Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV

Collective Sao Gabriel Touro Tripel
Collective Sao Gabriel: Touro Tripel Blonde (South Africa: Abbey Style Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Apricot, good sized white bubbled head.

Nose: Peach syrup. Black liquorice. Cane sugar. Cheesecake. Dried apricot. Stewed fruit. Slightly musty.

Body: Cream. Some bitterness. Banana. Liquorice. Cloves. Apricot. Slightly yeastie.

Finish: Cake sponge. Liquorice. Cane sugar. Lemon curd. Quite clean.

Conclusion: A creamy, fruity Tripel with liquorice notes. You had me up until that last one, now you are going to have to work really hard to sell me on it.

The base tripel is really clean and slightly dry with very little residual cane sugar. There is some sweetness but in general if feels more attenuated that a lot of the sugar sweet tripels going around. The sweetness instead mainly comes from the fruity character that would not actually be out of place on the less bitter end of the American IPA spectrum, there is even a similar creaminess of character.

Then, there is the liquorice, which seems to be a side affect of the dryness I think. It does have a use – tamping down the residual sugars that still exist to stop them building up too much. It goes a bit far though and can become a cloying and long lasting presence, far after the other flavours, and that really isn’t my preference.

It is a sign of the quality of the rest of the beer that I still enjoyed it despite that -while mostly a clean feel there is a bit of yeastiness there – small, but present and it gives it an interesting character. Based on this I would say there is a lot of room in the market for less sweet tripels, it is just this one needs a few more tweaks to work.

So a very fruity and dry tripel. It is at the almost working level, but not quite. However, if you have more of a tolerance for liquorice than I, this might be right up your street.

Background: Ok, where to list this as being from? Had to do a bit of googling for this one – the beers are listed as being brewed in Belgium according to the bottle, but Collective Sao Gabriel appear to be contract brewers a la Mikkeller, but based in South Africa. I’ve followed the Mikkeller route and listed where I think they are based. So South Africa it is. I didn’t just do that so I get an unusual entry on the beer map – honest. Anyway, I mainly grabbed this as it has awesome art on it which caught my eye. yep, sometimes I am that shallow. Ratebeer is listed in this as a Belgian strong ale, but I’ve decided to do my usual and list it based on what the brewer calls it as long as it is the right ballpark. Drunk while listening to New Model Army’s live album. Note: despite what I say above I actually quite like liquorice by itself, it just often doesn’t work in beer. Grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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Wild Beer Co Brett Brett Double IPA

Wild Beer Co: Brett Brett Double IPA (England: IIPA: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Moderate whitish froth.

Nose: Lemon on pancakes. Light acidic fruit. Fresh cut apples. Shortbread. Apricot and peach. Light cream.

Body: Passion fruit. Pineapple. Tart. Thick feeling but dry body. Lemon curd. Pink grapefruit. Tart apples.

Finish: Cheese puffs feel. Lemon curd. Light bitterness. Tart pineapple. Pink grapefruit. Sour dough.

Conclusion: Ohh, tart, tart. This is a very tart and slightly sour IPA – dry and somewhat acidic. It feels pretty funky and yeastie at the end, yet, despite brettloads of brett, the acidic main character finds itself on a comparatively clean base in the main body. I say comparatively as there is still a thick feel to the body, and a yeastie character, but the tartness carries the main body so much that it isn’t a main influence.

The feel doesn’t really shout IPA, double or otherwise. While there is obviously a buttload of hops contributing to the tart, tropical character – the bitterness, or in fact hop oils or hop feel, are all low. If I had to do a high concept description I would say it tastes kind of like a tarter, tropical hoped Orval. Kind of. It is hard to do a direct comparison. It tastes kind of like what I expected “You Taste Better When You Are Scared” to, but is much better done than that one.

Right now it feels like an interesting mash up, lots of fun elements – the tartness, the funky yeast and the big tropical flavours – all packed together but without much coherence. Still very enjoyable, but I wonder if time will let it settle into a more thematically consistent beer. Only time will tell.

As is it is a fluffy shot of tart flavour, very welcome, very refreshing and a bit different. A bit more enthusiastic than refined but that is no bad thing.

Background: This sounds like Evolver IPA ramped up for Double IPA stakes. Basically an IIPA spiked with Brett so you can actually age it without losing the hops. I have a second bottled tucked a way to test this theory. Sounds like it is playing in the same area as Stone’s Enjoy After IPA, which I have also tucked away and ageing. I’m a big fan of Wild Beer co and grab them whenever a new one pops up in Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Pottymouth – Bratmobile for a bit of energy music. Any Brat/Brett puns are completely coincidental.

Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA

Stone: 19th Anniversary: Thunderstruck IPA (USA: IIPA: 8.7 ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow body. Yellowed bubbled head that foams up on a good pour.

Nose: Smooth. Tangerine. Shortbread and cream. Watermelon. Passion fruit. Jolly ranchers. Light fluffy hop character.

Body: Good bitterness. Peach and fruit syrup. Watermelon. Passion fruit. tangerine. Thick fruit pulp feeling base. Toffee back. Overripe banana. Good hop character.

Finish: Good hops and high bitterness. Slightly rough hop feel. Watermelon and tangerine. Passion fruit. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Ok. Everyone stand back. I am about to make an unprecedented statement. Stone brewing are doing a very hoppy beer. Shocked I know. Cats and dogs living together. Total anarchy. And they say sarcasm doesn’t come across well in print. The fools.

Good thing they are awesome at hoppy beers or them doing them over and over would get dull. This time they seem to have gone for a pretty smooth, watermelon, passionfruit and tangerine emphasising beer. Very much showing the Ella influence of the hop choice, and as an Ella fan I am in no way complaining. With the head frothed up it feels creamy and smooth – in fact if this was all there was to it, this would be a dangerously easy to drink beer.

Of course, this is Stone, so it has to have at least one extra characteristic – a solid bitter hop kick. Initially just a bracing level, but rising with each sip. This ends up bringing a long lasting, very bitter finish by the last drop. The malt body behind it shows very little influence – it is slightly dry and mainly there to let the hops show off.

Technically, as a smoother beer it would be better and therefore more impressive. I have had some experience with utterly amazing IPAs made with Ella in, and by reining in the bitterness they seem to really let the hop flavours do better. On the other hand, this is Stone – what did you expect? and since other people have the ultra smooth IPAs covered I am not going to complain that this indulges a little alpha acid push.

Great flavour, great bitterness. Maybe better beers have been made with the hops, but this definitely earns its right to exist.

Background: Well, last years anniversary ale was a hit with me, so let’s give this years a go. This time a double IPA made with a host of Australian hops – Topaz, Galaxy, Vic Secret and Ella. Ella is an awesome hop, so I was very much up for this. So, yeah, Stone beers, highly hopped – I was fairly certain this was going to go good places.

Brewdog Hinterland

Brewdog: Hinterland (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black – pours like chocolate liqueur, has a short lasting brown bubbled head.

Nose: Bitter cocoa. Crushed chocolate bourbon biscuits. Light roasted character.

Body: Bitter chocolate and cocoa dust. Dry roasted nuts and hazelnuts. Chocolate cake. Black cherry hint. Liquorice hint. Chocolate icing. Light sugar cane. Cream.

Finish: Vanilla. Cocoa. Bitter chocolate cake. Light sugar dusting.

Conclusion: This is one of those beers that would have blown my mind early on in my beer drinking life, but with all the water under the beer bridge I have become slightly blasé to.

Basically, this is chocolate. Mainly bitter, sometimes creamy, sometimes cake like and sometimes icing like, but in general – chocolate. That is the strength and the weakness. Strength as well, about five years back this level of layered, varied chocolate would have put me in the mind of a chocolate equivalent of what Beer Geek Brunch Weasel does for coffee – layered and lovely.

Thing is, these days it seems kind of one note – a fricking impressive note, but one note. I have now tried other beers have done the wonder of many layered chocolate and managed to add other elements to match and oppose it. I promise I’m not just being picky as I recently disagreed with Brewdog on some stuff – I still genuinely like a lot of their beers and what they do. This is nice, impressive even – but doesn’t stand out as an exceptional Imperial Stout amongst Brewdog’s range, let alone the insane range of high quality Imperial Stouts in the world.

Still, thickness wise it has a good texture. Chocolate wise it has a good range; Creamy, rich, bitter, heavy and tasty. It is just not as good as some others. You won’t be let down though if you want a chocolate Imperial Stout – I am just spoiled.

Needs something none chocolate added to it to make it special, but still pretty good.

Background: An imperial oatmeal milk stout made with cocoa and vanilla pods. Again Brewdog are making me pack in the extra words to describe their beers This thing has an awesome pretty label, which is cool – The photo doesn’t really show it off. With it being so dark I either got it looking like a black bottle, or with a level of flash back depending on the setting. An expert photographer I am not. Bias warning, despite my recent disagreements with Brewdog, I still benefit financially from them doing well as a minor shareholder. Despite that I still try to be as unbiased as possible. This was drunk after blowing yet another promising Binding of Isaac The Lost run. Grrr. Drunk while listening to the great fun Television Villain! Check them out. Bias warning – a friends band.

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.


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