Tag Archive: 5-8% ABV


Pomona Island: Pew Pew Pew Pewpewpew Pew Pew (England: American Pale Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy lemon juice. Inch of white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Apricot. Clean hop character. Light bitterness. Light popcorn. Light custard. Slight nettles.

Body: Flour mixed with hops. Slightly milky. Kiwi touch. Grapes. Milky fudge. Slight prickle. Apricot. Slight hop oils.

Finish: Flour. Apricot. Light fluffy hop feel. Sulphur touch. Grapes. Light bready. Ovaltine.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer with such gently done flavour, this is actually pretty satisfying. Usually vaguely milky beers get right on my tits and just feel empty. This does neither of those things. Unless I spill it, in which case it may end up on my tits in a less metaphorical manner. Anyway, I digress.

It is milky, with gentle prickling hops, but the fruit seems to hand around there in the middle just enough to actually work rather than getting lost in the mix that all too often happens with milky beers.

There is milky fudge, milky apricot, milky kiwi. Ok, you get the gist, right? In a worse beer this would be infuriating and terrible, resulting in badly defined flavours and general empty character. Here it is soothing and gently enjoyable.

It feels like it should be a tad lower abv in order to make it a great session beer, rather than a slightly heavier APA – Though in saying that I am realising that maybe it is the extra grip from the extra malt that gives that higher abv that makes the unusual character work so well. But if it could be reduced a tad and keep that – then sorted.

It slides down so very easily, with a touch of hop oils giving grip so you still feel it. It is examinable, if not heavy – easy drinking with milky thickness. Gets a tad overly bready over time, but generally very enjoyable.

Make finger guns – pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew.

Background: yeah I bought this beer because it is called Pew Pew Pew, however many times that is written. It both calls to old video games and Laura Dern in Star Wars, both of which make me want to like it. Anyway, not tried any thing from the brewery before so few expectations, this is a Ukuanot BBC, Simcoe, Mosaic DDH Pale. Because of course. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on The Royal They’s self titled album while drinking, it is endlessly endearing and yet vulgar, which I like.

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Tiny Rebel: DEYA: NEIPA (Wales: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear apricot. Large white head. Becomes hazy on second pour.

Nose: Apple. Crisp hops. Soft apricot. Slight eggplants.

Body: Eggplant. Slightly oily and resinous hops. Prickly bitterness. Quite savoury. Apricot skin. Grapefruit.

Finish: Resinous. Smoke. Slight oak. Light grapefruit. Earthy bitterness. Apricot skin. Dried mango.

Conclusion: Call me a mad, style enforcing, dictatorial fool, but aren’t New England IPAs supposed to be cloudy? I thought that was there whole thing? Am I in bizzaroverse today?

Those were my first thoughts on pouring this – as you can see from the photo, this is crystal clear. Or more correctly was crystal clear. There was still some beer left in the can due to the large head, so I gave it a quick swirl and pour and – there we go, it is now just slightly hazy. Guess the sediment had all gone to the bottom, I was worried for a minute.

Now I am in a kind of bind on this one – It really doesn’t match most NEIPAs in style points. It it clear on first pour, has oily bitterness, has low amounts of fruit character, etc. However, as most people are aware, I am not a huge fan of the standard NEIPA style, so should I be praising it or damning it for lack of style fidelity? Meh, let’s just look at it as the beer in itself it is and see how it goes.

It is quite .. savoury. That is not what I expected. Kind of eggplant to general vegetable heaviness. This does make me wonder if I got a bum can, especially with the clean first pour. The flavours are very dull and just subside into a lacklustre bitterness haze. It feels like it aims for …sigh.. dank, but ends up staid instead. The fruitiness notes you get are a dried apricot skin kind of note, but with none of the juiciness you should get below the skin.

Giving the beer a good swirl does help a bit, bringing out some grapefruit notes, but still the bitterness of the beer feels weird. It is something I have seen in some other cryo hopped beers, a kind of bittiness that seems linked with the vegetable character in a way that doesn’t work for me.

So, Yeah, this is not the NEIPA for me.

Background: It is well established I am not a huge New England IPA fan. However enough people have done a twist on the base style that I have found examples I enjoy, so was not too worried when I went into this DEYA, Tiny Rebel collaboration – the fifth of the seven collaboration beers they did for their seventh birthday. Said most that I have to say on the box set of collaboration beers in my last few posts on those beers, so all I will add is I put on The Eels, Useless Trinkets album which collects their b-sides and odd releases, to listen to while drinking. Not The Eels best work but it is quite soothing to listen to.

Northern Monk: Nomad Clan: Patrons Project: 2.07 Bare Bones (England: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice – nigh opaque. Large loose white bubbled head.

Nose: Apricot chunks. Lightly resinous and oily. Good hope prickle. Grapefruit.

Body: Oily. Gherkin tartness and savoury mix. Soft malt choc toffee and malt choc orange. High hop prickle. Pineapple and grapefruit. Dried banana.

Finish: Oily. Dry hop character. Slight gunpowder tea. Pineapple and grapefruit. Oily apricot. Dried banana.

Conclusion: Yes! Someone has decided to put some hop bitterness into the NEIPA style again. Cool! Let’s take a good look then.

Ok, I started off by saying that it has the hop bitterness, but to be more honest it is more about the hop oils and resinous notes that they use here. It’s not that they are an overwhelming part of the beer, nor are they …*sigh* dank, but they make up the solid core of the hop experience here.

Beyond that it has an odd flavour mix – it opens with the more standard tart pineapple and grapefruit but against that is a kind of sour and savoury note that I always end up describing as gherkin like. I’m sure I have put people off by using that description for a note, but it is actually a quite decent note, its just I have yet to come up with a better description for that odd sour twist.

The malt usage in this is enjoyable, but again it feels odd. It feels like the malt should be mainly out of the way, but every now and then an east coast style malt toffee, or odder still, malt choc orange note pokes through. Odder still it works. Mostly.

Anyway, as you may have guessed by this point it is an odd mix of an IPA. It’s a NE West-East coast IPA. Or something. You know what though – I’m enjoying it. It is rough edged, prickly, even with gunpowder tea harsh edges, but those tart notes over oily character and New England thick texture makes for a weighty IPA bit of fun.

So it is odd, mixed up, rough edged, but I’ll take that over dull any day – especially when it is done this well.

An odd mix worth trying.

Background: The can says that this is the “Gold Edition”. I have no idea why, I did a quick Google and still have no clue. If you know please let me know. Anyway, another of Northern Monk’s Patron Projects – this time with Nomad Clan – a street artist group who were responsible for the very pretty and eye catching can. This is a double dry hopped New England style IPA made with oats to back the London Fog yeast. I’m not a huge fan of the New England take on the IPA, but trust Northern Monks enough to give it a go. Prodigy was still in my mind after Keith Flint’s death, so put on The Day Is My Enemy to listen to – probably my favourite of the more recent Prodigy albums. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

O/O: 50/50 Enigma- Nelson Sauvin (Sweden: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark apricot. Large mounded yellowed head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat. Apricot. Lightly tart. Grapefruit. Melon. Light hop bitterness. Flour.

Body: Lightly creamy meets oily feel. Hop oils. Bitterness. Soft peach. Light custard. Moderate thickness to the mouthfeel. Grapefruit. Light tart grapes. Flour.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Good hop oils. Light resin. Grapefruit. Palma violets. Soft peach. Gherkin. Malt toffee.

Conclusion: This is a much more balanced beer than I expected. With it being 50% Nelson Sauvin hopped I was expecting a level of tart grapefruit hop punch that would rock the house down.

Maybe I was underestimating the Enigma hop.

Anyway, instead, as much as this does use, and indeed rock, those grapefruit Nelson Sauvin notes, this is a much more complex and with it rewarding IPA than if it just threw the tart fruit notes at you alone. It has a cloudy look and a slightly creamy thick feel that calls to New England IPAs, but much to my delight flavour-wise it leans heavily into the hop character giving thick, hop oil led, slightly resinous, and solidly if net excessively used bitterness. My kind of IPA. The base shouts out the IPA character in just a mildly … *sigh * I’ll say it.. dank style.

There is solid sweet fruitiness as well, expressed as peach and apricot, which, when paired with hints of the malt influence showing custard sweetness, manages to balance the flavour out nicely. So, they have managed to balance the hops pretty much 50/50 as they promised, and make them the lead for the beer. The malt flavours are gentle backing vanilla toffee and such, but its main effect is to give enough mouthfeel – and in that it more than does its job.

A beer that gives a very solid showing to both hops, uses malt well, and generally manages to use hop character, resin and hop oils well without them being overwhelming, which makes it all a very solid IPA indeed.

Background: O/O … I have no idea about that name. A quick google shows nothing. So, erm, anyway, grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Looked nice – simple but striking colour scheme, I love Nelson Sauvin as a hop and Enigma is pretty solid, Sweden has a darn good craft beer scene, so,yeah, seemed a solid choice to pick. Not much else to add, put on varied Gogol Bordello tracks while drinking for some high energy tracks to add to the mood.

Het Uiltje: Wingman (Netherlands: Witbier: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark lemon juice. Thin white head.

Nose: Lemon juice. Fresh watermelon. Paprika dusting. Fresh dough. Fresh strawberry. Thick and just slightly oily. Flour.

Body: Light front. Very light strawberry. Doughnuts. Watermelon. Light pepper. Wheaty. Bready bitterness. Lemon juice. Vanilla.

Finish: Watermelon. Clean. Slight hop oil sheen. Soft lemon sponge. Slightly bready. Slight pepper. Lemon juice.

Conclusion: This is a very easy going beer for 6%. There is a viscous middle to it that does say “beware – alcohol involved” but generally it feels easy going in a session style. So,ya know, be warned.

The flavours come in with soft vanilla, lemon juice and yes, a distinct watermelon character. Though I will admit that , since I know it is made with watermelon, I may be slightly influenced on that last one. While it is pitched as a Wit, this feels closer in flavour to a gentle Hefewiezen for me, though the mouthfeel is closer to the Belgian wit. There is a light pepper character to it, but not as much spice as I would usually associate with a wit. I think that they are deliberately leaving room for the lighter, fresher watermelon flavours to roam.

Without that extra character it feels a tad simple – enjoyable, but simple and as that it doesn’t seem to grab me. The watermelon is a nice touch, but it feels like the rest of the beer had to be moved back to make room for enough.

Nice enough lemon and watermelon tasting wit, but not a must have.

Background: Uiltje! The happy Netherlands owl beers! Always fun, with silly cartoon style antics on the cans and bottles, which is whimsically charming. Tend to be a tad experimental, like in this case, a wit beer, a style I really want to drink more of, but with added watermelon, odd but enough to make me grab a can and see how it goes. Another one found at Independent Spirit. Music choice was .. odd .. for this one. I had recently had a debate with a mate. I held that, despite liking them as a kid, that Limp Bizkit are unmitigated shit. He held that they actually were not that bad. So I put on some Limp Bizkit while drinking to refresh my memory. It is shit. Like, really shit. Songs where they use other peoples music like Faith and the Mission Impossible one are passable. Everything else. Shit. That may have affected my tasting notes. I mean really shit, like tortured orangutan farting into a mic about how hard it is being rich, level bad. Young me had terrible taste. Seriously bad. The Tesco value lager of music.

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.

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.

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