Tag Archive: Against The Grain


Cloudwater: Against The Grain: Make Apple Pie Great Again (England: Fruit: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy caramel brown to cloudy apple juice. Very large off white head.

Nose: Cinnamon and apples .. ok, basically apple pie with fresh apples and buttery pastry. Danish pastry.

Body: Apples and cinnamon. Ground ginger. Pastry. Peppery and some white pepper. Dried apricot.

Finish: Vanilla. Apples. Cinnamon. Lightly bready. Light bitterness. White pepper. Light cloves and sugar dusting.

Conclusion: Ok, I think I’ve mentioned before that apple seems to be a hard ingredient to use correctly in a beer. They tend to have too little effect, or end up artificially sweet, or such issues as that.

So, in case you were wondering – yep! This makes apple pie (In a beer) great (Again? For the first time?). Anyway, I think what makes this work is the spice they add which does a lot of heavy lifting for the beer. The cinnamon and ginger notes are well used here, and of course are so closely mentally linked with apple pie that it really makes that core apple flavour seem much more significant than the intensity would otherwise manage. Also that spice grounding means that the apple and accompanying vanilla and pastry notes don’t come across sickly sweet. This all feels very well planned.

I feel like they looked at all the cinnamon and clove influenced Christmas beer and used what was learned from them as a base to work from to make this. It really has that vibe. But with apple pies. Then again, maybe they didn’t – I don’t know how they brewed it, that is just the impression got from the beer itself.

Now you could call this a one trick pony – but that would be somewhat unfair. For one it delivers its concept spot on, and that is what they are selling this beer as. So criticising it for doing its job feel slightly unfair, even if that was true. As a second point, it manages to still feel beer like under the apple pie styling, albeit in the aforementioned Christmas beer style. Finally the spice also brings in some more unusual elements with peppery character mixing well with the hop bitterness to give a bit more edge to that aspect.

Overall, good concept, good learning from beer history, good beer that makes apple pies great!

Background: Ok, this one I am fairly sure is a piss take of Donald Trump. Then again I have been wrong before, so I will just say Donald Trump is an incompetent man child shit who sucks up to fascists. Anyway, this is a beer made with apple puree, apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and muscovado sugar. Drunk while listening to Evil Scarecrow: Galactic Hunt – love the over the top fun and pop culture referencing metal of these lot. This beer was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Yes, again.

Against The Grain Mac Fanny Baw

Against The Grain: Mac Fanny Baw (USA: Smoked: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow brown. Massive off white bubbled head with a slight orange hue. Some moderate carbonation.

Nose: Big smoke. Iodine to turpentine. Peat. A burnt to a crisp steak. Spice. Wood (cedar wood?) Wood fire ovens. Hickory smoke.

Body: Aromatic wood (cedar?), Dried beef jerky. Light caramel. Salt touch. Bready middle. Peat. Smoke. Slight brown sugar to treacle sponge.

Finish: Light oak. Smoke. Dried meat – beef and smoked pork, with salted character. Drying and spicy.

Conclusion: I wish I had spent more time sniffing wood. Ok that may be a statement that needs more explanation. Just maybe.

The thing is, as well as the distinct medicinal and huge smoke aroma, this has a very distinctive aromatic wood element. An element which then follows through the body into a spicy and wood filled finish.

Of course, I’d be damned if I could say which wood though. Hence the original statement. Which ever one it is, it really adds to the experience here making a really smoky beer a much more complex experience than more attempts at a similar style.

This is quite the substantial rauchbier with an almost bready chewyness to it – though thankfully the smoke is more peat than ash tray. Some smoked beers can go beyond my smoke tolerance, but this comes in big yet with dried, salted, and yes smoked meat elements that gives me something I can grip. It feels like the beef jerky kind of level of meat, all the succulence is gone, leaving just hard chunks of flavour that fight back.

In some ways it reminds me of Yeastie Boys‘ Rex Attitude but with much more complexity due to that wood effect and slight underlying sweetness. It may not be the most varied rauch – I have run into a few stunners I am trying to find again to review, but it is a decent attempt.

This is a beer that will dry you out, between the abv, smoke and the salt, it is very possible I would have enjoyed this more in a smaller bottle. Or by sharing it. Though I will admit that it does look awesome in the big glass.

It is a hard beer to get used to, that thick almost turpentine meets medicinal effect is massive on the lead in, the wood and smoke chews on the main body, and the spice and salt make it drying on the way out. It is very lovely, but does wear out its welcome before the end due to its sheer weight.

So share this beer. Or have it with food. Just do something to mix it up so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. But if you do that you will find it a very well crafted beer.

Background: I generally find things with “Against” in the name are good – see “Against The Day”, “Rage Against The Machine”, “Rise Against” and “Against Me!”. I also find the name Mac Fanny Baw funnier than it has any right to be. So of course I picked up a bottle of this from Independent Spirit. This is a rauchbier aged in Bourbon barrels with added Alderwood smoked salt, that I drank while listening to Bad Religion’s Against the Grain. because of course I did.

%d bloggers like this: