Tag Archive: 5-8% ABV


Staggeringly Good: Post Impact Porter (England: Porter: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large creamy brown loose bubbled head that soon has large holes in the bubbles as it collapses.

Nose: Roasted character. Light lactose. Crushed peanuts. Milky coffee. Charred oak. Slight musty brown bread. Mint leaves.

Body: Bitter coffee, with milky notes behind. Frothy feel. Bitter chocolate. Light chalk touch. Light sour cream and chives crisps. Light toffee.

Finish: Lactose. Chocolate milk. Sour cream and chive crisps. Light milky coffee, into bitter coffee.

Conclusion: This is a nicely solid porter. Now, despite the oddity of a real ale in a can, I will say – flavour wise at least – porters seem to be a style with little difference between the craft and real ale interpretations. However in the mouthfeel this definitely delivers that bit extra thickness that a real ale tends to give, so it does seem to be doing its job there.

The beer opens up in a very roasted way and keeps that a a solid layer of the character throughout. It is that base that the mix of bitter to milky coffee character works from – a kind of lactose touched element but far from as sweet as a milk stout would be. Though it does have another layer of weight behind it apart from the roasted character, an element that I am going to give up and just describe as “like sour cream and chives crisps” It is a light savoury and sour mix that really helps the feel of the beer. The nice savoury elements especially work well to give a more neutral middle between the other elements.

Overall it is solidly flavoursome – creamy with lots of coffee and chocolate notes against that savoury and roasted backing. Nothing too unusual but does the job of standard real ale porter well.

Background: OK, I bought this because it has dinosaur on the can. Can anyone fault me for that? Dinosaurs are awesome. Also if you look closely, you realise that, while the dinosaur in the picture is holding the same can it is on, its fingers are over the pictures of the can that the dinosaur on that can is holding – so to prevent infinite recursion of can images I would presume. A cleaver design choice that I approve of. Now, the can calls this real ale – it doesn’t have the CAMRA logo, but based on the experience I had when drinking it I trust them. Real ale in a can, oh what a future we live in that has such things in it. Went a bit into the past for music with this one – A best of Meat Loaf CD. While I enjoy Meatloaf, people have pointed out what I actually enjoy is Jim Steinman music as sung by Meatloaf. Which is fair. His non Steinman songs tended to be nowhere as near as good. Anyway, this was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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West Berkshire: Renegade: Snake Oil (England: IIPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to apricot. Thin off white head. Clear and mostly still body.

Nose: Peach. Popcorn hop character. Pumpkin touch. Slightly dry.

Body: Good bitterness. Slight granite grittiness. Slight sour peach to peach stones. Pumpkin. Light vanilla. Dry touch. Light turmeric.

Finish: Slightly rocky. Good bitterness. Pumpkin. Flour. Slight sour tang. Pumpkin. Some earthiness. Gooseberries. Flour.

Conclusion: This seems like it is aiming to match the prototypical take on the American IPA, or double IPA in this case, probably west coast influenced if I remember rightly. Well mostly anyway, but we will get to the differences later – one thing at a time.

It is the dry backed, fairly neutral in flavour malt body that makes me think of the American take on the IPA, along with the emphasis on the brighter fruit – the peach, apricot, and mildly oddly, pumpkin notes – the stuff you would expect from the old school USA hop favourites – albeit in a slightly more sour, fresh off the stone kind of way. Something that gives it a bit more tang than is traditional with its American cousins.

It is a good look – accentuated by tart gooseberry notes at the end. Now, it does deviate from the template a touch, as alluded to earlier. There is a turmeric to earthy bitterness late on and into the finish that is more of a call to the traditional British style IPA. It is a mixed blessing – when done well it adds some weight, but occasionally it gets a bit granite rough which is a tad overly harsh in an overly dry APA kind of way. Similarly it has a flour touch which adds weight, but also can get wearing over time.

So, a generally good IIPA, with big flavour and a lightly soured take on the American IIPA style. It has room for polish and improvement, but is very solidly done. Also, as was pointed out to me, it is comparatively cheaper for an IIPA, especially at UK tax rates for high abv beers, which never hurts. So, pretty good, not perfect, but has a lot of promise if they take their time and give it a polish.

Background: I think my mind linked this with the awesome Snake Fear IPA, so with that it mind it was inevitable that I would get around to grabbing it eventually. Another Independent Spirit bought one in case you were wondering. On googling it looks like Renegade is a craft beer arm of the West Berkshire Brewery. Not all brewers make the jump to craft beer successfully when they are used to the more traditional style – some are downright embarrassing. Hopefully this lot can make that jump. Once again listening to some of Television Villain‘s new album when drinking this – it definitely it a good one in my mind. Though as mentioned I know them, so I am biased.


Verhaeghe: Duchesse De Bourgogne (Belgium: Sour Red: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red. Cloudy. Thin grey head. Still.

Nose: Red wine. Sour. Sour red cherries. Tannins. Vinegar touch. Gummed brown paper.

Body: Sweet cherries and glacier cherry notes. Black cherries. Tart apples. Vinegar. Acidic dryness. Vinous red wine. Madeira.

Finish: Black cherry. Tart sour cherry sweets. Vinegar touch. Envelope gum. Light oak. Dessert wine. Strawberry.

Conclusion: I freaking love this beer. It is like some one took a Rodenbach Grand Cru, mixed it with sour red wine, added a hint of dessert wine to soften the edges just a touch, then filled it with varied cherries. In a way this actually does the concept of Rodenbach Alexander better than Rodenbach Alexander does.

Now, that said, it doesn’t have the almost holographic complexity built up from the layers of imagery that comes with the acidity of Rodenbach Grand Cru, nor the dedication to harsh edges those beers bring – but despite that it isn’t a beer to pull its punches. Under the sweet cherries and huge wodge of vinous notes there are vinegar and gummed brown paper notes that wouldn’t look out of place in the harsher Flemish reds and browns.

It has a lovely range of tart yet sweet fruit flavours with a dry acidity backing that accentuates the vinous feel. Under that is a hint, but only a hint, of oak. It feels like it deserves the term usually given to lambics – the wine of beers – red wine in this case. It balances between wine and beer brilliantly, between acidity and sweetness, fruit and gummy character.

One of the all time classic beers for me – unlike so many others that want to push the edge this one does not get lost in the pushing and remembers to be enjoyable and complex with that.

It you have not tried this one, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Background: I have had this beer many times, introduced family members to it in Belgium who loved it. Frankly I knew that, barring them having utterly messing up the recipe in recent months, that I was going to enjoy this before I started the notes. However, since I had not done notes on it, and I enjoy it so, I thought it would be cool to grab a bottle for tasting from Independent Spirit. This is a Flemish red that, last I checked, is aged on average 12 months. Put on a collection of Madness tunes while drinking this – they were probably the first band I got into many years ago and I still enjoy breaking them out every now and then for a bit of ska fun – much lighter and bouncier than my usual tunes.

Lervig: Liquid Sex Robot (Norway: IIPA: 7.9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot skin. Medium off white head. Cloudy.

Nose: Peaches and cream. Vanilla. Smooth hop character. Creamy lemon. Custard. Light grapes.

Body: Moderate hop oils. Light cream. Peach melba. Good hop character and bitterness. Light greenery. Apricot. Grapes. Kiwi.

Finish: Good hop character. Fluffy feel. Moderate bitterness. Slightly resinous. Some moss. Creamy. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Ok, this seems to be trying for the New England IPA cloudy style, the Dank IPA resinous and oily style, and the …erm… showy hop style, all in one. Ok, I kind of hit a brick wall on styles at the end there. Run with me on this one.

So, this is pretty creamy in that NEIPA style – it is fairly light on the resinous notes, but brings in a moderate amount of hop oils with it. It creates a creamy and sweet to bitter and oily war of character. The fruit flavours are secondary to that conflict, but they fit in pretty well. It is fairly standard in the flavours – mixing apricot and peach – though admittedly the peach leans into odder peach melba notes which is nice. All the flavours are backed by a mossy hop character and decent bitterness.

For all this beer pushes a range of different style influences, it ends up feeling fairly standard. Good admittedly, but standard. Solidly resinous, solidly bitter, solidly creamy and solidl…ok, moderately fruity. That last aspect may be what lets it down – the New England to … ahem … Dank balance is well done, but it means the fruit feels kind of basic. If they managed to tune that bit up this would be far more exciting.

So not one to avoid, not a must have – a solid take that dances amongst the IPA styles without polishing any element to perfection.

Background: Yes I just grabbed this one as it is called “Liquid Sex Robot”. I am childish. I also did like how the human being on the robot is pretty much gender neutral – a nice touch on an intrinsically sexual image which helps stop it feeling sexist. Anyway, big double IPA made with Mosaic, Citra, Azacca and Ekuano hops. It was getting a tad windy outside as I broke this open so I snuggled up in a blanket and put on some of the 11th Doctor’s Doctor Who music in the background. Spoiling myself rotten that is. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Burnt Mill: Fieldwork: Dank Mode (England: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Gold to apricot. Large, slight brown to yellow touched head.

Nose: Light smoke and hop oils. Light dust. Slight granite. Soft lemon.

Body: Apricot. Heavy oily hops. Sour grapes. Granite bitterness. Soft lemon. Floral.

Finish: Greenery. Granite bitterness. Oily hops. Floral air. Dried apricot. Fluffy feel. Dusty. Resinous.

Conclusion: This is another Burnt Mill beer that shows skill in making, but also really doesn’t grab me. It does have more that appeals to me than my last experience with them though. By which I mean it has oily hops. It was in the name so it was hardly a surprise.

The base behind the oily hops is fairly dry and seems to bring with it somewhat musty, granite and dusty interpretation of the style. When the oil is up that isn’t a problem – you get enough sticky, resinous bitterness to hide it, and mix of grape and apricot fruitiness that clings to your tongue and reward you. However when that hop element goes light then the rougher, drier elements are enough to leave your mouth feeling a tad overly dry and dessicated.

So, it is a beer of ups and downs..oh and oddly floral and greenery touched -which seems to be a Burnt Mill house style based on the whopping two beers of theirs I have drunk.

So, outside of the two main poles of the dry character and the oily hops there isn’t actually a huge amount to shout about. There is some fruit, some greenery, some floral character, but it doesn’t feel like a that well defined experience – showing only the more obvious notes.

Oddly, what with “dank” being cannabis slang, this pushes its greenery in a way that can be best described as what a non cannabis user thinks cannabis feels like. Very green, very oily, very full of the imagery I get when I am around people smoking it. It is interesting, and ok, but doesn’t really sell the beer in that element.

Basically, I figure Burnt Mill, for all their rep, are not for me.

Background: I wasn’t too impressed with my first encounter with Burnt Mill, but since they a good reputation I decided to give them another shot – This, calling to Sticky and oily “Dank” hops in its name, and showcasing the awesome Mosaic and Enigma hops seemed like a good one to go to to give them another chance. If they can’t land this one then I just have to accept they are not for me. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. For some dank heavy beer I put on Godspeed You! Black Emperors’ wonderful and moody “’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” as a background.

Halfacre: Daisy Cutter Pale Ale (USA: American Pale Ale: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to apricot. Large white mounded bubbled head. Tiny bubbled carbonation. Head leaves suds.

Nose: Flour. Peach. Lemon curd. Dry. Watermelon.

Body: Stewed apricot. Dry. Flour. Vanilla. Apple pie jelly centres. Moderate hop character. Low to middling bitterness. Pineapple.

Finish: Dried and stewed apricot. Moderate hop prickle and bitterness. Bitterness grows over time. Gelatinous fruit pie centres. Tart apples. Vanilla. Watermelon. Pineapple.

Conclusion: You know, I started off not enamoured with this, but each sip had it grow on me more and more. Initial impressions are dry with a flour touch, which are dominant, only allowing small amounts of fruit come out behind. A good base, but not much else.

As time goes on the fruit rises in a way that I can best describe as if it mixed half stewed fruit and half dried fruit, all mixed up in that gelatinous stuff that you get in fruit pies. It gives a real thickness of feel and flavour is what I mean.

The bitterness has a similar path. It starts low but rises quickly. Never into IPA territory, but solid enough to really give it an edge for a hophead like me. Then, as if that was not enough, time brings out delicious watermelon notes with tart pineapple behind that pick up the beer, dust it off and refresh it for the latter half of enjoyment.

Often for me the dryness of an APA can be an off-putting note and a failure in the beer, making it too harsh to drink. This shows how to get the dryness, matches it with huge flavour and sets out something challenging, rewarding and always giving good character. Definitely in the top few APAs I have encountered.

Background: This was a pretty random grab – A brewery I haven’t tried before from America – figured it was worth a try. Went for their APA as I spend less time with that style – it is hit or miss for me – sometimes great, some times far too dry. Thought it was a good time to roll the dice again and see how this did. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to At The Drive In – Relationship Of Command. Had an odd thought while drinking – I love that album, absolutely love it, but have never checked out any other At The Drive In stuff. I should correct that at some time. Incidentally on googling I found that this is described as “A west coast Pale Ale chock-full of dank, aromatic hops.”. Much as I enjoyed it, I would not call it “Dank” in any way. Maybe something was lost in the journey to the UK.


Robinson: Beardo (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clean gold. Good amount of small bubbled carbonation. Thin mound of an off white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pine fresh spray. Lime. Cardboard. Cake sponge. Wood polish.

Body: Sulphur. Some hop character. Popcorn. Cardboard. Kiwi. Cut apples. Malt drink. Solid bitterness. Slight chalk.

Finish: Kiwi. Vanilla toffee. Cardboard. Nettle tea. Some tannins. Gritty bitterness. Charring. Sulphur. Brown bap rolls.

Conclusion: What is it about otherwise good breweries turning out really dull and uninspiring IPAs recently? Though at least this one is recognisable as an IPA, even if it is not a good one. It has bitterness but just in a cardboard and charred way – it has hop character but kind of gritty and rough in that.

This follows through into the malt – kind of dull, some vanilla and some dull malt drinks. The fruit hop flavours that you would expect of a craft IPA are there in a green fruit way, but very underwhelming. The entire beer has a sulphurous touch in an old British IPA way, but without the rest of the British IPA notes that make that work.

It feels like a British IPA style, trying to do the USA style hops without changing anything else and therefore not getting the point of either. It is dull, flawed and rough edged. Admittedly still a better IPA than Indie Pale Ale, but like that has a lager feeling edge that weakens it, again without gaining any of the benefits of that style.

This is a genuinely bad beer – it takes the weak points of everything it is inspired by and puts in in one beer. It isn’t isn’t utterly ruined from the brewing standpoint – but from the combined elements it has that don’t work it becomes a very bad beer. Genuinely avoid this one.

Background: This was a birthday gift from my mate Tony. Many thanks. Even though it is shit 🙂 He did also give me other, not shit, beers. Robinson’s are generally a good brewery, but never really struck me as craft, so I was in mixed mind about this, obviously craft inspired, beer. Not much else to say put some No Doubt on while drinking. That is about it.

Burnt Mill: Green Path (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Apricot, mix of clear body with hazy streaks throughout. Large yellow mound of a head. Some hop bits floating within.

Nose: Woods and pine needles. Floral. Good hop feel. Moderate bitterness. Moss. Dried apricot.

Body: Good bitterness. Pine needles. Resin. Dry. Dry grapes. Dry mandarin orange. Soft notes of toffee. Dried apricot. Flour. Light custard. Soft lemon.

Finish: Light charred oak. Solid bitterness and hop character. Drying. Flour. Sulphur. Moss.

Conclusion: This is pretty dry, pretty good hop character and has a solid bitterness. All of that is a good start for an IPA – especially the west coast style. Whoop!. It has got the base concept down well – the question is what garnishes it manages to add to the dish to take that beyond that.

It starts off with quite a floral, flour touched character in the aroma – lots of outdoors imagery and flavours coming in with this one. It is interesting but not quite blowing me away. Now this beer has an awesome hop selection – but it seems to bring its notes in subtly. The fruit notes are very dry, and with it comes the drying bitter character.

It feels like a beer that I really want to like as it gets the base so well done – so drying yet with just enough tartness to not make it painful to drink. It has only the tiniest hint of sweetness against the bitterness but again good enough to offset it. It is just the rest of the beer doesn’t quite pay off that base.

In fact, the name “Green Path” does seem appropriate to sum up the beer – the greenery and moss like notes grow over time, feeling like a more earthy and grounded UK take on an IPA matched to the west coast style. Fascinating, but that doesn’t make it a must drink for me. There aren’t many flaws – the hop remnants left in the beer were a surprise on the pour, and made it feel a tad bitty near the end – but for the most part it is less that it has flaws, but that it doesn’t quite make the most of what it has.

Lots of talent went into a beer that doesn’t quite click for me **Shrug** make of that what you will.

Background: Listed as a “Citra and Mosaic IPA”, some reviews online list a cask version as “Citra, Mosaic and Enigma” So I’m guessing they have mixed up the recipe for the canned version. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit – Burnt Mill was voted best new Brewery in England 2017, so I thought I really should check them out. This is listed as a West Coast leaning IPA, which is a style currently oft overlooked in the New England craze so I figured it was worth giving a shot. I put on some Genitorturers to listen to while drinking this – heavy hops deserve some heavy, out there industrial metal music.

Lost and Grounded: Cool Bananas (England: Hefeweizen: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, lemon colour. A pale thin white head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Chocolate air. Dried banana. All bran. Wheat. Banoffee pie. Lemon.

Body: Prickly peppery feel. Pineapple. Wheaty. Crisp hop character. Chocolate toffee. Dried banana. Apple.

Finish: Pine needles. Resin. Sulphur. Light pineapple. Cooking apple. Malt chocolate. Dried banana.

Conclusion: Ok. An interesting balancing act going on with this one. It is taking the prominent characteristics of both a weisse and a NZ hopped beer and is trying to isolate elements from them, and then combine them. A noble challenge.

Most obviously, from the aroma onwards, is the eponymous banana influence, It is almost banoffee like in the aroma, though it becomes more subdued, dried banana style in the body. At pretty much any point that you come to this is will be showing some of the banana notes that a hefeweizen is known for. The other weisse nots are still there as well, the peppery spice and wheaty character. They just haven’t been pushed to the fore as much as the banana sweetness has. The difference in balance gives a mild dessert like character to the beer.

The second element is how they choose to emphasise the New Zealand notes – I tend to know NZ hops for their big tart character but that is used here in a much more mellow fashion than usual. There are pineapple, cut apple and lightly tart notes that work as a freshness against the sweeter character. The light acidity slightly downplays the sweetness, mellowing the beer, making it much more pleasant to drink in the long term.

It is nicely easy to drink, doesn’t sacrifice the weisse on the altar of hops as too many do, but also doesn’t ignore the joy that is what they can get from NZ hops. I live seeing beers that manage to do this balancing act well.

I approve – YAYZ ANOTHER GOOD WEISSE!

Background: Ok, I like New Zealand hops and this has NZ hops. I like hefeweizens and this is a hefeweizen and I like banana notes in wheat beers and this is called Cool bananas. Seems like a solid pick. It helps that Lost and Grounded are fairly cool, a chilled bunch of people working at their brewery tap-house as well. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to some Nightwish and chatting with mates.

Verdant: Putty (England: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Huge white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Dried apricot. Custard. Fluffy hops. Light bitterness. Mandarin orange. Palma violets. Purple peppers. Light hop oils and resin. Aubergine. Flour.

Body: Oily – very oily in a hop oil way. Cream. Good bitterness. Resinous. Grapes. Kiwi. Apricot. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Aubergine. Kiwi. Milk. Good hop oils and bitterness. Apricot.

Conclusion: “Oh no, not another New England IPA hidden away under the Double IPA label” I thought as I popped this one open and poured it out. Woe is me. I was not really looking for a bitterness light, creamy beer. I wanted hop kick and big flavours.

Turns out I didn’t have to worry. This is great. Or more accurately – this is aimed directly at my preferences, which, given this is my subjective opinion, works out as exactly the same thing. This is great.

The initial aroma seems lightly fruity, but not special -which continued my first impressions that this was going to be be another light side of the New England style. The first sip though … oh that kick of so much hop oils, followed by more hop oils. The bitterness here is delivered mainly through that oily character, that only slowly subsides to reveal the fruity notes.

You do get the creaminess of the NE style here, but with a ton of hop character – while it is bitter that aforementioned oily character actually makes it more manageable. It is slowly building and easing rather than the straight up punch of crisper hops.

If I had to change one element, I would probably up the fruit hop character at the back, behind the oily hops. The fruit you already have is good, but sometimes it gets lost under the oily bitterness. Apart from that this is a wonderful, oily feeling, big flavour, great mouthfeel and bitterness beer. For comparison Snake Fear is similar, but with the better range of flavour that makes it that touch above. This is still pretty damn shiny though.

Background: I nearly didn’t grab this beer. I’ve had a few verdant beers and they have been ok, but never quite up to their rep. However the people at Independent Spirit sung this thing’s praises – mentioning that it was originally a one off batch for a beer show and considered the stand out beer of the show. So I succumbed and bought myself one. Big fan of IPAs and imperial/double IPAs so this thing is right up my alley. Drunk while listening to a random bunch of The Offspring tracks – while I still enjoy them I can’t help but notice certain things such as,well, blatant transphobia in the song” Don’t Pick It Up” and similar, questionable notes in other songs. A pity, but the past is a different country as they say. Hopefully they will have changed their views over the years. Hopefully.

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