Tag Archive: Beer


Neon Raptor: Island Party DDH Pale Ale (England: American Pale Ale:4.3% ABV)

Visual: On first pour clear lager yellow colour with huge yellow-whitehead. Tons of small bubbled carbonation. Later pours are cloudy and opaque.

Nose: Dry bitter hops. Soft pineapple. Floral. Chalk touch. Flour.

Body: Dry, hoppy bitterness. Flour. Soft vanilla. Soft apricot. Prickly. Light gherkin. Mango. Strawberry touch.

Finish: Strawberry. Flour. Soft pineapple. Vanilla yogurt. Crushed love heart sweets. Solid bitterness. Kumquat.

Conclusion: This pours oddly. The first pour was utterly clear and lager like, with a massive head. However it seems I should have given the can more of a shake before pouring as later pours were cloudy in a NEIPA style. (or maybe not – again, massive head already – but you get the gist).

So, once I had let the head settle a bit I found that this was pretty subtle in the aroma. Soft pineapple and dry, bitter notes. While it never hits that super dry, super harsh take that some APAs do, this still leans into the drier take throughout the rest of the beer.

It has a fairly creamy mouthfeel, but very dry around that. Kind of a flour dryness that seems to be a common APA shtick. There is some soft apricot and pineapple notes packed around that which freshens it up a touch, along with some savoury vegetable notes and sour gherkin notes rounding out the range.

Altogether it is ok, but gets wearing as times goes on and the drier notes take over, leaving more flour notes on your tongue as a desiccating experience. It is a just slightly too far into the harsh dryness in style, rather than the super drinkable dry style.

So, it had good first impressions, before the flour notes got too heavy, as the soft fruit is appealing, but it just gets bogged down over time. Ok at the start, but definitely sub-optimal and gets worse as time goes on.

Background: Neon Raptor. Neon. Raptor. There was no way I wasn’t going to try something from this brewery. Decided to go for the APA as been trying a lot of IPAs recently. Also the IPAs were New England style. I’m trying to not hate on NEIPAs too much, but the way they are saturating the market at the mo is not exactly my scene shall we say. Anyway, not much else to add – picked this up from Independent Spirit and put on B. Dolan’s House Of Bees Vol 2 while drinking. Should be seeing the Epic Beard men live soon, so gets me in the mood for cool socially conscious rap.

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Stillwater Artisanal: Casita Cerveceria: On Fleek (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick. Small brown head.

Nose: Caramel. Milky chocolate. Cream. Marshmallows. Praline. Nougat. Smooth. Rich milky coffee. Brown sugar.

Body: Thick. Fudge and chocolate fondue. Rich creamy coffee. Very smooth. Toffee liqueur. Nougat. Bitter cocoa. Chalk touch as it warms.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Chocolate liqueur. Easter egg chocolate. Milky coffee. Cocoa.

Conclusion: This is a very sweet Imperial Stout. Very creamy, using the malt load for a thick character but with the barest hint of its 13% abv. Well, my current pissed squiggly handwriting is probably a dead giveaway, but thankfully by the time these notes are typed up that will be hidden from you.

Whew.

Anyway this is a very well balanced imperial stout – showing a lot of the usual coffee notes, expressed here richly and creamily. It also shows the expected chocolate notes, expressed creamy and and as bitter cocoa dust. It manages big flavours without becoming sickly sweet or harshly bitter.

The sweet high notes come in liqueur like with chocolate and toffee elements, laid over a chewy, thick nougat and creamy mouthfeel and taste. Bitter cocoa and more savoury notes ground it, making for a rewarding imperial stout experience. As it warms a light chalk note adds itself to the grounding – very subtle but underlining the beer along with slightly more bitter, but still milky coffee notes – all making it very robust and keeping the sweeter notes under control.

For the first half this beer is perfectly done, but as you go into the second half you hit the only real flaw – a lack of any real progression in the beer. It is always the same creamy and coffee, bitter and sweet notes. It is still, very good in fact, but there are no surprises as it goes on.

That is a very minor nitpick though – it keeps it from being one of the world’s greatest imperial stouts – but that is just because there are so many great imperial stouts out there. It is still super well crafted and well worth grabbing.

Background: Ok, I only own this beer as my mate hates the idea of it. Long story shot – my mate had to explain to me what “On Fleek” means as he saw this thing’s name and the can design and hated the “Hipster” idea of it. So, anyway that stuck in my mind, so when I saw it on Beer Hawk I had to give it a try. Odd how these things happen. So if I hate it, it is indirectly his fault for hating it for different reasons. Anyway this is an imperial stout made with … dark sugar and molasses if a quick google is to be believed. Which possibly it shouldn’t. Anyway, put on Arch Enemy: Will To Power for this – big metal for big imperial stouts.

Lost and Grounded: Moor: Left Hand Giant: Berry Lush (England: Fruit Witbier: 4% ABV)

Visual: Black cherry red. Huge strawberry red head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Blackcurrant cheesecake. Blackcurrant jam. Twigs. Strawberry. Thick. Tart grapes.

Body: Wheaty. Sharp lemon. Blueberry. White pepper. Tart blackcurrant. Charring. Tart grapes. Gooseberry.

Finish: Tart blueberries. Noble hop oils. Subtle blackcurrant. White pepper. Charred bitterness.

Conclusion: There is a massive disconnect between the aroma and the taste in this one. The aroma is hugely jammy, packed with fruit flavoured jelly notes (aka Jello for our American friends). It is sweet and thick. I was kind of worried that the sweetness was going to dominate the body too much and end up with a simple, one notes, sweet thing.

That definitely did not turn out to be the case.

The first hit of the main body is a sharp lemon note that seems fairly much like your standard expectations of a good wit, which was encouraging. It was good to see signs of the base beer evident through the berries. There also was a strong white pepper character that called to the spice use in a traditional wit. However that element isn’t too well used, combining with charred notes that make the beer feel unnecessarily harsh.

At this point the fruit is pretty much non existent, and the beer was feeling really lacklustre due to the harsher notes, the lack of fruit and the base beer being overwhelmed by the charring and spice. So, massively flawed, but not in the way I expected it to be.

This however turns out to be a beer that works better when warmer and with a bit of time to air. The rougher notes subside, though do not totally vanish. The berries rise without taking over and the base wit feels like it has some room to roam.

It is still not great, but is far more drinkable than it was before. Showing evident traditional dry, lemony wit character with subtle berries backing it up. There is still too evident pepper and charring which hurt it – however if they managed to turn that down a bit then this would be a heck of a better beer.

Bad start, reasonable end, but definitely needs work.

Background: This seems to a collaboration of some of the great breweries we have in the west country – Moor is an old fave of mine, while LHG and LAG are comparatively new kids on the block, but with some tasty beers already out from each. I’ve been feeling like a Belgian style wit for while, so when I saw this one – made with blackcurrant puree, at Independent Spirit, I figured it was worth a try. Put on a bunch of White Zombie for some retro b-movie style metal fun.

Wild Beer Co: To Øl: TrØffeler (England: Saison: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large white head.

Nose: Chestnut mushrooms. Ground pepper. Quite fresh. Fresh sour dough. White pepper. White wine. Sulphur.

Body: Dry. White pepper. Dry lemon juice. Earthy bitterness. Dried mushrooms. Spritzy to soda water.

Finish: Spritzy. Soda water. Chalk touch. Peppery. White wine. Sage. Dried meat chunks. Coriander.

Conclusion: This is very spritzy, very peppery, mixed with some earthiness and spice over white wine dryness. That last element is especially odd as this has been aged in sweet Sauternes wine casks so you would expect something sweeter, but hey, I can only call ’em as I see ’em.

The body is softly lemony, which is probably the most normal element going on here. When that lemon is combined with the spice it feels like it calls to a more traditional take on a Belgian wit, but with a heavier, earthy saison edge to it.

I’m finding it hard to say exactly what the truffles bring here – there is a chestnut mushroom like note, a general set of savoury notes mid body, but nothing that stands out as massively unexpected, nothing that says unusual ingredient rather than beer hop character. Then again, my knowledge of truffles is entirely from truffle oil. So, for all I know this could be super truffly and I am just ignorant. I hear truffles are quite earthy, so maaaaybe that is them?

Anyway, this is easy drinking early on, and very earthy and spicy late on. In fact a bit too much spice for me. Reined in at the end this would be super drinkable and an awesome mix of wit and saison notes. As is it starts out good but feels a tad rough by the end.

So, not too stand out, but has promise for tweaking with.

Background: So, I am a huge fan of To Øl, they are very talented and turn out amazing beers. I am also a fan of Wild Beer co – they can be variable, but when they are on they are on. However the reason I bought this is not because of either of those. It is because it is made with truffles. I mean, WTF right? Terrible or great that was something I wanted to try. To be more specific this is made with truffles, sage and aged in Sauternes barrels. Saw that Crossfaith are coming back to Bristol later this year so put on a mix of their tunes while drinking. This was another one bought from Independent Spirit.

Cloudwater: DIPA Citra Cryo (England: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Large off white head.

Nose: Dry peach. Apples. Hop oil sheen. Apricot. Hop prickle. Slight yeast funk to fresh brown bread.

Body: Apricot. Vanilla custard. Thick. White grapes. Hop oils feel. Candy floss. Apple pie. Raspberry popping candy. Sour dough.

Finish: Blueberry. Apples. Grapes. Vanilla. Fudge. Hop oils and bitterness. Tangerine. Apple pie. Hop prickle grows over time. Clean sheen. Dried apricot. Nettles and moss. Dried pineapple.

Conclusion: I’ve been trying a few Cloudwater beers recently, with mixed results. Some have been great. Some have been rough as a badger’s arsehole. So, which is this? Great? Arsehole? Great arsehole?

First impressions are positive. Thick, slightly hop oils in feel but with low backing bitterness. Very good in mouthfeel enhanced by a light hop prickle, but generally dominated by a heavy, creamy feeling, body.

Ok, wait, hold on, I skipped past the aroma and went straight into the main body. Well mainly because the aroma isn’t the most notable element here. It is there, but more as something to lead you in. The first sip feels like the real first impressions, with everything else just to get you to that point. The aroma is still thick – slight muggy dried fruit, slight oily character, slight hop prickle – but overall slightly closed, but in a way that promises more, so you go to that first sip quickly.

The bitterness is low but present with the hops showing more as a prickly, then oily character, to make sure that this is recognisable as an IPA. Also it is massively fruity from the hops, but that element deserves a paragraph by itself.

So, the fruitiness of the hops. First up, the expected notes from Citra are there – lots of those apple notes that the hop does so well. Lots of sweet apricot and peach that is so common with American hopped beers. Over the time it takes you to drink it other notes come out though. Much less expected notes. From blueberry, tangerine to grapes and more, all showing their face and adding to the flavour profile. Behind that is a savoury thick character which gives a real weight to the beer, something that I’m guessing is the Simcoe influence.

It’s got some sweet raspberry hard candy, popping candy and vanilla custard notes against that – sweet notes pricking through in the midst of the oily, savoury base. They tend to be submerged under the huge fruitiness, but show through in patches – they seem a tad artificial in feel but generally give a nice bit of pep in the middle of the beer. It reminds me a bit of the sweetness in the Raspberry Doughnut beer from Northern Monks, but with a very different backing to the sweetness.

So yeah, this is Cloudwater when they land it good. A swing and a hit.

Background: Ok, one, for a beer called Citra Cryo I was kind of expecting it to only be hopped with Cita. I was wrong, they also use Centennial and Simcoe. Guess the Cryo hops are thing they wanted to boast about though. Don’t know what Cryo hops are? Don’t worry I googled it and I’m still confused. Something, something low temperatures. Something, something hop dust. Something some less off flavours. Anyway, feck it, proof of the pudding is in the eating – or drinking in this case. Let’s see what the new hops do in the real world. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, drunk chilled as the heat wave finally broke with a lovely rain storm, with background music of the awesome Garbage self titled album. Still holds up as guitar led indie pop from the 90s. I don’t care if it makes me old, that album is great.

BFM: Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien: 2015 (Switzerland: Sour Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red brown. Hazy. Lots of small bubbled carbonation and a thin off white head.

Nose: Gummed brown paper. Sour black-cherry and sour red cherries. Cider and perry. Booming red wine. Fruitcake. Tart. Lightly woody.

Body: Acidic. Perry/pears. Cider. Caramel. Gummed paper. Twigs. Raisins. White wine. Cardboard. Blueberry. Light waxy sheen. Dry fudge.

Finish: Red cherries. Fruitcake. Fresh. Raisins. Dry cake sponge. Tannins. White wine. Blueberries. Cardboard.

Conclusion: This feels like Rodenbach Grand Cru’s more easy going, but still prickly, cousin. Initially it comes across fruity and sharp with acidic, and almost but not quite Rodenbach like vinegar, notes. It soothes over time from that more prickly front to reveal a complex drink if you let it open up.

Early on is the cider like acidic notes that you would expect from a sour, albeit it with the less expected, but not completely dissimilar, pear perry notes. These are matched with gummed paper and light vinegar notes that call to the harsher Flemish bruins – tidy, but not unexpected.

This soothes into a softly caramel backed tart character over time, and soothed down it not shows itself to be brimming with fruit. It isn’t always the fruit you would expect though. The aroma always promised cherries and red wine from the oft, but the fruit was slow to develop in the main body, and when it does develop it is very different to that. What you get is blueberries, raisins and lots of similar darker fruit rather than the red roaming aroma. Still good stuff, just not what was expected.

The red fruit does come out a bit in the end though – with red wine and similar fruit coming in the finish that gives a little pep on the way out. Along with this development a light waxy touch adds to the body – calling to the Biere De Garde style that the body references ( though since that literally means beer to age I’m not sure if that is an intentional style reference, or just saying that the beer is aged…) . Any which way it gives a bit more grip to the beer, and a bit of variety in the feel that adds to the experience.

It is well set, calling to tarter, more acidic and harsher Rodenbach Grand Cru style notes but soothes into toffee and sweeter fruit against a more lambic like set of twigs and white wine notes. Not a beer that is always 100% on point – there are some off, cardboard like notes, but pretty much any sour seems to walk the tightrope over such risks. More approachable that Rodenbach Grand Cru, but still brings its own rewarding style. Very much worth trying.

Background: So, a quick google tells me BFM stands for Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes. Which admittedly doesn’t tell me much, but at least now I know. Taking a look online also told me there have been many vintages of this, some barrel aged, others I’m not sure of. Anyway, that is the 2015 vintage and I grabbed it from Independent Spirit – they have had it for a while but I have always been wary due to the ten quid plus price tag. Still, it had a good rep so eventually I wavered and bought it. It was way too warm as I broke this open from its chilled bottle, so I put on some Andrew WK to try and keep my party spirits up. Pretty much worked.

Art Brew: Pale (England: English Pale Ale: 3.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy dark apricot towards brown. Thin off white head.

Nose: Malt chocolate and toffee. Fresh pineapple. Dried apricot. Fruit sugars. Peach. Light milk. Pumpkin.

Body: Moderately bitter. Moderately earthy. Light peach. Prickly hop mouthfeel. Toffee backbone. Soft lemon sherbet. Pumpkin. Slight peach syrup. Soft pineapple.

Finish: Solid earthy bitterness. Malt toffee. Soft pineapple air. Good hop character. Soft lemon cake. Pumpkin. Blueberry.

Conclusion: This is a nice mix of things. The initial impression was a fairly earthy hopped English Pale Ale/ Bitter kind of thing. It was solidly earthy with good bitterness and a solid toffee malt backbone. Nothing fancy, but well done and the bitter, earthy British beer is a take oft overlooked these days.

Over time it really rounds out though. The first tell is a very soft pineapple note that freshens up the aroma, and then the body. The soft peach and apricot sweet notes come out and slowly pushes the earthiness into the background – though it still comes back for a solid kick in the finish.

It isn’t a super shiny beer, but it works at giving a solid kick up front as it leans heavily into the traditional British bitter style, then soothes into a gentle American pale hopped style that lets you relax with the rest of the beer. At a super sessionable 3.2% abv the earthier front and gentler back work very well indeed. It doesn’t get heavy, but doesn’t get dull, and that is a hard balance to get.

Very solid, calls to the old but uses the new. It isn’t going to turn up in anyone’s top 50 true, but … that isn’t the point of it. Let’s just say that this is not my first bottle of it – it brings you back and is enjoyable pretty much any time. It has a very well deserved place in the drinking range because of that.

Background: Ahh, Art Brew. Their beers are old friends of this blog, and I try to drop back to them every now and then. In this case to a session abv Pale Ale. Fairly simple name, and fairly simple concept. I felt like trying a beer that would hopefully concentrate on just being a good beer, rather than any flashy conceits or ingredients. Let’s see how that goes. Another one from Independent Spirit. I put on Svalbard’s bloody awesome It’s Hard To Have Hope while drinking. Seriously metal fans – great crunchy metal and socially relevant lyrics – you want to check this one out.

Oud Beersel: Green Walnut: 2017 (Belgium: Lambic – Fruit: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark yellow. Large yellow-white head.

Nose: Oats. Horse blankets. Crushed nuts. White chocolate touch. Dried apricot. Moss.

Body: Acidic apple. Acidic pears. Lemon sherbet. Tart and acidic. Tart grapes. Cashew nuts. Dry white wine.

Finish: Lemon sherbet. Cashew nuts. Moss. Tart apples to cider. Dry white wine. Earthy notes, Charred notes.

Conclusion: Now this is nutty, very distinctly nutty, however lambics are fairly often nutty so I am unsure where the lambic base influence ends, and the green walnut addition begins. So, Let’s look at it as an overall beer for now, and see how things go from there, ok?

It comes in initially pretty tart and acidic on the main body, after you have moved past the fairly stereotypical horse blankets and oats aroma. The body comes in as a dry cider to dry white wine mix that gives a short sherbety burst before heading back to drying the mouth, leaving just a slight sweet sheen to keep it away from its ultra dry brethren. Throughout this is a kind of cashew nuttinesses, along with a mix of green nut flecks and moss notes that definitely call to its name. Psychosomatic due to the name? Who knows, but it gives an earthy, savoury middle to the beer that works well. Now, as mentioned the nuttiness becomes quite a bit element to the beer, maybe walnuts, but I would find it hard to say specifically.

Slightly sweet, but still tart, grapes come to again offset the hugely dry character so it doesn’t become harsh. Despite that, over time, the finish does gain a slight charred note that can come with a dry lambic. While this is not perfect, so far it has not harmed the beer as much as similar encounters with that element, so it isn’t a show stopper.

So, this feels pretty close to the standard lambic at the base – definitely more nutty than most, but I’m not sure if it is the most nutty. Time has brought out a lot more nuts than were evident at the start though, and considering the fact I have run into some pretty darn nutty lambics without the walnuts it seems to be doing ok. It is pretty dry, but not super dedicated to that part so doesn’t go too harsh or hard. Not a real stand out lambic, just a very solid one that leans into the nutty side of a lambic. I can’t complain, but it doesn’t feel super different for the odd ingredients used.

Background: This one has been on my radar for a while – a lambic made with green walnuts, a fairly unusual choice and so something worth checking out I felt. However at over 20 quid a bottle I kept finding other things to try. So, I finally bit the bullet and grabbed it from Independent Spirit. Hope it works out. Put on Heavens To Betsy – Calculated. Recent bullshit on various places online have put me back in a listening to Riot Grrrl punk kinda mood again.

Wild Beer Co: Funky Dory (England: ESB: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lager to lemon juice. White medium sized head.

Nose: Lychee. Soft lemon. Mango. Tart. Cider touch. Wheat dust air. Fresh cut apples.

Body: Lychee. Mild yeast funk. Brown bread. Peppery. Lightly earthy. Dry lemon. Vanilla. Dry. Light apple. Mild blueberry backing.

Finish: Peppery. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Funky yeast. Dried mango. Dry lemon. Mature cheese and cheese puff crisps.

Conclusion: This tastes like an earthy old school British bitter matched with a new wave fruity pale ale, then they both went home and shagged in a pool of brett. Then nine months later this happened. Or something like that.

The front of the beer is full of soft, but quite dry, fruit – tart but in a way that still feels well attenuated and drying. Like a dry lemon drink, but with more range if that helps. That dry fruit works against the lightly funky brett character creating an easy drinking yet dry beer with a lot more weight behind it than such a beer often has.

What builds from that is a really earthy, peppery character that starts low and builds up slowly over the life of the beer. By the end it is very earthy, but backed by a tart character so it calls to, but is very different from the traditional earthy British bitter style.

It isn’t as great a beer as Brett Brett IPA or Chronos, but is another beer that shows that Bretting up other beer styles is where Wild Beer co really shine. The only flaw is that it ends up a bit too earthy dominated by the end and that keeps it from the great highs of the other beers.

Previous Bretted up beers from Wild Beer have aged well, So I’m planning on ageing up one of these for fun – see if it helps it get over the rough spots at the end. As is now it is a very nice take on the British bitter. Not their best, but a lovely twist on the Brit hop style.

Background: I’ve been mixed on Wild Beer Co’s beers recently, but when I saw this is looked like something that sits perfectly in the middle of what they do right. A British hopped ale, but funked up with Brett. Their Brett Brett IPA, Evolver IPA and Chronos Lager all were brett takes on other beer styles and generally were all impressive, so had good hopes for this. It helped that the image is a David Bowie reference – very cool, so I put on his Black Star album while drinking. Some tracks still give me chills even now. I bought one for ageing, to see what the brett did and one for drinking now. Then it was boiling hot so I drank both. This is my second attempt, grabbing two and doing notes on one. It is still too warm. All were grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Northern Monks: Sharknado 5 – Global Swarming (England: IPA: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Reddened apricot. Large strawberry touched head. Hazy body. Lots of small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Blood orange. Crisp hops. Salt touch. Moderate bitterness. Vanilla. Coriander.

Body: Blood orange. Sour cream. Lime. Thick. Brown bread. Hop oils. Pink grapefruit touch. Strawberry. Milky.

Finish: Sour cream. Blood orange. Salt. Fresh lime. Hop oils. Pink grapefruit.

Conclusion: Ok, a beer based on the delightfully shitty Sharkando movies should not be actually this good. Seriously. It feels a lot thicker than its 5.5% abv should bring giving a real creamy and milky feel, but in a slightly more savoury sour cream style so that the bright blood orange and pink grapefruit notes have something solid to work against.

The tart fruit needs that base, and boy does it use it – the beer feels very thick and heavy, but despite that the tartness manages to make it refreshing. The blood orange is really clear and sharp in its expression and the light sea salt touch accentuates every other flavour that it rubs up against.

The IPA feel is impressive in its precision of expression. There is a crisp hop aroma that prickles on the way in, but then the body leaves that out so it doesn’t break up the tarter character, instead expressing itself in a hop oiliness that adds to the thickness and lets the bitterness wait to seep in slowly during finish when the tart notes have finished doing their thing. It doesn’t feel like a traditional IPA while still being recognisable as being within the style.

Very bright, tart, and yet late on strawberry sweetness and vanilla notes come in to round it out. It is wonderful in how it uses all the extra ingredients to make it a bigger and better beer. Now we just need Northern Monk to make a “The Room” beer, or more likely a beer to promote the Best F(r)iends part 2? Please. It would be awesome.

Background: So, I tried this a while back, saw it, grabbed a can, drank it, but didn’t do notes. Mainly grabbed it for fun, but it was a genuinely good beer so I went back to buy another can to do notes on and … they had sold out. I had underestimated the demand for beer based on shitty movies. Then again, I enjoy the sharknado movies – they are terrible, yes, but enthusiastically terrible, and that counts for a lot for me. They are no “The Room” sure, but it is self aware stupid, and I saw an interview with … the director I think .. where they actually used the word “logic” in relation to the movie. Because of course. Anyway, the beer, I found one final can available at the Beer Emporium and grabbed it, resolving to actually do notes this time. Which I did. This is a beer made with blood orange and sea salt, which both sound tasty and are thematically appropriate. Put on Testament – Low again while drinking. No real reason, just really been digging that album recently.

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