Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV


Cloudwater: DIPA Citra Cryo (England: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Large off white head.

Nose: Dry peach. Apples. Hop oil sheen. Apricot. Hop prickle. Slight yeast funk to fresh brown bread.

Body: Apricot. Vanilla custard. Thick. White grapes. Hop oils feel. Candy floss. Apple pie. Raspberry popping candy. Sour dough.

Finish: Blueberry. Apples. Grapes. Vanilla. Fudge. Hop oils and bitterness. Tangerine. Apple pie. Hop prickle grows over time. Clean sheen. Dried apricot. Nettles and moss. Dried pineapple.

Conclusion: I’ve been trying a few Cloudwater beers recently, with mixed results. Some have been great. Some have been rough as a badger’s arsehole. So, which is this? Great? Arsehole? Great arsehole?

First impressions are positive. Thick, slightly hop oils in feel but with low backing bitterness. Very good in mouthfeel enhanced by a light hop prickle, but generally dominated by a heavy, creamy feeling, body.

Ok, wait, hold on, I skipped past the aroma and went straight into the main body. Well mainly because the aroma isn’t the most notable element here. It is there, but more as something to lead you in. The first sip feels like the real first impressions, with everything else just to get you to that point. The aroma is still thick – slight muggy dried fruit, slight oily character, slight hop prickle – but overall slightly closed, but in a way that promises more, so you go to that first sip quickly.

The bitterness is low but present with the hops showing more as a prickly, then oily character, to make sure that this is recognisable as an IPA. Also it is massively fruity from the hops, but that element deserves a paragraph by itself.

So, the fruitiness of the hops. First up, the expected notes from Citra are there – lots of those apple notes that the hop does so well. Lots of sweet apricot and peach that is so common with American hopped beers. Over the time it takes you to drink it other notes come out though. Much less expected notes. From blueberry, tangerine to grapes and more, all showing their face and adding to the flavour profile. Behind that is a savoury thick character which gives a real weight to the beer, something that I’m guessing is the Simcoe influence.

It’s got some sweet raspberry hard candy, popping candy and vanilla custard notes against that – sweet notes pricking through in the midst of the oily, savoury base. They tend to be submerged under the huge fruitiness, but show through in patches – they seem a tad artificial in feel but generally give a nice bit of pep in the middle of the beer. It reminds me a bit of the sweetness in the Raspberry Doughnut beer from Northern Monks, but with a very different backing to the sweetness.

So yeah, this is Cloudwater when they land it good. A swing and a hit.

Background: Ok, one, for a beer called Citra Cryo I was kind of expecting it to only be hopped with Cita. I was wrong, they also use Centennial and Simcoe. Guess the Cryo hops are thing they wanted to boast about though. Don’t know what Cryo hops are? Don’t worry I googled it and I’m still confused. Something, something low temperatures. Something, something hop dust. Something some less off flavours. Anyway, feck it, proof of the pudding is in the eating – or drinking in this case. Let’s see what the new hops do in the real world. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, drunk chilled as the heat wave finally broke with a lovely rain storm, with background music of the awesome Garbage self titled album. Still holds up as guitar led indie pop from the 90s. I don’t care if it makes me old, that album is great.

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Firestone Walker: Leo Vs Ursus: Fortem (USA: IIPA: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Apricot colour with a light haze. Lots of small bubbled carbonation and a yellowed mound of bubbles for the head.

Nose: Floral. Vanilla. Tangerine. Pine cones. Crisp. Pickle touched hop oils deep in. Oily in general later on. Pumpkin. Apricot.

Body: Apricot. Prickling. Carrot cake. Peach syrup. Vanilla. Thick whipped cream. Slight sour cream. Sour grapes. Hop oils. Dill pickle touch. Sour dough. Creamy kiwi and lime. Oily bitterness. Pumpkin.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Mandarin orange. Peach. Prickling hops. Sour cream and chives. Dill pickle touch. Dried apricot. Creamy lime. Vanilla custard.

Conclusion: Firestone Walker, long time no see, hope you hold up to my memories. So, I was happy to see from early on onwards that it is complex and layered as all get out. It is lightly floral and tart at the start, then the aroma seeps into heavier, oilier notes bringing out mustier and thicker dried mango, pumpkin and apricot notes that finish off the nasal experience. That may sound bad, I mean it in a good way, a crisp introduction that leads to a full experience.

Now the hops are less prickly and bitter than you would expect. Then again I found out while drinking this that it is over a year old, so that could explain a lot. It is instead an oily, seeping slow bitterness instead of the fresh hop kick. Or maybe the beer was like that all along and age did nothing. If you have drunk it fresh please let me know.

The fruitiness hasn’t been reduced though – thick apricot matched against a savoury carrot cake contrast that also gives a heavier character to this – a fuller feel, made fuller still by a mild savoury cream and chives note which adds a slight sour tang under the sweeter character.

The beer starts initially only ok due to the lighter hop presence, but builds weight and matching thick, oily notes that bring huge fruit range and light savoury contrast. Now, not every note hits it out of the park – there is a dill pickle sourness if you dig deep into it which needs a bigger contrasting flavour to make it work. Then again that could be due to age again, and fresher hops would have matched it better. Any which way this is generally the kind of IIPA I like – Big, rewarding, not overly sweet, nor assault bitterness, but balanced in the elements.

So, now I wonder would this feel rougher fresh, bigger? Would I have enjoyed it as much young, or has age turned it into my kind of beer? I enjoyed it, that is the main thing, however it came about.

Background: Been a while since I did a Firestone Walker beer – a few stores seem not to store them since Duvel Moortgat bought them up. So, while I was grabbing a few rarities from beerhawk online I put in a can of this. Thought I would see how they were doing post being bought up for myself. I did notice during drinking that this was canned over a year ago. Now I am not part of the cult of freshness that says fresh is always better – even big IPAs I’ve found can sometimes do with a few weeks to month to settle down before drinking, but a year is quite a time for a hop led beer. Ah well, let’s see how it goes. It was very warm when I drank this, so was nice to have a good chilled IIPA to sip down. I put on Garbage V2.0 on to listen to – 20th anniversary of its release and it is still great. Also I feel old.

Odyssey: Juice Vibe (England: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Light lemon juice to apricot. Cloudy body with a large white to yellow head.

Nose: Pineapple. Peach. Crisp hops. Light flour. Grapefruit.

Body: Very prickly hops. Chocolate toffee. Juicy peach. Pineapple. Grapefruit. Juicy apricot. Greenery. Dry. Light resin.

Finish: Chocolate toffee. Prickly hops. Light greenery. Hop oils. Vanilla yogurt. Pineapple. Hop bitterness and light hop burn. Light chalk. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Ok, this is not what I expected from the beer I first looked at when pouring it. On the eye it looks like of like the juicy New England fruity style, and with a name like “Juice Vibe” I presumed it would be solidly settling into that area.

Next up the aroma promised something a bit different – a tarter beer, possibly hopped in a west coast style. It felt dry, with pineapple and peach, with touch of grapefruit hinting at a possible mix of New Zealand and USA style hops. This seemed to be concentrating on the now classic fruity hop varieties, rather than the odder new wave of hop flavours – it looked to play an old school mix of tart and sweet notes.

Now we move onto the body that follows through on that with big pineapple as you would expect and a dry body wrapped around … chocolate toffee notes? What is such a sweet and big malt body doing poking its head in here and ruining my attempt to sum up this IPA using beer stereotypes?

So, New England cloudy look, west coast on the nose, a mix of east and west coast on the body. That is about as mixed up as it can get, right? Not quite, there is a heavy prickly hop character on the nose, a touch of greenery as it goes on and even a chalk touch that gives a grounding to this heavily tart beer.

Now, of all the things this does do, what it does not do is heavy bitterness. Oh it does have hop bitterness, probably enough in fact to put off someone who doesn’t like hops, but generally the bitterness is more a backing to the greenery hop character.

For a beer called Juice Vibe, this is nothing like fruit juice – unless you are drinking really fucked up fruit juice. However this East, West, New England, greenery and resin IPA is an intense beer, with slight dank touch, but not intense in a hop assault way – a real mix up of beer.

So mixed up as hell, unpolished, with pretty much everything shoved in – I like it, but I wouldn’t blame anyone who doesn’t.

Background: It is no secret that I bloody love Odyssey beers, especially their hop forwards beers. This is an Odyssey beer that is hop forwards, was I ever going to not buy it? Anyway, yeah another one from Independent Spirit, I should just get my wages put directly into their account and save time. Not much else to say on this one – put on Gogol Bordello – Multi Kontra Culti Vs Irony – been a while since I listened to their earlier stuff.

Uiltje: Imperial Pineapple Weizenbock (Netherlands: Weizenbock: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice to apricot. Thicker streams evident within the body. Large white head.

Nose: Wheaty. Yeast funky. Cheese puffs. Evident pineapple. Tart. Mature cheese.

Body: Pineapple. Honey. Liquorice notes. Creamy. Fizzy mouthfeel. Tart lemon juice. Yeast funk. Tart grapes. Light brown bread. Light raisins.

Finish: Tart pineapple. Lemon juice. Orange rinds. Eel sashimi. Tart grapes. Light raspberry hard sweets. Sherbet. Light peppercorn. Vanilla yogurt. Apricot fruit sugars.

Conclusion: This is lush, but doesn’t look or taste anything like my usual expectations from the style. Now I have tried lighter colours weizenbocks many a time, but this is not just different from the dark heavy things I usually expect from the style, it is also different from the heavy malt sweetness lighter coloured weizenbocks. This feels like a belgian style wit, that has just had the abv shoved way up. And had pineapple added.

It has a lot of yeast funk in it, creating a thick mouthfeel, then adds light peppercorn notes against fruit sugars and a slight hard sweet character as the yeast esters and the high abv mix.

Though I am aware that in talking about the thicker textures, the yeast funk, the sugar notes and the mild spice I am dodging around the mean point. That is that all of that is backing for huge amounts of fruit. Now, obviously there is pineapple done in both tart and sweet ways, with both the fresher and more sweet like notes of the body mixing to create a refreshing yet sweet beer. Against that though are tart grapes and fresh sherbety lemon notes to lemon juice tartness. All that adds to both sides of the equation, keeping it tart enough and juicy enough that the sweetness of the bigger abv doesn’t get wearing.

It is a weizenbock meets a wit freshened up to become what feels like a summer refresher of a beer that would knock you on your arse if you tried drinking it as that due to the abv. Thankfully the higher sweetness of the beer gives an Abbery Tripel style impression which means you are aware of what it is, even if the alcohol isn’t evident, saving you from getting drunk accidentally.

It has not quite got the complexity of a pure weizenbock but is wonderfully fruity, and still has a lot to dig into – a lovely summer beer.

Background: Tjebbe Kuijper of Uiltje Brewing came down to Independent Spirit a short while back while he was doing a collaboration beer over in Bristol. Got a chance to ask him some questions, and also try samples of a bunch of their beers. This was one I had my eye on for a while and was glad to try it. I asked how come they came to make it, as pineapple seems an interesting choice, as I tend to think of dark heavy beers for weizenbock, so a lighter one with pineapples seems an odd one. He explained this was a brewed up version of one of their other beers, so was a beer designed for lighter abv given the abv of a wezienbock. Glad they did, really enjoyed the sample I tried, so went into these notes expecting it to be good. I drank this after coming back from the awesome Avengers: Infinity War, put on some History of Guns – their Acedia rehearsal releases to be exact, and broke this open.

La Trappe: Quadrupel (Netherlands: Quadrupel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany polished red touch in a clear fizzy body that has a small grey, evenly spread head.

Nose: Sawdust. Honey. Fresh toffee. Fresh fudge. Fresh crusty white bread. Lightly creamy. Shaved red wood.

Body: Cherries and shortbread. Fizzy mouthfeel. Honey to golden syrup. Liquorice touch. Sherbet lemon. Hop oils to generally oily. Gummy sap. Frothy. Nutty.

Finish: Clean, bitter oils. Palma violets. Light greenery. Sap. Oily. Licking varnished wood. Resin.

Conclusion: This starts out a fairly standard Quad – big hit of cherries, honey and fudge notes. Basically the big sweetness you expect to come with the big abv and big malt bill. However it soon moves on from there.

It starts the change with the more oily character coming out – some of it is hop oil notes, but generally it is just a more oily, into thick sap feeling character that gives a chewiness and stickiness to the beer along with light resinous notes. Already with just this extra element it feels different to the big sweet quads out there.

Then it gains more range – a palma violets to noble hop feel and taste, light greenery that starts seeping into an oily nutty character. The nutty character sticks around, going into a more nutty weight as the sweetness behind it bleeds away just leaving a soft vanilla and creamy backing.

This feels like what would happen if a biere de garde met a quad – big and oily with slow sweeping flavours. Considering the comparison I am now wondering what ageing would do to this? On one side the fizzy sherbet notes help offset the heavier notes and I feel they would be lost with age, but I can imagine this becoming a smooth still bodied beast with time.

Creamy backed, oily fronted – nutty with sparks of the fruity quad style. A very different quad and worthwhile as that, if not quite as fine as St Bernardus or Westvleteren at their best.

Background: Having the USA Spencer Trappist beer recently reminded me that while I had tried a lot of beers from the first non Belgian Trappist brewery – La Trappe, I had never actually done notes on any of them. So I grabbed this quad from Independent Spirit – from my memory it was my favourite of their beers when I first encountered it, so thought it was a good one to return to and see how it held up to memory. Had been to a Propagandhi gig the night before so put on Potemkin City Limits to listen to – in my opinion still their best album.

Wild Beer Co: Dr Todd (England: Sour Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Thin off white head.

Nose: Thick honey. Peat. Smoke. Salt. Ginger. Chilli air. Marmalade. Wet rocks.

Body: Heavy. Honey. Salt. Chalk. Treacle. Smoke. Dry back. Ginger. Medicinal. Crunchy medicine tablets. Brown bread.

Finish: Honey. Dry beef slices. Medicinal. Salt. Crunchy tablets.

Conclusion: Ok, I can definitely see why the drink this is based on is called Penicillin if this beer is anything to go by. Under everything is a dry note, like crunched up medicine tablets, chalk backed by a medicinal Islay note. It it wasn’t such a terrible idea to take painkillers with booze I would imagine this is what it would taste like.

Probably. I, of course, have never tested that. That would be silly. Don’t mix booze and painkillers everyone!

The other element that stands out in this beer how how strong the special ingredients used show through; There is a ton of honey, and as indicated before the Islay ageing is really obvious -from the salt to the peat smoke, to the medicinal character, it is all there. Then there is the definite ginger influence that comes though into an almost mild chilli air at some times. Subtle this thing ain’t.

So you get a real honey sweet Islay whisky poured over the corpse of a thoroughly crushed paracetamol, into a beer and you end up with this. It is definitely interesting, and actually – for all the taste goes to the harsher end of the spectrum – it is also enjoyable. Not one to have often though. It feels like it is deliberately challenging you and daring you to still enjoy it.

Now you can step up to that dare and enjoy it, and it is worth it, but it is not a general drinking beer in any shape or form. In fact this calls to the feel of an actual complex cocktail more than any other beer I have encountered – if that is a good or bad thing is up to you.

Hard to get used to, but ultimately enjoyable – however the crunched medical feel and taste is for very specific occasions only and for very specific people only.

Background: Ok, so this was inspired by the “Penicillin Cocktail”. Something I have never tried so cannot really compare it to. To give you an idea, this is made with lactose, honey, lemon, ginger and then aged in Islay whisky barrels. This sounded like the type of experimentation in beer I could get behind, so grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit. Put on Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac – Repent, Replenish, Repeat while drinking – a nicely dark edged spoken word to hip hop styled set of tunes that I though deserved returning to.

Brewdog: Native Son (Scotland: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear gold. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Moderate sized off white head.

Nose: Peach, kumquat and musty hops. Thick feeling aroma. Resinous. Dried apricot. Light tart pineapple. Flour.

Body: Lemon sherbet. Oily hops. Moderate bitterness. Kiwi. Apricot. Mandarin orange. Greenery. Apples. Peach. Smoke.

Finish: Creamy lemon. Good hop character and bitterness. Creamy lime. Mandarin orange. Popcorn. Greenery. Dry. Ashes.

Conclusion: What we have here is another example for the fact that you can actually have heavily hopped beers too fresh. I had a can of this when it first arrived and, back then, it felt rough and kind of dull. Now, a few weeks later, I break it open to do notes, and I find something much more pleasant.

It still has solid, prickly and musty bitterness with a rough ash tasting hop character on the way out – but now it also lets the fruit really play in the mid body. When it bursts with fruit it pushes out peach, Mandarin orange and lemon – it is dry based, but just slightly creamy in the fruit flavours.

Now it still isn’t perfect. For example, you may have seen the words “rough ash tasting” earlier and thought “Now, that doesn’t sound pleasant”. And you would be right. It isn’t. The finish still goes into rough and charred notes making the oily bitter character now feel burnt. When the rest of the beer is playing well it isn’t ruinous, but when there is a lull it comes out and is an unfortunate end to each sip.

It is a pity as the dry body that keeps out of the way and lets a mix of fruit and oily bitterness do the job is moreish – but those last moments stomp over that. Nearly very good, but not. Considering how much it has improved in the last two odd weeks I do wonder if it will become a proper working beer with a few more. However, let’s face it – the beer should work now. Good front, but unpleasant end – close, but not quite good.

Background: This would normally go in the IPA glass, but I, erm broke that – so I wondered how it would work in the wheat glass. Didn’t really suit it visually but worked ok. Anyway, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. This is their new west coast style IPA – big fan of a good west coast so thought I’d give it a try/. Grabbed directly from Brewdog’s store, and drunk while listening to Andrew WK’s new album – You Are Not Alone. For a guy who loves partying so much it is a pretty heartfelt album – cheesy but I won’t claim not to enjoy the hell out of it. It is just crazy fun and feel good.

Beavertown: Alvinne: Tempus: Uptown Monk (England: Abbey Tripel: 9.3%)

Visual: Deep apricot skin. Small off white dash of a head. Semi clear and still body.

Nose: Peppery. Cane sugar to brown sugar. Rye crackers. Dried apricot. Crushed Blackpool rock.

Body: Smoke. Vanilla slices, but dry. Dry lemon. Light lime funk notes. Apricot. Tart notes – tart grapes. Vanilla yogurt. Orange. Cane sugar. Champagne.

Finish: Dry cheesecake. Rye crackers. Pepper. Darkly bitter. Malt chocolate drinks. Dry lime. Tart apples. Slight yeast funk. Vanilla and lemon yogurt. Champagne.

Conclusion: Oh, there is a shit-ton going on with this beer. On the front I seems to be a simple literary conflict – peppery spice rye versus a cane to brown sugar tripel style sweetness. An enjoyable pulp tale of beer rather than an intricate layered script.

Time brings funk influence and side characters of tart lime and drier lemon yogurt notes that explore further themes of the beer. In fact the beer in general has a drier, yet tart backing character that creates layered and complex characters that accentuates that initially simple base conflict. The peppery character expands into bitterness, showing the futility of attempts to map reality linier plotting while hanging a lampshade on its own beery progression.

Dried, fruit sugar apricot comes out – giving a nod to crowd pleasing simple beers but here deconstructing that in its contrast to the complex developments below, showing both funk and barrel ageing influence in equal share rather than being shunted to sub plots as the more simple beers would do.

It does however revel in its barrel ageing, gaining a champagne character that freshens your mouth, allowing for tart grapes to join; Here the subtext of the tart funk becomes the text, the funk joining the barrel ageing to make the beer’s theme plain to all.

Hopefully the above has allowed me to explain how complex this layered beer can be, and to illustrate its character to you clearly. It is unusual, deep and one I enjoyed very much.

Background: I have no clue why I wrote the notes like this – I mean obviously I was drinking, but due to the oddity of the beer I decided treating it like a book review seemed a thing to do. I have no reason, no excuse and no excuse would be accepted. Anyway, decided to leave the notes as is an upload them because, well it amuses me if no-one else. Anyway, this is a beer I grabbed from Independent Spirit before Christmas – as a heavy rye Triple aged in white wine barrels I figured a bit more time would not hurt it. Been a while since I had an Alvinne beer, even as a collab, but this should go some small way to correct that. Drunk while listening to some Testament again, no real reason, just did.

Brewdog: Choco Libre (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Small dark brown head but one that froths up easily on a swirl.

Nose: Bitter cocoa. Brown bread. Chilli seeds. Slightly milky coffee.

Body: Brown bread. Chilli seeds. Milky chocolate. Light chalk touch. Bitter coffee. Light cream at back.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Chilli seeds. Bitter, roasted coffee. Hershey’s chocolate. Light chilli warmth, Pepper.

Conclusion: For an imperial stout that shoves a whole mess of damn skulls on the bottle, and packs itself with tons of ingredients, this actually feels kind of middle of the road.

Let’s address the chilli first, as that is the part you would expect to stand out the most. Well, it doesn’t do much. Now, I’m not a huge fan of chilli heat – so not being a mouth burner doesn’t bother me. However I am a big chilli flavour fan, so the lack of any real influence in that area does bother me. What we get us a light tingle character which tastes kind of light mild chilli seeds being chewed, which develops into a mild warmth in the finish. It adds savoury notes to the beer but little else.

So, onto the base beer then – not particularly thick for an 8% and up beer. It isn’t that it feels overly thin, just not particularly present. It could be the chilli – it does seem to have an odd influence on the mouthfeel. So possibly that is another (negative) influence that ingredient is having.

Apart from that there are moderate coffee and chocolate notes – not bad, not stand out. Solid but unexceptional and without a huge range to them. The savoury notes from the chilli mix with a set of bready notes that gives a solid flavour profile, if not mouthfeel.

The most unusual element that comes out is a slight sour cream touch to the chocolate – kind of akin to Hershey’s chocolate. An interesting touch, but doesn’t really lift up the beer to make it stand out.

Average, which is a disappointment – with all the extra ingredients it shouldn’t seem so mediocre. Meh.

Background: Ok, let’s open up with, as always, I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Cool, that is that done. This is an attempt to recreate a spiced Mexican chocolate drink, but in a beer, which seems cool. Looking at the ingredients it is made with oats, coffee, cocoa nibs, cinnamon and chilli and well as the usual four. Quite a set. This was grabbed directly from Brewdog’s store and drunk while listening to Ulver – Childhood’s End. I seriously love Ulver’s work, and this set of covers of psychedelic 60s tracks is another brilliant haunting set of music.

Robinsons: Old Tom (England: Old Ale: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Chestnut brown to mahogany body that is clear and still. Thick off white head.

Nose: Raisins. Port. Sherry soaked fruitcake to Christmas pudding. Earthy hop character. Slight chalk. Vinous – sour wine.

Body: Christmas pudding. Charring. Bitter chocolate. Sour red wine. Slight chalk. Earthy hops. Cherries. Peppery. Sour grapes.

Finish: Christmas pudding. Sultanas. Bitter chocolate cake. Earthy hops. Peppery bitterness. Sour grapes. Dry.

Conclusion: Whoop! I’m on an old ale roll now after a long time without – this coming fairly shortly after Marble‘s barrel aged old ale. This one is less challenging and less complex as a beer, but also comes in at less than half the price while still being a fairly complex one – which is a reasonable trade off. This is a beer from my early days of experimentation and it seems that it still holds up.

This is less sour than most of the style, with only a light sour note matched with a real Christmas pudding style heaviness as its solid core. Matched with that a similarly solid British style early hop character – with a peppery character as well as the earth, grounding with moderate bitterness.

However amongst that grounded character, against the sour vinous elements with it you get a big fruitiness – a sultana packed fruitcake character that make up a big wodge of the contrast, but even here everything is just slightly savoury with only a few sweeter hints. It is amazing how they can push the Christmas pudding without making it feel overly sweet and also having such low sweetness without the overall character feeling dull. For all the chalk notes, peppery and earthy notes it still feels like it is not pushing the grounding notes overly heavily and because of that it feels like a complex and rewarding beer.

It is not up there with the more experimental old ales that have come since, but looking back it it, it blows my mind that a beer this good and non standard is so easy to buy in the UK. A beer you can buy in the supermarket that is an old ale that gives easy access to a world of flavour that most beers in the same place will not reach. Good as an accessible gateway into something different and good as a beer in itself.

Background: This was a Christmas gift from a colleague – many thanks. Old Tom is a fairly common beer to find in supermarkets, so was one of the earliest of Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers that I tried. So this is a bit of a nostalgia drink here. I saw The Eels were on tour again this year – unfortunately nowhere near me – so put on the Beautiful Freak album – a bit of nostalgia for me again. It matches up, right?

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