Tag Archive: England


Beavertown: KCBC : Unity Makes Strength (England: Belgian Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy peach skin to lemon colour. Moderate white mounded head.

Nose: Funky. Peanuts. Yeastie. Crusty white bread. Soft peach. Peppery. Dried banana.

Body: Peppery. Lightly milky. Good bitterness and prickly feel. Banana. Light apricot. Fluffy bready character.

Finish: Lemon. Wheaty. Peppery. Prickly. Funky yeast feel. Popcorn. Vanilla yogurt.

Conclusion: Table beers are nearly always an odd one for me to do notes on. I enjoy them for the most part, but they are intentionally a lighter beer style – both in abv and flavour ( though at 4.5% abv this actually seems like a fairly standard abv beer to me. Then again I lean old school on my views of beer strengths). Anyway, so while nice, they tend to not have much to do notes on.

So, what do we have with this one? Well, what we are looking at mainly is the yeastiness that seems to make up a good chunk of the character. It has a funky aroma, a fluffy feel in the body into the prickly hop character. It adds a level of interest to what is a comparatively Milquetoast milky middle that is the core of the beer. The yeast influence is further evident as it warm, bringing peppery flavours and light banana notes.

The rest of the flavour is much lighter – soft apricot, vanilla yogurt – quite neutral – the beer definitely relies on yeast feel and notes to rock it through. The hop prickle isn’t as light as you would imagine given all that, so the beer isn’t quite as mild as you would think – but it is far from a hop assault – more the hops’ way of keeping your taste-buds awake.

Considering the gentle main flavour this is still enjoyable. Easy going and doesn’t add any extra weight to the beer. Not a must have, keeps to the table beer style well, but is interesting enough in how it uses the yeast.

Background: After a quick google I find that KCBC is King’s County Brewer’s Collective. So now you know – a Brooklyn based brewing group. Anyway, I misread this beer’s name as Make Strength Belgian Style Table Beer on first glance, and wondered how strong it was going to be of it was “make strength”. Anyway, no, just a Belgian style table beer – though the 4.2% abv is a bit higher than I would expect of a table beer. Put on some Taiko Drumming music in the background while drinking this – haven’t seen Taiko for years – I loved the way the beats just wash over you. The CD can only capture a tiny amount of a live performance but is still good backing to drinking. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales: Stallion Amber (England: Bitter: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Light chestnut to gold. Clear. Moderate off white bubbled head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla. Nutty. Musty sour dough.

Body: Light earthy bitterness. Fluffy mouthfeel. Lightly creamy. Palma violets. Light marmalade zestiness. Toffee. Marshmallow.

Finish: Fresh sour dough. Chives. Light earthy bitterness, that grows to moderate bitterness. Light marmalade. Very milky coffee. Marshmallow. Lightly prickly.

Conclusion: Ok, the beer I had in my hand when I first stared drinking this, and the beer I am supping on now are very different things to each other. Usually I would blame such a shift on me getting drunk while doing the notes, but since this is a moderate 4.2% ABV I think that is unlikely to be the case here.

Early on it is fairly earthy, with sour dough like notes amongst the earthiness – so a fairly standard earthy hopped British bitter dressed up in light calls to amber ale style clothing then. Then, over time it gets … creamier .. or maybe fluffier, then light marmalade notes and toffee sweetness comes out while still being nestled in the earthy bitter heart.

It feels marshmallow like in fluffiness, but without the sweetness you would associate with that. It has all the elements that make an earthy bitter work, but then a bit of extra, more unusual note such as palma violet like notes which call to more noble hop styling, and marmalade notes that give it a bit of extra pep late on.

It is definitely not a must have, but it is more than it first appears. Ok, nice progression definitely, but far from a world shaker.

Background: Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales – man it has been a while since I drank one of these – anyway, my family were visiting from Yorkshire so they brought down some good old northern beers for me to try. This being the first. Many thanks! I am a tad biased towards the North, but not so much as it should affect the notes. Not much to say – put on Foo Fighters – The Colour and The Shape to listen to, which had been on my mind since Scroobius Pip mentioned them in his podcast.

Wiper and True: Amber Ale: Red Orange (England: Amber Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Treacle to dark brown. Only amber hints at the edges. Large browned mound of forth head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Bright oranges. Pine needles. Passion-fruit. Grape touch,

Body: Good bitterness. Palma violets. Vanilla toffee. Mandarin orange. Prickly hops. Gooseberry. Greenery. Light resin. Pine. General oranges. White bread.

Finish: Rye crackers. Vanilla toffee. Orange crème. Menthol notes. Mint leaves. Tangerine. Chocolate dust. Pepper.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer called an Amber Ale, this is murky brown as hell on the eye. I’ve seen bike and trolley filled ponds that were easier to see through than this. Still, I can live with that as the beer tastes bloody great.

There is an odd mix of a grounded hop character, pine and resinous hops which are used as a prickly, grounded base – which then put against a real bright burst of mandarin, tangerine, and just, well, orange notes.

On taste I would say it doesn’t fit quite under what I would expect of an Amber Ale either – for all that the style definition is loose in the first place. It has IPA style hop flavour in places, and a real ale ESB style use of malts. However, whatever the hell it is, it does well. The more down to earth malt usage brings out almost rye beer style dry spice and pepper – it pushes both the bright and the grounded characteristic out as far as it can without feeling overdone for a general drinking beer – and it manages to define them very well.

Really malty, really orange hopped with mild, but solid bitterness and prickly hop character. Just a tiny touch away from being a favourite, but genuinely a beer worth a try. You don’t get something that push the grounded and the bright so well without compromising either done so well often.

Wiper and True pull out yet another really good beer.

Background: Been a while since I have done notes on Wiper and True beers -still grab them regularly on tap when out and about, just never done notes. So decided to grab one of their Amber Ales again from Independent Spirit – W&T really seem to have the nack of the Amber Ales down pat. Wiper and True are one of those great quality breweries that use kind of generic labels so it is really hard to tell at a glance if you have tried the beer before or not. Ah well, it works for The Kernel, so should work for Wiper and True. Which reminds me, not done notes of Kernel beers for ages either. Anyway, put on the electronic mathcore oddity that is “The Algorithm” while drinking this. Not to everyone’s taste but weird intricate, computer sounding music that works for me.

Staggeringly Good: Post Impact Porter (England: Porter: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large creamy brown loose bubbled head that soon has large holes in the bubbles as it collapses.

Nose: Roasted character. Light lactose. Crushed peanuts. Milky coffee. Charred oak. Slight musty brown bread. Mint leaves.

Body: Bitter coffee, with milky notes behind. Frothy feel. Bitter chocolate. Light chalk touch. Light sour cream and chives crisps. Light toffee.

Finish: Lactose. Chocolate milk. Sour cream and chive crisps. Light milky coffee, into bitter coffee.

Conclusion: This is a nicely solid porter. Now, despite the oddity of a real ale in a can, I will say – flavour wise at least – porters seem to be a style with little difference between the craft and real ale interpretations. However in the mouthfeel this definitely delivers that bit extra thickness that a real ale tends to give, so it does seem to be doing its job there.

The beer opens up in a very roasted way and keeps that a a solid layer of the character throughout. It is that base that the mix of bitter to milky coffee character works from – a kind of lactose touched element but far from as sweet as a milk stout would be. Though it does have another layer of weight behind it apart from the roasted character, an element that I am going to give up and just describe as “like sour cream and chives crisps” It is a light savoury and sour mix that really helps the feel of the beer. The nice savoury elements especially work well to give a more neutral middle between the other elements.

Overall it is solidly flavoursome – creamy with lots of coffee and chocolate notes against that savoury and roasted backing. Nothing too unusual but does the job of standard real ale porter well.

Background: OK, I bought this because it has dinosaur on the can. Can anyone fault me for that? Dinosaurs are awesome. Also if you look closely, you realise that, while the dinosaur in the picture is holding the same can it is on, its fingers are over the pictures of the can that the dinosaur on that can is holding – so to prevent infinite recursion of can images I would presume. A cleaver design choice that I approve of. Now, the can calls this real ale – it doesn’t have the CAMRA logo, but based on the experience I had when drinking it I trust them. Real ale in a can, oh what a future we live in that has such things in it. Went a bit into the past for music with this one – A best of Meat Loaf CD. While I enjoy Meatloaf, people have pointed out what I actually enjoy is Jim Steinman music as sung by Meatloaf. Which is fair. His non Steinman songs tended to be nowhere as near as good. Anyway, this was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Wild Beer Co: Dr Todd (England: Sour Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Thin off white head.

Nose: Thick honey. Peat. Smoke. Salt. Ginger. Chilli air. Marmalade. Wet rocks.

Body: Heavy. Honey. Salt. Chalk. Treacle. Smoke. Dry back. Ginger. Medicinal. Crunchy medicine tablets. Brown bread.

Finish: Honey. Dry beef slices. Medicinal. Salt. Crunchy tablets.

Conclusion: Ok, I can definitely see why the drink this is based on is called Penicillin if this beer is anything to go by. Under everything is a dry note, like crunched up medicine tablets, chalk backed by a medicinal Islay note. It it wasn’t such a terrible idea to take painkillers with booze I would imagine this is what it would taste like.

Probably. I, of course, have never tested that. That would be silly. Don’t mix booze and painkillers everyone!

The other element that stands out in this beer how how strong the special ingredients used show through; There is a ton of honey, and as indicated before the Islay ageing is really obvious -from the salt to the peat smoke, to the medicinal character, it is all there. Then there is the definite ginger influence that comes though into an almost mild chilli air at some times. Subtle this thing ain’t.

So you get a real honey sweet Islay whisky poured over the corpse of a thoroughly crushed paracetamol, into a beer and you end up with this. It is definitely interesting, and actually – for all the taste goes to the harsher end of the spectrum – it is also enjoyable. Not one to have often though. It feels like it is deliberately challenging you and daring you to still enjoy it.

Now you can step up to that dare and enjoy it, and it is worth it, but it is not a general drinking beer in any shape or form. In fact this calls to the feel of an actual complex cocktail more than any other beer I have encountered – if that is a good or bad thing is up to you.

Hard to get used to, but ultimately enjoyable – however the crunched medical feel and taste is for very specific occasions only and for very specific people only.

Background: Ok, so this was inspired by the “Penicillin Cocktail”. Something I have never tried so cannot really compare it to. To give you an idea, this is made with lactose, honey, lemon, ginger and then aged in Islay whisky barrels. This sounded like the type of experimentation in beer I could get behind, so grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit. Put on Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac – Repent, Replenish, Repeat while drinking – a nicely dark edged spoken word to hip hop styled set of tunes that I though deserved returning to.

West Berkshire: Renegade: Snake Oil (England: IIPA: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to apricot. Thin off white head. Clear and mostly still body.

Nose: Peach. Popcorn hop character. Pumpkin touch. Slightly dry.

Body: Good bitterness. Slight granite grittiness. Slight sour peach to peach stones. Pumpkin. Light vanilla. Dry touch. Light turmeric.

Finish: Slightly rocky. Good bitterness. Pumpkin. Flour. Slight sour tang. Pumpkin. Some earthiness. Gooseberries. Flour.

Conclusion: This seems like it is aiming to match the prototypical take on the American IPA, or double IPA in this case, probably west coast influenced if I remember rightly. Well mostly anyway, but we will get to the differences later – one thing at a time.

It is the dry backed, fairly neutral in flavour malt body that makes me think of the American take on the IPA, along with the emphasis on the brighter fruit – the peach, apricot, and mildly oddly, pumpkin notes – the stuff you would expect from the old school USA hop favourites – albeit in a slightly more sour, fresh off the stone kind of way. Something that gives it a bit more tang than is traditional with its American cousins.

It is a good look – accentuated by tart gooseberry notes at the end. Now, it does deviate from the template a touch, as alluded to earlier. There is a turmeric to earthy bitterness late on and into the finish that is more of a call to the traditional British style IPA. It is a mixed blessing – when done well it adds some weight, but occasionally it gets a bit granite rough which is a tad overly harsh in an overly dry APA kind of way. Similarly it has a flour touch which adds weight, but also can get wearing over time.

So, a generally good IIPA, with big flavour and a lightly soured take on the American IIPA style. It has room for polish and improvement, but is very solidly done. Also, as was pointed out to me, it is comparatively cheaper for an IIPA, especially at UK tax rates for high abv beers, which never hurts. So, pretty good, not perfect, but has a lot of promise if they take their time and give it a polish.

Background: I think my mind linked this with the awesome Snake Fear IPA, so with that it mind it was inevitable that I would get around to grabbing it eventually. Another Independent Spirit bought one in case you were wondering. On googling it looks like Renegade is a craft beer arm of the West Berkshire Brewery. Not all brewers make the jump to craft beer successfully when they are used to the more traditional style – some are downright embarrassing. Hopefully this lot can make that jump. Once again listening to some of Television Villain‘s new album when drinking this – it definitely it a good one in my mind. Though as mentioned I know them, so I am biased.

Burnt Mill: Fieldwork: Dank Mode (England: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Gold to apricot. Large, slight brown to yellow touched head.

Nose: Light smoke and hop oils. Light dust. Slight granite. Soft lemon.

Body: Apricot. Heavy oily hops. Sour grapes. Granite bitterness. Soft lemon. Floral.

Finish: Greenery. Granite bitterness. Oily hops. Floral air. Dried apricot. Fluffy feel. Dusty. Resinous.

Conclusion: This is another Burnt Mill beer that shows skill in making, but also really doesn’t grab me. It does have more that appeals to me than my last experience with them though. By which I mean it has oily hops. It was in the name so it was hardly a surprise.

The base behind the oily hops is fairly dry and seems to bring with it somewhat musty, granite and dusty interpretation of the style. When the oil is up that isn’t a problem – you get enough sticky, resinous bitterness to hide it, and mix of grape and apricot fruitiness that clings to your tongue and reward you. However when that hop element goes light then the rougher, drier elements are enough to leave your mouth feeling a tad overly dry and dessicated.

So, it is a beer of ups and downs..oh and oddly floral and greenery touched -which seems to be a Burnt Mill house style based on the whopping two beers of theirs I have drunk.

So, outside of the two main poles of the dry character and the oily hops there isn’t actually a huge amount to shout about. There is some fruit, some greenery, some floral character, but it doesn’t feel like a that well defined experience – showing only the more obvious notes.

Oddly, what with “dank” being cannabis slang, this pushes its greenery in a way that can be best described as what a non cannabis user thinks cannabis feels like. Very green, very oily, very full of the imagery I get when I am around people smoking it. It is interesting, and ok, but doesn’t really sell the beer in that element.

Basically, I figure Burnt Mill, for all their rep, are not for me.

Background: I wasn’t too impressed with my first encounter with Burnt Mill, but since they a good reputation I decided to give them another shot – This, calling to Sticky and oily “Dank” hops in its name, and showcasing the awesome Mosaic and Enigma hops seemed like a good one to go to to give them another chance. If they can’t land this one then I just have to accept they are not for me. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. For some dank heavy beer I put on Godspeed You! Black Emperors’ wonderful and moody “’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” as a background.

Oakham: Inferno (England: Golden Ale: 4.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale and light yellow. Clear. Still. Small white head.

Nose: Thick, muggy passion fruit. Vanilla hop character. Doughnut. Pineapple.

Body: Grapes. Moderate bitterness. Soft golden syrup and vanilla. Soft kiwi. Good hop character and prickle. Soft fudge. Light strawberry. Soft lemon.

Finish: Good bitterness and hop oils. Pineapple. Good hop character. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: Ah, Oakham, the experts of getting the best bits of traditional British ales and matching them with the craft hop style with subtle mastery. Always good to see these beers again.

This has the traditional, kind of Real Ale in a bottle feeling base (of note, it doesn’t say on the bottle that it is real ale, best I can see, it just has that feel). It has a nice thickness and slight call to, but not heavy, sulphur touched weight – hope that makes sense. It hints at the characteristic rather than having overt flavours. Behind that the base is soft vanilla and lemon notes, with occasional stronger but not overly heavy golden syrup notes.

The front is taken by excellent hop usage- tart grapes and pineapple – used in moderation for a balanced, flavoursome but easy to drink beer. The flavours are clean as can be – adding freshness, but holding back from being a full on hop assault.

Big juicy flavour over well set golden ale base, dry enough to be drinkable, juicy flavoured with just slight oily hope bitterness. At a touch lower abv that would be an utterly awesome session beer – as is it is a solid one to have one or two of with mates, or at pretty much any drinking occasion.

Excellent work again form Oakham.

Background: Oakham! How long has it been since I went back to Oakham? These lot balance the real ale and craft tricks perfectly – used to love finding them on cask at random pubs. Anyway, Tony, in his great taste, gave this as the final of his birthday presents for me. Much appreciate mate. Went with Nightwish – Dark passion Play again for this one – been really enjoying them since my mate Andy introduced me to them.

Siren: Fred In London (England: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Thin yellowed head. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation. Some suds left by the head.

Nose: Golden syrup and brown sugar. Brown bread. Crushed hard sweets. Dried apricot. Fresh dough.

Body: Fresh bread. Sulphur smoke touch. Brown sugar. Raspberry hard sweets. Dried apricot. Golden syrup. Oily hop bitterness. Brown bread. Honey.

Finish: Golden syrup to treacle. Earthy bitterness. Sour cream note. Oily hop character. Kiwi. Nutty

Conclusion: There are three explanations I can think of my my views on, and reactions to this beer compared to Hair Of The Dog’s original. 1) My previous experiences with Hair of The Dog’s Fred have been with aged examples due to how long it took me to get and drink them, while this is a relatively fresh beer. 2) My memory has exaggerated how great that beer was compared to my experience now. 3) This beer is, in fact, not as good as Hair Of The Dog: Fred.

This is very golden syrup and brown sugar sweet. Very much using the malt needed for the high abv to make it a sugar shock of a hit. By comparison the hop character seems a lot simpler – giving slight kiwi and dried apricot notes, then an odd British real ale feeling touch of sulfur smoke and light earthy hop notes in the finish.

So, based on an ever fallible memory, this is not as good as the Hair Of The God classic. So, does it hold up as a beer in itself instead then?

Well, it has simple, but joy bringing notes. Big golden syrup, big brown sugar and hop oils, wth light but oily bitterness. The smoke, small as it is, adds extra depth – but for all that it feels like a middle of the road barley wine.

In the good news, it does hide the alcohol well. There is a hint in the flavor, but no burn with that – very smooth overall without going so far as to make it seem not beer like – however it seems fairly standard rather than a stand out experience.

Unless my memory is lying to me this is not a patch on the original Fred. Ok, but not up to its heritage.

Background: I freaking love Hair Of The Dog beers, and Fred is one of the first few I ever tried of them. Siren have had a good run with remaking other peoples’ beers in collaboration – most notably their take on Even More Jesus – so when I heard they were doing a collaborative remake of Fred, I decided it was a must grab. This was grabbed from Brewdog’s online store and drunk while listening to Akala: Knowledge Is Power – Vol 2. Still blows me away how good Akala is.


Northern Monk: Glory: Triple IPA (England: IIPA: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon to apricot. Huge yellow white head.

Nose: Big hops. Solid bitterness. Slight granite. Lightly floral. Light gherkin. Oily hops. Apricot.

Body: Peach syrup. Oily hops. Good bitterness. Crushed Blackpool rock. Custard slices. Slight rock character. Pineapple. Smoke. Prickly hops. Gherkin. Kiwi. Apples. Greenery. Apricot.

Finish: Crushed raspberry hard sweets. Hop oils. Gherkin. Custard. Kiwi. Dried apricot. Peat.

Conclusion: This a thick and oily (Triple? Double? However many 10.5% really is) IPA. The malt character is thick with lots of mouthfeel heaviness and with that some custard sweetness. However, unusually for a 10% and up IPA, for roughly half the time the sweetness is actually beaten into the background.

The front flavours are the oily hops and bitterness – showing greenery and very … damnit I have to use the term… very dank as they say. That oily hop character is the dominant element – almost smokey, oily heavy hops. It can be almost peaty at times, though not as intense in that aspect – it is in feel as much as flavour in a lot of ways.

There is sweetness though – dried fruit and peach syrup which either hits on the front, or comes out again if the beer is held. The malt even brings out some big, intensely sweet Blackpool rock like notes at time – however often these notes will slip back down leaving the hop oil character to take precedent.

Over time there are releasing moments from the oily hops – you get green fruit – kiwi, apple mixed with pineapple and apricot, though still matched by greenery hop notes. For such a big beer this feels like most of what it gets from the malt is feel not flavour.

This is intense, swinging between the two poles of dark and fruity. The only real flaw is that it never reaches a nice balance between the two, instead showcasing one or the other at a time. If you are happy with swinging, intense flavour then this is lovely stuff.

Background: OK, I love IPAs,but the term triple IPA always confused me – this is just over 10%, is a standard IPA meant to be under 4% then? Naming conventions, huh? Anyway, Northern Monk has been a good go to, so this seemed like a nice chance to try a big beer and have a fair chance of it working out well. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while chatting with friends on Skype.

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