Tag Archive: Beer


BioNoc’: Asso Di Coppe Impombera (Italy: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red. Clear body. Thin dash of a reddened head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cherries. Tart raspberry. Clean. Light twigs. Tart. Blueberry.

Body: Dry. Tannins. Brown bread. Yellow raspberries. Black cherry and red cherry. White wine. Gooseberry.

Finish: Full and tart raspberries. Astringent. Light wood shavings. Gooseberry. Yellow raspberry. Jammy blueberry.

Conclusion: This is dry, almost wine like and matched with a very fruity take on a red wine in how it uses the berries, matched against a crisp, kind of lambic like take on a sour base character. Initially the beer is slightly closed, but as you get used to the dryness it really opens up into a range of tart fruit. Until that though, well it isn’t Cantillon level mouth puckering but it is very well attenuated.

The fruit pushes the raspberry tartness up front, with a darker set of black cherry like fruit notes and such making for a sweet but still refreshingly tart backing note. Time lets a more jammy sweetness come out, making fuller notes that had been hinted at before. The aroma especially hinted at sweeter notes that only really develop in the body later on.

This is very good, initially dry and wine like, later on full bodied and, erm, wine like but a different kind of wine. Always fruity giving a good range of fruit notes from raspberry, through puckering gooseberry and into sweeter cherries. Only slightly closed a for a short while, and for the rest progressing in delicious and fascinating ways.

Very much worth getting your hands on, this is a treat of a fruit sour.

Background: Second and final bottle that I brought back from the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at Moor’s Tap Room. This is from a brewery I have not encountered before, but was highly recommended, and looks to have had a few awards so I decided to give it a go. I googled what an Impombera was and ended up very confused. Anyway, by googling the beer I found out it is a raspberry sour, so I presume at least one of the many variants has a raspberry style fruit. Had just picked up Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind so put that on as background music. Had heard it was a return to form and, yeah it is amazing, heavy and brutal. Thought I was slightly going off Slipknot but nope, I am back in.

Advertisements

Double A Brewing: Autre Chose (Russia: Sour Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Darked apricot gold. A centimetre of bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Horse blankets. Oats. Musty. Brown bread. Peppery. Cake sponge.

Body: Bitter almonds. Cocktail bitters. Brown bread. Tart apples. And cooking apples. Dust-ball bitterness. Cake sponge. Oily.

Finish: Dust-balls. Charred oak. Bitter nuts. Cocktail bitters. Tart apples. Sour apples. Oily. Dried apricot. Vinegar at back of throat.

Conclusion: This is quite thick and musky, with a lot of charred bitterness going on. It is oily, got a lot of nutty bitterness, resulting in a lot of savoury and hard edges notes in this apples based sour beer. Not what I was expecting and a tad rough.

So, ok, lets put that to one side and look at the rest of the beer. This opens up with that kind of horse blanket aroma that gueuzes so often have, giving a nice first impressions – however I will note that the rougher notes that put me off come in fairly quickly after with a rough grab bag of various notes. Ok, so I didn’t manage to put that element aside very long. It’s not my fault it is all over this beer.

I gave it some time to settle, to see if we could dig a bit more out and time brings a thicker cake sponge like body weight, that similarly gives the base apple character a bit more weight, which is pleasant. It doesn’t bring much range with it unfortunately – some apricot notes, with those fruit sugars, but generally it is fairly simple behind the roughness.

I want to like this, cognac ageing is usually my jam, and French oak is generally interesting – and let’s face it, it is a sour beer from Russia, I want it to be fascinating. However it is rough edged, simple and with a kind of vinegar burn at the back of the throat. It feels like I am wading through all that to get at the elements that are more worthwhile.

Not my best introduction to Russian sour beer.

Background: This was picked up at the Arrogant Sour beer festival at the Moor Tap Room. It caught my eye as a sour beer that came out of Russia, something I have not encounterd before. Googling doesn’t seem to give much info on this, even when taking advantage of google translate, so is the best I could find out. This is a sour ale aged in French Oak miked with cider that has been aged in an oak cognac barrel. Interesting mix. Went with Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle for background music while drinking.

One Mile End: Morello Cherry Gose (England: Gose: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot, that turns rose hued at times. A thin dash of bubbles for a head. Fast, small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Salt touched and musty. Shortbread. Subtle cherries. Fresh dough and yeastie.

Body: Soft, tart red cherries. Strawberry. Slight chalk. Tart apples. Pear perry. Cake sponge.

Finish: Tart red cherry. Black cherry yogurt. Slight salt. Brown bread. Juniper berries. Petals. Wet socks. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Hmm, a generally quite nice one here – ok that may seem like I am damning with faint praise, but let me give some context. For some reason, despite the fact I really love morello cherries, most beers made with them have hit some rocky waters. Thus I am pleased that this is fairly decent.

First impressions are good, it hits nicely on the eye- at worst being a pretty but generic apricot colour, but moves to a nicely rose hued glimmer when the light hits it right. Unfortunately the aroma doesn’t sell it to a similar extent – it is quite yeastie and musty, in a fresh dough kind of fashion. It has some refreshing tart notes but is generally quite simple.

The body comes through though, using a lovely pear perry to cider apple styled base, lightly salted in way that makes drinking it far too easy. The cherry notes are understated but well expressed – giving a tart red cherry character that is always present, but doesn’t dominate – tart but with sweet edges. So, yep, the lovely fruit that is Morello cherry is used right in this oh so easy to drink tart beer. There’s even a slight vanilla note in the finish that give a cream like note to go with the cherries. Nice.

It isn’t perfect, as it can be a little chalky at times – but mixing that cider and perry like base, with a slight salty gose style and bring red fruit makes something very drinkable.

I appreciate both it and the good use of fruit within it.

Background: Ohh Morello Cherry! I am a big fan of those cherries. Gose I have had mixed experiences with, probably because there seems to be such a range in how people interpret the style. Any which way, glad to see the style getting more show these days considering it was down to two breweries in Germany that made the style at one point. Don’t know much about One Mile End – they are a new brewery on me, so let’s see how they do. I put on the amazing, Svalbard, It’s Hard To Have Hope while drinking. Such a good album. This beer was grabbed from the ever reliable Independent Spirit.

Top Out: First Ascents – Yukatan Honey Wheat Wine (Scotland: Bearley Wine: 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to brown. A beige, thin bubbled centimetre of a head.

Nose: Honey. Brown bread baps. Dry mead.

Body: Honey. Black pepper. Brown bread. Dry mead.

Finish: Brown bread. Black pepper. Clear honey. Flour. Cloudy honey.

Conclusion: Ok, honey, bready, black pepper. That was a fairly short set of notes. Ok, I put a bit more than that but it took a while, for nearly half the beer that was all I had written down. Let’s take a moment and see if I can find a bit more to dig into here.

Ok, well, the honey character comes across very thick and full initially, but quickly become a kind of dry mead character that then just lasts and lasts – so, some kind of progression going on there.

The peppery and bready notes mix well to create an oddly savoury experience in the midst of this, especially considering the sheer amount of honey flavours. Despite occasional sweet honey notes it is generally very well attenuated with little residual sweetness.

And with all that said, eh, I have to admit I am having a hard time getting excited. I like mead. I like honey. I just kind of need a bit more in a beer than only that.

So, to look at the positive, it does express the honey in a very varied way – dry mead, cloudy thick honey, clear honey sheen. All good, but I need more.

A very honey beer that ends up kind of boring.

A pity.

Background: While I haven’t grabbed many of their beers, Top Out have been pretty solid in what I have encountered from them. This is a wheat wine made with Mexican yucatan honey, which is something a bit different. Been on a barley wine kick recently so a mead like take on that sounded right up my street. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with Getter – Visceral for this while drinking. Not my usual kind of music but works nicely for a backing to drinking.

Kompaan: No 45 Vrij Buiter (Netherlands: Porter: 7.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to black. Thin browned head that leaves suds.

Nose: Creamy. Roasted. Liquorice. Coffee.

Body: Creamy. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate to bitter chocolate cake. Smooth. Brown bread. Black cherry delivered slightly tart.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate. Bitter chocolate. Slight black cherry. Sarsaparilla. Pepper. Peanut butter.

Conclusion: This is a pretty smooth porter, but still with a bit of a bite. The smoothness is shown from the start, with an initial aroma that is smooth but simple. The oddest tell of more to come is a decent amount of liquorice that manages to show itself here. For some reason liquorice seems to be a popular thing in the Netherlands, with even liquorice ice cream, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The body follows through but with more complexity. The liquorice is heavy, backed by bitter cocoa and this is the main two strings that play throughout the beer – bitter cocoa, savoury liquorice. There are some rounding notes, most notably a creamy smoothness that helps deliver the whole thing in a manageable package, but also a light tart black cherry note that refreshes just slightly. After a discussion, my friend Emerald suggested that sarsaparilla notes were there as well, and I just had to steal that as it perfectly describes the slightly spicy soft drink feel that comes out in the finish.

So a few notes. First, you need to like liquorice to like this as it is very liquorice heavy. Second, it can get a tad wearing at the end of the beer as the smoothness gives way to more of the spicy notes. However, generally this is smooth, very smooth and with good depth of flavour. A lot of the notes are those Marmite like love it or hate it notes but they are very solidly delivered.

So, with that said, look at the notes, if the flavours sound good to you then this is smooth, creamy and well brewed around those notes. If not, ah well, look elsewhere.

Background: Second, and unfortunately last of the tasting notes from my Netherlands trip. It wasn’t really a beery trip but I had to get at least a few in. This was from when, walking through the high street, I spotted a wall of beers inside a shop so stuck my head in. This is a local beer from The Hague, where I was at the time, so decided to grab it and give it a go. It is listed as a double porter, which confused me as the abv didn’t seem in that range – a quick google seems to indicate it intended as a dubbel/porter mix, which is interesting. Again it was very warm while doing the notes, but not as bad as before.

Two Chef’s: Tropical Ralphie Weizen (Netherlands: Hefeweizen: 5% ABV)

Visual: Lightly hazy clear lemon juice. Massive white mounded head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Wheat. Light hops. Apricot skin. Cane sugar dusting. White grapes. Dry lemon.

Body: Pineapple. Vanilla. Dry lemon. Grapes. Wheaty. Slight dry liquorice.

Finish: Moderate hop character and light bitterness. Vanilla. Pineapple. Slight dry liquorice. Light tart grapes. Flour.

Conclusion: This is listed as a weizen, but I have to say it doesn’t have much of the banana, cloves or wheaty notes I often associate with the traditional takes on that style. Instead this feels like a traditional Belgian wit that has been punched up with a touch of tropical hop usage.

It isn’t the sweeter more Hoegaarden like take on a wit, and as mentioned it isn’t much like the German take on a weizen, instead it feels closer to a drier more traditional Belgian wit, with that familiar dry lemon character. It has a slight vanilla sweetness, but is well attenuated and generally not too heavy.

Over that dry lemon base is a dash of brighter hops – tart pineapple and a touch of grapes that brings it in line with a more craft beer take on the style. It is refreshing in a way that is perfect for the heat right now – though with a slight flour thickness that works against that. There is similarly a hop feel that gives slight fluffiness, but low hop bitterness. Generally it is a trade off, the extra grip makes it less easy to drink but gives some weight of flavour.

On the downside, there are some slight off notes, that being a dry liquorice touch. Not a heavy note, just a subtle dry savoury note that doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the beer. Similarly that slight flour feel I mentioned can get a bit sticky by the end.

So, decent dry base, nice hop use, a few off notes that don’t quite work, but a decent wit beer that tries to be a weizen.

Background: I was over in the Netherlands recently, only a short trip and didn’t do many notes while I was out there, but it would have been rude of me to not do any at all. So here we go, first notes of two. Not much backstory to this one – saw it in a supermarket, like the bottle imagery – looked a bit Guile from Street Fighter 2 which was nice. I like a good weizen. You may have noticed despite me saying it reminds me of a Belgian Wit in a lot of ways I have listed this as a hefeweizen. In general I go with the brewers description – unless it is seriously and obviously wrong – they listed this as a weizen so I listed it as such. It was stupidly hot in the Netherlands, with up to 40 degrees at times, so I kept this as chilled as I could before drinking.

Northern Monk: Don’t Mess With Yorkshire (England: American Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon coloured body with a massive white bubbled head that leaves some, but not many suds.

Nose: Rhubarb and custard sweets. Custard slices. Sugar dusting. Light orange. Slight apple.

Body: Wheaty. Moderate bitterness. Gentle custard. Hard sweets. Slight rhubarb. Slight orange skin. Slight milk and lactose.

Finish: Flour. Good bitterness. Dry. Peppery. Slightly earthy. Gentle custard. Slight tart rhubarb.

Conclusion: This is a much more straightforward beer than you would expect from the description, and from the first impressions you get from the aroma.

So, since I just brought it up, let’s start with the aroma. It is full on, full of rhubarb and custard sweet notes. Yes, I know generally hard sweets don’t have that much smell to them, imagine them all crushed up and sweet dust is in the air or something, this smells like that. It is very sweet, not super artificial smelling, but definitely calls to the hard sweet style.

The rest of the beer has none of that.

The body, by comparison, is fairly dry and slightly peppery with a moderate amount of hop bitterness. It is not overly attenuated like some APAs, but it still feels within the dry APA range, with all that entails.

The custard notes come across along with a gentle, milky to lactose thickness, and only a hint of the actual custard flavour, and very little of the sweetness. Similarity there is a light tartness from the rhubarb, but it is generally coming across as the unsweetened, earthier rhubarb rather than rhubarb and custard sweets. So, I have no idea where that aroma came from as that is not the beer you get!

It is a solid APA, with a gently used twist to it. Far more subtle in expression that I expected, and probably a better beer for that, if not as showy and silly fun as I hoped. The base APA is not special and without the extra twist would be very middle of the road, as is it is not a must have, but decent enough and a bit different with its subtle enhancements from the extra ingredients.

Background: I spent most of my teenage years in Yorkshire, I have a soft spot in my heart for the place. So, yep, this beer caught my eye. I am also a fan of Rhubarb, Custard and also Rhubarb and Custard, so another thing in its favour as this is a Rhubarb Custard Pale. What does that mean? Well looking at the can it is made with vanilla, rhubarb extract and custard extract, so I’m guessing that. Anyway another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – I put on a band I have only just discovered to listen to while drinking – Bloodywood – an Indian street metal band that rocks!

Harvey’s: Sussex Best Low Alcohol (England: Low Alcohol Bitter: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slight darkened gold. Thin white rim of bubbles.

Nose: Honey. Thick. Nutty – cashew nuts amongst others.

Body: Thin. Nutty. Slight chalk. Watery. Slight treacle and charring.

Finish: Syrup touch. Watery. Slightly nutty. Some bitterness. Charring.

Conclusion: Whelp, this was the wrong one to do notes on. You see, I also grabbed the low alcohol old ale, mainly out of perverse fascination of how you can do a low alcohol old ale. Anyway, that was ok. This is shit.

Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, I’m not shitting on it because it is a low alcohol take on the much maligned best bitter style. I was actually interested in what they would do with that, I’m shitting on it because it is shit.

It actually opened up ok, which is what made everything else such a shock. The aroma is a mix of honey and nuts. No news yet on if cornflakes were ever present.

Yeah, that’s a shit joke, I’m working with what I have got ok. So the aroma was gentle, but pleasant.

The body is fucking water that someone has dropped a nut into. By which I mean an actually nut, I am not insinuating that they jerked off into it. Though they may have done that as well for all I know. Though that would add flavour, so I’m guessing not.

There is nothing in this recognisable as elements that make a bitter good, shoot there is nothing that makes a beer good. There are just ill defined wet nuts, some charred bitterness and chalk.

Utter shite.

That was “How to be more optimistic in these negative days” Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Background: More low alcohol beers. As mentioned in the notes I grabbed this and also a low alcohol old ale from the same brewery. Looks like rather than brewing a low alcohol beer, they brew the standard beer then filter out the alcohol – interesting – guess time will show if it produces a better or worse beer than brewing specifically a low alcohol beer. I guess technically it can feel like cheating compared to the challenge of doing a good low abv brew, but if a good beer comes out of it there is no way I will complain. Not much to add, this was grabbed at BeerCraft and drunk while listening to the best of Ramones for some simple punk fun.

Bokkereyer (Aka Methode Goat): Barrique Oloroso 2017 (Belgium: Gueuze: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy dark gold. Loose bubbled head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Wheaty. Dry sherry and dry raisins. Tart apples. Pencil shavings.

Body: Tart apples. Tart red grapes. Sherry soaked sultanas. Fizzy mouthfeel. Lots of dry sherry. Tart white grapes.

Finish: Dry raisins and sultanas. Dry Madeira. Dry sherry. Tart apple. Very dry overall. Oats. Liquorice. Dry bitterness. Tannins. Chalk.

Conclusion: This is possibly the most sherry influence lambic I have tried. Which is quite a small sample pool admittedly , but trust me, this one is fair intense in the oak ageing influence. While this still keeps the dry apple and white wine lambic notes at the base, this is utterly dominated by the dry sherry, dark fruit and tannin notes. Very highly attenuated, very dry and almost, but not quite Cantillon level mouth puckering in feel.

It reminds me a lot of the 2018 Cantillon Zwanze beer, despite differences in the specifics of the ageing, it is really dark and dry which makes it rewarding if you take your time with it, but very heavy and can be off-putting up front if you are not used to that. It is a very acquired taste, possibly more so than even the unusual nature of a lambic, but really pays off it you can get into it.

The finish leads out into a heavy set of tannins and charring, not overdone, but again one that can take a bit of time to be open to. It feels like every element has been stripped down to its heavy core, only allowing a hint of sweetness released from below to give tarter and fresher notes.

The gueuze character, the freshness and slight fizzy mouthfeel is what takes all those heavy elements and keeps it going. It is a vital element working the freshness, the slight apple and the fizziness to keep it from being too intense.

So, very heavy and dry, full on working the sherry. Not for everyone as it keeps everything intense all the time, but very impressive in what it does.

Background: As mentioned in the Framboos notes Bokkereyer are a super hard to get hold of Belgian sour brewery with a huge reputation and there were six different bottles available to try at the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival, held at the Moor Tap Room. I had time to try one more, so decided to go with the closest thing to a standard gueuze that they had – this mix of one, two and three year old lambic that had been aged in oloroso sherry barrels. Again I say Bokkereyer, as that was how they were listed, but a quick google tells me the brewery has changed its name to Methode Goat, though I can’t find why. I’m guessing a big brewer and a trademark court case threat. Also again, was super excited to try this at the end of the festival, and had tried to pace myself so I could try to do it justice in the notes.


Bokkereyer (Aka Methode Goat): Framboos Vanille 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Bright cherry red, with only a thin white rim of bubbles instead of a head.

Nose: Very fresh and very natural smelling raspberries. Toffee and vanilla notes. Soft strawberries. Cream.

Body: Soft mouthfeel. Tart apples. Creamy raspberries. Very fresh and distinctly natural raspberry. Slightly dry. Peach.

Finish: Fruity fresh raspberries. Vanilla. Cream. Tart apples. Very clean. Peach notes. Grapes. Mild tannins. Oak. Oats.

Conclusion: OK, wow, the is fruity. Now that should not be a shock, ir is a Framboos – a raspberry lambic – but I have found that while a lot of Framboos have that tart raspberry character, they often loose a lot of the fresher and sweeter elements of the fruit. None I have encountered have had quite such a full on expression of the full range of the fruit as this has.

It is fresh, mouth-filling and tart, and really expresses the flavours. I think it may be because of the vanilla beans adding a sweetness and creaminess that not just restores oft lost elements of the raspberry, but also works well against the tart apple notes of the lambic base. It makes for something very easy to drink and rich in flavour. From somewhere peach notes come out, combining with the raspberry and creamy to make this almost like a peach melba lambic, and that is just exceptional. (Note: Yes I did double check this isn’t one of the lambics they had that actually had peach in). It keeps the tart flavours, but none of the heavier horse blanket notes you see with a lot of lambics. A touch of tannins, but that is it. A very different and smooth take.

The main call to a more traditional lambic base is in the finish – here it is dry, with some oats, oak and such like. It gives a more recognisable beer and lambic character to something that is a bit away from a traditional take on the style, underlining it and emphasising everything that came before by its contrast.

Wonderfully fresh, fruity but without being fruit juice like. The tart lambic is restrained but still unmistakable – this is possible my favourite of the Framboos I have encountered. The vanilla smooths the edges but does not diminish the quality or complexity.

An exceptional beer.

Background: This is a mix of one, two an three year old lambic with a mix of three types of raspberry and made with Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans and bottled January 2019. Before this I had just known Bokkereyer by reputation of quality and their rarity, so reading those words gave me an idea of why this tiny brewery was making such a fuss. There were six different bottles available to try at the Arrogant Sour Beer Festival at the Moor Tap Room, and I quickly decided this one was one I wanted to try. I say Bokkereyer, as that was how they were listed, but a quick google tells me the brewery has changed its name to Methode Goat, though I can’t find why. I’m guessing a big brewer and a trademark court case threat. Anyway, was super excited to try this at the end of the festival, and had tried to pace myself so I could try to do it justice in the notes.

%d bloggers like this: