Tag Archive: Beer


Lervig: Toasted Maple Stout (Norway: Imperial Stout: 12 % ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin dash of a grey head.

Nose: Liquorice. Toasted teacakes. Vanilla.

Body: Treacle. Marshmallow. Maple syrup. Very thick. Toasted teacakes. Vanilla. Light butterscotch. Fudge. Chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Maple syrup. Liquorice and blackcurrant hard sweets. Chocolate liqueur. Vanilla. Molasses. Light charring. Bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, between this and the Barley Wine I had recently Lervig are really wooing me back into the fold. Why did I ever doubt them?

I have to admit the first impressions weren’t in its favour. While it had lovely toasted notes in the aroma they were matched and quickly overcome by masses of liquorice. As I think has been established over the years, I don’t mind liquorice in moderation, but I think when it is overused it can ruin a beer.

So, I was nervous as I went in to take the first sip aaaandd – this thing is intense! It is thick as heck, frothy and syrupy, but just about manages to not do those elements to excess. There is a toasted teacake breadiness as just a hint under the thick maple syrup and treacle notes that make up the main stay with other, softer, notes coming out over time. The vanilla beans and smoothness makes it feel like a barrel aged beer, but without the loss of intensity and weight that ageing sometimes brings

The finish bring in the heaver contrasting notes. The liquorice comes back, tied now to blackcurrant notes in a hard sweet like fashion that keeps in manageable. There is a light charring and sweeter notes that slowly fade out into bitter cocoa. That bitterness is just what is needed to keep such a heavy sweet beer manageable.

This has a very distinctive feel – half way between toasted marshmallows and toasted teacakes in a super thick beer. It has a distinctive flavour as well with the maple syrup very evident while not being too dominant. It is distinctly rewarding with huge complexity and manages to feel barrel aged but without the drawbacks.

A great beer then.

Background: Grabbed this a while back – basically saw the words “toasted” and “maple syrup”, followed by “Imperial Stout”, and grabbed it. Since I grabbed it I started becoming less enamoured with Lervig, then back totally into them again. I have been very changeable recently. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – not sure what is going on with the can image – looks kind of like what would happen if Mr Fantastic from the Fantastic Four burnt to death. Don’t think that was the intended imagery. Anyway, put on The Germs’ MIA compilation CD. Really stripped down punk that I got into after hearing they were an influence on Bad Religion. Pretty fun, if kind of rough sounding.

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Beavertown: KCBC : Unity Makes Strength (England: Belgian Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy peach skin to lemon colour. Moderate white mounded head.

Nose: Funky. Peanuts. Yeastie. Crusty white bread. Soft peach. Peppery. Dried banana.

Body: Peppery. Lightly milky. Good bitterness and prickly feel. Banana. Light apricot. Fluffy bready character.

Finish: Lemon. Wheaty. Peppery. Prickly. Funky yeast feel. Popcorn. Vanilla yogurt.

Conclusion: Table beers are nearly always an odd one for me to do notes on. I enjoy them for the most part, but they are intentionally a lighter beer style – both in abv and flavour ( though at 4.5% abv this actually seems like a fairly standard abv beer to me. Then again I lean old school on my views of beer strengths). Anyway, so while nice, they tend to not have much to do notes on.

So, what do we have with this one? Well, what we are looking at mainly is the yeastiness that seems to make up a good chunk of the character. It has a funky aroma, a fluffy feel in the body into the prickly hop character. It adds a level of interest to what is a comparatively Milquetoast milky middle that is the core of the beer. The yeast influence is further evident as it warm, bringing peppery flavours and light banana notes.

The rest of the flavour is much lighter – soft apricot, vanilla yogurt – quite neutral – the beer definitely relies on yeast feel and notes to rock it through. The hop prickle isn’t as light as you would imagine given all that, so the beer isn’t quite as mild as you would think – but it is far from a hop assault – more the hops’ way of keeping your taste-buds awake.

Considering the gentle main flavour this is still enjoyable. Easy going and doesn’t add any extra weight to the beer. Not a must have, keeps to the table beer style well, but is interesting enough in how it uses the yeast.

Background: After a quick google I find that KCBC is King’s County Brewer’s Collective. So now you know – a Brooklyn based brewing group. Anyway, I misread this beer’s name as Make Strength Belgian Style Table Beer on first glance, and wondered how strong it was going to be of it was “make strength”. Anyway, no, just a Belgian style table beer – though the 4.2% abv is a bit higher than I would expect of a table beer. Put on some Taiko Drumming music in the background while drinking this – haven’t seen Taiko for years – I loved the way the beats just wash over you. The CD can only capture a tiny amount of a live performance but is still good backing to drinking. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales: Stallion Amber (England: Bitter: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Light chestnut to gold. Clear. Moderate off white bubbled head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla. Nutty. Musty sour dough.

Body: Light earthy bitterness. Fluffy mouthfeel. Lightly creamy. Palma violets. Light marmalade zestiness. Toffee. Marshmallow.

Finish: Fresh sour dough. Chives. Light earthy bitterness, that grows to moderate bitterness. Light marmalade. Very milky coffee. Marshmallow. Lightly prickly.

Conclusion: Ok, the beer I had in my hand when I first stared drinking this, and the beer I am supping on now are very different things to each other. Usually I would blame such a shift on me getting drunk while doing the notes, but since this is a moderate 4.2% ABV I think that is unlikely to be the case here.

Early on it is fairly earthy, with sour dough like notes amongst the earthiness – so a fairly standard earthy hopped British bitter dressed up in light calls to amber ale style clothing then. Then, over time it gets … creamier .. or maybe fluffier, then light marmalade notes and toffee sweetness comes out while still being nestled in the earthy bitter heart.

It feels marshmallow like in fluffiness, but without the sweetness you would associate with that. It has all the elements that make an earthy bitter work, but then a bit of extra, more unusual note such as palma violet like notes which call to more noble hop styling, and marmalade notes that give it a bit of extra pep late on.

It is definitely not a must have, but it is more than it first appears. Ok, nice progression definitely, but far from a world shaker.

Background: Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales – man it has been a while since I drank one of these – anyway, my family were visiting from Yorkshire so they brought down some good old northern beers for me to try. This being the first. Many thanks! I am a tad biased towards the North, but not so much as it should affect the notes. Not much to say – put on Foo Fighters – The Colour and The Shape to listen to, which had been on my mind since Scroobius Pip mentioned them in his podcast.

Lervig: Barley Wine 2017 (Norway: Barley Wine: 12.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Small grey-brown dash of a head.

Nose: Vanilla, liquorice and fudge. Caramelised brown sugar. Treacle. Almonds. Light strawberry.

Body: Light charring. Chocolate liqueur. Heat at the back of the throat. Chocolate toffee. Brown sugar. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallow. Vanilla fudge. Light strawberry. Black cherry. Quality bourbon undertones. Sticky toffee pudding.

Finish: Sticky toffee pudding and treacle. Fudge. Liquorice. Vanilla. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallows. Charred touch. Bourbon.

Conclusion: Ok this smooth. Has big flavour. Has evident but not overpowering bourbon ageing influence. Huge and rewarding range if you hold the beer on your tongue. We have here an entry for the fuck-yes-this-is-how-you-make-a-barley-wine contest. They were only allowed one word for the name of the contest so they cheated by using hyphens.

So, this is deeply sweet with sticky toffee pudding, treacle and chocolate liqueur at the base. It somehow has those very sweet flavours restrained so as not to become sickly – as would be very easy to occur with a barley wine of this type and strength.

I think that some of that restraint is due to toasted teacake undertones – bready but still slightly sweet matching but also grounding the flavours. Similarly a toasted marshmallow character gives some sweetness against light burnt notes that segue nicely into the light charred character into the finish.

All of this delicious character and I’ve not even touched on the bourbon influence yet. Early on it just shows in how damn smooth the beer is, then comes out in vanilla and fudge notes, then finally it shows in its rawest form in smooth but present actual bourbon spirit flavours – coming out as subtle elements beneath the rest of the beer.

So what downsides does it have? Well, I’m not a huge fan of liquorice notes in beer, and this does use it heavily early on , but a) it actually isn’t used half bad here and b) the liquorice notes left before they started to wear on me. Shockingly they were actually used to add to, not detract from the beer.

So, that is the worst I have to say, this is a great beer. Buy it. Drink it.

Background: I’ve had a few Lervig beers over the past year – some have been awesome, some have been ok but not stand out. I was beginning to think I was mainly grabbing them for the odd names and labels. However enough have been good that I don’t regret grabbing them. Decided to grab this to see how they do with the non hoppy beer styles – especially as this one has spent 12 months in bourbon oak. Put on Jack Off Jill – Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers – a mix of melodic, screaming, anger and sorrow in a gothic punk style. Such an awesome album.

Wiper and True: Amber Ale: Red Orange (England: Amber Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Treacle to dark brown. Only amber hints at the edges. Large browned mound of forth head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Bright oranges. Pine needles. Passion-fruit. Grape touch,

Body: Good bitterness. Palma violets. Vanilla toffee. Mandarin orange. Prickly hops. Gooseberry. Greenery. Light resin. Pine. General oranges. White bread.

Finish: Rye crackers. Vanilla toffee. Orange crème. Menthol notes. Mint leaves. Tangerine. Chocolate dust. Pepper.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer called an Amber Ale, this is murky brown as hell on the eye. I’ve seen bike and trolley filled ponds that were easier to see through than this. Still, I can live with that as the beer tastes bloody great.

There is an odd mix of a grounded hop character, pine and resinous hops which are used as a prickly, grounded base – which then put against a real bright burst of mandarin, tangerine, and just, well, orange notes.

On taste I would say it doesn’t fit quite under what I would expect of an Amber Ale either – for all that the style definition is loose in the first place. It has IPA style hop flavour in places, and a real ale ESB style use of malts. However, whatever the hell it is, it does well. The more down to earth malt usage brings out almost rye beer style dry spice and pepper – it pushes both the bright and the grounded characteristic out as far as it can without feeling overdone for a general drinking beer – and it manages to define them very well.

Really malty, really orange hopped with mild, but solid bitterness and prickly hop character. Just a tiny touch away from being a favourite, but genuinely a beer worth a try. You don’t get something that push the grounded and the bright so well without compromising either done so well often.

Wiper and True pull out yet another really good beer.

Background: Been a while since I have done notes on Wiper and True beers -still grab them regularly on tap when out and about, just never done notes. So decided to grab one of their Amber Ales again from Independent Spirit – W&T really seem to have the nack of the Amber Ales down pat. Wiper and True are one of those great quality breweries that use kind of generic labels so it is really hard to tell at a glance if you have tried the beer before or not. Ah well, it works for The Kernel, so should work for Wiper and True. Which reminds me, not done notes of Kernel beers for ages either. Anyway, put on the electronic mathcore oddity that is “The Algorithm” while drinking this. Not to everyone’s taste but weird intricate, computer sounding music that works for me.

Staggeringly Good: Post Impact Porter (England: Porter: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large creamy brown loose bubbled head that soon has large holes in the bubbles as it collapses.

Nose: Roasted character. Light lactose. Crushed peanuts. Milky coffee. Charred oak. Slight musty brown bread. Mint leaves.

Body: Bitter coffee, with milky notes behind. Frothy feel. Bitter chocolate. Light chalk touch. Light sour cream and chives crisps. Light toffee.

Finish: Lactose. Chocolate milk. Sour cream and chive crisps. Light milky coffee, into bitter coffee.

Conclusion: This is a nicely solid porter. Now, despite the oddity of a real ale in a can, I will say – flavour wise at least – porters seem to be a style with little difference between the craft and real ale interpretations. However in the mouthfeel this definitely delivers that bit extra thickness that a real ale tends to give, so it does seem to be doing its job there.

The beer opens up in a very roasted way and keeps that a a solid layer of the character throughout. It is that base that the mix of bitter to milky coffee character works from – a kind of lactose touched element but far from as sweet as a milk stout would be. Though it does have another layer of weight behind it apart from the roasted character, an element that I am going to give up and just describe as “like sour cream and chives crisps” It is a light savoury and sour mix that really helps the feel of the beer. The nice savoury elements especially work well to give a more neutral middle between the other elements.

Overall it is solidly flavoursome – creamy with lots of coffee and chocolate notes against that savoury and roasted backing. Nothing too unusual but does the job of standard real ale porter well.

Background: OK, I bought this because it has dinosaur on the can. Can anyone fault me for that? Dinosaurs are awesome. Also if you look closely, you realise that, while the dinosaur in the picture is holding the same can it is on, its fingers are over the pictures of the can that the dinosaur on that can is holding – so to prevent infinite recursion of can images I would presume. A cleaver design choice that I approve of. Now, the can calls this real ale – it doesn’t have the CAMRA logo, but based on the experience I had when drinking it I trust them. Real ale in a can, oh what a future we live in that has such things in it. Went a bit into the past for music with this one – A best of Meat Loaf CD. While I enjoy Meatloaf, people have pointed out what I actually enjoy is Jim Steinman music as sung by Meatloaf. Which is fair. His non Steinman songs tended to be nowhere as near as good. Anyway, this was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Wild Beer Co: Dr Todd (England: Sour Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Thin off white head.

Nose: Thick honey. Peat. Smoke. Salt. Ginger. Chilli air. Marmalade. Wet rocks.

Body: Heavy. Honey. Salt. Chalk. Treacle. Smoke. Dry back. Ginger. Medicinal. Crunchy medicine tablets. Brown bread.

Finish: Honey. Dry beef slices. Medicinal. Salt. Crunchy tablets.

Conclusion: Ok, I can definitely see why the drink this is based on is called Penicillin if this beer is anything to go by. Under everything is a dry note, like crunched up medicine tablets, chalk backed by a medicinal Islay note. It it wasn’t such a terrible idea to take painkillers with booze I would imagine this is what it would taste like.

Probably. I, of course, have never tested that. That would be silly. Don’t mix booze and painkillers everyone!

The other element that stands out in this beer how how strong the special ingredients used show through; There is a ton of honey, and as indicated before the Islay ageing is really obvious -from the salt to the peat smoke, to the medicinal character, it is all there. Then there is the definite ginger influence that comes though into an almost mild chilli air at some times. Subtle this thing ain’t.

So you get a real honey sweet Islay whisky poured over the corpse of a thoroughly crushed paracetamol, into a beer and you end up with this. It is definitely interesting, and actually – for all the taste goes to the harsher end of the spectrum – it is also enjoyable. Not one to have often though. It feels like it is deliberately challenging you and daring you to still enjoy it.

Now you can step up to that dare and enjoy it, and it is worth it, but it is not a general drinking beer in any shape or form. In fact this calls to the feel of an actual complex cocktail more than any other beer I have encountered – if that is a good or bad thing is up to you.

Hard to get used to, but ultimately enjoyable – however the crunched medical feel and taste is for very specific occasions only and for very specific people only.

Background: Ok, so this was inspired by the “Penicillin Cocktail”. Something I have never tried so cannot really compare it to. To give you an idea, this is made with lactose, honey, lemon, ginger and then aged in Islay whisky barrels. This sounded like the type of experimentation in beer I could get behind, so grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit. Put on Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac – Repent, Replenish, Repeat while drinking – a nicely dark edged spoken word to hip hop styled set of tunes that I though deserved returning to.

West Berkshire: Renegade: Snake Oil (England: IIPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to apricot. Thin off white head. Clear and mostly still body.

Nose: Peach. Popcorn hop character. Pumpkin touch. Slightly dry.

Body: Good bitterness. Slight granite grittiness. Slight sour peach to peach stones. Pumpkin. Light vanilla. Dry touch. Light turmeric.

Finish: Slightly rocky. Good bitterness. Pumpkin. Flour. Slight sour tang. Pumpkin. Some earthiness. Gooseberries. Flour.

Conclusion: This seems like it is aiming to match the prototypical take on the American IPA, or double IPA in this case, probably west coast influenced if I remember rightly. Well mostly anyway, but we will get to the differences later – one thing at a time.

It is the dry backed, fairly neutral in flavour malt body that makes me think of the American take on the IPA, along with the emphasis on the brighter fruit – the peach, apricot, and mildly oddly, pumpkin notes – the stuff you would expect from the old school USA hop favourites – albeit in a slightly more sour, fresh off the stone kind of way. Something that gives it a bit more tang than is traditional with its American cousins.

It is a good look – accentuated by tart gooseberry notes at the end. Now, it does deviate from the template a touch, as alluded to earlier. There is a turmeric to earthy bitterness late on and into the finish that is more of a call to the traditional British style IPA. It is a mixed blessing – when done well it adds some weight, but occasionally it gets a bit granite rough which is a tad overly harsh in an overly dry APA kind of way. Similarly it has a flour touch which adds weight, but also can get wearing over time.

So, a generally good IIPA, with big flavour and a lightly soured take on the American IIPA style. It has room for polish and improvement, but is very solidly done. Also, as was pointed out to me, it is comparatively cheaper for an IIPA, especially at UK tax rates for high abv beers, which never hurts. So, pretty good, not perfect, but has a lot of promise if they take their time and give it a polish.

Background: I think my mind linked this with the awesome Snake Fear IPA, so with that it mind it was inevitable that I would get around to grabbing it eventually. Another Independent Spirit bought one in case you were wondering. On googling it looks like Renegade is a craft beer arm of the West Berkshire Brewery. Not all brewers make the jump to craft beer successfully when they are used to the more traditional style – some are downright embarrassing. Hopefully this lot can make that jump. Once again listening to some of Television Villain‘s new album when drinking this – it definitely it a good one in my mind. Though as mentioned I know them, so I am biased.


Verhaeghe: Duchesse De Bourgogne (Belgium: Sour Red: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red. Cloudy. Thin grey head. Still.

Nose: Red wine. Sour. Sour red cherries. Tannins. Vinegar touch. Gummed brown paper.

Body: Sweet cherries and glacier cherry notes. Black cherries. Tart apples. Vinegar. Acidic dryness. Vinous red wine. Madeira.

Finish: Black cherry. Tart sour cherry sweets. Vinegar touch. Envelope gum. Light oak. Dessert wine. Strawberry.

Conclusion: I freaking love this beer. It is like some one took a Rodenbach Grand Cru, mixed it with sour red wine, added a hint of dessert wine to soften the edges just a touch, then filled it with varied cherries. In a way this actually does the concept of Rodenbach Alexander better than Rodenbach Alexander does.

Now, that said, it doesn’t have the almost holographic complexity built up from the layers of imagery that comes with the acidity of Rodenbach Grand Cru, nor the dedication to harsh edges those beers bring – but despite that it isn’t a beer to pull its punches. Under the sweet cherries and huge wodge of vinous notes there are vinegar and gummed brown paper notes that wouldn’t look out of place in the harsher Flemish reds and browns.

It has a lovely range of tart yet sweet fruit flavours with a dry acidity backing that accentuates the vinous feel. Under that is a hint, but only a hint, of oak. It feels like it deserves the term usually given to lambics – the wine of beers – red wine in this case. It balances between wine and beer brilliantly, between acidity and sweetness, fruit and gummy character.

One of the all time classic beers for me – unlike so many others that want to push the edge this one does not get lost in the pushing and remembers to be enjoyable and complex with that.

It you have not tried this one, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Background: I have had this beer many times, introduced family members to it in Belgium who loved it. Frankly I knew that, barring them having utterly messing up the recipe in recent months, that I was going to enjoy this before I started the notes. However, since I had not done notes on it, and I enjoy it so, I thought it would be cool to grab a bottle for tasting from Independent Spirit. This is a Flemish red that, last I checked, is aged on average 12 months. Put on a collection of Madness tunes while drinking this – they were probably the first band I got into many years ago and I still enjoy breaking them out every now and then for a bit of ska fun – much lighter and bouncier than my usual tunes.

And Union: Unfiltered Lager (Germany: Helles Lager: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Moderate white head. Hazy. Some bits visible at the base of the beer. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Wheaty. Light cream. Bready hop bitterness to crusty white bread. Flour.

Body: Lemon. Crusty white bread. Clean hop character. Light hop oils. Lightly fresh, Soft lime. Soft kiwi. Light prickle to the mouthfeel. Vanilla ice cream. Moderate bitterness. Zesty.

Finish: Lightly creamy. Creamy kiwi. White bread hop feel. Light bitterness. Flour. Palma violets.

Conclusion:Lager really should be drunk unfiltered in my opinion. Pretty much always unfiltered, yep. Maybe a few exceptions, but generally unfiltered is the way to go. There. My cards are on the table. Now, with that said, we have a great example here – fresh, lemony, with a wonderful bit of extra mouthfeel over a filtered lager but without losing that very drinkable and thirst quenching character. The body has a crusty white bread weight and a similarly white bread kind of neutral backing character that lets the citrus notes float in a soft and refreshing ways.

For flaws, well it has very few – there is a flour touch to the texture that is a pleasant weight early on, but slightly wears thin by the end. Only slightly though. This is still a beer that stands up to repeated drinks.

This feels like what a lot of the heavily hopped lagers are trying to do and failing – It grains lovely soft citrus hop flavours, but keeps the more gentle hop bitterness along with than larger style mouthfeel all the way through. That lager character especially accentuated by the unfiltered nature.

There is a slight noticeable, noble hop feeling, oily and palma violet set of notes but they are a minor backing showing the more traditional side of its lager roots – the fresher notes are the mainstay.

So, not flawless, but still a hell of a good lager and a comparatively easy unfiltered lager to grab, which is a rarity for me. Well worth keeping a few to hand for easy drinking flavour whenever the mood takes you.

Background: This is one I’ve had a few times before – it came up in conversation when I mentioned how much better I found unfiltered lagers than their filtered siblings, and how they are so comparatively rare. It was pointed out that Waitrose had this in and it was well worth trying. So I did. This was drunk while listening to Television Villain’s new album, having been to the album launch gig a few days before. Now, I am biased as I know a couple of the band members but I think they have some proper great tunes there – Bevvy especially.

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