Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV


Garage: Cartoons (Spain: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Massive yellowed loose bubbled head.

Nose: Tart grapefruit. Pineapple. Wheaty hop character and bitterness. Flour. Slight banana.

Body: Good bitterness. Tart grapefruit. Stewed apricot. Subtle peach underneath. The hop character and bitterness grows rapidly. Slight vanilla. Subtle toffee. Slightly milky late on.

Finish: High bitterness. Prickly, bitter hop character. Peppery. Grapes into grapefruit. White bread crusts. Slight flour. Slight gherkin like sour twist. Dried banana.

Conclusion: Yep, that’s a hop kick. It starts off merely as a solid kick, but rapidly lays on the hop bitterness and punch to higher levels as it goes on. Very nice. There is nothing oily or resinous to it, just fluffy hop bitterness and kick delivered fairly cleanly. Old school(ish –old for USA style IPAs) hop use ya know, and I like it.

The fruity character has to work hard to get past the bitterness, but it just about manages to push through. It’s mainly grapefruit, tart and puckering. There are peach and apricot hints, even subtle banana, but don’t rely on them to be a major part of the beer. The tart notes are the main backing to the hop kick.

The malt body starts out even more out of the way. It isn’t an attenuated dry west coast style thing, it just isn’t really evident initially. Later on the slightly milky, slightly toffee notes show themselves and we have some welcome extra sweet notes in the latter half of the beer.

Its a rock solid bitter kick, tart styled IPA. Very little malt – lots of bitter hops. My kind of thing. It is kind of one track mind, but its just what I look for in an IPA so I’m not complaining.

Old school(ish) tart, hoppy, bitter fun.

Background: Sooooo, Garage did Snake Fear, an IIPA which blew me away, so I’ve had a hankering to see if they can make lighting strike twice. So when I saw Independent Spirit had more of their beers in I zeroed in on this one to grab. It’s pretty warm (for the UK) at the moment so I chilled these down nicely before I broke it open. Oh if the me from years ago could see me now. Chilling beers down. I am a monster in his eyes. This was drunk fairly late at night – I had been playing “Dead In Bermuda” and was convinced I was at the end of the game. Turns out there was about another two hours to go. Ah well, at least that meant it was cooler by the time I finally drank it. Went back to Crossfaith – Ex_Machina for music while drinking to give a bit of energy.

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Senne: Bellwood: Imperial Donkey (Belgium: Imperial Stout: 8.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin dark brown dash of a head.

Nose: Vinous white grapes. Yeastie champagne. Liquorice. Subtle cherries. Dry Madeira.

Body: Bready bitterness. Sour cream. Dry white wine. Slightly astringent. Dry Madeira. Dry cherry. Dry spice. Tannins. Light cocoa.

Finish: Sour dough. Dry white wine and white grapes. Champagne. Sultanas. Spicy dry red wine. Subtle bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: Ok, my first though was “What type of wine barrel did this spend time in?” On first breaking open the bottle, as I desperately tried to pour it into the glass before it frothed over, I got hit with a distinct, strong dry white wine into champagne character on the nose, with the imperial stout character lost under that due to its intensity.

The stout character comes out more as a bready, earthy kind of thing in the main body. For an imperial stout those flavours come across as fairly restrained.

What makes me question the barrel ageing is then how it changes, becoming spicier with dry red wine character coming out. Initially dry Madeira like notes into full on spicy red wine by the end via a few dry dark fruit hops in-between.

It is very barrel ageing dominated, even if I can’t quite pin down exactly which wine barrel it spent time in. There are slight cocoa to chocolate notes late on, but if you are enjoying this, chances are it is because the barrel ageing brought you there, rather than anything else.

As of such, it is not really for me. I like what the ageing notes bring, but I really need more beer backing it up. The beer just feels lost here. So, very vinous, lots of wine character and range, but so very little beer. May be for you, was not for me.

Background: Been a while since I had a beer from Senne, they have been stonking good in most of their past beers, so this one caught my eye at Independent Spirit – A barrel aged English style Imperial Stout. From googling I confirmed that it was a wine barrel as I thought, but yet to find anything that tells me the type. If you know please drop a comment and fill me in. Don’t know much about Bellwood Brewery apart from the fact they are a Toronto based brewery in Canada and they did a Beavertown collab I tried. For a heavy dark beer like this I put Arch Enemy – Wages of Sin on in the background to match.

Alvinne: Oak Aged Cuvee Sofie Kweepeer Quince ( Belgium: Sour Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Pale apricot. Thin white bubbly head.

Nose: Mashed apricots. Sour. Dry white wine. Grapes. Pencil shavings. Vanilla. Sharp lemon.

Body: Very sharp. Yellow raspberry. Vanilla. Sour jelly sweets. Tart lemon curd.

Finish: Tart. Sharp lemon. Quince Rakia. Dried apricot. Yellow raspberry. Sour jelly sweets. White wine. Marmalade. Sour lemon curd.

Conclusion: Fuck me, this is sharp. Ok, after a few sips I acclimatised to it, and it became a pleasant tart and sour thing, but that first mouthfeel was a heck of a shock to the system.

I’ve only had quince in quince rakia, so I probably don’t have the best yardstick for comparison here (delicious though that rakia may be) to say if this tastes much like the fruit used. The fruitiness in this tastes like yellow raspberries meets mashed apricots meets tart lemon curd. So, possibly that is actually what quince tastes like and if I had tried it I could have saved myself a heck of a lot of words there. Any which way it is very fresh, very citrus and very enjoyable.

Super tart, super sour, this is carefully smoothed out at the edges by vanilla notes and a slight white wine dry character, into light, sweeter marmalade notes in the finish. It stops it from being just a flat out sour assault, and, considering my response to that first tart mouthful, for that I am very welcome. With those rounding notes it is still mouth puckering, but very enjoyable, if slightly single minded as a sour ale. It doesn’t change too much once you get over the initial shock, but the beer is fairly different from most others on the market, so I kind of welcome that for once.

So, initially a shock and may seem overwhelming for those who aren’t super into their sours, it does soften a touch into tart and rewarding fruity sour character (which may or may not be predominantly quince).

I would easily recommend this to any sour fan who are not shy of the tarter end of the spectrum and want something a bit different from the usual fruit experimentation. I very much enjoyed this.

Background; There area lot of words on this label, and I will admit I am unsure of which are the name and which are descriptors. Looking online there seem to be a lot of different versions of Cuvee Sofie, so I’ve played it safe and listed as many as I could here. So, this is a sour beer, foeder aged and made with quince. It mainly caught my eye as I tried a quince rakia in Belgrade and very much enjoyed it. So a sour beer made with the fruit sounded right up my street. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, and I put on Genitorturers – Flesh is The Law to listen to while drinking. S&M themed industrial metal turned out to go very appropriately with the very sour and tart beer!

Tiny Rebel: Yeastie Boys: Pomegranate and Molasses Belgian Strong Ale (Wales: Belgian Strong Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark ruddy red to caramel brown body. Inch of creamy browned head.

Nose: Turmeric and coriander. Earthy hops. Crushed peppercorns. Subtle caramel. Yeast funk. Heavy molasses notes. Brown bread.

Body: Chewy. Pomegranate. Mango. Tart apples to grapes. Dried banana. Slightly cloying mouthfeel. Sour-dough. Dry cinnamon.

Finish: Mango juice. Cherry pocked biscuits. Pomegranate. Muted cinnamon. Molasses. Sour cream.

Conclusion: This is a bloody weird beer. For one the pomegranate flavour is right up front and in your face. I always find pomegranate an unusual flavour in itself, but here it is layered over earthy spices, plus a hard to describe spice that I would best call “dry cinnamon”. It calls to spiced tea, just with beer instead of tea, if that makes any sense at all.

The feel is thick, with almost a savoury equivalent of cloying note, backed by sour dough and a grip that makes the flavours thick and clingy. I will say that the actual Belgian strong ale flavours feel lost under everything else. It ends up giving a texture, a funk feel, but not a flavour to match. That is all provided by the extra ingredients.

Early in it felt like it was trying to do too many things at once and felt unbalanced and mixed up. As time goes on it balances better but still feels too led by the special ingredients for me. I don’t mind pomegranate but with the thicker mouthfeel the flavour seemed to grip and hold on longer into the finish than I would like. It’s a flavour that I enjoy in the moment but gets wearing if it sticks around.

Lots of interesting elements in this one, but definitely more interesting than enjoyable for me. I love that the experimented, and like the idea, but it doesn’t quite work as a beer for me.

Background: Second to last of the seven collaboration beers made to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Tiny Rebel brewing. This is an odd one, as the name indicates it is made with pomegranate and molasses, to make what they describe as a Middle Eastern Belgian strong ale. Before drinking I had no idea what that would be like, but was intrigued. The collaboration box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I put on Throwing Muses’ self titled album while drinking as I wanted some gentle but quality indie pop to relax with.

Ridgeside: Beer Ink: No Figgity (England: Barley Wine: 9% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy brown with a red hint. Good sized off white, creamy head.

Nose: Fig rolls. Slight cream. Wheat. Crushed Blackpool rock. Orange skin. Pepper. Caramel.

Body: Brandy cream. Malt chocolate. Figs. Sultanas. Fruitcake. Brown sugar. Caramel.

Finish: Figs. Cream. Wine soaked raisins. Dry notes. Brown sugar. Earthy bitter hop character. Nutty oily notes. Pepper. Carrot skin. Coriander.

Conclusion: Oh fig me, there are some full on figs in this. Initially very sweet and heavy on the dark fruit notes with some vinous backup, this then heads down a path into very earthy bitterness as time goes on, especially in the finish.

While distinctly a barley wine, the peppery and earthy notes, the rough gem edges and dark fruit actually makes me think that they have taken some influence from the Trappist Quads over in Belgium – making something more robust and rounded than the sweeter barley wine takes.

The extra ingredients used in making this are well done – I’ve already mentioned the very present fig character, but not yet that they mix with the sweeter notes to create a sweet pastry impression that calls to tasty fig rolls. Another point in its favour. Beyond that there are some subtle orange skin notes, and unsubtle cane sugar stylings creating some more Trappist like sugar notes.

It is rough edged, and the earthy, spicy notes that are a pleasant balance at the front do get too heavy by the end of the beer. However, with that said, I am on something like my third time trying this. I keep returning to it, this time to do notes, but in general just to enjoy, so it definitely has something.

Rough around the edges aye, but the extra fig notes add to the more traditional dark fruit barley wine character to give it a bit more than the usual style for a barley wine, and the additional orange notes certainly don’t hurt.

A flawed gem, but still a gem and worth trying.

Background: I’ve grabbed this a few times, so when it ended up in my fridge yet again I decided it was finally time to do notes on it. It grabbed my attention for a number of reasons. 1) I like barley wines and they don’t seem to be super common these days compared to say IIPAs or Imperial Stouts. 2) It is made with figs ..oh also candied orange peel but I am mainly here for the figs. Also it’s a collaboration with Beer Ink – I’m sure I’ve run into them before, but can’t quite pin down where. Will have to do a quick search at some point to find out. Another one from Independent Spirit – went back to Bad Religion for tunes to listen to, still got a soft spot for their mix of thoughtful lyrics and rocking punk tunes. Picked their Generator album, mainly for the title track.

Uerige: Doppelsticke Altbier (Germany: Altbier: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark caramel brown to black. Inch of tight bubbled brownish head that leaves a sud rim.

Nose: Raisins. Spirit soaked fruitcake. Charcoal dust touch. Thick, hot caramel. Malt chocolate. Dry liquorice. Oily nuttiness. Cola bottles.

Body: Caramel. Oily nuttiness. Oily liquorice. Honey undertones. Fudge. Treacle.

Finish: Oily. Coffee remnants. Oily nuttiness. Liquorice touch. Palma violets. Toasted teacakes. Raisins.

Conclusion: This is another big, thick, beer. Seem to be having a run of them at the moment. This one is chewy and oily, mixing thick caramel and treacle notes with oily nuts and oily liquorice character. This feels pretty much like what would happen if you ditched a gallon of treacle into a standard Altbier. Only, ya know, good.

It is a beer that is thick and treacly head to toe, but there is enough going on under there to keep you interested during the time. You get showing from dark fruit, chocolate, even some slight use of fresh tasting palma violet notes in the finish that help separate each sip from the next. For such an intense beer it does well differentiating the notes and thus breaking up the drinking experience.

Now, with that said, the odd thing is that only applies to part of the beer. This thing rocks the aroma, and has a subtle and complex finish that makes taking a long time between sips worthwhile but … it has only a good not great body. Now note that is still good, but it is the one area with less complexity. In the main body is where it is the most treacle filled, most caramel filled and the other notes get much less of a look in.

If the body matched the complexity and range of the opening and finish of the beer, then this would be an utter classic. As is it is still a very enjoyable, super thick altbier and deviantly worth grabbing for a cold night in front of the fire.

Background: I picked this up my a kind of mistake. Uerige: Altbier is one of the beers listed in Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers and I picked this up thinking that is what this was. This is not that, it is the stronger, higher abv version of a similar beer. Ah well, still should be nice. Found it at Corks Of Cotham. A bit out of the way from my usual route, but has a good selection of beer, so worth checking out when I can. This has that flip cap style that I pretty much only see on German bottles. Very nice, and very easy to use. Put on Bratmobile – Pottymouth while drinking. No reason, I just like it.

Northern Monk: Finback: Patron’s Project 3.05: Once, Twice, Three Times a Whale (Mosaic Edition) (England: IIPA: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Custard to apricot coloured body. Very large, loose mounded white head that leaves suds

Nose: Mandarin orange. Very fresh. Crisp hop character. Lightly wheaty bitterness. Tangerine orange. Soft vanilla custard. Light, tart pineapple. Slight flour.

Body: Orange to tangerine. Vanilla custard. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slight resin. Slight flour. Light pineapple. Peach. Slight greenery.

Finish: Fresh tangerine. Slight resin. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slightly milky and creamy. Grapefruit. Growing hop character and bitterness.

Conclusion:I’m torn. No, wait that is a terrible way to start talking about this. Let’s try a different tack. This is creamy and fruity in a way that reminds me of the NEIPA interpretation, but, despite the low levels of bitterness they use in it, it still features enough oily hop feel and resinous notes to make it feel like an actual damn IPA. I approve.

Ok, so after that, now to get to – I’m torn, but not in a Natalie Imbruglia way. Let me explain. This is tasty, tasty, very ,very tasty, but with that it is a bit simple. There is lots of bright fresh mandarin orange and tangerine notes that make you sit up and smile. Then there is tart pineapple to grapefruit notes under backing a soft, creamy to vanilla custard base. Delicious, so delicious, but for the most part that is your experience for the entire beer.

Ok, it doesn’t 100% stick at that – the hop character gains a touch more resin and bitterness over time, while never quite betraying its NEIPA creamy and fruity style. There is some progression, just not very much.

You know what? I’ve talked myself into it. I am no longer torn. This is ruddy good. Maybe it could do with a tad more complexity but this is a double IPA that calls to NEIPA but doesn’t forget the IPA at its heart, and shows the mosiac fruit flavours in full fresh burst.

So, yeah, not torn any more. This is very good. Get it.

Background: This is a Patron’s Project beer. Yet when you lift up the label there is no additional information hidden underneath. It is like someone just told me Santa does not exist. I am let down. Anyway, the final name in this collaboration is James Butler, a tattoo artist who I presume did the artwork for the label. I’ve loved Northern Monk Patron’s Projects so far, so when this three times hopped with Mosaic IIPA turned up in Independent Spirit it caught my eye. Put on Some Marie Davidson to listen to while drinking – only just discovered her music – haunting electronic gothic feelings stuff. Very moody. She sings a lot in French, which I don’t understand, so if you listen and it turns out it is super obscene please don’t blame me. Unless you enjoy that, in which case you are welcome.

Haand: Cervisiam: Frontaal – Death By Disco (Norway: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Lots of small brown sediment bits visible, especially if held to light. Creamy brown head.

Nose: Syrupy, artificial blueberry syrup. Bitter cocoa. Bitter coffee. Blueberry cheesecake. Strawberry jelly (Jello for non UK). Slight smoke. Sour dough. More natural blueberry. Aniseed.

Body: Thick. Alcohol tingle. Blueberry. Raspberry jelly. Caramel ice creamy syrup. Vanilla ice cream. Mild aniseed. Blueberry cheesecake. Honeycomb. Rough bourbon.

Finish: Blueberry. Lactose sheen. Bitter cocoa. Blueberry cheesecake. Slight bitter prickle. Sour dough. Slight smoke. Alcohol notes. Raspberry jelly. Rough bourbon.

Conclusion: What gets me here is how this seems to artificial when the aroma first slips out of the glass, yet very natural in the berry notes as time goes on. The whole beer feels caught in that dichotomy between natural and artificial feeling notes

This is a big beer with weight that brings a very blueberry cheesecake style, smothered in bitter cocoa style from the base stout. So there are definitely worse looks it could go for as the first impressions for the beer. There is a slight smokiness to the beer as well, a wisp that again adds weight.

So pretty good and very far from sickly sweet which was my first worry from the artificial aroma. At times it even feels like it leans a tad too heavily towards the savoury side, with bready notes becoming dominant – but it doesn’t happen often enough to hurt the beer.

What does hurt the beer is a strong alcohol feel that seems to emphasise the more artificial, syrupy blueberry notes and create a raw and artificial sprit character. These come late on an especially out into the finish where they are most evident.

There is a lot of good to this beer, even some good character in the artificial notes – for example the ice cream syrup, jelly and fruit notes are welcome as sweet bursts against the smokey offset. It feels like it is the alcohol, spirity character that really hurts it. It is a rough kind of neutral spirit to cheap bourbon kind of note that doesn’t ruin the beer, but definitely highlights the weaker artificial elements.

A good base beer, but one that needs to a lot of polish for it to pay off its promise. I can’t recommend it as is, but I do hope that they give it some work to make something really good from this.

Background: Yeah I know it calls itself a sweet stout as well as an Imperial Stout – at 10% abv I am happy putting it in the imperial stout side of things for a category. Anyway, mainly grabbed this as I liked the idea of blueberry sweet stout, and Haand have been interesting so far, if not quite having a beer I have tried yet that 100% wowed me. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had recently grabbed Rise Against – “Appeal To Reason” cheaply so put it on while drinking. Not quite formulated an opinion yet – seems solid so far but not really dug into it yet.

Northern Monks: Amundsen: Monocromicon: Patrons Project 14.02 (England: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Creamy inch of coffee froth coloured brown head.

Nose: Light tart cherry. Milky coffee. Cocoa dust. Smooth. Cake sponge. Tofu.

Body: Tart cherry sour sweets. Tart black cherry. Condensed cream. Milky chocolate fondue. Tart apple sweets. Sweet grapes, both red and green. Chewy. Vanilla toffee. Plums and figs.

Finish: Tart apple sweets. Twigs. Milky chocolate. Cocoa dust. Tart cherry sour sweets. Slight bitter coffee. Milky.

Conclusion: This is interesting, I spoke in a previous set of notes about tart fruit notes in a beer making them feel slightly light, This has tart cherry sweets notes and tart apple sours notes a plenty, but the base beer is still hugely thick, creamy and sponge style chewy against that. It is a fight of flavours and feel that in the end comes out as a victory for the drinker.

What would be lightness in another beer comes across here as smoothness instead – while chewy and creamy the beer doesn’t feel super weighty because of that smoothing influence. At the base of the flavour is a bitter cocoa take on the imperial stout, a nice robust element so that the jelly sour sweet fruit notes aren’t sickly and artificial feeling due to a bit of bitterness behind them.

It is a wonderful worker of a beer, solid imperial stout bitter cocoa and slight coffee base, giving creamy and sweet thickness that then allows the unusual sour fruit sweet notes have a chance to work, and it is that little twist that makes the beer stand out.

The use of the sour fruit sweets character is great, it doesn’t overwhelm the imperial stout character, it just adds. The base imperial stout shows some dark fruit character already and it takes that and enhances it into a fresher, brighter style.

So, down side ? Well it may not be as heavy beer as some would like, as mentioned it is smoother rather than heavier, but it still packs some weight. That is about all I can call as possible criticism.

It is a great imperial stout, a different imperial stout and a superbly crafted imperial stout. It stands out even in the packed range of high quality imperial stouts as it is so different and yet still awesome. Grab it.

Background: Ok, I love the name, artwork, Death metal style logo and Necronomicon reference in this beer. It is also an imperial stout made with Cherry, Muscovado, cocoa and tonka beans. There was no way I was not buying this beer. It even comes with codes to listen to Nomasta metal tunes. Not heard of Nomasta before, but went to their band-camp page and had a listen while drinking. This was another one grabbed at Independent Spirit. It is also my second time drinking this beer, did it first time without notes and liked it so much I grabbed another can to do notes on.

Northern Monk: Wylam: Moobing On Up (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy opaque apricot. Large loose white head.

Nose: Peach. Apricot. Peppermint and menthol. Mild bitter hops. Hop oils. Palma violets. Resin. Vanilla.

Body: Resinous. Creamy peach. Peach melba. Oily hops. Dried apricot. Peppermint. Menthol. Grapes. Cream. Prickly hops underneath. Blood orange. Vanilla toffee and vanilla custard.

Finish: Hop oils, seeping dark bitterness. Resin. Heavy hop bitterness. Grapes. Menthol and peppermint. Blood orange. Charring. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: Ok, this is cloudy, is it a NEIPA? Or at least a Tripel IPA style of NEIPA? If so I may have to temporarily revise my opinion of the style.

From the first moments of pouring it is oozing peach and apricot notes as the aroma seeps out of the glass. There is a kind of menthol, peppermint note that I was intrigued by, but simultaneously I was worried that it would get wearing over time.

I shouldn’t have been worried – while the fresh fruit notes are accompanied by those menthol notes as we head into the body there is a lot else in there to contrast it – from cream to blood orange notes. It is very fresh and fruit up front, but it hints at resinous elements and hop oils already, elements that are going to play a much bigger part as time goes on.

The bright, creamy front sinks into resinous, oily hoppiness – a slow progress that assimilates and overwhelms the menthol notes. It lets them be interesting at the start, but moves them out of the way before they can overstay their welcome. It does keep the fruit, but builds up the oiliness, and bitterness slowly so you don’t notice until it takes the front and it is kicking your throat out. In a good way.

Then it allows the malt through, soft sweetness with toffee and such balancing the now “dank” oily hop character. In the last few moments rougher notes come in – charring and gunpowder tea – what would be off-putting if they had arrived earlier but gives just a final pep as the beer is heading out. This beer is lovely, intense and with a huge range.

It is such a fine beer, that if the bullshit tabloid articles were true, would definitely be worth getting moobs to drink (or … foobs? Hmm, that probably doesn’t work. i tried for not assuming all beer drinkers are blokes, anyway …) . I am very impressed. So much so I am tempted to imitate the can and throw an unironic dab. It is that good.

Background: I missed out on “I Like To Moob It, Moob It” – a beer taking the piss out of the ill researched articles in papers about hoppy beers giving you man boobs. It sold out damn fast, and seems to have bloody good rep. So when I saw this brewed up triple IPA version, hopped with Citra, Ella, Vic Secret, Enigma and Topaz I figured it was definitely worth a grab. Though I nearly made a mistake – with it being high abv I thought it would be ok to sit a short while before drinking, thankfully I overhead in Independent Spirit that it had a short three month best before, so managed to drink it before it went out of date. From past experience I figure the beer would be fine, but I always feel I should try and do notes while the beer is still in date, to be fair to it. Since it is the 20th anniversary this year, I put on Garbage v2.0 yet again. Bloody awesome album.

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