Tag Archive: 5-8% ABV


Poppels: DIPA (Sweden: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark yellow with brown hints, a massive yellowed head upon that which leaves suds.

Nose: Thick, resinous, oily hops. Some bready bitterness. Malt chocolate and choc limes. Dried apricot and dried banana. Mocha.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Brown bread. Malt chocolate. Apples. Good bitterness. Milky coffee. Resinous hop oils. Orange. Slight peach. Kiwi. White grapes.

Finish: Choc lime. Good hops. Vanilla Toffee. Milky coffee. Good bitterness. Kiwi. Apples.

Conclusion: This is very malt led for an IIPA. I know IIPAs tend to be a bit more malty than their standard IPA cousins, and that the more malt led variants are a recognised thing, but when you get one with this much malt it can seem a tad odd to me. What makes it more odd is how the malt leads – it is surprisingly dark in its flavour choices. White there is a more traditional vanilla toffee character it matches a coffee character – admittedly a very milky coffee character, but still coffee – then even some malt chocolate notes. All stuff I would normally associate with darker beers.

Hop flavours are there, but, apart from the resinous character, they feel more like gentle rounding fruity notes. There’s dried apricot and kiwi that slowly build up over time but are always gentle, creamy flavours rather than body and assertive hops. What is odd about this is that the aroma is everything the body is not – the aroma is thick, oily, resinous and very assertive – which is why I was expecting something big and booming which I did not get.

Still, expecting is one thing – enjoying is another. The beer is still fairly resinous as I mentioned before, the actual hop character a bit more bready – it all results in a more sturdy, heavy beer than you would expect, but with less of the sticky muggy hops that would often come with that.

Together, those darker sweet malt notes, bready and kind of resinous hops, and soft fruity notes, come together in something that is not a standard IPA – even with all the variants in style these days – it is more soothing than brutal, more warming than wake up – but with good flavours. It is like a night cap IPA, which is an odd set of ideas together – but enjoyable in that.

Make of that what you will.

Background: This 80 IBU double IPA was the 2013 winner of best Swedish beer – so probably going to be good. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk while listening to some Jackamo Brown – another from the batch of music Speech Development records gave away free digital downloads of – nice relaxing stuff.


Tilquin : Oude Quetsche Tilquin a L’ancienne (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6.4% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy ruddy red to dried apricot. Small white bubbled rim for a head.

Nose: Black-cherry. Floral. Vanilla. Plums. Cherry blossoms. Dried apricot. Lightly tart apples. Horse blankets.

Body: Light mouthfeel. Brown bread. Tart apples. Moderate acidic character. Dried apricot. Strawberry. Sour plums. Dry Madeira. Light tayberry. Tannins. Lemon. Marzipan. Dry spice.

Finish: Tart apples. Dried apricot. Charred oak. Prunes. Lots of tannins. Dry sherry. Dried raisins. Plums. Acidic dryness. White wine. Raspberry. Strawberry.

Conclusion: I often find it odd how fruit lambics – while usually fruity as hell – often don’t taste massively of the fruit used to make them, instead emphasising what to seems to be a random other range of notes.

This, for example, is made with plums. It does have some plum notes, but more than that it gets interactions with the lambic to have it come across more as dry raisins and dry sherry like notes.

More normal is the base, with acidic apple and lemon notes working in a tart and moderately acidic base – not super mellow, not super sweet, dry or harsh. It feels very manageable, but still a distinctly tart lambic. It emphasises more a large amount of tannins, especially late on, giving a good amount of weight and grounded character to the body behind the freshness.

What is most unusual to encounter is the middle ground between the dark fruit and the fresh lambic – this is where the largest range of fruitiness comes out. They both merge to bring out very fresh raspberry to tayberry notes, some fresh strawberries and grounded dried apricot. This is what I tend to call the almost holographic flavours brought on by the mix of the base flavours and the acidity, and make up the front half of the beer; The initial impressions before the darker fruit of raisins and plums come in, which initially are in the latter half to the finish of the beer. Over time though the darker fruit rises, and come to take centre stage from sipping onwards as the flavours build up – closer to what you would expect from the chosen fruit.

I can see from this why plum isn’t the most commonly used fruit, not up there with cherry and raspberry, but it still does pretty darn well for itself. The base lambic is pretty darn good, and the plums take it to darker dry fruit notes in an unusual fashion – generally darker fruit I have seen used go in a sweeter direction. This feels closer to red wine sour influences, though you do get sweet almonds to marzipan late on to add a touch of sweetness to it.

This is almost a sherry lambic to my mind, with the dark fruit getting more notable the longer you spend with it. Definitely earns its spot as something different in the lambic league.

Background: This is the 2016/2017 batch of the beer – a lambic made with one and two year lambics, fresh plums and refermented in the bottle for three months. So, an unusual fruit choice which made me really want to try it. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was a big beer, so I put on some Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – heavy duty punk yo go with it.

Deviant Dandy: Strange Brew Lawnmower Ale (England: Cream Ale: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Some carbonation. Massive yellow white head.

Nose: Slight gritty bitterness. Wheat. Lime. Dried apricot.

Body: Moderate bitterness. Light gherkin. Lime. Peppery. Brown bread. Milky. Sour cream. Reasonably thick mouthfeel. Dried apricot.

Finish: Moderate hops and bitterness. Milky apricot. Gherkin. Kiwi. Lime. Sour cream and chives.

Conclusion: This has two main sides to it – a moderately thick, slightly yogurt like, milky ale. A gentle thing with moderate hop use. Actually feels like a beer to go with a curry , so to sooth its heat with its milky feel. Now I know the beer doesn’t have …casein … I think is the element in milk that allows it to dissolve the capsaicin that makes curry hot, so it won’t actually do that. It just feels that way – hope that gets across the feel of the beer.

Anyway, I digress – the other side of the beer is a slightly tart squeezed lime to sour gherkin set of notes – fresh and prickly. It feels like a rougher impression of the fresher tart flavours you get from NZ hops – just more thick, clingy and tingly. Around that unusual element you get some more standard apricot style hops, but delivered in a thicker, more cloying dried apricot in natural yogurt kind of way. In fact the whole yogurt imagery keeps coming back with this beer.

Strangely, while the notes are thick, it doesn’t make the beer heavy or intrusive as you would expect. The flavours are an odd mix of sweet, tart, savoury, and sour – yet together they feel fairly gentle and sippable. In fact going back to the early imagery, it feels like a mix of those sides you get at the start in an Indian restaurant – the heavier dip, the milky creamy soothing dip, the sour dip and the sweet mango chutney. All mixed together in one beer – and not as bad as that sounds.

Generally this is reasonable – odd but not really remarkable at the same time. Easy to drink, but also with some weight to it. The oddest thing is that for all its unsusual flavours, when you have swallowed it, the actual flavours vanish pretty quickly – you have to take another mouthful to keep it going. So a weak finish, but generally not bad.

An easy one to drink, enjoy while you are doing that, and then forget,.

Background: This one was a bit of a random pick. I liked the can design, the name Deviant Dandy, and I wanted something a bit more gentle than usual. So a cream ale seemed like a good pick – think I have only done notes on one cream ale before, and have barely drunk more than a a few anyway, so good to do something different. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to some of Extreme’s music on their youtube channel for a bit of glam rock fun.

Brewdog: Beatnik Brewing Collective: Blond Export Stout (Scotland: English Strong Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Small bubble carbonation. Large yellowed creamy white head.

Nose: Oatmeal. Cocoa and chocolate bourbon biscuits. Cloying cream. Bitter coffee. Roasted nuts. White chocolate. Milk. Orange zest. Chocolate dust. Light roasted bitterness and hop character.

Body: Cream. Bitter cocoa dust. Roasted nuts. White chocolate. Butter. Orange zest. Slight cloying cream.

Finish: White chocolate. Bitter cocoa. Dry roasted peanuts. Buttery. Lactose. Bitter roasted hops. Milky coffee. Oats. Light smoke – Applewood?

Conclusion: White Stouts, while not at New England IPA insane level popular, do seem to be popping up more often than they used to. Some try very hard to be exactly like a stout but blond – some have come close, but none have 100% succeeded. This goes with the approach I like better – working in a lot of the traditional stout notes, but emphasising elements you can only get with a blond ale.

There is definite bitter cocoa from a more traditional stout – delivered in a dusty, gripping, gritty kind of way, and it heads out with lots of milky coffee – there is no doubt it is in the stout area. However the main base is very blond ale influenced – kind of milky with a kind of traditional made butter thickness and white chocolate sweetness. It takes the thickness of a stout and uses it in its own way.

Also, while I have had a lot of oatmeal stouts, the actual oats used in making the beer seems much more evident than in those – the milky, creamy character really seems to give the oats a very definite muesli oaty kind of style. On the other hand the smoked malts used don’t seem to be as heavy influence. It comes out late on in what I think is an apple wood smoke kind of style, I think, my memory for different wood smoke is weak. It adds weight and, along with the roasted nut character, gives more notable dark stout depth.

It doesn’t all work – the cream can get a slight cloying note that doesn’t match here – but in general it is distinctly well done. I think we are still waiting for the classic blond stout to come out and define the style – but this is a good step in the right direction.

Background: Ah, “English Strong Ale” The style you use when you have no fucking clue what it comes under. I mean, is blond stout a recognised style yet? There seem to be enough of them these days. Anyway, I joke, but I had no idea either so just went with “English Strong Ale” like ratebeer and co. Anyway, this was voted for, brewed by and generally sold to Brewdog shareholders, which as you may guess means I am not an unbiased actor on this beer. This is a blond stout made with cocoa, coffee, vanilla, smoked malt and oats to try and give it that stout character but with a light colour. Grabbed directly from Brewdog’s online store. Drunk while listening to Propagandhi – Potempkin City Limits – it did lead to me wondering how the band would respond to Brewdog throwing their legal weight around recently about the word “Punk” in relation to beer. I would guess badly. Very badly.

Clausel: Gezwickelten (Luxembourg: Zwickel: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Very pale hazy lemon juice. Loose fluffy white head.

Nose: Lemon. Light wheat chaff and flour. Low level bitterness. Slight squeezed lime. Low fluffy hop character.

Body: Malt toffee. Creamy kiwi and lime. Slight crushed rock touches. Slight flour. Low bitterness. Well attenuated dry feel. Orange juice. Hop oils. Pineapple.

Finish: Slight hop oils and bitterness. Lemon meringue and squeezed orange. Bitterness grows over time. Flour. Slight lactose. Palma violets.

Conclusion: This is quite citrusy – Which I’ve encountered a few times in unfiltered lager, wonder if it is part of the unfiltered thing, or just hop choice. Any which way, I always like it when unfiltered lagers do that – it shows what can be done when you don’t remove all the best bits from a beer.

So, a good start – lots of refreshing notes and easy to drink, with just enough hop oils and bitterness to give a mild edge to it. The general experience is akin to a citrus infused pilsner, but with lower bitterness than most pils I’ve had. Its got some of the palma violet style I associate with traditional pils noble hops choice as well.

Now, while I enjoyed it a lot it isn’t perfect – the slightly thicker than normal texture gives a nice creaminess, but also seems to bring a slightly gritty crushed rock touch that makes it a tad harsher edged than it needs to be. This is more shown in the finish, but there are hints to it in the middle of the beer. Still, I’ll take that over an inoffensively dull beer.

Generally though this is a good standby- easy to drink with the lager feel mixed with a lot of unfiltered flavour and a fun fresh citrus character.

A good go to for above average general drinking lager. If you are in a area where this is easy to get then you probably won’t regret giving it a try.

Background: Described as an unfiltered version of their Pils beer, this was brought back from Luxembourg by my friend Tony – Much appreciated! Think it is my first ever Luxembourg beer. I always like an unfiltered lager style beer, they seem to have so much more character than their filtered cousins. Decided to go old school punk with a bit of Sex Pistols for this one.

Brekeriet: Berliner Spazz (Sweden: Berliner Weisse: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large yellowed white head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Fresh pineapple and guava juice. Soft creamy lemon. Mashed white grapes. Pencil shavings. Bitty orange juice.

Body: Tart lemon. Soft vanilla. White grapes. Tart pineapple. Lightly acidic. Slight cider. Orange juice.

Finish: Stewed banana. Passion fruit. White grapes – both juicy and tart. Pineapple. Dried mango. Wheat. Vanilla. Salted water. Rhubarb. White wine.

Conclusion: The first thing that hit me here is that the berliner weisse is really just providing a backbone for the rest of the elements to influence. The main flavour instead is all juicy tart fruit as all heck. The passion-fruit is massive and juicy top and tail – oddly in the middle it is a lesser element, with the tarter character giving more pineapple and lemon. The body seems to push the tarter flavours over the sweeter passion-fruit.

The berliner weisse is there – giving slight cider like tartness and a slight extra roughness of feel that shows the base ingredients. Generally though it just pushes the tart, sour body and lets everything else work up form there.

While this is not heavily sour – more tart and fresh – it comes in with the huge range of flavour that I associate with the heavier duty sour beers – from orange juice, to a drier, tarter rhubarb character. Lots of fruit notes is what I am saying, with just a slight dryness. There is a lot to enjoy.

Feels like an awesome, refreshing, summer sun beer. The only real drawback is that the abv is a bit high to do that perfectly; It feels so fruit juice like and so refreshing that it could be dangerous to drink in the sun as you could easily go through them without realising how much you are drinking.

Apart from that , this is a brilliant summer sun bit of fruit drinking – it may not show the base beer style too much, but it is still something that could only be done in an alcoholic drink and benefits from that to make a distinct experience. Very nice.

Background: I sure hope this beer’s name has a different meaning in Sweden. In the UK it is an offensive slang term for someone with cerebral palsy. So, erm, yeah, the oddities that happen in differences between languages. Did a bit of googling but couldn’t find what the meaning or reference would be in Sweden – if anyone knows please let me know. Anyway this is a berliner weisse made with passion fruit. And vanilla beans. Which is a new take on the style for me. Drunk while listening to some awesome Against Me!

Odyssey: Left Handed Giant: Left Handed Zombie (England: Amber Ale: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy bronze to amber. Large loose bubbled beiged head.

Nose: Peach. Pineapple. Grapefruit. Sweet fruit syrup and fresh fruit tartness. White grapes. Peach Melba.

Body: Lightly brown bread. Peach Melba. Good bitterness and hop character. Pineapple. Slight sour dough and chives. Light charring. Rye crackers.

Finish: Brown bread. Solid hops and bitterness. Light black pepper that grows over time. Sulphur and smoke. Peppermint.

Conclusion: Ok first up – no this is not as good as the showstopper that is the big brother of this – Imperial Hop Zombie Blood. Then again, what is? This is a less clean feeling beer – it has more notes that call towards the heavier real ale style, with bready notes making it a solid drink, with sulphurous notes mid to late on. It feels like a mild concession to make a more sessionable, more standard drinking ale style out of an intense beer, without losing what made that enjoyable.

Now, where it is most like its big bro is in the big bitterness it brings,and the big flavours with that. It bring sweet peach and tart pineapple, mixed with white grapes which makes this a right mouthwatering mix. That is set against that very robust, grounded, bready and slightly sulphurous base. It is an interesting contrast and works better than you would imagine. A very traditional feeling base with the fruit punching right out of the gaps.

It is heavy, almost rye tasting in style with some peppery character, but the fresh notes manages to keep it from getting wearing.

It isn’t a shining wonder like its big brother, but it also doesn’t feel like it is aiming for that. Instead it feels like a new world hopped, rye best bitter that is also an amber ale. Solid, tasty and one to have regularly- rather than a lot of similar beers that are great one offs but not one to have regularly. Not exceptional, but it hits its spots brilliantly.

Background: I learned something with this one. Mainly relating to the word dank. People have started referring to great dank hops a lot recently. Which confused me – as well, dank is “Unpleasantly damp and cold” which is not really something I want from hops. However after hearing a few uses it seemed to relate to those thick, oily, sticky hops. Which makes sense now after a bit of googling as it seems it probably comes from cannabis references – good sticky and oily cannabis being called dank in relation to the original usage. Also explains why everyone calls good memes “Danke memes” as a joke these days. Though it does not explain why and when meme changed so much from its original meaning. Then again that is kind of appropriate giving its original definition. Was completely out of the loop on Danke. Probably cos I’m an old fart now. Also I use muggy hops for a similar, though different style so I can’t really get on my high horse about using imperfect words to try and communicate an experience. Anyway, loved Imperial Hop Zombie Blood – so since this seems to be linked to that I grabbed this as fast as a could when I saw it in Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to a bit of At The Drive in – seems they are making a bit of a comeback now which is cool.

Belching Beaver: Orange Vanilla IPA (USA:IPA: 6.9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow with a large white mounded sud head.

Nose: Bready hop character. Vanilla. Light orange juice. Slight pineapple. Slight tropical fruit smoothie.

Body: Orange juice. Caramel. Fudge. Vanilla toffee. Tart pineapple. Slight syrupy centre. Moderate hop character. Slightly creamy. Dried apricot.

Finish: Orange juice. Some cream. Good hops and bitterness. Tart pineapple. Slight grapefruit. Vanilla yogurt. Some greenery. Bitterness rises over time.

Conclusion: This very much does what it says on the tin (Or says on the bottle in this case). Lots of orange juice – a kind of bitty fresh orange juice take in fact – then flavoured with a matching big vanilla sweetness that becomes slightly creamy, or even slightly syrupy over time. These notes are matched to a crisp hopped IPA that becomes deeper, oilier and more bitter over time. So, you definitely get what you came for.

On the good side – It does have depth beyond just that with a solid caramel to fudge base that comes out in the gapes in the fruitiness. It also has tarter notes from pineapple to full on tropical fruit smoothies adding more depth and range to what could have been a one note beer.

On the bad side – it does have a slightly artificial and syrupy sweetness to the core. The vanilla can come across akin to the cheaper and more syrupy sweet beers. It doesn’t ruin the beer, but is an unwelcome addition at its heart.

Generally – pretty good and it does the idea very well. It does have a few artificial notes that keeps it only as pretty good. Not a world shaker then, but you can’t fault it for working its gimmick.

Background: A new brewery on me, this caught my eye at Independent Spirit as I wanted something IPAish but this being made “Natural flavours” to bring out the vanilla and orange, whatever that means, made it sounds bit different. They are more open about the hops – mosaic and citra – which is a nice combo to open up with. This was drunk just after finding out that I needed to replace all my photobucket links as they don’t allow linking any-more – so needed a pick me up. Drunk while listening to Against Me! – Black Crosses.

Wild Beer Co: Tepache (England: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep burnished gold with a small white head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Cane sugar. Dried banana. Slight funky yeast. Vanilla toffee. Strawberry. Cinnamon. Fresh white bread.

Body: Tart and fresh. Pineapple. Lactose. Nan bread. Cinnamon. Grapefruit. Strawberry. Quite thick mouthfeel. Orange zest.

Finish: Slight smoke. Flour. Pineapple – in a juicy and a tart fashion. Grapefruit. Strawberry. Dried banana. Fresh white bread. Funky yeast. Slight cane sugar. Cheese puffs.

Conclusion: This is both very unlike most beers, even most wild yeast beers, and also a good show of why I am glad that Wild Beer keep doing their weird experiments – even if they don’t all pay off.

This is very fruit juice led, tart pineapple and grapefruit just bursting out; The texture though is much thicker than that tartness would make you expect. It has a much more traditional beery mouthfeel than most wild yeast beers, and it leads to a beery feel to a not very beery tasting beer. There is a very lactose thickness and it mixes with the sweeter flavours to make a yogurt dessert style second string of flavour. Sweet strawberry to cinnamon notes come out, with light, yeastie banana notes in there as well. These extra notes match the more beer like notes and held bridge the gape between them and the tarter flavours – in doing so it manages to avoid any dissidence between the two halves of the experience.

It builds up the more beer like notes over time – lots of funky yeast notes rising that take a heady yogurt and tart experience and turns it into a very good beer experience. It takes banana like hefeweizen characteristics, cane sugar like Belgian blond high notes, fruit that is too tart to even call to NZ hops, but instead fruit juice like pure flavour, all matched with Belgian Wit style spice use and a milk stout like mouthfeel. This is pretty much the most beer influenced non standard beer that a beer can be. At this point I am just seeing how many times I can say “beer” in a set of notes. A very unusual drink, a very good drink and one well worth trying.

Background: OK, this is another odd Wild Beer Co experiment- a beer made in the style of a Mexican drink that is fermented, but at very low alcohol – So they thought they would try a full on beer version of it. The original version is made from peel and rind of pineapples, piloncillo sugar and cinnamon. This is a beer that uses Mexican maize, wild yeast, cinnamon and cloves along with pineapple and lactose. While not all of their experiments work, I love that they do this weird stuff. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit again and drunk while listening to some excellent punk meets acoustic style tunes from Louise Distras. By the way, she is currently kickstarting to make a new album – so a signal boost – please check her out as I really want more music from her.

Brewdog: Hazy Jane (Scotland: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy stewed banana to apricot. Medium sized white head.

Nose: Moderate hops and bitterness. Lightly milky. Apricot. Banana. Light greenery. Mango.

Body: Banana. Mango. Slight pineapple. Cloying centre and slightly bready. Light grapefruit. Slightly milky. Tart peach. Hop oils.

Finish: Greenery. Sage. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Mango. Slightly bready. Tart peach. Grapefruit. Hop oils. Slightly wheaty.

Conclusion: OK, this seems to set the balance nicely for a New England IPA in my eyes. Not literally in my eyes, I didn’t pour the beer on my face or anything. Anyway … After trying the nearly zero IBU efforts that seem every common with the style, and after trying the ultra heavy bitterness one from Odyssey, I come to this one that keeps a moderate amount of hops, but definitely concentrates on the fruitiness.

It is still slightly milky in texture and taste, giving that thicker mouthfeel that is in most of the NE style – but what dominates is not that, but a set of lightly tart fruit; From grapefruit, lots of mango and banana and ever some tarter than usual expressed peach.

While this has a super short best before date of barely a month, I am glad that I waited just under a week to do the notes. The first can I had still had a touch of roughness that I have found with super fresh IPAs some times; A few days was all it needed to sort that out and now this has some kind of wheaty style extra grip to it, but with no extra roughness for that grip.

Having spent some time with this I am finding it a good IPA that uses the New England style without being beholden to it and for that showing the best of a more traditional American IPA (If you can call an American IPA traditional in any way).

Still not 100% sold on why everyone is raving about NEIPAs, but this is closer than most to converting me – it is a very good beer. Now If only I can find that Cloudwater NEIPA I tried up in Manchester – I had it mid way into a session, but if doing notes holds up to my memory that may be the one to do it. Anyway, digression aside this is good, but not so super shiny good that it is a must have.

Background: So, the usual disclaimer – I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer – also shareholder’s like myself got a six pack of this free for keeping their shares – in my case grabbing them from Brewdog Bristol. So, yeah, disclaimer out of the way. Yet another New England IPA – everybody is doing them these days. Anyway, decided to go for a bit of Two Step’s From Hell while drinking this – Archangel again. Great epic music for drinking

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