Tag Archive: Beer


Tasting Notes: Lion: Lager

Lion: Lager (Sri Lanka: Pale Lager: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear gold. Moderate small bubbled carbonation and a good sized loose white bubbled head.

Nose: White bread hop character. Clear. Flour.

Body: White bread. Slight hop oils. Moderate bitterness. Vanilla. Prickly mouthfeel. Slight dry toffee. Brown bread.

Finish: Bready. Lightly bitter. Lightly chalky. Fluffy hop feel. Sulphur touch to the air. Lightly earthy,

Conclusion: This is a fairly bready, fluffy hopped lager. Nothing too out of the normal but it has a greater than normal hop bitterness. Still fairly gentle, but gives a present bitter character throughout, especially out into the finish which helps it last longer than a lot of the “Wet air” like lagers that exist.

It is not an unusual take on a lager, unlike a lot of the craft beer takes, nor the super polished, lightly oily feel of the polished pilsners but similarly it does not feel like a lot of the more mainstream lagers – and, for Sri Lanka at least this is pretty much their mainstream lager best I can tell so, the fact it rocks a bit higher hop character and bitterness makes it stand out when compared to them. It helps that there are no real evident rough spots and the bitterness work pretty well. It is not stand out but it is more enjoyable than most mainstay lagers.

It is a gentle lager base, with a heavier than expected hop style and feel. Not a must have or even one to hunt out, but if you are in Sri Lanka it will do you reasonably.

Ok, if not special.

Background: Thanks to Mushroom who bright this back from Sri Lanka for me – (Also a can of the Lion Stout, which I have tried before and quite enjoyed). He really does spoil me. Not much more to say, a lager from Sri Lanka. Tidy. I put on Laura Jane Grace: At War With The Silverfish as background tunes. My music choices are having less and less to do with the beer as time goes on.

Vault City: Emperor: From A Gaelic Sea Far, Far Away (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin brown dash of a head. Opaque main body.

Nose: Caramel. Clean medicinal air. Clotted cream and strawberry jam. Dry peat. Crushed custard cream biscuits. Vanilla custard slices. Touch of tarry nature.

Body: Oily. Sweet. Jam. Chocolate liqueur. Liquorice touch. Honey. Oily peat. Praline. Lightly medicinal. Salt touch. Riesen chocolate chews. Heather.

Finish: Praline. Pecans. Medicinal mixed with vanilla. Custard. Riesen chocolate chews. Smooth, oily medicinal sheen. Vanilla toffee. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: The thing with heather honey, and with Islay barrel ageing for that matter, is that they can easily utterly dominate a beer. I’ve had so many ash tray and iodine beers, or so sickly sweet that they lost that imperial stout that is meant to be the base.

This beer manages to somehow balance those two very strong flavours and a huge base imperial stout and somehow keep it all balanced, and as a result have turned out something very special.

The base stout is chocolate liqueur like and yet on the aroma you could swear there is clotted cream and jam notes floating around in there. From the ingredients I can guess what causes the cream like notes, but I have no idea where the jam comes from.

The honey is sweet but against a more oily character that gives a more savoury touch so it doesn’t get cloying. Similarly the oily character makes the medicinal and peat note much more flavoursome than harsh and so enhances the beer greatly.

It is sweet still, with marshmallow like fluffiness, toffee around the base and praline high notes, but the Islay character of peat smoke and oil, as well as those medicinal notes just ooze throughout it – everything matches the other elements so well.

A masterpiece of an Imperial Stout – sweet, medicinal, big and yet measured in all the right ways.

Lovely.

Background: I’ve mentioned Emperor brewing a few times here, basically a brewer trying to turn out the best Imperial Stouts they can, and have a huuuuuggeee reputation. I don’t think they ever do solo beers, or at least any I have seen, they always seem to be collaborations. Vault City are another big name, better known for doing odd and experimental sour beers, but they turn out the odd big stout as well, of which this is one. It is made with …. **deep breath** Heather honey, vanilla, lactose, oats and wheat and was aged in an Islay whisky cask. Lot of stuff going on there. Grabbed this from Independent Spirit, I went with History Of Guns: Forever Dying In Your Eyes as backing music. First new HoG album for years and years so was happy to slap on in the background.

Sureshot: Dunblobbin (England: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot to yellow. Moderate mounded white head.

Nose: Peach. Green grapes. Fresh fluffy hop notes. Cream. Peach melba.

Body: Lightly oily. Milky. Good bitterness. Greenery. Palma violets. Hop oils. Vanilla. Peppery. Peach. Grapefruit and pineapple.

Finish: Good bitterness. Peach. Light fatty butter. Palma violets. Aubergine.

Conclusion: This is a weird beer. I know, a Mr Blobby themed beer being weird, who would have thought it? But yes, it is weird – if I sit and just sip this beer I am really enjoying it – but if I examine it and try to analyse why I am enjoying it so much it seems quite simple, and I’m finding it hard to pin down what elements actually make it work so well.

Maybe it is my brain trying to reject the fact I seem to be really enjoying a NEIPA style IPA.

Ok, let’s dig into it – the aroma is an obvious plus for it – a huge amount of peach in a mid 2K USA IPA kind of way. There is crisp bitterness there, but not an overpowering amount of hops, which actually calls a lot to east coast style in my mind despite the obvious NEIPA influences.

The body is creamy, showing more of the NEIPA influence but with an oily hop character that makes me smile. It is not quite “Dank”, as is probably no longer the cool term but fuck it, I’m old, but it is a nice call in that direction. Along with the slightly aubergine like savoury notes it really does remind me of mid 2K IPAs, but not as bitter hop heavy as those used to be.

There are hints of fresher grapefruit and pineapple notes that give it some pep, and below that is a gentle east coast style sweetness – no one element says “Banger” but combined together I am really enjoying this.

Without the scary pink blob can images, this would still be a good beer, and one I will probably revisit and enjoy once more if I can.

Background: Ok, if you are not British then those weird pink abominations on the can may confuse you. That is fine. Keep your innocence. You deserve it. It is a cursed image. Anyway, yes I grabbed a can of this because it had Mr Blobby on it. Yes I am easy to sell to. Yes I bought it because of that despite just insulting its existence. I am a complex and confusing entity. Anyway, turned out it was actually pretty good so I grabbed another can from Independent Spirit to do notes on. It is a hazy IPA, which, ok, not my favourite style so bias warning there. Music wise I went back to some Rage Against The Machine – the self titled album. Current world status is making me listen to them more at the mo. Oh, the brewery and beer? You want to know about that? Looks like Sureshot was started by an ex head brewer and founder of Cloudwtaer – so that is a heck of a good heritage for your new Brewery. The beer is double dry hopped with one of my favourite hops – simcoe – so I had high hopes at the start for it.

Lost and Grounded: Brave Noise Lager (England: American Pale Lager: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear, lightly yellowed colour. Good sized mounded white head. Moderate to a lot of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Fresh crusty white bread. Light sulphur touch. Light lime cordial touch.

Body: Sweet. Light honey sheen. Vanilla. Slight liquorice like backing. Slightly oily hop oil sheen. Crusty white bread. Mild mead.

Finish: Light chalk and flour touch. Mild bitterness and hop character. Vanilla. Hop oils and lightly resinous notes. Honey. Dried apricot. Mead.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected from my first impressions up front. On the eye it looked a pretty darn pale lager, and on the nose nothing really stood out beyond the usual lager character. So I have to admit I was expecting something kind of dull.

On first sip it was thicker than I expected from the pale, light and clear body – though admittedly by now I should know than to make assumptions based on that. It had more grip than I expected with a good level of hop oiliness and even a light amount of resinous notes in the finish. Very light, but there.

It is not heavily bitter, and the bitterness that is there is oily not prickly, but it is a nice gentle weight and shows a bit of a different style of hope usage than often comes from fancy takes on lagers.

Behind that is a fairly sweet base, from a honey sheen up front, through vanilla into dried apricot in the after effects. Combined with the oiliness it gives the lightest mead like imagery to the whole thing.

Now, before I put people off by making them think this is nothing like what they want, while it is a tad thicker, sweeter and oilier than the norm, this is still a lager. While it gets a tad more sickly as it warms up in this current absurd heat, when it is chilled down it is pretty easy drinking despite that extra weight, so still gives a freshening lager style.

Overall it is not bad, it seems much more a set of feels than flavours for the most part, but it has a lot of interesting character there. I enjoy it, but it doesn’t feel like one I want to have too often, more an interesting, quirky lager to occasionally indulge in than a mainstay.

And, that ain’t a bad thing at all to be.

Background: :Not done a lager for a while, or in fact many notes for a while. Trying to pull my thumb out. Anyway I saw this in Independent Spirit – a collaboration with brave noise beer, who are dedicated to a safe and inclusive environment in the beer industry without discrimination – something I can definitely get behind. Also it was waaaaaay to hot that week so a lager looked nice, but I’m going to claim the anti discrimination was the main cause. Had seen UK Subs warm up for Bad Religion in a gig recently so was listening to their “Before You Were Punk” compilation while drinking.

Mash Gang: Alpha Delta: High Definition (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy pale lemon juice coloured body. Thin white loose bubbled head.

Nose: Lemon juice and grapefruit. Lightly tart. Light flour like hop feel and light bitterness. Grapes. Light peach.

Body: Flour feeling. High hop bitterness. Light charring. Greenery. Sour lemon juice backing. Light menthol. Grapefruit.

Finish: Lemon juice. Flour. Gunpowder tea. Grapes. Menthol. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is odd in many ways, but mainly that is is a low abv beer that manages to come across as very, well, beer like, and yet not in a style that a see much in the normal beer world. Maybe, I have encountered a beer or two in the vague ballpark as this, but in general it feels like a low abv beer that is happy to experiment and be itself rather that trying to ape the style of a higher abv beer.

Well, that or my finger really isn’t on the pulse of beer styles any more and beers like this are turning up everywhere. Which is possible.

It is actually a really good style I would like to see more of. It reminds me of an XPA (which is itself an odd style) with heavy bitterness and an out of the way dry malt base, but lightly soured in a way that takes away what can be an overly harsh feel to the XPA style.

I mean, it is still harshly bitter, with a flour like, clingy hope feel into gunpowder tea and charring at the end, it is just the light tartness makes it all much more manageable.

Flavour-wise it has gentle tart lemon juice and grapefruit notes as the main job, generally tart fruit juice like notes that work well with the bitterness.

It isn’t perfect. The harsher notes can become too present but it is a really good beer with the deliberately out of the way malt character of the style meaning that those elements don’t feel like a tell of low alcohol like they normally would, instead feeling like a natural part of the beer style.

Drunk blind I would not have guess the actual abv of this, and would have still very much have enjoyed it. A very impressive, very experimental beer and a great one at the low abv.

Background: Took me a while to work out the name for this – initially misread the symbols on the front of this as ADHD, and did a double take before realising it was a Delta symbol in the middle. Anyway HD stands for High Definition, the name which is only actually visible on the side of the beer. Nothing like making it hard for me to work out what your beer is called. This was grabbed from Beercraft which tends to have an interesting low alcohol selection. This being a collaboration with Alpha Delta who I haven’t encountered before, and described as being inspired by a New York State Sour Pale Ale, it definitely caught my attention. Looking online it uses El Dorado Incognito, Citra Spectrum, Talus and Mandarina Bavaria for the hops and has Orange oil, Madagascan bourbon vanilla, malic acid, yerba mate, and green coffee bean in it. I had to look up what some of those were! Also they describe the malt bill as including “rye, spelt, wheat and oats and features multiple grain size of the same variant “ – So, well they went full on in on making this an odd one. For appropriate background music I went for Polyphia – New Levels, New Devils. The odd math rock stylee seemed appropriate.

Fallen Acorn: Emperor: Brandy BA Simple Tricks and Nonsense (England: Imperial Stout: 15.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Utterly still. No head.

Nose: Brandy soaked sponge. Sherry cream. Sherry soaked raisins. Fig rolls. Caramel and milky chocolate, also biscuity which together gives a Twix Bar image. Mild licorice. Nougat.

Body: Very smooth, into a cake sponge feel. Nougat. Brandy soaked raisins and brandy sponge. Chocolate cake sponge. Chocolate liqueur. Liqueur filled chocolate sweets. Trifle sponge. Chocolate flapjacks. Cognac touch.

Finish: Rum sponge. Chocolate cake sponge. Liqueur filled chocolate sweets. Chocolate flapjacks. Golden syrup touch.

Conclusion: Ohhh, it has been a long time since I have had an imperial stout like this. This is very big, but oh so very smooth. Like, a 15% and up abv beer should not have this smooth a texture. Early on it just slides down your throat. It is not that it is thin, but it is nothing like what you would expect. An utterly still beer on pour and utterly slick on swallow. It does quickly move on from that to a chocolate sponge fluffy feel and flavour, but that fluffy character is still lighter than you would expect from the abv. It feels very influenced by the super smooth take that was common in the USA in roughly the middle 2K era.

I haven’t had the unaged beer, but I’m guessing is was probably pretty smooth and not too carbonated to begin with, but if so, the ageing has really emphasised both point until this feels like a smooth chocolate liqueur, sans some of the alcohol fire. (Again, impressive considering the absurd abv this has).

On top of that this is laden with the barrel aged flavour – not that I would haver recognised the barrel correctly and guessed brandy sight unseen. Yes, this has tons of brandy soaked cake sponge flavours, and a kind of raisins element, but there are so many odd spirit flavours that seem to come out of the beer and barrel interaction that I would have been hard pressed to guess a specific one. It tastes like shoving a mouthful of varied liqueur filled chocolates in your gob at once and washing it down with an imperial stout.

It results in a beer that I respect for brewing quality and enjoy for bursting spirit flavour, it is very good, but I will admit I prefer my imperial stouts a bit more chewy in feel. I mean, this is recognisably strong despite its slickness and smoothness – mainly from those spirity flavours and , while smooth, still a noticeable alcohol character. I still would have preferred a touch bigger thickness in mouthfeel. Oddly this actually ties into the one big flaw of the beer, don’t let it warm to room temperature. Normally I quite like letting my stouts warm, but this becomes very boozy and noticeably alcohol touched when at room temperature. It doesn’t gain the thicker mouthfeel I wanted, just become very more obvious in its alcohol feel which does not benefit the beer. Still, slightly chilled this is lovely.

Still, despite those quibbles, overall this is very well done. It is a huge wave of spirity flavour and very well made base imperial stout. However, at 25 quid odd a pop I have to be critical about it for the little flaws as for that money you should demand excellence. It is very good indeed, but not 25 quid a go good.

Background: Emperor brewing have a massive reputation for making imperial stouts. I have encountered them in on collaboration before and found it pretty darn nice. So, a short while back I was discussing them at a Mill’s beer tasting at indie spirit, and one of the other people there mentioned that Fallen Acorn had done a collaboration with them and, shockingly, was still in stock on their store. You had to buy them in a set of three different barrel ageing, so it was a tad expensive, but I bit the bullet and grabbed them. Many thanks to the guy who mentioned it to me, if you ever read this! Since then looks like they sell them individually now, but ah well, no complaints. This is meant to emulate German chocolate cake in style, and was made with lactose and aged in Brandy barrels. Due to being a large bottle and huuuge abv I saved some of this for another day, stopping up the bottle. I am not as young as I once was. Music wise i went with Bloodywood – Rakshak. Yep they finally have their first album out and it is amazing!

Holy Goat: Blood Eagle (Scotland: Fruit Flemish Red: 6.66% ABV)

Visual: Hazy cherry-aid red to black cherry centre. Reddened off white medium sized head.

Nose: Cherry yogurt. Wheat flecks. Sour red wine. Black currant and crushed red grape skin. Thick. Strawberry. Brown bread.

Body: Tart. Sweet plum. Sweet red wine. Sour cherry fizzy sweets. Sticky gummed brown paper. Lightly fizzy. Fizzy lemon sherbet. Peppery bitterness. Rye crackers. Black cherry.

Finish: Sour cherry fizzy sweets. Sweet plums. Light tart raspberry. Gummy – Gelatine sweets in general. Brown bread. Bourbon air.

Conclusion: This is very rewarding, with thick gummy brown paper style take on the sticky, sour red Flemish ale at the base but has been filled in every inch with some twist and turn that makes it stand out.

The fruit is the most obvious twist, as you might expect, sweet plums are there, but the sour notes and tart fruit notes are more evident. There is a raspberry freshness and sour black cherry, often in a slightly artificial style that calls to the sour gelatine fizzy sweets that exists. It is gummy in its thickness and the flavours really vinous with lots of red wine and red grape notes hanging around even as the main fruitiness is waning.

Around that is a peppery, slightly bitter character into a brown bread grounding. Savoury in general, slightly spicy, and slightly spirity in a bourbon to rye style. It is a mix of lower grounding notes that bring you down from that tarter flavours, and tells of the alcohol still present there.

So much to examine as you can probably tell, and while the flavours are wide ranging they never clash. If I had to criticise it I would say that the gumminess builds up over time to become very sticky at the end, and a bit too present, but this only becomes an issue at the very end when the more savoury gumminess tends to dominate and the fruitiness lightens.

Overall a very impressive and fun to examine sour beer.

Background: Oh, Holy Goat, I have had a few of these before and have been blown away by them, so I really needed to pull my thumb out and actually do notes on one of them. This one is, ok deep breath, based on a Flanders Red and a British stock ale, fermented with wild yeast, blended with an amber sour that had been aged in rye whisky barrels, then added in blackcurrant and redcurrant that had been used in a prior Flanders red, then a mix of smoked and unsmoked plums – with the smoked plums done on red wine staves – were added in. Follow all that? Because I think I got lost somewhere. Anyway, grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers: Bought To Rot.

Ridgeway: Good Elf (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear yellow gold. Some small bubbled carbonation in the body. A centimetre of tight bubbled white head.

Nose: Kiwi to lime. Slightly crusty bread hop character. Light vanilla. Light bitterness. Fresh bread dough.

Body: Soft lime. Vanilla. Hop prickle. Thin custard. Sweet grapes. Slight sulphur feel.

Finish: Sour dough. Prickly into fluffy hops. Lime and grapes. Vanilla. Icing sugar dusting.

Conclusion: This is the opposite of what you tend to expect from a Christmas beer. It is light in colour, low in abv, golden ale like in hop use with a fresh hop prickle and green fruit flavours. I don’t think it goes the traditional Christmas route at even a single point.

I mean I’m not saying it isn’t nice, it is just unexpected.

The body is crisp and clean at the base, but with a slight real ale like sulphur touch that gives it a bit more weight and grip than you would expect. While not a heavy beer it definitely doesn’t have any watery elements that shout low abv, and that bit more grip means that it can give a nice solid prickle of hop bitterness without having to resort to an all out assault of hops to overcome the drawbacks of a thinner beer.

The fruitiness is sweet green grapes, with brighter lime takes and heavier kiwi touches under. It isn’t anything super fancy but matches the golden ale style well and gives some sweet release from the impressively but not overpoweringly bitter hops.

Overall it is a really good low abv beer that feels like it should be around all year rather than hidden away fro Christmas.

Background: So, we are into February, time for me to start doing Christmas beer notes. In my defence I didn’t do much at all around Christmas, sorry for that. Will try and get things going again. This is a low alcohol beer grabbed from Independent Spirit. Ridgeway also do a Bad Elf beer, which is higher abv but also seems not much like a traditional Christmas ale in style. This is its low abv cousin. Went with The Royal They: Foreign Being as backing music.

Rok Soba: 777 Lucky AF Tripel (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear caramel brown. No evident carbonation. Thin grey white head.

Nose: Brown sugar. Squeezed orange. Golden syrup.

Body: Thinned down golden syrup. White sugar. Iced tea. Bubblegum. Lightly chalky. Brown sugar.

Finish: Iced tea. Brown sugar. Orange juice. Chalk touch. Banana chewy sweets.

Conclusion: I see what this is trying to do. That is always the best opening for a set of notes isn’t it? Really makes you think that the following paragraphs are going to be praising what a top notch beer it is, no?

A lot of tripels tend to have a feeling of high residual sugar, which is present here. I presume from adding sugar or similar directly to the beer to make up from lack of malt? Maybe? The can lists sucralose which I presume is it – I dunno, not a brewer myself but this level of raw sweetness is very unusual in a low alcohol beer.

Any which way this is very sweet, with lots of brown and white sugar notes. On the good side the beer even manages to call to the fruity esters that turn up in a lot of Belgian beers. It is a, slightly artificial admittedly, set of banana and orange notes, and some very artificial bubblegum notes behind that. I don’t think the bubblegum was meant to be part of the theme, but it isn’t actually bad.

The issue comes with this beer, that, even more so that for a lot of low abv beers, this is very iced tea tasting, and even looks kind of iced tea like. So, what you end with when you mix that and the good points is something that tastes like an over sweetened iced tea rather than a tripel beer.

So, while it does have calls to a tripel it really fails to sum up what makes that beer enjoyable, and fails to present a decent alternative with what it does do.

It isn’t actively horrible, if I may damn it with that faint praise, but basically it tastes like very sweet iced tea. Which, if you want that, is fine but I kind of wanted a tripel and this isn’t that, despite those fruity notes which I will praise.

Ah well, a bold experiment at least.

Background: Originally I thought this was just called “Lucky” but everyone online seems to list the 777 from the art as part of the name. Which seems just like confusing label design to me, but what do I know? Rok Soba seems to be a whole thing with festivals, clothes and such, drinks seem to be a side project and from the can it looks like this was contract brewed in Belgium. Anyway, another one grabbed as part of a low alcohol batch from light drinks as the idea of a low abv attempt at a tripel amused me. Went back to the great Svalbard: When I Die Will I Get Better? As music. Top notch album.

Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing: Lager Day Saints (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, slightly yellowed body. Moderate amounts of small bubbled carbonation. Massive white mounded head.

Nose: Flour. Soft vanilla yogurt. Cake sponge. Slight chalk. Vanilla toffee. Dry marshmallow. Slightly dry overall. Slight gherkin note as warms.

Finish: Light sweet pineapple. Flour. Lightly milky. Slight fruit syrup. Vanilla toffee. Light chalk. Popcorn feel. Slight cake sponge.

Conclusion: This is very fluffy, slight dry and slightly tart yet sweet. I will admit that was not what I was expecting from a lager, not even a low abv one, so give me a few moments to realign my assumptions and come back with fresh eyes.

Ok, here goes.

Ok, well this isn’t really refreshing despite the light tartness and dry main body, which is odd. There is a flour touch along with a fluffy feel that makes it slightly mouth clinging to drink so works against any more refreshing notes.

The pineapple combined with the flour and light cake sponge notes actually make me think a bit of pineapple pizza when I drink this. Sans the tomato part natch. I didn’t say it was a perfect match. It is however, not what I was looking for in a beer. It isn’t that this is horrible, more that I drink this and think “Why does this exist?” It doesn’t hit any need I have for beer, or drink in general. Considering how many beer styles, and in fact drink styles that are out there which I enjoy it really should have managed to hit one just by accident, so missing every single one is quite the feat.

As it warms the tartness gains a gherkin touch which is odd and really doesn’t fit. I keep feeling that it isn’t so much that this is badly brewed per se , more that it is assembled from a random bunch of flavours that don’t mesh together. I think they made what they intended to make, I’m just not sure why.

Not for me, not actively bad, just I cannot see any reason to go to it at all.

Background: Didn’t know much about this one going in, had just seen a new brewery to me doing a low alcohol beer when I grabbed a batch from light drinks so decided to give it a go. The can says they are aiming for the Munich Helles lager style using a “unique yeast” and Hallertauer mittelfrueh hops. I really hope I spelled that right. I’d recently picked up Unleash The Archer’s album “Apex” and put it on as backing music, it is a wonderfully over the top concept album telling a sci-fi tale, so totally up my alley. Not much else to say here this time.

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