Tag Archive: Elixir


Lawman: Elixir: Zig-Zig-BA: Sherry Halliwell (Scotland: English Strong Ale: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Murky, hazy blond to peach skin. Virtually no head. Rim of bubbles and a thin dash of grey for a head.

Nose: Musty hops. Sour grapes. Peat smoke and bacon. Sherry. Soaked raisins. Sour stewed apricot. Very slight prunes. Fudge. Vanilla.

Body: Vanilla. Quite light texture, slightly watery when cool. Menthol. Sherry trifle. Light citrus undertone – pineapple. Cherries.

Finish: Menthol. Ash. Oatmeal. Raisins. Musty hops. Slight liquorice. Sweet pineapple. Smoked meat. Lemon cakes. Sherry trifle. Hopped bitterness.

Conclusion: Ok, this doesn’t work (Spoiler warning by the way!) but I respect the direction it is trying. It is just, well, it is a bit of a mess, but an ambitious mess. I’m not going to disrespect that.

This has a lot of vanilla laden throughout it – almost enough to suggest it was Bourbon barrel aged, rather than its chosen sherry ageing; but that is soon dispelled by big sherry trifle coming through clearly afterwards. In fact lots of sherry notes hit – with sherries and spice throughout. Underneath that there is some cloying hop character, in a slight citrus styled pineapple coming floating through. The hop character is kind of muggy though – that kind that can get old fast, and doesn’t deliver the fresher notes very cleanly. I think it is due to ageing the beer – time in the wood has given added complexities, but has worn out the pleasant sides of the hop character pretty quickly. Odder still this has smoke and sulphur stylings – moderately used, not heavy – but possibly in a kind of charred woods style? Any which way it gives a sulphurous real ale on tap touch to this.

All sounds interesting, no? What makes it a mess rather than an enjoyable beer is the slightly lighter texture – it is just slightly thin and watery. Not hugely so, but it means that the sulphurous element feel heavier than they should, and the musty hops are given too much emphasis. It interferes with what should be a complex rich ale. The sherry notes, the vanilla, all of them would benefit from more grip, and the sulphur and muggier hops would be mellow background notes with a heavier ale and so would work better.

A beer that aims for the stars, and with a thicker beer may have succeeded. I respect that, but it didn’t really work. Ah well.

Background: So, a Spice Girls reference. Huh. At this point the standard thing would be to bash the Spice Girls, but feh they did well for themselves with some harmless pop. Can’t really get too worked up about it. I think my music snobbery has worn off with old age. Enjoy what you like and all that, even if it isn’t my taste. Anyway- they call this beer a KK ale – a mostly forgotten beer style – which seems to be a heavily hopped, higher abv blond ale. So, that intrigued me, and a bit of Sherry Barrel ageing intrigued me more. So I grabbed it. Another Independent Spirit beer – got some other establishment beers coming up shortly. Decided to go with some appropriate music for this; So, of course, with this being Spice Girl linked, I was listening to Ihsahn -After. Real brain breaking stuff.

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Sugar Lumps

Elixir: Sugar Lumps (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 7.7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Browned dash of suds.

Nose: Roasted and boozy. Chocolate treacle. Dry roasted peanuts. Brown sugar. Bitter. Orange sherbet.

Body: Treacle. Milky chocolate. Lactose. Chocolate liquore. Fruit sugars and sugar cane in a Brighton rock stylee. Rhubarb and custard hard sweets (but nothing like actual rhubarb). Orange sherbet.

Finish: Brown sugar. Cashew nuts. Candyfloss. Raspberry hard sweets (but nothing like actual raspberry). Orange sherbet.

Conclusion: I can see why they called this Sugar Lumps, you can almost feel two cubes of sugar dropped into this beer. It is like an oversweet cup of tea. If that tea was an imperial stout. That sentence made sense in some universe I am sure… It’s because it has that same feel on the mouth, despite the smoothness of the body you can imagine sugar granules wearing away at the upper roof of your mouth and teeth enamel as they pass by.

Oddly enough for that it starts off tasting quite like a traditional imperial stout, delivering roasted nuts, treacle, chocolate and lactose. Together it does give a milk stout touch, but mainly standard strong stout. and then the sugar rises.

Lots of elements float up, half way between fruity Belgian esters and the artificial flavours of hard sweets. These grow to an almost orange sherbet presence that becomes as present as the stout itself.

I found myself licking my teeth as if trying to dislodge an errant sugar grain, the sweetness matches the name that much, with the more bitter stout darkness submerged below. It is tasty but I will admit I kept expecting that if you put a spoon in it, that it would point straight up and not move an inch. For me that is a tad too sugary. Yes, that is the beer’s unique element, and the candy cane/hard sweets elements are nice, just a tad overdone.

Great idea, but pushed a tad past its welcome. The first half a bottle is very welcome, the second half less so. Make of that what you will.

Background: Apparently this was brewed in collaboration with Ben Hislop. A quick google brought up a mercenary from Mass Effect. I presume it is not that Ben Hislop. Unless fictional characters have started brewing now. Which would be kind of cool. I call dibs on reviewing Hank Schrader from Breaking Bad’s home brew. That is pretty much all I have to say on background this time. Picked up from the ever awesome Independent Spirit of Bath.

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