Tag Archive: Beer


Hepworth: Pullman (England: Bitter: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Large mounded loose white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lightly earthy and peppery. Orange skin. Perfume. Vanilla and cream. Cinnamon.

Body: Earthy, peppery bitterness. Lightly sour gummed brown paper. Creamy. Light creamy lime. Light creamy toffee. Subtle apple.

Finish: Earthy, peppery character. Gummed envelopes. Cream. Mild toffee. Very long lasting earthiness.

Conclusion: Well, this is definitely back in the earthier, peppery side of the best bitter. Oddly a style that I used to find dull due to overt exposure, but now seems like an interesting, intense burst in the midst of this wall to wall world of super fruity milkshake beers.

Weird how things change.

So, how does this do? Well it has a high level of dry, peppery bitterness which is the predominant front of the beer. There is a light touch of that sour, gummed brown paper feel that helps the drinkability in a lot of the well made best bitters, which is nice. Similarly it has a light, sweet, creaminess – a heavier note than the sour touch, but still nowhere near as predominant as the bitterness. It gives a subtle set of creamy fruit notes – very low and subtle, almost lost under the bitterness, but gives the slightest release from the earthy front.

It’s a decent balance – the sweeter cream is very understated but grows slightly throughout the beer so that the earthiness doesn’t get too harsh despite its heavy peppery and bitter kick.
It is a pretty well made beer, not world shaking but has enough variety to keep your attention during a pint. Not the best best bitter that I’ve had – but as something to have once in a while to revisit the earthy best bitter style, it is a welcome, well balanced bitter kick.

Background: Was up north visiting the family over Christmas again this year. As before they got in some beers for me. Many thanks. This best bitter was one of those. Not much else to add, you may notice things look a bit prettier in the background. Again, up north. I like the north. Anyway. Hope ye all had a good Christmas. Cheers.

Lervig: Shiga Kogen: Yuzu Raga (Norway: Fruit Lager: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain to yellow. Clear body with a good sized off white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart lemon to jiff lemon. Tart grapefruit. Yuzu? Fresh. Yellow raspberry. Lightly yeastie.

Body: Lemon curd. Yellow raspberry. Yuzu? Flour touch. Palma violets.

Finish: Lemon curd. Tart lemon. Yuzu? Tart grapes. Clean sheen feel. Touch of bitterness and hop oils. Flour. Lightly gritty bitterness. Peppery.

Conclusion:Soooooo. Have I ever eaten Yuzu? I honestly can’t remember. I know I have had a variety of Yuzu based and infused drinks. Deffo had them. I just cant remember if I have ever had the thing itself.

Anyway, the tart fruit character is very up front here. Very fresh, mixing lemon, grapefruit and yellow raspberry like notes. Or probably just tastes like yuzu and I would know that if I could remember trying it.

Probably.

The lager styling beneath the fruit is clean, with a slight hop oil sheen. It has a good, slick texture and slight noble hop feeling palma violet notes. The mouthfeel is slightly bohemian pilsner like, but generally the lager is only here as a mouthfeel, the yuzu is here as the flavour.

Because of that it is kind of simple, but refreshing and smooth. One point of note it it uses a slightly gritty, and initially light bitterness. It rises to moderate bitterness, though restrained in mid body and builds to a nice kick in the finish.

It is a simple 1-2-3 punch. Good texture, good fruit usage, good underlining bitterness. Simple. Refreshing, exactly what it says on the tin. Hints of Bohemian pilsner, but with tart fruit and light bitterness.

May not be world shaking but bloody drinkable. I am happy with it.

Background: Shiga Kogen, been a while since I had anything from them. Tried a good chunk of theirs during my visits to Japan. Mixed bag, some great stuff, some average. Lervig on the other hand tend to be spot on. Anyway I’m guessing Raga is the Japanese spelling of lager when adapted to their katakana alphabet, what with this being a lager and all. Yuzu is tart citrus fruit. I may or may not have tried it. My memory is fucked. Another beer from Independent Spirit. Went with Ritualz – CDR for music. Wonderfully weird and haunting music.

Frau Gruber: Hybrid Moments (Germany: IIPA: 8.3% ABV)

Visual: Mango milkshake colour and thick, cloudy character to the body. A yellow-white creamy head.

Nose: Bitty hop character. Light resin and oily hop character. Moderate bitterness. Mango. Slight toffee. Fresh white bread.

Body: Creamy. Peach. Banana custard. Slightly oily. Sweet, light strawberry. Prickly tingle. Mild golden syrup. Some pineapple.

Finish: Light resinous character and bitterness. Banana. Hop oils. Light charring. Golden syrup. Prickly hops. Sweet pineapple. Some tart grapefruit.

Conclusion: Goddammit! Cans should be legally required to say if they are a New England IPA on the packaging, on pain of loss of kneecaps and life for failing to do so. I was very deliberately trying to avoid the NEIPA style when I picked this one from the line up.

Sigh.

Thankfully this has some bitterness to it, but more importantly a moderate use of resinous hop character that gives a nicely IPA feel to the beer. I can live with that. I just would have preferred to have been prewarned what I was buying. Sooo, NEIPA ranting aside….

This is thick and fairly sweet and creamy. Lots of those sweeter notes are expressed as sweet fruit – with peach, banana and the sweetest beer expression of pineapple I have seen for a very long time. However what starts as a low bitterness matched to good hop oiliness and resin character early on gets more and more bitter as time progresses until it is a solid kick backing that sweetness. I approve.

It’s still that creamy thick thing that was not the beer style I was looking for, so take that into account, but it is a decent beer, even with that said.

So, uses the creamy style, but manages a surprising level of hop bitterness by the end. From a discrete hop touch in the sweet fruit dominated front, it feels like very good progress into a mouth filled with bitter, resinous hops by the end.

It is a sweet milkshake IPA that punishes you with resinous hop pain as a reward. Not quite what I was looking for but enjoyable all the same.

Background: There were three Frau Gruber Double/Imperial IPAs on the shelves at Independent Spirit. So I looked at them and decided that this, with its BRU-1, Galaxy, Motueka and Mosaic BBC hops was most likely to be to my tastes. Also, I thought it was unlike to be a NEIPA. I was wrong on that last point. Can image was decent stylised image and eye catching, and Germany has a good brewing heritage so I had high hopes. Also, Gruber, Ya know, Like Die Hard. I as always, am a simple person. Anyway, had just been to see IDLES recently, and discovered a new great artist called Billy Nomates, so was listening to her music during the drinking session.

Kees: Caramel Fudge Stout: Pedro Ximenez Edition (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown rim instead of a head.

Nose: Creamy caramel. Spicy red berries. Strawberry. Dessert wine. Fudge. Cream chocolate.

Body: Creamy chocolate. Thai seven spice. Spicy rum. Sulphur. Peppery. Fudge. Milky chocolate. Fatty butter.

Finish: Thai spice. Cocoa dust. Bourbon biscuits. Peppery. Brown bread. Fatty butter. Rye crackers.

Conclusions: Wow, I always knew that PX barrels carried some weight to them, but the flavours from it utterly pound over the base beer here.

Now, the base beer still shows itself – creamy and thick with lots of weight to it – but the sweeter caramel notes shown by the aroma seem to be overwhelmed by the time you hit the body and only a little of the fudge shows through. So the name of the beer seems slightly misleading in that it has now become a PX delivery system.

It is slightly sulphurous, dry spice and peppery in a rye kind of way into solidly bitter character. Pretty much the opposite of the base beer, and with surprisingly bitter red wine character hanging throughout. I always thought of PX as a very sweet wine, and sweet in its influence. Here there is very recognisable wine influence but it is more savoury, spicy and sulphury in its influence. Nothing is going as I expected with this beer.

The sweetness tries to swell below, but it is always a second string to this bow, to mix my metaphors. I mean 1) This is still good. But 2) This is nothing like what the name “Caramel Fudge Stout” would make you think. Instead you get what is left of the sweetness used to deliver a slightly bitter, spicy red wine character into heavy spice.

So, very spicy, very intense. I prefer a more subtle spice usage, and barrel ageing, but I am still impressed by it.

People into spicy beers will definitely get more from this than I did, and it is perfect for them.

Background: Don’t think I ever did notes on the standard Caramel Fudge Stout, so jumping right in here with the Pedro Ximenez barrel aged version. Done a lot of the barrel aged beers from Kees and they tend to be impressive for the most part, so was hoping for good things from this. This was just before I went to see IDLES live so put on IDLES: Brutalism to get in the mood. Oh, in related news. Fuck the Tories. Fuck Boris Johnson the fucking piece of shit. Also, this beer was bought from Independent Spirit. Who are nice people.

Brass Castle: Kingdom Of The Sparkle Pony (England: Table Beer: 2.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale, just slightly hazy yellow coloured body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Massive white mounded head that leaves some suds.

Nose: Bubblegum. Cane sugar. Fresh brown bread. Crushed Blackpool rock. Fresh nan bread. Sugared orange sweets.

Body: Bubblegum. Yeasty feel. Candyfloss. Unleavened bread. Lime sweets. Sugared orange sweets.

Finish: Bubblegum. Soft banana sweets. Peppery. Brown bread. Candyfloss.

Conclusion: Darn it – I thought I had found my perfect beer when I heard the description for this. A moderate to low abv, so very sessionable. Candyfloss flavours and “Sparkle Pony” in the name. I was excited. Turns out it is ok, nothing special, and as you might expect it is a bit gimmicky. Darn it.

So, aye, it is ok. At its base it hs that drinkable, slightly bready and yeasty table beer style. Solid enough. It gets fairly lost under what comes next, but is still a solid table beer base.

Soooo, the candyfloss. Now I knew going I that the beer would be at least slightly gimmicky. It is a candyfloss beer for fecks sake, the question was how well was it going to pull off the gimmick? And this …. eh. It’s pretty bubble gummy – reminds me of Sorachi Ace hops in that way but without the additional lemongrass notes. Sweet in flavour, not syrupy, but a kind of dry sweetness that really lingers. It has varied sugared fruit notes that come out over time, but feels very, very artificial.

Which, ya know, candyfloss. What did I expect? I guess I was hoping it would be used with a more subtle touch. This is a very silly beer, kind of fun as any silly bit of fluff can be, but not really a good beer in that. It really emphasises the long lasting sweet notes, where a more present table beer character would have let the sweet notes sparkle more in comparison rather than wear out their welcome as they do here.

It is still a laugh. It does what it says on the tin, but is pretty flawed as a table beer as it doesn’t have any sessionable character, and suffers as anything else due to lack of depth. Ah well. A laugh, but a shallow one.

Background: Ok – I did not just grab this because it is called “Kingdom Of The Sparkle Pony”. Though that did help. Nor just because of that and the fact this is made with candyfloss. Which is ridiculous but also sounded kind of fun. It was also because of the can art, which was super cool. I am shallow. Yes we established that a long time ago. Anyway, this is a table beer made with candyfloss. Because of course. Didn’t want anything too heavy musically to go with this one, so listed to the Celeste: Farewell soundtrack. So much good music in that game and a perfect match for the beer. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Lervig: No Worries (Norway: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly cloudy, light yellow. Large loose mounded white head.

Nose: Mango. Lightly wheaty. Low bitterness. Crisp hop character. Soft lemon. Vanilla. Mild pomegranate. Cake sponge.

Body: Energy drinks. Good hop character. Slight bitterness. Prickly. Soft lemon. Fluffy feel. Cake sponge. Mango.

Finish: Glucose energy drinks. Gritty bitterness. Soft, fresh lemon. Soft mango. Vanilla. Cake sponge. Heavier bitterness over time.

Conclusion: OK, lots of good point to this. So I am going to start with the main bad point. I’m just kind of contrary like that.

The bad point is one common to a lot of low alcohol beers – and it is actually not tannin like notes this time. For once. Instead this leans more towards a soft glucose energy drink style. Not the worst element but a very clear tell that the beer has less weight to it than a higher abv would.

Against that is a moderate, prickly hop character that pushes only moderate bitterness bit in a kind of gravely way that makes it feel heavier than it otherwise would. The bitterness slowly raises in the finish to give a solid kick to the end. It feels quite dry in the finish, giving an attenuated APA kind of feel to the hops.

The fruitiness of most IPAs these days is there as well, though not as heavy. There is slight dry mango and very soft lemon which make up the main thrust of it. A bit of a different take to a lot of the IPAs these days, let alone low alcohol IPAs, decent if not world shattering in taste.

Generally another decent low alcohol beer. We are spoiled for them at the mo. This one could do with a few tweaks, but generally does the job in a satisfying fashion.

Background: Low alcohol beer! Yep, that is a common thing on this blog now. Live with it. Another one grabbed from Beercraft who always seem to have a decent low abv selection. Lervig have done me solid so far, so hope they can bring their A game to a low abv beer. Though admittedly most of the stuff from them I have tried was on the higher end of the abv scale. Went with Nine Inch Nails: Further Down The Spiral for drinking music. Their version of Hurt was the original and is still the best.


De Molen: Decadent & Dutch (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 10.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown, with red hints at the edge. A thin off white head.

Nose: Treacle. Charring. Liquorice allsorts. Fresh waffles. Toffee. Salted caramel. Smooth chocolate.

Body: Very smooth. Thick mouthfeel. Creamy toffee. Liquorice. Chocolate liqueur. Salted caramel. Pancake.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Salted caramel. Candyfloss. Liquorice touch. Thick American style pancakes. Sugary honey.

Conclusion: Ok, this manages to be super smooth on the tongue, yet present a decently weighty mouthfeel, while still allowing out a gentle showing of alcohol to warn of the danger of over 10% abv. A hard balance to get right, but done well here.

On things that are not balanced though – this is very sweet. Which admittedly is unsurprising considering the inspiration. Having now had freshly made warm stroopwafels in the Netherlands, I can say that it is not as stupidly sickly sweet as those are though. It is still very sweet.

It is a fairly simple mix of flavours – caramel, toffee, chocolate and thick pancakes. All sweet, all done kind of liqueur style, and all done in a salted variant fashion. That is a big sweet beer.

There is a bit of savoury liquorice in there, though that can tend to a sweeter liquorice allsorts style at times. Not my favourite note in beers in general but the savoury touch it brings is very much needed here.

I love it. Very one style – so concentrating on the sweetness that I cannot have it often, so it cannot be a favourite, but a smooth, sweet beer that just warns of the alcohol and is toffee heavy and makes for a wonderful occasional treat.

It is going to be a Marmite love or hate beer for people – but if you can manage a salted sugar shock assault of a beer then this is as well made as you will get of them. After all that is said, hopefully you will know if it will appeal to you.

I’m a simple soul. I love it.

Background: Stroopwafels! De Molen! Despite being bought up by Swinkels Family Brewers, De Molen seems to be still going strong. Then again looking at the other breweries Swinkels own, they mostly seem to have held up. Which is nice. Anyway, I don’t get to try as many Barely Wines as I would like, Stroopwafels beers always intrigue me, even if they don’t always work out and De Molen are reliably great. So of course I grabbed it. This is made with actual syrup waffles according to the ingredients. And sea salt. A shorter list of odd ingredients than I expected, but definitely an odd one. Bought from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to IDLES – Brutalism. Yes I finally grabbed their first album. Seeing them live soon!

Vault City: Strawberry Skies (Scotland: Fruit: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy, with a bright strawberry red colour. Short lived white dash of a head.

Nose: Very fresh strawberry to strawberry yogurt. Lightly tart. Fresh apples. Mild use of hibiscus. Fresh white grapes. Melon.

Body: Strawberry. Light cream. Lightly acidic. Melon and apple. Fresh white grapes. Mild herbal notes.

Finish: Lemon cream. Strawberry yogurt. Melon and apple. An air of light hibiscus. Light cream. Vanilla. Banana.

Conclusion: Hibiscus usage in a beer that I don’t hate! Wooo! Finally! I think the thing that makes it work here, where is so often doesn’t elsewhere, is that it is used as a gentle backing note. It adds spice to an otherwise sweet beer – it has a definite goal to its use and achieves that. It isn’t the main event. Everyone who is ever thinking about making a beer with Hibiscus in it, pay note please.

So, with that out of the way … Strawberries, eh?

There is such very clean and fresh strawberry style on the nose. The beer is bright red on the eye, giving a wonderful visual experience even before you get into drinking it. The first impressions for this are spot on.

Sipping brings a more balances experience. Strawberries over a gently acidic and sour base – the freshness comes across more like fresh grapes than a sour lambic. It is helped by a slightly creamy mouthfeel than makes for a thicker feel and sweetness than you would normally get in a sour. Added into that a lovely sweet melon and apple notes well expressed makes for something that is recognisable as a (just about) sour beer, but very much towards the fruitier side of things.

The finish is the biggest surprise. Fresh and sweet but with sweet vanilla and banana notes making this quite dessert like over the creamier touch.

Through it all it is a fresh thing. Those cut apple, grapes and melon all keeping it feeling just fresh enough not to be sickly. It is not a heavy element, but it sticks around as a fresh note as the strawberry fades away, keeping the beer feeling clean, with the (and yes we are back to this) hibiscus as a spicy grounding and underlying of the whole experience.

Fresh, just savoury enough, fantastic use of strawberry with dessert like thickness from the vanilla and higher abv. An utterly awesome fruit beer. If you like strawberry, and fruit in general – grab it.

Background: I like strawberries. Rarely seem to work well in a beer for some reason. So, when I saw this strawberry sour from a brewery I had not tried before, I shrugged my shoulders and figured “What the heck, I’ll take the risk. So here we are. Also, I note after buying it also uses hibiscus which I, so far, have not had good experiences with in beers, so this was more of a risk than I thought. Also includes vanilla, which I have only encountered in a few sours, but seems to be a positive when I do encounter it. Not much else to add. Grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the Rotten Citizens Vol 1 EP – a mix of nicely dark sounding electronic tracks.

Big Drop: Fyne Ales: Jam Session (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, lightly yellowed body. Thin white dash of a head. A small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Wholemeal bread. Fresh raspberry. Watery malt vinegar. Lightly chalky. Spritzy.

Body: Softly tart. Slightly fizzy feel. Chalk feel. Light tart raspberry. Watery. Slight watery malt vinegar. Yellow raspberry. Greenery.

Finish: Chalky. Cake sponge. Watery. Light raspberry. Lactose. Salty. Green fresh leaves.

Conclusion: This is, well, unusual. I would say that it doesn’t feel like it matches a gose, but since the explosion in new takes on the style over the past few years I really couldn’t say if it does or does not fall under one of them. It is just, a bit odd.

What it does is wear its many and varied ingredients on its sleeve. The watered malt vinegar sourness, the salt touch, acidic, lactose kind of thing. All stuff that gives a distinct mouthfeel despite a general wateriness, and does give a general base character that has a lot of the unusual notes you would associate with the more lactic goses. However as indicated the reason that it doesn’t feel much like a gose to me is that the main body is very watery and thin. All the ingredients have to work very hard against that to get across what gose feel it has.

The raspberry is surprising lightly used over that base – it gives reasonable tartness and some flavour, but not as dominant as you might expect. The raspberry is quite naturally done, but understated – it feels like a soft drink made with a few raspberries to give a bit of pep, but not much else.

It is ok, but feels very much like a non soda pop styled soft drink – one of those glass bottled small company soft drinks kind of things – rather than a beer. It even has that odd herbal note you get in a bunch of those drinks as they are made with a bunch of “Natural ingredients”. Similarly there is a chalk note that make it just slightly rough at the edges.

Its an ok drink, but not really refreshing, not really a good gose, not really impressive as a beer. It is just gently pleasing but not much else.

Ok, not really worth grabbing by itself, but ok as part of the four pack.

Background: Fourth and final of the low abv collaboration beer made by Big Drop to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. This one, a collaboration with Fyne Ales, is probably the most unusual – An attempt to reproduce the once nearly lost Germany gose style – but at 0.5% ABV. To do so they have a host of special ingredients in the brew – most notably raspberry flavouring, malt vinegar, sea salt, malic, tartaric, lactic and citric acid. I had to look up what some of those acids were. As before the four pack box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Since we had one amazing and one good beer out of the batch so far (and admittedly one crap one) I was looking forwards to this. Music wise it was yet again time for Tool: Fear Inoculum. Such an amazing album.

Arbor: Faked Alaska (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark lemon to apricot. Large loose bubbled crisp head.

Nose: Vanilla custard. Crisp hops. Soft pineapple. Lightly peppery. Cut apple. Apricot. Vanilla fudge. Crushed melon Jolly Ranchers.

Body: Very thick. Melon jolly ranchers. Pineapple. Cut apple. Vanilla. Light hop character and bitterness. Bitty orange. Lemon.

Finish: Pineapple. Crushed custard cream biscuits. Low level hop character and bitterness. Orange. Melon. Lemon.

Conclusion: You know me, not a NEIPA super fan. This does have something though. Probably the super thick texture. There is a whole lot of grip to this beer, that gives even the restrained bitterness of the NEIPA a lot of staying power.

The sweetness is there, but reasonably restrained – giving a custard feeling mouthfeel but only moderate sweetness to match. Which is another element that makes the lowish bitterness work a lot harder than it would in another beer.

It is called a pudding IPA, but I’m not sure from this what dessert it is aiming for. I would guess baked Alaskan from the name, but I have never had one, and a quick google gives me a wide range of suggestions that I presume would taste nothing like this.

This is tart pineapple and lemon notes filled over soothing melon and apple, with low level hops and that super thick base.

Is that a Baked Alaskan? Maybe? Fucked if I know. Google seems to say no, but who trusts them?

This is super thick, tart hopped. Feels like an east coast style IPA, made super thick, but hoppped in a tarter take on a NEIPA style. It is pretty fun. Good tart hop usage in a way we don’t get enough of these days.

Good enough for me then, even if I may quibble on if this counts as an IPA after a few drinks are in me. It has enough hop bitterness and character that before that I would be happy to just accept it as a fun wee beer.

Background: Ok, a NEIPA, or as this puts it a Pudding IPA. I will admit the promise of a beer made with vanilla, and citra, el dorado and mosaic hops got me over my dislike of New England IPAs enough to give it a try. Not had an Arbor beer for a while – they were very solid back before the carft beer explosion, so should be interesting to see how they are doing these days. Another one from Independent Spirit. I went with Garbage: Strange Little Birds while drinking. Still not given that album as much listening time as I should so this was a nice chance to put it on again.

%d bloggers like this: