Tag Archive: Beer


Shepherd Neame: 1698 (England: English Strong Ale: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear caramel brown. Fizzy white head of moderate size but does not last long. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Light toffee. Light black cherry. Light chalk.

Body: Christmas cake. Light chalk. Odd mix of thin and chewy mouthfeel. Light liquorice. Brown bread. Slight sulphur. Walnuts.

Finish: Light chalk. Light liquorice. Brown bread. Christmas cake. Almonds. Slightly earthy. Greenery and sage. Dry marzipan.

Conclusion: I don’t know if the time in the bottle hurt it rather than helped it, despite this being bottle conditioned, but when I first took a sip of this it felt like something there wasn’t working. It felt a bit light up front. Now it was close to working, there was subtle toffee and black-cherry in the aroma, which is a good standby of an English Strong Ale, but those elements didn’t follow through into the body.

The body instead calls to Christmas cake, but with a savoury walnut like backing before heading out into an earthy and even more obviously nutty finish. Which all seems pretty appropriate as this was first bought at Christmas and – well Christmas cake is pretty obviously appropriate to that, and I can just about wedge the nuttiness in under that to claim there is some sort of thematic consistency going on here. Probably.

It feels light early on, which is a fair flaw – occasionally showing the weight this beer needs, but it was disappointing. As time goes on the layers seem to build up so it feels a lot more present at the end, which makes it much more satisfying. As said at the start, initially this felt like the time in the bottle had hurt rather than helped it, and it was very much that early lack of weight that was the most obvious tell of that.

So, how is it when it has had some time to build up that flavour and weight? Well now it is very nutty, which is ok but I do feel disappointed that the Black Cherry and the Christmas cake notes seem to have fallen by the wayside as they could really have done with some more play. In return there has been an increase in savoury greenery and earthy hop bitterness which does the job at rounding it out.

Overall, takes a while to get going, but solid when it does – nutty, earthy and very present. Not shiny and exciting but a solid enough beer to spend time with.

Background: This beer has had quite the journey to get to these tasting notes. It was originally grabbed by my family for when I was going to head up last Christmas. Anyway, so covid was everywhere, so I never went up north, but since my family don’t drink this style of beer they kept it until we could finally meet up. Many thanks! So, this is now fairly close to its best before date of November 2011, but as it is bottle conditioned hopefully that should not be an issue, or may even make it better. We shall see. Went with Garbage V 2.0 as backing music, because that album is a classic and thus should be listened to regularly.

Paulaner: Oktoberfest (Germany: Oktoberfest Marzen: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Large white mounded head.

Nose: Cake sponge. Vanilla. Soft citrus. Orange zest. Dry toffee. Slight sulphur.

Body: Bready. Moderate bitterness. Cake sponge. Palma violets. Fresh dough. Slight oily bitterness. Slight sulphur. Light toffee. Peppery.

Finish: Peppery. Moderate bitterness. Light charring. Moderate hop character. Palma violets. Slight orange. Bready.

Conclusion: This is a breadier, heavier Oktoberfest beer. It starts out fairly gentle, with soft citrus notes in the aroma and a restrained sweetness, but as you put your head down to start sipping you find something very different.

The body is bready and peppery with a moderate bitterness that, while not as heavy as some German Pils, is still higher than the average German lager and gives some heft to it. The body is so slick, and just a bit oily that this higher bitterness never feels harsh, just like a bitter velvet wrapped kick.

There is a gentle toffee touch, and that familiar noble hop palma violet like touch which show a bit more varied influence from the malt and the hops, but in general it is solidly bready, bitter and a bit peppery at its core.

It has just the slightest sulphurous touch around the edges, which is pretty unusual here, and it adds to the weightier character this beer brings. Despite that this is still very obviously a lager, it isn’t trying to pretend to be something else – it has a generally clean feel, not highly carbonated thankfully, and has a slight oily sheen that is very much a clean lager oily style rather than the heavier stickier style you tend to get in an ale.

This isn’t one of my favourite beers, it feels like an odd compromise between the sulphur touch and weight of an ale and the clean character if a lager and the two seem to weaken each other, but, with that said.- I do like the bitterness it brings. When you have that nice bitterness and hop character combined with the more easy drinking lager character it makes for something that still has a home with me

Not 100% for me, but I still kind of dig it.

Background: So, another Oktoberfest beer, and another of the official big six. After many years of it being fairly hard to find a good range of Oktoberfest beers I am feeling spoiled this year. This is my third tasting note of one of the big six, and fourth I have actually tried. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, who have had a decent amount in. I actually have a Paulaner glass amongst the many and varied glassware so I pulled it out for the occasion. I went back to Jack Of Jill: Clear Heart, Grey Flowers for backing music, still a favourite album that goes from melodic to screams in a heartbeat and has such great gothic punk influenced tunes.

Cantillon: Zwanze 2021 – Parasol (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly darkened apricot skin. Brown bread colour touched thin head.

Nose: Very fresh lemon. Citrus tart orange. Slightly bready. Light horse blankets and hint of sulphur.

Body: Pancakes. Jiff lemon. Crumpets sans butter. Peppery. Lemon juice. Orange juice. Honey. Gooseberries.

Finish: Peppery. Orange juice with bits. Lemon juice. Tart grapes. Menthol touch. Light peppermint.

Conclusion: This is so freaking citrus as heck and fresh. It absolutely bursts with the citrus notes from the aroma right to the last embers of flavour from the finish of the last drops that you sipped. There is so much orange and lemon styled notes and they all feel so natural and so fresh. Clearly themselves , something a lot of other fruits seem to find hard. Those fruits are still enjoyable in how they mesh with the sour lambic, but these are possibly the most cleanly identifiable fruit notes in a lambic I have encountered.

Like nigh every Cantillon that exists that isn’t the whole story though. This isn’t as sour or mouth puckering as you would expect from a Cantillon. It feels like the citrus character has mellowed the tartness, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to examine. There is a lovely low level peppery character that is such a good underline to the very fresh experience. On the other end of the scale it has a sweet honey touch that just pops up the experience a bit.

It hasn’t got the grace of a lot of Cantillon beers, but it is just bursting with flavour in every direction. I really enjoy it, even in its graceless nature. Is is so different, that freshness is unlike anything I have seen in lambics before, a very clean bright freshness rather than the sour, puckering freshness of most lambics. It may not be classy, but I just love that it shows there are still things to be discovered in what can be done with lambics.

We need someone, possibly even Cantillion to take this idea and run with it as if they can do this on first try (or technically second based on their attempt 70 years ago) then I’m sure that they can polish it up to something special. As is this is still fun as hell.

Background: This is it, I finally did notes on a Zwanze day beer! I have had two before, but never did notes. For those who are not aware, Zwanze day is when Cantillon releases a unique beer each year, and a limited number of places around the world have access to put it on tap. I happen to be lucky that Moor’s Taproom is competitively easy to get to and have had Zwanze day events for a few years now. I missed last years Zwanze as, well covid and lack of vaccines. This year I was still nervous, but they split the event into three smaller groups, with drinking done outside and that helped me decide to give it a go. This years Zwanze is a blend of lambic and citrus fruit (mostly orange says nigh every site I look at). Apparently they tried a similar thing about 70 years ago, but ended up with corks exploding out of bottles from the re-fermentation and the brewers running for cover and getting drenched. Thankfully it seemed more stable this time. I love that little story, tales behind beers and drinking them is one of my favourite things about this pastime. I nearly missed out on this despite being at the event – my booking was for between 16.00-19.00 and I am used to the Zwanze pour being later in the event in past years, so was not too worried when my train was delayed so I was 15 mins late. Turns out they did it as the first pour of the night! Thankfully they trusted me that I was not trying to grab a second and poured my Zwanze for me. Many thanks! There was no abv listed but the staff let me know if was 5% abv when asked.

Cantillon: Fou’foune (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy dark lemon juice to apricot skin. Thin white rim of a head.

Nose: Tart. Grapes. Apricot skin. Oats. Light horse blankets. Wet with fruit remains apricot stones.

Body: Tart. White wine. Fresh apricot that alters to dried apricot over time. Grapes. Thick grape syrup tart middle. Acidity. Cider. Dry oak. Lightly bitter.

Finish: Tart grapes. Apricot skin. Honey. Apricot syrup. Tart apples.

Conclusion: This a comparatively relaxed and yet still very flavoursome Cantillon. It does have the acidity of a Cantillon, but the fruit choice seems to have gone a long way towards keeping it from being too mouth puckeringly sour.

The apricot is delivered remarkably well. It comes through as drier apricot skin like notes front, then that sweeter clinging dried apricot notes in the middle, into a slightly syrup like release at the end. In fact that syrup character does show in the middle as well, just there it is more just the thickness with a slight grape taste that gives a lovely release from the drier Cantillon base. Finally there is a low level oat feeling bitterness underneath it at all times.

These three layers make it work wonderfully – the sweeter fruit touches gives release from the sourness. The tart Cantillon style, while not as high as usual makes for a solid rewarding main middle and the dry bitter touches ground it. Around all this the rest of the rewarding complexities of the fruit roam and reward you.

This probably the best introduction to Cantillion I have seen. Delicious, fruity but reins in the more mouth puckering side of Cantillion without completely hiding the sourness. I never thought I would find an easy drinking Cantillon, and I still haven’t, but I feel this is the closest thing we will ever get to it and it is lovely.


Background: Sooo Fou’foune is a bit of a rude word it turns out. I am so innocent and had no idea until anyone told me. Honest. Anyway, an advantage of of drinking with others at Zwanze day is someone let me know the rude pun of the name. This is unusual in that it is a lambic made with apricots, which is very far from a standard lambic fruit choice. This is listed in “100 Belgian beers to try before you die” where they oddly say that the taste has “little or no apricot or peach” – I have seen arguments that this beer is at its best when very fresh, so possibly the fruit fades fast and I was very lucky to try it on tap at the aforementioned Zwanze day when it was, I presume, very fresh. I only did notes on this and the Zwanze day beer, but the tap list at the Zwanze day event at Moor Taproom was immense. Magic Lambic was on, Camerise, Menu Pineau, Nath and more. I wish I could have spread my drinking over several days so I was in good tasting condition to do notes on more! So many rare Cantillon beers I had never seen anywhere else. I looked up the abv for this online as it was not listed, most say 5.5% which is what I put. Some say 5%. So around that region.

Demoersleutel Beer Engineers: Intergalactic Bounty Hunter (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

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

Nose: Milky coffee. Coconut dust.

Body: Creamy texture, slightly oily. Nut oils. Nougat touch. Coconut. Lots of creamy coffee. Quite thick. Bitter cocoa. Toffee.

Finish: Creamy coffee. Chocolate ice cream. Coconut. Cream. Nougat. Bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: Oh, this is very nicely balanced. Also there is a good chunk of coconut. However we all know about my love of coconut in stouts, so lets concentrate on that balance first.

This is creamy of body and fairly thick, it doesn’t show the full 12% abv in weight but it definitely uses the malt to give that thick, rewarding mouthfeel very well. Despite that thickness and the creamy notes the (and heeeereee we go!) coconut notes actually makes the whole thing come across a tad drier than you would expect. It means that, while there is significant weight to this, it is far from sickly sweet and a while it has a light shimmer of an alcohol tell over whole whole thing it doesn’t feel “boozy”

There is a nice oiliness to it that comes along with a savoury nuttiness that, again, keeps this from getting sickly. The bitter cocoa dusts adds lovely bitter character while still keeping with the bounty chocolate bar theme which I am 90% sure the name calls to. They do have Bounty chocolate bars pretty much everywhere right? I’m not going to find out it is just a UK thing, right? The sweeter notes edge in with toffee hints at the edges, but in general this feel that it completely wants to be the beer take on a bounty chocolate bar, without descending into a boozy, sickly sweet mess as a lot of dessert themed stouts do.

And it manages it. Darn impressive.

It is sweet enough, just enough sweetness put out then everything else is used to bring this high alcohol beer down to being a restrained beast. So much going on here that I’ve not even touched on the mild coffee that bleeds out over the edges, the nougat thickness, or the lashings and lashings of coconut.

Oh yes this has coconut.

This is a very well made beer.

Background: This caught my eye at Independent Spirit as it is made with coconut. I love Imperial Stouts made with coconut when they are well done. Adore them. It is also made with coffee, but I’m here for the coconut. The can lists it as 12% abv, but a lot of people online list it as 10%. I wonder if that is something to do with the fact I’ve heard this a bigger brewed version of a beer they did previously? Maybe that was 10%? Not sure, not managed to find confirmation. As you can see this is one of the rare beer’s where I have done multiple shots of the can so you can see more of the art as it is very cool. Not tried anything from Demoersleutel Beer Engineers before, but I do like the name, so much more evocative than De moersleutel Brewers. Went back to David Bowie’s Blackstar as music for this – something lovely and haunting to back a big beer. Still so emotional an album even years on.

Insel: Swimmer’s Saison (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear caramel brown touched body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation in the body and a thin off white head.

Nose: Fruity esters. Slight sulphur. Sugared lemons. Orange skin. Brown bread. Sage.

Body: Iced tea. Wet charring. Touch of brown sugar. Orange skin. Touch of chalk. Lime touch. Hard fruit sweets. Sugared water. Wet teabags.

Finish: Orange skin. Brown sugar. Dirty water. Wet teabags. Herbal. Sage.

Conclusion: Saisons have been fairly varied in style in my experience. Some have been these lovely fresh and hoppy bitter things, Some have been earthy, spicy and rustic, some have been oddly textured in an almost steam beer way, some have been slightly sour. Absolutely none have been anything like this low abv take.

On the nose it is fairly interesting – it is fairly fruity in a citrus way, with a touch of sage savoury spice, which is a reasonable call to the more herbal saisons. Behind that is a fairly neutral bready backing, but it still has enough interesting there that I had hope.

The body is, by comparison, a bit watery. It feels like sugared water meets brown sugar and then has had a teabag dunked a few times into the the resulting mix, but not enough to add any real layered flavour.

The fruity, interesting notes are still there, but the base behind it feels like empty wet air. While the breadiness of the aroma wasn’t exciting it was solid and gave a strong base from the other notes to work from, while here the more interesting notes get lost in the beer’s watery depths.

This coasts through the beer into the finish, where a pleasant orange character sits over a dirty sugar water emptiness once more. It isn’t that the beer is vile, but fairly empty for the most part, so the better notes end up falling flat and the beer as a whole feels muddied and unfocussed.

It is an unusual low abv beer, but still shows the teabag and iced tea notes clearly that are the bane of the low alcohol style and doesn’t push anything heavy enough to offset them.

While I appreciate a different style choice for a low abv beer, this doesn’t do much with it at all.


Background: This was the second Insel beer I bought from light drinks, and I think, the last beer I have from that batch to do notes on. This is well reputed, but after being disappointed with their similarly well received wet hopped pilsner I was more nervous coming to this one. Was surprised to see a low alcohol Saison, not a common pick for low abv beer, but I’m always happy to see experimentation. I will admit, while it adds nothing to the beer, the paper wrapped bottles do make this look fairly fancy. Went back to Ritualz – CDR for music while drinking. Been a while since I put that on and it is lovely evocative dark electronic tunes so thought it was time to give another spin as fine background music for drinking.

Moor: Hoppiness (England: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Darkened apricot skin coloured body, with a moderate sized white creamy head. There is a very small amount of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Apricot skin. Peach. Black liquorice touch. Muggy hops. Slight tart grapes.

Body: Grapes. Grapefruit. Malt toffee. Medium sticky hop character. Apricot. Dry fudge, yet in a sticky way. Light charring. Slight sulphur. Pineapple.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Dry hoppy character. Toffee. Light grapefruit. Good bitterness. Apricot. Black liquorice.

Conclusion: Ok, I have an IPA type, and that type is this beer. My love for West Coast IPAs is well know, but I also have such a soft spot for this distinctly more local take on an IPA.

It has that real ale thickness and grip, along with that slightly sulphurous touch that a lot of real ales have on hand pump, and combines all that with a range of hops that bring out my favourite hop flavours from the mid 2000s.

The old friend of hop flavours is definitely the peach and apricot notes. They aren’t pushed too hard, but are there and welcome as I haven’t seen them much recently as newer hops get the centre stage. Similarly, hello there light grapefruit tartness and a sweet yet tart pineapple mix. Not as overlooked as the apricot, they still get some show these days, but still good to see again. This feels like the best hits from my misspent hop loving youth, delivered in a more sticky, thick real ale way than you often find.

In a trade off for that, as often found in actual cask IPAs the hop feel and bitterness is not as clear as in its non live counterparts. Instead of crisply bitter hops it is a sticky, muggy hop thing, which is an acquired taste, but again one I love and I have missed a lot in my experience with a lot of recent IPAs.

So, it has all the strengths and some of the flaws of that style, as is to be expected. One being that there is a very small black liquorice style touch in the aroma and the finish, I think expressing from the slight sulphur touches, and that liquorice style I have never been a fan of, but I am happy to take the bad with the good here.

There is a moderate toffee and malt chocolate style to the body, not heavy but again that real ale like thickness makes it stand out more than you would expect for the flavour’s intensity.

This is peak cask ale style tradition (in a can) meets mid 2000’s hop flavours all made with years of built up brewing skill. For all the good and all little bad that comes with all that, and it is definitely far more on the good side of things. I adore this and can definitely drink a lot more of it.

An IPA pretty much made for me.

Background: I have tried this a few times recently and swore to grab a can to do notes on, which I finally did – grabbing a can from Independent Spirit. This is part of Moor’s canned “Live Beer” range, which seems to be basically an attempt to do real ale style beer, but in a can. I doubt they will ever get a CAMRA says this is real ale stamp, but in my experience they deliver that. Moor don’t list the chosen hops for this, just saying it is a crossover of their favourite IPA elements from around the world. Laura Jane Grace: At War With The Silverfish. had just been released as I was prepping to do notes on this so I put it on while drinking. A lovely small burst of a mini album, feels more varied than her last solo release with lots of different styles on show.

Brussels Beer Project: Pico Nova – Zero West Coast IPA (Belgium: Low Alcohol: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Clear browned gold. An inch of off white mounded head. Very little carbonation visible.

Nose: Ovaltine. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Malt chocolate. Musty hop character and bitterness. Choc orange. Brown bread and sour dough.

Body: Ovaltine. Greenery. Moderate hop bitterness. Slight iced tea. Slight toffee. Fresh calls to grapefruit.

Finish: Iced tea. Lemon pancakes. Moderate hop bitterness. Slight choc orange. Malt drinks. Dry coffee remains. Slight grapefruit hints in the air. Vanilla. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: Generally when I think of a west coast IPA I think dry, an out of the way malt character, high hop bitterness and sometime a bit of hop fruitiness and/or tartness to go along with it.

This actually feels quite malt led, which is both odd for a west coast, and impressive for a low alcohol beer that can’t use too much of the malt to get the flavour. There is a lot of malt drinks, malt chocolate and even some dry toffee notes in there. Despite being traditionally sweet notes, they don’t express here in a very sweet way, so it isn’t like it tastes like a bigger, sweeter East Coast IPA – it is just a tad sweeter, darker and more present malt than you would expect from its description.

The hops are moderately bitter, prickly, with a bit of greenery amongst the notes. Not super heavy, but noticeable over the malt character so doing the job that hops should do. The hop flavours that come from that are subtly done. There is a gentle backing freshness that calls to grapefruit, and a slight sweetness to the chocolate malt that calls to choc orange. Nothing too out there, just a slight freshness and rounding sweetness that adds to that base.

Behind all this is a pretty savoury, bready basic character that, again, is weightier than expected. There are some slight low abv tells to this, mainly in a hint of that iced teas style, but generally its tendency is towards being more a neutral feeling middle than anything obviously low alcohol.

It is kind of west coast, but feels half east and half west coast overall – nothing too showy, though the slightly tart notes pick up as the beer goes on which is welcome. A reasonable beer that doesn’t quite fit a style or a theme, and can end up slightly indistinct in character as a result despite having some quite big feeling flavours in there.

Not bad, does the bitterness well, but needs a bit of sparkle to help it really work.

Background: Now most people who have been around this blog a while will know I love a good West Coast IPA. So, when I saw, as part of my recent batch of low alcohol beers from light drinks, that they were calling one a 0.3% abv west coast IPA it had my attention. Even more intriguing it is a Belgian brewery doing it, which is not what I would have expected. Went back to some classic 90s tunes with Garbage’s first self titled album for music. I still adore that album.

Het Anker: Gouden Carolus: Indulgences: Funken (Belgium: Smoked Belgian Strong Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Amber gold clear body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation to the body. Ridiculously large yellow white head that leaves a lot of suds around the glass.

Nose: Meaty. Smoke. Beef broth. Dried, smoked pepperonis to pepperoni pizza. Brown bread. Coriander. Orange peel.

Body: Prickly. Smoke. Charred burnt meat bits. Slightly dry. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Orange skin. Lemon zest. Peat. Some mature cheese.

Finish: Charring. Chalk. Smoke. Dry. Dried beef slices. Slight salt. Malt chocolate. Orange zest. Lemon zest. Brown sugar. Peppery. Slight mature cheese.

Conclusion: Ok, this reminds me of that peated golden ale, Rex Attitude. It seems even with the heavier Gouden Carolous amber beer base that this, like Rex Attitude, cannot put up much to stand in the way of the sheer assault of the peated malt.

Well, initially anyway. Flavours do manage to come out over time, but they are so different from what I would expect from a standard Gouden Carolous Classic that, combined with the beer’s colour, I am fairly sure they didn’t use that one as their base beer when working out the recipe for this.

Initially it is very smoke driven, especially on the aroma, and it uses that smoke alongside a variety of meaty impressions that really hammer home the heavier style. The body after that is pretty much the same, just drier. The aroma had a touch more fatty meat style while the body feels a more attenuated thing that makes the smoke and charring even more potent.

At this point in time it is a not complex, but powerful assault of a beer.

Over time some of the base beer does manage to show itself past the smoke. There is brown sugar on the sweeter side, and orange and lemon zest on the fruitier side of things. Never a heavy set, but it is nice to see the base beer trying to make an impact so the heavy smoke doesn’t ruin you.

Over time the smoke mellows and the richer notes manage to mix with it and control it, allowing a touch of mature cheese character to come out, giving some class to the whole thing.

With the beer tasting nothing like the classic Gouden Carolous I’m guessing either the peat utterly killed it, or they picked a very different recipe for the base beer for this. Which is a pity, as I feel this needs a creamier, dark fruit weighty character that the classic beer shows to really have something to balance and pop against the peat.

As is it is a lovely smoke assault but the base fails to match or balance it, instead just letting out those little orange and brown sugar notes that are ok, but really don’t manage to pull their weight. It means that you get a decent enough beer for utter peat heads but it feels like it falls short of what it could have been.

Background: This came out a while back, being the 2020 Summer release of the (I think yearly) Indulgence series, where Het Anker try something a bit different with their Gouden Carolous series. So, yep this already has a year of ageing under its belt, which is of special note hear as the special trick this year is that it uses peated malt. Now peat tends to fade fast, but that is mostly noticeable in whisky terms while it is in oak, I don’t think a year for a beer in a bottle will have done much to lighten that aspect. As a peat fan this seemed very interesting to me, so I grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit. Gouden Carolous Classic is one of my old favourite beers, so there was a lot going in this thing’s favour. Went back to some old school punk with Anti Nowhere League: We Are The League. I’m having less and less thematic reasons for my music picks these days, I just felt like some more punk tunes.

Big Drop: Field Hopper Golden Ale (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold. Thin white head.

Nose: Fluffy hop character. Orange skin. Vanilla. White bread.

Body: Slightly chalky. Light crusty white bread. Some bitterness, which grows in scale quickly. Slightly musty. Light orange zest. Vanilla. Quite dry.

Finish: Some bitterness and hop prickle. Hop bitterness rises quickly. Lemon and orange notes. Dry cake sponge.

Conclusion: I’m on the fence about this one, it flits between a decent golden ale, and a fairly rubbish beer, and I’ve yet to settle on which side of it dominates enough for me to make a call. So, let’s examine it and see where this takes us.

Let’s start with the best side of it. This has a good hop character, bitter and very much showing itself in a golden ale style which is recognisably different from other IPA or Bitter low abv beers. It has the refreshing prickling character, slightly dry but with good bitterness that can kick out at you.

Behind that hop kick is a reasonably evident citrus orange and lemon set of notes that again call to the quintessential golden ale style.

It is always pretty dry, a tad more than I would expect from a golden ale, which can already be a quite dry style in some expressions, but not generally terribly so. The extra dryness is probably a tell of the low abv and lower malt, but apart from that there aren’t many low alcohol give away elements.

That dryness , while not bad in itself, can be the gateway to the weaker side of this beer though. Sometimes the beer can feel like it isn’t putting enough weight against the bitterness, and comes across harsh and quiet chalky which hurts the beer and hides most of the lighter citrus elements of the beer. The beer can come across quite empty like this, with just the rough edges pushing through the quiet.

This rough style happens more early on – I didn’t overly chill the beer so I don’t think it was from that. Maybe I just acclimatised to the bitterness, or maybe it just benefits from some time to air, but it is definitely more friendly in the later half of the beer.

With that I’m going to lean towards this being generally good, but with weak moments early on. When it is off it is a pain, but it spends more time as a reasonable if not exceptional golden ale. So, not bad, but could probably do with a few tweaks in the recipe and brewing to get it right.

Background: Big Drop were one of the first low abv brewers that made me think that there was a genuine future for good low abv beers. Over the years they have had hits and misses, but generally always happy to check them out. So when I saw this one I had not tried when I put in my light drinks order, I threw in a bottle to see how it was. Went back to Bikini Kill – The First Two Records collection for backing music as I’ve been on a bit of a punk kick recently again.

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