Tag Archive: Bristol Beer Factory


Bristol Beer Factory UnLimited Wheat Wine

Bristol Beer Factory: Un\Limited: Wheat Wine (England: Barley Wine: 10% ABV)

Visual: Apricot. Hazy. Thin white dash of a head. Still body.

Nose: Apricot and fruit sugars. Peach schnapps. Boozy. Vanilla. Bourbon. Banana. Cinnamon sticks. Raspberry. Toffee and toffee liqueur.

Body: Mildly bitter. Wholemeal crackers. Dried apricot. Ovaltine. Mild milky coffee. Bourbon. Chocolate and toffee. Light banana esters. Smooth. Custard slice with their pastry. Blackpool rock.

Finish: Bitter. Earthy touch. Mild charred oak. Coffee cake. Caramel. Bourbon. Chocolate toffee. Fresh pastry. Cane sugar.

Conclusion: This is quite a mixed up experience of a drink and it shows all its included ingredients well. I seem to be on a Adjunct Wine kick at the moment, and, so far, this is one of the most impressive of the set.

First impressions a a mix of raw bourbon boozy imagery and smooth banana and apricot ester notes. The intensity of that alcohol belies the actually very smooth body and the impressively subtle fruity notes. There is a bitterness to the beer, but it isn’t in a hop style. I wasn’t sure initially what it was, but over time it finally becomes identifiable as coffee like bitterness. Speaking of the coffee, the coffee influence is present but it feels like it is being used as a grounded base. It mixes with the occasional earthy notes and only really comes out near the end of the beer as it settles down.

As well as the house yeast that the bottle mentions, I’m guessing the wheat is what to thank for a lot of the light fruit notes and smooth character that very slightly calls to a very boozy hefeweizen. It is an odd mix of very smooth at the base, and yet boozy as hell when the bourbon hits. The flavours and alcohol of the oak ageing are very evident.

The odd stand out element is a very chocolate style character that seems to rise from the coffee influence. Maybe it comes from the coffee merging with the sweetness of the * Wine base, but it is unexpected. It gives a dark chocolate toffee sweet core that the rest of the beer can then hang off. It gives that base to a beer that otherwise would be a mix of good but unrelated notes.

Overall it manages to mix smooth character with quirky rough edges with compromising either. I’m impressed. It is literally just one “Je ne sais quoi” away from being one of my favourites, and as is it is easily in the top set of beers. A very good wheat wine.

Background: Bottled 2014, drunk just under two years later in 2016. Been a while since I tried what once was a regular to these pages – Bristol Beer Factory. So, grabbed this, with its long list of ingredients and twists. 75% wheat, uses triple strain house yeast, aged in oak bourbon barrels and blended with cold brewed coffee. Quite the mix up. Drink while listening to Dope: Life, which seems to have become a generic go to for music for a while. Probably because of the song Die Motherfucker Die. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, like approximately 90% of my beers recently.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Imperial Stout Aged In Whisky Cask (England: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black, creamy beige froth that descend quickly to islands over the main body.

Nose: Roasted. Raspberry and Blueberry. Milky coffee. Smooth. Slight washing  up liquid early on, dissipates quickly. Twigs. Spirity. Salted toffee.

Body: Bitter. Hazelnuts. Big chocolate. Salted toffee cheesecake. Blueberry hints. Cloying feel. Chalk touch.

Finish: Raw chocolate and bitter. Roasted hazelnuts. Cheesecake. Cloying cream. Toasted teacakes.

Conclusion: So what to say, here at the end of the 12 stouts of Christmas 2012? A fine thick yet slick texture, that cloying touch toned down so it has only just a hint of Russian porter style in there. Big chocolate bitterness and roasted. The base beer rides the style with excellent aplomb.

The whisky influence is interesting. There are berry hints, not too heavy, but sprouting from the beer when you least expect it. You have that layered against a salted toffee cheesecake dryness, so yes very interesting. This tart against dry over a heavy base means from moment to moment you could get anything from refreshing to viscous to lingering mouth drying character. A ride to be sure,

Heavy and sinks down into your belly, seems to leave the flavours in weighted dregs in its passing. The remains bloom into new flavour in the extended finish, resurging again and again to keep the beer present long after the last sip.

Spirit touched, tingling alcohol prickles promise warning of its punch, but never hurts the beer by becoming burning.  For all the added elements the whisky gives, the beer keeps very much to the thick and heavy feel of a traditional stout, avoiding the liquore like smoothness that a lot of new wave Imperial Stouts use.

The traditional weight is a boon to me, the extra grip for flavour makes it easy to examine, and lets you take your time with it.  For all its range it doesn’t deviate too much from its core concept in strong heavy flavours. This makes it initially less impressive, but helps reinforce its excellent character over time.

A beer to take your time with and allow it to flow through you.

Background: Whisky cask, whisky cask, could you generic up that a bit for me? Actually the bottle blurb is a bit more helpful, listing it as Speyside whisky but still no further details. This is the final of the 12 stouts of Christmas Beers!  Only took me a quarter of the year.  Still, been a worthy run so far, I’d say in general just slightly higher quality than last year, though the first run had the advantage of being a completely new idea and thus has more of the spark of the new. Now just to wait for next year’s run.  Drunk while listening to Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile. It seemed to match well to the beer. Especially Starfuckers inc.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Port Stout (England: Stout: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Black cherry red to black. Caramel brown loose bubbled large head. Lots of suds left as the beer goes down.

Nose: Sour dough. Chocolate flakes. Plums. Crisp wheat flakes. Red wine. Cherries and raisins. Honey. Orange peal. Varies heavily.

Body: Honey. Good bitter chocolate. Fruitcake. Roasted hop character. Raisin. Crème Brulee. Bitter red wine.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Roasted nuts. Sour tang. Sour grapes. Brown sugar. Red grapes.

Conclusion:  Pretty much everything you need to know about this beer, from its subtleties to the influence the port will have, can be discerned from the way it handles its aroma.  The aroma initially seems not much beyond the standard stout with sour dough and chocolate flakes. After a while however dark fruit creeps out from the chocolate. Then as the beer descends into the glass and you can get a better nose of the beer you find sweetness and wine filled power pushing out from underneath. It’s a lot going on, layered and taking its time to express itself.

As above so below you find with this beer. As you sip on the beers body you get a solid roasted stout, but again below red wine and crème brulee flavours lurk, and as you give it time you get fruitiness over a sour bitter wine touch. It’s all just slightly tart and with growing bitterness.

The tartness is what makes a very drinkable stout, at first glance at least. There is slow rising and layered depths that bring sweetness, richness, roasted and bitterness all in balanced packages. All have their place and work it well. The dark fruits fill out the package of a very solid stout.

The flavours come in incredibly thick by the end, shattering early illusion that you could some how session this stout. The heavy flavour and the dry bitter finish make for a beer to enjoy in its own rather than one to make a night of.  It is a complex beer despite is ease of drinking and should be treated as such.  It is notable that the bitter finish, part of its complexity, is also an element that may put some off.  The heavily bitter end could be too much for some, and is one of the elements that emphasises that is a beer you should not have too many of.

For anyone who can handle the bitter finish though this is a very good quality stout, even by BBF’s high standards

Background: A port stout, made with port picked by Avery Wine Merchants. Who are in Bristol. Who I have never been to. So I have nothing useful to say about them. Second to last of 2012’s 12 Stouts of Christmas. I’ve been enjoying the run so far and always enjoy Stouts from BBF. Only one new beer in the twelve stouts left to sample.  The other beers (milk stout, ultimate stout, imperial stout and ultimate raspberry) are similar to before. Imperial Stout seeming heavier and more complex, and Ultimate Raspberry/Raspberry Stout seeming still good, but less obviously fruity than last years.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Bristol Stout (2012) (England: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Half inch of browned froth.

Nose: Slightly cloying cream. Dry roasted character.

Body: Solidly bitter and cloying cream. Dry roasted peanuts. Chives. Slight black olives. Bitter chocolate at the back. Slight oily character and touch of chalk in the middle.

Finish: Dry roasted peanuts and bitter charring. Black liquorice bits. Quite dry. More nuts with time. Black olives and bitter coffee.

Conclusion: So an upped abv of the Bristol Stout – wonder if the extra abv will bring more flavour with it? Well it is very dry in what feels like an Irish Stout take on the style. The cloying cream and roasted elements are turned up heavily to quite mouth drying levels.

Unfortunately, this beer which I have enjoyed heavily seems lesser each time I return to it. In my memories the original cask sampling of 4% Bristol Stout was excellent, the bottle version good. This new version, well it’s solid but it feels like the extra dry and roasted characteristics have overpowered the less prominent flavours.  It could be just my memory lying to me, but then again when I look at the other beers in the 12 stouts of Christmas many of them are excellent so I am confident that the beer was as good as I remembered.

You do get some new elements here, a black olives bit underneath for example, but it doesn’t add much to the range which means for all it is solid it also doesn’t quiet excite.  I’m not sure if it just I have been spoiled on Stouts since I last tried it or if it just doesn’t have as good range of flavour.

Still, it is a solid pint of beer, but the extra abv doesn’t seem to bring any extra wow with it. The finish may be the only bit that has gained in range. It seems to slowly build and grow throughout the pint. Main body however is heavily dominated by the main elements but not too much else.
So, not bad, but no longer brings excitement on the opening of a bottle.

Background: Bristol Stout was the beer that originally introduced me to Bristol Beer Factory and was a long time favourite. When looking at the listing of the twelve stouts of Christmas 2012 I noticed that Bristol Stout was now 5% instead of 4% and they had listed it as a new recipe so I decided it was worth giving it a new review.  While their ultimate stout and raspberry stout had crept down in abv very slightly (0.2%) they were not listed as new recipe so I’m guessing those are tweaks rather than overhauls so did not review again.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Imperial Stout Bourbon Cask (England: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black with a moderate dark beige creamy froth head.

Nose: Coconut. Milky Chocolate. Sour cream. Rum soaked raisins. Vinous notes when warm.

Body: Smooth. Chocolate. Vanilla toffee. Coconut macaroons. Light aromatic herbs like the light side dishes at an Indian restaurant.  Milky coffee backdrop. Raisins. Vinous notes and white grapes.

Finish: Fudge. Bitter chocolate. Caramel traces. Some bitter coffee. Chocolate orange. Red wine. Light oak. Coconut.

Conclusion: I am a sucker for Imperial Stouts with a coconut aroma. Blame it on Good King Henry Special Reserve which is still probably my favourite of the type. That smell instantly makes me want to like a beer.

It helps that the beer is dangerously smooth, it evens tastes full of light delicate flavours that don’t feel overpowered by the base beer. No burn involved, no kick.  Just delicious chocolate and coconut macaroons mixed with vanilla toffee. Considering I came in expecting a ball kicker of beer this kind of wrong footed me.

In a way it feels like a beer to go with mild curry, the lighter herbs and coconut just scream that it would be perfect for that. I don’t know if it would work real world, but if I had another bottle I would definitely test it.

As the beer is, the bitter chocolate and coffee slowly showed themselves from under the coconut as the beer warmed. You then get vinous notes and the beer starts feeling bigger and richer. There is a real progression in flavour as the heat comes in, bringing a different but still impressive beer.  Cool you have coconut and a lightness of touch, warm you get a more rich and playful yet still smooth beer.

To my memory I prefer Good King Henry, but then again, in memory that beer has become nigh unbeatable. I will have to drink the beer again to see if it holds up to that memory.  This doesn’t have quite the same great viscous levels nor the same vibrancy. There is a slight heaviness of flavour after a while that means later sips don’t taste as excellent as the early ones.  Then again, these are flaws only when compared to one of my favourite beers of all time, that still says that this beer is doing something very well. Not many Imperial Stouts go down this route of flavour and I’m glad that this one implemented it so well.

Complex but easy to drink. Reacts brilliantly to changes in heat and different to any flavours that I would have expected from bourbon ageing. It has the minor flaws in the flavours feeling heavy after a while and the smoothness seems to drop the vibrancy slightly that I mentioned but that is nit picking.   Overall a beer I very much enjoyed and one that surprised me. A good combo.

Background: Another of the twelve beers of Christmas 2012 edition. This one aged in Bourbon casks. I liked the base Imperial Stout but didn’t find it as special as some of BBF’s stouts, previous cask ageing have been exceptional though.  Unlike previous ageing which listed the distillery, this year just had bourbon with not hint to the distiller. I must admit much as I love Stouts and Imperial Stouts the amount I have had in my cupboard recently has been insane. After this I am looking forward to some nice light coloured ales.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Mocha (England: Stout: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Black with large heaped caramel sudden froth head.

Nose: Chocolate. Dusty and dry bitter coffee granules. Roasted coffee beans. Cashew nuts.

Body: Juicy coffee with a hint of tea leaves as well. Kaffir lime leaves. Blueberry pie. Grapes. Bitter touches. Dark malt edges. Lactose.

Finish: Tea leaves and tannins. Coffee. Dry and quite roasted. Fresh lime. Kiwi fruit. Crushed white grapes. Lactose.

Conclusion: This is different, a coffee beer that grasps the rich juicy fruit flavours that a coffee can have.  Not that you would guess from the aroma which is dry dusty and calls more to coffee granules than quality coffee.

The body rectifies all that and comes in with a real shot of quality coffee flavour. You get blueberries, grapes, lime leaves and more all swelling up and even an odd tea and tannin like finish. In fact at times the finish feels closer to tea than coffee. The rich range of flavours is very much a counterpoint to the ultra bitter coffee that is used in many such beers.

This beer lives and dies by how much you enjoy the style of the coffee used. The stout  itself is hints around the edges, milky and slightly sour.  It wraps around the coffee, embracing and enveloping the coffee flavours yet without hiding them in any way.

For me I would say this is an utter treat, and from the 12 stout beer I expected least of.   Instead of a standard coffee stout I found myself with an easy drinking and juicy stout of moderate abv and utterly delicious fruit and understated more traditional coffee flavours.

The aroma is the only real flaw, it doesn’t bring you into the beer as it should. The beer itself is so easy drinking and delicious that it almost demands a second to follow it up. It is just so pleasurable and balanced.

Less showy and less of a beast than a lot of coffee stouts but with agreat and unusual flavour range. This really adds to the base stout and manages to not quite eclipse it. More flavour than many Imperial Stouts but much more easy going .

This is a bloody excellent stout.

Background: Part of the 2012 12 Stout Of Christmas.  This one is made with Hope Project Peaberry Espresso (from http://extractcoffee.co.uk/).  I am not a huge coffee drinker but there are quite a few specialist coffee shops such as Colonna and Small’s in Bath so I have had a chance to try a bit of arrange.  Things are getting a bit chilly in the UK at the moment so a nice heavy stout does me nicely. Thankfully I have a ton of them in my cupboard ready for drinking.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Crème Brulee (England: Sweet Stout: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Dust of toffee froth head that leaves suds.

Nose: Milky chocolate and bitterness. Crushed hazelnuts. Caramelised sugar and custard. Fortified wine. Glacier cherries. Rich and vinous.

Body: Sweet. Cherries and chocolate. Fruitcake. Almonds. Vinous. Dessert wine. Yes, ok, crème brulee, kind of. Bubble gum. Orange crème. Lactose.

Finish: Marzipan and cherries. Bitter chocolate. Raspberry yogurt. Caramelised brown sugar. Bubblegum again. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion:  Definitely the biggest of the BBF stouts of Christmas I’ve had from the 2012 pack so far. Initially chilled it seemed to be very vinous, almost more strong English Ale than stout in flavours. There was sweet dessert wine, fruitcake and cherries and to my shock actual crème brulee like hints all in a mix. Very sweet very vinous.

I gave it a bit of drinking and a bit of warmth and the expected stout flavours built  up into roasted, chocolate and bitter coffee, taking the fore and pushing the previous elements to the side to add rather than dominate.  Very much the lactose filled milk stout with sweet touches added. The base stout flavours proved too strong to be suppressed for long.

Every more oddities came with bubblegum adding to the mix – tasting like J-pop tune sounds, however never interfering with the main flavours. There is never dull moment with this beer and always something new fizzing and popping to the surface.

So a good base stout, great range and a mix of vinous and English ale flavours in with it. So, it’s great right? Erm. Well. It is very good, but not quite great. The flavours don’t quite mesh at times. Like the better Doggie Claws this beer feels a bit too mixed up. It is always open to drinking and examination but has no one coherent whole to latch onto.

it is a great fun ride and there is something interesting in every moment don’t get me wrong. A beer that is very much of each moment you drink it.  Well worth it and a distinct experience that should be tried.  The only flaw it has is that it does not manage to be more than the sum of its parts, but that it a small flaw indeed.

Background: Bloody hell an 8.5% ABV sweet stout, pretty heavy for a style that tends towards a lighter end of the scale. This is based on the milk stout and was aged in Rum casks for two months. Part of BBF’s 12 Stouts of Christmas 2012 which is quickly becoming a mini seasonal celebration. I’m a big fan of BBF’s stouts and like their other beers to boot.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Smoked Chilli Chipotle (England: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black, an inch of caramel froth. Still.

Nose: Chilli seeds. Dry roasted peanuts. Cocoa. Milky chocolate.

Body: Smoked bacon. Warmth. Distinct chilli heat. Cream cheese. Malt chocolate drinks. Smoke. Meat trays. Slightly sweet chocolate. Pepper.

Finish: Dry chilli seeds and warmth. Smoke. Cured bacon. Chipotle and greenery.  Light touch of black cherry. Barbecue sauce. Pepper.

Conclusion: It’s always a hard balance with chilli beers. Too little and you might as well not have bothered. Too much and it’s undrinkable for most of the audience. This does and odd wee dance to settle between the two.

At times, during the smaller sips, the chilli is intense. Larger mouthfuls and you get more of the stout below – all chocolate and smoke with smoked meat flavours roaming through.

There is then a warming lip tingling finish. It’s not lava but either way, small or large sip, you will get heat. You just get to pick when and how.

The chilli of choice here gives it’s own distinct character. Very dry, and gives an almost smoked barbecue sauce take to the whole beer. A mix of slightly tangy and smoke which is quite appealing. It’s all balanced pretty well, quite warming for a non chilli nut like me, bit survivable and gives good play to the beer.

The beer underneath is a solid stout as you would expect from Bristol Beer Factory. Lots of chocolate, and with that cream cheese oddity that is used to keep it fresh. Surprisingly closed aroma, with barely even a hint of chilli, let alone anything else.

So I’d say a good beer and a good balance, with a barbecue and smoked meat character. The extra flavour put sit head and shoulders above last years chilli stout.

A tad warm for me, but I’m not a huge chilli fan, still a solid beer and nowhere near excessive. Pretty nice.

Background:  Another of the twelve stouts of Christmas, the 2012 edition.  I used to be a big chilli nut, but prefer the more mellow ones these days. Maybe I’m getting old.  Frankly I  look forwards to these now yearly events as BBF do great stouts, and the extra twists are always fun.

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Bristol Beer Factory: Blackcurrants and Liquorice (England: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Nice coffee browned froth bubbles mix. The head leaves suds as it descends and hovers over a still body.

Nose: Bitter coffee and roasted character. Sour dough. Roasted nuts.

Body: Bitter yet slightly tart. Light blackcurrant pie. Vanilla. Thinner body than the standard. Sour dough and chives. Lactose. Charring and barbecued bits. Slight fresh lemon.

Finish: Blueberries. Dry liquorice. Light hop bitterness. Slightly fresh. Sour dough and dry spice.

Conclusion: This beer is made with blackcurrants, yet the finish seems to be more blueberry to me. Maybe my taste buds are wired up wrong today. Anyway, for all it’s odd ingredients the main flavour for this is very much the standard stout.  That dark roasted character, sour dough and a touch of lactose that calls to milk stout.  The extra ingredients are surprisingly subtle in their influence.

The body feels a touch tarter than usual, which also thins the body slightly. Initially that’s an unwelcome element, but as the body build up on your tongue it actually helps keep the beer easily drinkable as it gives room for the fruit tartness to seep in. You don’t get big amounts of sweetness from the fruit, just these extra notes hovering around the edges. Similarly the liquorice only seems to show itself in the extra dry elements of the finish.

It’s no raspberry stout in the amount of fruit flavour, which is a pity as that beer rocked. This keeps all the extras for the end where the fruit finally gets to roam and the liquorice dries itself out.

Initially it feels like weaker one of the Bristol Stout style, but time gives the beer a chance to fill in the notes to become a subtly influenced stout that doesn’t show off.  It does use the influence just enough to make you appreciate it over time. Understated, but since the base beer is a solid stout it still works. I think this beer may end up underappreciated but it has it’s charms.

Background: Part of the 2012 twelve stouts of Christmas. I very much enjoyed last years offering of twelve different stouts, so decided to give this years a try. This one, to no-ones surprise, is made with blackcurrants and liquorice.  Bristol Beer Factory are a solid brewery and especially tend to be good when working with stouts. Drunk while listening to a mix of Yoko Kanno’s music and some of the Witch Hunter Robin soundtrack album.

Bristol Beer Factory: Bitter Californian (England: Bitter: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: A slightly ruddy amber with loose caramel bubbles.

Nose: Grapefruit. Gooseberry and hops. Dried apricot. Fresh mint leaves.

Body: Lightly bitter but grows into a heavier version. Bark. Some toffee. Grapefruit. Big dried apricot at the back. Light leaves.

Finish: Reasonably growing hops. Nettles. Light citrus lime. Fudge. Lemongrass. Slight lemon.

Conclusion: A game of two halves here. The first sips seemed too light and slightly weak. The bitterness was present but not much else. The build up is slow, but does bring out the American hops. The citrus notes are present, though oddly the flavours that the advertised seem much more present in aroma and finish than mid body.   Like Acer it is doing a take on the standard bitter but with real hop freshness keeping it lively (Talking of the Acer, I tried that again after this, and it seemed far superior to previous samplings – wonder if they have tweaked that recently).

Also worth noting is that their description mentioned a taste of kaffir lime leaves, not something I could claim to have tried. However there is a very interesting sharp greenery touch in it that I would guess is that element. A very interesting element and probably the most promising part of this beer.

The beer as a whole is not fantastic, but when you get into it does have a reasonable amount of flavour.  The match of American hops to best bitter doesn’t quite mesh, seeming like two separate elements that show themselves at different times rather than an integrated beer.  That said it does seem like a relaxing counterpoint to Acer. Acer is all fresh and sharp, whilst this seems like a herbal tea of a beer. Very soothing with subtle flavours.  Overall nice, but I think could do with a bit more presence of flavour up front to bring it up to where it should be as a beer.

Background: A one off beer from the Bristol Beer Factory so when I spotted it in Bath I had to give it a try. A mix of English malts and American hops. It was first drunk during a social with my Capoeira group. At the end of that time I felt I had not quite paid enough attention to it, so I returned later for another half to round out the review. Both days it was nicely sunny yet cool, which let to a pleasant drinking environment. Drunk at “The Market” which is a place. No really. As seen in the photo despite being a cask ale ( I presume, I don’t think BBF do keg)  they did not use the traditional hand pumps at this bar, an oddity for the UK.

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