Tag Archive: England


Cloudwater: Veil Brewing: Chubbles (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy dark apricot. Large yellow white creamy bubbled head.

Nose: Fudge. Creamy. Slight kiwi. Mashed banana to banana custard. Doughnuts. Fresh brown bread.

Body: Custard. Fudge. Hop oils. Caramel. Eggplant. Apples. Tart grapes. Very thick. Dried apricot. Starts sweet but goes to heavy bitterness. Slightly resinous. Grapefruit. Brown bread. Banana.

Finish: Gripping flour feel and hop bitterness. Eggplant. Bitterness grows quickly. Dried apricot. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is thick as fuck. It’s heavy and feels custard touched in its thickness, if nowhere near actual custard thickness admittedly.

It starts super sweet, so much so that I was all ready to ask if we could genuinely call it an IPA, but the slight hop oils that are merely hinted at in the start quickly grow. They become resinous and into full throated hop bitterness by half way through the beer. In fact if you only look at the finish it doesn’t even take that long; While the main body is still wallowing in sweet custard and fudge notes the finish is already kicking out gritty bitter hops from about the third sip.

The fruit flavours are even slower to develop, but do come along in the tail end of the beer – tart grapes, sweet banana and slight tart grapefruit against a savoury eggplant like hint to ground it. I will admit I think they could do more with this part of the beer as it is mainly malt sweetness versus resinous, oily hop kicks, but even as it is, it is a welcome addition to the beer.

I’d prefer a bit more subtlety in the hop flavours, but as a big malt meets big hop assault beer this is bloody enjoyable. It takes skill to be this unsubtle and still work. Not a world shaker, but a bloody big flavour triple IPA.

Background: I am too lazy to check, but I am 90% sure if I look the binary on the can will spell Chubbles. The binary on the can is also 90% of the reason why I noticed this beer. I am such a geek. (3 minutes later) I take that back, I am not too lazy,

0110001101101000011101010110001001100010011011000110010101110011

does in fact spell Chubbles. I was right. Anyway another Triple IPA from Cloudwater, the last one I had from them had too much hop burn, so I had my fingers crossed that this would be better. Generally Cloudwater do hop beers very well. Don’t know much about the collaborator Veil Brewing so not sure what they may bring to the table. They call this a proper English Triple IPA, whatever that may mean. Another one form Independent Spirit. I put on At The Drive In – Relationship Of Command while drinking. Still an utter classic of a post hardcore punk album.

Advertisements

Pomona Island: Pew Pew Pew Pewpewpew Pew Pew (England: American Pale Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy lemon juice. Inch of white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Apricot. Clean hop character. Light bitterness. Light popcorn. Light custard. Slight nettles.

Body: Flour mixed with hops. Slightly milky. Kiwi touch. Grapes. Milky fudge. Slight prickle. Apricot. Slight hop oils.

Finish: Flour. Apricot. Light fluffy hop feel. Sulphur touch. Grapes. Light bready. Ovaltine.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer with such gently done flavour, this is actually pretty satisfying. Usually vaguely milky beers get right on my tits and just feel empty. This does neither of those things. Unless I spill it, in which case it may end up on my tits in a less metaphorical manner. Anyway, I digress.

It is milky, with gentle prickling hops, but the fruit seems to hand around there in the middle just enough to actually work rather than getting lost in the mix that all too often happens with milky beers.

There is milky fudge, milky apricot, milky kiwi. Ok, you get the gist, right? In a worse beer this would be infuriating and terrible, resulting in badly defined flavours and general empty character. Here it is soothing and gently enjoyable.

It feels like it should be a tad lower abv in order to make it a great session beer, rather than a slightly heavier APA – Though in saying that I am realising that maybe it is the extra grip from the extra malt that gives that higher abv that makes the unusual character work so well. But if it could be reduced a tad and keep that – then sorted.

It slides down so very easily, with a touch of hop oils giving grip so you still feel it. It is examinable, if not heavy – easy drinking with milky thickness. Gets a tad overly bready over time, but generally very enjoyable.

Make finger guns – pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew.

Background: yeah I bought this beer because it is called Pew Pew Pew, however many times that is written. It both calls to old video games and Laura Dern in Star Wars, both of which make me want to like it. Anyway, not tried any thing from the brewery before so few expectations, this is a Ukuanot BBC, Simcoe, Mosaic DDH Pale. Because of course. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on The Royal They’s self titled album while drinking, it is endlessly endearing and yet vulgar, which I like.

Arcadia Group: Vicious But Delicious – Seriously Hot Sauce Co: Explosive Chilli Beer (England: Spice: 3%)

Visual: Clear, light caramel brown. Thin dash of a head.

Nose: Crushed chilli seeds. Habanero. Watery. Dried green chilli.

Body: Watery front. Chilli seed. Quick growing heat. Meaty chilli notes. Mango chutney. Brown sugar touch.

Finish: Chilli powder. Green chilli. Warm. Slight raspberry yogurt. Barbecue sauce. Slight charring.

Conclusion: This is kind of watery, very light textured and tastes like chilli powder has just been dumped straight into it. Not a good start.

If you pay attention there are hints of better defined chilli notes in there – a meaty, smokey note is hinted at mid body – some crushed green chilli notes in the finish. Generally however, you just get too much bloody chilli powder.

Oddly, despite the fact that this is the “explosive”, highest heat rating of the four beer set, this seems to top out at annoyingly warm rather than any real intensity. Before anyone thinks this is silly macho chilli heat dick waving, I would like to point out I am an utter chilli wimp. I like all the flavour, but little of the heat. So, while this may be hotter than some people like, I am fairly confident it is not the endorphin rush experience that I hear hardcore chilli heads enjoy when they get something seriously hot.

Beer wise this is bland, watery, with maybe some brown sugar notes but lacking in texture or anything more than the most generic flavours to back the chilli. It feels almost like caramel touched water rather than a beer.

Not the worst chilli beer I have had, shockingly enough, let alone the worst beer ever, however, that said, this is still utter shit.

Background: Sorry about the long heading – I have no idea if the spice company is called “Vicious But Delicious”, “Seriously Hot Sauce Co” or what. Googling did help me find out the brewery though – The Arcadia group, contract brewed for a Debenham’s four pack of chilli beers. This is the allegedly most spicy of the four and was given to me by a colleague at work to do notes on. Many thanks. Hot beer called for heavy music, so I put on Lamb Of God – Ashes of The Wake Album. I once did “Laid To Rest” on karaoke in Japan and it damn near did my throat it, so thematically appropriate for a chilli beer. Maybe.

Northern Monk: Honour (England: IIPA: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale yellow. Clear. Some small bubbled carbonation. Massive frothy white head.

Nose: Pine needles. Vanilla. Bitter hop character. Custard. Hop oils and resin. Lightly floral. Light grapefruit. Slight smoke.

Body: Good bitterness and hop prickle. Peach syrup. Grapefruit. Hop oils. Vanilla toffee. Slightly dry. Golden syrup touch. Thick mouthfeel. Yeast funk. White wine.

Finish: Peach syrup. Pineapple. Hop oils. Moderate hop character. Some bitterness. Palma violets. Soft raspberry. Champagne. Yeastie feel. Heavier hop bitterness over time.

Conclusion: What impresses me most with this beer is this – that despite it racking in at over 10% abv, it still manages to keep elements of that dry drinkable character that defines the west coast IPA. Usually the weight of the malt load would overwhelm that with sweetness, but this still comes across dry and crisp.

Ok, it is not entirely hidden – the malt comes across in a thicker texture, but as the beer froths up in the mouth it covers that leaving a dry feel and manages the malt very well. What seems more evident is a very unexpected character – a dry white wine like undertone and a slight champagne meets Belgium yeast funk character becomes evident. It keeps the dry character still, but still adds grip and makes a kind of chewy popcorn like mouthfeel later on.

So, the big thing here is the hop character – gentle hop bitterness, oily, with a good general hop character that rises into heavier bitterness as time goes on. A lot of it is about the feel – prickly hops with dry frothy mouthfeel behind that into yeast funk and slight dry champagne style. Lots to physically interact with inside your mouth,

What about the actual flavours? Well they are less evident. Soft vanilla toffee shows the gentle malt influence, tart grapefruit comes out but mildly done. It is mostly about that hop feel and dry drinkable character. However, you know what, that is bloody enjoyable – it just leaps head first into that west coast hop character and splashes the oils and hops around.

On the downside, well like many high abv beers it can get a tad wearing over time. The single-mindedness that makes it so appealing early on, hurts it later. Still, what I would say is get a can, share it between two people and boom, this is spot on.

A triple IPA that doesn’t lose the IPA to the malt – nice.

Background: This is the second Triple IPA I have tried from Northern Monks. Man, most places don’t even have one triple IPA to their name, let alone multiple. I only found the first – Glory – to be pretty good. Then, when I saw this one was a west coast take on the IPA style I thought I must give it a go. Let’s face it, Northern Monk have earned my trust by now. I’d just picked up Crossfaith – The Dream, The Space – which has their awesome cover of Omen on it, so I put that on to listen to while drinking. This is another beer picked up at Independent Spirit.

Ridgeside: Beer Ink: No Figgity (England: Barley Wine: 9% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy brown with a red hint. Good sized off white, creamy head.

Nose: Fig rolls. Slight cream. Wheat. Crushed Blackpool rock. Orange skin. Pepper. Caramel.

Body: Brandy cream. Malt chocolate. Figs. Sultanas. Fruitcake. Brown sugar. Caramel.

Finish: Figs. Cream. Wine soaked raisins. Dry notes. Brown sugar. Earthy bitter hop character. Nutty oily notes. Pepper. Carrot skin. Coriander.

Conclusion: Oh fig me, there are some full on figs in this. Initially very sweet and heavy on the dark fruit notes with some vinous backup, this then heads down a path into very earthy bitterness as time goes on, especially in the finish.

While distinctly a barley wine, the peppery and earthy notes, the rough gem edges and dark fruit actually makes me think that they have taken some influence from the Trappist Quads over in Belgium – making something more robust and rounded than the sweeter barley wine takes.

The extra ingredients used in making this are well done – I’ve already mentioned the very present fig character, but not yet that they mix with the sweeter notes to create a sweet pastry impression that calls to tasty fig rolls. Another point in its favour. Beyond that there are some subtle orange skin notes, and unsubtle cane sugar stylings creating some more Trappist like sugar notes.

It is rough edged, and the earthy, spicy notes that are a pleasant balance at the front do get too heavy by the end of the beer. However, with that said, I am on something like my third time trying this. I keep returning to it, this time to do notes, but in general just to enjoy, so it definitely has something.

Rough around the edges aye, but the extra fig notes add to the more traditional dark fruit barley wine character to give it a bit more than the usual style for a barley wine, and the additional orange notes certainly don’t hurt.

A flawed gem, but still a gem and worth trying.

Background: I’ve grabbed this a few times, so when it ended up in my fridge yet again I decided it was finally time to do notes on it. It grabbed my attention for a number of reasons. 1) I like barley wines and they don’t seem to be super common these days compared to say IIPAs or Imperial Stouts. 2) It is made with figs ..oh also candied orange peel but I am mainly here for the figs. Also it’s a collaboration with Beer Ink – I’m sure I’ve run into them before, but can’t quite pin down where. Will have to do a quick search at some point to find out. Another one from Independent Spirit – went back to Bad Religion for tunes to listen to, still got a soft spot for their mix of thoughtful lyrics and rocking punk tunes. Picked their Generator album, mainly for the title track.

Northern Monk: Nomad Clan: Patrons Project: 2.07 Bare Bones (England: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice – nigh opaque. Large loose white bubbled head.

Nose: Apricot chunks. Lightly resinous and oily. Good hope prickle. Grapefruit.

Body: Oily. Gherkin tartness and savoury mix. Soft malt choc toffee and malt choc orange. High hop prickle. Pineapple and grapefruit. Dried banana.

Finish: Oily. Dry hop character. Slight gunpowder tea. Pineapple and grapefruit. Oily apricot. Dried banana.

Conclusion: Yes! Someone has decided to put some hop bitterness into the NEIPA style again. Cool! Let’s take a good look then.

Ok, I started off by saying that it has the hop bitterness, but to be more honest it is more about the hop oils and resinous notes that they use here. It’s not that they are an overwhelming part of the beer, nor are they …*sigh* dank, but they make up the solid core of the hop experience here.

Beyond that it has an odd flavour mix – it opens with the more standard tart pineapple and grapefruit but against that is a kind of sour and savoury note that I always end up describing as gherkin like. I’m sure I have put people off by using that description for a note, but it is actually a quite decent note, its just I have yet to come up with a better description for that odd sour twist.

The malt usage in this is enjoyable, but again it feels odd. It feels like the malt should be mainly out of the way, but every now and then an east coast style malt toffee, or odder still, malt choc orange note pokes through. Odder still it works. Mostly.

Anyway, as you may have guessed by this point it is an odd mix of an IPA. It’s a NE West-East coast IPA. Or something. You know what though – I’m enjoying it. It is rough edged, prickly, even with gunpowder tea harsh edges, but those tart notes over oily character and New England thick texture makes for a weighty IPA bit of fun.

So it is odd, mixed up, rough edged, but I’ll take that over dull any day – especially when it is done this well.

An odd mix worth trying.

Background: The can says that this is the “Gold Edition”. I have no idea why, I did a quick Google and still have no clue. If you know please let me know. Anyway, another of Northern Monk’s Patron Projects – this time with Nomad Clan – a street artist group who were responsible for the very pretty and eye catching can. This is a double dry hopped New England style IPA made with oats to back the London Fog yeast. I’m not a huge fan of the New England take on the IPA, but trust Northern Monks enough to give it a go. Prodigy was still in my mind after Keith Flint’s death, so put on The Day Is My Enemy to listen to – probably my favourite of the more recent Prodigy albums. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Cotswolds: Single Malt Whisky (English Single Malt Whisky: 46% abv)

Visual: Pale darkened gold. Very slow but thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Strong alcohol. Menthol. Wheat fields. Floral. Vanilla. Barley biscuits and oat biscuits. Honey. Water makes lighter. Husked wheat. Slight chalk. More water adds banana notes.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla. Custard. Alcohol burns if held. Dry oak. Honey. Quite dry overall. Water adds more honey. Oat biscuits. Soft apricot. Dried banana.

Finish: Dry oak. Honey sheen. Dry overall. Water adds a clean sheen over the tongue, and more honey. Soft apricot. Tinned tropical fruit. White chocolate. Dried banana. Dry mead.

Conclusion: Water. Definitely not the enemy of whisky, despite what some purists might say. I have said it before and I will say it again – if anything water is whiskey’s best friend and rarely should they be parted.

Neat this is …workman like – smooth, though overly warming if held. It is quite dry with some solid honey and vanilla notes in there. A good base, a tad too dry, and overall nothing to write home about.

Water, first of all, helps out with the dryness and reduces down the alcohol burn. Good start. Still workmanlike but polished workman like with all the rough edges taken off. Here it is smooth drinking, if not special.

A touch more water and now it really gets going – apricot notes come out, along with a kind of dried banana note that reminds me of the esters you can get in yeastie Belgian blond ales. So now we are cooking with gas – smooth, sweet but with a bit of complexity to get your teeth into.

It’s still not a must have for me, but this is some very good spirit at the base – I am very interested to see what they do with it in the future.

Background: Been hearing good things about the Cotswold’s whisky for a while, but was wary of splashing out on a full sized bottle – thankfully this 5cl miniature turned up at Independent Spirit which made it easy to give it a try. This seems to be their standard expression- non chill filtered, a tad higher than normal abv for a standard expression. Don’t know much more about it so just to say I put on Made In Mexico – Zodiac Zoo to listen to while drinking – a weird mix of noise to music I found through the original Guitar Hero of all things.

Wychwood: Harper’s: Medusa (England: ESB: 5% ABV)

Visual: Dark chestnut brown to red clear body. Good sized beige to caramel tight bubbled head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Roasted nuts.

Body: Cherry. Earthy bitterness. Malt chocolate and malt toffee. Slightly creamy. Shortbread. Slight gummed brown envelopes. Lightly sour and tart undertones.

Finish: Creamy. Earthy bitterness. Light menthol. Bitter cocoa. Pepper. Brown gummed envelopes. Dry. Tart apple. Very watered down vinegar tart touch. Soft cherries and cream,

Conclusion: This is… this, this is actually really good. I have to admit that, with it being an Auldi own brand beer kind of thing, I was expecting something fairly middle of the road. Not expecting something bad, just something average. Yes I fell into the beer snob trap, because I am really enjoying this.

Its got a solid malt chocolate base that edges into richer or more bitter cocoa notes at times, alongside that slightly sour and refreshing note that you get in a good, drinkable bitter. Similarly it calls to a bitter in that earthy hop character that comes in the traditional British take on the style. By itself that would result in a generic but satisfying beer, but this goes a step further. Cherry and cream notes make for sweeter high end notes and helping the drinkability is a lightly tart apple undertone.

It is very easy to drink, yet has this soft chocolate middle that seems out from the earthy bitterness and makes it feel soothing, welcoming and very rewarding. So, this is really a very good anytime drinking beer that mixes traditional British bitter notes with sweeter malt ESB character to make a bloody good beer.

Remind me to double check my beer snob assumptions every now and then, so I don’t make mistakes like this again. Well worth a try.

Background: First of all, this is listed as being made by “Harper’s” which is Auldi’s home brand beer. Looking online, that is just a cover name for whoever contract brewed it for them, in this case Wychwood, who are owned by Marston’s. Oh this just gets confusing. Anyway, this was part of a bunch of beers given to me by a colleague at work. Many thanks! The rest I just drank, but I decided to put this one aside to do notes on. Worth noting the Harper’s Wild Bill IPA was solid as well. Put on some Brassick (self titled album and their EP) to listen to while drinking. I’m always glad to see new punk bands still bubbling up after all these years. Solid stuff as well.

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.

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.

%d bloggers like this: