Tag Archive: England


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.

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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.

Big Drop: Sour (England: Low Alcohol Sour: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow and clear. Some carbonation. Short lived white head.

Nose: Wet cardboard. Lightly sour. Apple juice to cider. Wet rocks. Pears. Mild vinegar. Soft lemon.

Body: Tart and tingling. Soft lychee. Slight chalk. Mild cider. Cardboard. Mild vanilla.

Finish: Lightly bitter and charring. Vanilla. Touch. Lychee. Watery.

Conclusion: Chilled down this is fairly empty. It is lightly tart and tingling but without any real grip to it. It is watery with beer like elements floating within that. However for all it was as let down like this, there are hints of something else – slight cider apple and soft lychee notes – subtle flavours that are overpowered by the mild, but still rougher, chalk and charring notes.

So, with not much else to it, I decided to see if time and some warmth could make a difference then.

Warmth helps develop some body, giving it a slighter thicker touch that brings out soft vanilla and allows the soft lychee notes a bit more grip to work with. It is still a gentle beer, lager like it its dryness, with lightly tart and sour notes over that. Even with the aforementioned chalk and charring notes it is still gentle – no real rough edges here, which I will admit is an odd thing in a sour beer. Usually they are all prickly oddities and harsh but joyous notes.

There are light cider and light vinegar touches that would be harsher elements if they did not feel heavily watered down by the lightness of the rest of the beer. Now they are just slightly more acidic notes while gentle apple and pear notes are delivered over it.

Now warmed up it is reasonable – as mentioned a lightly sour touch over a dry lager feel with gentle tart fruit notes as the flavours. Sour beers are not a common entry in the low alcohol range, so for that I commend it – however recently Mikkeller did their low abv take on “Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse” and that set a new bar for low alcohol sour beers. So, while this is ok, dry, drinkable and refreshing it is not a patch on that low abv wonder.

Had cool this is very weak, with warmth it is ok but unexciting outside of its unusual place in the low alcohol drink range. So, ok, but with a lot of room to grow better.

Background: I tried this a short while ago, picked up from Beercraft, but did not do notes at the time. This time it was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I’ve been digging Big Drop’s low alcohol beers, especially their pale ale, and wanted to see how their sour did and how it has progressed since the first batch. Drunk on an otherwise non drinking night I put on one of Eels live albums – “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” while drinking – nice gentle tunes. Always like The Eels’ live stuff -each tour they play old songs in the style of their most recent album so it feels like a fresh experience each time.


Deya: CGBW Export Stout (England: Foreign Stout: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Moderate creamy brown head.

Nose; Milky chocolate. Crushed cashew nuts. Cream. Ash smoke. Smooth. Mild smoked bacon. Milky coffee.

Body: Thick, slightly cloying sour cream character. Heavy. Creamy mouthfeel but not sweet. Milky. Muted cocoa dust. Slight chewy Reisen chocolate. Slight black-cherry. Honey late on. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Sour cream and sour dough. Bitter cocoa. Brown bread. Light chalk. Milky. Slight choc toffee. Soot. Nutty. Honey late on. Greenery,

Conclusion: This is a pretty savoury stout. Thick sour cream and sour dough feel, with a milky yet stodgy base underneath. Not what I expected from the aroma which was creamy and sweet mixing milky coffee and chocolate notes which are not representative of the chewy weight below.

Large mouthfeels do reveal some sweeter notes in the midst of the milky morass of the main body, but generally this is a bready, milky savoury thing that you feel you should come at with a knife and fork to enjoy. Really not sure what happened to the big cocoa character of the aroma.

Its ok but feels a bit staid – the milkiness is the biggest issue for me. It feels like an empty, neutral weight that doesn’t make room for the other flavours. It does open up a bit as time goes on though, I will admit, a honey sweetness and thickness that gives more grip to the smoke and cocoa notes that had problems finding purchase on your tongue before.

This, late on, addition does add a lot to the beer – still savoury led, it feels more open to exploration with bready, sweet, savoury and greenery notes coming out. Still can be a tad empty on some sips but generally good.

So, a slow starter but with good high points when it gets going. Not as stand out beer, mainly due to the weak start, but it does earn the time spent on it by the end.

Background:So, I listed this as being by Deya Brewing Co. Technically it is a collaberation with (deep breath) Gloucester Brewery, Prescott Ales, Hillside Brewery, Velvet Owl Brewing Co. and Favourite Beers for Cheltenham & Gloucester Beer Week 2018. That many names didn’t really fit on the line though so I went with Deya. Haven’t had a Foreign Stout for a bit so grabbed it from Independent Spirit – it is made with cocoa nibs, which is a fairly common occurrence these days. Also the profits go to the charity National Star, which is nice. Anyway, enough on that, heavy beer time, so heavy music time – went very retro with the self titled Slipknot album. Mock if you want as yes it is pantomime angry nu-metal, but I still enjoy it. Not everything needs to be a work of art. Sometimes you just want people in masks screaming over guitars.

Northern Monk: Slim Pickens: Patrons Project: 8.05: Raspberry and Honeydew Melon Kolsch Style Ale (England: Kolsch: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy yellow. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Medium white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fluffy hops. Vanilla. Melon. Slightly oily.

Body: Vanilla. Honey. Crisp and dry underneath. Hop oils. Mild tart raspberry. Fluffy hop feel.

Finish: Vanilla custard. Honey. Slight dry fluffy hop feel. Melon and watermelon. Hop oils. Fresh raspberry. Sour dough.

Conclusion: This definitely is more about the extra fruit flavours and less about the kolsch flavour characteristics, more using the kolsch style as a base for easy drinking style. It shows little of the moderate hop style or bitterness kick that I would expect from a kolsch. Which is fair enough, this is a bit experimental – I just needed to make sure I checked my expectations going in.

So, yeah it is honey sweet – and a I know honeydew melon was used in making this, but I don’t think it came from that, but more obvious is a gentle vanilla backbone. Though there is an extra thickness to the dry and very drinkable base that calls actual honey to mind – a nice extra character, mildly syrupy but smoothed by the beer. It is only a slight extra thickness but occasionally does work against the easy drinking nature of the beer. A trade off I guess, it isn’t bad at all, just slightly off being perfectly balanced.

Flavour-wise it rocks a tart raspberry character which helps offset that thicker sweetness – It is tasty and refreshing. The melon is less obvious but there are some clean flavours at the edges which seem to be it working its way in. So, a tasty beer and despite the few oily notes coming through still fairly drinkable.

The base kolsch shows itself mainly as a fluffy hop mouthfeel and light hop oils. The bitterness is low, the rest of the mouthfeel is dry – when it shows itself from below the other ingredients anyway. The hop feels adds a bit of an edge so it is not too syrupy, similarly the dryness helps put the brakes on the sweetness,keeping everything in proportion.

Overall a fairly simple, enjoyable easy drinking beer that doesn’t push its roots much but does use the extra ingredient very well. Not super polished, but it does the job for a beer in the sun. That I drank after summer ended.

Background: I have been seriously enjoying Northern Monk’s varied patrons projects – collaborations with a fairly unusual set of people compared to the standard brewers, so I tend to keep my eyes on the new ones. This one grabbed my eye due to being a Kolsch – an unusual style that doesn’t seem to get much craft beer experimentations. Kolsch is a beer made with ale yeast, but cold conditional like a lager usually creating a nicely hoppy and bitter but easy to drink beer. Slim Pickens make cider and mead and I’m guessing the idea of adding raspberry and honeydew melon to the beer was theirs. Vague also got involved – a magazine maker who I’m guessing were involved in the skateboard image for the label? I guess. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters. Something about modern politics is making me go heavy back into punk listening again. Can’t imagine what….

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