Tag Archive: Greene King

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.

Green King: Innis and Gunn: Irish Whiskey Cask (Scotland: Stout:7.4% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown to black. Browned head, though not much of it. It tends to clump around the edges for what you do get as well.  Red highlights to the beer in the light,

Nose:  Charring. Liquorice and lemon sherbet. Rum and raisins. Shortbread. A grain like alcohol touch. Malt loaf.

Body: Sticky treacle and sticky toffee pudding. Slightly sherbety froth to the texture. Light oak influence.  Bitter and liquorice at the core. Vanilla beans. Bitter coffee.

Finish: Liquorice. Quite slick. Slightly oily texture. Dry malt.  Fish oil. Charring and bitterness. Brown or possible rye bread. Toffee. Ash.

Conclusion: It seems that the time spent in the whiskey casks isn’t the only Irish influence on this Scottish born stout.  The finish in particular reminds me of the dry highly attenuated finish of some Irish red ales. The main body similarly cleaves closely to the traditional Irish interpretation of the stout (for a mainstream reference imagine the standard bottled Guinness as opposed to the thicker creamier pub tap style).

The whiskey influence onto this is pretty heavy as well. Sweet toffee notes feel as if they have been rinsed throughout. In many ways it’s odd that it took this long for I&G to go the stout route for their beers as oak ageing in most of the industry has tended towards the heavier and darker beers as their base for a while.  It just seems heavier beers survive exposure to the spirit better that their lighter counterparts. For the most anyway.  Now they have gone the stout route they pick the lighter Irish whisky rather than the generally more booming Scottish whisky to go with. It copes better than you would guess at challenging the heavy stout flavours and has no problem making itself apparent.

The Innis and Gunn style is still highly event even with the change in beer style. By which I mean the weird mix of oak and almost bubblegummy feel which is hard to pin down in tasting but obvious whenever you are exposed to it in a beer.

So does it work. Actually yes. The whisky sweetness offsets the dry stout very well. It is in turns dry, bitter and slightly cloying put against a sweetness that by itself would be sickly but here balances well.

The range of stouts available these days is massive, and crowded with high quality beers. This is a good entry, maybe slightly sickly towards the end but that minor flaw is offset by the fact that this beer manages a distinct feel that stands out from the pack.

I’m sure there will have been Irish whiskey aged beers before, but this is my first encounter with such a thing and its mix of styling makes for a welcome difference for an old hand to the scene.

Overall and enjoyable and different celebration of the style. Very glad I got the chance to try it.

Background: I return from work one day to find this bottle awaiting me. Turns out the kind people who promote Innis and Gunn decided to send me a bottle.  Many thanks, it was a nice surprise and always appreciated.  This stout was aged in Irish Whiskey casks for 60 days after brewing.  I don’t think I have run into Irish aged beer before.  I think. Innis and Gunn have been solid to great in their beer releases so far (with the exception of I&G Blond, but I will let them off on that one). Despite the mass of stouts I have been drinking recently I don’t seem to be getting burnt out on them yet. Thankfully.

Innis and Gunn: Melville’s Strawberry Beer (Scotland: Fruit Beer: 4.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear cherryade red, thin dash of white bubbles.

Nose: Very fresh strawberry, very sweet. Sugar dusting and ice cream Sundays.

Body: Fizzy texture, strawberry. Dry wood, light bitterness and apple juice.

Finish: Apple acidity and flavour. Lager dry malt and dry hop touch. Slight popcorn feel, Decent bitterness as it winds down.

Conclusion: So a lager based fruit beer huh. I would have expected the lighter lager style to disappear before the fruit, but that turned out not to be the case.  Whilst almost cherryade sweet in the aroma, and distinctly similar in the carbonation, the finish brings surprisingly noticeable hopped lager feel to round it off.

Heck, from this I am slightly interested to see what the base lager would actually taste like, and wonder if it would stand up ok on its own? Maybe, who knows, can’t be worse than Fosters, or Tescos value lager.

The fruit is strong and sweet, though I can see somewhat of a cherryaid style, most likely due to the fizziness and the lack of grip that comes with the less thick lager style.

Does the fruit well, but not likely to be a favourite of mine. It’s very much aimed as a light refresher, rather than as a contemplative classic.  Though I will admit, for the light refresher style it does give a reasonable bit of bite and hops to give it some back, and that bit extra helps make it more refreshing than a simple sickly beer would have been.

Simple, but very fruity over a decent base.  Definitely a lot better than the alchopops most people use for this kind of thing, so may serve good purpose for combating those sickly nightmares.

Not bad, but very deliberately not challenging you or your expectations.

Background:  Provided free by R and R Teamwork for reviewing.  Many thanks to them, and thus the appropriate disclaimer that I will try not to let this influence my review but I thought I should reveal anything that may cause a bias.  Lager based which is slightly odd for a fruit beer.  Apparently it should be served over ice, but, well no, you just don’t do that to a beer, fruit or no.

Innis and Gunn: Triple Matured (Scotland: Strong Ale: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark rum red brown with a little dash of an off white head.

Nose: Rum, oak and malt. Lots of wood and wood shavings. Wheat chaff/grain and dry hops.

Body: Thick cream, raisins and charred wood. Blackcurrent/ blackcherry. Brandy snaps and raspberry Toffee, red wine and milk chocolate. Sherried fruit.

Finish: Milk, dry textured and white bread. Toffee. Sour touches in an understated fashion.

Conclusion: This is a top notch smooth beer – lovely rum and chocolate – the distinctive Innis and Gunn style, similar to the rum cask but smoother and richer.

Probably the most accomplished Innis and Gunn beer I have tried and brilliantly rich, just a notch below the world class efforts but damn good. A beer of high quality that slips well into many a social situation, from casual drinking to classy parties.

Very well crafted.

Greene King Fireside (England: Bitter: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: A lovely mix of red and chestnut brown. Decent off white head that diminishes in about a minute. Lots of small bubbles carbonate it.

Nose: Blackcherries, oak. Wood fire ash and slight smoke. Thick cream and toffee.

Body: Bitter, warming. Treacle and brown bread. Lots of wood fire and gas burner elements. Salted meat and blackcurrent.

Finish: Smoke, dry wood. Burnt barbecued sausage. Black treacle. Slight sweet hundred and thousands scattered at the end.

Conclusion: A satisfying winter ale with rounded smoke, wood ash and the like combined with a decent bitter core, which makes for a very old world feeling ale with a lot of charm.

Quite bitter with a thick texture, a decent mainstream beer, good chunk of character – perfect for a traditional family run pub, or with a meal of a Yorkshire pudding and gravy , or the like.

Innis and Gunn: Canadian Cask (Scotland: Strong Ale: 7.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry red and oak. Bubbly brown head, large but short lived.

Nose: Musky oak, gin and sweat. Sour cherry, raisin. Old Clothes shops.

Body: Smooth, toffee, moderate hops. Raspberry, slight bitterness. Mellow whisky and vanilla extract. Rounded oak influences on the main body. Attics and grain stores.

Finish: Fudge, bakewells. Sour cherry. Slight gin feel again. Grapes and white wine.

Conclusion: Smooth and decent, lovely fudge finish and easy going. A nice mix of just so sweetness and whisky smooth body.

A decent experience of a beer- mellow, not extravagant. Comes across more of a refinement of a standard Innis and Gunn than a completely new beer. Not a bad thing in most respects.

Slightly dry and sour, decent added complexity to the main Inns and Gunn and gives a different character to an already enjoyable mainstream beer.

Innis and Gunn Rum Cask (Scotland: Strong Ale: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Extreme dark red with wine like elements. Fizzy head dissipates quickly.

Nose: Sea salt, distinct rum and red wine. Slight soured cherries. Spicy and draws you in. Almost nautical character. Salt and vinegar crisps.

Body: Slick and smooth, red wine and marzipan. The rum characteristics are unmistakable, Chewy raisins. Not too heavy, drips sweetly down your throat. Rich feel and seems like the liquid crumbles in your mouth.

Finish: Raspberries and cherries mixed in cinnamon. Touch of black treacle.

Conclusion: So far the best Innis and Gunn beer made. A wonderful mix of red wine and beer character with a brilliant rum influence.

It is rich and fruity with a slight salt and nautical character that rounds it wonderfully. Never too harsh, it is a drink of leisure and for remising on times of adventure and past glories, a true call to days filled with wonder.

So yes, it is a fine beer in case you were still wondering.

(Note: Thanks to Paul Henderson for providing some bottles of this fine beer)

Belhaven/Greene King: Innis And Gunn IPA (2009 Canadian Market Version) (Scotland: IPA: 7.7% ABV)

Note: This version of the IPA can be recognized by the higher alcohol (7.7 compared to 6.4% and is a significantly different beer)

Visual: Clear light orange gold. Bubbly with a solid light frothy head.

Nose: Oak and vanilla. Creamy. This is nowhere near as expressive as the legendry nose of the prior version of the IPA. Malted sugar and hops.

Body: Sweet then oaky. Rounded rich notes hit like a double bass. Caramel. Light whisky like notes. Icing sugar and a bitter yet honeyed punch.

Finish: Treacle, hops and dusty. Bitter and sea waves.

Conclusion: A much more standard IPA than Innis and Gunns prior attempt which is great pity as the prior version was legendry.

Whilst the previous beer was not as good example of the IPA style it was an amazing beer in itself and had one of the best noses I have ever encountered.

Despite that disappointment this is still a fine beer and also a fine example of the IPA style.

Sweet front, lovely sea and oak imagery and rich on the mouth. This is a firm IPA, just not the classic IPA you wish they still made.

Old Speckled Hen (England: Bitter: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Light brownish white thin head. Clear orange red liquid

Nose: Cigarette ash, dry hoppiness, oak trees and distilleries.

Body: Rich and sweet, followed by a short sharp bite. A straight on swig of blended whisky taste, then caramelised sugar and mild hops.

Finish: Hops and a dryness that lingers leaving a rough texture, then just at the end a slight citrus edge.

Conclusion: The whisky like notes adds to what else would be a fairly standard beer. As it is it becomes a slightly sharp ale with a nice punch at the start.

GUEST TASTER: Lee Duffield

Visual: There is a stagnant look to the head. Limp, deep golden look. Heavy tinge of red.

Nose: Musty burnt smell, old oak, damp cut grass.

Body: A harsh dry after hit, a slight twinge of whisky. Very full flavour.

Finish: Strong hops, a taste of gnawing of damp wood from the forest floor

Conclusion: You know when you’ve had a “Shackled” Hen. There is no gentle introduction; from the first to the last the hops seem to just hold in your mouth.

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