Tag Archive: England


Northern Monk: Stigbergets: Garage: Insa: Patron’s Project 17.02 Ethel Tropical IPA (England: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark apricot. Very large yellow-white tight bubbled head.

Nose: Mango. Apricot skin. Light hop prickle. Light bitterness.

Body: Tropical fruit juice. Mango chunks. Slight sour cream twist. Creamy texture. Thick. Hop oils. Oily fruit. Passion fruit. Vanilla. Slight apple.

Finish: Sour cream. Mango. Moderate bitter hops. Slightly oily. Passion fruit. Slightly resinous. Slight flour. Peach syrup. Tangerine hops.

Conclusion: Fucking hell this is fruity – slightly dried fruit meets oily fruit in a strange but delicious clash. Now, I can find overly fruity IPAs a bit disappointing sometimes when they lose the beer side – especially in beers like this where a lot of actual fruit is used in the making. However, here they do not disappoint!

It is slightly oily, very slightly resinous in the finish with moderate hop character and solid bitterness – a decent beer character that is admittedly still a backing to the natural feeling fruit. The fact that fruit flavours are, in part at least, drier helps keep things feeling IPA like – even though the mouthfeel contrasts with syrupy and creamy style. It’s an odd effect – the taste isn’t super sweet, but that creamy, syrupy mouthfeel makes it feel like it is actually sweeter than it really is, creating an odd sensation as you drink. Nicely done.

Early on it is the fruit created fruit flavours that push themselves out to the front (ohh that is just a clumsy sentence, but stick with me here please), hiding the hop created fruit flavours behind them. Later on though the distinctly hoppy fruit character becomes more evident, especially in the finish. Up to that point I had been viewing the beer as a tad over fruit juice like, even with the hop bitterness, but this swooped in and nullified that flaw and giving another note to the end of the beer, a bit of interest as the intrigue of the earlier notes are starting to wane.

So, downsides? Well the sightly full on fruity and thick character may not be for everyone – definitely not a sessionable beer by any measure, even a second one may be a bit much. It is definitely a one at a time kind of beer.

Still, a lovely tropical fruit IPA that doesn’t forget the IPA side of the equation.

Background: So many things made this a beer I knew I was going to try. Northern Monk, especially their Patrons Projects have been on point so many times. Garage have been great in the few beers I’ve tried from them, and Stigbergets reasonable as well. So, yeah a hop forwards beer from them was definitely one I was interested in. This is made with El Dorado, Cashmere, Mosaic, Simcoe and Columbus hops. More than that they added papaya, passion fruit and mango. I’m not too much of a fan of over fruit juice IPAs but with the talent behind this I was hopeful they would do well. Also such a long name when you include all the collaborators and artists, which makes this a pain to type but doesn’t hurt the beer. This is another one from Independent Spirit. Went with the indie fun of Throwing Muses self titled album for backing music.

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Big Drop: Brown Ale (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown to mahogany. Clear main body with very small bubbled carbonation. Thin grey dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted. Nutty. Slightly chalky. Sour dough. Dry roasted peanuts.

Body: Nutty malt character. Brown sugar touch. Light chalk. Earthy touch. Slight sports drinks.

Finish: Light brown sugar. Charred wood. Mildly earthy character. Slight chalk.

Conclusion: This is a solid, middle of the road brown ale. Now that would seem like damning with faint praise, but this is rocking in at 0.5% abv, and because of that I can cut it some slack – managing to be an even middle of the road brown ale at low abv is impressive in itself. So sure, it doesn’t wow, but it is very much what you would expect from a brown ale.

As long as you don’t overly chill it down there really isn’t much sign of the lower alcohol content. There is just a slight glucose sports drink touch to the body. Now if you do over chill it, things get a bit more obvious. Like that the mouthfeel is much thinner, and loses a chunk of the flavour with it. So don’t do that, ok?

Had just slightly chilled it is a roasted, nutty and slightly earthy thing, with just a hint of brown sugar sweetness offsetting that. Everything a good brown ale should be,

It isn’t fancy or special but manages a good mouthfeel, beer like character and flavour, all without having to lean too heavily on the hops to do that like a lot of low abv beers do.

As of such I’m impressed. It may not be exceptional against a full abv brown ale, but it is bloody impressive for what it is and stands up as a decent enough expression in of itself.

Background: Big drop have pretty much established themselves as the masters of the low abv beer. So, I’ve had this one, their take on a brown ale a few times already. I tend to keep a bunch of low abv beers around for when I want an easy night. So I knew pretty much what to expect going in and was already aware I should not over chill it even though it is bloody warm again over here. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, which was drunk while listening to the almost b-move horror metal that is Sigh: Gallows Gallery.

Burning Sky: Saison Houblon (England: Saison: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to lemon juice. Large mounded bubbled white head with brown clumps.

Nose: Banana custard. Wheaty. White pepper. Mild grapefruit. Moderate cake sponge hop character. Orange zest. Slight sour dough. Apple.

Body: Slight tart grapefruit. White pepper. Tart grapes. Slight sour dough. Fresh cut apple. Earthy middle. Coriander.

Finish: Wheaty bitterness. Tart grapefruit. Peppery. White pepper. Coriander. Muesli and dried raisins.

Conclusion: This is nice, but boy the aroma promised something with far more subtlety and range. It makes the decent body that you actually get feel slightly disappointing on comparison. Ah well, let’s look at what we actually get then.

The body is fairly rustic style saison – peppery, solid earthy saison style but made fresh with gentle tart grapefruit hops so the body refreshes you before pushing out into a solidly bitter and peppery once again finish.

Refreshing, but yet earthy and grounded. A solid beer and one at not too high abv. The thing is, the aroma has so much more range to it – much more in the tart fruits and hints of a sweeter malt touch that calls to the classic that is Saison Dupont. If those notes had carried through into the body then this could have been similarly a classic beer.

Ah well, let’s look at what it is, not what it could have been. It fits bright hop character well into the base earthy saison without compromising either. A fairly solid twist on the saison, not a classic – it needs a few more layers for that – but it is solidly drinkable with solid hop bitterness.

Could do a lot worse for a saison, give it a go if you are in the mood for something refreshing but with weight.

Background: So, houblon just means hop in French. So this is a hoppy saison. Simple. Burning Sky really haven’t got the attention they deserve from me, may have to make an effort to reverse that. This is step one in trying anyway. Not much else to add – I wanted something comparatively easy drinking, with a not too high abv, so I hoped a saison would do the job when I broke it open for the night. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I returned to IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance to listen to while drinking. Still amazing mix of anger and sensitivity. I still should pick up some of their other albums to see if they are all this good.

Big Drop: Citra Four Hop Special Edition Pale Ale (England: Low alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to grain. Thin off white bubbled head.

Nose: Peach. Fresh cut apple. Cake sponge. Lime. Lemon sorbet. Very fresh. Light raspberry pavlova.

Body: Soft lime. Grapes. Slight chalk. Low to moderate hop character and bitterness. Slight peach. Tannins.

Finish: Chalk touch. Good hop bitterness and character. Soft lime. Cake sponge. Lemon cake. Apple. Dried banana. Tannins.

Conclusion: First up, the aroma on this is great. Lots of soft, fruity hop action. It is gentle, but lively in flavour. Here the beer is significantly different from the original Big Drop Pale Ale and all the better for it.

The body is more similar to its parent brew, still showing cake sponge, still a good use of hop character and soft lime notes. If you have been looking at the notes above you would probably expect me to say there is more difference than there actually is. The thing is there definitely are a range of different notes, it is just that they are not consistent, just occasional , pleasant, hiccups of flavour that pop in and out throughout the beer.

Now, the base, standard Big Drop Pale ale is one of my favourite ever low alcohol beers – this has a far better aroma, and a just slightly better body. So, of course, I love it. Again it feels like a very good beer, not just a good low alcohol beer – only some light tannin notes give away the low abv character.

So, yeah, if you get a chance to grab it this is an awesome low abv beer of character. If you can’t find it, the standard Big Drop Pale Ale is still flipping great and this isn’t so big a difference that you must hunt it out for this.

Still a nice twist on a a still awesome beer.

Background: I adore Big Drop’s Pale Ale. It is still possibly my favourite low alcohol beer, which has been getting to be an actual hard fought category over the past year, which I admit is something I never thought I would say. This is a limited version of the beer which I spotted at Beercraft. I don’t use them that much as they can be a tad expensive, but their low alcohol selection at the moment is fantastic. I put on Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues while drinking- still an utterly fantastic album.

Infinite Session: IPA (England: Low alcohol IPA: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear, light gold. A few small carbonation bubbles. Thin white head.

Nose: Light grapefruit. Wheaty hop character. Middling bitterness. Water adds fresh dough to cake sponge.

Body: Clean, lager like base. Bready hop character. Good bitterness. Slight chalk. Lightly watery. Vanilla. Very light grapefruit.

Finish: Slightly chalky. Bready bitterness and hop character. Peppery.

Conclusion: This is very, well …clean. Good hop character and bitterness but the base underneath feels like a clean lager rather than any of the many and varied things that count as IPA malt bases. So, I would say this feels more like an India Pale Lager than an IPA – for me at least. Because of that I’m going to evaluate it as an IPL as that seems fairer than treating it as the IPA it says it is.

It is a tad watery but not hugely so – generally it is a good lager like base, slightly dry and drinkable – not special but does the job. The hops are very simple – the bitterness is good and the aroma hints at grapefruit, but the body is pretty much just the hop character and bitterness, into a lightly peppery finish, with very little to add anything to that.

It’s ok, the hop feel is good, but there is no defining feel to it. I guess it does mean that none of the flavours become wearing, meaning it is sessionable, but the lack of heavy flavours also means that there is nothing to get your teeth into.

In the old days I would have rated this as a solid low alcohol beer compared to all the chemical tasting crap. These days the bar has been risen a lot, and this no longer makes the grade.

Background: Not much to say on this one, saw a four pack of it in Sainsbury‘s, thought I needed more variety in low alcohol beers for the dry days, so I grabbed a pack to give a chance. That is all. Stocking up on more low abv beers as the weather gets hotter as it is nice to have some chilled and ready just for refreshing. I put Crossfaith – Ex_machina back on for drinking this – another instance of heavy music for light beer.

Salt: Jute Session IPA (England: Session IPA: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy to cloudy pineapple juice. Medium white creamy head.

Nose: Gentle pineapple. Vanilla. Flour. Soft grapefruit to pineapple juice. Lemon meringue.

Body: Soft,slight creamy to the outside of marshmallows in mouthfeel. Lemon juice. Light nettle hop prickle. Flour.

Finish: Lemon and pineapple juice. Flour. Moderate hop bitterness. Pineapple pieces.

Conclusion: Holy poop, another good session IPA. I was beginning to think that the world had set a hard cap on the number of good session IPAs allowed in the world at one time. Glad to see I was wrong.

This is gently done, soft and almost feels like licking the outside of a marshmallow, for an oddly specific image there. It is slightly dry from attenuation but has none of that painfully dry character that curses a lot of session IPAs.

Helping it is the hop flavour choice – lightly tart pineapple and lemon, freshening and making the beer easy to drink without needing to lean on a larger malt body for contrasting sweetness. The bitterness is moderate, but feels heavier due to the lack of malt contrast. It has picked its presence well to prickle and show the bitterness, but not get up in your face too quickly. It is set up well to take advantage of the beer style and let you have a few in the session.

It is gentle, but prickly – dry but lightly tart and backs it with hops, just enough lovely bitter hops. As a beer it goes down your neck far too easily, which is my excuse for the short notes, I’ve finished drinking it and I’m now trying to fill out the rest of the notes without an example in front of me. Something I am spectacularly bad at doing,

So, I’m going to leave it there and point out the fact I finished the beer before the notes is a pretty good recommendation in itself.

Background: This is one that Chris from Independent Spirit was raving about, so I overcame my slight aversion to the Session IPA style and grabbed it to give a go and do some notes on. Had not tried anything from Salt before, but with a recommendation like that I was intrigued to see how it went. Not much else to add, went back to my youth for tunes with The Eels – Beautiful Freak, some lovely melancholy tunes.

Big Drop: Stout (England: Low alcohol Stout: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate sized beige head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Lactose. Milky chocolate. Praline.

Body: Good mouthfeel. Nutty. Slightly chalky. Slight charring. Earthy bitterness. Muted bitter cocoa. Sour dough. Slight teabags.

Finish: Charring. Roasted nuts. Slight chalk. Lactose. Earthy bitterness. Sports energy drinks.

Conclusion: First, to get it out of the way – No this is not as awesome as the Big Drop + Tiny Rebel collaborations stout. Then again, it is about half the price and easier to get hold of. However, this does have a few positives of its own, so let’s dig in and take a look.

One advantage this has over its fancier cousin is a slightly thicker texture, which does a fair job in negating the main flaw of low abv beers, that being a watery mouthfeel. If over chilled the extra feel is easily lost, so I’d recommend to go for this lightly chilled, and like that it holds up well.

Flavour-wise it is solid if not exceptional – nutty, muted chocolate and good lactose notes. It can be a tad chalky and charred at times, but generally a solid if not exceptional milk stout taste which seems very impressive for such a low abv.

The most evident hint of the lower abv is again a kind of teabag and tannins into slight sports energy drink notes. Nothing major as a problem, it is just something you can notice if you look for it.

Solid enough, if I was drinking alcohol I wouldn’t take it over a standard stout, but for a non drinking day this is spot on.

Background: This is the second time I’ve tried this. First was when it first came out, and I had left it in the fridge a while before drinking, like that I found it overly chalky and dull. Since then they have had time to tweak the recipe and I’ve found that low abv beers work best only slightly chilled, so I decided to grab another and give it a try. This was drunk on a stupidly warm Easter weekend. I put on Metallica – And Justice For All while drinking. Heavy music for a low abv beer. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Cloudwater: Veil Brewing: Chubbles (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy dark apricot. Large yellow white creamy bubbled head.

Nose: Fudge. Creamy. Slight kiwi. Mashed banana to banana custard. Doughnuts. Fresh brown bread.

Body: Custard. Fudge. Hop oils. Caramel. Eggplant. Apples. Tart grapes. Very thick. Dried apricot. Starts sweet but goes to heavy bitterness. Slightly resinous. Grapefruit. Brown bread. Banana.

Finish: Gripping flour feel and hop bitterness. Eggplant. Bitterness grows quickly. Dried apricot. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is thick as fuck. It’s heavy and feels custard touched in its thickness, if nowhere near actual custard thickness admittedly.

It starts super sweet, so much so that I was all ready to ask if we could genuinely call it an IPA, but the slight hop oils that are merely hinted at in the start quickly grow. They become resinous and into full throated hop bitterness by half way through the beer. In fact if you only look at the finish it doesn’t even take that long; While the main body is still wallowing in sweet custard and fudge notes the finish is already kicking out gritty bitter hops from about the third sip.

The fruit flavours are even slower to develop, but do come along in the tail end of the beer – tart grapes, sweet banana and slight tart grapefruit against a savoury eggplant like hint to ground it. I will admit I think they could do more with this part of the beer as it is mainly malt sweetness versus resinous, oily hop kicks, but even as it is, it is a welcome addition to the beer.

I’d prefer a bit more subtlety in the hop flavours, but as a big malt meets big hop assault beer this is bloody enjoyable. It takes skill to be this unsubtle and still work. Not a world shaker, but a bloody big flavour triple IPA.

Background: I am too lazy to check, but I am 90% sure if I look the binary on the can will spell Chubbles. The binary on the can is also 90% of the reason why I noticed this beer. I am such a geek. (3 minutes later) I take that back, I am not too lazy,

0110001101101000011101010110001001100010011011000110010101110011

does in fact spell Chubbles. I was right. Anyway another Triple IPA from Cloudwater, the last one I had from them had too much hop burn, so I had my fingers crossed that this would be better. Generally Cloudwater do hop beers very well. Don’t know much about the collaborator Veil Brewing so not sure what they may bring to the table. They call this a proper English Triple IPA, whatever that may mean. Another one form Independent Spirit. I put on At The Drive In – Relationship Of Command while drinking. Still an utter classic of a post hardcore punk album.

Pomona Island: Pew Pew Pew Pewpewpew Pew Pew (England: American Pale Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy lemon juice. Inch of white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Apricot. Clean hop character. Light bitterness. Light popcorn. Light custard. Slight nettles.

Body: Flour mixed with hops. Slightly milky. Kiwi touch. Grapes. Milky fudge. Slight prickle. Apricot. Slight hop oils.

Finish: Flour. Apricot. Light fluffy hop feel. Sulphur touch. Grapes. Light bready. Ovaltine.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer with such gently done flavour, this is actually pretty satisfying. Usually vaguely milky beers get right on my tits and just feel empty. This does neither of those things. Unless I spill it, in which case it may end up on my tits in a less metaphorical manner. Anyway, I digress.

It is milky, with gentle prickling hops, but the fruit seems to hand around there in the middle just enough to actually work rather than getting lost in the mix that all too often happens with milky beers.

There is milky fudge, milky apricot, milky kiwi. Ok, you get the gist, right? In a worse beer this would be infuriating and terrible, resulting in badly defined flavours and general empty character. Here it is soothing and gently enjoyable.

It feels like it should be a tad lower abv in order to make it a great session beer, rather than a slightly heavier APA – Though in saying that I am realising that maybe it is the extra grip from the extra malt that gives that higher abv that makes the unusual character work so well. But if it could be reduced a tad and keep that – then sorted.

It slides down so very easily, with a touch of hop oils giving grip so you still feel it. It is examinable, if not heavy – easy drinking with milky thickness. Gets a tad overly bready over time, but generally very enjoyable.

Make finger guns – pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew.

Background: yeah I bought this beer because it is called Pew Pew Pew, however many times that is written. It both calls to old video games and Laura Dern in Star Wars, both of which make me want to like it. Anyway, not tried any thing from the brewery before so few expectations, this is a Ukuanot BBC, Simcoe, Mosaic DDH Pale. Because of course. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on The Royal They’s self titled album while drinking, it is endlessly endearing and yet vulgar, which I like.

Arcadia Group: Vicious But Delicious – Seriously Hot Sauce Co: Explosive Chilli Beer (England: Spice: 3%)

Visual: Clear, light caramel brown. Thin dash of a head.

Nose: Crushed chilli seeds. Habanero. Watery. Dried green chilli.

Body: Watery front. Chilli seed. Quick growing heat. Meaty chilli notes. Mango chutney. Brown sugar touch.

Finish: Chilli powder. Green chilli. Warm. Slight raspberry yogurt. Barbecue sauce. Slight charring.

Conclusion: This is kind of watery, very light textured and tastes like chilli powder has just been dumped straight into it. Not a good start.

If you pay attention there are hints of better defined chilli notes in there – a meaty, smokey note is hinted at mid body – some crushed green chilli notes in the finish. Generally however, you just get too much bloody chilli powder.

Oddly, despite the fact that this is the “explosive”, highest heat rating of the four beer set, this seems to top out at annoyingly warm rather than any real intensity. Before anyone thinks this is silly macho chilli heat dick waving, I would like to point out I am an utter chilli wimp. I like all the flavour, but little of the heat. So, while this may be hotter than some people like, I am fairly confident it is not the endorphin rush experience that I hear hardcore chilli heads enjoy when they get something seriously hot.

Beer wise this is bland, watery, with maybe some brown sugar notes but lacking in texture or anything more than the most generic flavours to back the chilli. It feels almost like caramel touched water rather than a beer.

Not the worst chilli beer I have had, shockingly enough, let alone the worst beer ever, however, that said, this is still utter shit.

Background: Sorry about the long heading – I have no idea if the spice company is called “Vicious But Delicious”, “Seriously Hot Sauce Co” or what. Googling did help me find out the brewery though – The Arcadia group, contract brewed for a Debenham’s four pack of chilli beers. This is the allegedly most spicy of the four and was given to me by a colleague at work to do notes on. Many thanks. Hot beer called for heavy music, so I put on Lamb Of God – Ashes of The Wake Album. I once did “Laid To Rest” on karaoke in Japan and it damn near did my throat it, so thematically appropriate for a chilli beer. Maybe.

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