The blackcurrant is tart and gives a lovely, natural tasting, fruitiness but that tartness the fruit brings make the body feel a tad lighter with it. You do get a lot for that trade off though – the flavours are fresh, backed by light herbal notes for some range.

While it is a good set of flavours it does feel like the base beer could pull its weight a bit more as the berry character is very dominant. What I do like in though is a subtle palma violet sweets style character, an element that adds a kind of noble hop like character throughout the whole beer. Now I know violets were used to make this, but I’m fairly sure violets don’t taste like the sweets palma violets. I think. Amy which way I love this slightly odd, sweet note and what it adds to the beer.

I have to admit I would like a slightly brewed up, slightly higher abv version of this. Something to give a bigger body to contend with the thinning the blackcurrant brings – but, I am still enjoying this as it is. Slightly light but still a drinkably dry body, nice fruit tartness and light herbal complexity really works for the beer overall.

So, it could be improved on, made to be a great beer , but as is it is solid, different and still worth drinking.

Also IDLES fucking rock.

Background: So, Wiper and True are rock solid with their beers – love them, The Kernal of the south west in my opinion. Loved them for ages. IDLES, the band, I only found out about within the past few months but now love also – their new album that this beer is named after is a work of anger and emotional vulnerability that spits in the eye of toxic masculinity with a mix of the Clash and post hardcore punk. So yes I was going to buy this when I saw it at Independent Spirit. Anyway this is an IPA made with hibiscus, blackcurrant and violet. Ok, not what I expected – as you can probably see from the bottle they list IBU, hop choice, malt choice, all the info you need to know about the beer, which I always appreciate. So I put some Spice Girls on while drinking this…juuuust kidding, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, natch.

Unity: Quorum Brune (England: Belgian Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Brown/ Moderate brown bubbled head with lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cardamom. Black pepper. Chives. Paprika. Very spice led. Greenery.

Body: Cardamom. Malt chocolate. Menthol touch. Liquorice touch. Light chalk. Milk chocolate. Light yeastie character.

Finish: Mint leaves. Menthol. Malt chocolate. Chives. Milk chocolate and milky coffee. Some yeast character. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This opens up overwhelmingly dominated by the spice side of things and it isn’t a good look. The cardamom notes are interesting, but intense. Most interestingly they seem to interact with the rest of the beer to create a wider range of spice notes. However, as always I feel that spice should be an element of the beer, not the whole beer as this first appears.

Time helps it find its feet. It has a gentle malt chocolate to milk chocolate body with a light dash of Belgian yeast funk. The spice is still fairly heavy. But now more mint to sage in how it comes across. The balance is better, it is still heavy on the spice but the base beer shows itself reasonably.

As a beer it seems fairly simple – malt chocolate notes, yeast funk, a little coffee late on but not a huge amount. Much as I find the spice use too heavy done, the beer really relies on it to give it some range.

So, it is an average beer that uses unusual spice slightly excessively. I’m not hating it, at least after the first few moments, but it lacks both complexity and subtlety. It seems to lose a lot of the joy that comes from the Belgian Bruin and the spice can’t fill that hole.

Background: What to list this as, ratebeer lists it as a an Abbey Dubbel but it seems a tad too low abv for that and not quite in style. Untapped calls it Belgian Brown Ale, which seems closer – I’m going with a more generic Belgian Ale for now. Bit of a cop out but it fits. Anyway, I’m always interested in other countries re-interpretations of Belgian styles so decided to grab this from Independent Spirit and give it a go. This is made with Cardamom and cocoa nibs. Drank while listening to Sabaton – Attero Dominatus, been a while since I listened and music that includes songs about smashing Nazis is always good for the heart.

Kaiju!: Cthulhu On The Moon (Australia: Black IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Creamy inch of a brown head.

Nose: Nutty. Bitter chocolate. Bitter hop character. Lightly earthy. Bitter raw coffee.

Body: Earthy bitterness. Chalk touch. Sour cream twist. Bitter cocoa. Tofu. Light charring. Light toffee/Choc Toffee.

Finish: Earthy. Greenery. Bitter cocoa. Bitter coffee. Pepper. Sour cream. Kiwi.

Conclusion: This is a take on the black IPA style that I was not expecting. Most BIPAS I’ve seen either go the hoppy stout route, or in the fruity smooth way with chocolate backing. This feels like a black IPA take on an earthy English style IPA. Intriguing.

The base is quite stouty and on the harsher end of the stout scale, showing more raw notes from the bitter cocoa and coffee. There’s even a chalk touch and a slight sour cream twist under that, which would act as a grounding notes in most beers, but here just pushes it further into the heavy, slow drinking style.

Onto that heavy base the earthy, bitter hops are another weighty layer – peppery, nutty and earthy. This brings none of the fruity high notes that I usually expect of a black IPA.

So, not a showy beer, instead a slow, heavy beer. There is the slightest touch of toffee sweetness in the mid body, and slight kiwi that rises in the finish. The offsetting notes are used sparingly to make the heavier notes more manageable. There are hints main body of similar green fruit, but it never fully develops, instead keeping to the more earthy bitter notes.

It is not one I would have often, but it is a solid one. It reminds me of a Best Bitter, mixed 50/50 with a British style IPA, the kind of drink you could drink a few slow pints of with in mates in a traditional pub, near a warm fire.

Not a must have, but an interesting take and solid enough.

Background: So, I’m kind of partial to the Kaiju movies, if not a massive dedicated fan – loved the recent Shin Gojira so that was a good start for this. Big Lovecraft nerd, so a Cthulhu reference is my jam. This is from Australia, and I haven’t tried many beers from there, so always a chance to expand. Finally not had a good BIPA for a while – so yeah, out of the Kaiju! Beer stuff that turned up at independent spirit, it was almost inevitable that this would be the one I’d grab. I did miss a trick on music though – just put on some Anti Flag out of generic annoyance at the world today, when I had perfectly good Lovecraft themed rock from Darkest Of Hillside Thickets right there and I didn’t use it. Shame on me.

Buxton: Medusa Bay (England: IPA: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow-apricot. Huge white head, with a good chunk of small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Dried mango. Fluffy, bitter hop character. Dried apricot. Light greenery. Prickly character. Mild hop oils. Sweet peach syrup. Palma violets,

Body: Raspberry and yellow raspberries. Tart pineapple. Prickly hop character. Greenery, pepper and hop oils. Kumquat. Kiwi. Palma violets. Pink grapefruit.

Finish: Hop oils. Greenery. Dried apricot and sweet peach. Sour cream twist. Good bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Yellow raspberry. Tangerine.

Conclusion: An IPA. A genuine IPA. Not a NEIPA, an IPA. Yes I know, I’m a grumpy old man shouting for the NE to get off my lawn. I keep trying not to dump on the New England take on the IPA style, but, after so many NEIPA takes on the style, a rock solid, slightly west coast IPA leaning if not perfectly fitting that style, take on the IPA is exactly what I need. That and long run on sentences it seems.

The base is fairly dry and clean – lightly sweet but mainly out of the way. The hop fruitiness and bitterness does most of the heavy lifting here. It mixes up a few different IPA hop takes in the flavour profile. There’s tart pineapple and pink grapefruit that make up a fresh middle to the beer – feeling a bit NZ hopped style, but there’s notes like a varied raspberry tartness that means it doesn’t fit neatly into that box. There are American style apricot notes, always backed by that slight savoury to vegetable touched bitterness. It feels like a mid 2000’s style IPA remade with access to the modern hop varieties, giving a new spin on an old classic.

The bitterness is present but not harsh – mixing lightly oily but solid bitterness with a peppery present character for weight. It feels like a subtle re-imaging rather than a revolution of an IPA, but it is solid as hell. Big flavour, nice hop choice, and IPA that is exactly what I wanted right now. The classic USA style IPA brought right up to date.

Background: This was a fairly simple choice to grab. I was just looking for a straightforward, no frills IPA and 1) Buxton have been very reliable as a brewer and 2) It is made with a solid dry hop selection of Citra, Mosaic and Ekuanot. Not every beer needs to be something out there – I just wanted a solid IPA and hoped this would be it. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for a similarly solid music choice with straight up Metallica – Master of Puppets. Was bloody humid and sticky, so I had this chilled down a touch more than I normally would.

To Øl: Põhjala: Graff Gadient – Rye and Apple Gose (Estonia: Gose: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Light clear brown to apricot. Short lived off white head.

Nose: Cloying sweet apricot. Crushed palma violets. Stewed peaches. Apple. Thick syrup character. Apple pie fillings. Cough syrup.

Body: Apple pie filling. Oak. Apple juice. Tart. Rye bread. Acidic front. Oats.

Finish: Tart cider. Dry fudge. Acidic pear. Varnish air. Fresh cut apples. Menthol cough sweets. White wine.

Conclusion: I’ve come to accept that the goses I encountered in Germany, and the goses I encounter in the rest of the world are going to be totally different things. That’s cool, styles cross pollinate and pick up local character. Even with that said, this, this is unusual.

It is tart, kind of gose meets lambic or berliner weisse – that bit sharper and tarter than most gose are, and with lots of the apple on show. It is a mix of tart cider like notes, matched with thick apple pie filling sweetness, all over dry rye bread notes.

Now that is odd, not not that odd, definitely not odd enough to trip my WTF? radar. So what is unusual, ok, but unusual is this menthol cough sweets to cough syrup set of notes that come across in a medicinal but very syrupy way. That was unexpected. It matches with the stewed apricot and peach notes, so is not as out of place as you might expect – but is still a strange feel and taste based on 1) My expectations of a gose 2) My expectations based on the special ingredients and 3) my expectations of any beer ever.

It isn’t bad, but it feels weird – you can be enjoying those tart apple notes, and general acidic character – when suddenly you are hit with the cough syrup notes and it just takes out out of it. It breaks up the experience in a way that ruins the flow of the beer.

Interesting but the medicinal cough syrup notes just make it one I can’t get into properly.

Background: This is described as both a rye and apple gose, and half beer half cider. Made with spontaneous fermented cider, Estonian apple juice and three varieties of thyme, this sounded odd enough to be worth a try. Not tried anything from Põhjala before, but To Øl tend to be pretty good. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on a mix of Jonathan Young stuff while drinking, mainly his excellent track “Bait”- an original track rather than the covers he tends to do. Well worth checking out.

Wild Beer Co: To Øl: TrØffeler (England: Saison: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large white head.

Nose: Chestnut mushrooms. Ground pepper. Quite fresh. Fresh sour dough. White pepper. White wine. Sulphur.

Body: Dry. White pepper. Dry lemon juice. Earthy bitterness. Dried mushrooms. Spritzy to soda water.

Finish: Spritzy. Soda water. Chalk touch. Peppery. White wine. Sage. Dried meat chunks. Coriander.

Conclusion: This is very spritzy, very peppery, mixed with some earthiness and spice over white wine dryness. That last element is especially odd as this has been aged in sweet Sauternes wine casks so you would expect something sweeter, but hey, I can only call ’em as I see ’em.

The body is softly lemony, which is probably the most normal element going on here. When that lemon is combined with the spice it feels like it calls to a more traditional take on a Belgian wit, but with a heavier, earthy saison edge to it.

I’m finding it hard to say exactly what the truffles bring here – there is a chestnut mushroom like note, a general set of savoury notes mid body, but nothing that stands out as massively unexpected, nothing that says unusual ingredient rather than beer hop character. Then again, my knowledge of truffles is entirely from truffle oil. So, for all I know this could be super truffly and I am just ignorant. I hear truffles are quite earthy, so maaaaybe that is them?

Anyway, this is easy drinking early on, and very earthy and spicy late on. In fact a bit too much spice for me. Reined in at the end this would be super drinkable and an awesome mix of wit and saison notes. As is it starts out good but feels a tad rough by the end.

So, not too stand out, but has promise for tweaking with.

Background: So, I am a huge fan of To Øl, they are very talented and turn out amazing beers. I am also a fan of Wild Beer co – they can be variable, but when they are on they are on. However the reason I bought this is not because of either of those. It is because it is made with truffles. I mean, WTF right? Terrible or great that was something I wanted to try. To be more specific this is made with truffles, sage and aged in Sauternes barrels. Saw that Crossfaith are coming back to Bristol later this year so put on a mix of their tunes while drinking. This was another one bought from Independent Spirit.

Oud Beersel: Green Walnut: 2017 (Belgium: Lambic – Fruit: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark yellow. Large yellow-white head.

Nose: Oats. Horse blankets. Crushed nuts. White chocolate touch. Dried apricot. Moss.

Body: Acidic apple. Acidic pears. Lemon sherbet. Tart and acidic. Tart grapes. Cashew nuts. Dry white wine.

Finish: Lemon sherbet. Cashew nuts. Moss. Tart apples to cider. Dry white wine. Earthy notes, Charred notes.

Conclusion: Now this is nutty, very distinctly nutty, however lambics are fairly often nutty so I am unsure where the lambic base influence ends, and the green walnut addition begins. So, Let’s look at it as an overall beer for now, and see how things go from there, ok?

It comes in initially pretty tart and acidic on the main body, after you have moved past the fairly stereotypical horse blankets and oats aroma. The body comes in as a dry cider to dry white wine mix that gives a short sherbety burst before heading back to drying the mouth, leaving just a slight sweet sheen to keep it away from its ultra dry brethren. Throughout this is a kind of cashew nuttinesses, along with a mix of green nut flecks and moss notes that definitely call to its name. Psychosomatic due to the name? Who knows, but it gives an earthy, savoury middle to the beer that works well. Now, as mentioned the nuttiness becomes quite a bit element to the beer, maybe walnuts, but I would find it hard to say specifically.

Slightly sweet, but still tart, grapes come to again offset the hugely dry character so it doesn’t become harsh. Despite that, over time, the finish does gain a slight charred note that can come with a dry lambic. While this is not perfect, so far it has not harmed the beer as much as similar encounters with that element, so it isn’t a show stopper.

So, this feels pretty close to the standard lambic at the base – definitely more nutty than most, but I’m not sure if it is the most nutty. Time has brought out a lot more nuts than were evident at the start though, and considering the fact I have run into some pretty darn nutty lambics without the walnuts it seems to be doing ok. It is pretty dry, but not super dedicated to that part so doesn’t go too harsh or hard. Not a real stand out lambic, just a very solid one that leans into the nutty side of a lambic. I can’t complain, but it doesn’t feel super different for the odd ingredients used.

Background: This one has been on my radar for a while – a lambic made with green walnuts, a fairly unusual choice and so something worth checking out I felt. However at over 20 quid a bottle I kept finding other things to try. So, I finally bit the bullet and grabbed it from Independent Spirit. Hope it works out. Put on Heavens To Betsy – Calculated. Recent bullshit on various places online have put me back in a listening to Riot Grrrl punk kinda mood again.

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