Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV

Beavertown: Oskar Blues: Tempus Project: Phobos (England: Weizenbock: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown and mostly opaque. A couple of inches of brown bubbled froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Nutty and malt chocolate. Cashew nuts. Light menthol and mint leaves. Cinnamon. Lightly vinous.

Body: Malt drinks. Nutty. Vinous. Subtle port notes. Orange zest. Coriander. Stewed banana. Bready. Light to moderate bitterness. Light cloves.

Finish: Slight sour grapes. Malt chocolate drink. Madeira cake. Chocolate shavings. Bitty orange juice. Nutty. Smoke. Walnuts.

Conclusion: Oddly this reminds me of Bristol Beer Factory’s Vintage Ale – both are malt led, chocolaty, drinks with a hell of a lot going on. So much so in fact that it doesn’t quite mesh. So, that is your short overview of what is going to be the general theme of these notes.

With that said, it is strange that initially the nose is fairly simple – nutty and malt drinks. I was actually worried this was going to be a too simple beer. How silly of me!

The first thing that starts coming out to break up that image is the vinous notes – from sour grapes, sweet Madeira cake to slight port. Not dominating but definitely rounding notes. Good use of barrel ageing that still lets the base beer breath. I approve! Now the base is not the most complex thing, bitter chocolate over nutty notes – but it is definitely solid enough to set up for what is a mass of infusions and ageing influence.

Another similarity to the BBF Vintage is in the fruitiness throughout – still quite malty, like malt choc orange through to a fresher orange juice style. It is a good element, but it is the element that most shows the integration of flavour issues thee beer has – it doesn’t quite line up with the others, instead seeming to float around aside from the rest.

Now despite that the beer is not bad – in fact I am tempted to grab one to age, like I did with vintage, see if it mellows out and matches up a bit better. It is just with the fruit, vinous, nutty, malt led and spice touched beer there is so much going on that it feels unfocused. So, not clearly defined, but surprisingly easy to drink, especially for 9% and up. The solid bitter chocolate to malt drinks base is charming as is, but is they smoothed it out and got everything in a line it would be amazing.

So, pretty much like BBF Vintage before it a mixed up beer, but with a lot of charm. If I grab one to age I will you now how that goes.

Background: OK, lot to describe in this beer. It is a weizendopplebock aged for 8 months in Madeira barrel – infused with smoked bananas, walnuts, pecans, dates and figs. Oh, and oats as well as the expected wheat. So, yeah that interested me – especially with both Oscar Blues and Beavertown at the helm. That sounded like a match made in heaven. This was drunk after a session playing the new Doom and having my first encounter with the Cyberdemon and stomping its dick into the dirt. Having a beer called Phobos after playing Doom is very appropriate as any fan will tell you. To keep the feel going was listening to Carcass: Surgical Steel, for that real visceral metal feel. Decided against the Aventinus glass for this one – at 330ml it would probably get lost in the big weizenbock glass. Instead went for the Teku glass – always a good one for mall bottles and big flavours. As you may have guessed, this is another one bought from Independent Spirit of Bath.

Law Man: Obsidian: Barrel Aged Stout (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. No head despite a vigorous pour.

Nose: Smokey coffee. Raw coffee beans. Vanilla toffee. Bitter cocoa dust. Light moss. Bready. Slight sour cream notes.

Body: Smooth. Treacle. Smoke. Moss. Milky chocolate. Sour cream. Bitter cocoa. Bourbon.

Finish: Charred oak. Cocoa pops and milky chocolate. Grassy. Bitter. Sour cream. Alcohol air. Rye. Bourbon

Conclusion: This feels paradoxically light and yet overly harsh beer. Odd. It has very smooth mouthfeel – in fact the front feels like it lacks grip resulting in the chocolate notes coming in kind of floaty and lacking weight. Then as you are digging into that to try and investigate suddenly charred oak and harsh bitterness seems to set up shop on your tongue, just coming out of nowhere.

It is an odd, not entirely pleasant, experience. Doubly odd as the aroma is excellent – absolutely booming with tons of coffee and tiny hints of treacle amongst cocoa dust. You get full on roasted bean character just floating out of the glass.

By contrast the body, well it still has that treacle character, but now in a slightly artificial way. It is kind of similar to what a bunch of low abv dark beers use to build up the body to compensate for the lack of malt, but this is far from low abv. it is a gosh darn imperial stout and shouldn’t need to use such tricks. While they use whisky barrels for the ageing, the general feel of this is more towards the rougher edge of bourbon. That is not a slight on bourbon – there is plenty of good stuff out there – but this isn’t it. The influence seems the more simple rye crackers and alcohol air rather than the sweet subtleties that a good barrel can bring.

It is a pity, as there is something unusual and kind of worthy in there. There is this slightly savoury, mossy character mid body, and a grassy finish that hints at a more grounded beer, one with more weight and an almost Springbank influenced character. Something decent. Something with more weight to it. As is the beer doesn’t have enough weight to manage the barrel ageing, it loses the heavy stout middle, becoming overly smooth, and those empty moments get filled with the rougher spirit notes. Like this, the grassy notes, instead of being a pleasant backing, instead match with the charred character for a rough finish.

There is a good beer in there somewhere – some chocolate, some coffee, but overall it doesn’t really mesh. A rare case where barrel ageing seems to have actually hurt a stout.

Background: Saw this at Independent Spirit, a whisky barrel aged version of their base Obsidian stout. It had good buzz about it so I grabbed a bottle despite not having tried anything from law Man before. Drunk while listening to Bowie: Black Star. Heavy haunting music for heavy beer. Not much else to say, I’ve really been spoiled by great barrel aged Imperial Stouts over the years so any new one has a lot to live up to.

Hoppin’ Frog: Karminator (USA: Doppelbock: 9.3% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark caramel to reddish brown. Moderate browned head. Some evident carbonation, but less than expected.

Nose: Massive port, raisins and fruitcake. Glacier cherries. Chocolate liqueur undertone. Malty. Toffee.

Body: Thick. Fruitcake. Marzipan. Sultanas and glacier cherries. Brandy cream. Toffee pavlova. Salted caramel. Light cloves.

Finish: Glacier cherries. Dried banana. Fruitcake. Raisins. Madeira. Brandy cream. Fudge. Salted caramel. Cloves. Honey. Brown sugar. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: Well, this is a big one – in bottle size, abv and flavour. Very thick body – so much so that I would not have guessed it as a lager styled beer if I had not known. Mouthfeel wise it feels similar to the super smooth American take on the Belgian ale. Flavour wise it is half way between the dopplebock it is and a strong ale take on an ESB. It is huge.

The smoothness, the malt character and the subtle banana and cloves all shout top quality dopplebock. The fruitcake and port can be dopplebock notes, but the intensity of them is very ESB like. This isn’t a barrel aged beer, but with the Madeira and port notes coming out you could have fooled me. In fact the smoothness says barrel ageing as well – but no, this is all just from the craft of the brewers. Impressive.

As an experience this is booming, silky and fruity. It slips down easily but the varied vinous aroma and notes happily declares its abv strength where the alcohol feel does not. This isn’t a beer that replaces my beloved weizendopplebock Aventinus, but it feels like a not Weizen take on the same concept – and that makes it very appealing to me. it runs a similar set of notes, delivered differently and in a smooth American manner. It is a dangerous beer. Complex enough to drag you in, and the lager style makes it far too easy to drink. While it is booming there are subtle spice notes at the edges – and the yeast, though mainly clean, does add a few funky edges it seems.

A beer of weight and gravitas. Have it on its own, not as part of a session, take your time and appreciate it. Do so and you will be rewarded with an excellent beer. Definitely not a session beer in any sense, trust me on that. Treat this as you would a strong Trappist ale and it will reward you similarly.

Background: Haven’t had a dopplebock for a while by my memory. Which is admittedly poor due to drinking. So, this gave me a chance to break out the Aventinus glass again. Anyway, grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer shop, this is from the Hoppin’ Frog brewery – I’ve seen their large bottles pop up around a bit, but never got around to doing notes for one of them. So here goes a chance to change that. Drunk while listening to some Bratmobile and Heavens To Betsy – a bit of riotgrrrl punk fun. For some reason I near always listen to these two artists back to back. I blame “Gone Home”

Kees: Barrel Project #05/2016 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. White swirl and loose bubbles over it but no real head.

Nose: Caramel. Thick. Molasses. Treacle toffee and chocolate toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Alpen. Rye bourbon. Shreddies and fresh white toast.

Body: Belgian chocolate. Bitter cocoa. Thick vanilla fudge. Orange liqueur. Nutty. Rye bourbon. Bready base. Light earthy notes. Figs. Cream. White sugar. Very smooth.

Finish: Wholemeal bread. Rye bourbon. Chocolate biscuits. Earthy notes. Bitter cocoa. Lemongrass. White sugar and white chocolate. Raisins. Bitter coffee cake. Nutty and praline.

Conclusion: Big, yet restrained. Bourbon backed, yet earthy. Thick, yet smooth and somewhat light at times. Ok, you have my attention beer, are you going to earn it?

The base, while you can feel the oatmeal stout thickness, slips down very easily – it is smoothed, I presume, by its time in the oak. A lot of the notes in there are the expected ones – bitter cocoa, chocolate – albeit in a very high quality Belgian style, fudge. Everything very well done. There is however an unusual, restrained rustic earthy set of notes – common in standard stouts, but something that big booming imperial stouts often neglect. It is unusual to find the more savoury notes working against the sweetness.

It is a good look, especially against the bourbon ageing. The more rustic side of the bourbon character seems to match the earthy notes well giving shreddies and rye style characteristics which ground a heavy flavoured beer. Thankfully neither side dominates, the beer or the bourbon – there are orange sweet notes from the bourbon boom, and distinct spirit characteristics, but the beer is big enough to take it and layer the bitter chocolate flavours over the top without losing either.

Initially, when chilled, it was a tad too light but heat brings it out into excellent balance. It is still smooth, but with a bit more grip to let it really shine. It can still have thin moments, but generally the oatmeal stout character pulls it through. Warmth also brings a bit of dark fruit play, which is nigh always a good choice.

So, generally good? Aye, very much so. Downsides? Well the cocoa notes can stick to the tongue, as if you have been licking the cocoa itself. Occasional thin notes as well, but not really much on the downsides.

As I always say, the Imperial Stout category is a packed one, and this doesn’t shift out the top few. However this is more savoury and grounded than most, while still letting the flavours boom. Well done and less over the top than many in the category which is worthy of respect.

Background: An Oatmeal Stout Aged on Heaven Hill barrels, as you can probably read on the bottle. There was a whole bunch of the Barrel Project beers at Independent Spirit and since I have been hearing good things about Kees I decided to grab one of them. I went for this one as 1) I love oatmeal stouts and 2) In My experience Heaven Hills’ barrels do lovely work for barrel ageing a stout. Anyway not much else to say – this was a big beer so broke out some big music. Iron Maiden: A Matter Of Life And Death. Seriously love that album, barely a bad track on it.

Bosteels: Kwak (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Caramel brown. Large browned froth for a head.

Nose: Brown sugar in a carmalised and crème brulee fashion. Aniseed. Crushed palma violets. Toffee. Perfume. Blackpool rock. Sugared orange sweets.

Body: Brown sugar and crème brulee. Cane sugar. Sugared orange sweets. Golden syrup cake. Reasonably light mouthfeel. Sweet lime syrup. Slight cloying, sour, doughy touch at the very middle.

Finish: Candyfloss. Brown sugar. Orange sugars. Lemon sherbet. Very light earthy note. Slight liquorice. Slight woody. Light sour undertone as it warms.

Conclusion: You know what? This has no right being a decent beer. Very sweet with lots of residual sugar evident, kind of perfumed aroma. Very silly, impractical gimmick glass. Should be ballacks right? The simple, lowest dominator Belgian sweet thing?

Yet it isn’t. Very malt led, quite clean and slightly light textured body. It has a lot of raw brown sugar, Blackpool rock and other sweet flavours, but the lighter texture keeps it from becoming sickly sweet. It is one of the few dark, high abv beers that I find the lighter texture actually helps rather than hinders it. That is the thing that keeps it from ending up as just a cheap, sweet beer… well one of the things. The other is the wonderful interaction with the Belgian yeast. You get lots of fruity esters coming out, binding with the sweetness to give the impression of lots of candied fruit blended into the mix.

In fact there is another point that works for it, and that is the subtle grounding notes not found in the simpler sweet beers. There is a slight doughy, cloying touch, just at the middle, a grip in amongst the lighter texture. There is also a light wood and earthy note in the finish, brought in with a very, very slightly sour touch as it warms – at a point when otherwise the sweetness would be rising too much.

It is the beer that should have been the epitome of a sweet, simple, disposable beer – yet it is so much more than that. It takes careful work to make such a seemingly sugar dominated beer work this well. AB INBev, it is in your hands now. Don’t fuck it up.

Background: A bottle from before the AB INBev takeover. Grabbed from Independent Spirit on the day I head about the deal. I have been a big fan of this for a while but never got around to doing notes on it despite having had it reasonably often. Often beers go downhill after being bought up so I thought I would so some notes now so I can compare to them in years to come. According to the bottle Bosteels have been independent since 1791, and I guess not independent since 2016 now. I broke out the absurd Kwak glass for this one, wooden handle that lets the glass shuffle around in it. Silly bulge at the end that causes the beer to glug out suddenly if you are not careful. Technically it is a terrible glass but I love it, wooden handle and all. Drunk while listening to a random mix of erock metal tunes.

Närke: Kaggen Stormaktsporter Börb’nåhallon (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown rim of a head around the glass.

Nose: Bourbon. Vanilla. Spicy rum. Toasted teacakes. Buttery popcorn. Cinnamon. Treacle. Chocolate liqueur. Smoke. Fudge.

Body: Treacle. Molasses. Toasted teacake. Bitter chocolate. Cherries. Chewy. Black cherry. Heavy. Chocolate liqueur. Spicy rum. Bourbon. Honey. Vanilla toffee. Alcohol edge. Marshmallows.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Fudge. Toasted teacakes. Cherries. Butter. Spicy rum. Long lasting spice – jar of seven spice. Rye bourbon air. Bitter cocoa air. Red wine. Charring. Smoke.

Conclusion: There are times in a beer reviewers life that you wonder, am I just looking for flaws to be controversial? This beer has a huge rep, am I just being contrary? So, I have indicated I think this beer has a flaw, what is it? Kind of two fold. One, it is so packed that it can get crowded. Two, that it does show its alcohol. Yep, that’s it. Not much really.

Thing is, imperial stout is packed field of awesome beers. Is that enough though to disqualify it from being the best of the best? Good question, but we are getting ahead of ourselves, lets talk about the beer first and come back to that.

This is thick, spicy and chocolate liqueur loaded, all layered over a real wonderful toasted teacake base. Very good start. The spicy character reminded me of the excellent De Molen 666, but the rest of the beer means it is grounded completely differently. It is utterly intense, delivering cherries, cinnamon, chocolate, bourbon and smoke. Definitely spirity, but despite the alcohol very much showing through it is not harsh. It really lays that spice character on heavy, but thankfully the rest of the beer is big enough to cope with it. Similarly it lays down massive sweet honey, again relying on the weight of all the other elements so it is not sickly.

It is a mix of so much, creamy with fudge notes like the sweeter end of the Imperial Stout scale – Spicy like a rum aged IS, Vanilla and rye bourbon like ageing notes like a, well, bourbon aged IS, Even smoke like an Islay aged IS. It has so much depth, and frankly I’m guessing a few more years ageing would sooth that extra alcohol that is the problem.

As it is, rather than as an imagined aged version? Erm. Well, it is basically insane complexity vs that alcohol edge. Well, I am a fan of rough edged gem beers, but for smoothness the aforementioned 666 is better, for complexity this wins. I think it comes down to the fact that this doesn’t quite come to a coherent whole with all its elements, but each individual element is excellent. So, not quite a personal favourite, but bloody good, and I’m sure that it will be many of yours, it is on that knife edge.

The everything and a kitchen sink of the Imperial Stout range and impressive as fuck.

Background: WE GOT ONE! After finding this but not being able to buy it on the first day in Gothenburg, I was put in a dilemma on finding it on the last day in Akkurat, Sweden. I had already done two sets of notes. I tend to limit myself to that as afterwards I find alcohol and conflicting tastes make the notes less reliable. Then again, I had been taking my time, drinking water between beers, having lots of conversations and enjoying the awesome band that had come on at this point. So, I figured that I could do one more – let’s face it, it is an imperial stout, a big imperial stout, that should kick over anything drunk before it. By this point Akkurat was ram packed, with an awesome live band playing behind us – great atmosphere but because of this light was down, so my photo was not quite as good as it could have been. Apologies. According to a quick bit of google translate, this is the same base beer as the standard Stormaktsporter, which is brewed with honey – this has been flavoured with raspberry and aged for fourteen months, three of which are bourbon, and bottled in 2015. It is currently the highest rated Swedish beer on ratebeer, and one of the world top 50. As I was finishing this a kind Swedish man bought me a pint of Oppigårds El Dorado – a very good show of the hop but damn after everything else drunk I did feel pissed. Many thanks still!

3 Små Rum: SolDIPA (Sweden: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Thin white bubbled mound.

Nose: Peach. Banana. Pineapple. Very fresh. Custard. Tangerine. Dried apricot.

Body: Peach. Slight greenery. Resin. Pineapple. Syrupy feel. Tangerine. Dried apricot. Light cloying twist. Light sour cream. Pomegranate. Just slightly musky.

Finish: Pineapple. Apricot juice. Hop oils and some bitterness. Slight hop character. Slightly bready. Tangerine.

Conclusion: The first beer if the Sweden trip and it is a blinder of a fruit explosion! On the initial nose all I got was a big syrupy fruit blend, like an alcohol mixed fruit smoothie with extra syrup thrown in. It is all bright, all fresh, and occasionally quite tropical in style.

Initially the body follows that, in fact everything follows that – all insanely bright and insanely fruity. I did like it like that, but I was very glad when it, instead of just staying like that, expanded. It became more resinous, more greenery and hop oils – from that initial pure, delectable fruit juice style you get a true beer style backbone developing. It is this that takes it from a good but one note beer to an absolutely excellent beer.

It is wonderful – amongst the bright fruit it has that tiny soured tang twist that reminds me of Punk IPA, and late on you get a musky fruitiness of a heavier IIPA. It doesn’t have the pure freshness of, say, un-human cannonball, but has a similarly massive range of huge flavour, and with a heavier back as it goes on.

It doesn’t use large bitterness, or large levels of the more traditional prickling hop character, relying instead on the more hop oil and resin side for the IPA feel, and that means it is not just an excellent flavour IIPA, but a slightly unusual one as well.

A great IIPA with banana and peach side by side in a way little seen, and then combined with tropical fruit to just blow my mind in the sweet and fresh fruit contrast. A fantastic start to Sweden and a true great of the IIPA scene.

Background: Drunk at 3 Små Rum in Gothenburg on the first day of the Sweden beer trip. A wonderful place, the bar staff/brewers were fantastic to talk to, and happy to discuss their beer and beer in general. Had the motto “Don’t ask for blask!” (crappy fizzy beer), and a lovely feel with the small rooms encouraging chats between the various people there. Felt like they knew their regulars well also. They let me into the back where I saw the tiny brew setup they use, so they can be free with their experimentation. They did break my heart though – had a Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter Börb’nåhallon on the shelves, but it was his last bottle, so for display only. NOOOOO! Still, their beer is so good I forgive them. Also tried another beer that they gave to me to try– single hopped with Nelson Sauvuin hops but brewed with Vienna malt, so you you end up with a dark beer mixing with that fresh Nelson Sauvin style. Fascinating, and shows what you can do with small experimental batches. Definitely recommend checking this place out if you are in Gothenburg.

Stone: Mocha IPA (USA: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Pale caramel. Inch of browned bubbles and froth. Clear main body and good carbonation.

Nose: Distinctly milky mocha coffee. Crushed hazelnuts. Cocoa dust. Crushed coffee beans. Choc orange.

Body: Chocolate toffee malt drink. Vanilla toffee backing. A hop feel but little hop flavour. Pine needles and resin. Chocolate limes.

Finish: Big fudge and big chocolate. Choc orange. Hop prickle and popcorn hop feel. Light neutral hop flavour. Hop oils and resin. Chocolate limes.

Conclusion: This actually reminds me of Brewdog’s blond stout Abstrakt they did, number … AB 08 I think it was. Similar concept, only, oddly, this one – despite being a self declared IPA – actually feels closer to archiving the bright coloured yet imperial stout tasting goal. Albeit this is a roasted, hopped up stout, but , since hopped stouts is a familiar enough style these days that shouldn’t disqualify it.

Very big on the coffee, very big on the chocolate on the nose – The amazingly well expressed sheer clarity and complexity of the coffee on that first contact damn near blew my socks off. The level of toffee chocolate on first sip then burned those socks to ash so I could never put them on again. Wow.

Early on it is very stout, so much so that, while I enjoyed it, a small nagging part of me felt that it did not match its declared IPA name. As time passed that worry also passed. It was still very coffee, very stout, but the hop character rose, especially in the long lasting finish. It enters life as a stout, but it leaves as an IPA.

The only flaw then is that the flavours don’t really reflect the range of an IPA, just the hop character. Ok, it does make some concessions – the character of the chocolate can tend choc orange and choc lime, which I guess may be the hops. Generally though the flavour is stout, the feel is IPA.

A minor nitpick though. In concept, in how it matches its concept, and in general quality this is amazing. I can’t recommend it enough. A mind-blowing creation.

Background: Stone Brewing. IPA. Stone Brewing. IPA. I was fairly sure we were onto a good one here. This is an odd one though, an IPA (Or in this case IIPA) made with cocoa and coffee beans. Not your standard IPA addition. Anyway this was grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer selection. Drunk while listening to Killswitch Engage: Alive or Just Breathing. It seemed a nice blend of melodic and heavy metal for the time

Schneider and Sohn: Marie’s Rendezvous: Tap X (Germany: Weizen Bock: 10% ABV)

Visual: Deep cloudy apricot. Thin off white dash of bubbles instead of a head.

Nose: Stewed apricot. Cloves. Honey. Ginger biscuits. Peppermint. Bready. Iced tea.

Body: Honey to mead. Quite dry. Light peppermint. Stewed apricots. Custard slices and icing notes. Raisins.

Finish: Dry honey. Light custard notes. Cloves. Stewed apricots. Raisins.

Conclusion: I have to admit I was expecting more from this. Schneider and Sohn have a long and proud brewing heritage, and this is a beer dedicated to the memory of that, doing their WeizenBock style. Their best in this style can be complex, subtle and yet still huge in what they provide in flavours.

Now this has the huge part down pat, unfortunately it is less so on the complex and subtle sides of things. Ok, that is overly harsh, there is complexity to it, but it has such a big honey sweet front that it can be hard to detect any of the rest of it. It is very booming sweet mead like at the front, dry mead at the back. The sweetness emphasis is so big that it can make it hard to make out the more traditional weizen characteristics.

If you let it warm, take your time with it then it does reward you by bringing out other notes. You get raisins and cloves that call subtly to the amazing Aventinus, beside that you get a peppermint freshness and a wodge of stewed fruit notes. In the end however, it all comes back to the honey. It feels like a mead beer, but needs to do more with the beer side of that to take advantage of it.

As a thick, sweet, honey touched beer it ok, but for a beer from Schneider and Sohn and a beer that is moderately costly, is a bit of a let down. It has a touch of spiciness that calls to its Weizenbock background, but it feels like it needs more. Something that you couldn’t get from mulling mead. Do people mull mead? Never looked into it…

Anyway, an ok experience but that feels like a let down when you look at what it could be.

Background: I do like like both Schneider and Sohn’s Weizen Bocks, and their Tap X range, so this is right up my alley. It is pretty well known that Aventinus is one of my all time favourite beers, so I wanted to see how this stacked up. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk with a bit of punk – Bad Religion: Generator to be specific, a fun album from a long time loved band of mine.

Cloudwater: DIPA v5 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow to apricot. Good carbonation. Large white to yellow touched head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Light boiled egg. Banana. Bready. Pumpkin.

Body: Moderate bitterness that rises to solid over time. Cloying passion fruit. Apricot. Vanilla fudge. Fresh white crusty bread. Frothy mouthfeel. Dried pineapple.

Finish: Good bitterness and hop oils. Digestives. Slightly cloying touch. Peppery. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: Ok, I will admit that I was expecting the slightly cloying touch to the fruit in v4 to be one of the things that changed between it and this v5. It didn’t change. See I am already learning things about how timing of dry hopping does or does not affect a beer.

What we find instead is a more restrained aroma that shows less evident notes, a fact I am pretty sure will be due to the timing of the dry hopping – and a body that has a bigger evident bitterness to it. Also, overall the beer does feel less resinous as well. Yes I will spend a lot of time comparing this to v4, it seems a waste of time to just repeat the elements that are the same between the two.

In fact, returning to the cloying touch, if anything this feels more dedicated to the dry and cloying fruit side of things, with less bright notes showing through. Because of that we also seem to get slightly more of the fudge malt base shining through. Since that doesn’t seem to be something that would be increased by the hop timing I am guessing that it could be because there is less to get in its way so it shines through more. It feels slightly heavier and longer lasting in the flavour.

Of course this is all tried by having only one sample of each beer, with no blind, so hardly the scientific method being done here.

Anyway, this also seems to lack that touch of funky yeast touch from the v4, though it still keeps the peppery character I associated with that. It feels like the more weighty, slower drinking double IPA of the two. There is a nice weight to it, maybe a tad too heavy though, and it does get slightly wearing as it gets warm.

Of the two I would say that v4 is the better, with a tad more complexity, but the two are very similar. This is however the heavier of two slightly heavier than normal Double IPAs, and doesn’t have as much in return. Still good, but not great. V4 definitely wins from the two for me.

Background:Ok quick copy past from v4 which was released at the same time as v5. The two versions came out side by side as they are mostly the same beer, with the difference being V4 is dry hopped during fermentation, v5 is dry hopped after fermentation which will alter how the elements interact. Very interesting. The official advice is to drink half of one, half of the other, then mix the two and try that. Whichever is the preferred one will be used as the template for v6. My alcohol tolerance these days is sod all, and my taste-buds would probably get confused, so I did not do that. instead I drank v4 one day, and v5 the next, so I still had a clear memory of what they were like. Grabbed from Independent Spirit – these were very small batch due to their experimental nature, so I was very happy to get hold of a bottle of each. Also I deliberately didn’t look at notes of v4 until after initial notes but before conclusion so to minimise influence, but help with comparison.

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