Tag Archive: England


Northen Monk: Northen Star – Mocha Porter (England: Porter: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate dark brown head.

Nose: Big bitter coffee. Charring. Smoke. Brown bread. Very bitter.

Body: Creamy. Slightly thin until it warms. Milky chocolate. Sweet milky coffee. Condensed cream. Soft treacle. More bitter coffee over time.

Finish: Condensed cream. Sugar dusting. Milky coffee. Milky chocolate. Slight treacle. Chocolate liqueur. Lactose. Bitter coffee and cocoa. Coffee liqueur.

Conclusion: Ok, I had to recalibrate my exceptions for this a few times while doing these notes – so, let’s look back at what we have and see how it all hangs together in the end.

First up – the aroma – bitter coffee as fuck. So, I thought I had a handle on this already. Let’s face it – it didn’t try to hide it – we have a super coffee dominated bitter porter on our hands. Job done. Notes over, right?

So, I took a sip. Then I took a few more as it too a few sips to build up – the first was a tad thin but it quickly gained a bit more weight and hit its stride as … well a condensed cream and milky chocolate sweet centre. WTF? So, nothing like what I expected. This actually initially comes in too sweet with sugar dusting style dusted over it. It was ok, but seemed a bit unbalanced in the completely opposite way to the aroma. So, erm, ok, and this then followed on into the finish. So, the aroma was the odd point, now we have it all worked out, right?

The thing is, after drinking a bit more, and letting it warm, the bitter coffee came straight back in – riding above over the sweetness. Not removing it, but squatting bitter coffee and cocoa into the heart of the beer. I’m now 90% sure this beer is just fucking with me.

So, here I am, at the end of the beer – what do I think? Well, it is a tad over sweet – almost milk stout style – but generally it is a good one. A slight more subtle use of the sweetness would have made it a great contrast to the very bitter cofee and would have been a better beer. As is the coffee is very well expressed, and so – yeah – kind of the uber coffee take on a milk stout. Interesting – not a favourite but interesting. As always, depending on how much that ideas sounds good to you will depend on how much you will like it. You mileage may vary and all that.

Background: This is the last of the beers my mate got me from Honest Brew‘s as a present. Many thanks again. I may have not been quite 100% in the zone as I went to drink this. I say that as I took out my bottle opener to try and get into the can. Anyway… Drunk while listening to Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile – good background drinking music, and not one I’ve gone to for a while.

Northern Monks: Drew Millward: Passion Fruit Lassi IPA – Northern Tropics (England: IPA: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Peach skin coloured body with a cloudy and semi opaque centre. Not much carbonation. A large, just slightly yellowed white bubbled head.

Nose: Flour. Crisp hop character. Light pineapple and bitterness. Mild passion-fruit and guava.

Body: Peach and apricot. Caramel. Natural yogurt. Vanilla. Thick. Guava. Dried passion-fruit. Some hop oils. Chives. Slight peppermint. Slight sour cream. Sweet fudge.

Finish: Thick yogurt. Slight mint leaves and chives. Some bitterness. Nana bread. Slight cloying sweet toffee. Mango.

Conclusion: This is a mix of the expected and the unusual. On the unusual side this has a far thicker texture than most IPAs. It feels very natural yogurt influenced in both feel and taste. Nicely it is thick but not heavy, giving grip while still being pretty easy to drink in a kind of milkshake fashion. This styling also brings a slight sour cream and chives cloying note with a peppermint oddity mixed in – a mild note, but kind of refreshing as that. If I had to sum it up I would say that it has an element like this mint dips you get with your poppadoms in some restaurants.

So this has a thick base and some unusual fresh notes within that – they then layer that onto a more traditional big fruity character – passion-fruit, thick guava and some peach. It is slightly cloying in the thick flavour – very yogurt like still and very fruity – the extra grip and thickness pushes the level of fruitiness up without it feeling like just a fruit juice beer.

The thickness does have a few slight drawbacks though. One is that there is a strong vanilla sweetness to the middle of this – done in a similar style to what you would expect from bourbon barrel ageing. The problem is that the cloying thickness interacts with that in such a way that makes it a tad artificial, and well, cloying sweetness. It isn’t hugely off-putting, but does rise over time to become more dominant than I would like.

So this is fruity and thick – slightly unusual – with a little bit less emphasis on the vanilla mixing with the sour cream and greenery notes I think it would work better and be an excellent beer. Not absent , just a tad more subtly used. As is they do hurt the beer a touch, but it is still very enjoyable in its fruity and thick style.

Odd, and pretty good but not great.

Background: Another of Northern Monk’s Patrons Projects – number 4.01 to be exact by the can. This time with Drew Millward, about whom google tells me very little. Anyway, awesome can design on this one – one of the main reasons it caught my eye at Independent Spirit. So I grabbed it. I am fickle that way. I’m not 100% sure if this thing’s name is Northern Tropics, Passion Fruit lassi IPA, or possibly both. Anyway, I looked up what lassi is after drinking – it is a yogurt based drink with spices and fruit that is popular in India. Which suddenly makes a bunch of my notes make more sense – I knew it was yogurt based but not the exact nature. This was drunk while listening to Miracle Of Sound’s Level 7. I’ve finally bought my own copy of it rather than listening to the youtube version. Still good stuff.


Black Friars:Hanging Bat:Nanban:Wild Beer Co: Barrel Aged Yadokai (England:Belgian Strong Ale: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark hazy apricot to brown. Short lived loose bubbled white dash of a head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Bourbon. Vanilla and caramel. Slight oily feel. Slight fruitcake. Slight strawberry. Stewed fruit.

Body: Slick and viscous. Bourbon and alcohol touch. Oily character. Fried tofu. Banana bread. Brown sugar. Slight fizzy mouthfeel – sherbet lemon, Crushed buttery shortbread. Raspberry coolers. Malt loaf and stollen bread.

Finish: Fried tofu. Vanilla. Bourbon. Oily sheen. Alcohol taste. Sugared orange. Seaweed wraps. Buttery shortbread. Fish skins. Salted caramel. Shouchuu.

Conclusion: This is both very like, and yet also very like the unaged version of Yadokai. Which may be just my way of covering all my bases with the vaguest description ever.

It has a similar, if smoother texture, with oily and seaweed wrap notes matched by similar fruity flavours. However the bourbon has had a massive influence here. It has a spirity character despite the smooth mouthfeel – a tingle and with definite bourbon flavour – packing in lots of vanilla, caramel and such like. Where the original beer just about held the rustic calls to its saison base, they have been pretty much lost in this one leaving the more unusual notes and the bourbon influence.

This is still very nice – with a recognisably beer centre matched with the very umami bringing unusual and more savoury notes. It has the very sake influenced (well, more Shouchuu influenced) and Japanese food styled influence that made the original so great – Though it has lost a lot of the subtlety of the original. You get a lot of bourbon in exchange for the loss of the lighter notes, and while they are not bad they don’t feel like a fair exchange for the great complexity of the original. It also shows the alcohol more with the spirit influence, where, even at 13% abv the original never really did.

Still, let’s not be too harsh here- While not as good as the original this is still a very good and fairly unusual experience ( I can no longer say unique, since, well the original Yadokai exists!) It still gives lovely oily and yet smooth mouthfeel texture, still slight sherbety and fruity core and with lots of savoury notes blended in.

So, if you can get the original yadokai, grab that one. If you can’t this this still a very good way of experiencing a very distinctive beer,.

Background: Man, I loved Yadokai – A saison, kind of, made with sea buckthorn, sea salt, seaweed (Kombu and Hijiki if that means anything to you) and yuzu juice. It was a beer inspired by Sake and was made with Black Friars, Hanging Bat and Nanban. Absolutely lovely. Anyway, so when I saw this – a two year aged in Bourbon barrel version of it in Independent Spirit – I grabbed it straight away. This was drunk while listening to Iron Maiden- Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album. Still love the Irons, even after all these years. Anyway, this was broken out after a session on the original Lemmings – decided to revisit it and try and finally complete it in my old age.

Odyssey: Devil May Care (England: IPA: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy caramel brown with an apricot hint. Huge beiged frothy head. Moderate amount of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Pineapple. Caramel. Kiwi. Green grapes and crisp hops. Vanilla toffee. Light bitterness. Chocolate toffee. Mild orange and some blood orange. Vanilla.

Body: Tingling hops. Sour and fresh grapes. Fresh cut apples. Kiwi. Malt chocolate. Bubblegum. Lemongrass. Sulphur. Pineapple. Watermelon. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Grapes. Bitter hops and slight greenery. Bubblegum. Mandarin orange. Lemon grass. Dried apricots. Nettles. Sulphur. Bitterness grows and growls over time. Coffee. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, another big hopped, bitterness forwards boomer from Odyssey. Yet again it is different to the ones that came before. I am seriously getting into these brewers!

This one has a much more solid, darker base – dark malt chocolate, with a slightly rough feel and even an old school sulphurous element. It is very different to the ultra sweet or ultra dry IPAs that are very popular these days. There is a greenery touch to this, and high levels of heavy hop bitterness laden out. This is full of different characteristic being pushed out – a lovable mess of hop influences.

Initially you get very American style fruit with some New Zealand style tart fruit – apricot and grapes mixed with pineapple tartness. It then starts just jumping in every direction – from blood orange which reminds me of some of the newer hop breeds – to a bubblegum and lemongrass character that makes me swear this must have some Sorachi Ace in it. I love a good Sorachi Ace beer, so the impression of it being used here is great – Sorachi must be one of the greatest WTF odd hops around. More seriously, while this may be a mixed up mess, it works. You get a huge range of flavour and huge intensity. Not subtle or distinguished – this just keeps pounding you with different flavours.

So – not subtle – not polished – old school sulphur and intensity meets new school flavours..and..erm intensity. Not for everyone, but for me it a beautiful, wonderful mess that I adore.

Background: I have really been digging IPAs from Odyssey so far, so when I saw this small batch release from them at Independent Spirit it was a no-brainer on if I was going to grab it or not. I drank this after (finally) watching Force Awakens. It was ok I guess. Put on some Rise Against while drinking – mainly Endgame album, but added in “Prayer Of The Refugee” – again the whole anti immigrant hated shit going on currently is on my mind.

wild-beer-co-raconteur-3-yr

Wild Beer Co: Raconteur 3 Yr (England: Barley Wine: 9.9% ABV)

Visual: Very dark burgundy to black. Thin grey dash of a head.

Nose: Very vinous and heavy. Cider. Sour red wine. Malt loaf and raisins. Slight alcohol tingle. Sour white grapes. Sour black cherries. Sweet red cherries. Apple crumble.

Body: Bready. Alcohol feel at the back of the throat. Sour red wine. Malt loaf. Raisins. Sour grapes. Cider. Acidic tingle. Slight charred oak.

Finish: Sour red wine with sediment. Raisins. Soft vanilla and toffee. Cider. Sour air. Malt loaf. Sour apples. Brown sugar.

Conclusion: Ok, even more so than original Raconteur, this feels dominated by the oak ageing. Which is a lot. However considering that the base beer was already pretty much lost in the original – having more to play with actually does add to the beer here. However the adding of Modus Operandi to the mix has also done it a world of good . It has the Modus’ sour, slightly acidic character matched to lots of Somerset cider style acidic appleness and wine vinous sourness – lots of good elements, but not much of the base barley wine is there, even considering the original. So as a subtle, slightly oak influenced beer where you can appreciate both the base and the oak ageing, this is a bit of a failure; You get malt loaf and raisins as a solid base but that is a bout it. So, as an insanely oak aged beer? How does it do as that?

Well at its base – probably due to the modus influence – it feels close to the more sour end of the Flemish bruin style – it has that harshness and soft acidity at the back of the throat. That is then emphasised by the sour, acidic, cider character that is laden throughout. The sour red wine character, which normally is one of the booming elements, actually kind of grounds the beer here. This really does not feel like a barley wine – however if you take it as an unbalanced barrel aged Belgian bruin – it is rough but actually works pretty well. The harsh characteristics are actually a benefit, not a flaw if looked at like that.

So, it completely overshoots the style it aims for, and ends up as a good example of a completely different style. Genius or madness? You decide.

Background: I found the original Raconteur ok, but very dominated by the oak ageing – so, was unsure if to grab this- which has spent a mighty three years in the oak- from Independent Spirit. If you can’t guess from the fact I am doing notes, I relented and bought it. Hopefully that was fairly obvious. Anyway this has spent time in Somerset Cider and Burgundy wine barrels and some Modus Operandi has been blended in with the resulting beer. Drunk while listening to Gogol Bordello’s Trans-Continental Hustle. With all the anti immigration shit going on at the moment Immigraniada has become a bit of an anthem for me.

wylam-hickey-the-rake
Wylam: Hickey The Rake (England: American Pale Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon to slight apricot. Large fluffy white head that leaves sud lace.

Nose: Really fresh lemon. Slightly dry. Crisp hops. Slight mango. Slight bitterness. Dried apricot.

Body: Good bitterness – slight rocky flavour. Big hop character and slight hop oils. Lemon backing. Slight sour dough. Pineapple.

Finish: Brown bread. Slight gritty feel. Slight lemon. Good hops and bitterness. Bitter lemon. Slight kiwi.

Conclusion: How is it that all of the beers that call themselves a session IPA – it is one that doesn’t, that in fact just calls itself a pale ale, that seems to actually matches the intent of that style pretty well? Inside this moderate abv pale it has all the hops I would expect from an IPA and all the bitterness – with a slight bitter but refreshing lemon character matched to a very dry but drinkable body.

It has therefore the very dry character I associate with a lot of APAs – and matched with that a slight grittiness. That second element is often a huge flaw with session IPAs, yet for once they actually make it work here. I think it is the bitter lemon characteristics that makes it work – it refreshes but also matches the harsher gritty modes – making them feel like part of the beer rather than a flaw. The dryness also comes across like a super dry IPA which means that the thinner body from the lower abv doesn’t hurt the beer like many session IPAs.

So – moderate abv, big hops, big flavour. Pretty good. It isn’t complex, just big; The aroma promises more fruit to work with, but most of that is lost in the fray by the time you reach the body. What you get is hops and a mix of fresh and bitter lemon – one idea done well.

So a few decimal points of abv higher than a perfect session beer but apart from that this sits pretty nicely in that category. Refreshing enough to not get harsh nor dull over time – it is a simple beer, with a simple concept that does a hell of a lot well.

Background: The bottle calls this a Limonata Pale – which on a quick google seems to just mean lemonade. Which makes sense on drinking. Anyway, this is another beer from the honest brew‘s batch which my mate gave me for my birthday. Many thanks! This one was drunk while listening to Miracle of Sound’s Level 7 again – that is one huge album.

siren-vermont-tea-party

Siren: Vermont Tea Party (England: American Pale Ale: 3.6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice colour. Small amount of carbonation. Middling size white head.

Nose: Dried mango. Crisp hops. Creamy lemon. Thick flour. Fresher lemon juice.

Body: Tingling nettles. Tea. Brown bread. Tannins. Soft lemon juice. Slight lime. Mango juice. Dry. Flour.

Finish: Tea and definite tannins. Peppery. Brown bread. Mango. Greenery. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: I think this is one of those beers that is good, but not aimed at me. From midpoint onwards this very much emphasises the tea – and is very good in that. I talk about coffee beers having well defined range of coffee notes, rather than a generic coffee flavour – and this does that but for tea; It is leafy, peppery, definite tannins – it does the whole nine yards.

The aroma promises something more balanced – it is gently fruity, crisp in the hops but with a thickness to the aroma like flour floating in the air. You keep some of this going into the body – there is a gentle lemon, and a definite flour like grip to the texture – but it becomes drier after a few moments and the very well layered and well defined tea flavours just takes everything over.

So, I don’t mind tea, but I’m not exactly wild for it. Yes I know that makes me an odd Englishman. Live with it. So it is very dominant here – in fact in a way that reminds me of my experience with gunpowder tea – Again something I don’t mind, but not overly my thing. I have to admit I was hoping the tea would be an element amongst the hops and fruit father than the main force. Ah well.

There is some concession to the other flavours – first lime and then soft lemon – again it is done in a tea style though – like when you add lemon slices to the tea. This really dedicates itself to its shtick.

So, definitely not a bad beer – everything it aims for it does well – and I am not hating it. However what it does well isn’t exactly what I am looking for. So, on that I hope you can decide for yourself if you want to investigate this or not.

Background: This beer was a gift from my mate Paul – many thanks. Part of a six pack from Honest Brew. There will be some more notes from the set to come – I had already done notes on two of the beers in the pack. This is a beer made with Siren’s house cultivated yeast from Vermont, Early Grey tea and lemon zest. Very unusual. It was drink while listening to tunes from Miracle Of Sound’s Level 7 album – he does great video game inspired music.

moor-bath-ales-st-austell-dark-knight-weisse

Moor: Bath Ales: St Austell: Dark Knight Weisse (England: Dunkelweizen: 5.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark reddish brown. Large bubbled brown head.

Nose: Nutty and soft lemon mix. Tobacco. Wheaty. Malt chocolate. Slight cloying sour cream note.

Body: Malt chocolate. Vanilla toffee. Tobacco. Wheat. Moderate thickness of texture. Light coriander. Smoke. Light lemon and lime hop character.

Finish: Wheaty. Malt chocolate. Brown bread. Lightly nutty. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Smoke. Light lime hops.

Conclusion: This is definitely, well, darker that the usual Dunkel Weisse flavours. A standard dunkel weisse, to my mind, deals with the wheat and malt chocolate notes as a base – which admittedly this does – but I haven’t encountered one that brings this stodgy, smokey tobacco flavour to the middle like this does.

It has just mildly more hop character than you would normally get as well – not hugely so, just some more noticeable bitterness and some subtle citrus hop flavours under the bigger malt, tobacco and malt.

It is pretty pleasant – it has a good texture that is generally smooth but with a bit of a wheat grip. It cleaves close enough to the standard dunkel weisse style but pushes things just slightly towards a heavier experience. Pleasant, ya know?

Nothing in it pushes it to special – but it is a well done beer in a style variant I have not seen done before. I think this could be a good beer to go with beef dishes – it is not complex enough to be heavily examined by itself, but is strong flavoured enough to complement the meat I feel. That is a guess. I haven’t tried it with beef yet.

So, solid, smoked – not stand out great but no complaints.

Background: Hit Moor’s tap-house recently and very much enjoyed the beers there – so decided to grab this collaboration of theirs from Independent Spirit for more Moor beer tasting note goodness. This was back from before I had finished Dark Souls 2 and was hammering my head against the Frigid Outskirts area. Seriously, screw that area. Anyway, basically I needed a good beer is what I am saying. Drunk while listening to more of the epic goodness that is Two Steps From Hell.

wild-beer-co-billionaire

Wild Beer Co: Billionaire (England: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate caramel brown head.

Nose: Salted caramel. Malt chocolate. Cocoa dust. Bean paste.

Body: Toffee. Chocolate fondue. Slight moss. Slight oily cooked fish skins. Savoury tofu middle. Slight subtle pickles.

Finish: Chocolate milkshake. Toffee. Tofu. Bean paste. Lactose. Fudge.

Conclusion: Well, this is quite the savoury (Well probably umami, but I’ve never really felt quite qualified to describe that taste), yet sweet also mix. The base stout has all the extra thickness that enhances the Millionaire style. It gives a very solid chocolate, salted toffee and fudge base. No real bitter notes but manages to not push itself to sickly sweet despite that. The lactose instead gives a very chocolate fondue to chocolate milkshake effect.

The savoury elements though are what make it stand out. Initially there wasn’t much in the way of these more unusual flavours – There was a slight moss and lichen taste but over time as the beer thickens a bean paste and tofu flavour (the tasty kind not the shitty bland kind) comes out. It gives nice solid weight to the beer, and as time goes on, those lovely savoury flavours take up a more and more central place in the beer.

It is very solid and far above the already decent Millionaire – it uses the large heft of a 10% abv beer to give it all the weight it needs to pull off the slightly unusual elements. The individual elements are not really distinct, but instead combine together to make an overall feel of the elements in a very different beer.

Very much enjoyed this – both as a beer in itself and as an unusual take on the imperial stout. The exact opposite of the sickly sweet style that seems so popular these days and oh so much better for it.

Background: I’m confused – Wild Beer Co made the beer Millionaire, then Gazillionaire – now Billionaire. Now I know Gazillionaire isn’t really a number, but it sounds bigger than Billionaire, it just does – so it seems an unusual progression. Anyway, this is a bigger version of Millionaire – to a degree – it is made with lactose, sea salt. Caramelised miso and tonka beans. Which sounds both odd and fucking awesome. This was drunk while listening to some Louis Distras, and was done shortly after starting the DLC areas of Dark Souls 2. I earned a treat is what I am saying. Not finding main Dark Souls 2 that hard currently, but the DLC areas are nicely brutal. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

theakston-old-peculier

Theakston: Old Peculier (England: Old Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Inch of creamy brown froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Lightly nutty. Earthy bitterness.

Body: Cherries. Light earthiness. Malt chocolate drinks. Slight sour back. Vinous red grapes.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Light vinous grapes. Lightly earthy. Cocoa dust. Peppery.

Conclusion:Another beer in the “earthy hops doesn’t have to mean dull” category. We have very specific categories these days. Anyway, here we have a fruity, lightly sour, old ale touched with vinous notes and then stamped with a good chunk of earthy hoppiness.

It is a good mix – used well the earthy notes grounds (no pun intended) the beer. It takes what could be a very heavy beer, an enjoy one then leave it be beer, and turns it into a soothing beer you can have a couple of. Still not a session abv beer, but one that is that mid point between session and heavy duty. Now, this does mean that it isn’t as deep and rich as a lot of old ales. Then again, as referenced, it also has a lower abv that most of those, so it really isn’t fighting for that niche anyway.

It feels like the child of an earthy bitter and an old ale – both share that slight sourness, but the old ale gives the fruitiness and more vinous character that makes this really enjoyable. It straddles the two styles – concentrates on the middle ground rather than aiming to challenge too much – but out of mainstreams ales this is one of my old reliables.

Possible it is because it is a mainstream beer not afraid to push that light sourness and old ale character. Posisbly it is because it matches those tart vinous notes while still keeping the solid British earthy ale influence that makes it refreshing rather than heavy duty. Any which way it may not rock the stars, but for what it aims to do and the market it aims at it is something very nice. It is a beer that is easy to find and does it solid and I very much enjoy it for that.

Background: Last of the beers I was given for Christmas by a college at work – many thanks! After a quick google I find out that is this not a misspelling in the name – a “Peculier” is an “ecclesiastical district, parish, chapel or church outside the jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese in which it is situated.” Who says beer doesn’t help you learn? Anyway, I have been drinking Old Peculier for a while – it was one of those beers I enjoyed even before becoming a beer nut. Common opinion thinks that it used to be a heavier abv, thicker beer – which sounds about tight to me, though I have never been able to find anything to officially confirm or deny it. Possibly I just remembering as being bigger compared to everything else I drank at the time.

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