Tag Archive: 5-8% ABV


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.

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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.

Lervig: Cloudwater: I’ve Got Pils, Now What? (Norway: India Style Lager: 5.8% ABV )

Visual: Clear pale yellow with just the lightest amount of haze. Medium white bubbled head. Initially large amounts of carbonation that soon settle.

Nose: Soft lemon and lime notes. Clean. Light hop character. Bready.

Body: Bitter. Lemon and lime. Fresh but mildly so. Peppery. Moderate hops. Mild golden syrup. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Lime cordial. Bird seed. Light bitterness. Brown bread baps. Noble hop oils. Soft lemon. Passion-fruit. Peppery. Sour cream later on.

Conclusion: You know, this is a lager but feels closer to an IPA than Brewdog’s Indie pale Ale did. Which isn’t saying much.

Ok, cheap shot out of the way, the heavy use of hop fruitiness that makes me think of an IPA with this beer also ends up giving this a very different mouthfeel to your average lager. It brings a fluffy hop mouthfeel as well as the big fruit hop flavour.

Despite that thickness of the hop feel, it does keep some of the lighter, easier drinking lager elements – it especially shows influence from its claimed pils style in a hop oil sheen that comes with it, accompanying a peppery character that nicely accentuates the bitterness of the beer.

A lot of heavily hopped lagers are good, but suffer as they feel like a weak IPA while also losing the advantages of the lager character to do so. This doesn’t entirely avoid that, in that it does kind of feel like a lighter IPA, but it manages to leverage the lager character better to make this refreshing and easy to drink.

So, not 100% a success, but very full of fruit flavour, and matches a good peppery character to the bitterness that benefits both while still keeping an easy drinking lager character. One of the better IPA/Pils style mash ups out there.

Background: Been enjoying the Lervig collabs recently – so decided to go for this one. Not done many lagers recently so it seemed like a good way to get back on that train. It seems that there is also a version of this called “I got pils, now what?” going around. I presume it is the same beer. This one was grabbed at Independent Spirit again. Decided to go with something from a smaller band to listen to while drinking this – Hate In The Box – Under The Ice. Kind of electro – goth – punk mix and nice one to return to.

Beerbliotek: Du Luktar Lite Som Första Gången Jag Träffade Dig (Sweden: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Some creamy streams in the liquid. Massive white head.

Nose: Crisp hops and light bitterness. Creamy.

Body: Vanilla. Very creamy. Some toffee. Kiwi. Grapes. Peach. Light hop oils. Light sour cream and chives. Dried apricot.

Finish: Tart grapes. Hop oils. Resin. Slight cannabis air. Greenery. Dry bitterness. Milky.

Conclusion: This is very creamy. As in, this IIPA is far more creamy than a New England IPA tends to aim for – like, milky at the end creamy. Thick is what I am trying to communicate. The bitterness is not as low as you would expect given that but still not a huge part of the beer – it is a fairly solid bitterness in the finish, but not exactly intense for the rest of the beer.

The flavour profile seems to go back and forth – sometimes the creaminess dominates, other times it reins it in a bit – still creamy but now backing a wonderful set of peach, grape and kiwi notes. It really is a beer that is of that moment when you drink it, and you cannot use that to extrapolate to the rest of the beer – you have to take it as you view it in that moment.

Behind that varied character is an oily, resinous style which is the best tell of the beer’s IPA toots – showing slight greenery, even cannabis like in the air of the finish (Says a non cannabis smoker – this is all based on second hand experience so take that with a pinch of salt).

Overall its a solid feel but too creamy dominated for me – I’m enjoying it for the most part – it has definite range and use of hops, but at a lot of the time the milky, creamy character takes the front and it feels kind of empty in that, For some of you the creamy element may be a plus – for me it is ok, but not a beer that I would return to.

Background: So, I shoved the name into google translate. Comes back as “You Smell Little As The First Time I Met You”. I think it lost something in translation. Anyway, I did not realise the breweries name is a pub on bibliotech. Because obviously I am a muppet. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – mainly as I had not run into the brewery before and Sweden has a fairly solid beer scene at the moment. Had just random music for this one – felt I possibly could have chilled the beer just a touch more down for best experience – yes this from the person who famously hated chilled beers a bunch of years ago. People change. Don’t think it would have made that much difference, but thought it was worth mentioning.

Heller: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen (Germany: Smoked: 5.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Brown good sized frothy and bubbled head.

Nose: Smoked bacon. Smoke. Malt chocolate. Beef broth. Blue cheese.

Body: Beefy. Malt chocolate. Light chalk. Smoke. Vanilla. Light salt and medicinal notes. Thick mouthfeel. Slight treacle and toffee. Light fruitcake.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Smoke. Medicinal notes. Ash. Dried beef. Charcoal. Dry air. Chalk.

Conclusion: First time I tried a smoke beer I had to give up half way through as it tasted like an ash tray. Aecht Schlenkerla have generally been on the smokier end of the spectrum in my experience, which made me a tad nervous going into this, but I actually found it much more rewarding than those first, early, experiences would ever have indicated.

The aroma holds all the best of the good stuff that smoke can bring to a beer – you get smoked bacon, blue cheese and some other meaty, beefy notes.

The body is more restrained in the big flavours – it is still kind of beefy, with malt chocolate in the main base. The raw smoke comes out more than the smoked bacon or cheese notes, however it also brings mildly medicinal, slightly salted notes that call to Islay whisky. It is heavy duty, smooth mouthfeel – but, unlike some other Aecht Schlenkerla beers it feels like it lacks the awesome notes of the aroma.

The finish comes in closest to the ash tray like beer style I couldn’t finish before. It has big smoke, light chalk and lightly charred – theough still with hints of the chococlate and beef. It is harsh but well made for the level of ash like notes.

It is ok by me, but could be a little overly harsh for people not into this level of smoke. The ash tray like notes that are a flaw to me, are still well made notes for those who enjoy them – just a touch too intense for me. However even with that the mouthfeel is smooth and this is packed with flavour.

Very enjoyable overall, not an introductory smoke beer, and will definitely be too heavy duty for some, but still a genuinely good beer.

Background: You know, I always though the brewery was “Aecht Schlenkerla” – a quick google told me I was wrong, it is Brauerei Heller. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle. The other half is kicking the shit out of someone. That is the less fun half. Anyway, this was kindly brought back from Germany for me by my parents – many thanks. Drank it while I was visiting them over the winter holidays. Aecht Schlenkerla were one of the first smoked beers I ever encountered, back before I became acclimatised to them, so I was intrigued to go back to them and see if I could cope better now – I’ve tried other variants over the years, but this is the first time with the classic Marzen. If you are wondering about the odd glass choice – I originally had it in a different glass, and had put the cap back off the bottle while I took a photo. The cap promptly popped into the air, and landed right in the pint and refused to leave, necessitating decanting over into this new glass so not to end up doing tasting notes on a metal cap.

Pirate Life: Mosaic (Australia: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to apricot skin. Mild haze to the beer but mostly clear. Good sized sturdy white head. Some small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Dried apricot. Gentle nutmeg. Moderate hop character and some bready bitterness. Stewed fruit – both rhubarb and apricot stand out.

Finish: Peach melba. Dried apricot. Good hop character and bitterness. Custard. Light mint and juniper berries. Crushed love heart sweets.

Conclusion: Now this is what I like – a bit of body to my IPAs. This has a lovely creamy and fruit syrup thick body to it while avoiding that artificial syrup crystallised sugar feel. Instead it just has that oozing fruit styling, and bringing similar fruity notes with it. It takes a very thick, stewed fruit set of notes from apricot and even rhubarb, mixed with lighter peach melba like notes.

The body, while thick and creamy, feels comparatively flavour neutral. It feels like a weight attached to the hop flavour, deliberately trying not to be a flavour entity in itself – it is just happy to be the foundation and let the fruity hops do their thing.

Unlike the current trend, this also shoves up the hop bitterness to go with the hop fruitiness. Initially fairly gentle at first, letting the fruit do all the work, it rises to a good intensity while never eclipsing the juicy fruit flavours.

This is full, fruity and sense tingling with the hop kick. It really makes full use of its abv, not by showing it as burn or boozy character, but instead giving that thickness to really let the flavours grip in a way that only a higher abv beer can. A genuinely enjoyable ipa – I love it as a beer in itslef and a a brilliant Mosaic showcase. Now please don’t ruin it InBev!

Background: This is why we can’t have nice things in life. About a week or two after I bought this, InBev go and buy the brewery. Now it is possible they won’t fuck it up – however I am not holding my breath. Anyway, an Australian brewery! And one I have not previously encountered. Mosaic is an awesome hop, and I love IPAs, so this seemed like a good beer to use to check them out. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for an absolute classic of the gloomy metal genre for listening music – Paradise Lost – Draconian Times. Bloody love that album.

Stigbergets: Amazing Haze (Sweden: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon to peach colour. Cloudy body and thin white head. Some carbonation is visible.

Nose: Smooth hop character. Cake sponge. Peach skin.

Body: Smooth hop character and crisp bitterness. More oily hops as it warms. Soft apricot. Some greenery. Milky. Peach.

Finish: Cake sponge. Milky. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Slightly resinous. Greenery. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Short way to describe this? It does what it does well, but I want it to do a bit more though.

This is more, well, hoppy that a bunch of the New England IPAs I’ve encountered – it has a good use of the hops in the mouthfeel producing a resinous and hop oily character. It has a solid level of bitterness and generally a solid hop character all around. As a hop head I have to admit a higher level of bitterness and hop feel in an IPA definitely draws me to it, even if that isn’t really what the NEIPA style is all about.

Flavour wise is seems a bit more simple – rather than the huge range you get with the hop feel – the mix of oily, hoppy and resinous characters – for the flavour it leans into soft peach and apricot in a creamy fashion. It is nice, but feels weak against the bigger hop character. It is an ok, if not wide ranging flavour, but that is the main point that comes to mind when I say that it needs a bit more.

It needs either more range, more subtle notes, or more push of the limited flavours it does has – as tight now the milky NE fruit style can’t compete with the bigger hops.

It is a good beer at what it does, but I want more.

Background: Saw this being hyped up a bit when it arrived, hadn’t heard about it so did a quick look round and yeah, this is seriously well rated IPA online so I thought it would be worth a try – even if the New England interpretation isn’t my favourite of the IPA styles. So, grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Broke open this while listening to Rise Against: Siren Songs Of The Counter Culture – I know it catches some shit as the first time they went with a major label, but I still think it is a decent album.

Uiltje: Grandma’s Cooking Recipes Vol 2: Lemon & Vanilla Cheesecake Wit Beer (Netherlands: Belgian Wit: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lemon juice. Thin off white head a few seconds in after an initially large head on the pour.

Nose: Fresh squeezed lemon with the leftover lemon rind in it. Cake sponge. Pineapple. Lime touch.

Body: Tart and fresh. Vanilla. Slightly peppery. Lemon juice. Creamy lemon. Sherbety feel. Orange slices. Mild peppercorn. Slightly dry.

Finish: Creamy lemon and vanilla. NY style cheesecake. Fresh orange slices. Salted lemons. Mild peppercorn sauce.

Conclusion: I swear that I didn’t look at the back of bottle before specifying in the notes above that it was NY style cheesecake that this seemed like. It just turns out that my impressions and how they describe it were identical for once – that slightly drier bodied cheesecake style. Good shout from them then.

Despite that, the cheesecake side of this is actually lighter than I expected. This has a drier take on a wit that seems to call to the pre inbev Hoegaarden (Well – I say that – my only experience is of the Celis white which was made by the original brewer, and is apparently very close to the original Hoegaarden, so my comparison is at least a few stages separated from the original). It comes in with lots of tart lemon notes that feel very natural fruit in character. There are some creamier edges as the vanilla mixes in, giving slightly fuller feel on the way out, but main body definitely emphasises the dry and fresh character.

What I did not expect from the bottle’s description though is the peppery character – coming in from standard pepper into subtle peppercorn sauce in flavour – adding that traditional wit spice behind the more creamy lemon notes.

So, looking at this as a cheesecake beer, well it does have influence from that idea, and it definitely shows the vanilla and lemon it uses, but they come more as discrete elements that a coherent cheesecake whole for the most part.

As a beer in itself thought it does it right. Initially it seems only ok, but it develops into a traditional dry wit backed by creamier, fuller edges, and subtle solid backing behind the lemon freshness that is easy to drink while still being rewarding.

It is better to be a good beer that doesn’t quite deliver on the concept that a good concept that doesn’t deliver on the beer, so I am happy with this one.

Background: I’m not sure if that is the longest beer name I have ever had on this site – but it is at least in the top 5. So, a Belgian wit made with lemon and vanilla – a simpler beer than the cool name makes it sound, but still the idea sold me pretty much instantly. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I make no apologies for grabbing so much from them. Drunk while listening to the 50th spektrmodule podcast for some gentle background music.

3 Fonteinen: Zwet.be (Belgium: Porter: 7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin to middling creamy brown head that leaves suds but has a quite short lifespan.

Nose: Sour red wine. Black cherry. Coca dust. Rum soaked raisins. Chocolate liqueurs.

Body: Tart black cherry. Charring. Black cherry sour sweets. Salt water. Cold stones. Touch of Pocari Sweat drink. Bready. Soft pineapple. Dry raisins. Lightly tart.

Finish: Charring and bitter character. Oats. Bitter cocoa dust. Brown bread. Salt water. Cloying coffee notes. Soft pineapple. Dry Madeira. Tart apple.

Conclusion: The sour stout, or in this case sour porter, is one of the odder styles to have come out of recent years. In fact if anything this is somehow both more odd and more restrained that previous examples I’ve tried. Maybe it is more odd because it is more restrained. Which may need some breaking down to make sense.

The nose provides full on mix of sour wine, fruity experience with chocolate hints – it is something really fresh and bursting with flavour. Unfortunately the rest of the beer is not that.

The body is drier, with charred notes and even a slightly salty character – it is full of the heavier, rougher notes that can come with a porter. The tarter notes are there, but as gentle additions not super sour intrusions – it gives dark fruit early on, but somehow late on lambic like green fruit and pineapple hints give very subtle fresher notes.

Warmth gives it more of what you would expect – tart black cherry and spirit soaked raisins – chilling really hurt this, making it far too pedestrian. Warmth makes this reasonable – still quite dry, but with fruit range of both dark and light fruit. The biggest disappointment is the porter backing to that. The porter character is often relegated to a dank (in the cold wet cave style of the meaning, not the resinous hop style of the meaning) background that seems to bring down the sour notes rather than enhance them.

Overall an ok beer, but one of the weaker sour stouts/porters I have encountered.

Background: So, something more than just a bit unusual here – a beer from 3 Fonteinen, celebrated sour beer makers, but according to a quick google brewed at De Proefbrouweij – a famed contract brewer. I’m guessing they did that to prevent yeast infection issues from the wild yeast. Anyway, this one is a porter brewed with lambic yeast. So, yeah, odd as heck. Drank while listening to some Siouxsie and the Banshees for appropriate backing to that oddness. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Brewdog: Make Earth Great Again (Scotland: Saison: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale light yellow to grain, very clear. An inch of white froth for a head but still main body.

Nose: Wheaty. Vanilla. Light lemon citrus character. Dried banana. Light cloves. Crusty white bread. Light white chocolate. Cheese puff crisps styled funk.

Body: Bitter. Slight cloying cream character. Cream cheese and chives. Slight chalk and prickly feel mix. Cheese puff crisps. Hop oils. Light lemon. Palma violets. Dried banana.

Finish: Cream cheese and chives. Dried banana. Light yeast funk. Light tart yellow raspberries. Hop oils. Palma violets. Light bitterness. Mature cheese.

Conclusion: This actually reminds me of Wild Beer Co’s bretted lager “Chronos” – it has that mix of lager like easy drinking character with a yeast funk style.

At its base it feels clean, slightly lemony and very lager styled with noble hop feeling hop oils and a light palma violets touch to it. Layered over that clean base is a kind of cheese puff into cream cheese and then mature cheese notes – a real contrast of feel and taste going on here. It opens with the cheese funk first, then lets the lighter lager drinking feel through, rather than the other way around that you might expect.

Now, that funk gives some flavour but there is also a light berry tartness below those heavier funk notes that works as a nice bridge between the lager like notes and the more saison like funk. Good use of hop oils smooth out the remaining rough cracks that may have existed, and a moderate bitterness caps off the finish.

Everything works – it doesn’t declare itself as a must drink – instead concentrating on being very easy to drink, mixing smooth feel and funk. The flavour is gentle but tasty, and the beer feels far too close to a session character for a beer of higher abv. It doesn’t break the world, but once you start drinking it is easy to just keep continuing to drink this in a dangerously drunken way – so it definitely has something for it!

Background: So, Brewdog making a beer to protest USA removing itself from the Paris agreement and gives the profits to a climate change charity – I can get behind that. A few gimmicks to go with that, the saison is made with melted ice cap water and cloudberries which are endangered (A few people have asked if that is a good idea, using endangered berries- I presume using the berries isn’t a prob – it’s the plants environment being in danger that is screwing it – I could be wrong). As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was grabbed from Brewdog’s shop and drunk while listening to the final CD of Mclusky – Mcluskyism. So you will probably hear me mention it less for a while. Great 3 CD set and great value. Proper loving the insane energy it has.

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