Tag Archive: My Favourites


Deschutes: The Dissident: 2016 Reserve (USA: Sour Ale: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy cherry red. Thin off white head. Still.

Nose: Massive cherries and black cherries. Smoke wisps. White chocolate. Malt chocolate. Raisins. Oak. Vanilla. Buttery shortbread. Sherry trifle. Bourbon.

Body: Figs. Cherries. Apple pie. Pears. Smooth. White chocolate. Gummed brown paper. Vanilla toffee. Malt chocolate. Bourbon.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Raisins. Sour red wine. Port. Light oak. Figs. Gummed brown paper. Tinned tropical fruits.

Conclusion: Ok, going to have to take some time to unpack this beer – first impressions are a big, very sweet beer, barley wine in style more than a sour red. Considering the abv a big beer is unsurprising, but the sweetness did take me a bit by surprise. There are big chewy cherry notes, port soaked raisins – lots of dark fruits and even an unusual smoke wisp acting a a lead in to the second big element of the beer – the oak influence. The oaken notes themselves are fairly low – instead it shows itself as white chocolate, toffee, vanilla and tinned tropical fruit notes similar to what I expect from bourbon aged whisky. Together they are very big, very chewy, very flavoursome, but stills feels like a big barrel aged barley wine. Good but not what I expected.

Time exposes what was previously missing elements – a mix of malt chocolate and gummed brown paper that gives hints of the Flemish brown base. Even here there is barely any sourness or tartness, just light backing notes that gives a slightly more vinous feel backing the sweet notes and an even more chewy character. While not heavily done that light tartness and distinct gumminess final makes it stand out from the barley wine it otherwise feels like. Late on you start getting those odd flavour mixes you would expect from a more sour, acidic, beer – soft green fruit starts coming out along with sour red wine notes – all the odd flavours, but without the harshness.

Here, it now has all the sweetness and big flavours, all smoothly delivered, but with that slight freshness so that each sip feels now with renewed decadence. It is so dangerously easy to drink for the abv, you can feel the abv hinted at in the flavours, but it is so smooth you don’t care. The oak aged Flemish bruin and barley wine mash up you never knew you wanted. Very impressive. A decadent dessert treat for yourself.

Background: Grabbed this a short while ago from Brewdog’s guest beer selection – I figured as a sour beer of high abv it was unlikely to go off so could save for when I wanted something big and good – getting back from the China trip seemed to deserve something like that to welcome me home. This is a sour Flemish style bruin made with cherries and with 40% of the beer aged in French oak. I think the ageing varies year by year so your experience may vary with future years’ releases. I’ve tried Deschutes a few times at Real Ale festivals, and some of their collabs, but this is the first time I have done notes and tried them in an environment where I have not ruined by tastebuds beforehand. Drunk while listening to a mix of cheery Jonathan Young tunes – mainly Ducktales and the Zootropolis tunes.

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Heroes Beer: Cereusly +50DB IPA (Hong Kong: IPA: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Thin white head over a clear body.

Nose: Lemon. Gooseberry. Good hop character.

Body: Juicy. Kiwi. Solid bitterness. Hop oils. Big hop character. Vanilla toffee. Gooseberry and tart grapes. Lemongrass. Frothy mouthfeel. Bready middle.

Finish: Good, heavy bitterness and hop oils. Charring. Dried black tea to gunpowder tea. Lemon sherbet.

Conclusion: This, at the end of the trip, is the first big, utterly stand out beer I have tried. I make no secret for my love for big hops in an IPA and this has that in spades.

This opens up juicy and fruity, a slight pause of kiwi before hitting with the aggressive bitterness afterwards – The green fruit of the early moments quickly falls to bitterness, charring and gunpowder tea like notes which last a long time. Late body tart gooseberry and tart grapes comes out, a refreshing release of fresh character, before it descends back into bitterness and bitter tea in the finish. It is a roller coaster ride of peaks and troughs, throwing you between sensations and only slowly letting the vanilla toffee straights of the ride show through as moments to catch your breath.

It is raw edged, yet does not feel unpolished. An assault IPA that keeps you interested to the end. It even manages as much subtlety as such a raw, assault beer can, far more than the average beer this intense, which makes for a sense awakening but not single note beer.

The Jackhammer of Hong Kong, but, if I may say so – even more intense, and more complex. Hop heads in HK, check this one out – it is the one you are looking for. I seriously hope this gets a wider distribution so more people can enjoy it. It deserves it. A proper great, intense IPA.

Background: I hunted out the Kowloon Taproom to try some more Hong Kong craft beer, and it did not disappoint – all decorated up for Halloween, with the staff in costume. It is a fairly small place and filled up fast, but the staff were great, very friendly and so enthusiastic about their beer. Had a chance to chat with some patrons and tried a fair range of beer. Some seriously good stuff. This, promising to be a big IPA, caught my eyes instantly and so was the first beer of the night.

Garage Beer Co: Wild Beer Co: Snake Fear (Spain: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy apricot with an off white heads. Looks bitty on the pour, which dispersers into the haze when settled.

Nose: Dried apricot. Resinous, sticky hops. Mashed banana. Light sulphur. Dried mango. Crusty white bread. Some bitterness. Traditional lemonade. Peach melba.

Body: Thick. Oily hop feel. Kumquat and purple peppers. Quite savoury early on. Dried mango. Mashed banana. Traditional lemonade. Custard. Peach melba. Bitterness rises over time.

Finish: Purple peppers. Oily, resinous hops. Moderate bitterness. Creamy lemon and lime. Light sour cream.

Conclusion: On first pur of this I sighed – seeing the cloudy pour I realised it was a New England take on the IPA style – so I was fairly sure I knew what I was in for. Another beer of low bitterness, lots of fruit, not bad but so very overused at the moment. That is what I was thought. Nope. Nothing like that at all. Bad pre-judging Alcohol Aphorist.

This is full of thick hop oils and resinous character – “Dank” as the “Hip kids” say these days. Or maybe just people younger than me anyway. Hopefully actual kids aren’t drinking double IPAs. Single IPAs are the way to go until you are over 18, as is well and right. Also I don’t think the hip kids say “Hip kids” any more.

Anyway, apart from my age related breakdown – this starts slightly one note with savoury kumquat styling backing the resinous hops. This develops into a quite the range of dried fruit notes along with lighter citrus touches. Everything still feels heavy though – carries a lot of weight and sticky hop feel.

The thing is, the New England interpretation isn’t entirely absent either – there is a creamy character, the obvious visual aspect and the fruit character becomes recognisable banana and peach over time as they rise from the depths.

To my eyes it is the best thing to come from the New England IPA craze – it is influenced by it, but not beholden to it – takes the heavy, sticky hopped side of IPAs and matches it to the creamy NEIPA character.

An impressive creation of flavour and weight. If can find it, definitely try it.

Background: Now there are two things I tend to grab – Wild Beer Co stuff, and stuff from countries I’ve tried few or no beers from. So a Spanish brewery, Wild Beer collab was a must have. Plus the whole metal duck can pic was cool, if nothing to do with snakes nor fear. Unless you are afraid of ducks. Ducks are vicious shits so I can understand that. The can got a bit dented when being brought home from Independent Spirit – I had put it in with the Rodenbach Alexander and the wire cage around the cork had dented the can. I’m fairly sure the contents were fine, but decided to drink it as quickly as possible- just in case. It’s a hard life. Drunk while listening to Crossfaith – Zion – awesome, but I’m still disappointed I’ve not found a way to buy their Omen cover in the UK.

De Cam: Wilde Bosbessen (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Very deep, cloudy black-cherry red. Moderate burgundy fizzy head.

Nose: Massive horse blankets. Some sulphur. Brown bread. Pungent dark berries. Oats. Black-cherry. Smoked cheese. Smoked meat.

Body: Acidic. Smoked salami. Blueberry. Apples to cider. Smoked cheese. Brown bread.

Finish: Black-cherry. Cider. White wine. Red cherries. Slight yogurt. Smoke. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: Where to start on this one? From the first moment you could sense the aroma sloughing off from the body and seeping over the edge of the glass. From the first moment I smelled this, I knew it was going to be something different.

A lot of fruit lambics seem to trade off some of the base lambic character when giving the fruit full rein – but this one overflows with huge horse-blankets character, sulphur and smoked cheese. The last one is what really made me pay attention. The beer really ramps up the funk and throughout the whole beer it delivered smoked meat and cheese notes amongst the more the common tarter cider apples like notes. It pushed this big wet hair meets brown bread aroma. Which again is something I say as a good thing despite how horrid those words may seem.

So, yeah that base brings funk and depth, but what about the berries? You may think that since I am concentrating on the smoke, meat and cheese that the funky character brings, that the berries are taking a back seat? Nope. There is a real deep, muggy, thick dark berry character here -working from sweeter blueberry, heavy black-cherry to slightly soured berry notes.

You end up with such a complex lambic as the two sides combine – so muggy, thick and musty – yet in a good way. It takes a mix of flavours that normally clash and mix them together for a complex beer, underlined with white wine like notes and dryness that make it all just that touch easier to drink and makes for a genius drink.

Great. Just amazing.

Background: A mildly odd, but not unheard of fruit for a lambic time this time – wild blueberries. After De Cam’s last different fruit choice worked out pretty well I decided it was worth giving this a go as well. 40KG of fruit is added per 100 litres of young lambic. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – their new beer selection is going from strength to strength – I keep seeing beers I mean to pick up later, but by the next week there are more news arrivals I want. Drunk while listening to a mix of Mclusky and their spin off band Future Of The Left, after they were recommended to me – odd, energetic cool stuff. Will have to listen more.

Lervig: Oud Beersel: Black Acid (Norway: Sour Ale: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Small brown head.

Nose: Acidic apple mixed with thick molasses. Madeira. Rum soaked raisins. Dry sherry. Fruitcake. Sultanas.

Body: Tart yet thick. Bready. Sultanas. Chocolate sauce. Pear drops. Dry sherry. Tart black-cherry.

Finish: Charring. Tart pears. Malt chocolate and grated chocolate. Dry sherry. Raisins and sultanas. Madeira. Slight chocolate liqueur. Marzipan.

Conclusion: Whoever first thought of mixing sour beers and stouts – I salute you. Each time I encounter this unusual mix I am reminded that this is the beer style I never knew I needed, yet now I have it, it is brilliant.

For all its large base elements used to make it, this is a very balanced beer between the styles. From approach to aroma you get huge apple, tart and fresh and yet backed with chocolate thickness. It continues that way as you start drinking – fresh, touched with tart apples and pears up front then the sour character just seeps into heavy chocolate liqueur and dark fruits.

In some way it feels like the barrel ageing is what makes it perfect – a bridge built between the two, marrying the styles brilliantly. If you will excuse my mixed metaphors.

It brings dry sherry, dry fruitcake and spirit soaked raisin notes that are familiar to the stout style, but also vinous enough to not seem out of place in a sour beer; It works as matchmaker mid body then as the finish comes in it plays its own game – leading out for a long time with dry sherry like complexities.

Together it takes brilliant elements from each of the three influences and makes it a rich, yet tart and vinous beer with the stout weight giving it a lovely heft.

A brilliant complex mix – definitely worth getting. Go. Get it!

Background: Now this one jumped out at me at Independent Spirit – It is a mix of Oude Lambiek from Oud Beerel, with a Lervig brewed stout. I love the whole sour stout thing that pops up every now and then, and this one has been aged in the Cognac barrels that the Lambic was blended in, and then in Akevitt barrels. I had to google what Akevitt is. Anyway, put on some good old 90s tunes – Garbage 2.0. I slightly prefer the more raw feel of original Garbage album, but both of them are awesome.

Angel’s Envy (USA: Bourbon/ Whiskey: 43.3% ABV)

Visual: Quite deep gold.

Viscosity: Slow but thick streaks.

Nose: Minty. Peppery. Banana candy sweets. Rye crackers. Banana syrup. Spicy red wine. Light cherries. Vanilla. Topical fruit. Water adds pear drops.

Body: Big. Orange crème. Dry raisins. Madeira. Water adds banana and pear drops and light Blackpool rock.

Finish: Butterscotch. Peppery. Brown bread and rye crackers. Orange crème. Madeira. Dry raisins. Rum soaked fruitcake. Water adds pear drops and dried banana along with hints of malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Right – I really do like this one – it feels like a mix of traditional bourbon vanilla and rye characteristics matched with the unusual fruity raisins and dry spicy wine notes. At this point it feels like a sherry aged bourbon (Yes I know legally you can’t sherry barrel age bourbon, run with me on this one) – and like that I definitely enjoyed it.

However this is not just a good, but in fact an excellent whiskey and what makes it that is it feels like a whole host of traditional sweet shop notes have been mixed in with that – notes of pear drops on the light end, chewy banana sweets for thicker notes and a sparkle of Blackpool rock sweetness above that – lots of lighter and sweeter notes than adds a real easy going character into the bourbon style. It is a huge contrast but not in a way that creates any unpleasant dissonance of character.

This has so many subtle, interesting notes around the solid bourbon like base, and sherry aged whiskey highlights – and these are then subtly enhanced again by adding a drop of water. It calls to mind high quality bourbon, but playing with a range of complexity that normally it would not be allowed to handle.

An excellent whiskey/bourbon – one that I genuinely recommend you grab if you ever get the chance. It has been a few years between tries for me, and I hope it is not that long before I can try it again.

Background: OK, a quick explanation first on why I put both bourbon and whiskey up above. In most fashions this is a bourbon best I know, but, again as a far as I know, legally bourbon has to be aged entirely in fresh casks. This has been aged in port pipes for about 3-6 months after initial maturation, so I think it is technically not bourbon. Any which way – yep – an experimentation that I approve of. I first tried this years ago during the “Road Trip Of Awesome” in America, but did not do notes at the time. So, when I saw that it was in Independent Spirit’s “Mediocre Whisky Tasting” line-up I was a very happy bunny (Disclaimer – I am not actually a bunny). As before this was done in a more social environment, so my notes may be a tad more scattershot that normal – apologies.

Amager: Linda – The Axe Grinder (Denmark: American Strong Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black cherry to brown. Large browned bubbled head.

Nose: Hoppy and bitter. Smooth caramel. Malt chocolate and fudge. Spicy rye notes and red cherries. Toasted marshmallows. Slight musty hops and herbal sage note. Light lime and kiwi.

Body: Very smooth. Sage and onion on cooked turkey. Caramel and vanilla toffee. Crushed Blackpool rock. Brandy cream. Glacier cherries. Kiwi. Slightly muggy hops. Spicy rum soaked raisins. Warming Christmas spice.

Finish: Slight charring. Herbal bitterness and slightly muggy hops. Vanilla toffee. Slight cloying cream note. Chocolate liqueur. Bitterness rises over time. Rye crackers. Christmas spice. Riesen chocolate chews.

Conclusion: Ohh this is exactly what I needed. It is big, spicy, warming and soothing all in one. Another beer that feels like a real mash up of styles, and here it happily wears the weight of each one.

Style 1 is close to a Christmas spiced red ale – lots of warming spice, delivered unusually early on as sage and onion, but quickly becoming Christmas spice mixed with rye spice notes. A good start.

Style 2: Bourbon aged barley wine – yeah, still spiced, but here golden syrup sweet, mixed with crushed Blackpool rock. Heavy sweet and powerful with a ton of vanilla and caramel against the spiciness.

Finally, fruity IPA as style 3 – the ageing has made the hop slightly muggy, as you would expect, but it is still reasonably bitter. The hop fruit flavours are green fruit, creamily delivered. This aspect is more subtle due the ageing relaxing and reducing most elements, but it adds another layer and is worth it for the kept hop bitterness that adds an assault punch to this beer.

Together it is wonderfully bitter, wonderfully spicy – soothing, warming and with an almost sickly sweet undertone and huge red fruit. Every element is big, coming together they somehow become soothing – like the world’s biggest, most intense nightcap of a beer. It is liqueur like, a hop assault and manages to use a weight of spicy character without getting lost in just being a spice beer. Great is what I am saying.

Background: Yep, I grabbed this because of the sweet, steampunkesque art. As always I can be kind of easy to sell to. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is an Oaked Imperial Red Ale -ratebeer lists it as an Imperial IPA, but that doesn’t really quite fit for me – so I’ve shoved it under the catch all category of American Strong Ale where it seems to fit better for me. It has more dark malt influence than I would give for an IIPA. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Linda of Minneapolis brewing – hence the name. Anyway, drunk while listening to E-rocks take on San’s Undertale music. Just such an epic combination and reminds me of how bloody good that game is.

Siren: Bourbon Milkshake (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin off white head.

Nose: Lots of toffee, caramel and vanilla. Milky chocolate and bourbon. Rye notes. Vanilla custard.

Body: Massive cherries – both red and glacier. Treacle. Chocolate milkshake and chocolate liqueur. Nougat. Lots of toffee and caramel. Light pepperminty and menthol. Golden syrup.

Finish: Treacle. Palma violets. Red cherries. Chocolate milkshake. Light greenery and peppermint. Lactose. Vanilla toffee. Light oak and menthol. Bourbon. Slight liqueur notes.

Conclusion: There’s a lot more going on to this that I first thought, or even expected. It opens with an aroma that hollers out the bourbon ageing; Lots of caramel, toffee and vanilla notes; Lots of spicy rye bourbon influence, and lots of smooth vanilla character from American oak. It is like a whole wodge of bourbons pushed into one. Pretty great, but, frankly hardly unexpected from a bourbon aged imperial stout. So after taking in the booming, detectable from afar, aroma I took my first sip.

Boom. A complete change. The first thing that hits is cherries, sweet like a barley wine with golden syrup and nougat coming in against the more expected chocolate character for an imperial stout. Still toffee and caramel from the bourbon showing through here, but with so much more as well.

So, at this point it is a milky imperial stout meets barrel ageing, meets barley wine, meets ESB fruitiness. Already thick and packed with character and varied notes. There is, however, one more, final element. And here it is both kind of good and kind of bad. A kind of minty, greenery, menthol peppermint note. It is a refreshing note, and that works well to lessen the overwhelming intensity and sweetness of the rest of the beer. However, occasionally it could do with being a bit lighter and let the rest of the beer shine more – it can be a bit too dominant at points.

Still, it is a minor weak point in a hugely complex, rich and rewarding imperial stout. Not 100% spot on, but still just managed to claw itself in as one of the all time greats of the style If you like Imperial Stout, definitely go for it. It has all the thickness and richness of a good IS, but takes it in its own distinctly awesome direction.

Background: This one was highly recommended to be by the good people of Independent Spirit, so I grabbed a bottle and put it aside for a later date. It’s an imperial stout, hardly like it is going to go off, right? It’s an imperial milk stout made with vanilla, muscavado and honey then aged in mixture of George Dickel, Wild Turkey, Four Roses and other bourbon barrels. This was the first beer I did notes on after a gap after returning from Germany and was drunk while listening to some of the excellent Miracle of Sound.

Wild Beer Co: Chronos (England: Premium Lager: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Good sized white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Vanilla and butterscotch. Light cheese puffs. Palma violets. Clean. Soft orange sherbet.

Body: Sherbet orange and lemon. Light lime and kiwi. Chalky touch. Hop oils. Slight funky mature cheese. Palma violets. Slightly fizzy.

Finish: Hop oil sheen. Orange sherbet. Palma violets. Mature cheese. Apples.

Conclusion: It has always been true – a good lager takes a good long time to make. Here we have a been to add weight to that statement as this is a spot on, bretted up, foudre aged lager.

At the base you have a solid, if unexceptional, lager. It is playing with palma violet notes and a hop oil sheen that makes me think of the noble hopped European lagers. At this point it may not be out of the ordinary but it is still a lager that I wouldn’t push away – I could definitely enjoy it like this. On top of that comes a lovely cheese puff crisps to mature cheese solid character from, I presume, the brett yeast. Yet another layer on top of that is sherbety citrus fruit notes that sparkles, refreshes and excites.

It’s a three layer strategy of flavour and it works so well. The funkyness, unusually, is a grounding here – the citrus works the high notes and the clean noble style hops notes work the middle. Together it makes an intensely satisfying lager to drink. It’s like someone took a bohemian pilsner and added a bit of funk to it.

Fresh, easy to drink, but the brett has given a wonderful layered character to it. Lager is a much, and wrongly, maligned style. Shove this into an unbelievers hand and show how good they can be.

Wild Beer Co have had a week run for a while, for me at least – but this shows where their experimentation pays off. A top lager. A top beer. Fantastic.

Background: Another interesting one from Wild Beer co – this time a beer that has been lagered in Foudre and then Brettanomyces yeast added. Sounds fun. A top notch lager can be hard to find, and this sounded definitely interesting enough to give a shot. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, broken open after watching the excellent Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and drunk while listening to some Within temptation. So a good environment for hopefully enjoying a beer.

Brewdog: Dog F (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 17.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Small brown grey head.

Nose: Cocoa dust. Chilli smoke. Barbecue sauce on ribs. Beef stew.

Body: Barbecue sauce. Chocolate. Moderate chilli heat. Golden syrup. Sugared orange sweets. Cognac late on. Smooth. Dried banana. Brown sugar. Smokey.

Finish: Chilli heat. Chocolate. Orange liqueur and caramelised brown sugar. Smooth cognac. Cocoa dust. Banana custard.

Conclusion: I’m glad I jumped back onto the Dog ( Ascending Letter) series with this one. I was considering holding off, as the last one was very similar, but the promise of cognac ageing lured me in. I try only to do new notes when the beer is reasonably different – and trust me, this is definitely significantly different.

Smooth, and because of that feels far below the heavy duty abv it is packing. There may be some alcohol heat to it, but I wouldn’t know from drinking it – mainly because this packs a higher chilli heat than any of the rest of the Dog (x) series up to this point, so any alcohol heat it does still have is lost under the respectable level of chilli heat. It isn’t overpowering – I definitely like my chilli more towards flavour than heat, and I found it reasonable – but it is still a very distinct presence here.

It is strange, this uses habanero as its chilli, but the smokey heat and flavour actually reminds me more of my favourite chilli – the chipotle! This definitely means that I am looking on the beer more favourably as it has that lovely flavour mixed in with a smooth and viscous texture which creates a distinct almost barbecue sauce type of flavour as a base for the beer.

Now the beer does lose some of the complexity that usually comes with the Dog (x) series due to that heat being so present. A lot of the coffee, black cherry and such are gone. Thankfully the cognac ageing is here to bring some all new complexity back into this! It brings golden syrup and erm .. cognac, orange and such notes. The oddest additional note is a set of banana notes, which I have no idea which ingredient caused them but I am very glad they are there – adds a soft sweetness under the intensity. This is very far from the original Dog A in flavour, and even further from the AB 04 roots before that. This is distinctly its own thing

The beer that existed before is barely seen here – now more a texture, and a chunk of bitter chocolate – the beer it has become however is awesome.

A great entry into a high quality series.

Background: Dog F is the distant relative of one of Brewdog’s early hits of a beer – Abstrakt AB 04 – a chilli, chocolate and coffee infused imperial stout – it evolved a bit into their anniversary beer Dog A which upped the chilli, altered the coffee and added vanilla, which then had a a bourbon aged version when they hit Dog D, and now a cognac version with this one Dog F. I think the recipe has changed a bit each time, but I’ve only gone back to do new set of notes on the really big changes. As well as the barrel ageing, this has changed the chilli used this time – going with habanero, while AB 04 used naga chilli. Probably some other changes as well, but those are the big ones. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. I grabbed this from the Brewdog online store and put music on shuffle while drinking, so a fair eclectic mix of metal, punk, electronic and anime soundtracks came up. These days I am getting a bit weary on the waste associated with things like boxing up bottles as this does – however as a 10th anniversary beer I guess it has better call to do so than most.

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