Tag Archive: 5-8% ABV


BioNoc’: Asso Di Coppe Impombera (Italy: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red. Clear body. Thin dash of a reddened head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cherries. Tart raspberry. Clean. Light twigs. Tart. Blueberry.

Body: Dry. Tannins. Brown bread. Yellow raspberries. Black cherry and red cherry. White wine. Gooseberry.

Finish: Full and tart raspberries. Astringent. Light wood shavings. Gooseberry. Yellow raspberry. Jammy blueberry.

Conclusion: This is dry, almost wine like and matched with a very fruity take on a red wine in how it uses the berries, matched against a crisp, kind of lambic like take on a sour base character. Initially the beer is slightly closed, but as you get used to the dryness it really opens up into a range of tart fruit. Until that though, well it isn’t Cantillon level mouth puckering but it is very well attenuated.

The fruit pushes the raspberry tartness up front, with a darker set of black cherry like fruit notes and such making for a sweet but still refreshingly tart backing note. Time lets a more jammy sweetness come out, making fuller notes that had been hinted at before. The aroma especially hinted at sweeter notes that only really develop in the body later on.

This is very good, initially dry and wine like, later on full bodied and, erm, wine like but a different kind of wine. Always fruity giving a good range of fruit notes from raspberry, through puckering gooseberry and into sweeter cherries. Only slightly closed a for a short while, and for the rest progressing in delicious and fascinating ways.

Very much worth getting your hands on, this is a treat of a fruit sour.

Background: Second and final bottle that I brought back from the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at Moor’s Tap Room. This is from a brewery I have not encountered before, but was highly recommended, and looks to have had a few awards so I decided to give it a go. I googled what an Impombera was and ended up very confused. Anyway, by googling the beer I found out it is a raspberry sour, so I presume at least one of the many variants has a raspberry style fruit. Had just picked up Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind so put that on as background music. Had heard it was a return to form and, yeah it is amazing, heavy and brutal. Thought I was slightly going off Slipknot but nope, I am back in.

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Double A Brewing: Autre Chose (Russia: Sour Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Darked apricot gold. A centimetre of bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Horse blankets. Oats. Musty. Brown bread. Peppery. Cake sponge.

Body: Bitter almonds. Cocktail bitters. Brown bread. Tart apples. And cooking apples. Dust-ball bitterness. Cake sponge. Oily.

Finish: Dust-balls. Charred oak. Bitter nuts. Cocktail bitters. Tart apples. Sour apples. Oily. Dried apricot. Vinegar at back of throat.

Conclusion: This is quite thick and musky, with a lot of charred bitterness going on. It is oily, got a lot of nutty bitterness, resulting in a lot of savoury and hard edges notes in this apples based sour beer. Not what I was expecting and a tad rough.

So, ok, lets put that to one side and look at the rest of the beer. This opens up with that kind of horse blanket aroma that gueuzes so often have, giving a nice first impressions – however I will note that the rougher notes that put me off come in fairly quickly after with a rough grab bag of various notes. Ok, so I didn’t manage to put that element aside very long. It’s not my fault it is all over this beer.

I gave it some time to settle, to see if we could dig a bit more out and time brings a thicker cake sponge like body weight, that similarly gives the base apple character a bit more weight, which is pleasant. It doesn’t bring much range with it unfortunately – some apricot notes, with those fruit sugars, but generally it is fairly simple behind the roughness.

I want to like this, cognac ageing is usually my jam, and French oak is generally interesting – and let’s face it, it is a sour beer from Russia, I want it to be fascinating. However it is rough edged, simple and with a kind of vinegar burn at the back of the throat. It feels like I am wading through all that to get at the elements that are more worthwhile.

Not my best introduction to Russian sour beer.

Background: This was picked up at the Arrogant Sour beer festival at the Moor Tap Room. It caught my eye as a sour beer that came out of Russia, something I have not encounterd before. Googling doesn’t seem to give much info on this, even when taking advantage of google translate, so is the best I could find out. This is a sour ale aged in French Oak miked with cider that has been aged in an oak cognac barrel. Interesting mix. Went with Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle for background music while drinking.

Kompaan: No 45 Vrij Buiter (Netherlands: Porter: 7.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to black. Thin browned head that leaves suds.

Nose: Creamy. Roasted. Liquorice. Coffee.

Body: Creamy. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate to bitter chocolate cake. Smooth. Brown bread. Black cherry delivered slightly tart.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate. Bitter chocolate. Slight black cherry. Sarsaparilla. Pepper. Peanut butter.

Conclusion: This is a pretty smooth porter, but still with a bit of a bite. The smoothness is shown from the start, with an initial aroma that is smooth but simple. The oddest tell of more to come is a decent amount of liquorice that manages to show itself here. For some reason liquorice seems to be a popular thing in the Netherlands, with even liquorice ice cream, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The body follows through but with more complexity. The liquorice is heavy, backed by bitter cocoa and this is the main two strings that play throughout the beer – bitter cocoa, savoury liquorice. There are some rounding notes, most notably a creamy smoothness that helps deliver the whole thing in a manageable package, but also a light tart black cherry note that refreshes just slightly. After a discussion, my friend Emerald suggested that sarsaparilla notes were there as well, and I just had to steal that as it perfectly describes the slightly spicy soft drink feel that comes out in the finish.

So a few notes. First, you need to like liquorice to like this as it is very liquorice heavy. Second, it can get a tad wearing at the end of the beer as the smoothness gives way to more of the spicy notes. However, generally this is smooth, very smooth and with good depth of flavour. A lot of the notes are those Marmite like love it or hate it notes but they are very solidly delivered.

So, with that said, look at the notes, if the flavours sound good to you then this is smooth, creamy and well brewed around those notes. If not, ah well, look elsewhere.

Background: Second, and unfortunately last of the tasting notes from my Netherlands trip. It wasn’t really a beery trip but I had to get at least a few in. This was from when, walking through the high street, I spotted a wall of beers inside a shop so stuck my head in. This is a local beer from The Hague, where I was at the time, so decided to grab it and give it a go. It is listed as a double porter, which confused me as the abv didn’t seem in that range – a quick google seems to indicate it intended as a dubbel/porter mix, which is interesting. Again it was very warm while doing the notes, but not as bad as before.

Bokkereyer (Aka Methode Goat): Barrique Oloroso 2017 (Belgium: Gueuze: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy dark gold. Loose bubbled head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Wheaty. Dry sherry and dry raisins. Tart apples. Pencil shavings.

Body: Tart apples. Tart red grapes. Sherry soaked sultanas. Fizzy mouthfeel. Lots of dry sherry. Tart white grapes.

Finish: Dry raisins and sultanas. Dry Madeira. Dry sherry. Tart apple. Very dry overall. Oats. Liquorice. Dry bitterness. Tannins. Chalk.

Conclusion: This is possibly the most sherry influence lambic I have tried. Which is quite a small sample pool admittedly , but trust me, this one is fair intense in the oak ageing influence. While this still keeps the dry apple and white wine lambic notes at the base, this is utterly dominated by the dry sherry, dark fruit and tannin notes. Very highly attenuated, very dry and almost, but not quite Cantillon level mouth puckering in feel.

It reminds me a lot of the 2018 Cantillon Zwanze beer, despite differences in the specifics of the ageing, it is really dark and dry which makes it rewarding if you take your time with it, but very heavy and can be off-putting up front if you are not used to that. It is a very acquired taste, possibly more so than even the unusual nature of a lambic, but really pays off it you can get into it.

The finish leads out into a heavy set of tannins and charring, not overdone, but again one that can take a bit of time to be open to. It feels like every element has been stripped down to its heavy core, only allowing a hint of sweetness released from below to give tarter and fresher notes.

The gueuze character, the freshness and slight fizzy mouthfeel is what takes all those heavy elements and keeps it going. It is a vital element working the freshness, the slight apple and the fizziness to keep it from being too intense.

So, very heavy and dry, full on working the sherry. Not for everyone as it keeps everything intense all the time, but very impressive in what it does.

Background: As mentioned in the Framboos notes Bokkereyer are a super hard to get hold of Belgian sour brewery with a huge reputation and there were six different bottles available to try at the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival, held at the Moor Tap Room. I had time to try one more, so decided to go with the closest thing to a standard gueuze that they had – this mix of one, two and three year old lambic that had been aged in oloroso sherry barrels. Again I say Bokkereyer, as that was how they were listed, but a quick google tells me the brewery has changed its name to Methode Goat, though I can’t find why. I’m guessing a big brewer and a trademark court case threat. Also again, was super excited to try this at the end of the festival, and had tried to pace myself so I could try to do it justice in the notes.


Bokkereyer (Aka Methode Goat): Framboos Vanille 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Bright cherry red, with only a thin white rim of bubbles instead of a head.

Nose: Very fresh and very natural smelling raspberries. Toffee and vanilla notes. Soft strawberries. Cream.

Body: Soft mouthfeel. Tart apples. Creamy raspberries. Very fresh and distinctly natural raspberry. Slightly dry. Peach.

Finish: Fruity fresh raspberries. Vanilla. Cream. Tart apples. Very clean. Peach notes. Grapes. Mild tannins. Oak. Oats.

Conclusion: OK, wow, the is fruity. Now that should not be a shock, ir is a Framboos – a raspberry lambic – but I have found that while a lot of Framboos have that tart raspberry character, they often loose a lot of the fresher and sweeter elements of the fruit. None I have encountered have had quite such a full on expression of the full range of the fruit as this has.

It is fresh, mouth-filling and tart, and really expresses the flavours. I think it may be because of the vanilla beans adding a sweetness and creaminess that not just restores oft lost elements of the raspberry, but also works well against the tart apple notes of the lambic base. It makes for something very easy to drink and rich in flavour. From somewhere peach notes come out, combining with the raspberry and creamy to make this almost like a peach melba lambic, and that is just exceptional. (Note: Yes I did double check this isn’t one of the lambics they had that actually had peach in). It keeps the tart flavours, but none of the heavier horse blanket notes you see with a lot of lambics. A touch of tannins, but that is it. A very different and smooth take.

The main call to a more traditional lambic base is in the finish – here it is dry, with some oats, oak and such like. It gives a more recognisable beer and lambic character to something that is a bit away from a traditional take on the style, underlining it and emphasising everything that came before by its contrast.

Wonderfully fresh, fruity but without being fruit juice like. The tart lambic is restrained but still unmistakable – this is possible my favourite of the Framboos I have encountered. The vanilla smooths the edges but does not diminish the quality or complexity.

An exceptional beer.

Background: This is a mix of one, two an three year old lambic with a mix of three types of raspberry and made with Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans and bottled January 2019. Before this I had just known Bokkereyer by reputation of quality and their rarity, so reading those words gave me an idea of why this tiny brewery was making such a fuss. There were six different bottles available to try at the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at the Moor Tap Room, and I quickly decided this one was one I wanted to try. I say Bokkereyer, as that was how they were listed, but a quick google tells me the brewery has changed its name to Methode Goat, though I can’t find why. I’m guessing a big brewer and a trademark court case threat. Anyway, was super excited to try this at the end of the festival, and had tried to pace myself so I could try to do it justice in the notes.

Stavio: Birrozzo Pinotto 2014 (Italy: Sour Ale: 7.5%)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Rim of white bubbles instead of a head.

Nose: Musty and thick. Dry sultanas. Light charred oak. Dry Madeira. Earthy Pinot Noir. Dry apricot.

Body: Smooth. Raisins and sultanas. Earthy. Plums. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Slight sour dough. Thick mouthfeel. Strawberry.

Finish: Plums. Earthy and mild spice. Coriander. Sour dough. Dry. Sour red wine. Tannins and tea. Strawberry. Slight acidic freshness.

Conclusion: I think this is the first beer of the festival that comes under the heading of a well made beer, but not one for me. It is very smooth, yet nicely chewable – so the mouthfeel is nicely balanced. It is dry, with lots of the earthier side of a European Pinot Noir and rumblings of darker notes below. I can appreciate it on a technical level, but something about that means that it just doesn’t grab me. I’ll have to examine more and try and work out why, please indulge me on this.

Even with that said though, it is not like I actively dislike this, I am finding a lot to examine here. There are subtle strawberry notes, dried apricot, light spices. I can 100% see how this could be someone’s favourite beer. There is so much depth, slight acidic dryness and a heavy, earthy style.

I think that it is that earthiness that, for me, does not work. I prefer the more booming, fruity, New World Pinot Noirs compared to the more earthy European versions, and so here it feels like the earthy taste gets clinging. But that is a personal thing not a problem with the beer. It is especially notable in combination with the dryness, which adds to the harsher elements. What I can say on the positive side of things is that the middle of the body gives some sweet release from that – this is where the fruit notes balance the earthiness and there I can start to get into this.

So, very well made, and feels like it should be really good, but not quite for me. As always I hope I have given enough information here for you to know if it is for you.

Background: Another beer tried at the Arrogant Sour Beer festival at the Moor Tap-Room. Was a bit unsure as the booklet description said that this was Cedar aged, however it was right next to an entry called Birrozzo Cedro that said it was Pinot Noir aged. A quick check confirmed the two entries has been mixed up. Also confusing is the abv. The label said 7.5% abv, the booklet 6.5% ABV and the Cedro was 6.8% abv so it wasn’t just those being mixed up. Anyway, a Pinot Noir aged sour. Let’s go!

Cantillon: Vigneronne (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon to peach skin.

Nose: Dried apricot. Old muggy hops. Oats. Dry white wine. Dry in general. Slightly bready and fluffy popcorn. Crusty white bread.

Body: Crusty fresh white bread. Dry, thick hop feel. Dandelion. Sour white grapes. Slight tart apricot. White wine. Oats.

Finish: Flour. Fresh crusty white bread. Dandelions. Soft lemon. Gentle hop like bitterness. White wine.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected from a Cantillon. What I expect from Cantillon is, at the very least a very dry beer, at at the most a mouth puckering sour bomb. This has comparatively restrained sourness, a fluffy, fresh and bready mouthfeel and even some taste, and a .. erm .. kind of dandelion like vegetable character. I’ll get to that last one in a minute to explain more I promise. They are layered in amongst the tart grapes which are more recognisable as traditional elements and against what feels like an old, slightly muggy hop bitterness.

It is still white wine forwards in flavour, dry but not super dry, and it is delicious, it just has a much fuller body than a lot of the super dry Cantillons so I had to take a short while to get my bearings. It is just as rewarding as harsher Cantillons and much more easy going. It feels like a super enjoyable way to introduce people to the brewery without expecting them to jump in head first to the sour dry attack that they often are.

It is a chewable yet tart, like a flour thickened lambic that is very white wine fronted. A lot of you may be put off by my referring to the flour/vegetable notes of dandelion. Please don’t be, basically it is the best way I can get an odd note across. It is like if you drank dandelion and burdock, but without the burdock. If that makes any sense at all. It is that kind of influence here and not an unpleasant one.

A mellow tartness, full on wine flavour, thicker feel take on a Cantillon, and I would say that is very much worth trying. Not as huge range as some others but makes up for it by being much more approachable and easy to get into.

Yeah, I dig it, an easygoing Cantillon that does not compromise to do that.

Background: Another one from the Arrogant Sour Beer festival over at The Moor Tap Room, and this is a rare opportunity these days – A beer I have not previously tried that is both in Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers, and the 100 Belgian Beers To try Before You Die book. I tried the low hanging fruit of those books years ago, so this was a nice surprise. Did a quick double check on the abv of this, as most places list it as 5% ABV, but looks like it abv got raised to 6% recently. And by recently that could be any time in the past decade. I lose track of time easily. Also, before anyone points it out, I am aware that most Dandelion and Burdock these days is made with neither of those ingredients, but the analogy is the closest thing I had for identifying a flavour, so please allow me this one.

Ritterguts: Bärentöter Sour Gose Bock (Germany: Gose: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Massive, lightly brown touched head.

Nose: Cinnamon and coriander. Wheaty. Light lemon. Sour malt chocolate. Lightly tart. Fresh sour dough. Slightly salted. Light caramel. Tart grapes.

Body: Salty. Vinous, sour red wine soaked brown bread. Tart black cherries. Coriander. Fruitcake. Tart grapes. Bread pudding.

Finish: Gummed brown paper. Salt. Watered down vinegar. Brown bread. Malt chocolate drinks. Spotted dick pudding. Peppery. Dry Madeira.

Conclusion: This is a very bready gose – it keeps the salty and wheaty gose character, but feels heavier – backed by a vinous, sour wine set of notes an a fruitcake style that makes it very different to the other gose I have encountered. I presume this is the higher abv, but who knows, my encounters with Gose over the years have been pretty varied already.

It starts out a bit underwhelming, but quickly builds. It is never too tart, in fact few gose I have tried go really heavy on that side, but it has a gentle sourness given bready weight and accentuated by the spice to give an odd bread pudding soaked in wine kind of character. I wonder if anyone has even made that, a spiced, wine soaked Bread Pudding. It sounds like the kind of thing that should exist.

Anyway, I digress, this is gentle, but gains an extraordinary amount of complexity as you take your time with it. It remains very grounded and mellow, but rewards you with such a range of vinous, fruity, sweet, and spice notes. If it wasn’t for the higher abv, it feels like it would be the perfect examine throughout a warmer day kind of beer.

As is, it feels like a rewarding after dinner drink. It is spirity enough to call to the traditional port or similar that it would replace, heavy enough to stand up to what was eaten before, and the light salt makes it dangerously drinkable, and with enough going on that you can just let it slip down and enjoy.

Very worth trying.

Background: First beer of The Arrogant Sour Festival that was on at the Moor Tap room recently. In fact it was recommended by one of the staff, and since actual Gose from Germany are still not a super common thing I thought it would be nice to give it a go. I went to the festival on the Sunday due to feeling a bit under the weather the day before, so was worried all the good beers would have gone. I should not have worried, they still had a great selection left. This one is mad with six different malts, coriander, orange peel and ceylon cinnamon. Also I presume salt, as Gose are a kind of slightly salted, spiced, wheat beer, but that was not listed.

Moor: Agent Of Evil (England: Black IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black and opaque. Two inches of brown froth mounds of a head that leaves a sud rim.

Nose: Bitter coffee and coca dust. Slight ash tray. Empty, used coffee cups. Sour dough. Wholemeal flour. Light peppermint and chives.

Body: Milky chocolate. Chocolate cake. Crushed peanuts. Charred bitterness. Brown bread. Roasted character.

Finish: Bitter chocolate cake. Dry roasted peanuts. Charred bitterness. Ash. Earthy hops. Slight choc lime. Peppery. Ground spice. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: This is definitely taking the hopped stout like interpretation of a Black IPA. I will admit I generally prefer the the opposite take – the fruity hopped dark malt style BIPA. Even with that said, considering the dearth of new Black IPAs around here recently I welcome a new entry into the style.

So as the hopped stout like take of a BIPA, this seems to be doing a very British hop take on that – earthy and spicy in how the hops come across with solid bitterness but pretty much no bright notes. Very robust, and nothing too fancy. Earthy and peppery early on with some more prickly spice notes in the finish. So, fairly simple in the hop use – dark, charred, almost all bitterness and earthy spice. So, I guess it will be up to the malt to provide the contrast.

Actually, the malt is, well, still fairly grounded. A mix of bitter coffee and cocoa, done in a quite roasted and robust way. So, definitely feeling very stouty. There are slight milky touches, but mainly goes with bitter chocolate in a bitter chocolate cake kind of way. With very little sweet character this ends up a fairly hefty beer. The only concession to sweetness is a slightly creamier chocolate cake centre that shows up if held.

It’s not a top of the range BIPA, but for all its heavy character it is still pretty darn drinkable. It feels like an earthy British IPA meets British Stout meets Black IPA. A worthy entry and makes me wish even more that more people were turning out new Black IPAs at the moment.

Solid, not a game changer but solid.

Background: So, I want new Black IPAs. This, while not new new, is mostly new to me. I had it on tap in the Moor Tap Room a while back. They also do a standard IPA- Guardian Of Peace, which I really should do notes on at some time, as if my memory serves me right, it is a bit tasty. Anyway, yeah Moor are very reliable in turning out decent brews, and I wanted a Black IPA, so I grabbed this from Independent Spirit. I went with the ultra optimistic ( I may be lying about that bit) History Of Guns album Acedia to listen to while drinking.

Lervig: Infinite Timelines (Norway: IPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy yellow. Large white head that mounds up. Moderate small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Creamy. Peach. Slight hop oils. Slight rye crackers. Slight pepper spice. Pumpkin. Lemon cakes.

Body: Mild lemon curd. Middling bitterness and hop character. Moderate hop prickle. Creamy pineapple yogurt. Banana milkshake. Hop oils.

Finish: Good hop character. Custard sweetness and good bitterness. White grapes. Slight pink grapefruit. Banana. Tangerine. Mild oily notes.

Conclusion: This beer has made me ask, what even is a NEIPA these days? I ask, not just because I didn’t realise this was a NEIPA when I bought it, and now I am really enjoying it, so obviously I need to mentally work out a way it is not a New England IPA so I can happily drink it while keeping up my anti NEIPA snobbery – No, there are other reasons as well! I’m just wondering where exactly the line is between a New England IPA, and all the other takes, as, well this is pretty atypical. Also awesome, maybe for me because it is atypical.

It probably doesn’t really matter. Style guidelines are just that, guidelines, a way for us to have a rough idea what it is we are getting, not some straitjacket of execution. It will still bug me. Because I am silly. Hey, at least I’m honest. On this matter at least.

The main thing that made me think about this is how it hits the eyes. It is slightly hazy, but nowhere near as cloudy as usual. I have to admit I thought that was one of the defining elements of the style, so I was already a tad confused here.

Similarly it ha a decent hop character in a way that I thought it was traditional for NEIPAS to shun – Slight hop oils, good hop prickle and middling bitterness. It feels generally like a bit smoother than normal IPA, if I had to pin down I would say closer to East Coast than any other take but not really matching any given definition – just a really good IPA. Nicely oily, but not heavy or “dank”, just definitely happy to use that part of the character.

Maybe it is the fruitiness that makes it a NEIPA. This is a super fruity mix – tangerine, pineapple, peach, lemon curd – lots of different notes that are delivered very cleanly so they come across as the fruit itself rather than a hop approximation of the fruit. There is some hop influence in the flavours, but if I had to compare them to anything I would say milkshake like. In fact, while not dominated by it, I would still say that this is a better milkshake IPA than 90% of the self named milkshake IPAs that I have encountered. A sweet banana malt base is the main part of it, and it helps everything else just slip down.

This therefore feels like it is not limited to any one particular IPA take, and I think that is why I love it. It takes the best from so many IPA takes and makes it more than the sum of its parts.

Lovely fruity, creamy and hoppy beer. Such a good IPA.

Background: This was a pretty random grab. Saw it at Independent Spirit, thought that Lervig beers had been pretty good to me so far, so picked it up. So as mentioned in the notes, I didn’t notice this was a NEIPA, one of my less preferred takes on the IPA style. It is made with rye and oats as well as the usual malt barley and hopped with Mosaic, and two I don’t know – Denali and Idaho 7. Went with a bit of Mclusky for some awesome, heavy but weird music to back it up.

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