Tag Archive: Fyne Ales

Big Drop: Fyne Ales: Jam Session (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, lightly yellowed body. Thin white dash of a head. A small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Wholemeal bread. Fresh raspberry. Watery malt vinegar. Lightly chalky. Spritzy.

Body: Softly tart. Slightly fizzy feel. Chalk feel. Light tart raspberry. Watery. Slight watery malt vinegar. Yellow raspberry. Greenery.

Finish: Chalky. Cake sponge. Watery. Light raspberry. Lactose. Salty. Green fresh leaves.

Conclusion: This is, well, unusual. I would say that it doesn’t feel like it matches a gose, but since the explosion in new takes on the style over the past few years I really couldn’t say if it does or does not fall under one of them. It is just, a bit odd.

What it does is wear its many and varied ingredients on its sleeve. The watered malt vinegar sourness, the salt touch, acidic, lactose kind of thing. All stuff that gives a distinct mouthfeel despite a general wateriness, and does give a general base character that has a lot of the unusual notes you would associate with the more lactic goses. However as indicated the reason that it doesn’t feel much like a gose to me is that the main body is very watery and thin. All the ingredients have to work very hard against that to get across what gose feel it has.

The raspberry is surprising lightly used over that base – it gives reasonable tartness and some flavour, but not as dominant as you might expect. The raspberry is quite naturally done, but understated – it feels like a soft drink made with a few raspberries to give a bit of pep, but not much else.

It is ok, but feels very much like a non soda pop styled soft drink – one of those glass bottled small company soft drinks kind of things – rather than a beer. It even has that odd herbal note you get in a bunch of those drinks as they are made with a bunch of “Natural ingredients”. Similarly there is a chalk note that make it just slightly rough at the edges.

Its an ok drink, but not really refreshing, not really a good gose, not really impressive as a beer. It is just gently pleasing but not much else.

Ok, not really worth grabbing by itself, but ok as part of the four pack.

Background: Fourth and final of the low abv collaboration beer made by Big Drop to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. This one, a collaboration with Fyne Ales, is probably the most unusual – An attempt to reproduce the once nearly lost Germany gose style – but at 0.5% ABV. To do so they have a host of special ingredients in the brew – most notably raspberry flavouring, malt vinegar, sea salt, malic, tartaric, lactic and citric acid. I had to look up what some of those acids were. As before the four pack box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Since we had one amazing and one good beer out of the batch so far (and admittedly one crap one) I was looking forwards to this. Music wise it was yet again time for Tool: Fear Inoculum. Such an amazing album.

Fyne Ales: Origins Brewing – Kilkerran Wee Heavy (Scotland: Scotch Ale: 7.6% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin grey dash of a head.

Nose; Oily. Figs. Smoke. Raisins and fruitcake. Brown sugar. Fudge. Treacle.

Body: Smooth. Oily. Brown bread. Slightly thin. Medicinal notes. Light salt. Fruitcake and figs. Eccles cake. Malt chocolate. Smokey.

Finish: Brown bread. Oily. Slight charring. Figs and raisins. Malt chocolate. Smoked meat. Hop oils – nutty. Slight rocks. Slightly drying. Greenery. Toffee.

Conclusion: A beer of contradictions. That may be getting to be an overused term for me, but it is true here. It is an oily feeling Scotch ale that still manages to feel slightly thin at the same time. Even odder I am fairly sure that both elements come from the same barrel ageing. Odd again in that despite the thin mouthfeel it manages to pack some big flavours.

While smoothed out at the base we still have the familiar Scotch ale – the whole raisins, fruitcake, malt chocolate and such, though fairly restrained in delivery. What comes out more is an oily, slightly salty, smokey and lightly medicinal character. Having drunk Kilkerran I am surprised how barrel ageing in their casks seem to bring similar notes to what I would expect from Islay ageing. You do get more familiar campbeltown grassiness come out over time which is quite interesting to observe. By the end of the beer the notes become slightly dusty, and the salt becomes rockier but it manages to keep the more pleasant smoked meat notes

Chilled it is definitely too light a beer, but the flavours work well despite that. As it warms the body doesn’t gain much thickness but the rougher notes seem to gain more presence which results in a harsher experience. It is definitely interesting, and when chilled the whisky influence is fascinating, but it really needs a bigger body to work with it.

A tad too light for the rough edged notes it carries. A noble experiment, but needs beefing up a few percent abv, or similar thickness adding methods, to work right I feel.

Background: As always, I will not lie and claim that an opportunity to break out the thistle glass again was not part of why I grabbed this scotch ale, however it wasn’t the only reason. One of the big reasons was that this has been aged in Kilkerran casks. I’m a big fan of the Campbeltwon distilleries, few in number though they may be, and you don’t see them used with beer much, so this sounded like a nice experiment to try. This was again grabbed at Independent Spirit, and was drink while listening to Iron Maiden – Number Of The Beast album, always a blinder of an album.

Brewdog Fyne Ales Same Werking

Brewdog: Fyne Ales: Same Werking (Scotland: Amber Ale: 5.1 %ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Loose bubbly thin browned head.

Nose: Slightly musky. Dried and peppered meat. Cream cheese and chives. Sour dough. Dry brown bread. Faint toffee,

Body: Sour dough. Roasted nuts. Dry. Paprika. Peanuts.

Finish: Sour dough. Cream cheese. Peanuts.

Conclusion: This reminds me a lot of the Irish style red ales I have tried – they have that very dry, and slightly roasted and slightly soured main body. I wonder if it is an intentional call, or just an effect of rooibos?

It is another of the collabfest beers that seems to be working more on the feel of the beer over the flavour, drying yet quite easy to drink- a roasted rough feel but quite slick behind that.

Unfortunately the style needs a lot of skill to pull off, in my opinion anyway – and this, while it manages to deliver a competent expression of the style, doesn’t seem to put that extra touch on it that it needs to really work.

The body is so drying, and so full of dry flavours – without that spark or twist to make it excite, that I can’t really get behind it. It could just be that, like scotch ales, this is one where often the style is not for me. They often seem, like this, overly dominated by the roasted character – the aroma hints at toffee, but none is expressed in the body.

A robust take on a style that it seems doesn’t really appeal to me, so I end up none too impressed.

Background: A rooibos red ale. Apparently rooibos is used for herbal tea, I’ve never tried it, so couldn’t say much on that. Anyway, twelfth beer of collabfest 2014 on day 2. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

48 Miles Later

Brewdog: Fyne Ales: 48 Miles Later (Scotland: Black IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Black. Coffee froth coloured bubbles

Nose: Slightly fluffy hops. Slightly earthy. Pencil shavings. Smoke. Roasted.

Body: Good bitterness. Smoked bacon. Cranberry. Smoke. Meat platter. Tarry feel. Slight sour white grapes. Maple syrup.

Finish: Smoke. Slightly tarry feel on tongue. Gooseberry jam. Dry beef slices. Slight spice feel. Light hops. Doughnuts. Slight pepper warmth,

Conclusion: Huh, I had a beer called Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale a while back, which I bring up as this is kind of smoked bacon maple syrup doughnut black ale. Which is not at all what I expected. It has a present hop character, but not huge for the style, but with it comes lots of smoke, lots of meat platters and a jammy sweetness. Ok, gooseberry jam, but more people make odd doughnuts these days so a gooseberry jam doughnut is not out of the question. The comparison still fits. Honest.

Anyway, strangely for a chilli beer it isn’t that spicy, it seems from the description that the chilli actually is giving more of the smoke and the earthy character that I found. This gives it a lovely rounded feel. The other odd element, the NZ dry hopping, seems very understated on the other hand, I think providing that jammy touch but very delicately.

This not half as big in character as most Black IPAs, but it is very balanced and that smoke to jam mix is delectable. Very grounded, very balanced, but that jam element just makes it.

So a very pleasant and complex BIPA, with a mix of the joyous fun that the Voodoo beer had, but with a much better beer to back it up in the Black IPA style. Not the brashest beer but great fun and great quality. If you compare it to say, Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, it is not going to come off well as it is nowhere near that masterpiece, but it is also a very different beer to that. It is a beer that shows again how to use smoke to back a quirky ale rather than define it.

Background: Collab Fest 2013! Every Brewdog bar collaborated with a local brewery to make a beer for the fest, resulting in a grand total of twelve beers released over one weekend. So, what could I do? Normally I limit myself to two of three reviews in a session, but these would only be on for the weekend. So, for you, my readers, I sat in one eight hour stint, drinking thirds, with a glass of water and a chapter of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone between each drink to help clear my palette. I suffer so for you. This was the sixth beer of the day, a black IPA made with chipotle chilli and nelson sauvin hops. At this point, due to the bar being busy, I was joined on my table by two drinkers who were sharing a flight of samplers, so we got the chance to discuss our favourite of the beers and compare thoughts. Thanks to them both for helping make the day more pleasurable by their presence. For some reason Rate beer lists this as “Smoked Chilli Dark Ale” rather than by its name, I have no idea why. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Cool As A Cucumber

Fyne and Wild: Cool as a Cucumber (England: Vegetable Saison: 2.9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow brown with large tight bubbled head

Nose: Mint leaves. Rustic yeast. Light hop bitterness. Cucumber. Straw. Peppery.

Body: Cucumber. Whole grain crackers. Mint. Menthol. Nice moderate bitterness. Pepper.

Finish: Light hop bitterness and dry feel. Cooling. Cucumber. Crackers. Mint. Radishes.

Conclusion: Ok, odd, then again I could have guessed that going in. Very cucumber filled, which reminds me of those god awful summer pimms drinks that people make. Except this is good, and without pimms. Ok the link might be slightly tenuous.

It is a very different beer to most, though you can taste the base saison throughout with its light hop bitterness and funky yeast character and light pepperyness. However the main play of the beer is the cucumber and mint that dominate, so no, not like any beer I have had up to this point. Very savoury, the mint and rustic character makes me feel like it was brewed with the run off of a lamb dinner.

Very refreshing, very summer and all mild smoothing flavours. Seriously I just couldn’t see myself drinking this in winter, it just wouldn’t fit. It is very tasty, which surprised me as I am not generally a big fan of cucumber. This is just bitter and rustic enough behind the refreshing character. I wil say that, by itself, it is not quite the session beer it wants to be. The abv may be perfect and it does have a decent range of flavour, but the elements can get a bit old by ¾ of they way through the 75cl bottle.

What I am thinking though, is that if you add a bit of food in this may be sorted, just something to break it up a bit and let it earn its place again. (I personally kept the summer theme and tries some ice cream which worked ok, but I’m guessing something more savoury like mini sausages, crackers or the like would be better)

So pleasant and interesting, innovative as hell. As a beer on its own it can get samey fast, but as an accompaniment to food it should be spot on. A beer of distinct purpose and time, and does not sit well outside of that purpose. Inside it however it explores a niche that many others have overlooked.

Background: I have to admit my initial enthusiasm for this was lacking. Saison, ok that is good, low abv, that is good, made with mint and cucumber. Okaaaay. However it is a) From Wild Beer co (and Fyne Ale) an B) has been getting quite a good buzz around the blogosphere so I thought I would give it a go. It’s been timed well as my friends and I have been discussing exactly what makes a perfect session beer, and which beers would be that. So far we have decided less than 4% ABV, apart from that we are disagreeing wildly, with me calling to Artbrew I Beer, Moors Revival and Brewdogs Dead Pony Club, and others calling to Bellringer (Which I don’t rate) Still disagreement leads to better conversations. Anyway, this was picked up at Independent Spirit who have a beer selection that is getting better by the day.

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