Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV

Phillips Amnesiac Double IPA

Phillips: Amnesiac Double IPA (Canada: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Large mounded yellow froth head.

Nose: Stewed apricot. Pineapple. Fresh crisp hops. Thick and lightly bitter. Fruit syrup and peach. Toffee, fudge, and crushed biscuits. Ginger bread. Light mint greenery.

Body: Greenery. Sour touch. Resin and hops. Malty toffee backbone. Lime. Apricot. Vanilla. Light coffee. Cream.

Finish: Bitter. Slight cardboard touch. Vanilla. Malt biscuits. Sour dough. Slightly cloying. Light frothy coffee. Light earthy.

Conclusion: A bottled bit of Canada brought back with me. How does it do? Well it is quite unusual for a Double IPA I will say that. For one thing there is a very thick texture and slightly sour tang to it that makes it come in heavier than most of the style. It plays an odd balance therefore – it pushes the malt sweetness heavily, and the greenery and hop feel are high, but it doesn’t seem to use any of the hop flavours that a double IPA can really boost up.

In fact, when you combine all the elements together it brings a slight milky coffee taste the whole thing. Not really what I expect from an IPA, ok, ok coffee IPAs exist but they are doing it more in tune with the whole beer. The slightly earthy feel of this reminds me of the UK traditional take on the style, but without the advantage of the real earth texture that helps ground them.

While an interesting set of items, overall it makes for a quite bland beer. Ok, there are big flavours, but no real quality well defined flavours – just strongly pushed dull bitterness and malt sweetness. Normally I would think that the beer was a tad old and so the hops were muted, but I drank this less than a week after buying, and the hops don’t feel muggy – just leaden.

So, I’m not sure if it is just trying to carve out its own niche as a bit of a different double IPA, or if it just fails at the style it aims for, but any which way it is an underwhelming Double IPA. Oh well.

Background: The last of the Canada beers, for real this time! The final bottle I brought back with me to do a tasting note of. Ok, I brought back another beer, but that was a USA beer for ageing. this is the last Canadian beer. Drunk very shortly after getting back, so to try as fresh as possible, something I don’t usually get with Canadian beers. This was actually drunk early morning after midnight due to jet lag having effectively inverted my perception of time. Drink while listening to B. Dolan’s new album – Feed The Wolf. This was found in a random bottle shop I happened to find whilst walking in Vancouver.

Brewdog Mashtag 15

Brewdog: Mashtag 15 (Scotland: Barley Wine: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Good sized coffee froth style dark bubbles.

Nose: Peanuts. Roasted. Malt chocolate. Lime touch. Dry liquorice.

Body: Bitter front. Bitter chocolate. Aniseed. Liquorice. Traditional lemonade sweet touch at back. Froths up easily. Vanilla toffee undertones. Roasted hop feel. Brown sugar. Dried apricot. Cherries. Kiwi fruit. Coffee.

Finish: Liquorice and bitter malt chocolate. Coffee touch. Roasted hop character. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: The level of roasted character in this black barley wine actually makes me think a lot about a stout, as does the chocolate notes laden throughout. However , before anyone thinks I am accusing this of being a stout in disguise I will say that the rawer sugary character at the back definitely reinforces this barley wine’s base as true to the style.

It plays the heat changing game, rawer and more bitter when cool, it gains a treacle sweetness and brown sugar notes as it warms, along with some subtle hop fruit flavours coming out. It is definitely a better beer when warmer – the coffee and chocolate notes still calling to a stout, yet there is this brilliant traditional lemonade freshness right in the middle that you would never see in a stout. It just hits the right notes, fresh, sweet yet deep, and with so many layers to dig through. The hops start out rough but end up the rounding mellowed fruit which is just right.

It has a little of everything. Considering how many special ingredients and strong flavours it had brewed in I was originally worried it was going to end up a mess, pulled in every direction. What we get instead is a beer that has managed to work every element in its place.

So, flaws? Well, mainly the liquorice flavour. Initially it fits pretty well into the flavour profile, but by the end it is a bit wearing. Still, overall the beer is a hell of a ride. So I can forgive a few slip ups. So, erm, go democracy!

Background: Democracy! The worst system apart from all the other ones we have tried! here tried by Brewdog to see what the general public would vote for in a beer. I’m sure there is no way this could go wrong. In this case they voted for a black barley wine with oak chips and vanilla, and 100 IBU US hops. Of course! As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Drunk while flicking through Miracle Of Sound’s music selection for a bit of fun.

Stone - Ruination IPA 2 0

Stone: Ruination IPA 2.0 (USA: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear thick gold. Some carbonation. An inch of bubbled creamy head that leaves suds.

Nose: Lemon. Crisp clean hops. Sweet meringue. Gooseberry. Creamy. Floral notes.

Body: Creamy. Prickly and full of hop oils. Good bitterness. Apricot and peach syrup. Pineapple. Shortbread. Nettles. Moderately dry.

Finish: Solid hop oils. Apricot and good hop bitterness that rises. Nettles. Light custard sweetness. Resin. Long lasting.

Conclusion: Ok – version 2.0. Unpatched but updated. How does it do? Very interestingly actually. It is a lot drier than the original. There seems to be a trend of dry, attenuated feeling IIPAs at the moment – and this, like those others, catches my attention and my respect. The style makes for a very clean hop delivery system and they end up very easily drinkable for that.

Initially with this you just get that clean hop bitterness, lots of hop oils, resin and growling bitterness along with a prickling that rises. While the aroma hints at tarter notes and lemon, the body comes in initially as a simple hop delivery system. Still not ruining, but much clearer defined that 1.0 and actually gives a very clean bitter kick in the finish.

Now, here comes the contradiction in this beer – it is very dry styled, but despite that there is a very present creaminess that gets layered over that without diminishing it. Odd eh? This creaminess goes on to become full on peach and apricot fruit that grows out of it. It is that sweet aspect hidden at the core around which the dry main character lies. Kind of like a cream centre in bitter chocolate cream egg. If such a thing existed. And was made with hops.

It doesn’t quite beat Restorative Beverage as my favourite dry IIPA, but it brings more clear bitterness, while Restorative is more complex. Compared to 1.0? Well this doesn’t feel as rough edged, but despite that feels like it delivers more weight and actual bitterness.

Overall – I am impressed. Very well crafted, very smooth edged bitter kicking beer. Far too easy to drink for the abv, and far to easy to drink for such a hop assault. Stone know how to use the hops!

Background: Those of you who keep an eye on my twitter feed will notice I’ve been making some “patch” jokes already about this due to its 2.0 moniker. Never let it be said I don’t run a joke into the ground. Anyway, this is a new recipe version of Ruination IPA – I beer had come to enjoy even more over the years since first trying. I had grabbed it from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection when it popped up as I thought it would be interesting to try. Drunk while listening to Jim Sterling’s ..erm.. interview with Digital Homicide. Well, it was a thing, I have to give Jim Sterling credit for his patience.

Het Uiltje Flaming Ass Owl

Het Uiltje: Flaming Ass Owl (Netherlands: Imperial Porter: 9.7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Half inch of milky chocolate froth.

Nose: Dried chilli. Milky chocolate. Roasted nuts. Spiced orange skin. Smoked bacon. Vanilla.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Initially little warmth, but it grows if held on tongue. Blood orange. Grassy touch. Smoked chipotle. Slight fruit sugars and bubble gum.

Finish: Green peppers and chilli seeds. Light charring and wood smoke. Dried beef.

Conclusion: Ok, it’s called “flaming ass owl”. I may give it a point just for that. I am easily amused. Of course, I am kind of hoping I wont regret this come the ‘morrow. With a name like that it does have a negative on the boding well score.

Anyway, even without the introduction of the chilli this seems to be a slightly odd one – with the milky chocolate character, that is not so abnormal for a porter, infused with notes of blood orange and bubblegum. Also, considering the strength, the body feels just marginally slight. While I think that hurts the feel a tad, possibly it is that which I can thank for the fact that it takes a moment for the chilli to come through and when it does it is warming rather than lava like.

The lower thickness also means that it is a beer that can build up over time, and along with the beers progression to reveal more grassy notes and fruit sugars the heat gains a chipotle smoke character and light meatiness which is welcome.

I am both relived and slightly disappointed that this seems not to live up to its, erm, vivid bottle imagery. They seem to have balanced this on the pleasant end of the heat scale. Despite the slightly thin texture this has come to impress me more than I had expected. I have to admit due to the name and the weaker start I was expecting a badly delivered gimmick beer. There may be a tale about the chilli beer that scarred me for life hidden in my past. It may have been vile.

This however is warm, meaty, chocolate packed and yet fruity. I think it is that fruit that helps it, it sooths the heat and adds a bright note to an otherwise dark beer. It is like that slice of fruit garnish on a meat dish. A good beer, best experienced at room temperature. Not flaming great, but not arse tearingly terrible. An interesting and fun beer with a bit of heat.

Background: It is called Flaming Ass Owl. I am childish. How could I not end up buying it? Anyway I picked up this Imperial Porter made with Trinidad Scorpion peppers from Independent Spirit. I am actually a bit of a wuss when it comes to chilli beers, so this may have been a mistake…

Brewdog Born To Die 04072015

Brewdog: Born To Die: 04/07/2015 (Scotland: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Half inch of whitened head. Clear body with some carbonation.

Nose: Dry hop bitterness. Dried pineapple. Slightly musty. Maize. Crushed skittles. Floral.

Body: Apricot. Passion fruit. Very smooth. Light cream into moderately dry mouthfeel. Smooth hop oils. Kiwis. Malt biscuits and toffee. Watermelon. Light raspberry cream and sugared shredded wheat. Peach. Light golden syrup.

Finish: Light cane sugar. Bitter hops. Vanilla custard. Toffee. Watermelon.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected. After the brash, bitter foot forwards “Enjoy By IPA” from Stone, and after Brewdog themselves turned out “Restorative Beverage For Invalids and Convalescents” I was kind of expecting something similar here. Nope. 馬鹿.

This is the smooth end of the uber fresh hope scale with a creamy touch, lots of toffee sweetness and real smooth hop oils over a refreshingly dry base. This goes with a present but comparatively restrained hop bitterness, and instead pushes up massively the thick textured fruitiness with lots of heavy green and orange fruit.

While there is the aforementioned creaminess and thickness, the dryness is what actually ends up taking over the mouthfeel. It makes it very drinkable indeed for the abv, and despite the strength actually sets itself up for the session comparatively well.

A very slow, very careful session.

So, let me explain that. The initial first impression was actually slightly disappointing. The aroma doesn’t seem all that and the initial flavour was ok but not fantastic. The flavours are very slow build, and each layer either adds on, or parts to reveal something else. From the IPA staples of apricot and passion fruit to the more unusual watermelon fresh notes to raspberry cream tartness – it definitely plays the progression game well.

As an intense hop IPA I have to give the crown to “Enjoy By IPA” but this definitely has its own character – more complex and slow burn with a fantastic range. A very good beer in its own right and not just a clone of the beer of its inspiration. I prefer “Restorative Beverage for Invalids…” as a similar beer, which does influence my view of this, but is still a very good beer.

Background: Oh, excited, excited. After enjoying Stone’s Enjoy By IPA, I was very interested to find out that Brewdog were doing their own interpretation of an ultra short lifespan IIPA. Note: As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. So, yeah, brewed with tons of hops that tend to make beers with a short lifespan. Why yes I did break it open the day it arrived, why do you ask?

Huyghe Delirium Deliria

Huyghe: Delirium: Deliria (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow with a chunk of carbonation and a massive mounded white head that leaves lots of suds and lace.

Nose: Wheaty. Palma violets. Light bitterness. Dried raspberries. Carrot.

Body: Palma violets. Good bitterness. Lemon. Cane sugar and candy floss. Crisp. Light potato character. Carrot and coriander. Vanilla.

Finish: Good bitterness. Vanilla. Celery. Candyfloss. Light potatoes. Coriander. Wheat.

Conclusion: A balanced Delirium beer. Huh, I did not expect to say that, Ever. Seriously – I have a love for Delirium Tremens (How have I never got around to doing a tasting note for that beer?), but they do tend to be a bit mental.

This is closer to a traditional Belgian ale than most of the Delirium range – in fact the influence of wheat like and spice notes makes me think of a bit of a Wit beer, but poured over a heavier Belgian blond style base. Now, like a lot of Delirium beers, it is an energetic wee one. You get a massive head, so take care pouring, but below that it is far less bubblegum styled and more a mix of cane sugars and spice.

As a beer it is nicely balanced (I still feel weird writing that) with good crisp bitterness, light sweetness, good spice and all over a lemon freshness. Yet it has just enough alcohol weight to add a bit of heft to that blond + wit combination I mentioned earlier.

Like many a beer its biggest flaw and its biggest feature are one and the same. It isn’t mental as hell. While I can appreciate the fact that it is solid, smooth and balanced to within an inch of its life I find that without the rough edge gem characteristics I associate with Belgian ales it feels like it is playing slightly safe to me.

Still a very well made beer, and for a lot of you reading this I’m sure you are thinking this is your thing. For me, well Belgium is overflowing with awesome beers, so this kind of gets lost in the shuffle, but that is more on my tastes than it. A technically highly proficient beer that just doesn’t quite catch my imagination.

Background: A variant on Delirium Tremens brewed by a team of women. Well, cool, I’m all for anything that helps break down the oft male dominated brewing scene. I will say though that I did raise an eyebrow at the bottle being pink. Possible the team picked it, in which case cool, their choice. But I did raise an eyebrow. Then again, Delirium Tremens’ colour scheme is pretty pink anyway, so I could just be being a tad over sensitive to cues that aren’t actually there. Anyway, this is the 2013 edition, a limited edition release which I picked up from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Miracle of Sound’s Metal Up. A seriously fun metal album.

Beavertown Skull King Double IPA

Beavertown: Skull King Double IPA (England: IIPA: 8.7% ABV)

Visual: Slightly cloudy apricot. Large off white bubbles head. No visible carbonation.

Nose: Pine. Floral. Resin. Grapefruit. Good bitterness. Dried pineapple. Digestives. Dried passion fruit.

Body: Bitter. Kumquat. Passon fruit. Kiwi. New York style cheesecake. Quite dry. Some fruit sugars. Frothy mouthfeel.

Finish: Kiwi. Bitterness. Grapes. Hop oils. Bready. Slight gritty touch.

Conclusion: Oh, hello, another very dry IIPA, following quickly on the heels of Restorative beverage for invalids and convalescents. Is this starting a trend? I can but hope. This one really keeps to a low level of sweetness for an IIPA, there are some fruit sugars but I didn’t get any of the expected big toffee or similar backbone. Interesting.

This does provide something a bit different – from the understated, more floral and pine nose, to the dry and solid dry fruit body, to the bready hop oil finish. This shows a side to IIPAs less used, the lack of sweetness also means that it needs a less intense bitterness against that backbone to create a much larger impression on the mouth due to the lack of contrast.

This feels closer to the more traditional IIPA style than the sweeter IIPA tradition, despite its higher abv. It reminds me a bit of Pliny The Elder in that regard.

Overall it takes everything and delivers it a more restrained way. Still intense, but there is a muted edge to the flavours, a grounded feel – everything dry or drying.

I like what it is doing, and if I hadn’t had “Restorative beverage…” first I would probably be even more impressed. As is, I prefer Restorative as it just nails it better. Still, this is the more different beer and I like that it keeps away from expectations. This really doesn’t follow the trend of the style and I respect it for that.

Background: Grabbed from one of the few available at Independent Spirit! thanks guys! This is the first ever canned double IPA in the UK, or so I am told. Beavertown have been solid so far, and I need to get around to reviewing their neck oil session IPA. Also my friend lives near their brewery and keeps taunting me with the fact he regularly gets to try their beers. Anyway, they have made the can a bit more textured here, which combined with the cool image on it gives a great first impression. Drunk while listening to some Anthrax – Worship Music. A big beer deserves some big music.

To Øl Black Malts and Body Salts

To Øl: Black Malts and Body Salts (Denmark: Black IIPA: 9.99% ABV)

Visual: Black. Huge coffee froth and a tight bubbled mound of a head that leaves coffee sud rings.

Nose: Coffee granules. Light granite. Bitter character. Burnt wood. Earthy.

Body: Bitter coffee. Charcoal dust. Blended whisky undertones. Salt touch. Some thick chocolate notes.

Finish: Bitter, especially bitter coffee. Charcoal dust. Salt touch. Earthy and spicy. Light strawberry notes occasionally.

Conclusion: This is a harsher black IPA than most of the style. Against expectations it seems to go down the more earthy and straightforward hop bitterness of a British IPA rather than the more fruity use of the word IPAs. But with a Black IPA here obviously. Or a coffee BIPA as it turns out.

Strange as I don’t think they use British hops – could just be emphasising the early boil hops for bitterness maybe? Not really sure, but that is how it ends up feeling anyway.

Now the coffee makes up a very big part of the overall character – and very bitter coffee at that, easily matching the raw bitter hop character. It gets smoother mid body and is backed by some chocolate maltiness, but top and tail is very raw bitter coffee.

The harsher edges are emphasised, with the burnt wood into charcoal notes that make what would be an otherwise smooth beer come out as very drying into the earthy end. It is a very robust beer, so much so that – combined with the abv – there is a spirity kind of blended whisky undertone. Odd as the beer is so smooth texture wise, but there are definite signs of the alcohol in there.

I haven’t ran into many earthy based BIPAs, so this gets points for doing that well, and the coffee is used well – so much so it seems to be basically coffee beer half the time. Overall though – it is only an ok beer to me, and in the market of Black IPAs which is filled with greats. I like that it is a different take on the style but it doesn’t really excite – it has a few notes it does well, but doesn’t really seem to expand out.

A solid well made beer, but nothing that declares it a must drink.

Background: Ok, erm, I just looked this up on rate beer and it is their #1 rated Black IPA. I swear I don’t just write these things to be controversial. Anyway, I picked this up from Brewdog’s Guest Beer section as I had heard a good buzz about it. Anyway this is a Black IPA brewed with coffee, and, according to rate beer – body salts. I have to admit I thought that was just a clever name. Anyway, drunk while listening to a bit of 8 bit zoo – a nice bit of cheery light heartedness to get over the fact I had basically just watched a vast amount of Marble Hornets and I kind of wanted to sleep at some point this lifetime.

Blackjack Native Sun 2014 (Pinot Noir Barrel Aged)

Blackjack: Native Sun 2014 (Pinot Noir Barrel Aged) (England: Dopplebock: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red to brown. Moderate rich chocolate froth.

Nose: Chocolate shavings. Dry malt drink. Sour red grapes. Rose petals. Chocolate fondue comes out as it warms. Herbal notes. Raisins and liquorice.

Body: Cinnamon sticks. Sour red wine. Malt chocolate to bitter chocolate. Mint leaves. Blackcurrants. Nutmeg. Liquorice. Slight glacier cherries.

Finish: Bitter chocolate flakes. Sour red wine. Nutmeg. Lightly earthy. Liquorice. Raisins.

Conclusion: I have limited experience with Pinot Noir – that is I have tried several New Zealand versions of it, and they are awesome. very big and fruity. I owe that knowledge entirely to my awesome sister who has provided me with a few glasses of good stuff over the years.

Yes I have a friendly booze family.

This is much drier and more sour wine influenced than the Pinot Noirs I have encountered – with more earthy and acidic notes. From what I have been told this is pretty standard with more European Pinot Noirs. Which makes sense.

Anyway, now I have demonstrated my nigh complete lack of knowledge on wine, we have – THE BEER!

I mention the wine first as it is a huge influence, but while the wine does dominate the dopplebock seems to make a solid base under that – bitter chocolate and malt drinks makes for a robust base character. It is smooth, with some cherry and raisins hints (though actually, for all I know that could be the wine as well. I would say 70% sure it is the beer). A lot of the malt flavours crossover with the red wine ageing very fluidly, so it is hard to be certain exactly where one ends and the other begins. That does mean that the flavours meld very well and gives a very well balanced experience.

Combined together the elements manage a menagerie of dark fruits, Christmas spices, earthy character and acidic sour wine notes, all balanced by malt chocolate. Halfway between a dopplebock and a mulled wine in some ways.

Overall, yep it’s a good one – you do have to like the wine aspect though as it works its way into every pore. There is a wine dryness to the entire thing. As a beer alone there are far better, but this is such a well done mix that explores the wine but doesn’t lose the beer.

A bigger amount of complexity to the base beer would have made this an all time great – as is it is still a very nice beer indeed.

Background: This one is from Manchester! I have some good memories of that place. Anyway, a dopplebock aged in Pinot Noir barrels, that grabbed my eye – not just as you don’t see many Brit made dopplebocks. Picked up from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to Prodigy: The Day Is My Enemy. That album definitely has legs.

Boston Beer Co Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection New World

Boston Beer Co: Samuel Adams: Barrel Room Collection: New World (USA: Abbey Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Deep overripe banana to gold. Thin white dash for a head.

Nose: Resin. Light aniseed. Caramelised brown sugar. Passion fruit. White pepper. Watermelon jolly ranchers. Golden syrup cake.

Body: White pepper. Frothy lemon sherbet taste and feel. Slightly sour grapes – both red and white. Brown sugar. Peach. Candyfloss. Hop oils. Syrup texture at back. Banoffee and vanilla.

Finish: Red grapes. Madeira cake. Slick hop oils. Blackpool rock. Banana.

Conclusion: Ok, first impressions – this is balanced nicely. It is smooth like a lot of the American takes on the Abbey Tripel, but has just enough genuine rough edges to remind me of my preferred Belgian take on the whole thing.

I think it is partially the raw sugar feel on the sweet side of things, and the pepper character behind it all. The little spark of sugar gives the impression of being a little unrefined, and a little less attenuated than it could be- while the pepper adds a little kick to the end. Both give it the charm it needs to not feel over polished.

I’m not getting a huge amount of obvious elements from the oak, I mean there is sweetness, but it is a Tripel that is expected, that is kind of a no duh. It is smooth, but yeah, it is an American take on Belgian beer, that is also a no duh. I’m sure the oak will have had its influence, but I couldn’t say what without having access to the unaged version to compare.

There is a large chunk of tropical fruitiness, though it feels somewhat more artificial than what you would usually get with the hops – it could be the slightly syrupy backing, it makes it feel like hard sweets rather than the more natural take which would have suited the beer more.

It is an impressive beer, maybe a bit too sweet – the artificial feel hurts it a bit but the mix of tropical fruit, rough edged tripel and spice strikes a rounded and impressive balance.

Not the best, but very solid, and the mix of character means it is not just a clone of what the Belgians do, but neither does it forget its roots. A very bright fruit tripel, rough edged but too sweet. Still well worth a try.

Background: I very much enjoyed my first experience with the Barrel Room Collection, so I decided to grab another one from the range from Independent Spirit. This one is a take on the abbey tripel style, and was shared with friends.


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