Tag Archive: Kees


Kees: Multi Beer: Pohjala: 4 Wheel Drive (Netherlands: Quadrupel: 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Opaque main body. A grey dash of a head.

Nose: Dry roasted nuts. Malt chocolate drinks. Brown sugar. Figs. Dried banana.

Body: Smooth, slightly creamy mouthfeel. Light cream flavour. Raisins. Plums. Brown bread. Dried banana. Hints of cloves. Malt loaf. Lightly chalky. Light strawberry touch. Milky coffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Brown sugar. Yeastie feel. Banoffee. Milky coffee. Malt loaf. Big chocolate late on.

Conclusion: Ohhh myyyy, this is a complex one. Smooth, despite its high abv, with hints of alcohol at its core, but clean, lightly creamy and very smooth of body. It just slips down the throat and there are no rough edges to hide the many subtleties of this beer.

Now the smoothness is a mixed blessing in my mind. Long time readers may remember I kind of like the rough edges of a big Belgian and miss them when they are gone. The big thing that makes the difference here is that it gives you a lot in return for their absence – the level of depth to this beer is amazing and a lot would be lost to those rough edges.

At its base it is all that quad goodness – malt chocolate and brown sugar – just delivered very smooth. Dark fruit come out to play from time to time, though in an odd quirk it leans into a milky coffee set of notes more heavily than expected in an almost porter way. Though it doesn’t dent the quad character.

The coffee notes aren’t the most unusual thing though – there are lots of dried banana notes under that and a touch of cloves that give a hint of a call to a weizenbock within this quad and that is very nice. It manages to mix a very Rochfort inspired quad with subtle touches from other dark beers, while still staying super smooth, all creating an epic experience.

Different that the standard quad experience, but still faithful enough and every change from expectations gives you a range of subtle extra notes that makes for a super rewarding beer.

As long as you are happy with the smoother quad than the usual Belgian take then this is a must have.

Background: Kees have been pretty epic so far, so I Was interested in a big quad from them. Then I hear it is inspired by Rochefort’s epic quad, and my interest increased. Don’t know much about the collaborators, Multi Beer and Pohjala. Multi Beer in particular is hard to google for more info, for obvious reasons. Anyway, been a while since I put on some Praxis, so feeling for some odd jazz funk electronic guitar mix I put Transmutation on for a play. This was another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit‘s online shop. I actually did these notes about a week ago, will try to get actual notes uploaded more often!

Kees: #05 Anniversary (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Creamy coffee brown head.

Nose: Cocoa dust. Rich roasted coffee. Dry roasted peanuts. Sour cream.

Body: Creamy chocolate into bitter cocoa back. Sour cream and chives touch. Creamy coffee. Hazelnuts.

Finish: Creamy coffee cake. Bitter cocoa. Creamy coffee itself. Pecan pie. Crushed peanuts. Earthy, slightly peppery bitterness.

Conclusion: Ok, looking up at the notes I know that from them it sound like a fairly standard imperial stout fare. So, now I need to use this section to convince you that this is in no way a standard stout.

Ok, first up, best I can tell this has no extra special ingredients – no coffee beans, no cocoa, no barrel ageing, you get what I mean? This is just a beer. Fucking fantastic isn’t it that people still remember how to do that, right?

Because of the lack of odd ingredients I know that when this is so thick, creamy and smooth, that when it has not only a wonderful mouthfeel but also shows the abv with malt weight while never getting boozy of any alcohol harshness, that all of that is from the brewing and not from time in the oak to smooth it.

Similarly when it has bitter cocoa, rounded, rich coffee or when it brings pecan nutty notes – again that is all the work of malt, hops, yeast and water (ok, and oats, I’ll give you that one, and oats). Yet with the rewarding, well rounded and developed notes it brings in those categories it easily matches those “throw everything in the brew” style beers.

Yet that isn’t all that makes this beer great, there is a solid grounding beery earthiness and bitterness, which makes this very much feel like a beer and not just a collection of popular flavours. There is also a slight sour cream savoury touch which gives thickness and again gives a more recognisable beer nature against the richer notes.

Masterfully crafted, easily matches the bigger and fancier ingredient filled Imperial Stouts. I have drunk so many of these before I finally got around to doing notes on it and I have regretted none of them.

A wonder of an Imperial Stout.

Background: So, this is one of those beers I have bought many times, and keep drinking before I get around to doing notes on. As you may guess from the name it was brewed for Kees 5th anniversary. Shocking eh? Anyway an Imperial Stout, made with oats, but apart from that standard ingredients. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, over and overt again. Went with Rise Against: Appeal To Reason for music while drinking, took a while for this album to really grow on me, but definitely has now, even if Endgame is still my favourite Rise Against album.

Kees: Wander Beyond: Where the Wild Blackberries Grow (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black cherry red that appears almost black. Thin grey brown dash of a head.

Nose: Boozy. Liquorice. Brandy cream. Brambles – blackberries. Burnt brown sugar. Chocolate bourbons and bourbon whiskey.

Body: Boozy. Red cherries. Treacle. Blackberries. Cake sponge. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Earthy bitterness. Liquorice. Burnt caramel.

Finish: Golden syrup. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Brambles. Charred bitter notes. Blueberries.

Conclusion: This is a boozy one, and a big, dark barley wine with it. Thankfully not shunning the beer side to show only the fruit. I approve.

Initial impressions on the nose lead with almost Belgian dubbel like character – lots of burnt brown sugar and liquorice – and even well used liquorice at that, which for people who know me will know I consider a rarity. The liquorice is quite present which usually puts me off, but here worked very well as a savoury offset to the big, boozy sweet main work of the beer.

Boozy seems to be a term used many different ways, so just to clarify. For me boozy is when a beer had that thick, full of spirity but viscous alcohol style in the air and body, but generally without much if any burn. In this case the beer hints at alcohol throughout. The alcohol feels present all around the edges, in the dry middle and the general air around the beer, but never feels raw or rough.

A good showing, but thought I would detail as that boozy character can put off some people. Me, I like it – as long as it isn’t rough I like the reminder that I am drinking something heavy and should take my time with it.

So dark and boozy with a distinct dubbel influence. However it shows some more traditional bright barley wine notes with golden syrup and the like. Very sweet notes, but that dry alcohol note helps keep in check. Pretty smooth as well considering the over 12% abv – but still distinctly boozy and needs that earthy character underneath to match with the liquorice savoury character and bring it down a touch.

A very good beer, but some of you may have noticed that I’ve not mentioned the fruit much yet. Don’t worry. The fruit is very present, it is just not as much in the limelight as the beer itself – a beer that I feel deserves respect in itself.

There is a present sweet and lightly tart fruit character – oddly slightly red fruit touched with cherry notes somehow showing around the brambles and blueberry notes. It adds to the beer, becoming a definite fresh presence which mixes with the beer’s dark weight of flavour and gives it a brighter and fresher note that makes it slip down nicely.

It takes a good beer and makes it great, bringing extra notes throughout without compromising the base beer. I love it. Utterly fantastic.

Background: This is not the first time I have had this beer. It, along with Kees 05 Anniversary Stout are beers I kept buying and then drinking before I get around to doing notes on them. I must grab another Anniversary Stout and finally do notes on that. It is gert lush. Anyway a barley wine from Kees, who work well with the big beers, and this one is made with blackberries. You may have already guessed that from the name. Only had one or two beers from Wander Beyond, not made any huge impact on me yet, good or bad, will have to give them another look some time. Went back to Nine Inch Nails new albums while drinking this (Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts). I do miss the vocals, but as atmospheric backing music they are great.

Cloudwater: Kees: You’ve Been Spotted (England: Imperial Stout: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. A dash of grey/brown head.

Nose: Cinnamon apple. Liquorice. Very strong cinnamon in general. Nutmeg. Toffee.

Body: Cinnamon. Apple. Nutmeg. Liquorice. Sour dough. Sticky toffee pudding.

Finish: Caramel. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Apple. Liquorice. Sour dough. Riesin chocolate chews. Sticky toffee. Pudding.

Conclusion: This is very, very, very, very, very cinnamon filled. Very. So, yeah be warned that this isn’t apple pie with a touch of cinnamon. This is a cinnamon beer with a touch of apple.

It is a thick, kind of dark, sticky toffee pudding heavy take on a stout for a base -lashed with the aforementioned cinnamon. That isn’t the only spice though, there is also a very present nutmeg character. Probably others but it came across as cinnamon and nutmeg to me.

So, what we have is something thick, heavy and very spicy and … could probably do with a lot more apple. There is a light, fresh apple touch, and that freshness is very much needed to give a release from the stickiness and spice. However the apple is a very light element, a mere lick of apple sweetness. A heavier hand with the apple would really sell the apple pie concept and also stop this being such a pure spice bomb.

As it is, it is a beer that really needs sharing – early on I very much enjoyed it (and the 1/3 I had on tap at Cloudwater’s tap room was way above and beyond this – far more balanced and much easier to recommend) but as it goes on it gets one note with the spice very fast, or possibly two note as the sticky toffee thickness grips it all on your tongue. The flavour that seems a welcome burst on first sip ends up sticking around and gets very old by the end.

It needs more apple, more range, or preferably both for it to work well. Split two, or even three, ways you can have fun with this. Unless you are really into the spice then had alone it is too much. Even split between people it is a bit of fun rather than a must have.

A fun few moments, but gets old fast.

Background: I tried this at Cloudwater’s tap-house in Manchester when I was up there to watch Progress Wrestling. It was very tidy. So decided to grab a can from Independent Spirit to do notes on. Cloudwater are generally very good, if not quite up to their huge rep – though the beers at their tap room always taste just that touch better. Kees, who this is a collaboration with are also pretty awesome. Anyway this is an imperial stout made with apple, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla. They are aiming to replicate an Apple Pie as they made it on July 4th, Independence day – which as we all know is hugely celebrated in England and the Netherlands. For people who are unsure, that was sarcasm. Anyway, went with IDLES – Brutalism as backing music for this. Still bloody love IDLES.

Kees: Caramel Fudge Stout: Pedro Ximenez Edition (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown rim instead of a head.

Nose: Creamy caramel. Spicy red berries. Strawberry. Dessert wine. Fudge. Cream chocolate.

Body: Creamy chocolate. Thai seven spice. Spicy rum. Sulphur. Peppery. Fudge. Milky chocolate. Fatty butter.

Finish: Thai spice. Cocoa dust. Bourbon biscuits. Peppery. Brown bread. Fatty butter. Rye crackers.

Conclusions: Wow, I always knew that PX barrels carried some weight to them, but the flavours from it utterly pound over the base beer here.

Now, the base beer still shows itself – creamy and thick with lots of weight to it – but the sweeter caramel notes shown by the aroma seem to be overwhelmed by the time you hit the body and only a little of the fudge shows through. So the name of the beer seems slightly misleading in that it has now become a PX delivery system.

It is slightly sulphurous, dry spice and peppery in a rye kind of way into solidly bitter character. Pretty much the opposite of the base beer, and with surprisingly bitter red wine character hanging throughout. I always thought of PX as a very sweet wine, and sweet in its influence. Here there is very recognisable wine influence but it is more savoury, spicy and sulphury in its influence. Nothing is going as I expected with this beer.

The sweetness tries to swell below, but it is always a second string to this bow, to mix my metaphors. I mean 1) This is still good. But 2) This is nothing like what the name “Caramel Fudge Stout” would make you think. Instead you get what is left of the sweetness used to deliver a slightly bitter, spicy red wine character into heavy spice.

So, very spicy, very intense. I prefer a more subtle spice usage, and barrel ageing, but I am still impressed by it.

People into spicy beers will definitely get more from this than I did, and it is perfect for them.

Background: Don’t think I ever did notes on the standard Caramel Fudge Stout, so jumping right in here with the Pedro Ximenez barrel aged version. Done a lot of the barrel aged beers from Kees and they tend to be impressive for the most part, so was hoping for good things from this. This was just before I went to see IDLES live so put on IDLES: Brutalism to get in the mood. Oh, in related news. Fuck the Tories. Fuck Boris Johnson the fucking piece of shit. Also, this beer was bought from Independent Spirit. Who are nice people.

Kees: Barrel Project 17.07 S.P.X. (Netherlands: Scotch Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Creamy brown head. Some carbonation. The head leaves suds.

Nose: Sweet dessert wine. Sweet raspberry crème. Figs to figgy pudding. Raisins. Brandy cream. Spotted dick. Marshmallows.

Body: Figs. Cocktail bitters. Prunes touch. Sour apples. Calvados. Smooth. Raisins. Malt chocolate. Brandy cream. Marshmallows. Raspberry yogurt. Dessert wine.

Finish: Sour dates. Sour wine. Calvados. Slight bitterness. Charring. Earthy hop bitterness. Malt chocolate. Dessert wine. Brandy cream. Spiced grapes. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: I spent a lot of time digging into this before before starting this conclusion. This initially seemed another one of those beers that was overly dominated by the barrel ageing – but only initially. You get a real fresh and sweet dessert wine like character from the sherry ageing on first sniff and sip, but it soon dispels the illusion that this is all it has.

What is notable, for me anyway, is that the Wee Heavy is a style that is very easy to make a simple beer – packed with enjoyable dark fruit notes, but one note in that and so quickly dull. This does have part of that description – it packs in the dark fruit, but beyond that it has a slight sour apple and figs set of notes against that sweet base. Not a heavy set of notes, and not in an acidic fashion – instead akin to stewed, fruit stone sucked, sour notes under the heavy malt. This is all then underlined by a solid, low level, earthy hop bitterness.

The dessert wine style character keeps adding to this, bringing sweet high notes and also mixes with the base to create interesting concoctions such as Calvados like sweet notes as the sherry character mixes with the sour fruit to create rewarding combinations.

To me this is both Barrel Ageing, and Wee Heavies, done right. It has added complexities to the base of what you would expect from a scotch ale, then topped that up with extra notes from the ageing. So, it seems I am back on the barrel ageing fan bandwagon again!

Background: I had a try of a bunch of Kee’s Barrel Project beers about a year back I think – generally enjoyed them, so decided to try this from the new batch. The fact it was a wee heavy interested me – you don’t see a huge amount of them around, and less so of experiments with them – so was definitely worth a try to my mind. This has been Pedro Ximenez barrel aged – I haven’t had much experience with the sherry, but beers and whisky aged in it tend to be fabulous. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and was the first beer drunk in 2018! Whoop Whoop! Drunk while listening to Rise Against – Endgame, seriously an album without a single bad song on it.

kees-barrel-project-06-2016

Kees: Barrel Project 06/2016 (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin off white head.

Nose: Creamy vanilla and very evident bourbon. Very smooth. Caramelised brown sugar. Chocolate liqueur notes. Fudge.

Body: Treacle. Cherries. Vanilla. Soft fudge. Massive bourbon. Very smooth. Malt chocolate. Caramel. Soft alcohol presence with a slight tingle. Brown sugar. Chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Toffee. Vanilla. Golden syrup. Smooth bourbon. Chocolate liqueur.

Conclusion: Ok, this is both smooth as sod and bourbon backed to buggery. This is nice is what I am saying. Despite the darker colour it does not lean away from the intense sweetness of the traditional barley wine – though it does express it with more chocolate and fudge as well as the more excepted golden syrup style. Still, very recognisable straight out of the gate.

If I had to dig into what exactly is the major sweetness here I would say it has a lot of caramel, backed by huge amounts of vanilla – it is delivered with the slightest amount of alcohol prickling, but in general it slips down like quality liqueur. Or, considering the range of flavours, more like a blend of liqueurs – aged in a bourbon cask of course, you cannot deny that influence at any point. Seriously this is possibly one of the most clearly and evident defined beers for showing the bourbon ageing’s influence. It has all of the vanilla, that rugged sweet undertone and slight sour mash notes – all so very clear.

It is only because the base beer and the ageing are so in line that the ageing doesn’t overwhelm the base beer. While the base beer has a lot of flavour it is not so epically big to overpower the bourbon ageing, instead it relies on the base caramel and chocolate complementing rather than fighting the bourbon notes.

So, I enjoy this massively – thought not quite enough for it to be one of the rare “my favourites”. It is classy as all hell – smooth and with full flavour – the only thing it does not have is that unique element that pushes it to the very top and makes it an all time great. Still, that is possibly the weakest criticism there is. It is still great.

So, genuinely great, even if not an all time best, but there is no way you will regret this if you are a fan of bourbon and barley wines. Full on bourbon. Full on barley wine. Full on beer.

Background: This is the third of the Kees Barrel project beers I grabbed, and probably the one I was most looking forwards to. You seem to get less barrel aged Barley Wines over here, so this – aged in Barton Bourbon barrels looked like just the thing for me. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, it was drunk listening to the every energetic indie pop electronic tunes of Grimes for a bit of extra fun.

Kees Barrel Project #04 2016

Kees: Barrel Project #04/2016 (Imperial Stout: Netherlands: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey-brown dash of a head.

Nose: Toffee. Prickly alcohol. Bourbon. Vanilla. Treacle toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Wet wood. Chalk dash. Mild ginger bread.

Body: Chocolate liqueur and frothy chocolate fondue. Vanilla. Blended whisky. Slight sour cream twist. Prickling alcohol touch, but light and smooth underlying texture. Caramel. Light peppermint. Cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal and charred oak. Milky chocolate. Slight gherkin sour fresh note. Caramel. Cocoa pops in chocolate milk. Light peppermint. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: I found the oatmeal stout from Kees in this Barrel aged project to be a tad too smooth and light – oatmeal stouts should have a bit of weight to them. This as “just” an imperial stout, is still a tad light in its smoothness, but is in a style that suits more, and also, oddly actually has a bit more weight to it.

Flavour wise this really runs straight down the middle of what you would expect for what it is. It’s a barrel aged Imperial Stout and brings cocoa, smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee at the base – the barrel ageing bringing in caramel and vanilla notes. So nothing really unexpected. Warmth actually thickens it up just enough from the slightly light touch when chilled. So all very competently done.

Not having had many grain barrel aged beers, I would say that this comes across as a mix of prickling blended whisky character and bourbon sweetness – which sounds about right from what I would expect single grain to give. So again, it is spot on to expectations – not more – not less. Very smooth, very refined, but doesn’t surprise in the least. Not a bad thing when what you expect is a high quality imperial stout. Doesn’t stand out beyond that though, still can’t complain about it being very well done.

So – basically a very good, treacle toffee, smooth chocolate, vanilla caramel and touches of bitter coffee Imperial Stout. If you want to dig there are slight sour cream notes and slight peppermint hints, but mainly it plays in straight. No regrets, but no soaring new experience.

Just a very good barrel aged imperial stout. Just I say….

Background: Second of the Kees’ Barrel Project beers I have grabbed from Independent Spirit. The first I tried was good, but a bit light – but generally good, so decided to give this one a go. This one has been aged in Girvan single grain barrels – since I had a bit of a Girven experience last year it seemed a nice thing to try. I am as big fan of Imperial Stouts, but try and pace out having them, lest they become commonplace to me.

Kees Barrel Project 05-2016

Kees: Barrel Project #05/2016 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. White swirl and loose bubbles over it but no real head.

Nose: Caramel. Thick. Molasses. Treacle toffee and chocolate toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Alpen. Rye bourbon. Shreddies and fresh white toast.

Body: Belgian chocolate. Bitter cocoa. Thick vanilla fudge. Orange liqueur. Nutty. Rye bourbon. Bready base. Light earthy notes. Figs. Cream. White sugar. Very smooth.

Finish: Wholemeal bread. Rye bourbon. Chocolate biscuits. Earthy notes. Bitter cocoa. Lemongrass. White sugar and white chocolate. Raisins. Bitter coffee cake. Nutty and praline.

Conclusion: Big, yet restrained. Bourbon backed, yet earthy. Thick, yet smooth and somewhat light at times. Ok, you have my attention beer, are you going to earn it?

The base, while you can feel the oatmeal stout thickness, slips down very easily – it is smoothed, I presume, by its time in the oak. A lot of the notes in there are the expected ones – bitter cocoa, chocolate – albeit in a very high quality Belgian style, fudge. Everything very well done. There is however an unusual, restrained rustic earthy set of notes – common in standard stouts, but something that big booming imperial stouts often neglect. It is unusual to find the more savoury notes working against the sweetness.

It is a good look, especially against the bourbon ageing. The more rustic side of the bourbon character seems to match the earthy notes well giving shreddies and rye style characteristics which ground a heavy flavoured beer. Thankfully neither side dominates, the beer or the bourbon – there are orange sweet notes from the bourbon boom, and distinct spirit characteristics, but the beer is big enough to take it and layer the bitter chocolate flavours over the top without losing either.

Initially, when chilled, it was a tad too light but heat brings it out into excellent balance. It is still smooth, but with a bit more grip to let it really shine. It can still have thin moments, but generally the oatmeal stout character pulls it through. Warmth also brings a bit of dark fruit play, which is nigh always a good choice.

So, generally good? Aye, very much so. Downsides? Well the cocoa notes can stick to the tongue, as if you have been licking the cocoa itself. Occasional thin notes as well, but not really much on the downsides.

As I always say, the Imperial Stout category is a packed one, and this doesn’t shift out the top few. However this is more savoury and grounded than most, while still letting the flavours boom. Well done and less over the top than many in the category which is worthy of respect.

Background: An Oatmeal Stout Aged on Heaven Hill barrels, as you can probably read on the bottle. There was a whole bunch of the Barrel Project beers at Independent Spirit and since I have been hearing good things about Kees I decided to grab one of them. I went for this one as 1) I love oatmeal stouts and 2) In My experience Heaven Hills’ barrels do lovely work for barrel ageing a stout. Anyway not much else to say – this was a big beer so broke out some big music. Iron Maiden: A Matter Of Life And Death. Seriously love that album, barely a bad track on it.

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