Tag Archive: My Favourites


Brora: Silent Stills: 18 Year (Scotland Highland Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 52.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Very slow puckering forms into thin streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Crushed rocks. Mild smoke and soot. Planed red wood. Lime hints. Barley. Water adds more rocks and grit. Soft apricot. More water keeps roughly the same.

Body: Light front. Lemon and vanilla. Subtle smoke. Slight salted rocks. Alcohol warms over time. Lemon cakes and lemon curd. Brown sugar. Honey. Water adds more honey. Apricot. More noticeable alcohol. Thick American pancakes. More water. Buttered crumpets. Raisins and plums.

Finish: Honey. Crushed rocks. Soot. Lime touch. Maple syrup touch. Brown sugar. Lemon cakes. Vanilla. Water adds American pancakes and malt chocolate. More water – crumpets. Raisins. Red wine.

Conclusion: Very different first impression on this to anything I expected. Gentle, definitely not showing the cask strength level alcohol, but with crushed rocks and smoke. The aroma especially seemed full of those wood and rock notes that made me a tad worried this would be a rough tasting experience. However first sip was very smooth, with light sweet notes and that rocky character a backing solid character as it should be.

Now I know Brora is generally peated, so was expecting a heavier influence from that than what I found here. Instead I get just a smoke wisp, present but gentle wafting though the sweeter main character of lemon cakes and vanilla. It very much shows the sweet Highland home here with honey and brown sugar weight to the spirit. It is well aged though, even neat the 50% abv is smoother than it has any right to be, only becoming noticeable if held on the tongue for a while. In fact it is so well balanced in alcohol weight that I was hesitant to add water to it for a while lest I ruin it.

I was then unsure again just after adding the water. The aroma became even grittier, and the body had a bit more alcohol evident. However with that it did open up to bring brighter fruit notes and an American style pancake feel. So, after a moment of examination I decided, maybe it had just started its journey of change? Maybe a touch more water was needed?

More water did settle the alcohol down again, and have a thick, bready, crumpet and thick pancake kind of feel, all backed by that understated smoke. Here I can wholeheartedly say that it is very good. Highland weight and sweetness, subtle smoke, slight citrus notes and so incredibly smooth for the abv. That is some aged cask strength spirit used well. No fancy unusual barrel ageing used here – it just lets the spirit itself show itself at the best with the oak adding everything it needs.

In fact, here in its final moments I find more sherry barrel like ageing notes coming out – dark fruit and red wine adding yet another layer to this. It really made wish I had a bit more of this so I could explore where it was going – hints of much more dark fruit to come. Unfortunately I cannot afford more, even if I could find it.

So, on that, is it worth the high very cost? Probably not. Probably nothing is worth the cost that super rare whisky like Brora goes for now. However it is very good indeed. Wonderful in fact. If this went for the kind of cost a premium 18 year old whisky would go for from a living distillery, even the high end of that, I would recommend it without hesitation. One of the best Highland whiskies I have had – so smooth, so complex and the smoke wisp just adds that extra touch.

Downsides? The aroma really does not show it at its best. Everything else is so very good. Just, ya know, damn, that steep cost.

Background: Two thousand tasting notes! WOO! I made it with my liver vaguely intact! I had been keeping this one back for a while, knowing that full bottles of Brora – a distillery that has been dead since 1983 – go for insane amounts of money – part rarity, part the 30 year plus age any new releases are now. So, when I found a miniature at The Whisky Exchange at 18 years, and so vaguely within my price range, I grabbed it and held on for the right moment. This seemed just right for a big two thousand celebration. Previously called Clynelish, the distillery was renamed to Brora when the newly referred to Clynelish distillery came online in 1968. As far as I am aware it is a lightly peated whisky. It is worth noting there is talk of reopening Brora – I don’t know how much of the original stills are still intact so have no idea if the new spirit will be similar, or just cashing in on the name. This mini is bottle 33 of 294, and was distilled n 1983 and bottled in 2001 so I consider it very lucky that it was still around to be grabbed. Wanted some beautiful music to go with the big 2K tasting note so went with the Ulver: Shadow Of The Sun album. Still a haunting masterpiece.

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De Molen: Hair Of The Dog: Binkie Claws: Woodford Reserve Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 11.4% ABV)

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

Nose: Brandy cream. Sweet liquorice allsorts. Figs. Dried sultanas. Brown bread.

Body: Smooth. Creamy. Figs. Plums. Liquorice. Toffee liqueur. Pepper. Clearly evident Woodford Reserve bourbon. Brown sugar. Creamy cherries/ Cherry yogurt/ Cherry liqueur.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Vanilla. Glacier cherries. Light charring. Bitter hop oils. Rye whiskey. Bourbon.

Conclusion: This so smooth, lightly creamy but with tons of that barley wine dark fruit flavour. I vaguely remember Doggie Claws from all those years ago, but I don’t remember it being quite as awesome and rewarding as this one is.

It is creamy in a way that calls to sherry trifle, alcoholic plums and figs (if there is such a thing, if not their should be) and burnt brown sugar that gives a crème brulee imagery to it. Really rewarding, rich alcoholic dessert notes all the way.

Under that are the more traditional barley wine notes – dark fruit, cherries, and some more unusual beer elements for a barley wine like some bitter hop oils that give grip and a recognisable beer edge in this almost liqueur like barley wine.

Finally, but far from least, there is the Woodford reserve influence and it is massive! From the more generic toffee and vanilla notes you expect from bourbon, to unexpected rye whisky like notes, to what can basically be best described as raw recognisable Woodford flavour. The barrel ageing doesn’t just add smoothness to this beer, it pounds out a good chunk of its flavour as well and builds this from a good beer to an excellent, layered experience.

From an easygoing start, ro a thick barley wine middle, to the hop oils and bourbon finish – this is a ride that soothes you in and then kicks you out. Seriously wonderful, then again, it is Hair Of The Dog and De Molen, what else did I expect?

Background: I would have grabbed this a lot earlier than I did if I had noticed it was a “Hair Of The Dog” collaboration. Absolutely love those guys and their beers are super hard to get hold of in the UK. De Molen are darn decent as well. From the name I’m guessing this is a take on Hair Of The Dog’s Doggie Claws – which has been aged here in Woodford Reserve barrels. Woodford is a darn nice bourbon, so sounds like a combo made in heaven to me. Put on an EP called “Rotten Citizens Vol1” while drinking – a mix of artists doing dark electronic tracks for moody drinking music. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Kilchoman 2018 European Tour Bottling – Machir Bay Cask Strength (Islay Scottish Single Malt Whisky: 59.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale brackish grain. Slow thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Thick. Peaty. Oily character. Light menthol and moss notes. Peppermint. Water adds dust balls and soot. Slight salt.

Body: Thick. Oily. Toffee and caramel. Thick peat. Oily charring. Oily chocolate. Oily peppermint cream. Water makes creamier. Salt touch. Honey. Sweet apricot. Sauternes wine. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Peppermint cream. Peat smoke. Light charring. Water adds dessert wine notes.

Conclusion: this is not what I expected, not at all. The extra abv seems to have utterly changed how the Machir Bay whisky expression comes across.

At normal abv strength this seemed slightly light back when I last tried it – very enjoyable and complex but gentle. This booms with oily thickness in feel, matched with huge honey to trifle sweetness. Everything feels like it is delivered in a oily fashion – oily peat, oily chocolate, oily charring, and now added to that is a completely new element -oily peppermint notes. This minty menthol to peppermint character is fresh yet creamy and adds both a sweetness and a slight natural mint leaves that I did not find in the standard expression. It makes it feel fresher, bigger and more greenery touched, adding to and massively changing the overall character.

This Islay character Kilchoman have become well known for is more subtle here than in a lot of their expressions. It is smokey, slightly salt touched, but the huge, thick oily and sweet character used here means that the sea breeze and peaty characteristics are less prominent that usual. Instead the apricot spirit note I have noticed at the back of Kilchomans before is now pushed to the forefront here in big dessert wine like flavours.

Oddly considering what makes this so different is what the extra abv brings to the game, this actually works better with water. Only a few drops are needed to bring out the best, so it is still a lot higher abv than the base expression, but those few drops make it smoother and really bring out the sherry trifle complexity from below the oily character.

Again the distillery does brilliantly – a sweet dessert wine meets Islay whisky that is rewarding on every level. Highly recommended.

Background: Second of the samples I was given by Independent Spirit for doing notes on, many thanks! They had done a Kilchoman tasting night I had to miss, but kindly let me try this – an exclusive bottling for the 2018 tour. It is a cask strength take on the Machir Bay which I was already a fan of. This was tried directly after the prior Kilchoman tasting, so I was still listening to the new Spektrmodule podcast.

Northern Monks: Amundsen: Monocromicon: Patrons Project 14.02 (England: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Creamy inch of coffee froth coloured brown head.

Nose: Light tart cherry. Milky coffee. Cocoa dust. Smooth. Cake sponge. Tofu.

Body: Tart cherry sour sweets. Tart black cherry. Condensed cream. Milky chocolate fondue. Tart apple sweets. Sweet grapes, both red and green. Chewy. Vanilla toffee. Plums and figs.

Finish: Tart apple sweets. Twigs. Milky chocolate. Cocoa dust. Tart cherry sour sweets. Slight bitter coffee. Milky.

Conclusion: This is interesting, I spoke in a previous set of notes about tart fruit notes in a beer making them feel slightly light, This has tart cherry sweets notes and tart apple sours notes a plenty, but the base beer is still hugely thick, creamy and sponge style chewy against that. It is a fight of flavours and feel that in the end comes out as a victory for the drinker.

What would be lightness in another beer comes across here as smoothness instead – while chewy and creamy the beer doesn’t feel super weighty because of that smoothing influence. At the base of the flavour is a bitter cocoa take on the imperial stout, a nice robust element so that the jelly sour sweet fruit notes aren’t sickly and artificial feeling due to a bit of bitterness behind them.

It is a wonderful worker of a beer, solid imperial stout bitter cocoa and slight coffee base, giving creamy and sweet thickness that then allows the unusual sour fruit sweet notes have a chance to work, and it is that little twist that makes the beer stand out.

The use of the sour fruit sweets character is great, it doesn’t overwhelm the imperial stout character, it just adds. The base imperial stout shows some dark fruit character already and it takes that and enhances it into a fresher, brighter style.

So, down side ? Well it may not be as heavy beer as some would like, as mentioned it is smoother rather than heavier, but it still packs some weight. That is about all I can call as possible criticism.

It is a great imperial stout, a different imperial stout and a superbly crafted imperial stout. It stands out even in the packed range of high quality imperial stouts as it is so different and yet still awesome. Grab it.

Background: Ok, I love the name, artwork, Death metal style logo and Necronomicon reference in this beer. It is also an imperial stout made with Cherry, Muscovado, cocoa and tonka beans. There was no way I was not buying this beer. It even comes with codes to listen to Nomasta metal tunes. Not heard of Nomasta before, but went to their band-camp page and had a listen while drinking. This was another one grabbed at Independent Spirit. It is also my second time drinking this beer, did it first time without notes and liked it so much I grabbed another can to do notes on.

Northern Monk: Wylam: Moobing On Up (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy opaque apricot. Large loose white head.

Nose: Peach. Apricot. Peppermint and menthol. Mild bitter hops. Hop oils. Palma violets. Resin. Vanilla.

Body: Resinous. Creamy peach. Peach melba. Oily hops. Dried apricot. Peppermint. Menthol. Grapes. Cream. Prickly hops underneath. Blood orange. Vanilla toffee and vanilla custard.

Finish: Hop oils, seeping dark bitterness. Resin. Heavy hop bitterness. Grapes. Menthol and peppermint. Blood orange. Charring. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: Ok, this is cloudy, is it a NEIPA? Or at least a Tripel IPA style of NEIPA? If so I may have to temporarily revise my opinion of the style.

From the first moments of pouring it is oozing peach and apricot notes as the aroma seeps out of the glass. There is a kind of menthol, peppermint note that I was intrigued by, but simultaneously I was worried that it would get wearing over time.

I shouldn’t have been worried – while the fresh fruit notes are accompanied by those menthol notes as we head into the body there is a lot else in there to contrast it – from cream to blood orange notes. It is very fresh and fruit up front, but it hints at resinous elements and hop oils already, elements that are going to play a much bigger part as time goes on.

The bright, creamy front sinks into resinous, oily hoppiness – a slow progress that assimilates and overwhelms the menthol notes. It lets them be interesting at the start, but moves them out of the way before they can overstay their welcome. It does keep the fruit, but builds up the oiliness, and bitterness slowly so you don’t notice until it takes the front and it is kicking your throat out. In a good way.

Then it allows the malt through, soft sweetness with toffee and such balancing the now “dank” oily hop character. In the last few moments rougher notes come in – charring and gunpowder tea – what would be off-putting if they had arrived earlier but gives just a final pep as the beer is heading out. This beer is lovely, intense and with a huge range.

It is such a fine beer, that if the bullshit tabloid articles were true, would definitely be worth getting moobs to drink (or … foobs? Hmm, that probably doesn’t work. i tried for not assuming all beer drinkers are blokes, anyway …) . I am very impressed. So much so I am tempted to imitate the can and throw an unironic dab. It is that good.

Background: I missed out on “I Like To Moob It, Moob It” – a beer taking the piss out of the ill researched articles in papers about hoppy beers giving you man boobs. It sold out damn fast, and seems to have bloody good rep. So when I saw this brewed up triple IPA version, hopped with Citra, Ella, Vic Secret, Enigma and Topaz I figured it was definitely worth a grab. Though I nearly made a mistake – with it being high abv I thought it would be ok to sit a short while before drinking, thankfully I overhead in Independent Spirit that it had a short three month best before, so managed to drink it before it went out of date. From past experience I figure the beer would be fine, but I always feel I should try and do notes while the beer is still in date, to be fair to it. Since it is the 20th anniversary this year, I put on Garbage v2.0 yet again. Bloody awesome album.

Teeling: Stout Cask (Irish Blended Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear golden touched grain colour with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Strong alcohol. Lime touches. Thick chocolate. Crushed palma violets. Caramel. Raisins. Raspberry yogurt. Spicy rum. Coffee. Water adds slight menthol note.

Body: Smooth. Caramel. Port. Cherries. Honey. Smooth chocolate liqueure. Chocolate toffee. Water adds grapes, spiced orange and cake sponge. Smoother chocolate. Praline.

Finish: Chocolate. Fudge. Trifle. Sherry. Cherries. Light oak. Milk coffee. Water adds praline and nuts.

Conclusion: So, this is the second stout aged whiskey I have tried in recent weeks, and damn this is bloody lovely. I think that this has still had rum ageing, and that may be part of what makes it so great. I’m not sure if it is that, the slightly higher abv, or what, but this has much stronger whiskey style at the base that the stout has just added to rather than being dominated by the stout. That extra bit of character from the whiskey means this is far more complex that the already nice Jamerson’s stout aged expression I tried, and this all just comes together for something special.

Up front it is honey sweet, with raisins and spicy fortified wine notes that are very recognisable as Teelings. It is a tad strong in the alcohol neat. But that is very easily soothed over with a few drops of water.

Behind that is a very smooth chocolate liqueur character – very stout like, especially the sweeter of the imperial stout takes. I’ve seen chocolate notes in whisky before, but never so clearly used in counterpoint to the sweeter, lighter main whiskey,.

It’s wonderful – easy drinking despite the slightly higher alcohol strength, even with the slight rougher elements neat, and that is perfectly sorted with a drop of water. There is that wonderful Irish whiskey smoothness and honey sweetness, but the multiple unusual barrel ageings lets it run the range from light Irish citrus notes, spicy rum notes and the dark chocolate stout notes. The spicy rum works well, with the stout it create a real rum barrel aged imperial stout character, and definitely shows the spicy extra character to the main whiskey. It feels like those rum notes act as a stepping stone between the two sides of the whisky – making what could be separate quality Irish whiskey and stout elements become a smooth progression of flavours.

Sp. basically you get the smoothness of a good Irish whiskey, the complexity more associated with the Scottish whisky from the barrel ageing, and together it works so well.

Not stupidly expensive, very high quality, highly recommended.

Background: So, I’ve enjoyed past experience with the Teeling range of whiskeys – and this one caught my eye as something a bit different – from a quick google it starts with Teeling Small Batch as the base, Irish Whiskey that has been finished in rum casks. Some casks that had been used for ageing Teeling Small batch were given to Galway to age Galway Bay 200 Fathoms Imperial Stout beer in. These casks were then given back to Teeling and Teeling Small Batch whiskey was then put back in for a final finish to gain notes from the Imperial Stout. Whew. Think I got that right. Anyway, did notes on this after seeing Epic Beard Men live, so was listening to their new album “Season 1” which you can download free from – http://epicbeardmen.com/. I’m a big fan of B. Dolan, and his work with Sage Francis here makes for some tight tunes. This whiskey was another one grabbed at Independent Spirit.

Kilchoman: Comraich: Batch 3 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 year: 55.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold with a mix of fast and slow streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke and honey. Thick stewed fruit and raisins. Barbecue glaze. Water adds beef slices.

Body: Thick and oily. Smoked gammon. Stewed apricot. Big peat and well done steak. Charring. Honey. Water adds cherries, fruitcake and more oily character. Shortbread. Sticky toffee.

Finish: Oily, kippers. Oily smoke. Ash and charcoal touch. Water adds raisins and sultanas. Black-cherry.

Conclusion: This is absurdly easy to drink for an over 50% abv whisky. I was half way through it before I realised I should think about adding water and seeing how that altered things. Now don’t be tricked into thinking that this means this is a light whisky though. This is a thick, oily and heavy thing – it is just that it is delivered absolutely smooth with pretty much no alcohol character at all. If fact it turns out adding water made the alcohol just slightly more evident as there was no way it could make it any less. This is an impressive beast from the get go.

It has bloody big flavours to match that big body as well – smoked thick cut gammon, thick stewed and dark fruit against a heavy sweetness. Everything is thick, oily and smoked – in fact the smoke and the oil mix perfectly to create the feel of the ideal of the concept of peat juice dripping on your tongue.

So, with it being that impressive neat, does water weaken the experience? Hell no! There is now big sweetness but still heavy character – dark fruit comes out to match the meat and smoke, making fruit cake and black-cherry along with more traditional beef notes for the meat. Everything fills your mouth with its oily sheen and peaty air. This is all underlined by an oily by more understated finish – dry ash, smoke and charring all add up to draw a line under each sip’s experience.

So, to conclude, this is amazing neat, amazing with water as it adds to an already exellent experience and the alcohol strength gives a lot of room to experiment.

For Islay fans, if you can find it, this is a must try.

Background: Oh man, this is a rare one – the Comraich series is, best I can tell, a whisky that is released only to select bars around the world. In this case there are only three bars in the UK that have it – thankfully The Hideout of Bath is one of them! So, yeah, bias warning, I was hyped to get to try this. This was my second time drinking it, the first was, as you might expect, also at the Hideout, but had come after an absolutely brilliant Irish whiskey tasting so I realised I may not have got all of the subtlety, so I returned, pen in hand to try it on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Oh the hard life. It is a mix of three ten year old casks, two bourbon and one sherry aged from 2007 to 2017. While drinking I noticed a little dinosaur hiding in the wall, so grabbed a shot of him to add below.

Mikkeller: Hallo Ich Bin Mikkeller Berliner Weisse – Alkoholfrei (Denmark: Low alcohol Berliner Weisse: 0.1% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to pale lemon body. Small bubbled carbonation and a large mound of sud leaving head.

Nose: Lemon. Very fresh and tart. Nutty. Sour lime. Lightly milky. Tart apples. Slight sour sulphur funk.

Body: Lemon. Strawberry. Acidic apple meets lactose thickness. Lightly acidic in general. Tart grapes. Subtle vanilla toffee.

Finish: Soft vanilla. Apples. Gooseberry. Acidic touch. Mild raspberries. Slight metallic tang. Sprite.

Conclusion: Ok, I don’t know how they did it, but at 0.1% abv Mikkeller has knocked this one right out of the park.

It is a refreshing, lightly acidic and tart beer, and goes down oh so easily. It is slightly thinner in mouthfeel than a full abv sour, but still manages a nice lactose like grip that makes it compare well with much higher abv beers in its grip and ability to deliver the flavour.

The flavour benefits wonderfully from the lightly acidic character, giving an almost illusionary set of light tart notes float across your tongue as the acidity interacts with the other elements of the beer. There is the expected imagery of lemon and grapes, but also it develops into dancing strawberry and raspberry notes that reward you in every sip.

Now, it doesn’t have that much to round out the tart freshness and fruit, so not a beer to contemplate, but as a summer refresher this is amazing. Lightly sweet with it, it is easy pleasing and easy drinking.

Now if you want a real tart, mouth tingling berliner weisse then I will admit this is not it – it is instead a gentle and lovely thing, and so not one to challenge you. However for quality it sits alongside Big Drop’s Pale Ale – the sour equivalent in the awesome low abv beer league.

Highly recommended.

Background: This is another of my dive into low abv beers, and Mikkeller have a very good track record on those so far. This was another one I tried first from Beercraft but didn’t do notes, but added a few bottles into an order I did from BeerHawk so I could revisit it. Like some previous Mikkeller beers, this is a low abv version of a beer that already exists with the same name. Because that isn’t confusing. Berliner Weisse beers are generally not high abv, but this is the first time I had seen one anywhere near this low abv, so was unsure how well it would work. Put on some old school tunes for this – the classic that is The Clash – London Calling!

Douglas Laing: Platinum XOP Ardbeg 1992 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 50.5% ABV)

Visual: Very clear light grain with green touches. Fast, thick streaks form from the spirit.

Nose: Charcoal. Medicinal. Soot. Cheesy yeastiness to mature cheddar. Light orange zest. Burnt marshmallow. Water adds white chocolate, kippers and vanilla.

Body: Strong alcohol. Oily. Almost evaporates on tongue. Waxy and medicinal. Slight traditional lemonade. Water adds mature cheese, fudge and a lime touch. More water adds custard, smoked fish and nut oils. Later vanilla, coconut and light golden syrup notes.

Finish: Butterscotch. Oily. Charring. Tart grapes. Salt. White pepper. Water adds mature cheddar, squeezed lime and light cherry. Walnut oils. Milky chocolate.

Conclusion: Well fuck me, this is one heck of a dram. Now, neat it is intense, but slightly closed. There is massive charcoal, medicinal notes, massively oily and waxy. It is one that hits the throat and then almost evaporates away, just leaving charring and salt. There some hints of more to it though – a cheese yeastiness, slight sweetness, but they are only hints. Similarly traditional lemonade imagery floats over it, but never quite forms fully.

Now, when you add water, holy shit that is when you start to get real play from this! Mature full bodied cheese flavour now matched with oily nut flavours and feel that adds such depth to the once closed whisky.

The bourbon cask notes are now slowly coming out with the usual vanilla, fudge and coconut sweetness as light notes against the heavy oils – notes that rise up the more you add water into syrup and custard fuller sweet notes. However at no point does it forget its base, booming with charcoal and smoked kipper heaviness, just now with more behind that.

This is intense, complex, sweet with delicate notes somehow surviving the oily nut character and medicinal style. Now, this is not nine hundred pounds good to me, as I don’t have that kind of cash to throw around, but it is the best damn Ardbeg I have ever encountered, so for people who have that kind of money, then yeah I would say get it.

Background: So, before we go any further, I found out how much this cost. Nearly nine hundred fucking quid. Fuck me. Anyway… this was the third whisky of Independent Spirit‘s recent Uber whisky tasting. You may have wondered where the 2nd went. It was Glenfarclas 21, I had already done notes on that. Still a good dram. Anyway, this is cask strength, single cask, bottled in 2018, unchillfiltered, Ardbeg that is one of 251 bottles, so something very special to try. As is usual for these kind of events I was slightly distracted by the event, but still tried to do the best notes I could as who would know when I would get the chance to try whisky like this again – especially for this one.

Toppling Goliath: Golden Nugget (USA: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy darkened apricot skin and a large yellowed loose bubbled head that leaves suds.

Nose: Creamy. Apricot yogurt. Crisp hops. Light bitterness. Banana custard. Light prickly hops.

Body: Custard. Popping candy. Light candyfloss. Raspberry hard sweets. Hop oils. Grapes. Peach. Light bitterness. Banana. Lemon sherbet.

Finish: Banana custard. Solid bitterness. Light greenery. Dried apricot. Light sulphur. Hop oils. Pineapple. “Dank” hop notes. Light charring. Pear drops.

Conclusion: Ok, now I can never say what exactly holds the number one slot, but I can say for sure this instantly entered in my top five IPA list.

It all starts out innocently enough – cloudy body, but the recent New England style surge in beers has made that nothing unusual – it is still pretty to the eye though – thick, dark coloured for an IPA and creamy looking.

Similarly the aroma is good, but not unusual – light prickly hop use over creamy apricot notes. It is a bit creamier than normal , giving yogurt to custard imagery, but not that unexpected. What is the first hint of something else is the banana notes that come out – now this is not unheard of, but is a tad unusual in an IPA.

Then you get the first sip – It feels like it is actually exploding, popping candy style, on your tongue – the texture is creamy but the flavour makes it feel like fizzing sherbet sweet candy notes against hop oils. The banana comes out again making a banana custard style malt base that is the solid core of this beer.

What then comes is the slow development of hop oils, resin and … Sigh ok I’ll say it .. dank hop character. This adds a weight to the sweet beer that is oft ignored in the sweeter IPAs. It just finished the thing off perfectly. Light notes initially then the hop oil character dances across it building to be a secondary, but definitely present counterbalance to the high sweetness.

Different in its feel, prickly and chewy in the fruitiness, sweetness against oily and resinous notes with a dash of bitterness. This is a nigh perfect IPA – utterly drinkable and utterly awesome.

background: You know, Initially I thought this brewery was called “Topping Goliath”. I had so may sub/dom jokes worked out. Then I realised it was Toppling. Life is pain sometimes. Anyway, despite always getting their name wrong, I have been hearing good things about Toppling Goliath for a few years now, but they had a reputation for being hard to get hold of, even in the USA, so when I saw them turn up on the shelves at Independent Spirit I had to look twice to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I then grabbed three cans instantly to try. This is an IPA made with Golden Promise barley and Nugget hops. Because of the Attitude Era podcast I am aware that nugget was a euphemism for shit when used to insult Owen Hart (The late and great). Thus this beer’s name made me snigger. As always I can be a tad childish. Put on Garbage 2.0 while drinking this. That bloody album is 20 years old this year. Damn time flies – still one of the albums of my teen years and still great.

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