Tag Archive: 5-8% ABV


La Trappe: Dubbel Special Edition 2018 (Netherlands: Dubbel: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Good sized frothy beige head.

Nose: Orange zest. Peppery. Malt chocolate. Crushed lemon drops. Yeast funk touch. Lightly nutty.

Body: Peppery. Palma violets. Vanilla. Tobacco. Malt chocolate. Yeast touch. Slight resin and hop oils. Orange zest. Lemon drops.

Finish: Tobacco. Milky chocolate. Praline. Nuts. Yeastie. Peppery. Slight orange skin. Lemon drops.

Conclusion: Ok, I need to do an admission up front. It has been bloody ages since I last tried La Trappe’s standard dubbel, so I can’t really compare this to that. Sorry. I’m just going to have to treat it as a beer in itself. Hope that is ok.

This feels like a, comparatively, gentle dubbel for the style. There is malt chocolate, but not the full on brown sugar, chocolate liqueur, or the rough gem edges that you see in some expressions. What stands out instead is a peppery, slightly oily and resinous hop character, along with a decent yeast funk that makes this feel akin to a dubbel mixed 50/50 with an orval.

That is the main flavour hit for a while – a slightly more hop influenced, orval like, dubbel. Late on though the flavours twist to show new facets – orange zest and lemon drops come out giving a slightly hard sweet citrus style as a gentle additional character.

This, above and beyond everything before it, makes it interesting. The more gentle dubbel character now means that these lighter notes have room to roam.

It feels like a more new wave hopped orval, albeit not as awesome as you are now imagining from that description. It is quite easy drinking, especially considering the abv – the subtle hop bitterness helps encourage further drinking.

It is never super exciting but it is interesting – wearing the light hop flavours, yeast character and light dubbel notes pretty well. At a lower abv this would be a session god of a beer. As is, it is worth trying, but probably not one I will return to often.

Background: La Trappe. Probably my least visited of the Trappist beers (well of the ones I have tried – there are a few new ones I still need to dive into), but this one caught my eye. A variant of their standard dubbel, this one is made with an experimental hop variety, which they say gives a spicy aroma and floral character. Or at least that is what google translate tells me they said. Take with a pinch of salt. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, had in the cupboard since tail end 2018 – decided to break it open now. I went again with the haunting electronica of Marie Davidson as background music.

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Garage: J Wakefield: Dark Times and Difficult Places (Spain: Berliner Weisse: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy strawberry yogurt colour. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Lightly tart. Black-cherry yogurt. Strawberry. Tart pears. Tart white grapes. Perry. Light creamy cheese and black fruit bits.

Body: Gently tart. Pear flans with sugar dusting. Light wood shavings. Black-cherry. Blackberries.

Finish: Blackberry tart desserts. Pears. Apple pie. A fresh feeling. Pear juice. Crumbly cheese.

Conclusion: Man the 10th Doctor would have hated this beer. Because it really tastes of pears. Now if you are wondering what the hell I am talking about its from a deleted scene (kind of) so is non cannon, but screw it I’m counting it. If you are still confused, don’t worry, I’ll start talking about the beer in a moment.

Anyway, yes this tastes of tart pears. In fact they come in initially deliciously fresh, and then are backed up by a gentle tart air. It contributes to and complements a wonderfully crisp, but oh so drinkable base for this beer.

Over that base is black-cherry, blackberry, strawberry and other brighter and showier fruit. In fact, that reminds me – I haven’t even mentioned how this looks yet. It is wondrous on the eye – a bright strawberry cocktail looking, showy wee thing. It hits the eye perfectly so the visual first bite taken is a happy one. I think I may be mixing my metaphors again.

Anyway, to back up a bit to the first bite ..i mean sip.. taken by the mouth. There is a soft berliner weisse tartness under everything, a gentle alcohol air that keeps it beer tasting rather than seeming just like a fruit juice mix. Subtle, but welcome.

It’s dry, with light oak and even some crumbly, creamy cheese notes that add savoury edges – but the main show is the brilliantly done, natural fresh fruit. My only issue is that I wish that the abv was a tad lower as this is dangerously easy to drink.

An absolutely lovely fruit berliner weisse with a dry attenuated finish matched to a fresh tart middle that means you can drink it for ages. Very much a yes, drink it.

Background: Ok, is it just me, or does that can image remind anyone else of the end of George Bataille “Story of The Eye”? Just me huh. Content warning for anyone who goes to read it after me mentioned it – Bataille is kind of obsessed with transgression in violence/sex/pretty much everything, so it is one serious messed up book. Anyway that is not why I bought this. I bought because so far Garage have been one hell of a great brewery. This is a Berliner Weisse made with pears and blackberry. Drunk after putting a serious session into Dark Souls 3, so I earned my beer. BTW if you invaded and killed someone in Dark Souls 3 over the past week, it may have been me and I hate you. For music I put Miracle Of Sound – Level 9 on to listen to – was still in a bit of a video game mood. Thanks to craft beer sis for giving me the glass used for this photo – seemed just right for such a bright fruity beer. This beer was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Yes again.

Firestone Walker: Luponic Distortion: Vol 11 (USA: IPA: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Light pale yellow. Medium white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Guava. Crisp hops. Light hop oils. Light bitterness. Soft banana chewy sweets. Soft lemon sherbet. Light grapes.

Body: Bready hop character and gritty bitterness. Lemon hard sweet mixed with lemon sherbet. Light cardboard. Dry. Grapefruit.

Finish: Gritty bitterness. Fluffy hop feel. Grapefruit. Dry pineapple. Lemon sherbet. Dried and salted lemon.

Conclusion: This is a pretty dry IPA – well attenuated with a growling, bitter hop character over that. There is a slightly rough feel at times from the combination – slightly gritty – but generally it just provides a drinkable dry feel that works well as a base.

The aroma promises sweet fruit to go along with that – guava and banana sweet notes that, if present, would offset the dry style. Thus it was a bit of a shock when the main body actually gives tart lemon and grapefruit notes, giving a mildly puckering note to go with the dry body. Initially quite sherbety it soon becomes like dry, salted lemon. Again it complements the dry style, but does nothing to offset the rougher notes that came with that.

It feels like it could do with another flavour string added to the bow. The tart lemon and dry body is a nice base for a beer – good hop character, good tartness, but doesn’t go anywhere from there and keeps running into those rough spots.

Good, but not one I would recommend as there are so many other better IPAs out there. A good base that they should return to and experiment with, but not stand out for us drinkers. Yet.

Background: I’m a big fan of Firestone Walker – they’ve been bought up by Duvel Moortgat but the quality doesn’t seem to have changed. So, good for them. What first attracted me to them was their awesome IPAs, so when I saw this experimental series IPA at Independent Spirit I grabbed it to give it a go. From a quick google it uses Australian, German and USA hops, but I couldn’t find which. Ah well.

Heller: Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche: Doppelbock (Germany: Smoked: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark ruddy red. Inch of browned head.

Nose: Smoked blue cheese. Smoked meat board. Smoked bacon. Ash.

Body: Brown sugar. Blue cheese. Smoke. Slight cream. Plums. Raisins.

Finish: Smoked cheese. Blue cheese. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Sour dough. Cherries.

Conclusion: Oh yes, this is the beer I tried years ago and could never find again. I have been beer hunting this one for bloody ages, and now it is here again!

Why am I so excited about this one? Blue cheese my friend. Blue cheese in a smoked doppelbock. Oh yes. The smoke is what I presume creates this awesome blue cheese and meat platter aroma – all smoked versions of course. Those elements follow through into the main body to create a heavy, intense smoked beer that manages to avoid the ash tray like character that can hit some of them.

Beneath that is a brown sugar to dark fruit doppelbock that gives a nice backing to the cheese and meat. However that blue cheese and meat is what you are here for (Or at least it is what I am here for). That is what you chew on, the other notes are just to give something behind it.

So, for the first half, this beer is absolutely amazing, but it does become a different beer as time goes on. The brown sugar backing becomes more evident and the smoke elements less so. Now it is still decent, with cherry and raisin notes showing through, but is isn’t that great thing it was at the start and by the end of the beer the brown sugar notes are far too present.

A great opener of a beer – genuinely a layered legend – but the higher sweetness seems to mean that it can’t hold that to the end. Pity. Still well worth trying – maybe share a bottle between two people to get it at its best.

So, the end lets it down, but the front is so good that I still recommend it.

Background: Tried this a few years ago, it was on tap at The Beer Emporium and it was lovely. Sometimes I can find Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche beers a tad too smoke filled, but this had the balance down just right. Ever since I’ve been hunting for it again to try and do notes on it. So, yeah, it turned up at Independent Spirit, so now I have it and I’m doing notes on it. Simple. The difference to this beer is that it is oak smoked rather than beech smoked for the rest, which I presume accounts for a lot of its different character. With it being a doppelbock I decided to break out the Aventinus glass – I don’t get many excuses to use it. Put on Rotten Citizens Vol 1 EP while drinking for some nice heavy moody backing music.

Rulles: Tilquin: Stout Rullquin (Belgium: Sour Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Fizzy. Inch of beige head.

Nose: Fresh apples. Bitter cocoa. Brown bread. Malt chocolate drinks. Dry white wine. White grapes.

Body: Tart apples. White wine. White grape juice. Fizzy. Raisins. Madeira cake. Fizzy cola bottle sweets. Slight creamy character. Pear.

Finish: Chocolate liqueur. Lemon on pancakes. Apple juice. Cherries. Madeira cake. Banana yogurt. Cherry coke. Charring. Brown bread. Pear drops.

Conclusion: This is more dominated by the lambic than I ever imagined it would be. Only one eighth of this is lambic. It seems a little lambic goes a heck of along way! Visually this seems very stout heavy, albeit one that pours a bit quicker than the usual viscous beasts do. Taste wise though it is tart and dry white wine at the front, mixed with fresh apples and sour grapes that are layered over the darker centre.

The darker notes are never hidden, but generally they play second fiddle to the tarter notes. There are chocolate touched, such as you would expect from a stout, but more than that are the dry raisin notes and the madeira cake elements. It is still fairly dry, but darker and sweeter that those first impressions. The stout like elements are biding their time, coming out more to play late on, developing into a definite presence in the dry, slightly spicy and dark fruit filled finish.

Time and warmth allows a slightly better balance between the two to come out- though nothing seems to save the muted aroma up front. It still feels fresh, pushing pear drop notes and such, but now the darker – though still tart – notes feels spread throughout the whole beer rather than being just hidden at the back. Cherry notes, tart and fresh, mixed with chewy cola bottle fizzy notes.

It ends up a sour but balanced beer mixing tart fresh to dark fruit character. It takes that almost holographic complexity you get with sour beers and matches to a dry, spicy solid core and chocolate liqueur streaks. It is not a must have, but these lambic and something else mixes stand out as a bit different and this one is good enough that it is worth a try for that.

Background: This was another one bought in the big batch of sours I grabbed a couple of weeks ago, and definitely is the most unusual of them. I don’t see much De Rulles stuff in the UK, so that was a big plus – add into that, that this is seven eighths De Rulles Brune and one eighth one year old lambic to make a sour stout kind of thing and they definitely had my interest. So, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, using a glass given by my sister – replacing my one of that type of glass that I accidentally broke. Many thanks craft beer sis! Put on some Ramones for background music. Not my favourite punk band, but still good for a listen and definitely respect for the influence they have had.

Brew York: Rhubarbra Streisand (England: Spice/Herb/Vegetable: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Blond to ripe banana yellow. Large yellowed head.

Nose: Strawberry. Sweet rhubarb crumble. Light orange jelly. Cream. Grapes.

Body: Sweetened rhubarb. Sugared apple pie jelly. Cream. Ginger prickle. Light bready hop character. Light pepper. Strawberry. Tart grapes.

Finish: Apple pie. Cream. Rhubarb crumble. Cinnamon. Lightly sweet ginger. Light crusty white bread. Strawberry. Vanilla.

Conclusion: While a lot of beers I have tried here have used rhubarb, most have gone with the tarter, earthier style that calls to the raw rhubarb. This goes full on for the sweet rhubarb crumble style and it shows it full in every note from the sugared fruit to the distinct crumble covering notes.

On the other side of the experience, the milkshake pale side is definitely rocking the promised milkshake character – though I would call it a strawberry milkshake with rhubarb crumble dumped into it, rather than a rhubarb milkshake in itself. Not complaining about that though.

It is very smooth, very easy to drink. There is a slightly bready, vanilla touched pale ale character below – but in general the beer like elements are pretty low key in this one.

The dessert imagery come in strongly, with subtle spice usage – low levels of ginger and cinnamon that really emphasise the crumble like notes. Similarly some apple and grape notes give an impression of a few other crumble based desserts working in the background. The spice grows over time, becoming quite the present element by the end. A big shift in the style of the beer, but makes for a nice progression if not one for multiple beers.

This is a beer for beer purists as, well, it is very much a dessert/milkshake style thing with only a hint of the pale ale. However it does its gimmick well, does the milkshake well, has progression, is easy to drink and is enjoyable. You can’t say fairer than that.

Id definitely have it again when I wanted something easy to drink and it is one of the best rhubarb themed beers I have encountered as long as you are happy with the sweet side of things.

Background: There are two reasons I bought this. 1) it is made with Rhubarb. 2) IT IS CALLED RHUBARBRA STREISAND. Seriously, how could I not buy it with a pun name like that. I love puns. Anyway a milkshake pale made with Rhubarb, and , it turns out from looking at the can after doing the notes, also with ginger. Makes sense. I had no idea what music Barbra Streisand actually sings so I put on Hayseed Dixie – Weapons Of Grass Destruction when drinking. Probably not close to what she did, but they are great bluegrass fun. A new glass this time, thanks to my sis who gave me it when she was cleaning out a few from her selection. Much appreciated. This is another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Buxton: Dugges: Ramberget (England: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large, mounded white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lemon. Oats. Wheaty hop character. Clean. Light milk. Light hop bitterness.

Body: Thick. Lemon curd. Passion-fruit. Grapes. Also slightly musky grapes. Fresh lemon juice. Muesli. Vanilla custard. Cream. Dried apricot.

Finish: Palma violets. Greenery. Lemon curd. Hop oils. Some bitterness. Musky grapes. Soft orange.

Conclusion: This is an unusual entry in the IPA category, for all that it may seem a standard entry from the can’s description of it. And by unusual I mean delicious by the way. Also, I still mean unusual. Words can mean multiple things when written down. Like wind for example. Anyway, I digress.

It is thick, kind of creamy but also lemon juice style citrus filled. It is far thicker than your average IPA and that makes every flavour grip so much more and makes it so much more expressive. Lemon notes become thick lemon curd. Milk becomes a chewy oatmeal to muesli milky cereal style.

I will admit it does not have the largest range of flavours – mainly working the citrus fruits – but the thickness gives a depth to each element that makes it extra rewarding in and of itself. It only has a small amount of bitterness, which normally would annoy me in an IPA, but is probably a good call here – the thick texture could have made high bitterness clingy and outstaying of its welcome.

It will never be your go-to, anytime IPA. It doesn’t have that easy drinking, crisp, bitter kick, or a whole other number of other elements you would expect from a standard IPA. However, its thick, slow drinking style is delicious and while an atypical IPA it is still recognisably an IPA. A slower, heavier, bigger IPA for taking your time with.

Buxton bring the IPA goods once again.

Background: I tried this a while back, loved it, so I decided to return one day to do notes. This is that day. So, yeah, I wasn’t unbiased going in – I was very much ready to enjoy this one again. Basically a big IPA made with oats as part of a collaboration between Dugges and Buxton. Simple and to the point. Despite my happy mood going in I put on the melancholy tracks of The Eels – End Times while drinking. Maybe I was afraid of getting too happy. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. yes I have got lax at tried other places. I will keep my eye out more when travelling.

Yonder: Dunstan’s Exile (England: Belgian Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon juice coloured hazy body. Thin white head.

Nose: Brown bread. Orange zest. Lemon. Peppermint and mint leaves. Peppercorn sauce.

Body: Brown bread. Orange. Gentle earthy hops. Gentle lime. Gentle lemon. Peppery. Light bitterness.

Finish: Gentle earthy hops. Orange skin to orange zest. Lightly peppery. Slight greenery.

Conclusion: You know, this much more enjoyable than my comparatively sparse set of notes above may indicate. There isn’t wide range of distinct flavours, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pretty darn drinkable beer.

It feels like it is aiming for an Orval like beer at its base and, while it doesn’t reach that beers heights, you do end up with an earthy, bready and lightly funky character as a base to work from. So, it gains a reasonable base from the attempt, and you could do a lot worse than that.

Then there is the subtle fresh lemon, lime and orange notes that come out. A range that goes from drier orange skin notes, to gentle lemon juice. None of the citrus elements come across as sharp notes, just that very slight acidity that lightens the texture and allow fresher notes through.

There is a kind of Belgian wit spiced character as well. Slightly minty, slightly peppery as well as some harder to place spice notes. It gives an extra layer that goes nicely into the earthy, lightly bitter hop character. As I say, despite the sparse initial notes this work pretty well together.

It is not quite there as a beer – the Orval style doesn’t have the full funk complexity down. The citrus notes also seem to reduce the texture maybe a tad below the ideal thickness. Finally the spice could do with being a tad more prominent (and how rare is it that I say that!?). At its core though it is an easy drinking and pretty rewarding beer.

Could the beer be tweaked? Yes. Is it worth drinking now? Also yes.

Background: Not seen this brewery before, but I saw they were doing a take on a pale Belgian ale, and figured that it would be nice to grab one for an experiment. It is made with “foraged botanicals” which seemed a bit vague, but thankfully their ingredient list laid it all out – Grain of Paradise, Lavender, Orange peel and Juniper berries. Still had to google “ Grain of Paradise” as I had forgotten what it was since last time I encountered it. My memory is buggered. In sad news I broke my Scallywag pen light while doing these notes. It will be missed. Mainly because its light switch that made a dog face turn up in the torch light was great for fiddling with while drinking. I am such a fidget. Anyway, put on Mobina Galore – Cities Away while drinking. Nice bit of energy without getting too heavy. This was another one from Independent Spirit.

Mills: Picture Pot (England: Sour Ale: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Solid lemon juice. Inch of white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart apple. Crisp. Some bitter hops and fluffy character. Shredded wheat. Yeast funk. Sulphur. Brown bread.

Body: Apples. Gently fizzy. White wine and grapes. Chalky touch. Pears. Vanilla. Slight cream touch in middle. Dried apricot. Lychee. Pineapple.

Finish: Tart grapes. Slight chalk. Champagne. Lychee. Pears. Cider. Yeast funk. Apricot. Twigs.

Conclusion: Who would have thought that beers that taste kind of like cider would have enough entries for me to consider that a sub-genre now. Yep that is definitely a thing now and this is another cider tasting beer, albeit with a good chunk of lambic influence to it.

This is at the smoother end of the cider style in the taste – tart but very easy drinking – especially considering the touch higher than usual abv. It has a just slightly crisp and gently dry take on the style in its influence.

At its base there area lot of tart pear and apple notes – pretty obvious considering all the cider (and ok, yes pear should be perry) references I am making, but I thought I would just make it explicit. However on top of that the hops seem to carry a decent chunk of the work here.

Initially it only shows as a slightly bitter, fluffy hop aroma. However over time a dried apricot, fresh lychee and tart pineapple hop set of notes come out of the body. This gives a much more beery feel to a very cider influenced drink.

It’s easy to drink, mouth freshening and the mix between sour beer and fruity hops creates a welcome experience that never feels simple. In fact the moderately higher abv is actually quite dangerous considering how easy this is to drink.

Mixing lambic, cider and hops ain’t an easy task, but this does it very well. Well worth grabbing.

Background: Mills seem to very much about their sour beers, and have been pretty interesting so far. This one is a mix of three brews, dry hopped with whole leaf hops. Had fairly young so to experience the hop character influence more predominately. Only had a month or two, and decided to break it open as part of the recent cornucopia of sour beer and lambics picked up. This was one from Independent Spirit. I put on the Roadrunner United album to listen to while drinking -a lovely range of metal tracks from collaborations from many of Roadrunner’s finest.

Siris: Voreia Stout (Greece: Stout: 6% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Inch of creamy coffee coloured head with smaller bubbles in darker pools around the head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Walnuts. Lactose notes. Bitter coffee. Fresh brown bread. Slight greenery.

Body: Bitter cocoa. Light liquorice. Bitter chocolate cake. Light chalk touch. Bitter coffee.

Finish: Bitter coffee. Slight charring. Earthy bitterness. Light peppery character. Bitter chocolate cake.

Conclusion: This is leaning on the more bitter end of the stout style. Smooth in texture, even slightly light at times in mouthfeel, but just creamy enough to give a good grip to some kicking bitter flavours.

Initially I was not too sold on this. It seemed to work a simple one-two punch of bitter cocoa and bitter coffee. Now, admittedly those are two very good strings to have in your beer bow, but it is a pretty basic set – you need more to flesh it out.

Now, I am changing that opinion over time. The beer is still sticking to those two main strings, but is is layering a lot of character within those two poles of flavour. The flavours are all about the bitter – the chocolate however is really selling the depth of a good block of unsweetened chocolate, and similarly the coffee is selling the bitter layers of subtlety a cup can bring.

It still doesn’t rock the top end of the stout set, but as a bitter drink it does reward your time. All this is underlined by an earthy, slightly peppery, bitterness in the finish; It preserves the purely bitter stout gimmick but adds flavours that are different enough that it is a satisfactory end to a sip.

So a beer without a huge range, but what it does have it works well. Could do with a slightly thicker mouthfeel but works as a solid, bitter stout that brings subtlety from what would often be straightforward bitter notes.

Not bad.

Background: A quick copy and paste from the last time I did this – I was gifted a free month subscription to Beer 52 recently by a mate – Many thanks! – so here it is. They sent a Balkans themed case of beer, of which this was one. Only had a few beers from that area – mainly when I was visiting Belgrade, so was an interesting box to go with. Would I recommend them? Well beer selection seems nice, they include a guide to the beer with some cool articles, so not bad. Warning however – they are an utter fucking dick to cancel. Yes I cancelled after the free box. My cupboard is scary packed at the moment. First world problems. The issue with cancelling the subscription is you sign up online, pause subscription online, but if you try to cancel – after several attempts to make you stay – they inform you that you cannot cancel online via their site. You have to call them, and be put on hold for ages with a painfully scratchy line that genuinely hurt my ears. I was ready to tell them to fuck right off, but I noticed that in smaller text they mention you can cancel by e-mail. Which I did. The person handling that was great, so cool. Did a lot to restore them to my good graces, so may use them in the future for a short while if they have similar interesting region based boxes. Still a crappy set-up though – if you have to make unsubscribing a hassle, then your service isn’t good enough to stand on its own two legs. Rant over. Put on Worriers – Survival Pop while drinking. Had seen them as a warm up for Anti-Flag recently and had grabbed the CD then. Poppier than my normal stuff in sound but with great lyrical work.

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