Tag Archive: England


Odyssey: The Cult (England: IPA: 6.7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot skin to brown – very dark for a New England IPA. Massive amount of darkened bubbled head.

Nose: Mashed banana. Crisp hops. Milky to creamy. Slightly bready.

Body: Good bitterness. Slight dill pickle and a prickly hop feel. Hop oils. Kiwi. Dried apricot. Muggy, thick hop centre. Slight sulphur. Slight toffee to caramel.

Finish: Dill pickle. Creamy notes. Kiwi. Good bitterness and hop character. Dry peach. Greenery. Bready. Sulphurous. Apples.

Conclusion: Whelp, this is pretty much unlike any other New England IPA I have encountered, which could explain why – in general – I quite like it. Man that sounds like I’m really hating on the NEIPA style – I’m not, I just think I haven’t quite found the one for me yet. Anyway…

From the New England side of the style we have the cloudy main body and with that an accompanying kind of milky character to the beer – generally smooth, but with a slightly rougher, wheaty styled gripping texture at times.

However unlike the generally low IBU NE beers that I have tried, this just shoves in ladles full of hop oils and thick, gripping, heavy and muggy hop bitterness. Which may be against style guidelines best I can tell – still as a bitterness fan I’m not going to complain too much.

This also tries for the big fruity character of the NEIPA style, though on the heavier and drier end of the scale; It uses kiwi, some sourness from a slight pickle like notes, dried apricot and peach. However while they are present they are always close to being subsumed by the oily, thick hop bitterness.

So, as I’ve said, I enjoyed it – for the most part – but it isn’t without flaws. The mugginess of the hops is up to an almost sulphurous level – which may add a bit of spice to the thing early on, but feels wearing and overly charred by the end. The huge oily hops end up overwhelming the other flavours and makes it a bit one note.

So, while I enjoyed it, most of the enjoyment was in the first half rather than the latter – it really could do with being a 330ml bottle at most – it feels too heavy going for more than that.

So – I did enjoy it, but it still isn’t selling me on the NEIPA style over the more traditional interpretations.

Background: Not been quite sold on the New England style of IPA yet, though I am getting a handle on what it is now after some beers and some research. Since Odyssey a) Do awesome IPAs and b) Did a Black New England IPA that was interesting, I thought I would give their standard NE IPA a try and see how it went. So I grabbed this from Independent Spirit, put some Svalbard on the playlist and sat down to see how things went.

Lost and Grounded: Running With Sceptres (England: Premium Lager: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Small bubbled carbonation. Large white mounded head.

Nose: Pineapple. Slight dill pickle. Crisp hops. Peach. Soft lemon sherbet. Slight hop oils and thicker hop character. Light toffee.

Body: Vanilla. Smooth. Good crisp bitterness. Soft peach. Palma violets and hop oils. Stewed apricot. Slightly dry. Slight strawberry yogurt undertones.

Finish: Buttery shortbread. Good bitterness and hop character. Hop oils. Light charring. Light sour grapes. Digestives.

Conclusion: This both is, and isn’t the beer I have been seeking for so long from my experience at BrizDram earlier this year. Yep, its open up the notes with a blatant contradiction time again. Give me a mo and I’ll explain.

From the fruity soft aroma I realised that this was the same lager that I enjoyed so much when I encountered it before – it has the same good hop bitterness and a gentle but aromatic mix of tart and sweet fruit. It is a wonderful welcome.

The body backs this up with a slightly thicker and creamier texture that your average lager, but still remaining a clean lager base under that with slight hop oils and a resolute bitterness against a fruitiness that is softer and lighter than the aroma promised. This lighter fruitiness and such is why I say it also isn’t quite the same beer as the one I tried before; Or more correctly, it is but had fresh as it can be on tap at the brewery it is – as you would expect – better. The fruitiness and flavour is just more evident and better.

Still, here it is still a good lager, using hopping well and balancing the traditional lager character with the craft style well. Basically the difference is that when had fresh at the brewery everything is turned up a notch – not to assault hopping levels, but everything is more evident and better defined.

I’m getting distracted – this is still worth trying, it carries just enough of the heavier, muggier hop character for some weight; Crisp hops used for drinkability. It brings hop flavour without forgetting that it needs the lager base. So, worth grabbing – however, if you are near the brewery when it is on – the definitely try it then, it is a whole different level of “yes!”

Background: I’ve been looking for a certain lager from Lost and Grounded for a while. During the Brizdram drinking event in Bristol, we visited the Lost and Grounded brewery and I had a brilliant lager, utterly brilliant. But I was drunk. And I forgot the name. So here we are now, with this beer grabbed from Independent Spirit. Let’s see how it does. This was drunk while listening to a random shuffle of Bad Religion tunes – hopefully seeing them live later this year, so was in the mood to listen to them.

Mill’s Brewing: Oliver’s Cider and Perry: Foxbic (England: Cider/Sour Ale: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon to apple juice – goes very cloudy on later pours. Large white mound of a head that quickly vanishes. Lots of small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Dry. Apples to cider. Vanilla. White grapes.

Body: Dry. Oaken. Fresh cut apples. Slight yeastie feel. Slight soft mushy apples. Apricot on later pours.

Finish: Tart grapes. Vanilla. Moderate oak. Moderate bitterness. Flour. Dry white wine. Fresh apples.

Conclusion: OK, I am moving outside my comfort zone by doing notes on this one, as it seems closer to the cider side of things than the beer side – albeit with some lambic style notes in there. Any which way, I’ll see what I can do.

It is on the very dry cider side, with only as little sweetness there in the middle. This then meets a white wine and oaken character akin to the drier lambics. So it is slightly tart, very dry but not especially sour, and has very little mouth puckering character considering the flavours.

Flavour-wise it mixes fresh cut solid apples with their softer, more mushy apple type. No I don’t know the names, unfortunately; My obsessiveness already has an outlet in beer and whisky so I don’t know all the apple names as well. There is also a vanilla sweetness to it that feels more beer than cider, one of the few sweet notes it uses.

It feels reasonable – if you handed me this and told me it was a cider I wouldn’t have guessed otherwise – thought with the heads up given, there is a kind of brett funky yeast character to it, and a slight beery thickness that cider doesn’t often have (in my limited experience).

It’s not one I would return to often, as cider is something I only have occasionally, but it does seem to do it well – a white wine to lambic feeling cider thing that is dry and fairly easy to drink.

Background: Ok, grabbed this one from Independent Spirit as it is, in my experience a unique one. Feel free to tell me if I am wrong on that one. It is a mix of brewing styles from beer and cider to create this – the closest thing to cider I have ever done notes on here. Lots of people ask me to do cider notes, but I’m not quite sure if I’ve got the knowledge or the language to do it justice. Anyway, this is made with the turbid mash method to make the wort in the style of a lambic, but the wort was fermented with Foxwhelp juice by cider lees in old oak barrels for eight months, then bottle condietioned for 8 more months. I had to google some of those terms. Drunk on a far too bloody hot day while listening to a relaxing mix of Ulver music

Wild Beer Co: Rooting Around: Spring (England: Spice/Herb/Vegetable: 3% ABV)

Visual: Very pale grain to yellow. Short lived thin white head. Clear body with small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Herbal. Mildly minty. Slight lemon.

Body: Wet wood. Some bitterness. Sage and onion. Fizzy feel. Slight chalk. Bready. Somewhat empty. Crushed leaves. Cardboard. Mild apricot. Watercress. Light tartness.

Finish: Wet wood. Slight cardboard. Wet. Leaves. Slight granite. Watercress. Lemongrass.

Conclusion: Not the best start for this year’s Wild Beer Co’s set of themed beers. Last years smoked range was hit and miss, but when it hit it hit very well. This, the first of the foraged elements made beers, is really very empty and lower than the weakest of the smoked beer range they did.

There is a dry pale base, and a bit of greenery and … Well a kind of watery taste I guess and …erm that’s it. It reminds me of the Brewdog vs Flying dog set of beers where they attempted a pre hop IPA, except without any of the intensity.

The most this seems to manage is a kind of brown bread and watercress style, with a touch of lemon backing, and is about as exciting as that sounds. And I mean not very if you had problem breaking that code.

Ok, I am being a bit too harsh – if you let it warm there is a very subtle fresh tartness there that rises up, but it is faint indeed. Also, for all they don’t do much with it, the base is very well brewed – dry, and well attenuated as a low abv beer – it is just that virtually nothing is added to that, be it hop, spice, flavours from the leaves, etc. They should take this base and use it for something with a bit more umph.

So, has just enough to save it from being a drain pour, or being added to the vile putrid filth tag here. It isn’t that bad, but is is very basic. Maybe some light lemon, light pineapple, but really doesn’t add enough to make it worth having

Just a very empty beer.

Background: Last year Wild Beer Co did four seasonal smoked and oaked beers. This year they seem to be doing four based on foraged elements close to their brewhouse. This, the spring entry, is a low abv, ultra pale ale made with leaves and buds of Beech and Linden trees, and a large percentage of rice in the mix. I was unsure how well this would work, but figured I’d give it a go – if it works out nice I always like a good, lower abv beer. Drunk while listening to the awesome Jack off Jill – Sexless Demons and Scars album.

Ilkley: North Brewing: Bonaparte (England: Berliner Weisse: 3.2% ABV)

Visual: Light clear grain yellow body. Thin white head that leaves some white suds.

Nose: Apples and lime. Key lime. Kiwi. Fresh lemon.

Body: Apples. Dry. Flour. Dry hop bitterness. Slight cider vinegar. Pears. Lemon.

Finish: Flour. Apples. Slightly sour. Pear. Vanilla. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Dry hopping made this promise so much, so much lovely fruit in the aroma. However, it seems that the aroma is writing cheques that the body can’t cash.

The aroma is full of fresh green fruit, tart and with a good chunk of complexity – lots to invite you in. That first impression is genuinely amazing. The body that follows is light tart apples to apple cider, with apple vinegar touches and, well, that is just about it.

It is kind of bitter, kind of flour like in the hop grip, but somehow it manages to mute what is usually the huge freshness of the berliner weisse style. In muting that it also seems to mute the complexity and masses of fruit range that the aroma promises. It feels like a real let down.

The finish does manage to recover it again slightly, some of the green fruit comes back and plays again. However generally it feels quite empty – the main body just feels like empty, mild sourness and really doesn’t pay off its gimmick of the dry hopping. Then again, I know dry hopping is basically about adding awesome aromas, but I expect it to follow through with it – I expect it to give something beyond that.

The idea does have promise, adding extra layers to the sour style, and I have seen dry hopped lambics and other sours that do good things with the idea – however in this instance it needs a lot more work to, well, work. This really isn’t worth it.

Background: This was drunk at the Port Street Beer House up in Manchester – was in the area before heading up to Leeds for the NXT wrestling show the next day. Had some good friends with me and was having a very chilled time. Tried a few beers there, they had a very nice tap selection including a good chunk of Cloudwater and a decent, if expensive, bottle selection. Very good beers, if expensive in general. This one is dry hopped berliner weisse which intrigued me.

Odyssey: The Occult – New England India Black Ale (England: BIPA: 6.7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. An inch of brown head that leaves suds.

Nose: Fresh. Slight vanilla, kiwi and grapes. Slightly milky. Slight creamy pineapple.

Body: Treacle. Milky chocolate. Creamy and milky. Kiwi and grapes. Milky coffee. Peach yogurt. Light tart notes – grapefruit.

Finish: Grapes. Malt chocolate. Low bitterness and moderate hop character. Peach yogurt to milkshake. Grapefruit. Treacle. Brown bread and brown sugar. Slightly yeastie.

Conclusion: Ok, as I’m still trying to work out where I stand on the whole New England IPA style thing, I have to contend with the fact that we now have a Black New England IPA. I swear I will never catch up with these things.

This is an odd mix – the creamy NE IPA style and the darker BIPA notes interact in unusual ways. When you take a sip it can be either a big boom of treacle, chocolate and coffee – or a soft milky thing that allows the fruit notes to roam more. Ok, in either one there are hints of the other, but it still gives a very different impression depending on which is ascendant at the time.

It is odd – the prevalent treacle reminds me of the notes used to give weight to lower abv dark beers, especially in how it seems to float over the lighter creamy flavours. It seems to be because of that creamy NE style that makes everything seem easier going than the abv or hop usage would otherwise suggest.

Possible because of the contrast between the two sides, the fruit hop flavours feel more evident than a standard NE IPA, and more than most BIPAs. They come across as a kind of fruity yogurt style and light tart grapefruit freshness. The bitterness level is still fairly low – which does make the BIPA style feel kind of odd – usually the higher hop bitterness I what makes a BIPA not just a higher abv dark ale, in my eyes anyway.

Overall – good – actually does more to make me get why people enjoy NE IPAs that most standard IPAs’ take on the style do. However the varied elements are good, but not really coherent. Each element works by itself, but they don’t feel like they all build a bigger whole, just working by themselves.

Still, there are much worse things to be – still interesting and enjoyable, just doesn’t 100% hang together.

Background: Offer me Odyssey Brewing and hops and you have my attention – their work has been pretty damn shiny so far. This one is an odd one – a black New England IPA – ok, someone was going to start spinning off variants of the new England style eventually – my first encounter may as well be from Odyssey. This one was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to B. Dolan – house of Bees vol 2.

Siren: Bourbon Milkshake (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin off white head.

Nose: Lots of toffee, caramel and vanilla. Milky chocolate and bourbon. Rye notes. Vanilla custard.

Body: Massive cherries – both red and glacier. Treacle. Chocolate milkshake and chocolate liqueur. Nougat. Lots of toffee and caramel. Light pepperminty and menthol. Golden syrup.

Finish: Treacle. Palma violets. Red cherries. Chocolate milkshake. Light greenery and peppermint. Lactose. Vanilla toffee. Light oak and menthol. Bourbon. Slight liqueur notes.

Conclusion: There’s a lot more going on to this that I first thought, or even expected. It opens with an aroma that hollers out the bourbon ageing; Lots of caramel, toffee and vanilla notes; Lots of spicy rye bourbon influence, and lots of smooth vanilla character from American oak. It is like a whole wodge of bourbons pushed into one. Pretty great, but, frankly hardly unexpected from a bourbon aged imperial stout. So after taking in the booming, detectable from afar, aroma I took my first sip.

Boom. A complete change. The first thing that hits is cherries, sweet like a barley wine with golden syrup and nougat coming in against the more expected chocolate character for an imperial stout. Still toffee and caramel from the bourbon showing through here, but with so much more as well.

So, at this point it is a milky imperial stout meets barrel ageing, meets barley wine, meets ESB fruitiness. Already thick and packed with character and varied notes. There is, however, one more, final element. And here it is both kind of good and kind of bad. A kind of minty, greenery, menthol peppermint note. It is a refreshing note, and that works well to lessen the overwhelming intensity and sweetness of the rest of the beer. However, occasionally it could do with being a bit lighter and let the rest of the beer shine more – it can be a bit too dominant at points.

Still, it is a minor weak point in a hugely complex, rich and rewarding imperial stout. Not 100% spot on, but still just managed to claw itself in as one of the all time greats of the style If you like Imperial Stout, definitely go for it. It has all the thickness and richness of a good IS, but takes it in its own distinctly awesome direction.

Background: This one was highly recommended to be by the good people of Independent Spirit, so I grabbed a bottle and put it aside for a later date. It’s an imperial stout, hardly like it is going to go off, right? It’s an imperial milk stout made with vanilla, muscavado and honey then aged in mixture of George Dickel, Wild Turkey, Four Roses and other bourbon barrels. This was the first beer I did notes on after a gap after returning from Germany and was drunk while listening to some of the excellent Miracle of Sound.

Wild Beer Co: Chronos (England: Premium Lager: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Good sized white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Vanilla and butterscotch. Light cheese puffs. Palma violets. Clean. Soft orange sherbet.

Body: Sherbet orange and lemon. Light lime and kiwi. Chalky touch. Hop oils. Slight funky mature cheese. Palma violets. Slightly fizzy.

Finish: Hop oil sheen. Orange sherbet. Palma violets. Mature cheese. Apples.

Conclusion: It has always been true – a good lager takes a good long time to make. Here we have a been to add weight to that statement as this is a spot on, bretted up, foudre aged lager.

At the base you have a solid, if unexceptional, lager. It is playing with palma violet notes and a hop oil sheen that makes me think of the noble hopped European lagers. At this point it may not be out of the ordinary but it is still a lager that I wouldn’t push away – I could definitely enjoy it like this. On top of that comes a lovely cheese puff crisps to mature cheese solid character from, I presume, the brett yeast. Yet another layer on top of that is sherbety citrus fruit notes that sparkles, refreshes and excites.

It’s a three layer strategy of flavour and it works so well. The funkyness, unusually, is a grounding here – the citrus works the high notes and the clean noble style hops notes work the middle. Together it makes an intensely satisfying lager to drink. It’s like someone took a bohemian pilsner and added a bit of funk to it.

Fresh, easy to drink, but the brett has given a wonderful layered character to it. Lager is a much, and wrongly, maligned style. Shove this into an unbelievers hand and show how good they can be.

Wild Beer Co have had a week run for a while, for me at least – but this shows where their experimentation pays off. A top lager. A top beer. Fantastic.

Background: Another interesting one from Wild Beer co – this time a beer that has been lagered in Foudre and then Brettanomyces yeast added. Sounds fun. A top notch lager can be hard to find, and this sounded definitely interesting enough to give a shot. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, broken open after watching the excellent Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and drunk while listening to some Within temptation. So a good environment for hopefully enjoying a beer.

Hubris Id: Tempus (England: Saison: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy streaks in the bottom of a gold main body. Large white head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Lemongrass. Dill pickle. Soft toffee. Pepper. Soft cream and milk. Orange rind.

Body: Soft kiwi and lime. Moderate bitterness. Earthy notes. Salted lime. Coriander. Peppery. Gentle middle. Lemongrass. Salted wheat. Slight chilli seeds. Charring late on.

Finish: Kiwi. Earthy character. Malt chocolate. Lemongrass. Milk chews. Slight chalk. Slightly salty. Orange rind. Charring later on.

Conclusion: This is a pretty unique take on a saison. Ok, that sounds very much like damning with faint praise. Kind of like when someone says the food is おもしろい in Japan. It really sounds like you are just trying to be polite, apparently I come across like I am doing that a lot. Well, let us examine this and see if it is just interesting, or interesting good.

This has an earthy, rustic, peppery saison base. So fairly standard in that way – but it is very unusual in that it is also slightly milky, making a mix of rough and smooth in the base to work from. Then it brings in the odd hop choice – with Sorachi Ace bringing lemongrass, dill pickle and kiwi into saison territory where it is not normally used. That however isn’t the odd part of the flavours though, that is the comparatively normal part. What is really odd is the salty, wheaty character that makes this actually feel like a more robust take on a gose. So, yeah. Nigh unique in my experience that one.

So, is it good different, or bad different? Well, for the first half it actually really works. A mix of unusual textures and unusual flavours gives you a lot to get your teeth into. It feels very grounded, with an earthiness to it that feels closer to earthy British hop character than the natural rustic saison character, but still enjoyable for that.

Late on the rougher notes start to dominate. A more charred character starts rising to overpower the hop character and brings with it a taste like crushed chilli seeds. It could be due to the beer warming I think, rather than just extended exposure to the beer, but any which way it adds a rough edge that does not benefit the beer.

An interesting one to try, and close to being a good one – but that latter half means that it falls short. Ah well.

Background: Second set of tasting notes on a Hubris ID beer – a tiny nano brewery around the Bath area. This is me being ultra hipster and trying beers that really won’t turn up far from where they are made, most likely. This one caught my eye as it is a saison made with good old Sorachi Ace, my beloved, odd as hell, hop. It also uses the jarrylo hop – an experimental hop from the look of it, and not one I know much about. Interesting. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk with a random bit of music going on in the background.

Cloudwater: DIPA v13 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy apricot colour. Large yellow white mound of bubbles for a head.

Nose: Tangy. Hint of gherkin. Apples. Slightly musty. Light raspberry.

Body: Thick and creamy. Slight gherkin. Stewed banana. Big peach. Tart raspberry if held. Toffee backbone. Hop oils. Tangy. Slight pineapple. Vanilla yogurt.

Finish: Raspberry pavlova. Tart. Light gherkin. Apricot. Low level bitterness. Bready. Banana sweets. Vanilla yogurt. Chinese stir fry vegetables.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a mix of the great, and the kind of shit. An odd combo. So, erm, here goes. This has a real thick texture – heavy duty and gives a good grip to the flavour. The malt base comes with some toffee character, but is generally a neutral creamy to vanilla yogurt style. Basically something to give room for the hop flavours.

So, onto those hop flavours – well, there is nearly zero bitterness here. A bit unusual for an IPA – even the fruitiest and sweetest tend to have at least a tiny touch of it in the body. Here the only sign is in the bready finish – with some hop oils giving a sheen to the feel, but not a bitterness. Generally this is a bitterness free zone. So, yeah very unexpected for an IIPA.

Ok, so we have a solid base, and a slightly unusual start. Where is the kinds shit stuff I mentioned? The gherkin. The slightly tangy, sour, vegetable gherkin notes. It is very intense early on, especially when first poured – but is still present in a diminished form by the end of the beer. Now, this is an element that can work in beers, but has to be used very carefully. Here it just makes for an uneven, overpowering element that stamps all over the fruitiness the beer has underneath it. I can see what they are trying to do – it feels like it is aiming for a thick, almost crushed cannabis, muggy strength – but in my opinion it severely hurts the overall experience.

Underneath that there is a sense of good stewed fruit and peach melba. Lightly tart in a good way this time – very creamy and moderately sweet. The beer is mostly good in what it does but that one, greenery packed heaviness just makes it one that I really cannot get into at all, instead feeling even sludgy at times. It ends with an almost stir fry veg air – another off note in a beer that felt like it had promise otherwise

I really hope this is not used as the base for any of their new DIPA range.

Background: Had a few of the Cloudwater DIPAs over the past year – didn’t really keep up to date with trying them all as they came out so thick and fast. This one however is their last prototype one off release before they setup a regular line of DIPAs based on what they found out from these. So, thought it may be worth giving another, final go. Unlike some people I have no negative attachment to the number 13, so have no probs with this being their 13th release. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Ulver: Childhoods End.

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