Tag Archive: Beer


Art Brew: Black Cherry Chocolate Porter (England: Porter: 4.8 ABV)

Visual: Very dark, cloudy brown to black. Thin brown head with white edges.

Nose: Milky chocolate. Light charred bread. Smoke. Lightly nutty.

Body: Subtle black cherry. Gunpowder tea. Malt chocolate drink. Black forest gateaux. Milky coffee. Smoke.

Finish: Slight earthy bitterness. Malt chocolate. Slight black forest gateaux. Slight milk. Tea. Pepper.

Conclusion: Ok, tea notes. I did not expect tea notes to come out in this. Now, checking the bottle’s label as I write I notice that I shouldn’t actually be surprised as it turns out that it is literally made with black cherry tea. I have to admit I did not know there was such a thing. Still this tastes of that – black cherry and, well a kind of gunpowder tea set of notes. Ok, it isn’t an exact match but it is close enough.

The black-cherry varies between subtle notes backing the porter, and heavier black-forest gateaux notes that are much more up front. It is generally nicely present but without being super dominant, with occasional pushes towards either end of the scale.

The base porter pushes a nice bit of milky coffee and milky chocolate but it isn’t super present. The fruit notes seem to lighten it a touch in mouthfeel so it doesn’t have the usual thicker and creamier porter texture. Flavour-wise it helps compensate for this with a slight wisp of smoke, possibly from the tea, which gives more grip – but generally it feels like just the tad thicker texture would really help this boom.

Still, it is a comparatively easy drinking, moderate if not low abv, dark beer that matches the porter coffee notes with just enough black-cherry to give a fruity to dark dessert edge to the beer.

While it could do with a few tweaks it is balanced beer between easy drinking and able to be appreciated for its depths and works well as that.

Background: ART BREW! I still have a soft spot for this lot. In my early days in Bath I used to drink so much of their stuff at the Royal Oak. Times change, and Art Brew vanished for a while, but since they have returned I have picked up a few of theirs every now and then to see how they are doing. This one caught my eye as, well black cherry is often a very nice note in the darker beers, so I was intrigued by a porter that emphasised it more strongly. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is made with cocoa nibs, black cherry tea, chocolate malt and lactose. For some reason they put lactose in all caps. I presume because of potential intolerances, however I am head-cannoning that they were just super excited about brewing with lactose and used cap lock to show that to us – the readers. That is what I do. Put on Night Wish – Dark Passion Play while drinking. Well part of it. That is one long album.

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Dugges: Banana Toffee Chocolate Imperial Stout (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

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

Nose: Thick banoffee pie. Very ripe banana. Creamy chocolate to chocolate fondue. Boozy. Oily chocolate. Thick caramel. Praline. Nuts.

Body: Banana liqueur. Banana ice cream syrup. Banoffee pie. Pecan pie. Praline. Nutty oiliness. Slight brown bread. Bitter cocoa backing.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Sweet chocolate. Banoffee pie. Ripe banana. Walnuts. Pecan pie. Bitter coca. Brown bread.

Conclusion: Ok, they missed a trick in not calling this “Banoffee Pie Imperial Stout”. Because this is a god damn huge banoffee pie imperial stout. Maybe the dessert isn’t as well known in Sweden? I have no idea.

Any which way this is basically a mix of thick overripe banana to banana syrup laden over chewy toffee to caramel backed by a moderately bitter cocoa core with some sweet chocolate notes. So, as mentioned, basically banoffee pie in a glass.

There is a tad more subtlety than you would expect from a beer of this type. There is a nutty oiliness and oily chocolate notes, into pecan pie notes. In fact it seems to like sweeter nut notes in general to round out the character.

As time goes on it seems that some of the more sickly sweet notes are lost -which is probably for the best, even though I do miss them – If they had stayed around I would probably have found them wearing over time. Instead bitter cocoa notes and some solid brown bread character come out creating a heavy middle, with the sweeter notes still dancing around the edges.

Definitely not an imperial stout that is for everyone. It very heavily leans on the dessert beer style, which I will admit is a style that can be over exposed at times. However I can’t blame this beer for the rest of the beer scene’s sins, and this is one of the better dessert style stouts – it sells the idea so very well, yet has subtleties beyond that idea.

After much arguing with myself I have decided that this doesn’t quite earn the “My Favourites” tag. Just. It is still really good and fans of sweeter imperial stouts should definitely grab it as soon as they can.

Background: This is the second time I’ve had this, first time I enjoyed it so much I decided I had to do notes on it. So, yeah spoiler warning. These notes are going to be positive. Then again I put this background at the bottom, so shouldn’t be spoiling anything if you are reading sequentially. Anyway, grabbed from Independent Spirit this is is an Imperial Stout made with cacao, vanilla, coconut, rye and oats. Oh, and natural flavours which I resume account for the banana. Wanted something heavy and odd to go with this musically so broke out Marie Davidson – perte d’identite.

Ironfire: Synner Hoppy Pale Ale (USA: American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Very large mounded white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Clear main body.

Nose: Musty hops. Some charred and wet wood notes. Apple. Greenery.

Body: Apple. Pineapple. Slight cardboard. Hop bitterness. Grapefruit. Slight hop oils. Slight peach.

Finish: Hop bitterness and charring. Malt toffee. Peppery. Grapefruit. Hop oils. Slight peach. Choc toffee.

Conclusion: This is another one that slowly grew on me after a very rough start. Or more correctly a rough finish. Also a rough start. I’ll get to that in a moment. Anyway, let’s start at the top.

So, to put it bluntly, the aroma is a bit shit. Slightly musty and slightly charred, with not a huge amount going on. Now this could be because the hops they used fade fast and it takes a while for USA beer to reach the UK, or maybe it was always shit. I may never know.

The first sip is ok – a mix of fresh apple and tart pineapple and grapefruit notes. Its got a slight cardboard style to it, but uses the tart and fresh notes well enough to mostly push past that. Mostly. Then you get a charred and rough finish which is just not welcome. It is slightly pepper, but in general it is not showing the choice hops to their best – instead giving a slight rough hop burn. An unexpected but not entirely unwelcome note here is a slight malt toffee notes which calls to a sweeter APA than this which generally has an out of the way malt character in the main body.

The finish never really recovers from this – it gains a bit more malt and chocolate to balance it so it is less ruinous, but I would never go so far as to call it good. What does improve is the main body which steps up with soft peach roughing, more of the appealing tart notes and a better defined hop character. All of which are much appreciated.

So, still not great top and tail, but the improved main body means it isn’t the complete write off it originally seems. Wow I am killing it with faint praise today. Not one I’d recommend but it has its good points.

Background: Managed to get a chance to drop over to Corks Of Cotham in Bristol recently so grabbed a few beers while I was over there. They have been around since before craft beer became huge and have always had a good selection, so was nice to drop back there again. I mainly grabbed this one as the can looked pretty – similarly to keep in theme I put on White Zombie – Astro Creep 2000 while drinking. It all makes sense. From the can’s description this is dry hopped with Citra. A good hop, hope it pays off here.

Brew York: Rhubarbra Streisand (England: Spice/Herb/Vegetable: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Blond to ripe banana yellow. Large yellowed head.

Nose: Strawberry. Sweet rhubarb crumble. Light orange jelly. Cream. Grapes.

Body: Sweetened rhubarb. Sugared apple pie jelly. Cream. Ginger prickle. Light bready hop character. Light pepper. Strawberry. Tart grapes.

Finish: Apple pie. Cream. Rhubarb crumble. Cinnamon. Lightly sweet ginger. Light crusty white bread. Strawberry. Vanilla.

Conclusion: While a lot of beers I have tried here have used rhubarb, most have gone with the tarter, earthier style that calls to the raw rhubarb. This goes full on for the sweet rhubarb crumble style and it shows it full in every note from the sugared fruit to the distinct crumble covering notes.

On the other side of the experience, the milkshake pale side is definitely rocking the promised milkshake character – though I would call it a strawberry milkshake with rhubarb crumble dumped into it, rather than a rhubarb milkshake in itself. Not complaining about that though.

It is very smooth, very easy to drink. There is a slightly bready, vanilla touched pale ale character below – but in general the beer like elements are pretty low key in this one.

The dessert imagery come in strongly, with subtle spice usage – low levels of ginger and cinnamon that really emphasise the crumble like notes. Similarly some apple and grape notes give an impression of a few other crumble based desserts working in the background. The spice grows over time, becoming quite the present element by the end. A big shift in the style of the beer, but makes for a nice progression if not one for multiple beers.

This is a beer for beer purists as, well, it is very much a dessert/milkshake style thing with only a hint of the pale ale. However it does its gimmick well, does the milkshake well, has progression, is easy to drink and is enjoyable. You can’t say fairer than that.

Id definitely have it again when I wanted something easy to drink and it is one of the best rhubarb themed beers I have encountered as long as you are happy with the sweet side of things.

Background: There are two reasons I bought this. 1) it is made with Rhubarb. 2) IT IS CALLED RHUBARBRA STREISAND. Seriously, how could I not buy it with a pun name like that. I love puns. Anyway a milkshake pale made with Rhubarb, and , it turns out from looking at the can after doing the notes, also with ginger. Makes sense. I had no idea what music Barbra Streisand actually sings so I put on Hayseed Dixie – Weapons Of Grass Destruction when drinking. Probably not close to what she did, but they are great bluegrass fun. A new glass this time, thanks to my sis who gave me it when she was cleaning out a few from her selection. Much appreciated. This is another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

De Molen: Hair Of The Dog: Binkie Claws: Woodford Reserve Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 11.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin grey rim of a head.

Nose: Brandy cream. Sweet liquorice allsorts. Figs. Dried sultanas. Brown bread.

Body: Smooth. Creamy. Figs. Plums. Liquorice. Toffee liqueur. Pepper. Clearly evident Woodford Reserve bourbon. Brown sugar. Creamy cherries/ Cherry yogurt/ Cherry liqueur.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Vanilla. Glacier cherries. Light charring. Bitter hop oils. Rye whiskey. Bourbon.

Conclusion: This so smooth, lightly creamy but with tons of that barley wine dark fruit flavour. I vaguely remember Doggie Claws from all those years ago, but I don’t remember it being quite as awesome and rewarding as this one is.

It is creamy in a way that calls to sherry trifle, alcoholic plums and figs (if there is such a thing, if not their should be) and burnt brown sugar that gives a crème brulee imagery to it. Really rewarding, rich alcoholic dessert notes all the way.

Under that are the more traditional barley wine notes – dark fruit, cherries, and some more unusual beer elements for a barley wine like some bitter hop oils that give grip and a recognisable beer edge in this almost liqueur like barley wine.

Finally, but far from least, there is the Woodford reserve influence and it is massive! From the more generic toffee and vanilla notes you expect from bourbon, to unexpected rye whisky like notes, to what can basically be best described as raw recognisable Woodford flavour. The barrel ageing doesn’t just add smoothness to this beer, it pounds out a good chunk of its flavour as well and builds this from a good beer to an excellent, layered experience.

From an easygoing start, ro a thick barley wine middle, to the hop oils and bourbon finish – this is a ride that soothes you in and then kicks you out. Seriously wonderful, then again, it is Hair Of The Dog and De Molen, what else did I expect?

Background: I would have grabbed this a lot earlier than I did if I had noticed it was a “Hair Of The Dog” collaboration. Absolutely love those guys and their beers are super hard to get hold of in the UK. De Molen are darn decent as well. From the name I’m guessing this is a take on Hair Of The Dog’s Doggie Claws – which has been aged here in Woodford Reserve barrels. Woodford is a darn nice bourbon, so sounds like a combo made in heaven to me. Put on an EP called “Rotten Citizens Vol1” while drinking – a mix of artists doing dark electronic tracks for moody drinking music. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Cantillon: Mamouche (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Still. Thin dash of white rather than a head. Later pours have an actual head – an inch of white froth.

Nose: Dry white wine. Rose petals. Sour. Elderberry. Wet oak. Horse blankets.

Body: Thin front. Peppery. Charred oak. Acidic back. Light lemon. Dry middle. Watery edges. Mild strawberry. White wine. Dried apricot.

Finish: White wine. Sulphur. Elderflower cordial. Dried lemon. Charred oak. Petals. Vanilla yogurt. Dandelions. Tart grapes. Flour.

Conclusion: There seems to be a trend with Cantillon beers, for me at least, that they start out feeling slightly underwhelming to my expectations, then slowly build up to gain my respect by the end. This is, well, slightly different, but it mostly matches that general trajectory. As always let me explain.

Early on it seemed slightly thin – not something I would ever expect to associate with Cantillon normally. Instead of the mouth puckering dryness what you get is an acidity that hits the back of the throat kind of harshly, an unexpected kick from the lighter front. There is an elderflower cordial taste, watered down a lot to create an experience that lacks lustre.

Time brings out a lot of white wine dryness, in fact this may be he most white wine like I have encountered in a lambic. The elderflower flavour seems to polish off some of the edges you would expect from Cantillion, but adds a bunch of new ones itself.

It adds a lot of petal, dandelions and similar floral notes which go into slightly charred and peppery notes later on. This side of things didn’t really work for me – so while the beer definitely improved on Cantillion’s usual drinking trajectory it doesn’t end up at the usual high. Just ends as a shrug and a “it’s ok.”

It is a white wine, floral and somewhat acidic thing that doesn’t grab me like the other Cantillons do and doesn’t feel like it earns the time to took for it to improve.

A distinctly sub optimal Cantillon.

Background: Shockingly (ok, not shockingly, maybe mildly surprisingly) I did not pick this up at the Moor Taphouses’ Zwanze day. They had sold out. Instead I found it in Independent Spirit a few weeks later. I’m guessing it came across as part of the same batch though. Anyway, this is a lambic made with elderflower in two year old lambic. Another new one on me – Cantillon seem to have more of these unusual experiments than I would have expected. Wasn’t sure what music was appropriate for this, so just went with an old favourite of New Model Army – No Rest For The Wicked. When in doubt go for some punk.

Buxton: Dugges: Ramberget (England: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large, mounded white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lemon. Oats. Wheaty hop character. Clean. Light milk. Light hop bitterness.

Body: Thick. Lemon curd. Passion-fruit. Grapes. Also slightly musky grapes. Fresh lemon juice. Muesli. Vanilla custard. Cream. Dried apricot.

Finish: Palma violets. Greenery. Lemon curd. Hop oils. Some bitterness. Musky grapes. Soft orange.

Conclusion: This is an unusual entry in the IPA category, for all that it may seem a standard entry from the can’s description of it. And by unusual I mean delicious by the way. Also, I still mean unusual. Words can mean multiple things when written down. Like wind for example. Anyway, I digress.

It is thick, kind of creamy but also lemon juice style citrus filled. It is far thicker than your average IPA and that makes every flavour grip so much more and makes it so much more expressive. Lemon notes become thick lemon curd. Milk becomes a chewy oatmeal to muesli milky cereal style.

I will admit it does not have the largest range of flavours – mainly working the citrus fruits – but the thickness gives a depth to each element that makes it extra rewarding in and of itself. It only has a small amount of bitterness, which normally would annoy me in an IPA, but is probably a good call here – the thick texture could have made high bitterness clingy and outstaying of its welcome.

It will never be your go-to, anytime IPA. It doesn’t have that easy drinking, crisp, bitter kick, or a whole other number of other elements you would expect from a standard IPA. However, its thick, slow drinking style is delicious and while an atypical IPA it is still recognisably an IPA. A slower, heavier, bigger IPA for taking your time with.

Buxton bring the IPA goods once again.

Background: I tried this a while back, loved it, so I decided to return one day to do notes. This is that day. So, yeah, I wasn’t unbiased going in – I was very much ready to enjoy this one again. Basically a big IPA made with oats as part of a collaboration between Dugges and Buxton. Simple and to the point. Despite my happy mood going in I put on the melancholy tracks of The Eels – End Times while drinking. Maybe I was afraid of getting too happy. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. yes I have got lax at tried other places. I will keep my eye out more when travelling.

Northern Monk: Finback: Patron’s Project 3.05: Once, Twice, Three Times a Whale (Mosaic Edition) (England: IIPA: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Custard to apricot coloured body. Very large, loose mounded white head that leaves suds

Nose: Mandarin orange. Very fresh. Crisp hop character. Lightly wheaty bitterness. Tangerine orange. Soft vanilla custard. Light, tart pineapple. Slight flour.

Body: Orange to tangerine. Vanilla custard. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slight resin. Slight flour. Light pineapple. Peach. Slight greenery.

Finish: Fresh tangerine. Slight resin. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slightly milky and creamy. Grapefruit. Growing hop character and bitterness.

Conclusion:I’m torn. No, wait that is a terrible way to start talking about this. Let’s try a different tack. This is creamy and fruity in a way that reminds me of the NEIPA interpretation, but, despite the low levels of bitterness they use in it, it still features enough oily hop feel and resinous notes to make it feel like an actual damn IPA. I approve.

Ok, so after that, now to get to – I’m torn, but not in a Natalie Imbruglia way. Let me explain. This is tasty, tasty, very ,very tasty, but with that it is a bit simple. There is lots of bright fresh mandarin orange and tangerine notes that make you sit up and smile. Then there is tart pineapple to grapefruit notes under backing a soft, creamy to vanilla custard base. Delicious, so delicious, but for the most part that is your experience for the entire beer.

Ok, it doesn’t 100% stick at that – the hop character gains a touch more resin and bitterness over time, while never quite betraying its NEIPA creamy and fruity style. There is some progression, just not very much.

You know what? I’ve talked myself into it. I am no longer torn. This is ruddy good. Maybe it could do with a tad more complexity but this is a double IPA that calls to NEIPA but doesn’t forget the IPA at its heart, and shows the mosiac fruit flavours in full fresh burst.

So, yeah, not torn any more. This is very good. Get it.

Background: This is a Patron’s Project beer. Yet when you lift up the label there is no additional information hidden underneath. It is like someone just told me Santa does not exist. I am let down. Anyway, the final name in this collaboration is James Butler, a tattoo artist who I presume did the artwork for the label. I’ve loved Northern Monk Patron’s Projects so far, so when this three times hopped with Mosaic IIPA turned up in Independent Spirit it caught my eye. Put on Some Marie Davidson to listen to while drinking – only just discovered her music – haunting electronic gothic feelings stuff. Very moody. She sings a lot in French, which I don’t understand, so if you listen and it turns out it is super obscene please don’t blame me. Unless you enjoy that, in which case you are welcome.

Yonder: Dunstan’s Exile (England: Belgian Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon juice coloured hazy body. Thin white head.

Nose: Brown bread. Orange zest. Lemon. Peppermint and mint leaves. Peppercorn sauce.

Body: Brown bread. Orange. Gentle earthy hops. Gentle lime. Gentle lemon. Peppery. Light bitterness.

Finish: Gentle earthy hops. Orange skin to orange zest. Lightly peppery. Slight greenery.

Conclusion: You know, this much more enjoyable than my comparatively sparse set of notes above may indicate. There isn’t wide range of distinct flavours, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pretty darn drinkable beer.

It feels like it is aiming for an Orval like beer at its base and, while it doesn’t reach that beers heights, you do end up with an earthy, bready and lightly funky character as a base to work from. So, it gains a reasonable base from the attempt, and you could do a lot worse than that.

Then there is the subtle fresh lemon, lime and orange notes that come out. A range that goes from drier orange skin notes, to gentle lemon juice. None of the citrus elements come across as sharp notes, just that very slight acidity that lightens the texture and allow fresher notes through.

There is a kind of Belgian wit spiced character as well. Slightly minty, slightly peppery as well as some harder to place spice notes. It gives an extra layer that goes nicely into the earthy, lightly bitter hop character. As I say, despite the sparse initial notes this work pretty well together.

It is not quite there as a beer – the Orval style doesn’t have the full funk complexity down. The citrus notes also seem to reduce the texture maybe a tad below the ideal thickness. Finally the spice could do with being a tad more prominent (and how rare is it that I say that!?). At its core though it is an easy drinking and pretty rewarding beer.

Could the beer be tweaked? Yes. Is it worth drinking now? Also yes.

Background: Not seen this brewery before, but I saw they were doing a take on a pale Belgian ale, and figured that it would be nice to grab one for an experiment. It is made with “foraged botanicals” which seemed a bit vague, but thankfully their ingredient list laid it all out – Grain of Paradise, Lavender, Orange peel and Juniper berries. Still had to google “ Grain of Paradise” as I had forgotten what it was since last time I encountered it. My memory is buggered. In sad news I broke my Scallywag pen light while doing these notes. It will be missed. Mainly because its light switch that made a dog face turn up in the torch light was great for fiddling with while drinking. I am such a fidget. Anyway, put on Mobina Galore – Cities Away while drinking. Nice bit of energy without getting too heavy. This was another one from Independent Spirit.

Mills: Picture Pot (England: Sour Ale: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Solid lemon juice. Inch of white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart apple. Crisp. Some bitter hops and fluffy character. Shredded wheat. Yeast funk. Sulphur. Brown bread.

Body: Apples. Gently fizzy. White wine and grapes. Chalky touch. Pears. Vanilla. Slight cream touch in middle. Dried apricot. Lychee. Pineapple.

Finish: Tart grapes. Slight chalk. Champagne. Lychee. Pears. Cider. Yeast funk. Apricot. Twigs.

Conclusion: Who would have thought that beers that taste kind of like cider would have enough entries for me to consider that a sub-genre now. Yep that is definitely a thing now and this is another cider tasting beer, albeit with a good chunk of lambic influence to it.

This is at the smoother end of the cider style in the taste – tart but very easy drinking – especially considering the touch higher than usual abv. It has a just slightly crisp and gently dry take on the style in its influence.

At its base there area lot of tart pear and apple notes – pretty obvious considering all the cider (and ok, yes pear should be perry) references I am making, but I thought I would just make it explicit. However on top of that the hops seem to carry a decent chunk of the work here.

Initially it only shows as a slightly bitter, fluffy hop aroma. However over time a dried apricot, fresh lychee and tart pineapple hop set of notes come out of the body. This gives a much more beery feel to a very cider influenced drink.

It’s easy to drink, mouth freshening and the mix between sour beer and fruity hops creates a welcome experience that never feels simple. In fact the moderately higher abv is actually quite dangerous considering how easy this is to drink.

Mixing lambic, cider and hops ain’t an easy task, but this does it very well. Well worth grabbing.

Background: Mills seem to very much about their sour beers, and have been pretty interesting so far. This one is a mix of three brews, dry hopped with whole leaf hops. Had fairly young so to experience the hop character influence more predominately. Only had a month or two, and decided to break it open as part of the recent cornucopia of sour beer and lambics picked up. This was one from Independent Spirit. I put on the Roadrunner United album to listen to while drinking -a lovely range of metal tracks from collaborations from many of Roadrunner’s finest.

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