Tag Archive: Beer


Original Stormtrooper: Goon Squad (IPA: England: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear with just the slightest bitty haze to the yellow body. A large white mound of large bubbled head that leaves lots of sud remains.

Nose: Orange zest. Crisp hops. Lemon juice. Slight gritty bitterness. Slight crushed rocks. Fresh. Cake sponge. Light malt drinks.

Body: Bready feel, moderate bitterness. Lemon cakes. Sugared orange jelly sweets. Crushed rocks air. Slightly thicker feeling middle, but moderately dry in general.

Finish: Orange – a mix of blood orange and tangerine. Solid gritty bitterness. White bread feel. Drying.

Conclusion: Now, I have repeatedly said that in general the UK doesn’t match the USA when it comes to West Coast IPAs. It makes sense really, they have home court advantage. Ones in the UK almost always seem to not quite get all three aspects that I adore – the dry, well attenuated body, the heavy hop bitterness and the layers of complex hop flavours on top of that. They seem to manage two of the three ok, but always seem to miss at least one.

This one … does pretty well actually. I feel that, as they probably have a wide net of potential buyers from the definitely not Star Wars imagery, they are holding off on going fell bore with the harsher edges of the West Coast IPA style, so not to put people off, but even with that said this is a very solid take.

What this nails is the fruity hop flavours, lots of orange notes, from sugared jelly sweets to blood orange to tangerine – it is very well layered around one simple concept for the most part and very enjoyable. It also leans into lemon notes with fresher lemon juice to sweeter lemon cakes. That cake sponge aspect seems to come through quite a bit – which leads us onto how well this manages a dry attenuated base.

It is pretty well done there, not super dry, but with enough attenuation that you can recognise the style. There is a bit more malt showing than normal, some sweeter notes giving a slightly thicker mid body than I would expect, which matches with the bit extra weight of mouthfeel that aforementioned cake sponge character adds but nowhere near east coast style malt levels or sweetness. So, a bit more malt led than expected but generally dry and out of the way so pretty well done.

Finally, the bitterness! Also pretty good – me, I could do with more, I want a west coast that kicks, but I am aware I like silly bitter stuff – this is still solid. Not full USA West Coast, slightly toned down, but still enjoyable.

Overall, yep as you may have guessed a very solid beer and a pretty good take on the style. No complaints here.

Background: This was part of an x-mas present pack of Stormtrooper beers from my Sister and her family, many thanks! I decided to do notes on this one first as I am such a sucker for West Coast IPAs. Like a huge fan. Shocking I know. What did shock me when I saw this was all the stormtrooper Star Wars imagery, how the heck did they either a) afford that? Or b) get around Disney’s lawyers? Turns out it is pretty simple, this is not Star Wars themed. They instead got the rights to use the Stormtrooper armour, which exists completely separately from Star Wars – so it looks Star Wars linked, but is not. Clever marketing. The glass used came with the pack, which, while pretty, all the images on it did make it hard to look at it properly for the visuals section of this guide. Went with The Cybertronic Spree: Ravage as music for drinking to – more sci-fi themed tie ins made sense – a fun 80s feeling bunch of metal from a band that cosplays as transformers. Because of course!

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Bereta: BBC Maple Syrup, Toasted Pecans, Cloves Imperial Stout (Collab with Cristi Tiuca) (Romania: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

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

Nose: Cinnamon. Cloves. Cream. Vanilla. Walnuts. Maple syrup.

Body: Smooth chocolate liqueur. Thick texture. Cinnamon. Mulled wine. Orange zest. Walnuts. Nutty coffee.

Finish: Mulled wine. Cinnamon especially. Vanilla to vanilla custard. Chocolate liqueur. Sherry trifle touch.

Conclusion: Ok, so this is one of those beers where if you have read the name you have a pretty good idea of how it will taste. Mainly because it lists all its special ingredients in the name. Innovative naming this does not have. This clarity of flavour is both a blessing and a curse but I really can’t claim this beer does false advertising.

There is the chocolate liqueur like base imperial stout – it is thick of body and yet slick of feel – nothing out of the ordinary but solid and well made. Over that, oddly, the first impact is an unexpected cinnamon character, it has a huge, kind of Crunchie chocolate bar taste as it mixed with the base chocolate flavour in the stout. Ok, I am aware this undercuts my point that all the flavours are in the beer’s name, but stick with me here.

Then after that introduction the more Christmas mulled wine like cloves notes come it, lightly on the nose, moderate in the body they very full mulled wine in the finish. Then, revealing more layers, the nuttiness comes out. To me it felt more walnut to nutty coffee flavours, but I will take their word it is, in fact, toasted pecan. The maple syrup is the least evident element. It is there but in general the sweetness is more chocolate, vanilla or cream like.

Overall, bar the cinnamon character, it does exactly what it says on the tin. The nuttiness works as a lovely savoury backdrop to what could otherwise have been an overly sweet beer. The Christmas spice is well balanced and not overpowering, which can easily be an issue with clove like flavours. The only real flaw I can see is there is not really much to examine outside the unusual ingredients. There is a touch or orange zest, lots of vanilla, but the special ingredients do the heavy lifting – I generally prefer to be able to examine the base beer more.

Still super enjoyable despite those minor quibbles.

Background: Ok, most of the information for this is already in the name really. It is an imperial stout made with the ingredients listed. The specific ingredient list on the can is not in English so I’m not 100% but it looks right at a quick reference. It is also, as listed, a home-brewer collaboration with Cristi Tiuca. Here I will have to admit I know nothing really about Bereta or Cristi Tiuca, so this section isn’t adding much this time. This was picked up from Independent Spirit as I felt it was time for some big Imperial Stout fun and this looked like it may do the job. Also always a sucker for a new brewery. Went with Slipknots new album “The End So Far” when drinking. Not grabbing me as much as their last album that got me back into Slipknot, but it is growing on me.

Kinnegar: Black Bucket (Ireland: Black IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black body with a good sized creamy brown head.

Nose: Citrus. Pineapple, grapefruit and lime. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Cocoa. Brown bread.

Body: Prickly. Pineapple. Vanilla touch. Tart grapefruit. Dark malts. Sour dough. Light cream. Quite tart. Light charring and charred bitterness. Peppery. Brown bread.

Finish: Charring. Slightly rough bitterness. Bitter black coffee. Grapefruit over that. Raspberry tartness. Bitter cocoa. Peppery to rye crackers.

Conclusion: This is a Black IPA that leans towards my preferred take on the style. While it is dark of body and backed obviously by the darker malts, the first impression you get is citrus heavy, fresh and quite tart in the hop expression.

The main elements in the lead in are pineapple and grapefruit notes, but late on in the body into the finish you get a spritzy raspberry like set of tart notes that I would not have expected at all. It is all very refreshing and prevents the roasted hopped stout take that a lot of BIPAs head towards.

Initially the freshness controls the front, with hints of darker malts behind, leading into a much more evident charred, bitter finish sprinkled with a touch of pepper. However as time goes along you get the malt rising in the middle with a bready base, more peppery rye character and more bitter charring, becoming more like the finish for the full BIPA experience.

It’s not quite got the balance of the best black IPAs, that hard to describe touch that makes them so good – but it is still darn good. The rye is mostly used well, initially quite quiet allowing you to appreciate the open beer, it builds to a heavy rye cracker and peppery presence by the end – possibly a tad too heavy at the end for me – it mutes the brighter, slightly tarter notes, but generally a decent progression of flavour over time for an enjoyable BIPA.

Pretty satisfying.

Background: This was found while heading around Dublin as part of a holiday in Ireland. Oddly, the pub I had intended to hunt out was shut down, so I stuck my nose into a place called Tapped that boasted 50 taps, figuring that should have at least something I want to try. A good chunk of the taps turned out to host cocktails and wine, which were not to my taste, but I noticed in their can list they had this – which was in ratebeer‘s top 50 beers from Ireland, so I figured I would give it a go. It’s a rye black IPA – I am an utter sucker for BIPAs, and a rye touch never hurts so I had high hopes – especially as the BIPA seems an underused style these days which makes me sad…

Augustiner: Oktoberfest (Germany: Oktoberfest Marzen: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Bright yellow gold clear body. Medium sized white bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Brown bread. Light bitterness. Light peppery character and light sulphur.

Body: Banana syrup. Brown sugar. Palma violets. Touch of malt drinks. Brown bread. Dry toffee. Peppery.

Finish: Palma violets. Lightly oily. Toffee. Light peppery character. Malt chocolate. Lightly earthy.

Conclusion: This is probably the most robust Oktoberfest I have had – it has a slightly higher abv that most of the style that I have encountered and you can feel it in the more malt led body, with toffee and banana notes against a light peppery bitterness, enhanced by just a touch of oiliness.

It means that it isn’t as clean and easy drinking as most Oktoberfests, but also means that I am really enjoying it. I dunno how well the extra weight and abv would go down drunk in litre steins at the festival itself, but had here in my room it is exactly what I am looking for.

It gains a lot of bready character in there as well as time goes on. Early on it has a palma violets style that calls to the more Czech hops and banana from the malt that makes it quite sweet, but as time goes on it builds on the peppery notes that exist, and with that bready character and a light earthiness it becomes much more savoury late into the game.

I would say it is more exciting early on, but the change in style over time makes it much more manageable to drink while still keeping hints of what came before.

Its not perfect, it could get rough over time i’d guess, but it is the most interesting Oktoberfest I have had so far.

Many thanks to Tony for getting me it!

Background: Over the years I have managed to try five of the six mainstays of the Oktoberfest, however the sixth – Augustiner, has always eludes me. I was this many years old when I found out that is because the Augustiner Oktoberfest is not generally imported into the UK, if you see it, it is likely someone manually brought some crates of it over. So, anyway shortly after finding that out I found out Tony was over in Germany for … Oktoberfest. So I pleaded with him, and he kindly brought me a bottle back. Many thanks, you are a prince amongst people. This is that bottle. Music wise I went with Godspeed You! Black Emperor: G_d’s Pee AT STATES’S END!. Yes that is its real title.

Brewdog: Jet Stream (Scotland: American Pale Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow colour. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation to the body. Massive white mounded head.

Nose: Unleavened bread. Ovaltine. Choc orange. Light grapefruit freshness.

Body: Frothy mouthfeel. Choc orange ovaltine style. Gritty bitterness. Orange crème. Fresh pineapple.

Finish: Choc orange ovaltine. Gritty bitterness. Kumquat. Slight fresh pineapple. Light strawberry.

Conclusion: It is odd that this is a pale ale, as the flavour actually remind me a bit of the amber ale 5 AM saint. Well one of the version of 5 AM saint, I think it has changed recipe a bit over the years. I mean, on the eye this is very obviously a pale ale – light and clear, but flavour wise the malt load hits a lot different than you would expect.

The flavour is very choc orange but done in a more malted drink style – with Ovlatine being the good go to reference for that. On top of that it has a slightly gritty bitterness doing the main hop work. The bitterness is fairly moderate mid body but lasts just slightly too long and too dry in the finish, making it end just slightly too harsh. The mid body is better done though with a light grapefruit freshness that smooths it and also helps alleviate the dominance of the heavier malt character.

Overall this is a bit of an odd mix – again the 5AM Saint feeling come up, or at least the more malt led version of 5 AM saint that has existed over the years – and it does make the beer interesting. It is a solid beer, the malt is well done, the fresher feeling lightly done do help, but the lead out is not so great. Overall it feels a bit of a disparate mix of elements rather than a coherent beer but not a bad one.

So, not bad, not great, probably better than most beers available on a plane. Probably, I haven’t drunk on a plane for a while – ever since I found out how much faster I get drunk in a pressurised environment!

Background: Deeeep breath. Ok, long time readers may have noticed for all I was a huge fan of Brewdog I have not done much on them for years. Simple reason – we have seen over and over that the owners are bellends and the company treats people terribly. So, erm bias warning. Also bias warning, back in the day I was excited about them I got shares, so I am influenced in that way as well. I will say from the times I have had their beers recently they generally continue to be good, but I cannot be excited about a company that treats people as badly as Brewdog has. So,why notes on this one? Well this is the final gift my mate Mushroom brought back for me, a beer traditionally only sold on airline flights. My wish to show thanks to my mate for the gift weighs higher than my wish not to give Brewdog publicity, soooo, a rare modern day Brewdog tasting note!

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.

Elusive: Pomona Island: Rippin’ Rick (England: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow, with just a slight bitty haze. Thin white bubbled head.

Nose: Musty malt drinks. Pineapple. Grated choc lime sweets. Chocolate eclair sweets. Granted choc orange to orange zest. Crushed nettles.

Body: Orange zest. Lemon cakes. Sugared lemons. Nettles. Earthy touch to the core. Slight bready character. Thick mouthfeel. Pineapple.

Finish: Malt drinks. Sugared orange. Good bitterness to greenery. Turmeric. Pineapple. Lightly fresh. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is a very satisfying beer. The double IPA malt load gives it a lot of weight despite how dry the flavours are for that west coast style. The malt is much more evident than normal, in a way that gives a malt drink choc orange/lemon/whatever set of notes that show up semi regularly behind the hops. The notes may make it seem that they are a bigger deal than they really are though. They are a competitively subtle set of notes, but it alters and informs a lot of citrus flavours in the beer so it is worth noting. It is never heavy, just a slight chocolate malt drink, kind of dry ovaltine like note that shows in the malt character, which heads into a more bready weight.

The bitterness is solid, not an assault – but I may be a bit blasé about bitterness levels these days, so keep that in mind if you are not a hop head. Still, solid bitterness is good. It had enough pop to it to give a nice hop punch.

The citrus character from the hops is lightly tart, mainly showing as orange and lemon notes which gives a lovely freshness to the whole thing, but with sweeter pineapple and tarter grapefruit doing some work at the edges.

It is nothing new, but it is a solid west coast IPA given bit more weight from the thicker mouthfeel that the extra abv a double IPA gives it, and with that a touch more evident malt.

What I am saying is I am enjoying.

Background: Elusive and Pomena are breweries I’ve had a few from recently, they haven’t managed to get into my fave brewery category but both are good enough that I’ve returned to them a bunch of times – so when they collaborated to make one of my preferred IPA styles – West Coast IPA, BUT DOUBLE – I decided to grab it and give it a go. I am always charmed by Elusive’s 8 bit style can images anyway and I am that easy to sell to. Grabbed from Independent Spirit (yes I know, you are shocked) this loads up on Simcoe (an old fave), Columbus and Amarillo hops – leaning more old school in the USA hops which sounds good to me. Or older school. I’m old now I lose track of what is considered “old” in beer terms. Get off my lawn. Music wise I went with Kill Mirror Image’s new EP KLL MRR IMG. Bias warning, I know one of the band members, but also it rocks.

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.

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