Tag Archive: Beer


Tiny Rebel: Siren: Dark Cherry and Chocolate Barley Wine (Wales: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Deep, cloudy brown. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Coca. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Mild black coffee.

Body: Black cherry. Bourbon biscuits. Slightly light mouthfeel. Liquorice. Bourbon whiskey. Vanilla. Slight rye whiskey. Brown sugar. Slight brown bread. Slight chocolate liqueur. Earthy bitterness.

Finish: Black-forest gateaux. Bourbon biscuits. Watery coffee. Rye whiskey. Alcohol air. Liquorice.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m going to open up with the side of this where it is weaker. This is slightly watery on the mouthfeel, which is bloody surprising considering it rocks in at over 10% abv. It isn’t terribly weak, but just slightly thin at the edges, while letting through some of the rawer alcohol notes in the finish. So not light in a super smooth fashion unfortunately. It is definitely lacking a few points in the polish side of things for sure.

So, on a more positive note, this uses the cocoa to chocolate notes well, adding a strong chocolate character while still letting the barley wine come through so it doesn’t just end up feeling like an imperial stout. It mixes well with the brown sugar notes to make a kind of Belgian dubbel meets barley wine kind of thing.

If there is an upside to the rawer alcohol character it is that it results in some bourbon and rye whiskey like notes that makes it feel like this has been barrel aged, (which, while not something they have done for this beer I know is something they plan for the future) though not with the smoothness barrel ageing brings. It does make me genuinely intrigued to see what the barrel aged version of this would be like.

The black cherry (or dark cherry) could do with a bit more prominence here. It is nice but is a gentle backing note to the chocolate. In fact the lighter body seems to make a lot of the non cocoa ingredient flavours seem slightly muted.

So, an ok barley wine with a few nice notes, but definitely needs another run though with a bit more polish.

Background: Final beer from the Tiny Rebel seventh anniversary collaboration box set and I’ve been saving this one for last. I’m a big fan of barley wines and despair that they don’t seem to get as much love as the Imperial Stouts, so this, made with cocoa nibs and dark cherry definitely caught my attention. Totally going against expected mood music for this, went a bit retro with Radiohead – O.K. Computer. It just scratched an itch of awkward, moody music I wanted right then. The box was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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Cloudwater: Veil Brewing: Chubbles (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy dark apricot. Large yellow white creamy bubbled head.

Nose: Fudge. Creamy. Slight kiwi. Mashed banana to banana custard. Doughnuts. Fresh brown bread.

Body: Custard. Fudge. Hop oils. Caramel. Eggplant. Apples. Tart grapes. Very thick. Dried apricot. Starts sweet but goes to heavy bitterness. Slightly resinous. Grapefruit. Brown bread. Banana.

Finish: Gripping flour feel and hop bitterness. Eggplant. Bitterness grows quickly. Dried apricot. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is thick as fuck. It’s heavy and feels custard touched in its thickness, if nowhere near actual custard thickness admittedly.

It starts super sweet, so much so that I was all ready to ask if we could genuinely call it an IPA, but the slight hop oils that are merely hinted at in the start quickly grow. They become resinous and into full throated hop bitterness by half way through the beer. In fact if you only look at the finish it doesn’t even take that long; While the main body is still wallowing in sweet custard and fudge notes the finish is already kicking out gritty bitter hops from about the third sip.

The fruit flavours are even slower to develop, but do come along in the tail end of the beer – tart grapes, sweet banana and slight tart grapefruit against a savoury eggplant like hint to ground it. I will admit I think they could do more with this part of the beer as it is mainly malt sweetness versus resinous, oily hop kicks, but even as it is, it is a welcome addition to the beer.

I’d prefer a bit more subtlety in the hop flavours, but as a big malt meets big hop assault beer this is bloody enjoyable. It takes skill to be this unsubtle and still work. Not a world shaker, but a bloody big flavour triple IPA.

Background: I am too lazy to check, but I am 90% sure if I look the binary on the can will spell Chubbles. The binary on the can is also 90% of the reason why I noticed this beer. I am such a geek. (3 minutes later) I take that back, I am not too lazy,

0110001101101000011101010110001001100010011011000110010101110011

does in fact spell Chubbles. I was right. Anyway another Triple IPA from Cloudwater, the last one I had from them had too much hop burn, so I had my fingers crossed that this would be better. Generally Cloudwater do hop beers very well. Don’t know much about the collaborator Veil Brewing so not sure what they may bring to the table. They call this a proper English Triple IPA, whatever that may mean. Another one form Independent Spirit. I put on At The Drive In – Relationship Of Command while drinking. Still an utter classic of a post hardcore punk album.

Pomona Island: Pew Pew Pew Pewpewpew Pew Pew (England: American Pale Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy lemon juice. Inch of white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Apricot. Clean hop character. Light bitterness. Light popcorn. Light custard. Slight nettles.

Body: Flour mixed with hops. Slightly milky. Kiwi touch. Grapes. Milky fudge. Slight prickle. Apricot. Slight hop oils.

Finish: Flour. Apricot. Light fluffy hop feel. Sulphur touch. Grapes. Light bready. Ovaltine.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer with such gently done flavour, this is actually pretty satisfying. Usually vaguely milky beers get right on my tits and just feel empty. This does neither of those things. Unless I spill it, in which case it may end up on my tits in a less metaphorical manner. Anyway, I digress.

It is milky, with gentle prickling hops, but the fruit seems to hand around there in the middle just enough to actually work rather than getting lost in the mix that all too often happens with milky beers.

There is milky fudge, milky apricot, milky kiwi. Ok, you get the gist, right? In a worse beer this would be infuriating and terrible, resulting in badly defined flavours and general empty character. Here it is soothing and gently enjoyable.

It feels like it should be a tad lower abv in order to make it a great session beer, rather than a slightly heavier APA – Though in saying that I am realising that maybe it is the extra grip from the extra malt that gives that higher abv that makes the unusual character work so well. But if it could be reduced a tad and keep that – then sorted.

It slides down so very easily, with a touch of hop oils giving grip so you still feel it. It is examinable, if not heavy – easy drinking with milky thickness. Gets a tad overly bready over time, but generally very enjoyable.

Make finger guns – pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew.

Background: yeah I bought this beer because it is called Pew Pew Pew, however many times that is written. It both calls to old video games and Laura Dern in Star Wars, both of which make me want to like it. Anyway, not tried any thing from the brewery before so few expectations, this is a Ukuanot BBC, Simcoe, Mosaic DDH Pale. Because of course. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on The Royal They’s self titled album while drinking, it is endlessly endearing and yet vulgar, which I like.

Tiny Rebel: Yeastie Boys: Pomegranate and Molasses Belgian Strong Ale (Wales: Belgian Strong Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark ruddy red to caramel brown body. Inch of creamy browned head.

Nose: Turmeric and coriander. Earthy hops. Crushed peppercorns. Subtle caramel. Yeast funk. Heavy molasses notes. Brown bread.

Body: Chewy. Pomegranate. Mango. Tart apples to grapes. Dried banana. Slightly cloying mouthfeel. Sour-dough. Dry cinnamon.

Finish: Mango juice. Cherry pocked biscuits. Pomegranate. Muted cinnamon. Molasses. Sour cream.

Conclusion: This is a bloody weird beer. For one the pomegranate flavour is right up front and in your face. I always find pomegranate an unusual flavour in itself, but here it is layered over earthy spices, plus a hard to describe spice that I would best call “dry cinnamon”. It calls to spiced tea, just with beer instead of tea, if that makes any sense at all.

The feel is thick, with almost a savoury equivalent of cloying note, backed by sour dough and a grip that makes the flavours thick and clingy. I will say that the actual Belgian strong ale flavours feel lost under everything else. It ends up giving a texture, a funk feel, but not a flavour to match. That is all provided by the extra ingredients.

Early in it felt like it was trying to do too many things at once and felt unbalanced and mixed up. As time goes on it balances better but still feels too led by the special ingredients for me. I don’t mind pomegranate but with the thicker mouthfeel the flavour seemed to grip and hold on longer into the finish than I would like. It’s a flavour that I enjoy in the moment but gets wearing if it sticks around.

Lots of interesting elements in this one, but definitely more interesting than enjoyable for me. I love that the experimented, and like the idea, but it doesn’t quite work as a beer for me.

Background: Second to last of the seven collaboration beers made to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Tiny Rebel brewing. This is an odd one, as the name indicates it is made with pomegranate and molasses, to make what they describe as a Middle Eastern Belgian strong ale. Before drinking I had no idea what that would be like, but was intrigued. The collaboration box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I put on Throwing Muses’ self titled album while drinking as I wanted some gentle but quality indie pop to relax with.

Arcadia Group: Vicious But Delicious – Seriously Hot Sauce Co: Explosive Chilli Beer (England: Spice: 3%)

Visual: Clear, light caramel brown. Thin dash of a head.

Nose: Crushed chilli seeds. Habanero. Watery. Dried green chilli.

Body: Watery front. Chilli seed. Quick growing heat. Meaty chilli notes. Mango chutney. Brown sugar touch.

Finish: Chilli powder. Green chilli. Warm. Slight raspberry yogurt. Barbecue sauce. Slight charring.

Conclusion: This is kind of watery, very light textured and tastes like chilli powder has just been dumped straight into it. Not a good start.

If you pay attention there are hints of better defined chilli notes in there – a meaty, smokey note is hinted at mid body – some crushed green chilli notes in the finish. Generally however, you just get too much bloody chilli powder.

Oddly, despite the fact that this is the “explosive”, highest heat rating of the four beer set, this seems to top out at annoyingly warm rather than any real intensity. Before anyone thinks this is silly macho chilli heat dick waving, I would like to point out I am an utter chilli wimp. I like all the flavour, but little of the heat. So, while this may be hotter than some people like, I am fairly confident it is not the endorphin rush experience that I hear hardcore chilli heads enjoy when they get something seriously hot.

Beer wise this is bland, watery, with maybe some brown sugar notes but lacking in texture or anything more than the most generic flavours to back the chilli. It feels almost like caramel touched water rather than a beer.

Not the worst chilli beer I have had, shockingly enough, let alone the worst beer ever, however, that said, this is still utter shit.

Background: Sorry about the long heading – I have no idea if the spice company is called “Vicious But Delicious”, “Seriously Hot Sauce Co” or what. Googling did help me find out the brewery though – The Arcadia group, contract brewed for a Debenham’s four pack of chilli beers. This is the allegedly most spicy of the four and was given to me by a colleague at work to do notes on. Many thanks. Hot beer called for heavy music, so I put on Lamb Of God – Ashes of The Wake Album. I once did “Laid To Rest” on karaoke in Japan and it damn near did my throat it, so thematically appropriate for a chilli beer. Maybe.

Tiny Rebel: DEYA: NEIPA (Wales: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear apricot. Large white head. Becomes hazy on second pour.

Nose: Apple. Crisp hops. Soft apricot. Slight eggplants.

Body: Eggplant. Slightly oily and resinous hops. Prickly bitterness. Quite savoury. Apricot skin. Grapefruit.

Finish: Resinous. Smoke. Slight oak. Light grapefruit. Earthy bitterness. Apricot skin. Dried mango.

Conclusion: Call me a mad, style enforcing, dictatorial fool, but aren’t New England IPAs supposed to be cloudy? I thought that was there whole thing? Am I in bizzaroverse today?

Those were my first thoughts on pouring this – as you can see from the photo, this is crystal clear. Or more correctly was crystal clear. There was still some beer left in the can due to the large head, so I gave it a quick swirl and pour and – there we go, it is now just slightly hazy. Guess the sediment had all gone to the bottom, I was worried for a minute.

Now I am in a kind of bind on this one – It really doesn’t match most NEIPAs in style points. It it clear on first pour, has oily bitterness, has low amounts of fruit character, etc. However, as most people are aware, I am not a huge fan of the standard NEIPA style, so should I be praising it or damning it for lack of style fidelity? Meh, let’s just look at it as the beer in itself it is and see how it goes.

It is quite .. savoury. That is not what I expected. Kind of eggplant to general vegetable heaviness. This does make me wonder if I got a bum can, especially with the clean first pour. The flavours are very dull and just subside into a lacklustre bitterness haze. It feels like it aims for …sigh.. dank, but ends up staid instead. The fruitiness notes you get are a dried apricot skin kind of note, but with none of the juiciness you should get below the skin.

Giving the beer a good swirl does help a bit, bringing out some grapefruit notes, but still the bitterness of the beer feels weird. It is something I have seen in some other cryo hopped beers, a kind of bittiness that seems linked with the vegetable character in a way that doesn’t work for me.

So, Yeah, this is not the NEIPA for me.

Background: It is well established I am not a huge New England IPA fan. However enough people have done a twist on the base style that I have found examples I enjoy, so was not too worried when I went into this DEYA, Tiny Rebel collaboration – the fifth of the seven collaboration beers they did for their seventh birthday. Said most that I have to say on the box set of collaboration beers in my last few posts on those beers, so all I will add is I put on The Eels, Useless Trinkets album which collects their b-sides and odd releases, to listen to while drinking. Not The Eels best work but it is quite soothing to listen to.

Tiny Rebel: Neon Raptor: Tropical Sorbet IPA (Wales: IPA: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale and just slightly hazy lemon juice colour. Very small bubbled carbonation and a huge white to yellow loose bubbled head.

Nose: Tart grapes. Lemon juice to lemon sorbet. White chunks from tinned tropical fruit. Mild hop character. Crushed palma violets. Grapefruit.

Body: Tangerine. Tart lemon juice. Pink grapefruit. Slight flour like hop character.

Finish: Tangerine. Pink grapefruit. Tart grapes. Crushed palma violets. Pineapple. Standard grapefruit. Mild hop prickle.

Conclusion: Ok, since I have a few spare moments, I would probably argue against this being classified as an IPA, but mainly as an intellectual exercise rather than any genuine gripe. Kind of just trying to work out exactly where the line lies between IPA and not. It is far from the worst offender for not matching style guidelines but it is an interesting one. What do I mean? Well what seems unusual is is the sub 5% abv which, ok has been taken by session IPA but this is definitely not a session IPA. It has low bitterness, which yes is used by NEIPAs, but seriously, screw NEIPAs. It has a mild hop character, and unlike the lower bitterness IPAs I have encountered before the malt character is nearly completely out of the way. The main thing is that it obviously has had a lot of hops used late on to make it very tart and fruit, but nothing is used for bitterness, hop character or similar. Feels more like a very tart hopped APA to me, but anyway.

For the closest IPA comparison it reminds me of those IPAs in style about five years back, utterly smashed with Nelson Sauvin and similar New Zealand hops creating a very tart experience, but with much more out of the way malt styling. On a side note I very much miss those IPAs, I loved the tart, hoppy bombs. Everyone seems to use Nelson Sauvin much lighter these days. Anyway, yeah this beer is like that but with less malt and far more variety in the tart fruit notes.

So, this is very fresh and enjoyable- pushing grapes, lemon, grapefruit and tangerine notes for a great tart medley of an experience. It just lays those tart notes on moment after moment while the actual hop character, when it shows itself, comes across as a subtle flour texture kind of thing – there is no bitterness of hop prickle here. Hence my long ramble on the IPA style above. However, if you ignore the style expectations this is a mouth puckering refresher of a beer and very good at it too.

A tart as heck, kind of IPA if you squint, beer. Please, other people, do this level of tart hops more please. Also, Tiny Rebel please do a variant of this beer, but with more hop character please – that would rock my world.

Background: The …. fourth I think beer from Tiny Rebel’s seventh anniversary box. This one with Neon Raptor, who I love the visual aesthetic of, but their beers have never quite jumped out at me yet. Not much to add really, seems a tad low abv for an IPA, can looks very bright and cheerful. So of course I put on the completely not cheery and angry early era Gallows albums to listen to while drinking. The past few weeks politics bullshit may have left me with a lot of angst and anger to blow off musically.

Lervig: Saskatoon Cheesecake Stout (Norway: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Short lived brown head that settles quickly into a brown rim around the glass.

Nose: Blueberry. Cheesecake. Boozy. Raisins. Liquorice touch. Toffee liqueur. Raspberry.

Body: Chocolate liqueur. White chocolate. Cheesecake. Blueberry. Boozy. Malt loaf. Bready backing. Cocoa.

Finish: Malt loaf. Blueberry cheesecake. Bready. Bitter cocoa. Earthy bitterness.

Conclusion: This feels like it should be a white/blond stout. Getting the flavours you do but from a dark beer feels confusing, or at least partially. There are very obvious cheesecake notes, white chocolate notes. It isn’t overwhelmed by these notes but they are present enough that it leads to a very different experience to your standard imperial stout. Over that base tart, kind of blueberry but not, notes are layered. It feels kind of like a blue raspberry if that makes sense. I wonder if such a thing actually exists. Will have to google it.

So, as a result this is very much a dark fruit cheesecake beer, but against that are the darker standard imperial stout undertones. There are more expected cocoa notes and a solid bready base, even a slight earthy bitterness in the finish – lots of notes to add complexity and offset sickly sweetness.

So, it is just about recognisable as a standard imperial stout, mixed with lot of big blond stout notes, mixed with fruit desserts. It is so good. Like a lot of beers in this style it feels a tad “boozy”, heavy but not burning alcohol, which is fine by me, but a turn off for some – so be warned.

That extra boozy character does come with benefits though- a good mouthfeel, thick and tongue coating. The malt gives sweetness, but with bitter cocoa and tart fruit to contrast well. This really is a master-work of a high abv beer. Different to the norm, high quality, varied and shows the alcohol but isn’t dominated by it.

I whole heartedly recommend this. An excellent dessert beer that doesn’t forget the beer side of the equation.

Background: Saskatoon is a place in Canada, also a blueberry looking berry. I presume this is named after the second, though who knows, beers that taste like places may be the new big thing for all I know. My finger is not on the pulse is what I am saying. Anyway, Lervig have made some tidy heavy beers, and boy do I like cheesecake, so this jumped out at me when I saw it at Independent Spirit. Genuinely been feeling out of sorts this week with all the politics bullshit, so had on Marie Davidson – Perte D’identite for music that sounds as weird and disjointed as I do. Possibly not the best thing for my mental health but great music.

Tiny Rebel: Magic Rock: Citra Session IPA (Wales: Session IPA: 4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach colour. Moderate creamy off white head.

Nose: Apples. Soft peach. Cream. Creamy strawberry touch. Soft pineapple. Custards. Some sugar dusting.

Body: Bready. Gritty bitterness. Egg plant. Apple. Dry cake sponge. Milky.

Finish: Cake sponge. Sugar dusting. Gritty bitter hops. Apple. Egg plant. Creamy. Unleavened bread. Pepper.

Conclusion: This … is so close to being a kind of ok session IPA. Yes that is intentional damning with faint praise. With the exception of Beavertown’s excellent Neck Oil I just don’t seem to get along with session IPAs. They’ve proven to just not be my kind of thing. Thing is, that one that I do enjoy means I keep trying new ones in the eternal hope that I will find another one I enjoy.

(Update: I have just looked at my old notes, and there are more session IPAs there I enjoyed than I initially remembered. The bad ones must just really stick in my mind)

Now, the aroma on this one is actually spot on – Peach, soft apples, slightly creamy with a gentle hop character. It promises a gentle yet fruity IPA, but at a low session abv. That lying fucking aroma.

The body is kind of milky, but despite that it generally suffers from the overly dry and gritty feel that seems to curse so many session IPAs. The hops here are robust, if – as mentioned- gritty, but the beer feels kind of hollow at the core. Where is that lovely fruit complexity that the aroma promised?

There are some hints – apple notes, creamy notes, but generally a peppery, dry, unleavened bread kind of character dominates. This comes up so many times I have to ask…is this deliberate? Is this actually how the style is supposed to taste and I just don’t like the style, as seriously it does nothing for me.

Anyway, another sub optimal session IPA that promises so much and fails to deliver.

Background: The third of Tiny Rebel’s collaboration beer pack for their seventh anniversary. On opening up the back I find that there is a huge picture to colour in with the provided crayons. Silly, but it made me smile. Seriously need some smiles in the current political climate is all I’m saying. Anyway, I’m not generally a fan of the session IPA style, so, yeah bias warning on this one. Not much else to add, grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on Slipknot’s self titled album while drinking – I had recently found out the lyrics to “Get This” were absolutely nothing like what I had been thinking they were over years of listening to it, so they were back in my mind.

Tiny Rebel: Fourpure: DDH Pils (Wales: Pilsner: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale bananaish yellow. Vary large crisp white head. Clear. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Crisp, wheaty hop character. Soft sweet lemon. Vanilla. Cake sponge.

Body: Soft vanilla. Mild peach and tangerine. Slick and smooth. Popcorn. Slightly floral. Mild but gripping bitter hops. Cake sponge. Light pineapple.

Finish: Good hop bitterness. Slightly gritty. Wet sheen. Light lime. Slightly oily. Slight pineapple.

Conclusion: So, to open up with, this has a thicker body than I expected. It isn’t huge, not a treacly syrupy thing, but has that touch extra grip that gives the hops have got more room to roam. It felt a tad closer to a bohemian pilsner in mouthfeel, just with a different take on the hop usage.

Early on there are some interesting flavours in there – soft peach and tangerine against a gentle hop bitterness that lets the pils feel do its thing and slip down your throat easily. As time goes on the hop bitterness rises and starts to dominate.

It is still easy to drink, but with a good hop bitterness punch to it now; That said, I miss the fruit character that is lost under that higher bitterness. The hop bitterness is satisfying but simple. I preferred the balance and mix of characteristics early on. Still, while I prefer the earlier character, at least the beer has some decent progression to it so it doesn’t get dull quickly.

Even late on a light pineapple character enters the mix. Still not as good as at the start, but again a good progression note and adds a bit more complexity back into the mix. So, it is decent – the main real flaw is in the finish, which can get a bit gritty in its bitterness; Not ruinous, but it results in a weaker experience than the rest of the beer.

A solid pils, works best in its first half, but still decent at the end. A solid second of the seven Tiny Rebel anniversary beers.

Background: Ok, I wasn’t going to get this – a box set of seven beers, seven collaborations, in a box set to celebrate Tiny Rebel’s seventh anniversary. I generally don’t get boxed sets like this, I prefer to grab the exact beers I want rather than a collection. Same reason I don’t use the subscription posted to your door beer set thing much. Then I tried their 0.5% abv not an Imperial Stout thing and it was fucking awesome. So, yeah I own the box now. It also includes a glass (shown in the photo), plus pencils and party balloons, because, yeah, of course! Decided to go for their Pils first – not a style that you see craft beered up as much as, say, IPAs so was an interesting one. Yes this was grabbed from Independent Spirit again – let’s face it, when you have a great selection on your doorstep it does tend to become your go to. I put on Throwing Muses self titled album while drinking, some gentle but high quality indie pop tunes.

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