Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV


Omnipollo: Buxton: Texas Pecan Ice Cream (Sweden: Imperial Porter: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Froths up a head that vanishes nigh instantly.

Nose: Pecan. Cashew. Coffee cake. Cocoa dust. Light charcoal ash. Caramel. Creamy.

Body: Blackcurrant and liquorice. Slight sherbety feel. Chocolate liqueur. Slightly bready. Crushed pecan. Lactose feeling, yet slightly light mouthfeel. Light chalky feel. Caramel.

Finish: Chocolate bourbon biscuits. Crushed peanuts. Blackcurrant liquorice sweets. Milky. Leaves sheen on tongue. Dry fudge. Pecan pie.

Conclusion: I’m fairly sure Texas Pecan Ice Cream isn’t made with blackcurrant and liquorice. I mean, I could be wrong – ya know, not being from Texas and all that, but I’m still fairly sure.

You may be wondering why I am saying that, it is an odd way to open up the notes. Well, I say it as, while the nuts definitely dominate the aroma – on taking the first sip this came in big with those old blackcurrant and liquorice sweet character. Nice, but completely unexpected given the beer’s concept.

The nuttiness instead rises in the body as the beer warms – so don’t worry about that. There is a similar progression in the texture – while it does have a lactose, creamy mouthfeel, early on it feels deceptively light. I do wonder if this difference in texture is part of what makes an Imperial porter stand out from an imperial stout – they are such close linked styles. The weight does grow over time, but even late on it doesn’t have the fullness you would expect of a lactose infused, 10% abv beer. Even feels slightly sherbety against some chalk feel, and still slightly light. Unusual.

So – it is different to what I expected from the description – early on it is very enjoyable in the blackcurrant and liquorice it brings, and that always plays as a backing to the main beer. The nuttiness becomes quite present over time mixing with creamy caramel and fudge sweetness – it isn’t quite pecan ice cream to my mind, probably would need just a bit more body to sell that imagery – it isn’t bad at all, but it really feels like a bit more work, a bit more body and this could be a huge beer and much better.

Pretty good, a mix of the core concept with a radically different imperial porter base, but not 100% on point.

Background: I very much enjoyed the Ominpollo and Buxton collaboration Ice Cream themed beers when I first ran into them about a year ago. Seeing that Independent Spirit had one of the ones I had missed back in stock, I decided to grab it and give it a try. Made with vanilla and lactose sugar, along with wheat and oats in the malt bill – though not, it seems, any actual pecans. I could be wrong on that so don’t quote me on that one. Drunk while listening to The Algorithm – Brute Force. Missed seeing them live last year despite having tickets, which was a pity, but great electronic, mathcore style fun to listen to when drinking.

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Brewdog: Prototype: Double IPA (Scotland: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear gold. Small bubbled carbonation. Medium off white head.

Nose: Fresh, slightly resinous hops. Grapes and grapefruit. Slight hop bitterness. Fresh, but slightly dry. Mandarin orange. Bready.

Body: Kiwi. Toffee and caramel. Clean mouthfeel. Grapes. Juicy. Clean hop oils. Slight bitterness. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Good bitterness and hops. Grapes. Pink grapefruit. Vanilla. Light peach. Hop oil. Mandarin orange. Passion-fruit.

Conclusion: This feels like a double IPA that ties to take elements from all ends of the IPA interpretation range and mash them together into a flavoursome, well balanced beer.

For example – the malt – pretty cleanly delivered and well attenuated to let the hop character show through clearly, yet still has a touch of that sweeter caramel style rather than the more neutral vanilla or toffee sweetness that usually comes in with the drier attenuation.

Another example – the hops – seems fairly fresh in a NZ style early on – tart grapefruit, grapes and such – but if you hold it then old school American peach hop notes come out matched with orange notes that seem to come from the new hotness of the hop range. It isn’t pushing one message, but giving high notes from each hop style’s strengths,

It is very well crafted and shows the advantage in working upon a well known style, rather than the raw enthusiasm of adding in cool new twists as the other two IPA prototypes do – the experience in brewing means that this is very layered, balanced and high quality. It delivers an attenuated, but not stupidly dry beer for easy drinking and big flavour and hops.

It fills the gap left by Hardcore IPA leaving their line up much better than Born To Die does and is a great well crafted beer – general enough to be a beer you can have nigh any time you are happy with the abv, and good enough that you will look forwards to doing so. This had my vote.

Background: Second of the Brewdog prototypes for this year, of which there are now four again as they finally got around to releasing the blond ale. Still debating on if I should pick one of them up. Anyway this is their double IPA, with 80 IBUs according the bottle – a decent kick – the most normal of the initial three IPA styles released. Everyone gets to vote on which one they want to become part of the main line-up. Disclaimer – as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was grabbed direct from their Brewdog store. This was drunk while listening to some Akala – still continually blown away by that guy’s lyrical skill.

Oude Geuze Boon: A L’ancienne Vat 109 Mono Blend (Belgium: Geuze Lambic: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Apricot skin coloured body. Large solid white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Fresh brown bread. Oats. Dry. Horse blankets.

Body: Sherbet lemon. Tart lime. Frothy mouthfeel. Brown bread. Dry sultanas and dry sherry. Oats. White wine. Marmalade.

Finish: Dry sherry. Raisins. Madeira. Slight liquorice. Marzipan. Tannins. Plums. Slight marmalade.

Conclusion: This is a strange one, in that it has a fairly condensed set of tasting notes, as you can see above, yet feels complex as hell. A lot of that comes down to mouthfeel, which I find hard to describe in as florid detail as taste seems to lend itself to. Still, I’ll give it a shot.

This is dry, like, white wine dry – yet it froths up in a sherbety fashion up front which gives a completely different first impression before it sinks into that dry main body. After that it finally leads out into a similarly dry, but red wine and tannins touched dark fruit and sherry finish. A lot of the variation is expressed in terms of feel – the tannins especially are as much feel as taste and the varied acidic, dry, sweet and fresh areas give layers to the comparatively simple flavours in a way that I still feel I have not quite explained.

So, onto the main flavours themselves – generally very dry sherry like, mixing dark fruits with vinous notes – yet, again, the first elements up front are fresh lemon and lime notes that are not seen later on. Generally though this takes the lambic base and turns it bone dry, dark and rewarding. There are slight marmalade notes late on as the flavours build up – I presume this is the cognac ageing coming to the fore, rather than expressing in the wine like notes – it really is a slow build and does not overwhelm the base lambic at all. While it may not have a huge range of notes, the way it delivers them slowly over time makes it very rewarding – everything becomes bigger and heavier over time changing in intensity if not in nature.

A lot of the best points come late on in the drink, especially the marmalade notes – this is actually a fairly good thing – they are intense notes that would have become sickly if brought on earlier.

Overall this is a brilliant lambic that is far more than it seems on paper. Well worth it.

Background: This was one of the lambics got in during Independent Spirit‘s very impressive batch of sours. There are still tons I want to get. Anyway I finally settled on this one as a) Boon have been very impressive in my experience and b) it is unusually aged in ex cognac casks. From a quick google it seems that it is 4th fill casks due to the cognac being too dominant in earlier fills which is interesting to know. Anyway, put on some White Zombie for drinking this – no reason, just felt like some retro horror themed metal. Who needs a reason for that?

Lost and Grounded: Apophenia (England: Abbey Tripel: 8.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow to apricot. Thin white to off white head. Fast small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Buttery shortbread. Cane sugar. Light fluffy hop character. Toffee popcorn. Crushed orange hard sweets. Light crumbled brown bread.

Body: Sweet orange hard sweets. Palma violets. Custard. Crisp hops and moderate bitterness. Slight grape and kiwi. Slight sour green fruit tang and gherkin.

Finish: Orange hard sweets. Cane sugar. Moderate custard hops bitterness. Kiwi fruit. Slight gherkin. Buttery shortbread.

Conclusion: Ok, this works for me far more than the more highly reputed collaboration with Verdant and Cloudwater Belgian ale that they did. I think it is because this wears its Belgian roots far more openly.

While this is a tad smoother than your average Belgian tripel, it still has that raw cane sugar sweet edges and a great deal of sweet fruit esters. It differs in that it has a more defined hop character – the custard sweetness and light bitter hops mix in a way that actually calls to mind the excellent Saison Dupont, without losing the base tripel style. The hop use brings in more green fruit, but unlike most beers these days, it isn’t dominated by the hops so to hurt the benefits of the base style. Instead it just adds rounding notes that mix with the sweetness to give a real old fashioned sweet shop set of imagery.

Another twist is the buttery shortbread style it has, making for a thicker backing feel, yet also a subtle smoothness to the raw edges. Everything feels like it is respecting the style, but also expanding so not to be beholden to it.

Finally it adds a slightly more sour note – kind of in slight sour grapes to mild gherkin in expression, which brings a gentle twist to the middle and finish – its something that really offsets the sweetness, and is responsible for it never seeming sickly despite the cane sugar style. Since Tripels can be very high level sweetness this slight reining it gives it a lot of room to add more layers to it.

I’m genuinely impressed by this – new craft style hops being gently and not excessively used; A saison dupont influenced take on a tripel, and a bit more to boot. Just different enough, just respectful enough – a corker from Lost and Grounded.

Background: For some reason I always get the words Apophenia and Acedia mixed up – Well, I say for some reason – it’s because I first heard both those words because they were the names of History Of Gun’s albums. Which I used great self control and did not listed to while drinking these as a very obscure in joke to myself. Because I have self control. Instead I put on a bunch of different takes on the Mirrors Edge theme song – because I am still a massive geek. Anyway, grabbed this at Independent Spirit – they brought it to my attention as an example of L&G playing with Belgian yeast so thought I would give it a go.

Lervig: Oud Beersel: Black Acid (Norway: Sour Ale: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Small brown head.

Nose: Acidic apple mixed with thick molasses. Madeira. Rum soaked raisins. Dry sherry. Fruitcake. Sultanas.

Body: Tart yet thick. Bready. Sultanas. Chocolate sauce. Pear drops. Dry sherry. Tart black-cherry.

Finish: Charring. Tart pears. Malt chocolate and grated chocolate. Dry sherry. Raisins and sultanas. Madeira. Slight chocolate liqueur. Marzipan.

Conclusion: Whoever first thought of mixing sour beers and stouts – I salute you. Each time I encounter this unusual mix I am reminded that this is the beer style I never knew I needed, yet now I have it, it is brilliant.

For all its large base elements used to make it, this is a very balanced beer between the styles. From approach to aroma you get huge apple, tart and fresh and yet backed with chocolate thickness. It continues that way as you start drinking – fresh, touched with tart apples and pears up front then the sour character just seeps into heavy chocolate liqueur and dark fruits.

In some way it feels like the barrel ageing is what makes it perfect – a bridge built between the two, marrying the styles brilliantly. If you will excuse my mixed metaphors.

It brings dry sherry, dry fruitcake and spirit soaked raisin notes that are familiar to the stout style, but also vinous enough to not seem out of place in a sour beer; It works as matchmaker mid body then as the finish comes in it plays its own game – leading out for a long time with dry sherry like complexities.

Together it takes brilliant elements from each of the three influences and makes it a rich, yet tart and vinous beer with the stout weight giving it a lovely heft.

A brilliant complex mix – definitely worth getting. Go. Get it!

Background: Now this one jumped out at me at Independent Spirit – It is a mix of Oude Lambiek from Oud Beerel, with a Lervig brewed stout. I love the whole sour stout thing that pops up every now and then, and this one has been aged in the Cognac barrels that the Lambic was blended in, and then in Akevitt barrels. I had to google what Akevitt is. Anyway, put on some good old 90s tunes – Garbage 2.0. I slightly prefer the more raw feel of original Garbage album, but both of them are awesome.

Verdant: Cloudwater: Lost and Grounded – Loral and Ardi (England: Abbey Tripel: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy tropical fruit juice looking with a large, loose, bubbled, white head.

Nose: Peppery. Light hop character. Apricot. Slight smoke. Brown bread.

Body: Apricot. Banana. Light custard. Smoke. Bready bitterness. Yeastie. Puff crisp thickness. Peppery.

Finish: Smoked meat. Some bitterness. Crushed Blackpool rock. Pepper. Slight floral air. Palma violets. Mature cheese and cheese puffs. Dried apricot. Peach.

Conclusion: A very grounded beer for a Tripel this one. Well by the end it is. At the start it seemed like it was going to be another fruity hop explosion beer. Not a bad thing in general, but very overused at the moment and can make a lot of beer styles seem very similar, losing the wonderful range of the beer world. So, glad that it turns out to be something different going on here.

What gave me that impression, that it would be a IPA style hop fest is 1) That the cloudy colour really makes it look like the NEIPA style that is all the rage right now and 2) The fresh burst of apricot hops early on. Thankfully there is a lot more ot this beer than first impressions would suggest.

The peppery, Belgian character is there backed by that cheese puff crisps and mature cheese notes that I associate with the Belgian yeast. It gives a lot of weight to what initially seemed to be a simple beer.

Does it work? Well you get juicy hop fruitiness and some hop bitterness matched with the aforementioned Belgian characteristics laid across a custard sweet malt base. It is nice, but I have to admit, feels less than the sum of its parts. The hops and the yeastie notes kind of work, but also seem to create a slightly muggy centre below that. Not terrible, just the dried fruit and peppery character matched with the yeastie notes combine to make things a bit overly clinging in the middle, just slightly wearing.

So lots of good parts, not bad overall, but doesn’t quite mesh everything together to create something better than the individual elements.

Background: Took a while for me to find the name of this – it is tucked away on the side of the can. An odd promotional choice, maybe they were just really ashamed of the pun? Another beer where I was unsure on beer style to use – it pushes itself as a Tripel, which makes sense with the abv so that is the style I listed – however it is closer to a standard blond Belgian ale in a lot of ways, just heavier hopped. Anyway – this is made with Ardennes yeast and dry hopped with Lorcal, Simcoe and Centennial. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to a bit more of the varied sound that comes from Miracle Of Sound.

Brewdog Vs Cloudwater: New England IPA V2 (Scotland: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot with a large white head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Slightly milky hops. Mango juice and white grapes. Nectarines. Buttery shortbread.

Nose; Nectarine. Peach. Slight cloying cream. Low level bitterness and hop character. Light peppermint and greenery. Banana milkshake.

Finish: Milkshake. Grapes. Nectarines. Slight bitterness. Very light greenery. Slight cloying cream. Mandarin orange. Sour dough. Bready.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve had two bottles of this – the first one was had the day I received it and was kind of average. This one was had a week later, so just over a week old and it is much more impressive. Another entry for the “It is possible to have an IPA too fresh” hypothesis.

This has low present bitterness, but still more than the average NEIPA – which is good by me. It still keeps the massive fruit burst I associate with the New England style though – kind of smoothie to milkshake style which seems to be the common trend in these cloudy IPAs. There is a lot of orange variety going on and some slightly tart white grapes as well. This part works perfectly – slightly creamy but not excessively so. I think the bit extra bitterness gives a punch to the flavours not seen in a lot of the style.

For flaws in the beer? Well it has a few minor ones – there is a cloying, slightly sour cream note in the middle – kid of akin to what happens with Punk IPA occasionally as a refreshing twist; Here it is present throughout the beer where it gets a tad wearing rather than refreshing. Apart from that – well there is a slight greenery that seems out of place – minor notes really.

Despite that this is another NEIPA that I can approve of. Again I think it is the slight extra bitterness that makes it work for me – it is small but does stand out. Another one that makes me respect the style more than I did before.

Background: While I wasn’t massively enthused about the first Cloudwater vs Brewdog New England IPA, the buzz around this one was big enough that I grabbed a few bottles from their online store – it has been whirlpool hopped with Mosaic hops, and dry-hopped with Citra, Mandarina Bavaria and Mosaic. Sounded a very tidy hop set to me. This one is an IIPA rather than just a standard IPA so I was hoping the extra weight could work to compensate for the slightly lighter character of V1. Drunk while listening to a random selection of my most played tunes, so guaranteed to have some stuff to put me in a good mood on.

Tiny Rebel: Captain Insano (Wales: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach skin colour. Large mounded white head.

Nose: Dried apricot. Gherkins. Muggy, thick hop character and hop oils. Slight cucumber. Dried banana. Vanilla ice cream to raspberry ripple.

Body: Thick. Kiwi. Kumquat. Key lime. Hop oils. Moderate bitterness. Peach. Green hops. Resinous. Stewed apples. Custard cream biscuits. Nettles. Muggy hop character. Stewed banana.

Finish: Fudge. Kiwi. Hop oils – oily sheen. Apple pie. Pears. Nettles. Thick hop character.

Conclusion:This is thick and full of green, resinous, oily hops. In fact it very much reminds me of being around people with bags of cannabis (As always a disclaimer, I’ve never actually tried cannabis so this is purely from being around friends – I make no claim that it is like the actual cannabis experience). It is full of thick muggy hops, a mix of very fresh feeling and very pungent character dropped straight into a fresh green fruit dominated body. There are slight tart and fresh elements, but mainly the beer follows the thick, almost oppressively weighty style. Which I mean in a good way. Heavy laden flavours in every sip.

There is a hell of a lot of malt in the base, and normally that would be dominating the beer, but here the weight of the muggy hops actually shoves it to the back. You get custard cream biscuits, fudge and vanilla ice creamy from the malt, but it easily becomes second string to the high levels of green feeling hop action. It still kind of works – neither becoming too heavy or too obvious. It is as if by having two heavyweights smashing against each other they cancel each other out.

Probably one of the least subtle ((I)I)IPAS I’ve ever encountered – all of the stewed fruits, all of the hops, all of the malt, everything is desperately trying to be seen from the first sip. Sure as hell isn’t dull.

One of the rawest (however many “I”s it has) IPAs I’ve had of this abv range – I have run into rawer low abv ones, but this manages to match all the raw hop exuberance of an IPA with the massive malt load of an IIPA. Far from a refined, every element mastered, experience – but an enjoyable super enthusiastic hop bomb. Very raw and very enjoyable.

Background: Grabbed this one for two reasons. 1) Tiny Rebel’s Hadouken beer is very nice, so going for a triple IPA from them sounded like a fun thing to do. 2) Insane artwork pink can looked so cool! As always I am kind of easy to sell to. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the epic metal influenced heaviness that is Buckethead’s Cuckoo Clocks Of Hell album. It seemed appropriately heavy and odd for the beer. I had just got back from seeing the stage play of “The Addams Family” had been a bit of a let down – they really didn’t seem to get what was the appeal of the original characters. Ah well.

Amager: Linda – The Axe Grinder (Denmark: American Strong Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black cherry to brown. Large browned bubbled head.

Nose: Hoppy and bitter. Smooth caramel. Malt chocolate and fudge. Spicy rye notes and red cherries. Toasted marshmallows. Slight musty hops and herbal sage note. Light lime and kiwi.

Body: Very smooth. Sage and onion on cooked turkey. Caramel and vanilla toffee. Crushed Blackpool rock. Brandy cream. Glacier cherries. Kiwi. Slightly muggy hops. Spicy rum soaked raisins. Warming Christmas spice.

Finish: Slight charring. Herbal bitterness and slightly muggy hops. Vanilla toffee. Slight cloying cream note. Chocolate liqueur. Bitterness rises over time. Rye crackers. Christmas spice. Riesen chocolate chews.

Conclusion: Ohh this is exactly what I needed. It is big, spicy, warming and soothing all in one. Another beer that feels like a real mash up of styles, and here it happily wears the weight of each one.

Style 1 is close to a Christmas spiced red ale – lots of warming spice, delivered unusually early on as sage and onion, but quickly becoming Christmas spice mixed with rye spice notes. A good start.

Style 2: Bourbon aged barley wine – yeah, still spiced, but here golden syrup sweet, mixed with crushed Blackpool rock. Heavy sweet and powerful with a ton of vanilla and caramel against the spiciness.

Finally, fruity IPA as style 3 – the ageing has made the hop slightly muggy, as you would expect, but it is still reasonably bitter. The hop fruit flavours are green fruit, creamily delivered. This aspect is more subtle due the ageing relaxing and reducing most elements, but it adds another layer and is worth it for the kept hop bitterness that adds an assault punch to this beer.

Together it is wonderfully bitter, wonderfully spicy – soothing, warming and with an almost sickly sweet undertone and huge red fruit. Every element is big, coming together they somehow become soothing – like the world’s biggest, most intense nightcap of a beer. It is liqueur like, a hop assault and manages to use a weight of spicy character without getting lost in just being a spice beer. Great is what I am saying.

Background: Yep, I grabbed this because of the sweet, steampunkesque art. As always I can be kind of easy to sell to. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is an Oaked Imperial Red Ale -ratebeer lists it as an Imperial IPA, but that doesn’t really quite fit for me – so I’ve shoved it under the catch all category of American Strong Ale where it seems to fit better for me. It has more dark malt influence than I would give for an IIPA. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Linda of Minneapolis brewing – hence the name. Anyway, drunk while listening to E-rocks take on San’s Undertale music. Just such an epic combination and reminds me of how bloody good that game is.

Cloudwater: DIPA v13 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy apricot colour. Large yellow white mound of bubbles for a head.

Nose: Tangy. Hint of gherkin. Apples. Slightly musty. Light raspberry.

Body: Thick and creamy. Slight gherkin. Stewed banana. Big peach. Tart raspberry if held. Toffee backbone. Hop oils. Tangy. Slight pineapple. Vanilla yogurt.

Finish: Raspberry pavlova. Tart. Light gherkin. Apricot. Low level bitterness. Bready. Banana sweets. Vanilla yogurt. Chinese stir fry vegetables.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a mix of the great, and the kind of shit. An odd combo. So, erm, here goes. This has a real thick texture – heavy duty and gives a good grip to the flavour. The malt base comes with some toffee character, but is generally a neutral creamy to vanilla yogurt style. Basically something to give room for the hop flavours.

So, onto those hop flavours – well, there is nearly zero bitterness here. A bit unusual for an IPA – even the fruitiest and sweetest tend to have at least a tiny touch of it in the body. Here the only sign is in the bready finish – with some hop oils giving a sheen to the feel, but not a bitterness. Generally this is a bitterness free zone. So, yeah very unexpected for an IIPA.

Ok, so we have a solid base, and a slightly unusual start. Where is the kinds shit stuff I mentioned? The gherkin. The slightly tangy, sour, vegetable gherkin notes. It is very intense early on, especially when first poured – but is still present in a diminished form by the end of the beer. Now, this is an element that can work in beers, but has to be used very carefully. Here it just makes for an uneven, overpowering element that stamps all over the fruitiness the beer has underneath it. I can see what they are trying to do – it feels like it is aiming for a thick, almost crushed cannabis, muggy strength – but in my opinion it severely hurts the overall experience.

Underneath that there is a sense of good stewed fruit and peach melba. Lightly tart in a good way this time – very creamy and moderately sweet. The beer is mostly good in what it does but that one, greenery packed heaviness just makes it one that I really cannot get into at all, instead feeling even sludgy at times. It ends with an almost stir fry veg air – another off note in a beer that felt like it had promise otherwise

I really hope this is not used as the base for any of their new DIPA range.

Background: Had a few of the Cloudwater DIPAs over the past year – didn’t really keep up to date with trying them all as they came out so thick and fast. This one however is their last prototype one off release before they setup a regular line of DIPAs based on what they found out from these. So, thought it may be worth giving another, final go. Unlike some people I have no negative attachment to the number 13, so have no probs with this being their 13th release. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Ulver: Childhoods End.

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