Tag Archive: Amber Ale


Brewdog Fyne Ales Same Werking

Brewdog: Fyne Ales: Same Werking (Scotland: Amber Ale: 5.1 %ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Loose bubbly thin browned head.

Nose: Slightly musky. Dried and peppered meat. Cream cheese and chives. Sour dough. Dry brown bread. Faint toffee,

Body: Sour dough. Roasted nuts. Dry. Paprika. Peanuts.

Finish: Sour dough. Cream cheese. Peanuts.

Conclusion: This reminds me a lot of the Irish style red ales I have tried – they have that very dry, and slightly roasted and slightly soured main body. I wonder if it is an intentional call, or just an effect of rooibos?

It is another of the collabfest beers that seems to be working more on the feel of the beer over the flavour, drying yet quite easy to drink- a roasted rough feel but quite slick behind that.

Unfortunately the style needs a lot of skill to pull off, in my opinion anyway – and this, while it manages to deliver a competent expression of the style, doesn’t seem to put that extra touch on it that it needs to really work.

The body is so drying, and so full of dry flavours – without that spark or twist to make it excite, that I can’t really get behind it. It could just be that, like scotch ales, this is one where often the style is not for me. They often seem, like this, overly dominated by the roasted character – the aroma hints at toffee, but none is expressed in the body.

A robust take on a style that it seems doesn’t really appeal to me, so I end up none too impressed.

Background: A rooibos red ale. Apparently rooibos is used for herbal tea, I’ve never tried it, so couldn’t say much on that. Anyway, twelfth beer of collabfest 2014 on day 2. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Brewdog Tyne Amba Necta

Tyne Bank: Brewdog: Amba Necta (England: Amber Ale: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Amber to apricot. Moderate toffee coloured sudded head that leaves rings.

Nose: Toffee. juicy apricot. Medium amount of rough hops and pineapple. Resin. Honey.

Body: Slick thick texture. Moderate bitterness. Stewed fruit and light oak. Pineapple tartness. Chalk. Oily honey.

Finish: Charred oak. Thin honey sheen. Stewed apricot. Brown bread. Toffee malt. Dry mead. Slight sour dough.

Conclusion: Day 2! And what we have here is this kind of dry meadesque amber ale. It’s an unusual one, it feels like a thin sheen of honey is covering your tongue, but despite that it is still very drying, into an almost sour dough twist. The honey, while good for texture really doesn’t seem to provide much sweetness to the ale. Now, often I could criticise beers for being too sweet, but here it is so dry that going out if feels like charred oak on the tongue, and it doesn’t have the weight of flavour to pull off that element.

I guess all that is the long way around saying that I’m not really taken by this beer. The texture is probably the best part, slick but with a touch of grip, but in the other elements it lays on it is a bit too harsh and dry. The stewed fruit promised by the aroma, which would balance it out, is never really delivered in a large enough measure to make a difference.

So, you end up with a harsh beer, that promised a lot but ends leaving a dry mouth and little delivered. You just get lots of roasted and rough edges in need of a sweeter body to be a counter balance. It is a disappointment as it has hints of the elements it needs, that hint of pineapple tartness and stewed apricot – but they never rise to the challenge.

Ah well.

Background: So, after trying ten of the collabfest 214 ales in one day, what do I do. Go back for day two obviously. There are still six beers left to try! I may be slightly insane, but how would you tell? Anyway, the first beer of day two – a honey and apricot amber ale. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

ABED01
Brewdog: Edinburgh: 01 (Scotland: Amber Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark cloudy reddened brown. Hazelnut colour small bubbled froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Cashew nuts. Dry. Caramelised brown sugar. Gherkins. Cherries. Malt chocolate.

Body: Dry. Cashew nuts. Treacle. Moderate bitterness. Creamy texture. Light apricot. Crème brulee. Light fruitcake.

Finish: Brown sugar. Peanuts. Hop character and dry hop feel. Plums. Moderate bitterness. Toffee. Treacle.

Conclusion: Interesting. Very dry in an Irish red style but with a strong sweet crème brulee backbone that contradicts my expectations of the style. It is mixed in with lots of cashew nuts that is distinctive in that slight sourness that they bring, and also in the dry nuttiness they leave behind in the finish.

The contrast of the dry feel and nuttiness to the sweetness is balanced quite well, though there are a few points where it leans too much one way or the other. For example the treacle in the finish builds to a more sickly level over time which weakens the overall experience.

To compensate the texture helps a lot, very creamy and smooth, it acts as a negotiator between the two aspects, helping to make some of the harsher edged flavours more easy drinking. It is quite telling that this aspect is lacking in the finish and it results in the starker contrast as you head out of the body which is the weaker point of the beer.

Overall it is still a mostly well balanced, very dry but flavoursome red. I find it a touch too drying over time for my tastes, predominantly in the finish, but the body delivers well for the most part.

A good try in the a style, balancing the more American amber ale with the Irish red, hard to get right, but it does ok here even if it doesn’t wow.

Background; The second of the bar brewed beer based at Brewdog brewery and they’ve changed the naming convention already. Well that’s just rude. Well maybe not, other places are listing it as BDEN01, so who knows, maybe we just have a schism in the ranks of the Brewdog naming faith. Anyway an amber ale, but I would say it is closer to Irish red in interpretation myself. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Wiper and True Amber ALe

Wiper and True: Amber Ale (In The Groves) (England: Amber Ale: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Amber to brown. Creamy custard touched head. Slight sud and lace.

Nose: Custard, caramel and touch of citrus. Lime, meringue and menthol.

Body: Thick. Fudge and cream. Pineapple and lime. Golden syrup. Apricot. Meringue. Menthol. Honey. Shortbread.

Finish: Light hop influence. Pineapple. Cream. Tart. Lime sorbet. Brown sugar. Slightly bitter.

Conclusion: This may have a seriously nonsensical brewery name but the beer is a joy. Thick textured with rich sweetness that fills the mouth, then withdraws to leave the more menthol flavours in its wake. This is a great example of how to use the texture to hold the flavour and then slowly let it shift out in the finish. It is supremely rich and tongue coating.

It tastes like a shortbread and honey based dessert, and is quite the sweet treat, but oddly that menthol touch doesn’t let it get ahead of itself, reigning the beer in every time it looks like it about to gallop ahead and grounding it into the lightly bitter finish.

Now that menthol greenery can be a bit of a drawback at times, it is a herbal influence that seems very necessary to the style of the beer, but in itself is not the most rewarding element. Not that it is bad, but more a necessary evil to allow the rest of the beer to do exactly what it wants without getting sickly.

A sweet, rewarding, menthol and just lightly citrus beer that evolves and progresses differently to most beers of this style, emphasising the sweet and then bringing it down to the greenery, letting other notes hang in the back. By the end of the beer the greenery elements can get a bit intrusive, but for the most part they do their job. Again, it is less a flavour element to me than an offset to let the rest of the beer work.

Despite that I can still highly recommend it for craftsmanship and style, an amber dessert beer, huh, I did not realise there could be such a thing.

Background: I think this is “In The Groves” The tap (admittedly out of focus in the photo) did not say, but the abv matches. I had tried Wiper and True Amber Ale (Again with no descriptor) before at Bath Brew House and it tasted even better than this one, more citrus and flavorsome (Seriously that version is show stopper excellent if it is what I drank before), I presume that to be the “In the pines” version from the descriptions on the web site. Before I went to do the write up I didn’t realise there were two versions so did wonder why the two beers I had within a week of each other in two different pubs had such different tastes. If I get the chance I will try to do the “In the pines” version as well. Anyway, this was drunk at the newly done up Porter Bar, now with a good chunk of craft beer taps. I personally like the unusual, non standard ambience, but most of my friends do not, preferring a more standard pub style. Me, I love normal pub style, but its good to have somewhere a bit different.

Porter Bar

Face With No Name

Tempest: A Face With No Name (Scotland: Amber Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy amber, half inch of frothy off white head.

Nose: Ovaltine. Milky and with a touch of hops. Toffee character. Coffee.

Body: Smooth. Malt drinks. Light hops and bitterness. Raisins. Malt loaf. Dried apricot.

Finish: Very milky coffee. Malt loaf. Slight coffee granules in both feel and taste. Dried apricot.

Conclusion: In the past I have compared some beers to malt drinks, and more specifically, ovaltine. I was wrong. This is an ovaltine beer. I mean nigh exactly.

But, ya know, with hops.

And alcohol.

It still counts.

It really is bloody weird, there a some raisins and malt loaf sweetness, a dry finish with hints of coffee. Oh, and yeah, massive flipping ovaltine. None of the elements are what you would expect from the prior encountered element.

As a beer it amuses me, dry rather than refreshing yet despite that it feels very smooth and easy to drink. Similarly that 6% abv is not noticeable at all, and by feel and taste I would imagine much lower.

The flavours add themselves in as you go on, a touch of toffee, but more noticeable is the coffee that comes in. It really adds to that brewed drink impression it was already working on.

The only down side I that it feels closed in a way. Despite the odd flavours they feel close knit, and keep their cards close to the chest. You wish there was a way to pry them loose and enjoy them more as distinct elements. Despite that it is a solid milky coffee and ovaltine experience. Solid, but for all the oddities, not showy.

As I say, it amuses me, a very different beer and a worthy one. Probably not one to have often, a lot rides on the unique experience of it which could wear thin. Intriguing.

Background: Found at Brewdog Bristol. It was sold to me as a beer which defied style classification, which is always a way of perking my interest. Ratebeer says Amber Ale, which kind of ruins the mystery, but ignore them. What do they know anyway? I’ve not tried any of Tempest Brewing before. Always nice finding a new brewery to enjoy. As often happens it seems in focus photos are not my strong point. Sorry.

10 Heads High

Brewdog: 10 Heads High (Scotland: Amber Ale: 7.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry red, inch of creamy caramel froth.

Nose: Resinous and bitter. Digestives. Hop tingle. Pineapple in custard. Cherry. Caramel. Almost chewable.

Body: Good bitterness. Malt loaf. Caramel. Creamy. Cherries and fruitcake. Bitter red wine. Citrus hops.

Finish: Hoppy and resinous. Slight milky touch. Digestives. Caramel. Roasted nuts. Slightly citrus hops. Charring. Soap touch.

Conclusion: That’s odd, the finish in this has a slight soap touch. Yet despite that I have no urge to tear the beer apart. I guess there is precedent with the slight washing up aroma in Saint Petersburg, but still it is unusual. How can a beer have that element and yet still be as enjoyable as it is. Huh.

A lovely hoppy and resinous aroma which makes for a feast for the nose. The bitterness is big but this has a very smooth malt backbone. It is easier drinking than the Hops Kill Nazis it is based on because of that big malt. It is creamier and smoother as well. It loses some of that fresh hop variety in return but never loses the all important bitterness.

There still is some citrus hops, but there are less discernable elements within. Instead there is very much fruitcake and caramel notes that seem to keep the hops from roaming too much.

This makes it easier to sip on and the hop punch still kicks. Bracingly bitter, but well matched with the sweetness so not to push an experienced hop fan.

Then finally yes, the element I have been avoiding, the slight soap in the finish. Not a huge element against the bitter hops but it is there in the background. Not my favourite element but it managed to not intrude too much.

So, good, the malt holds the hops in check and soap takes the finish, but it’s a reasonably easy to drink beer that balances easy to drink malt and digestives with bitter kick in a way to make it surprisingly moreish.

Background: Pretty much a remix of the old prototype Hops Kills Nazis (Aka Hops Kill ?). As before it is pretty much a hopped up and raised abv version of 5 AM Saint.  This beer had a mixed buzz about it just after it came out, with a lot of comparisons to that previous beer.  I was thus a tad nervous heading into try this beer. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

CIMG2206

Ballast Point: Calico Amber Ale (USA: Amber Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed amber, clear and with light carbonation.  Large thick sud caramel touched head.

Nose: Pine cones. Toffee. Light wheat flakes. Light bitterness and hops. Custard. Pineapple. Dry fudge. Popcorn.

Body: Good bitterness. Tart pineapple. Pink grapefruit. Vanilla toffee. Resin. Solid malt backbone.

Finish: Bitter hops that grows and grows. Malt loaf. Light cherries. Popcorn feel. Granite like when very bitter.

Conclusion:  Quite the solid little contender here. The aroma promised something easy going, fruity and with light bitterness. The liar.

Good solid bitter kick in the body, toffee and malt backbone and a bit of citrus hops with freshness to them. For an American amber ale none of these are too surprising but the bitter force in the finish is much more than the nose promises. The juicy malt to hop bitter kick is, generally balanced well and when it’s on the two works well against each other.

Now you were promised something subtle by the nose, and subtle doesn’t really play here. Also occasionally the malt of the body seems to thin out, and doesn’t bring the weight you need against the hops. When this happens it loses that balance and you don’t really get the flavour to go with the bitterness. However, for the most part it does the job well.

The juicy malt brings a nice cherry flavour, and by the end the bitterness lays down a granite like roughness that pushes past the popcorn like dryness that expresses the bitterness early on. Everything really is tied up in that hop to malt play.  Rising waves of toffee and cherry crashing down into citrus and hop debris. When it works it is like surfing the waves of flavour. When it doesn’t it rides out rough and yet thin.

A beer that hits more than it misses. Too unreliable to be great but a rough yet enjoyable package.

Background: Drunk while listening to a best of The UFO album. Never heard them before and since I’m seeing them live shortly with a few mates I thought I’d best give them a listen. Decided that a nice amber ale would go well with some tuneage and Ballast Point tend to play nice with hops so broke this open.

Beerier

Willy Good Ale: Beerier Beer (England: Amber Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Amber. Moderate off white froth.

Nose: Slightly musty. Fresh cooked white bread. Towards nutty flavour. Sulphur and eggs.

Body: Moderate bitterness. Walnuts. Vanilla yogurt and hop touches. Milky with light caramel. Straw.

Finish: Vanilla yogurt. Hops. Bitter. Quite crisp. Straw. Coconut.

Conclusion: Some times you can guess from the colour of a beer what sort of drink awaits you, other times less so.  This is the second of those two. If the colour of the beer matched the flavour this would be a creamy white colour.

There is light hop bitterness and light fields and straw, but the main flavours are smooth milk and vanilla yogurt. Very easy going. There is a  touch of caramel sweetness mid body like someone dropped honey into fresh yogurt. That may not sound like a nice thing for a pint but I am assuring you that it is.

It was very easy to drink, and towards the session end of the scale which was helped greatly by the light coconut taste at the end. I have the feeling this beer would complement a curry brilliantly. Initially the beer can seem a bit dull, but it expands well with time. There is no real high points that make you want to shout out, but in general the flavour goes well.

I could stay on this for a while, never too much to contemplate on mid body, but that coconut and yogurt finish just lasts and last without getting dull. Relaxing as well in a malted drink kind of way.

Soothing and drinkable with a bit of hops. Not bad.

Background: Drunk at the Raven with friends on a chilly Friday evening. I only mention the chilly aspect as the bloody condensation kept fogging up the camera lens. Thankfully I managed to get a half focused photo of the tap by the end, even if the pint itself is not best done.  Not tried any of Willy’s beer before, but the name amused me so I thought I would give it a shot. I’m not sure about the amber ale style choice, but amber ale is a very loose ly defined style and that’s what they call it so I’m leaving it as that for now.

LastofThe

Summer Wine: Aoraki Red IPA (England: Amber Ale: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Caramel to toffee brown colour with large tight bubbled head which is off white and leaves solid sud rings at it descends.

Nose: Mango and peach. Crème Brule. Stewed apples.

Body: Good bitterness. Pine needles. Pineapple and grapefruit. Sour sweets. Robust hops. Caramel. Hop oil. Cinder toffee.

Finish: Bitter and hops. Hop oils and resin. Cinder toffee.

Conclusion: It was about half way through this I realised I had encountered Summer Wine Brewery before.  The style of this keg beer is very different to their cask efforts I had previously tried.

This is a hop oil and pine cone fresh and bitter beer. Initially that bitterness and a bit of fresh citrus fruit hops is all that I managed to discern.  As the beer went on though I detected a hard edged cinder toffee element and toffee sweetness that started pushing through. A while longer and cinder toffee seemed to dominate the finish.

It is a much needed element to the beer, grounding it and adding a bit of spice amongst the solid bitter hop kick. In a way it reminds me of a fresher edge Hops Kill ?. The fruit here is more open and the sweetness, at least initially, seems less heavy.  In comparison it is a lighter beer, but only in comparison. It still kicks like a mule , though with graceful fruit flavours.  The lighter fruit especially works well to offset the heavier flavours.

It doesn’t always do this perfectly, the finish can get a bit heavy and cloying after a while. The cinder toffee pushes through a bit much and seems also to affect the clarity of the hop flavours.  A pity as early on the freshness of the beer is note perfect.

At a half I think I had the right amount and even then it may have benefited from being shared.  It rocked early to mid drink but wore out its welcome as it was reaching the end.  Still a beer worth a try I would say.  Maybe share with mates as suggested before, or match with some heavy duty food to balance it.  Not perfect, and needs so work to best appreciate but has a good dose of flavour to it.

Background: Drunk at Brewdog Bristol. Mainly because I liked the name, which by a bit of googling seems to be the highest mountain in New Zealand. You learn something new every day. Because of that and the flavours I’m guessing it has heavy use of NZ hops. I was debating about if I should put in under IPA, Amber Ale or Imperial Red Ale, but its similarity to Hops Kill made me eventually plump for Amber Ale. Summer Wine Brewery beers I’ve had on cask a few times, None have really jumped out at me but they have been pleasant, though tending towards being better in halves than pints.

Wild Beer Co: Scarlet Fever (England: Amber Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: A dark brown red, half inch of sud coffee hued froth.

Nose: Dry roasted peanuts. Tingling hops and earth. Toffee and light citrus.

Body: Good bitterness and slightly earthy. Pineapple. Slightly sharp. Quite dry and slightly nutty. Toffee.

Finish: Cocoa powder. Quite earthy and bitter. Grapefruit. Nuts. Carmel touches and lime. Spiced orange.

Conclusion: So, more beers from the wild beer company, and this one seems the most normal of the announced line up. It’s a quite hopped amber ale and doesn’t add any weird quirk to the mix.

For all its boast of citrus hops, what comes through mostly at the early sips is an earthy nature and dry roasted peanuts.  When combined they do give quiet a big and earthy bitterness that makes for a solid backbone.

The toffee and citrus boasted of are there though, but in the early going feel more notes in the background rather than the stars of the show. They do gain in prominence over the course of the beer though, becoming more mid body entities.  Like a lot of times temperature plays it’s part. Cold it is much more earthy, warmth lets the citrus get a bit more play. Similarly warmth lets the toffee sit better on the tongue, against the cooler styles of craft beers this one should be had at just  a tad below room temperature in my opinion

Where it sells it is the finish, here the citrus flavours last much longer than the bitter and heavier elements, which lets it take a bit of time to shine. All in all it is a solid beer with a good punch, and the finish does have that grapefruit flavour that delivers on the promise.  It doesn’t really excite, maybe a bit too heavy on the base and doesn’t give the flavours the room they need.

Still, all it is lacking is that bit of sparkle, it’s a decent beer but needs a hook.  Not such a wild beer really but nice. Hopefully the coming experiment with new yeast will give it what it needs.

Background: The second beer from the wild beer company. This one seems to be trying to keep to listing three cool things on the bottle but they are pushing it. “Red Ale+ Toffee Caramel + Citrus Hops” .Since the toffee caramel seems to be a flavour reference rather than actual brewing ingredient I would say this is meant to be one of their more normal beers. Not necessarily a bad thing, a brewery can’t live on out there experiments alone. As a fan of Bristol beer Factory and eclectic ales I’ve been keeping an eye on this new Brewery created from a few brewers that broke off from BBF. So far they have been doing ok, but I’m looking forward to their more odd ales to come.  It’s worth noting that they changed the yeast for this beer on the next batch, so this is either and out of date review, or a time capsule of a unique experience. Take your pick.

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