Tag Archive: Art Brew


Art Brew Christmas Tree Beer

Art Brew: Christmas Tree Beer (England: Spice Beer: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy toffee brown body. Large slightly browned creamy mound of a head that leaves lace.

Nose: Aniseed and pine cones. Earthy touch. Lime. Lightly creamy. Dried apricot.

Body: Aniseed. Peppercorn. Thai curry. Very spicy. Gherkin. Light vanilla toffee. Coconut. Pine needles. Creamy mouthfeel. Cinnamon. Dried apricot.

Finish: Thai curry and coconut. Very long lasting spice. Seven spice jars. Pine needles. Lightly earthy.

Conclusion: Ok, I should have expected this – it was predictable from the fact that they put an entire Christmas tree in while brewing, but still… Damn this is spicy as hell. Forget mulled beer, or mulled wine, this has stolen all the Christmas spice and made it the most stereotypically Christmas beer around.

Therefore it is inevitable that I don’t really get along with it. It is mainly because I like spice to be an addition to the beer rather than the main thrust of the beer itself. This really have very little to back up the spice, very little intrinsically beer like characteristics. The main texture is creamy, calling to the more mainstream interpretations of bitters. There are a few other calls to the beer character, the most recognisable is the apricot sweetness that contrasts the spice. It is a weak and easily missed note but it is there.

The main flavour is a mix of Thai curry and aniseed. It is probably the aniseed that is what killed my interest in it, I very rarely get along with strongly aniseed flavoured beers. So, best I can say is that if you love spice and love Christmas then you will get along with this like a house on fire, as that is 98% of the beer.

However it really is not for me.

Background: Ok, this is my concession to Christmas, the most Christmassy of Christmas beers – a beer brewed with an entire Christmas tree in it. Also, a brew from Art Brew, who have been long time beers to appear here so I am always glad to see them back. Good times. Grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to New Model Army. Ok, ok, and Merry Christmas to all all who celebrate it. A good day to everyone else.

Art Brew Aged IPA

Art Brew: Aged IPA (England: IPA: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Orange with amber hints. Some small bubble carbonation. Massive off white mounded head that left lots of lace and suds.

Nose: Ginger. Crisp wheat. Lemon. Brown sugar.

Body: Earthy and bitter. Light orange. Mild brown sugar. Vanilla. Smooth. Toffee. Dill pickle and lime prickle. Ginger.

Finish: Earthy. Paprika. Soil. mango. Pineapple. Zesty orange. Malt chocolate. Bitter. Slight cane sugar.

Conclusion: What the fuck is that head? I swear I tried to pour carefully. This is a touch of a lively one boys and girls. Also, are they trying to cram every Art Brew beer I have ever tried into this thing? There is a Spanked Monkey IPA ginger notes, and ,well, IPA notes – there is a heap of lovely vanilla like IBeer, sweet notes, earthy feeling hops and subtle American fruit notes.

Lots going on.

Initially it comes across as only a simple earthy bitter IPA – odd considering it was made with four USA based hops, and even as the rest of the beer grows that earthiness remains a stubborn characteristic of the finish – feeling very Brit soil hop IPA style.

But the rest of the beer does grow – the soft main body texture becoming layered with fruit and the robust toffee backbone becomes the mainstay of the beer, with light spice and ginger notes giving a gentle warmth to the whole experience. Oh and a touch of vanilla. Did I mention I love the vanilla heavy IBeer?

It, far all that, feels closest to a Brit styled IPA. For all the American fruit flavour, the ageing seems to have led to a diminishing of the brash hop forward characteristics but kept the soil notes. However in exchange it gains a very smooth character and a very good range, even becoming very sweet by the end as the toffee body takes centre stage.

It isn’t setting the world alight but it has a whole host of elements I love (*cough* vanilla. Ibeer) and all mashed together into a satisfying beer that keeps your attention to the last drop.

Background: Welcome back Art Brew! these guys were one of my regular pints back when I started doing notes, they’ve had their ups and downs over the years, but they are back again now. I had to grab this one, Art Brew back, doing a one year aged IPA (An unusual style to age) and one of only Sixty bottles. Yeah, I grabbed it. from Independent Spirit, to no ones’ surprise. Drank while listening to the Gunflowers EP and some Shadows Fall: Fallout From The War.

Baby Anarchist

Art Brew: Baby Anarchist (England: Mild Ale: 3.2% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown, massive ripe banana yellowed head. This beer pours very enthusiastically and leaves lots of sud rings.

Nose: Eggs. Sulphur. Hops. Funky yeast.

Body: Bitter. Malt chocolate. Pineapple. Cadbury’s crème eggs centres. Red wine notes at back, Cherries. Vanilla. Lemon sherbet and apricots.

Finish: Bitter hops. Eggs and mayo. Popcorn. Lots of dry bitterness. Malt drinks. Light citrus tartness and dry earthy hops. Vanilla. Crab apples.

Conclusion: This said to pour carefully and it wasn’t bloody kidding. Despite my careful efforts the head filled nearly half the glass with froth on first attempt. The first impressions, well first impressions after finishing the pour, were that it was slightly odd of aroma. There is quite an eggy sulphur tone that I’m not a hundred percent sure if it is an intended part of the beer or a mishap. Sulphur can be used as an interesting element in moderation, but it feels out of place here.

The main boy packs a good bitter punch and some nice tart notes that calls to the British interpretation of a brown ale, however overall it doesn’t really come together. There is a lot of elements, some citrus, some tart, some malt drinks, lots of hops, lots working in the beer, but none are really particularly prevalent and they don’t come together into any real narrative of experience.

Ok, there is one character throughout the beer, the fairly rough edged hop character, but it doesn’t have much charm to it. You can get some nice apricot and lemon flavours late on which helps, but you can’t rely on them. What is most fun is probably the back notes, the vanilla, chocolate and the like, but they never last long enough against the hops to catch the imagination.

Not terrible, tries so hard and pushes out so much, but a disappointing return to Art Brew. Guess I’ll just have to sink my sorrows with the beloved I Beer. Ah well.

Background: Art Brew used to be one of my regular brewers beers, back when they ran the Royal Oak. Back then the Oak was bloody awesome, and my usual hang out. Last I checked it was still ok, but had nowhere near the rotation of taps, nor as good atmosphere as back when Art Brew ran it. Ah well. Still, now you can get them bottled from Independent Spirit, it seemed a good time to return to the old friends and experience them anew. Drunk while listening to some History of Guns….again.

Art Brew: Arbor Ales: Barley Wine (England: Barley Wine: 12% ABV)

Visual: Burgundy influenced brown with a light Carmel dash of bubbles that leave quite the trail around the glass.

Nose: light grapefruit and a toffee/caramel mix.  Touch of tangerine and fruit sourness.  Sometimes the sweetness turns somewhat treacle in style.

Body: Thick textured toffee and pineapple. Very sweet and hits instantly.  Fresh tangerine. Dry malt.  Thin sugar coating of chocolate eggs,  Glacier cherries.

Finish: Bitter and yet clashes with fresh grapefruit. Liquorice and malt drinks. A gin air from the alcohol.

Conclusion: Whilst putting a beer this high abv on tap is a brave move, Id say making a massive barley wine with a good dose of American style hopping then serving it in a very traditional style English pub is, if anything, even braver.  So, does it pay off?

Well, whilst I can’t say how well the pub will benefit but I can say it works well enough for me. Its ideal moment of grace is that first sip. Insanely sweet, lovely toffee and a hint of grapefruit. That first sip is a wonder.

Now if only you could frame that moment and make it last the entire beer then you would have yourself an all time great.  From the fact I am saying that means you can probably guess that it doesn’t quite hold onto that high,

Any sustained drinking leads to the alcohol and the weaker elements of the beer taking the floor from that lovely front.   Now if you take a decent gaps between sips you can offset that quite well, and frankly the abv pretty much demands that you take your time over it.  With this time and respect that lovely front shows itself again, so definitely don’t write the beer off.

It’s a very good beer, lots of massive flavour with just a few flaws holding it back, but it is still a heck of a beer.

Background: Found at the “Royal Oak”. Must say you don’t often find a 12%er on tap so I thought id give it a try. Art Brew have done a nice batch of beers with a fun bit of experimentation and Arbor have been solid enough so far that a collaboration seemed like a thing to try. Only a half pint drunk for obvious sodding reasons.  Note: the bottled version of this appears to be called “Double Trouble”, it may also have spent a little longer ageing.

Art Brew: Happy (England: Golden Ale: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear amber gold, thin white bubbled sheen over the still body.

Nose: Prickly hop tingle. Apricot. Grapes. Distinct sour styling.

Body: Gooseberry. Slight tartness. Apples and apricot. Slick, not heavy on the bitterness. Pineapple.

Finish: Slight dry bitterness and charring with gooseberry notes at the sides.  Slight salt touch. Orange. Planed wood.

Conclusion: You know, this is the kind of beer I would normally describe as “cheerful”, but with a name like “Happy” you would probably think I was taking the piss, so I’d probably best start elsewhere.

Still, it is definitely aiming for the summer refresher style, with the emphasis on a slight tartness rather than on the bitterness.   Notably brings a lot of sharp fruit flavours to the game.  Considering the medium nasal tingling from the hop aroma I was expecting a much hoppier beer (A happy hoppy beer maybe) but the bitterness mostly vanishes during the main body only to return at the finish, where it tries to pretend it has been there all along.

Fresh and sour, it is kind of nice and somewhat eclectic.  The finish doesn’t quite tie in with the rest of the beer though – it seems to actively work against the freshness which is a pity.

I hate to say it, but it really is a cheerful if unexceptional beer.  Weak at the end, but a happy beer until then.

Background: Drunk in the beer garden whilst chatting with a violinist was warming up for a folk night. There were quite a few smokers out, which lead to some problem trying to get a decent tasting note, but in the end I managed to find a place without horrid aromas getting in the way.  Art Brew has a few stand out beers, I Beer being the most notable, but are generally a solid if unexceptional brewery.

Art Brew: Blackcurrant Stout (England: Stout: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown black with a very thin layer of browned bubbles.

Nose: Blackcurrant, slight fruit acidity and gooseberry sourness. Bitter chocolate and slightly chalky.

Body: Lots of blackberry, blueberry and slight milk chocolate mix with apple juice. It’s very sharp and fresh initially. Slight coffee touch. Chocolate cake. Very smooth and slightly sweet middle with a small amount of bitterness backing it up. Faintest hint of liquorice.

Finish: Blueberry, sour grapes, blackberry. Slight apple tartness and a light charring to the air.

Conclusion:  Much as I love a good stout, they are very rarely well suited for a session. With a tendency towards strong flavours and high abv, they tend to be best nursed and enjoyed slowly.

This is a bit different from the pack then.  Packing in the fruit flavour it really adds a new element to the stout flavour with massive sweetness, and more importantly, a tartness that makes it oh so easy to drink.

The stout elements are solid, and pretty much in the middle of the expected range. It really is the fruit that makes this so immensely enjoyable and a bit different.

As an examination beer it is ok, but as a session drink it’s a great job done good.

Background: I’d had this beer earlier in the week and enjoyed it so much I decided I had to tasting note it.  Art Brew id pretty much the locals main thing to have on tap, and seem to be getting quite a handle on their craft as of late, and started bringing out a few odd experiments.  Oddly rate beer lists this a retired brew, which is demonstrably false.

Art Brew: Monkey IPA (England: IPA: 6.4% ABV)

Visual: lightly bronzed amber with a lightly brown tinged head that leaves soapy sud trails.

Nose: Orange, lime wheat and hop bitterness. Light toffeeness, chocolate malt drinks and a touch of cinnamon. Passion fruit.

Body: Bitterness, slick and syrup textured. Fresh lemon, pineapple. Lots of citrus. Slight custard and syrup sweet.

Finish: Lots of hop bitterness, wheat and popcorn. Pineapple and orange.

Conclusion: IPA’s are wonderful things. There is a huge range of sub styles that fall under the heading, from the early heavy hop and alcohol bombshells, the middle of the road styling of late 90s, to the huge citrus American attacks.  This one plays with the fresh citrus style mentioned before, but rather than tying it to a very fresh and fresh bubbling body, this goes with the thicker texture I’d associate with the English and real ale style and pushes up the lemon freshness.

That thickness makes the hoppiness very sticky, and ties the bitterness long into the finish.  A trick that annoys me heavily when used with imperial stouts but seems to work fantastically with IPAs.

A good pint, refreshing, yet forcibly bitter to the end. Not an uber stylish take on the beer, and not as Artful as the breweries name indicates, but they can still be proud of this IPA as a long lasting mix of IPA styles.

Background: The “spanked” version of this beer was one of the earliest tasting notes I did, so it’s a bit of fun going back and doing the base beer version of it.  Art Brew is a local brewery (well comparatively) and linked to out local watering hole.  The staff of the pub are a great crew which always makes for a better tasting note atmosphere, even if they are piss taking bastards some days (which I mean in a good way) (In case they are reading this, yes I am talking abut the La Chouffe incident(s)).

Art Brew: Hip Hop: Centennial (England: Golden Ale: 4.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear grain amber with a thin reign of off white froth.

Nose: Lots of sweet pineapple crumble and custard. Light lemon meringue and hops dusted over it. Sweet but slightly sharp, Smooth.

Body: Very smooth, light creamy bitterness. Pineapple smoothies, vanilla. Slight sharp lemon and jelly.

Finish: Pineapple, then slow growing dry bitterness. Light hops, malt and lime. Custard

Conclusion: A return to the single hop range, and we find with this one example of where those wonderful pineapple flavours that are evident in so many of my favourite beers come from.

With the single hop beers, I feel I am critiquing the hop as much as the beer, and this example is no exception.

It’s a very lovely beer as is, with the most obvious elements being pineapple, vanilla and custard.  Lots of flavour that I enjoy seeing rounding out a good IPA or golden ale.  It’s a solid beer, not as wide range as the cascade hop version, but definitely demonstrating a hop of varied uses

Works well by itself, and will work well in combination, so worth an explore.  A solid base of a good beer.

Background:  Hip Hop is a single hop line of beers, using the same base recipe but with the hops changed.   Having had a few of the range I do always enjoy comparing the hops to gain a better background to the beers.   Art Brew are a small brewery that turn out the “I beer” which I deeply enjoy and so far have turned out a reasonable range of other beers.

Art Brew: Hip Hop: Cascade (England: Golden Ale: 4.3% ABV)

Visual: Honeyed amber with a light off white bubbled head.

Nose: Citrus, wheat and hops. Pineapple and grapefruit, lemon fresh with light toffee.

Body: Sour grapes, white wine and grapefruit. Bitter and wheat filled hop back. Toffee and custard sweetness.

Finish: Bitter and rising charcoal mixed with a hint of liquorice and treacle.  Ground coffee and good hops, quite floral and perfumed.

Conclusion: Now this is a hop with some legs to it, lots of the grapefruit and citrus.  It brings a lot of the flavours I associate with the American style IPAs, with a touch of sweetness in-between the forceful and full boded expression.

As always single hop beers are great fun for working out which hop is responsible for which part of your favourite beers flavours and textures, and for that I always recommend trying a few.

This beer is a fine beer in itself, a heavy pint of flavour in yer glass.

Great hop, well made, good beer.

Art Brew: I Beer (England: Golden Ale: 4.0% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold with a light bubbled head.

Nose: Crisp, vanilla, light hops. Lemon and orange. Very smooth, cream, honey. Light spice and toffee.

Body: Smooth, cream, toffee. Smooth hops, slight grassiness. Honey, more vanilla. Jaffa cake centres.

Finish: Hops, light charring. Wheat chaff. Bitterness finally. Malt.

Conclusion: Art brew have had a good rep with me for a while, and this beer is the main reason.

An exceptional session beer, low enough ABV, plentiful flavour, smooth and light with enough hops at the back to kick.

A pint that shows that session beers don’t have to be boring, the bitter ends makes each smooth sweet gulp a new refreshing moment, and you appreciate it all the more Just enough harsh and just enough sweet.

A subtle patch work of interactions and delights, less an assault (though it has its strong flavours) but more a cobweb of intricacies and flavour.

Just right in every way.

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