Tag Archive: England


Art Brew: Anarchist Party Bitter (England: Bitter: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy caramel brown. Large creamy head in coffee froth form. Some suds around the edge as you drink.

Nose: Malt choc orange. Crushed peanuts. Light fresh citrus.

Body: Treacle. Malt chocolate. Walnuts. Moderate hop bitterness. Caramel. Thick. Brown bread. Prickling feel. Hop oils. Subtle peach. Creamy.

Finish: Choc orange. Good hop character and bitterness. Charring. Peanuts. Brown bread. Hop oils. Gritty. Golden syrup. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a no nonsense big beer. Big malt, big hops, big mouthfeel. It has a real thick caramel to treacle base with choc orange hints – the mouthfeel is really thick with even some syrupy hints amongst the character.

For the hops side, the aroma hints at more fresh notes than the body gives – it starts with moderate bitterness and builds to a mix of impressive roughness, hop oils and hop flavour. Then, over time, more subtle creamy hop flavours of peach styling comes out with a real grounding nutty character beneath that.

So, with the exception of the creamier end of the hop notes late on, this is fairly full bore all the time! It pretty much uses that higher than normal abv to create a base that can punch your taste-buds repeatedly for a good long time.

So, not subtle at all, and so doesn’t have those extra elements that makes an all time great for me, but it has that enthusiasm of a beer than is going for exuberance over fine detail and gives a full flavour assault with that. Approach with caution and enjoy the intensity.

Background: How to list this beer? It says a bitter, but the abv and hop use is a bit high for that style. Possibly English Strong Ale, as a vague catch all style. Possibly IPA with the hop use, but I am trying to avoid falling into the same trap that those red/brown/black/white IPA listings do by putting everything hoppy under IPA. Ok, sod it, I’ll use my general rule of a thumb, list it as the brewery describes it unless you have good reason to do so. So, bitter it is, with some reservations. Anyway, – Art Brew – a local Brewery and one that I have a soft spot for as it used to be tied with the Royal Oak back in the day – spent many a night drinking there. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to more of Mclusky – Mcluskyisms. You will probably see that a lot in the near future – it is a massive 3 CD thing so I have a lot of tunes to get used to – lovely discordant, angry, almost surreal at times tunes.

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Northern Monks: Verdant: Patron’s Project 9.01: Captain North (England: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice with lots of carbonation and a massive white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat. Lemon. Lightly peppery character. Dried pineapple.

Body: Very bitter. Peppery. Oatmeal. Apples. Slight kiwi fruit and egg plant. Mild toffee. Dried pineapple. Flour. Soft peach. Milky.

Finish: High bitterness and hop character. Peppery. Eggplant. Pineapple. Apples.

Conclusion: This takes some time to get going – early on it is all bitter hops and peppery character; Not something I generally complain about as a hop head, but I like a beer to have a bit more going to round it out. A high hop bitterness can’t do the whole job by itself, much as some beers may try.

Time lets out some soft green fruit and tart pineapple -often the fruit notes seem to come across in a dried fruit fashion, but there are some fresh and tarter notes that occasionally come out. It results in a soft balance to the peppery bitterness, backed by a solid oatmeal tasting and thickness of character. It is better like this but still feels solid rather than exciting – with the oatmeal like base, pepper, flour touches there is a lot grounding the beer, with the high bitterness being the biggest element and it feels like it doesn’t let the flavour range these hops should have really show. Again, more time can allow some soft peach, in a milky fashion come out- but it is light and feels like you are trying to reach it through porridge.

It is a bit too much grounding, with too little on the showy side for me. Good bitterness, but as I said that can’t make a beer work by itself.

Background: I mainly bought this ‘cos the can looked pretty. A run down Captain America looking dude but with an N for north on his head and a pint in his hand. While comics have not given up a Captain North yet they have given us a Captain Britain, and a Captain Midlands. No I am not making that last one up. Genuine truth mate. Anyway this is an IPA made with Azacca, Ekuanot, Nelson Sauvin and Mosaic hops. I only recognise the last two, but they are some good hops – think I have encountered the others, but couldn’t give any real details on them. Another one from Independent Spirit – I am making up for lost time.

Odyssey: Fiendish Breakfast (England: Imperial Stout: 9.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large, solid, creamy brown head.

Nose: Salted bacon. Dry malt chocolate. Peanuts. Light smoke. Cocoa dust. Kippers.

Body: Thick textured, with creamy milky chocolate. Slight bitter cocoa and hop prickle. Light tart black cherries. Salted. Bitter coffee. Smoke.

Finish: Creamy coffee. Very bitter cocoa kick. Smoke. Mildly salty. Brown bread and slight sour cream. Slight chives. Dry roasted peanuts. Some dry treacle notes.

Conclusion: This feels heavy – a very thick, creamy body packed with deep bitter notes- most emphasised in the usual imperial stout notes of coffee and cocoa being delivered in a more bitter fashion than normal. Then a salted character shows through, backed by whispers of smoke that give slight Islay whisky styling.

What I find interesting from this is that some of the special ingredients really show through, while other seem but subtle hints. We have already seen the salt doing its thing, and the smoked malt having a subtle influence – The treacle thought? Not really there that much – a few dry notes coating the tongue in the finish, and I’m guessing it contributes to the sweeter notes of the main body, but not immediately evident as itself. The more evident sweetness is instead given when you get sweeter takes on the coffee and chocolate that acts as release from the more bitter cocoa and coffee that dominates it.

As mentioned the salted aspect does not hide itself, but what I found odd is how the smoked character that is so closely linked doesn’t have the huge bacon stylings that the beer’s name suggests – the aroma does show bacon, but the body and finish is more an inhaled ash kind of light dusting over the beer.

There are light off sets to the heavier notes – hints of tart berries, and yes, that treacle in finish – but generally this is big and grounded in bitter and savoury notes making a weighty imperial stout that goes against the showy sweet trend of the moment.

It is a slow drinking thing, definitely enjoyable, doesn’t wow me like Odyssey’s hop master-works do, but I can’t doubt its quality. It feels like a beer to drink, and the just slip down through the floor with. It just drags you down with its weight. Not one I will rave about, but it is a beer that fills its every moment with heavy set character. Intriguing, if not must have.

Background: I’m more familiar with Odyssey for their hop forwards beers, which are bloody amazing, but this Imperial Stout made with oats, salt, smoked malt, roasted coffee beans and treacle did catch my eye, and money from my wallet. Grabbed from … yes, Independent Spirit again … they have tons of good beer, leave me alone. Went a bit unusual with music for this one – put my player to list tunes by least played and check out some tracks I hadn’t listen to for a while.

Beavertown: Other Half: Dead and Berried (England: Fruit Pale Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy strawberry juice red. A moderate red to white bubbled head.

Nose: Oats. Flour. White bread. Mild raspberry yogurt. Light smoke.

Body: White bread. Milky. Bread pudding. Pepper. Tart raspberry. Light gooseberry. Light smoke. Blueberry. Green leaves. Slightly dry. Light strawberry.

Finish: Milk. Raspberry including the pips. Gooseberry. Flour. Brown bread. Slight peppery. Greenery and mint. Light bitterness.

Conclusion: This feels good, though I’m having a hard time pinning down what it does different to other, similar, beers that makes it so much more satisfying.

Let’s see – it is pretty to the eye – strawberry smoothie styled – but that great visual experience is pretty common to fruit beers.

So what is it then? The slight, but not excessive dryness of the body, matched with light peppery character? Two elements that contrast the tart raspberry notes and so makes it really “pop” while keeping a dry crisp ease of drinking?

Is it the tart, yet natural feeling fruit character? No artificial feeling sweet notes and matched by a bevy of other fruit notes to back it up, giving a refreshing, fruit cooler feeling, mouth refreshing Style? Could well be.

Or could it be the low level but present hop bitterness that draws a line under the whole experience? That definitely helps. Everything together makes for a dry base that uses the spice notes that come with it to make a refined and complex enough fruit beer to stand out. If it wasn’t so strong I would call it a summer refresher, but it is a few points too high abv for that – as is it is a fruit beer with a crisp hop base, that stands out from the crowd.

Background: Described as a German Style Raspberry Pale by the brewery – which certainly is a set of words I did not expect to see together, this is a collab beer made with German ale yeast, Citra hops and, well, raspberries. Don’t know much about Other Half, but Beavertown have been consistently good recently. Grabbed from Independent Spirit (That is a phrase I have not used much on the last month!) this was drunk while listening to Heavens To Betsy: Calculated. A whole bunch of the riotgrrrl music stuff feels worrying appropriate again in 2017.

Wild Beer Co: Jambo! (England: Imperial Stout: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black with an impressively large and solid coffee froth coloured head.

Nose: Raspberry and cherries. Wheat. Cocoa dust. Fresh tart notes. Orange peel. Light cloves. Strawberry crème chocolate – Belgian chocolate style.

Body: Frothy. Tart black cherry and raspberry. Tart grapes. Bitter black chocolate and smooth Belgian chocolate mix. Bready backing. Rhubarb. Gooseberries. Milk.

Finish: Raspberry coolers. Milky and bitter chocolate mix. Gooseberry. Brown bread. Malt chocolate. Rhubarb. Black cherry.

Conclusion: You know, Imperial Stouts are big, big beers, that will not be news to most of you. It is a rare thing however for their flavours to get shoved to the back of a beer. Prepare your shocked faces. Here, it has been. The base, the chocolate you expect from an IS is there, and the bitter chocolate specially show top and tail. The heart of the beer though? The heart belongs to the tart fruit.

There is definite tart raspberry, delivered in raspberry cooler style – fresh and mouth refreshing, but that is far from the full story. There is distinct cherries – initially red and then into black cherry – there are even rhubarb hints. This beer uses the chocolate stout base as weight to allow it to go hog wild with the tart fruit.

The tartness leverages a contrasting milky character in the finish to balance the fresh air -a satisfying, if odd, mix. This isn’t a beer accentuated by fruit, this is a beer about the fruit – using the beer as a delivery method.

So, is it good? Yeah, pretty good. Not many beers like this are around, and less so ones this dedicated to the concept. Like many unusual beers, it is not super polished, so I would judge iy by how much you like the idea. Do you want a tart fruit led stout? One that can pushes tart grapes and gooseberry notes at the edges of a red fruit beer? Then this is for you. Otherwise, if you want a more standard Imperial Stout then this is not for you.

It’s that simple.

Background: While I used to rave about Wild Beer Co, these days I’m more split – they still turn out some excellent beers, but their experiments have been a bit hit or miss lately. Still, there are many brewers going with the standard styles – doesn’t hurt to have a few experimenters in there as well. This one is one of their more standard sounding beers – an Imperial Stout made with raspberries and cocoa nibs. Jambo is apparently a Swahili greeting. It has a very different meaning in some parts of Scotland. I won’t go into that here. Anyway, went for some Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! from Godspeed You! Black Emperor to listen to – the heavier darker notes of it make it still my favourite of their works.

Odyssey: Spottieottiehopaliscious Pale Ale (England: American Pale Ale: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy lemon juice look with a yellow to white head of good size. Some small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Dried mango. Apricot. Lemon. Creamy. Light hop character. Cake sponge.

Body: Lemon. Gritty hop feel. Tangerine. Good hop character. Peach. Gritty bitterness. Cheese puff touch. Vanilla and light custard. Light syrup feel.

Finish: Lemon. Low level bitter hop feel and hop oils. Shortbread. Apricot. Cheese puff touch. Syrup.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve had a fair few lemony and slightly creamy pales ales and IPAs recently, which were refreshing but kind of simplistic for the most part. I will admit on pour I thought this was going to be one of them, and it does share some characteristics. However it ends up very different. So, why does this lemony, creamy pale ale appeal to me so much when the others did not impress me that much?

Well, for one it has range – initially the lemon is the main characteristic, but after that you get full on apricot and peach taking over – so, over time you get progression in the beer and you can keep appreciating new nuances each time. The weight of the beer helps as well – the beer starts off quite clean, then a syrup thickness pitted against moderate, gripping, gritty hop character which really helps you get a handle on each flavour. Finally it has a slight funky cheese puff styling, giving just the slightest savoury offset. It all comes together to make a beer a world apart from all the other light, fruity, lemon dominated beers.

Overall it is a very juicy, lemon backed beer, that develops a wealth of fruit in the middle, a beer that uses hop bitterness but is not dominated by it. Easy to drink, but flavoursome and weighty. Again Odyssey manage to knock it out of the park with their hoppy beers. The only reason this is not in the “My favourites” section is because it is competing against other Odyssey beers.

A beer with too high abv to be technically sessionable, yet I still want to session it as it is a delicious beer.

Background: I think I spelt that right. I mean seriously, that beer name was written just to fuck with me. This is an oat infused APA made with Ekuanot, Simcoe, Columbus and Citra hops, then dry hopped with mosaic and simcoe. I knew none of this when doing notes on the beer – I looked it up after. That is a big set of hops. I very much trust Odyssey when it comes to hopped beers, so this was a nigh instant grab when it turned up at Independent Spirit. Decided to go for some big moody classic tunes for this as Odyssey beer deserve it – Mezzanine from Massive Attack.

Moor: All Dayer Deadpunk Session IPA (England: Session IPA: 3.5% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly cloudy yellow with middling off white head.

Nose: Brown bread. Quite fresh. Floral and lemon.

Body: Fresh lemon sorbet. Creamy vanilla ice cream. Pineapple. Brown bread. Prickly nettles. Slight dried apricot.

Finish: Brown bread. Mild lemon curd. Nettles. Mild guava. Vanilla. Peppery. Wheaty. Moderate hoppy bitterness.

Conclusion: A session IPA that is, for once, actually delivered at a session ABV. I haven’t brought this up too much, but most so called session IPAs are not really session abv for me – lower than a standard IPA yeah, but for me you need to be 4% abv or below to be genuinely a session beer. I will admit that very few beers keep to that these days, as abvs have ballooned a bit. This, at 3.5% abv, is nicely in the session bracket for me. So, with that discussion aside, how does it for flavour in this hard to master style?

Average. Which, compared to a lot of its contemporaries in the session IPA range, isn’t that bad. It is quite bready, which seems to be a common theme in session IPAs, but it avoids the excessive dryness that makes many of them wearing.

It also has a general lemon character to it – straying occasionally into fresher pineapple or more peppery finish at times. Not a huge range, but it does the job. Similarly the body is present in feel, and in malt flavour, but not exactly heavy. I guess it helps with the session characteristics but means it is much more average when you are having just the one.

As a session beer it isn’t stand out and it feels more like a lower abv APA than any kind of IPA. However it does do the job – The flavour works over several drinks and it has the abv to carry it.

Not a must have but does what it sets out to do, and is far from the worst session IPA I have had.

Background:Ok, I will admit it – I mainly grabbed this due to the whole “Brewdog trademark the word Punk in beer” controversy. Because I have listened to their arguments, and them pointing out some errors in reporting, and it still sounds bullshit to me to try and stop people using the word “punk” in beer. Seriously – limiting use of “Punk IPA” sure, just punk? Nah, sod off. So this beer, so named for, and made for, the Deadpunk festival amuses me. Also Moor make good beer, so that helps. So, I listened to some punk music when drinking it, right? Nah – still on a metal kick, so went with some Evil Scarecrow. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, yes again.


Wild Beer Co: Rooting Around: Autumn (England: Brown Ale: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Moderate sized, short lasting brown to grey head.

Nose: Tobacco. Malt chocolate. Aniseed. Cinnamon. Slight wet twigs.

Body: Very lightly tart. Malt chocolate. Hazelnuts. Milky coffee. Figs. Praline. Slight plums as it warms. Tobacco.

Finish: Walnut cake. Malt chocolate. Coffee cake. Sultanas. Slight wet twigs. Figs. Port. Apples. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Once again Wild Beer Co’s seasonal range seems to get going as we hit the darker months, and with it the darker beers.

Despite the special twist of this beer being the foraged figs added, it is not hugely fig dominant – but they do their part. Instead the base brown ale does most of the heavy lifting here. The usual malt chocolate character is there, but here it is delivered in a nuttier fashion resulting in praline like flavours dominating the beer. It does feel slightly light in mouthfeel though – there is a slight tartness to the beer, probably brought in by the foraged ingredients, which seems to also slightly thin the beer. It isn’t a terrible trade off – you do get light apple notes beneath the darker figs and plum fruits, which balances out the flavour – but it is a slight minor off point.

The balance show in the mediating between the heavier tobacco notes up front, and the smoother barrel ageing influenced vanilla notes at the back, all resulting in a very comprehensive ranged brown ale. Frankly this is a beer that puts all that “Boring brown ale” stuff in its place.

If it managed to take the light tartness without the hit to the texture then this would have been perfect. As is it is a solidly complex brown ale that uses the special ingredients subtly and well. You can do a lot worse than that.

Background: Now this, the third release of Wild Beer Co which is made using locally foraged items, really caught my attention. For one thing its base beer is a brown ale, a nice style, oft accused of being boring, and not used enough these days. Next up is the special elements foraged – figs, fig leaves and fig branches. I’m a big figs fan, so that sounded right up my street. Finally, this has been aged in bourbon casks, which should give a bit extra smoothness and flavour. Overall something I was looking forwards to. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to some Meshuggah. Still just basically going on a metal kick for drinking times.

Wild Beer Co: Rooting Around: Summer (England: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed lemon to apricot. Massive white head that settles to a more manageable level quickly.

Nose: Funky. Oats. Horse blankets. Slight floured dough. Lightly acidic. Rose petals.

Body: Tart. Lightly lemony. Flour. Slight wet wood. Vanilla. Acidic pear. Cherry late on, slight burn at back of the throat.

Finish: Wet wood and acidic lemon. Sherbet lemon to traditional lemonade after that. Gently acidic pears to perry. Slight cherry pocked biscuits. Sour black cherry late on,

Conclusion: I wasn’t sure what to expect for this one, and for the first half of the beer I wasn’t sure what I had got – however it kind of came together by the end.

Initially it seems a simple, mildly sour, Belgian yeast style funk-o-tron of a beer. Disclaimer: Funk-o-tron is not a real beer style. Yet. Give it time. Anyway, mixed light lemon to pear notes with a bit of funk to a mildly acidic back and some slight wet wood. It felt pretty generic in the sour category – not much to stand out in a beer that is very unusual in its set of ingredients and brewing process.

Late on you start to see the influence of those odd introductions, from rose petal aroma notes, to cherry pocket digestive notes, to more raw wood influence. It isn’t blatant, but there is a soft cherry and floral note to the beer showing what they were aiming for with it.

With beer with odd ingredients it can be hard walking the line – too blatant can overpower a beer with off notes – Of The Sea comes to mind for that flaw, so maybe it is best this takes the gentle touch. However if it is too subtle you might as well not use them at all.

Here, well the ingredients add a nice touch, but neither the base beer nor the odd twists really stand out – as a sour it is pretty meh. The extra notes are nice but don’t make it a must have.

A gentle sour that doesn’t really sell its gimmick, but does give it a bit of subtle extra depth. Ok, ya know, but unexceptional.

Background: Yes I know summer has been and gone. I’m behind the times as always. This is the second of the “rooting around” series of beers made with foraged local elements. In this case a sour beer using branches, buds, leaves and blossom from a cherry tree, then aged in Modus Operandi barrels. Wasn’t 100% sure this would work, but liked the cherry blossom imagery, and I’m a fan of Wild Beer Co in general so grabbed it from Independent Spirit. Noticed I had some Terrorvision on my mp3 player – used to be a big fan back in the 90s so slammed on some of their tracks as background drinking tunes.

Odyssey: Deya: Beautiful Blueberry (England: IPA: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Deep red brown. Raspberry yogurt looking small bubbled head. Cloudy to opaque main body.

Nose: Green hops. Resinous character. Greenery. Blueberry. Fresh cut apples. Raspberries.

Body: Creamy. Hop oils. Blueberry yogurt. Moderate bready bitterness. Greenery.

Finish: Good hop character. Some bitterness but not heavily so. Greenery. Brown bread. Blueberry. Slight gherkin sour note. Resinous.

Conclusion: This is a very different mix to what I expected for this beer – in that the balance between the fruit and the base IPA character works very different to what is usually done. Now it has a heavy use of blueberry flavour, that bit I expected, what I didn’t expect is how it interacts with the hop use against it. I was expecting something creamy smooth, something that emphasised the fruit flavour over the hop bitterness – mainly I was expecting that due to the NE IPA craze at the moment. Nope. Nothing like that.

This dives straight into the IPA side of things – Hop oils, resinous notes, greenery lead and with brown bread touched bitterness. It has a dedication to the bitterness and hops that a lot of fruit IPAs avoid. It results in a clash of two big contrasting flavours in the beer.

Does it work? Not so much early on, more so over time. It isn’t the most complex Odyssey beer, instead it just seems to concentrate on its two big pillars of flavour – the berries and the hop character. Early on it is a bit resinous – a style I usually like but doesn’t work brilliantly with the blueberry character – it feels clashing rather that complementing and contrasting. Time helps, letting the fruit rise and lets the bitter hop notes meld better with them – it feels less prickly resulting in a still harsh, bitter but fruity beer. I’ve seen this described as a milkshake IPA and I would have to disagree with that. It does have some creamy notes, but it is a much more raw IPA than that – especially compared to the current trends in super smooth IPAs currently.

So, a little rough early on, but settles into a super fruity, super hoppy IPA as it goes – not perfect, and not Odysseys best, but neither of those are huge criticisms. Solid, and shows that a fruit beer doesn’t mean you have to go light on the hop character.

Background: Ok, by now everyone knows I love the Odyssey hopped beers, especially their IPAs – not run into Deya before so no opinion on them. However this blueberry infused IPA was one I grabbed quickly – in part as Independent Spirit only had a few bottles so I had to decide fast, and leant towards the grab a beer from Odyssey side of the spectrum. It rarely lets me down. Anyway, I put some Warrenpeace while drinking – probably my favourite find from Scroobius Pip putting up a bunch of free stuff on speech development records.

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