Tag Archive: England


Northern Monk: Evil Twin: Even More Death (England: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Massive brown creamy head.

Nose: Coconut macaroons. Milky chocolate. Chocolate toffee. Smooth. Creamy.

Body: Creamy. Coconut. Chocolate ice cream. Brown bread. Cocoa dust. Chocolate cake. Slight sour dough.

Finish: Chocolate ice cream. Coconut. Bitter cocoa and chocolate cake. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: Flavour wise this is fairly straightforward, smooth and very dessert and especially chocolate influenced. There you go – the short version.

Basically, 90% of this is chocolate bing expressed in various different ways. 5% of it is coconut, wonderful, lovely coconut. I love coconut in beer in case you hadn’t noticed. The other 5% is a nice set of general rounding notes.

The solid core of that is chocolate cake, quite basically done – dusted with cocoa but without any icing or cream, mainly just the sponge. Oddly, despite this dryness there are creamy notes to the beer, though mainly in the aroma and the early part of a sip. Those creamy notes soon move out of the way for heavier, drier chocolate sponge notes though. Around the edges there are sweeter chocolate ice cream notes – though I may be slightly influenced in how I view it as it is bloody nippy at the moment, so ice and the like may be on my brain.

The coconut matches that drier character -sweeter coconut macaroons up front, but then into drier coconut flakes in the middle. For such a high abv beer it does seem very restrained in how it uses its sweetness; The bitter cocoa has much more free rein, using the softer, sweeter notes mainly to keep it from becoming too harsh.

It is good, but there isn’t a huge amount of variety to it – what is interesting and fun in the first sip seems slightly staid by the time you get the same notes at the end. A solid tasty beer, but Even More Jesus does it better. Though frankly, Even More Jesus is amazing so that is comparatively mild criticism.

Background: Even more Jesus is one of my favourite Imperial Stouts of all time. Northern Monk have been skyrocketing up my respected brewery list , and their collaborations have been awesome. This, a collaboration, involving Northern Monk to make a mix of their Death imperial stout, and Even More Jesus. Well, there is no way I could not try it, is there? So, it is a 12% abv Imperial Stout made with coca nibs, toasted coconut and vanilla pods. Drank this during an utter flurry of snow outside, so was happy to be sitting in with something heavy, dark and boozy. Music wise and went simple and back to my youth with a mix of Madness tunes again for some simple upbeat fun with a few heavier themed tunes in-between.

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First Chop: Syl Black IPA (England: Black IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Black-cherry red hints at the edges. Moderate sized brown head. Some evident carbonation.

Nose: Fresh dough. Crushed peanuts. Malt chocolate. Slight flour. Brown bread. Slight peppermint.

Body: Charring. Slightly empty. Brown bread. Crushed walnuts. Chalk touch. Malt chocolate. Bitter cocoa.

Finish: Charring. Brown bread. Bitter chocolate. Slight savoury/sour mix at the end. Bitter hops. Peppery. Chalk touch.

Conclusion: You know, I’ve not had a good Black IPA for bloody ages. Having finished drinking this, I’ve still not had a good black IPA for bloody ages.

Yes that is about the limits of my attempts of comedy, why do you ask?

The aroma is fairly generic – leaning towards a more roasted stout like set of notes rather than crisp hoppy notes. Fans of BIPAS will know they tend to go one of two ways – Fresh fruity IPA over darker malts, or stout like but with roasted hoppy notes. This definitely is going for the second of those based on the aroma.

It is roasted, nutty and bready – you can see why I think it is playing to the roasted stout side, right? It isn’t my favourite of the two interpretations – I just love the fruity hop over dark malt style, but this take has its place as well.

The first sip taken is- kind of charred, bitter but also kind of empty behind that. There is a vague chocolate backing, but nothing to really get your teeth into. On top of that it is kind of rough around the edges as well – slightly chalky, roasted and yeah, just generally rough.

Time lets it build up a bit of weight behind the hoppy notes and the chocolate character, letting them express themselves a bit better. Because of this you end up with a beer that is mediocre rather than shit. So, an improvement.

It doesn’t have the hop flavour excitement of a good IPA, nor the weight and accompanying flavour of a good stout. It really feels like , at best, a very basic Black IPA.

So, it goes from terrible to only dull,

Not worth grabbing.

Background: I grabbed this as it is a Black IPA. I love the style but there seems to be less of them about these days as NEIPAs and Brut IPAs became the new fad. Ah well. First Chop have yet to release a beer that really excite me, but have not been bad, so I figured it was time to grab another one from them. Looks like they are doing something a bit different with this one though – it is made with jaggery sugar – something I will admit I had to look up on google. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Since it is a Black IPA, I put on Metallica – The Black Album while drinking. Ok, that was just an excuse – I haven’t listened to Enter Sandman in ages and needed to change that.

Leeds: Yorkshire Gold (England: Golden Ale: 4% ABV)

Visual: Bright, clear gold. Mounded off white head.

Nose: Floral hoppy character. Soft lemon to lemon cakes. Soft cake sponge. Light icing sugar.

Body: Orange. Lightly earthy hops. Light dry spice. Brown sugar. Lemon to lemon curd. Palma violets. Light strawberry. Cinder toffee.

Finish: Dry,earthy spice. Peppery. Earthy hop character. Brown sugar. Orange juice. Solid bitterness. Brown bread. Cinder toffee. Charring.

Conclusion: This is quite a sweet golden ale, more so than I would expect from the style. Just for clarity, when I say “sweet” I mean that literally, as in sugary like, not as in mid 90s slang to mean cool. It may or may not also be cool, we will get to that in a moment. And no I don’t mean cool as in cold. This may end up going on forever if I don’t pull my thumb out.

Anyway, there is also a lot of the expected elements from a golden ale – soft lemon and orange notes particularly, initially slightly fresh in style at the front, with a thicker slightly curd like character by the end.

What is unexpected is that behind that lemon freshness is a kind of brown sugar sweetness, even kind of burnt brown sugar at times. That burnt sweetness expands into burnt cinder toffee notes over time and becomes especially prevalent in the finish, mixing with heavier spice, peppery and earthy hop notes. Generally the hops are on the lemon fresh side, but they don’t seem to shy away from the earthy and spicy notes here in the finish, bringing a robust hop bitterness against the sweeter main body.

The earthier, spicier notes become more prevalent in the entire beer over time. For a golden ale I was surprised as the citrus notes became less evident and the heavier notes become more the main show. That spice and earth calls more to a traditional British bitter and results in a heavier beer. Enjoyable, as long as you don’t expect the crisp citrus hops style that is more common.

Feels a tad rough edges in the spice elements, and slightly charred at times, which pushed it out of the comfort zone for the beer. So overall an average beer I would say. There are nice notes in there, drinkable and with a good bit of texture. Not too complex though and rough around the edges, generally not too shabby.

A middle of the road beer, bit different in places, ok overall.

Background: Bean back up North with the family for Christmas, and the parents kindly got some beers in for the period. So I decided to do notes on one of them. Went for Leeds Brewery as 1) I quite like Leeds (the place) and 2) I’d not done anything from the brewery before to the best of my knowledges. Many thanks to Mum and Dad for providing the beers. A Golden Ale – a nice style, tend to be pretty easy drinking so nice for chilling with the family. Not much more to add, so hope you enjoy the notes and had a good Christmas.

Art Brew: Black Cherry Chocolate Porter (England: Porter: 4.8 ABV)

Visual: Very dark, cloudy brown to black. Thin brown head with white edges.

Nose: Milky chocolate. Light charred bread. Smoke. Lightly nutty.

Body: Subtle black cherry. Gunpowder tea. Malt chocolate drink. Black forest gateaux. Milky coffee. Smoke.

Finish: Slight earthy bitterness. Malt chocolate. Slight black forest gateaux. Slight milk. Tea. Pepper.

Conclusion: Ok, tea notes. I did not expect tea notes to come out in this. Now, checking the bottle’s label as I write I notice that I shouldn’t actually be surprised as it turns out that it is literally made with black cherry tea. I have to admit I did not know there was such a thing. Still this tastes of that – black cherry and, well a kind of gunpowder tea set of notes. Ok, it isn’t an exact match but it is close enough.

The black-cherry varies between subtle notes backing the porter, and heavier black-forest gateaux notes that are much more up front. It is generally nicely present but without being super dominant, with occasional pushes towards either end of the scale.

The base porter pushes a nice bit of milky coffee and milky chocolate but it isn’t super present. The fruit notes seem to lighten it a touch in mouthfeel so it doesn’t have the usual thicker and creamier porter texture. Flavour-wise it helps compensate for this with a slight wisp of smoke, possibly from the tea, which gives more grip – but generally it feels like just the tad thicker texture would really help this boom.

Still, it is a comparatively easy drinking, moderate if not low abv, dark beer that matches the porter coffee notes with just enough black-cherry to give a fruity to dark dessert edge to the beer.

While it could do with a few tweaks it is balanced beer between easy drinking and able to be appreciated for its depths and works well as that.

Background: ART BREW! I still have a soft spot for this lot. In my early days in Bath I used to drink so much of their stuff at the Royal Oak. Times change, and Art Brew vanished for a while, but since they have returned I have picked up a few of theirs every now and then to see how they are doing. This one caught my eye as, well black cherry is often a very nice note in the darker beers, so I was intrigued by a porter that emphasised it more strongly. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is made with cocoa nibs, black cherry tea, chocolate malt and lactose. For some reason they put lactose in all caps. I presume because of potential intolerances, however I am head-cannoning that they were just super excited about brewing with lactose and used cap lock to show that to us – the readers. That is what I do. Put on Night Wish – Dark Passion Play while drinking. Well part of it. That is one long album.

Brew York: Rhubarbra Streisand (England: Spice/Herb/Vegetable: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Blond to ripe banana yellow. Large yellowed head.

Nose: Strawberry. Sweet rhubarb crumble. Light orange jelly. Cream. Grapes.

Body: Sweetened rhubarb. Sugared apple pie jelly. Cream. Ginger prickle. Light bready hop character. Light pepper. Strawberry. Tart grapes.

Finish: Apple pie. Cream. Rhubarb crumble. Cinnamon. Lightly sweet ginger. Light crusty white bread. Strawberry. Vanilla.

Conclusion: While a lot of beers I have tried here have used rhubarb, most have gone with the tarter, earthier style that calls to the raw rhubarb. This goes full on for the sweet rhubarb crumble style and it shows it full in every note from the sugared fruit to the distinct crumble covering notes.

On the other side of the experience, the milkshake pale side is definitely rocking the promised milkshake character – though I would call it a strawberry milkshake with rhubarb crumble dumped into it, rather than a rhubarb milkshake in itself. Not complaining about that though.

It is very smooth, very easy to drink. There is a slightly bready, vanilla touched pale ale character below – but in general the beer like elements are pretty low key in this one.

The dessert imagery come in strongly, with subtle spice usage – low levels of ginger and cinnamon that really emphasise the crumble like notes. Similarly some apple and grape notes give an impression of a few other crumble based desserts working in the background. The spice grows over time, becoming quite the present element by the end. A big shift in the style of the beer, but makes for a nice progression if not one for multiple beers.

This is a beer for beer purists as, well, it is very much a dessert/milkshake style thing with only a hint of the pale ale. However it does its gimmick well, does the milkshake well, has progression, is easy to drink and is enjoyable. You can’t say fairer than that.

Id definitely have it again when I wanted something easy to drink and it is one of the best rhubarb themed beers I have encountered as long as you are happy with the sweet side of things.

Background: There are two reasons I bought this. 1) it is made with Rhubarb. 2) IT IS CALLED RHUBARBRA STREISAND. Seriously, how could I not buy it with a pun name like that. I love puns. Anyway a milkshake pale made with Rhubarb, and , it turns out from looking at the can after doing the notes, also with ginger. Makes sense. I had no idea what music Barbra Streisand actually sings so I put on Hayseed Dixie – Weapons Of Grass Destruction when drinking. Probably not close to what she did, but they are great bluegrass fun. A new glass this time, thanks to my sis who gave me it when she was cleaning out a few from her selection. Much appreciated. This is another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Buxton: Dugges: Ramberget (England: IPA: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large, mounded white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lemon. Oats. Wheaty hop character. Clean. Light milk. Light hop bitterness.

Body: Thick. Lemon curd. Passion-fruit. Grapes. Also slightly musky grapes. Fresh lemon juice. Muesli. Vanilla custard. Cream. Dried apricot.

Finish: Palma violets. Greenery. Lemon curd. Hop oils. Some bitterness. Musky grapes. Soft orange.

Conclusion: This is an unusual entry in the IPA category, for all that it may seem a standard entry from the can’s description of it. And by unusual I mean delicious by the way. Also, I still mean unusual. Words can mean multiple things when written down. Like wind for example. Anyway, I digress.

It is thick, kind of creamy but also lemon juice style citrus filled. It is far thicker than your average IPA and that makes every flavour grip so much more and makes it so much more expressive. Lemon notes become thick lemon curd. Milk becomes a chewy oatmeal to muesli milky cereal style.

I will admit it does not have the largest range of flavours – mainly working the citrus fruits – but the thickness gives a depth to each element that makes it extra rewarding in and of itself. It only has a small amount of bitterness, which normally would annoy me in an IPA, but is probably a good call here – the thick texture could have made high bitterness clingy and outstaying of its welcome.

It will never be your go-to, anytime IPA. It doesn’t have that easy drinking, crisp, bitter kick, or a whole other number of other elements you would expect from a standard IPA. However, its thick, slow drinking style is delicious and while an atypical IPA it is still recognisably an IPA. A slower, heavier, bigger IPA for taking your time with.

Buxton bring the IPA goods once again.

Background: I tried this a while back, loved it, so I decided to return one day to do notes. This is that day. So, yeah, I wasn’t unbiased going in – I was very much ready to enjoy this one again. Basically a big IPA made with oats as part of a collaboration between Dugges and Buxton. Simple and to the point. Despite my happy mood going in I put on the melancholy tracks of The Eels – End Times while drinking. Maybe I was afraid of getting too happy. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. yes I have got lax at tried other places. I will keep my eye out more when travelling.

Northern Monk: Finback: Patron’s Project 3.05: Once, Twice, Three Times a Whale (Mosaic Edition) (England: IIPA: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Custard to apricot coloured body. Very large, loose mounded white head that leaves suds

Nose: Mandarin orange. Very fresh. Crisp hop character. Lightly wheaty bitterness. Tangerine orange. Soft vanilla custard. Light, tart pineapple. Slight flour.

Body: Orange to tangerine. Vanilla custard. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slight resin. Slight flour. Light pineapple. Peach. Slight greenery.

Finish: Fresh tangerine. Slight resin. Oily hop character. Low bitterness. Slightly milky and creamy. Grapefruit. Growing hop character and bitterness.

Conclusion:I’m torn. No, wait that is a terrible way to start talking about this. Let’s try a different tack. This is creamy and fruity in a way that reminds me of the NEIPA interpretation, but, despite the low levels of bitterness they use in it, it still features enough oily hop feel and resinous notes to make it feel like an actual damn IPA. I approve.

Ok, so after that, now to get to – I’m torn, but not in a Natalie Imbruglia way. Let me explain. This is tasty, tasty, very ,very tasty, but with that it is a bit simple. There is lots of bright fresh mandarin orange and tangerine notes that make you sit up and smile. Then there is tart pineapple to grapefruit notes under backing a soft, creamy to vanilla custard base. Delicious, so delicious, but for the most part that is your experience for the entire beer.

Ok, it doesn’t 100% stick at that – the hop character gains a touch more resin and bitterness over time, while never quite betraying its NEIPA creamy and fruity style. There is some progression, just not very much.

You know what? I’ve talked myself into it. I am no longer torn. This is ruddy good. Maybe it could do with a tad more complexity but this is a double IPA that calls to NEIPA but doesn’t forget the IPA at its heart, and shows the mosiac fruit flavours in full fresh burst.

So, yeah, not torn any more. This is very good. Get it.

Background: This is a Patron’s Project beer. Yet when you lift up the label there is no additional information hidden underneath. It is like someone just told me Santa does not exist. I am let down. Anyway, the final name in this collaboration is James Butler, a tattoo artist who I presume did the artwork for the label. I’ve loved Northern Monk Patron’s Projects so far, so when this three times hopped with Mosaic IIPA turned up in Independent Spirit it caught my eye. Put on Some Marie Davidson to listen to while drinking – only just discovered her music – haunting electronic gothic feelings stuff. Very moody. She sings a lot in French, which I don’t understand, so if you listen and it turns out it is super obscene please don’t blame me. Unless you enjoy that, in which case you are welcome.

Yonder: Dunstan’s Exile (England: Belgian Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon juice coloured hazy body. Thin white head.

Nose: Brown bread. Orange zest. Lemon. Peppermint and mint leaves. Peppercorn sauce.

Body: Brown bread. Orange. Gentle earthy hops. Gentle lime. Gentle lemon. Peppery. Light bitterness.

Finish: Gentle earthy hops. Orange skin to orange zest. Lightly peppery. Slight greenery.

Conclusion: You know, this much more enjoyable than my comparatively sparse set of notes above may indicate. There isn’t wide range of distinct flavours, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pretty darn drinkable beer.

It feels like it is aiming for an Orval like beer at its base and, while it doesn’t reach that beers heights, you do end up with an earthy, bready and lightly funky character as a base to work from. So, it gains a reasonable base from the attempt, and you could do a lot worse than that.

Then there is the subtle fresh lemon, lime and orange notes that come out. A range that goes from drier orange skin notes, to gentle lemon juice. None of the citrus elements come across as sharp notes, just that very slight acidity that lightens the texture and allow fresher notes through.

There is a kind of Belgian wit spiced character as well. Slightly minty, slightly peppery as well as some harder to place spice notes. It gives an extra layer that goes nicely into the earthy, lightly bitter hop character. As I say, despite the sparse initial notes this work pretty well together.

It is not quite there as a beer – the Orval style doesn’t have the full funk complexity down. The citrus notes also seem to reduce the texture maybe a tad below the ideal thickness. Finally the spice could do with being a tad more prominent (and how rare is it that I say that!?). At its core though it is an easy drinking and pretty rewarding beer.

Could the beer be tweaked? Yes. Is it worth drinking now? Also yes.

Background: Not seen this brewery before, but I saw they were doing a take on a pale Belgian ale, and figured that it would be nice to grab one for an experiment. It is made with “foraged botanicals” which seemed a bit vague, but thankfully their ingredient list laid it all out – Grain of Paradise, Lavender, Orange peel and Juniper berries. Still had to google “ Grain of Paradise” as I had forgotten what it was since last time I encountered it. My memory is buggered. In sad news I broke my Scallywag pen light while doing these notes. It will be missed. Mainly because its light switch that made a dog face turn up in the torch light was great for fiddling with while drinking. I am such a fidget. Anyway, put on Mobina Galore – Cities Away while drinking. Nice bit of energy without getting too heavy. This was another one from Independent Spirit.

Mills: Picture Pot (England: Sour Ale: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Solid lemon juice. Inch of white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart apple. Crisp. Some bitter hops and fluffy character. Shredded wheat. Yeast funk. Sulphur. Brown bread.

Body: Apples. Gently fizzy. White wine and grapes. Chalky touch. Pears. Vanilla. Slight cream touch in middle. Dried apricot. Lychee. Pineapple.

Finish: Tart grapes. Slight chalk. Champagne. Lychee. Pears. Cider. Yeast funk. Apricot. Twigs.

Conclusion: Who would have thought that beers that taste kind of like cider would have enough entries for me to consider that a sub-genre now. Yep that is definitely a thing now and this is another cider tasting beer, albeit with a good chunk of lambic influence to it.

This is at the smoother end of the cider style in the taste – tart but very easy drinking – especially considering the touch higher than usual abv. It has a just slightly crisp and gently dry take on the style in its influence.

At its base there area lot of tart pear and apple notes – pretty obvious considering all the cider (and ok, yes pear should be perry) references I am making, but I thought I would just make it explicit. However on top of that the hops seem to carry a decent chunk of the work here.

Initially it only shows as a slightly bitter, fluffy hop aroma. However over time a dried apricot, fresh lychee and tart pineapple hop set of notes come out of the body. This gives a much more beery feel to a very cider influenced drink.

It’s easy to drink, mouth freshening and the mix between sour beer and fruity hops creates a welcome experience that never feels simple. In fact the moderately higher abv is actually quite dangerous considering how easy this is to drink.

Mixing lambic, cider and hops ain’t an easy task, but this does it very well. Well worth grabbing.

Background: Mills seem to very much about their sour beers, and have been pretty interesting so far. This one is a mix of three brews, dry hopped with whole leaf hops. Had fairly young so to experience the hop character influence more predominately. Only had a month or two, and decided to break it open as part of the recent cornucopia of sour beer and lambics picked up. This was one from Independent Spirit. I put on the Roadrunner United album to listen to while drinking -a lovely range of metal tracks from collaborations from many of Roadrunner’s finest.

Westerham: Helles Belles (England: Helles: 4% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow to grain. Moderate white head. Moderate amounts of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lightly creamy. Lime. Hop oils. Smooth. Light nutty character.

Body: Very soft, but lightly chalky. Vanilla. Tiny marshmallows. Soft honey. Palma violets. Dried apricot. Soft lychee.

Finish: Moderate bitter hop character. Light chalk. Vanilla. Dried apricot. Soft lychee. Honey.

Conclusion: I’m trying to work out how to describe the very soft feel of this beer’s texture without referring to kittens. Apparently mentioning kittens in tasting notes is mock-worthy and not allowed. Which is a pity, as when I hold this on my tongue it feels like soft fruit just falling apart on my tongue and – no word a lie, makes me think of fluffy kittens. No I don’t know why. My mind is a strange place. I already knew that.

Anyway … this has a very nice, soft texture – maybe like mini marshmallow bits in a dry lager? Does that work as a better description? I dunno. Anyway (again) it is underlined by a slight chalkiness that then goes into a crisp hoppy bitterness in the finish. A nice note that means the soft character doesn’t end up feeling like drinking wet air.

Flavour-wise is fairly simple – vanilla, slight honey, that noble hop style palma violet character. It has a crisp lager base that gets just slightly tart as time goes on, and gains a higher bitterness than is expected for a helles as the beer progresses adding a nice bite to things. A soft lychee flavour joins in as it goes, another light backing note but welcome. It is solid, if not super exciting, but it is satisfying to drink.

It comes in gentle as hell(es) up front, crisp and dry in the middle, into a hoppy end with just enough flavour in-between that it does the job. Ok at the start, with subtle extra flavours by the end – pretty decent all said.

Background: Ok, I grabbed this one for two reasons. 1) You don’t see many new Helles these days, so it is always nice to try non IPA/stout beers. 2) Helles Belles. Heh. It is a pun. Heh. Puns. I am a fully mature adult. Honest.

Not much else to say. Put on Andrew WK’s first album – “I Get Wet” while drinking. Great, silly party fun music. Back at university metal nights (in the dim and distant past) people hated Andrew WK as they felt it wasn’t proper metal. Don’t care, it is glorious fun.

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