Tag Archive: England


Sharp’s (Molson Coors) : Doom Bar Zero (England: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Moderate beige head. Clear main body. No real evident carbonation on the eye.

Nose: Walnuts. Crushed peanuts. Lightly earthy.

Body: Chalky. Nutty. Walnuts. Charring. Subtle toffee. Dry treacle. Earthy. Prickling. Mild savoury cream core.

Finish: Chalk. Nutty. Charred touch. Dry treacle touch. Earthy. Fluffy hop feel. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: Is making a low abv take on a more traditional British bitter a thing now? I hope so. You don’t realise how much you wanted a beer style being done in a low abv way until a bunch land on your lap, like three buses arriving at once after a long wait.

Like the low abv Speckled Hen before it this has a pretty good mouthfeel. Though this has a less syrupy, Marstons like texture than The Speckled Hen did – aiming instead more towards a slightly drier and more prickly bitter feel, which I approve of.

The flavours are similarly towards a more traditional style – earthy in the bitterness, nutty in flavour, with a good hop fluffiness in the finish. Now, comparing it to my memories of the full abv version is going to be slightly vague, as it has been a while since I had one of those, but from memory, this seems to have less evident toffee sweetness – which makes sense given the lower abv. Also it seems less sulphurous. I am aware though that I used to mainly drink Doom Bar on cask, so this may be a bottle vs cask thing rather than a low vs normal abv thing.

It is a solid beer, earthy and dry enough to be very easy to drink. In fact if it was alcoholic I would call it dangerously so – but as it it slips down right.

Now it is nothing too out of the normal, but I am finding it better than all the similar low alcohol traditional bitters I have encountered so far. So, for now it fills the place in the line up nicely, and shows that there really is a place for more earthy alcohol free bitters.

Background: Yes I will do non low abv notes again one day. Blame covid. It is the reason for everything else bad so it might as well take this one on the chin as well. Anyway, saw this in Sainsbury’s and after my decent experience with low abv Speckled Hen thought I would give it a try. This is a surprising 0.0% abv beer, not even 0.5, so again I guess they probably brewed it then artificially removed the alcohol rather than brewed it as a low alcohol beer. Though that is just a guess. Doom Bar is a beer I am surprised I never did notes on the normal version. Short story of my experience. Initially found it very dull, but then one day boom – I had one that seemed so much more complex with sweet toffee under the sulphur. It was then I realised the importance of well kept casks and fast cask beer turnover. Most places I had it just were not treating it right as it was their token cask beer. Done well it was a satisfying pint. Went for SOPHIE: Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Sides again for music while drinking. Loving it.

Big Drop: Amundsen: Rush Rider Pastry Sour (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Light, clear yellow brown. Small bubbled carbonation in small amounts. Thin white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fresh strawberry. Jelly babies. Apple pie jelly centres.

Body: Slightly chalky. Danish pastries. Jelly babies. Cider.

Finish: Apple pie. Chalky. Gummy bears (Different from Jelly babies, yes?). Pears. Apple juice.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m split on this one. It is pretty unusual. Admittedly I’ve not dug much into the pastry sour scene, so maybe this is 100% normal there and not a big thing, but it is odd to me.

The aroma is full on Jelly Babies sweet, with fresh red fruit in a more natural way alongside those more artificial flavours. Soooo, pretty unlike any beer I have encountered. Very interesting, it isn’t very sour, nor even really pastry for the most part, but very dessert styled.

Chilled down the body is fairly empty and lightly chalky, with only a light sour characteristic and no real definition to it. Then again I find that issue common with a lot of low abv beers, as it warms it becomes more cider sour with those jelly baby notes coming through again. That said, it never becomes as rich and fruity as the aroma promises.

The finish returns to some of that apple pie centres and more jelly babies. Tart apple underlining it, but still chalky.

It is decent but the main two flaws, that being the charring and the lack of weight mid body, both give away the low abv. The aroma is amazing, and the finish lets the jelly baby and light sour notes roam, but the mid body just can’t seem to get the grip to really deliver. You are relying on the air of the finish for a lot of the fun. And it is fun, but the body should be doing its job as well.

So, yeah good aroma and very fun finish. This is a laugh, but sours seem to get especially short changed by less that 1% abv beers. Which is odd considering how many great sours there are on the lower end of the abv scale. So this is decent, fun, but not great.

Background: Low alcohol stuff! Man this is nearly turning into the low alcohol and whisky blog. Anyway, Big Drop, doing their second collab box with people around the world. This time with various Nordic countries – this one being with the Amundsen brewery from Norway. Though I will point out their first world collab box was with the UK, where they are based, so does that even count? Eh, probably, we are in the world, much as some people living here seem to hate to admit it. Anyway, this is a pastry sour, which is an odd concept to me, but seems a popular style at the mo. Looking at the ingredient list it is Magnum hopped, and has Malt Vinegar, Malic acid and Citric acid in its odd ingredients. Guess that is what is needed to get the sour style at low abv. I went with the Undertale Live Orchestra as live music again. It is a nicely quirky but chilled style that works well for drinking. The box of beers was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Good Things Irish Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Good inch or so of mounded creamy brown head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Milky chocolate. Slight cream. Slight charring. Milky coffee.

Body: Roasted character. Dry. Chalk touch. Bitter coffee. Sour cream touch.

Finish: Charring. Bitter. Dry coffee bitter character. Bitter cocoa. Sour cream touch.

Conclusion: Ok, you may have seen the can – some of you may have even seen the text on the back of it. It is making some very obvious references to a certain beer from a certain brewery. Because of that, you may think that this is going to be the low alcohol take on the creamy keg version of Guinness. It is not.

Instead it is a, to my mind far more impressive, low alcohol take on the classic dry Irish stout style bottled Guinness and oh yes it has hit its target.

The normal tells of a low alcohol beer are nearly invisible here, in part due to the style choice, and of course due to quality brewing. The low alcohol notes normally evident, such as iced tea or isotonic drinks character are hidden easily by the charred and coffee notes. The dry character of an Irish stout also means that the thinner body of a low alcohol beer isn’t really a problem here. It feels nicely attenuated, and has a bit more weight than usual – though don’t go into it expecting anything too heavy. It has weight for a low alcohol beer, not for a big stout.

Now, I will admit it, the dry Irish stout isn’t my favourite of the beer styles. I find it too, well, drying for me. Shocking I know. Even with that said, this is a good beer, lots of coffee bitter notes, lots of roasted notes, hints of bitter cocoa though with no sweeter chocolate release, again probably a character of the style, not a flaw in the beer.

So, a decent Irish dry stout, even more impressive for the low abv. I enjoy it even though I am not a fan of the style, and, considering that it utterly nails the style, I have the feeling that if you are a fan of that, then this is going to rock your low abv world.

Background: For those of you who have not seen the can, the text on the back is “Good things do come to those who wait. But when tick follows tock, follows tick follows tock, we thought, hang on, toucan play at that game. And whilst we don’t want to harp on about it, it was a bit like pushing at an open gate: our AF stouts are some of the best in the world. So here’s our Irish Stout. “ Now, maybe I’m reaching, but there seems to be some subtle references in there. And by subtle I mean not subtle. At all. Anyway, more experimentation with low alcohol beers is always of interest to me, so I had to grab myself a few cans of this from Independent Spirit to give a go. Anyway, went with Miracle Of Sound: Level 11 for backing music again. We are in 2021 and A Long Year already sounds far too relevant again.

Big Drop: Kinzig Gateaux Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. A grey/brown to off white head.

Nose: Black cherry to black cherry syrup. Chocolate dust. Black forest gateaux. Chalk touch.

Body: Slightly chalky. Iced tea. Slightly creamy. Charred notes. Slight blackberry.

Finish: Black cherry air. Lightly watery. Chalk touch. Mild cocoa. Slight coriander and ginger. Slight cream. Charring.

Conclusion: This is pretty much the opposite of the Speckled Hen Low Alcohol I had recently. This is all shiny and spectacle, with lots of class but really needs some more mouthfeel and weight.

The flavours are subtle, but the aroma is not. On the nose there are lots of black cherry and black forest gateaux that just floats out of the glass. Very dessert stout like, without being sickly sweet. Very nice.

The body comes in with the same flavours as the aroma promises, just lighter. It definitely needs to be somewhere around room temperature – when chilled down it loses 90% of the flavour. Warmer it has nice, if light flavours – similar gateaux character, with that iced tea like backing that is often a tell of low alcohol beers.

The finish has similar cream and dark fruit notes over a slightly chalky and charred underlying character that works well, but with the lighter body feels like it isn’t 100% needed.

This is reasonable, but definitely needs more body. If they can nail that, give the flavours some more grip, then this would be epic.

As is, it is ok, interesting, but light.

Background: I love Big Drop’s dedication to low abv beers, so have been trying as many of their products as I can. This is one of their seasonal range – coming in a larger can, and at a slightly higher cost, for something a bit different. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, I’ve had this one a few times already before doing these notes, and I put on IDLES: Ultra Mono again for backing music. Some emotionally open yet angry tunes. Kind of a mood recently. Not much else to add. Happy whatever you celebrate, or just a happy day to anyone who doesn’t.

Green King: Morland: Old Speckled Hen: Low Alcohol (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear reddish brown with a frothy off white, creamy head. Some small bubbled carbonation, but not much at all.

Nose: Chestnuts and treacle. Occasional light strawberry touches. Earthy touch. Sticky toffee pudding.

Body: Good weight to the mouthfeel. Sticky toffee pudding. Chalk touch. Lightly earthy. Crushed peanuts. Lightly creamy. Slight milky coffee at the back.

Finish: Blended whisky that has been 50/50 mixed with water. Treacle. Slightly dusty.

Conclusion: This has always been a low abv beer that fills an often missed niche in the low alcohol drinks market.

It fills in that nutty, slightly sticky traditional British bitter style. I would say traditional real ale style, but this is blatantly not that. It, instead has that mildly syrupy feel that I associate with a lot of the Marstons, and other similar pasteurised beers.

It actually works really well, giving a weight and thickness often missing for low alcohol beers, which gives it a distinct, beery character. In fact, I think if I had done this blind I wouldn’t have guessed this was a below 1% abv beer. I wouldn’t have guessed it as a heavy duty one, but definitely not that low. Which is impressive I will say.

Any which way, it isn’t a fancy one – neither heavy hopped or with a massive malt load style, but you know what? We have tons of beers that work the fruity, hoppy low abv style, a bunch of clean lagers, hop bombs and even a few trying for stouty character. What I haven’t seen much of is a simple, earthy British bitter style, which is what this feels like.

It is very solid, and , as mentioned, hard to recognise as a low abv beer. It very much earns its spot and does a lot to avoid the usual low abv flaws.

Does the job very nicely.

Background: Grabbed this from Sainsbury’s when I was in there. Have had it a few times before. Looking back through the notes I remember being pretty happy with the cask version of Old Speckled Hen, but being both low abv and the pasteurised bottle version, this will be a very different beast. Not much else to add. I put on Korn: See You On The Other Side while drinking. No real reason, just felt like it. Make of that what you will.

Fourpure: Flavourly: Geyser Session IPA (England: Session IPA: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear to just slightly hazy yellowed body with a thin white head and not much carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla. Light fudge. Crisp hop air. Light grapefruit. Fresh cut apple. Fresh in general.

Body: Prickly bitterness. Moderate hop character. Slightly bready. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Good, solid hop bitterness. Greenery. Sulphur. Peppery. Some very light grapefruit.

Conclusion: I’m finding it hard to write a lot about this one. It is solid. Solid is an admirable quality but it makes it hard to write something interesting for people to read.

Sooooo, it’s a session IPA. A style that often gets on my nerves as a lot of brewers seem to just continue throwing in the high IPA hops into an otherwise standard pale ale, without considering how the lower malt with affect how those hops are expressed, resulting in an overly dry and harsh beer. So far Beavertown’s Neck Oil stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the competion for the style by managing not to fall into that mistake.

This is pretty dry, but manages to keep it on the drinkable side of things. It also manages a good bitterness and lightly peppery character that gives the IPA punch of hops despite the low abv not giving much malt to contrast them.

Now the aroma is the most interesting part of this deal, and promises a lot more than I just described above. It gives a lot of malt sweetness hints somehow, despite the abv, and a little touch of tart grapefruit notes that promises some release from the bitter hops.

None of this follows through into the body, which is a pity. The base is, as previously said, solid. Well done bitterness, easily drinnkable, dry but not drying. It just needs some pep adding, some metaphorical spice thrown into the mix. The grapefruit hints out again in the finish, but just doesn’t manage to push through mid body.

It isn’t 100% of nailing the body – occasionally being a tad sulphurous, but generally a really good base that puts it above 80% of session IPAs I have tried. It just needs some experimentation to add some range to it. Hope they give it tweak.

Background: So, my parents kindly got me a box of beer from Flavourly – they were doing one of their many offers and it seemed a very decent price as well for a bunch of beers. Many thanks! Time to see if there is quality for that price. This is listed as a Flavourly collaboration with Fourpure. Now Fourpure already have a session IPA at 4.2% abv. Is this a tweaked version of that recipe? Or possibly just rebranded for Flavourly? I dunno. I Never tried Fourpure’s session IPA so can’t say, but something to keep in mind. Had on varied versions of Faithless’ Insomnia for backing music while drinking. The recent heat made that song seem very relevant at the moment.

Big Drop: Poolside DDH IPA (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold body with some small bubbled carbonation. Huge yellow white loose head that leaves suds.

Nose: Peach. Unbuttered popcorn. Kiwi. Soft lime. Lemon drizzled pancakes. Passion-fruit. Cake sponge. Lightly bitter.

Body: Iced tea. Kiwi. Slight teabags. Cake sponge. Moderate bitterness. Lightly peppery. Slight peach. Vanilla. Lime.

Finish: Good hop bitterness. Tannins. Lemony. Light charring. Apple. Good hop character. Lime. Kiwi. Peach.

Conclusion: I’m slightly split in my opinion of this one. It does a lot well, but there is one important point where I feel it is weaker than Big Drop’s Citra IPA and their Pale Ale. Weaker in character that is, they are all 0.5% abv for alcohol, natch.

The aroma is the best part – fresh and subtly layered. Lots of different fruit dancing around in there – you get a good range and a subtle hop character and bitterness working under it.

The bitterness grow in the main body, to become a decent kick by the time you get through to the finish. The fruit is never as complex as the aroma though. Instead of layers of juicy and fresh fruit notes you tend to get bursts of individual notes pushing through. There are still kiwi and lemon notes making the most distinct impression despite the growling bitterness.

The problem then is that it has that kind of iced tea and tannins notes which tend to show up in low alcohol beers, and especially early on they are much more present that in Big Drop’s other hoppy beers. I’m not sure why, but for all the quality hop work used here, it still shouts “low abv” more that most of Big Drop’s range.

It is still decent, good in fact – it is impressive in how it manages to balance the higher bitterness without needing the malt and higher abv to balance it – and it does show what you can do when you put more, and a wider range of, ingredients into a low abv beer.

It just needs a bit of tweaking – so close, just needs that touch more work to really shine.

Background: Second of Big Drop’s summer releases. This being more firmly in their area of strength being a hop led double dry hopped IPA. Looking at the can it is hopped with Azacca, Chinook, Mosaic and Motueka. Again had a few of these before doing the notes. Went with Rage Against The Machine’s self titled album as backing to drinking. Mainly as some people still don’t realise their songs are political apparently. So I need to keep pumping them out until people realise. Anyway, another beer from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Kodama IPL (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Darkened gold colour clear body. Very small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized crisp bubbled off white head.

Nose: Choc toffee. Choc lime. Lemongrass. Bubblegum. Lemon sherbet. Lightly prickly hops. Bourbon biscuits.

Body: Clean. Bourbon biscuits. Choc toffee. Lemongrass. Prickly hop character.

Finish: Lemongrass. Good hop character and bitterness. Choc toffee. Mild gherkin touch. Bubblegum. Bitterness grows over time. Fresh touch – slight grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is much more malt led than I expected from an IPL. There is lots of choc toffee notes that call to an East Cost IPA inspiration for this IPL. It isn’t thick in mouthfeel – actually quite clean textured and easy drinking in fact – until the hops come out to play at least.

The hops prickle – starting with low bitterness, but in the finish it keeps growing until it gives a decent punch whilst still allowing the main body to keep its easy drinking character.

The interesting this, for me at least as a fan of Sorachi Ace hops, is how those hops interplay with all this. (And there are also Nelson Sauvin hops, of which I am also a huge fan, but one thing at a time)

It gives those bubblegum and lemongrass filled notes that make this very different to to you usual low alcohol beer, lager or even IPL. I wonder if the more choc lime notes we get are the mix of the odd hop influence with the sweeter malt. Any which way it feels like an experiment in beer, rather than just an attempt to make a low alcohol version of an existing beer and that makes it very interesting indeed.

It’s prickly, kind of savoury with light freshness over that sweet base, and while you are trying to work out what each flavour actually is, that bitter finish comes it to make everything nice and simple in the end.

One of the better IPLs I’ve had, so as a low abv IPL it is great. The only flaw is an odd one for a low abv beer – the heavier malt flavour makes it less easy drinking over time, so it isn’t as sessionable as it could be.

Still, in general I love it.

Background: A summer release from the masters of the low abv beer – Big Drop! I’ve had a few of these already, but being low abv beers I tend to drink them so easily I never get around to do notes on them, so I made a distinct effort here to finally do some. This is an IPL made with Nelson Sauvin and Sorachi Ace hops – a combination of two of my favourite hops that need more show these days now they are no longer the new hotness. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with Heavens To Betsy: Calculated for background music. No real reason, was just in the mood.

Wild Beer Co: Circadian IPA (England: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark lemon juice colour. Large off white bubbly head that looks fragile but lasts.

Nose: Oats. Peppery. Horse blankets. Crushed barley biscuits. Soft lime. Dried apricot.

Body: Thick and sticky. Sour cream and chives. Bitter. Oats and muesli. Dried sultanas. Gooseberry. Slight backing toffee. Prickly hops. Peach skin. Lime. Bitter red wine. Late on dried dark fruit.

Finish: Peppery. Bitter. Oats and muesli. Hoppy and earthy. Dried apricot. Tart grapes. Charring. Herbal. Dry white wine and bitter dry red wine. Dried raisins.

Conclusion: With all the odd methods used to make this beer it all comes together to make a beer that feels like an earthy, rustic saison with the bitter hops shoved way up.

Up front it is quite thick and bitter. It tastes like of like drinking mashed up peppered oats, but with that yeast funk giving a distinct feel and flavour. Here, early on, it is all about that feel. The oat mouthfeel and flavour, matched with the earthy rustic taste pushes away any subtle notes that try to make themselves known.

Time lets you acclimatise and lets the beer open up. It is still sticky and sour creamed touched, still bitter, but now with a smoother toffee malt note desperately trying to show itself from under the weight. Similarly a subtle peach and lime set of notes poke out at the edges. It gives just a hint of a release from the rustic main style.

The closest comparison I could make is to Stone Brewing’s Enjoy After IPA, though the comparison may not be completely fair as I have not aged this one at all yet (I do have a second bottle for ageing). That beer was drier ( though this is still fairly dry) and more harshly bitter (though this is still fair bitter) which makes me wonder if similar is to come here?

Id say, comparing the two, that this is better, so far at least. It has a more distinct progression, especially late on where you start getting a mix of dry white and red wine notes coming out and much more in the way of apricot notes. It is still definitely a beer in the interesting examination over casual enjoyment camp as the tail end is where the beer really starts to stand out. The aforementioned wine notes start playing amongst the heavier front. You start getting dried dark fruit and here, in my second pour, and the later end of the beer is when it is at its most interesting and complex, but you have to do a lot of work to get here.

While it is never a bad beer, to get this beer at its best you really need to dedicate some time for each layer of flavour to come out. Early on it is simple but ok, still different and heavy, but only ok. Give it time and it gives you a lot in return.

Definitely worth investigating if you are willing to take your time, never quite becomes closer to great than interesting – but it sure rewards you for taking an interest.

Background: Ok, going to be a lot of copying from the bottle for this one, there is a lot going on. Pitched as the culmination of everything they have learned over seven years (Seven years, already? Darn time flies) this is an IPA where the wort is cooled in Coolships ( open top flat cooling traditionally used for lambics), with added Kviek Farmhouse yeast (which I’ve seen around a bit but I think this is my first actual taste of), Brett and white wine yeast was added after fermentation, then aged in various oak barrels, blended, then dry hopped with mosaic. So, yeah a lot going on there. As a huge fan of Wild Beer when they started up I’ve been meaning to grab some more stuff from them for a while, and this made me finally take the plunge and order from their web site. Well, that a 10% discount for first order, the fact they had the awesome Yadokai going cheap as it was near its best before date (and I am sure it will only better with age), and a few other bits I wanted to pick up. Anyway wax topped, which oft gets on my nerves these days, but it is a big anniversary beer, and was fair easy to get off so I’m ok with it this time. Went With Run The Jewels 2 for music – only got into them recently and checking out their back catalogue, and it is intense!

Donzoko: Northern Helles (England: Dortmunder: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Very large mounded yellow/white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat fields. Lime zest. Fresh lemon. Subtle kiwi. Lightly peppery.

Body: Solid. Slightly peppery. Watered caramel. Earthy. Lactic notes. Slightly cloying. Slight fuller caramel notes. Slight kiwi.

Finish: Good bitterness. Light charring. Earthy notes. Bitter caramel? (Is there such a thing?). Lactic touch. Peppery. Dried fudge. Slight lime and kiwi.

Conclusion: Contrary to what the can says this doesn’t look hazy on the eye to me, and I would not describe it as refreshing to drink. Doesn’t mean it is bad, but it definitely isn’t what I expected from the description on the can.

On the nose it is fairly light, with a soft, inviting citrus take to it. The body is then an utter surprise – pretty thick feeling, earthy, heavy and with a slight cloying lactic touch. The lactic touch helps with an unusual mouthfeel which I would say is one of the more interesting elements of the beer.

Oddly the hop flavours feel close to what I would expect from an earthy British bitter rather than a helles lager. There is similarly a slight watery caramel touch that calls to a British bitter. In fact, I feel that trying this blind, and by which I mean blindfolded, and so I couldn’t see the gold colour and large head, I may even mistake it for a bitter.

OK, not quite that close to a bitter – the mouthfeel is drier up front even if it becomes heavy at the back. Also underneath everything there is a slight green fruit freshness which I would not associate with a Bitter – but you get my point, this is a non standard helles.

So it is different, but is it good? It’s, well, average. Solid, heavy flavours, but gets a tad dry and wearing in everything over time. Despite its unusual character it doesn’t really benefit from examination over time, and lacks the refreshing character to be sessionable or thirst quenching.

Not bad, just not one I would really pick to return to.

Background: Been meaning to grab and do more notes on lagers, they are easy to overlook, rarely coming with fancy eye-catching labels or odd twists. Not tried anything from Donzoko before and they seem to have a range of lagers, so thought I would give this – their mainstay – a go. Another one from Independent Spirit. I was going to list this as just Helles but Ratebeer lists this as Helles – Dortmunder Export. I did a bit of googling and after a while concluded that sounded about right. I’ve still not had many Dortmunders, so am not 100% but seemed to be around the style guidelines. Went with X-Ray Specs: Germ Free Generation for music backing this – as you can probably guess I’ve been poking around in early punk bands again.

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