Tag Archive: Premium Lager

Lost and Grounded: Running With Sceptres (England: Premium Lager: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Small bubbled carbonation. Large white mounded head.

Nose: Pineapple. Slight dill pickle. Crisp hops. Peach. Soft lemon sherbet. Slight hop oils and thicker hop character. Light toffee.

Body: Vanilla. Smooth. Good crisp bitterness. Soft peach. Palma violets and hop oils. Stewed apricot. Slightly dry. Slight strawberry yogurt undertones.

Finish: Buttery shortbread. Good bitterness and hop character. Hop oils. Light charring. Light sour grapes. Digestives.

Conclusion: This both is, and isn’t the beer I have been seeking for so long from my experience at BrizDram earlier this year. Yep, its open up the notes with a blatant contradiction time again. Give me a mo and I’ll explain.

From the fruity soft aroma I realised that this was the same lager that I enjoyed so much when I encountered it before – it has the same good hop bitterness and a gentle but aromatic mix of tart and sweet fruit. It is a wonderful welcome.

The body backs this up with a slightly thicker and creamier texture that your average lager, but still remaining a clean lager base under that with slight hop oils and a resolute bitterness against a fruitiness that is softer and lighter than the aroma promised. This lighter fruitiness and such is why I say it also isn’t quite the same beer as the one I tried before; Or more correctly, it is but had fresh as it can be on tap at the brewery it is – as you would expect – better. The fruitiness and flavour is just more evident and better.

Still, here it is still a good lager, using hopping well and balancing the traditional lager character with the craft style well. Basically the difference is that when had fresh at the brewery everything is turned up a notch – not to assault hopping levels, but everything is more evident and better defined.

I’m getting distracted – this is still worth trying, it carries just enough of the heavier, muggier hop character for some weight; Crisp hops used for drinkability. It brings hop flavour without forgetting that it needs the lager base. So, worth grabbing – however, if you are near the brewery when it is on – the definitely try it then, it is a whole different level of “yes!”

Background: I’ve been looking for a certain lager from Lost and Grounded for a while. During the Brizdram drinking event in Bristol, we visited the Lost and Grounded brewery and I had a brilliant lager, utterly brilliant. But I was drunk. And I forgot the name. So here we are now, with this beer grabbed from Independent Spirit. Let’s see how it does. This was drunk while listening to a random shuffle of Bad Religion tunes – hopefully seeing them live later this year, so was in the mood to listen to them.


Kefalonian & Ithaca Microbrewery: Kefalonian Beer (Greece: Premium Lager: 5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow, clear. Massive white head and masses of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla. Wet cardboard. Slight sulphur eggs. Slight wheat. Orange fruit sugars. Slight banana and funky yeast.

Body: Moderate hop character. Fresh lemon. Light brown sugar. Slightly muggy hop middle. Prickly feel. Vanilla. Light orange jelly sweets. Slightly chalky. Banana. Cheese puffs.

Finish: Lemony. Popcorn hop feel and light bitterness. Slightly watery. Slightly chalky. Cardboard. Banana. Cheese puffs.

Conclusion: This is the more interesting side of meh and shrug compared to the pretty damn bad meh and shrug that was Mythos.

Like that beer, this has some rough notes. It is a bit chalky, a bit watery -which is admittedly an unusual mix. You usually only get one or the other. The aroma was a very bad first impression as well – seeming dull, and mainly giving wet cardboard notes.

However it turns out when you hit the body it does have some actual flavour in there. There is some lemon freshness, some orange notes, even a moderate hop character. Not world shaking but it is something, they are trying to put out an actual beer with flavour. As time goes on the rougher elements get more prevalent, with the dank wet cardboard notes rising, especially in the finish.

There is a slight funky character to it – kind of cheese puffs and banana. If the beer didn’t have the rough notes then I think these would be quite interesting and even give some play to the beer – with the rough notes however they bounce badly off each other so it just seems like a missed opportunity,

So, it does have some promise, some good notes but badly delivered. I cannot in any way recommend it, but unlike Mythos they do have something. If they do a heck of a lot of work with it there is an enjoyable beer in there somewhere. Until they find it however, I say avoid.

Background: The second of two beers Tony brought back from Greece for me – many thanks! This one from a Greek microbrewery, very interesting, hope it will be better than the macro beer that I tried before. Don’t know much about this – it calls itself “The First Kefalonian Beer” So that is a thing. To match the lack of knowledge on the beer I shoved music on random for this one – had no idea what I was getting.

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 Kingpin

Brewdog: Kingpin (Scotland: Premium Lager: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold. Some carbonation. Clear. Very large yellow white mound of bubbles head.

Nose: Peppery. Spritzy. Soft lemon. Palma violets. Crisp. Lightly wheaty.

Body: Slick. Vanilla custard. Lime. Soft toffee. Fresh orange juice notes. Light palma violets.

Finish: Soft lemon sherbet. Palma violets. Soft hop character and light hop oil sheen. Light pepper and colander. Light bitterness.

Conclusion: Brewdog really are getting better at this lager lark. This one is an interesting one on the eye as it starts with a large head that seems to condense as it shrinks ending in a remarkably dense and robust cm of head in the end. While most places list this as a Premium Lager it seems very Bohemian Pilsner in the influences. The body is slick but refreshing and emphasises a soft vanilla custard and toffee base, but mixes what feels like traditional noble hop spiciness with new wave hop fruitiness. The subtle hop oil sheen into the peppery finish shows a dedication to its roots despite the innovation.

For the first time with a Brewdog lager there are no real stand out flaws at all – it has a good texture, a subtle aroma, good flavour, restrained spice and bitterness. It is the complete package.

It doesn’t take the crown as one of the best lagers in the world, most of those awards seem to end up the the Czech Republic, but that is no real criticism. It is probably one of the best lagers being turned out in Britain right now – it packs in a lot of character without giving up what makes lager stand out.

Ok Brewdog on your xth iteration you finally did it. A genuinely good lager.

Background: Brewdog keep trying to turn out a top rate lager. They slowly get better with each iteration but, so far they have not managed to meet that goal. Lager has always seen to be their weak spot, so when they turned out yet another version of their core range lager I of course did not have highest hopes, but grabbed a bottle anyway. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers This was grabbed direct from the Brewdog store.

Brewdog Prototype Session IPL

Brewdog: Prototype: Session IPL (Scotland: Premium Lager: 4.4% ABV)

Visual: Clean yellowed grain with moderate white bubbled head. Some carbonation to the main body.

Nose: Grapefruit. Dry malt. Fluffy lemon hops. Dried apricot.

Body: Creamy lemon. Apricot. Light bitterness. Fluffy mouthfeel yet crisp. Grapes. Pepper. Light vanilla.

Finish: Crisp character and fluffy hops. Moderate bitterness. Lemon. Passion fruit. Light peppermint and aniseed. Orange crème.

Conclusion: It is Brewdog tries lager time again. They are still trying for that one that genuinely amazes while still coming in at an abv that doesn’t kick your teeth in. They have managed some excellent high abv collaboration lagers, but generally only manage good for their more mainstream stuff. Still, bless them for keeping trying.

This one does pretty well, though it doesn’t stick too close to the public impression of a lager, instead going the moderate hopped route.

It comes in citrus filled and with a good but not excessive hop kick. Lots of softer fruit notes, from lemon, to grapes and passion fruit – gentle but mouth filling. This is backed by a soft pepper character that calls a bit more to the noble hop styles. The notes only become more full and complex over time – the base beer becoming less creamy and more crisp as it warms.

In the end it balances larger styling and big fruit flavours well. The bitterness may be rough for people used to more gentle lagers, but isn’t going to shock any experienced hop head – it is a backing not the main course.

It doesn’t have that something that will make it an all time great, but despite that it is a solid as can be lager and I am impressed. I have no objections at all to this becoming part of the main range exactly as it is. Easy to drink, but plenty going on if you take your time, with a finish that keeps going for such a long time.

Ok Brewdog, ye did this one good.

Background: Prototype time again, for beers which may or may not be tweaked and turn up in the future. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer, though in complex ways. I decided to go for this hopped India Pale Lager first as Brewdog trying a lager always interests me, even if it is not their strong style- incidentally, the continued use of India to just mean hopped for naming beer styles is becoming ridiculous now. Drunk while listing to some Fear Factory and Napalm Death to remember a bunch of live gigs this year. Good times.

10 Saints

10 Saints: 10 Saints Aged In Rum Casks (Barbados: Premium lager: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Moderate white mound head and grain pale body. Small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Initially closed, needs a swirl to open up. Raspberry and shortbread. Vanilla ice cream (So, raspberry ripple together?). Toffee and a tiny sour tang.

Body: Smooth. Custard. Raspberry ripple. Frothy feel. Light spicy wine. Cardboard touch.

Finish: Raspberry ripple. Slick. Toffee.

Conclusion: I am fairly sure I have described a beer before as tasting kind of like raspberry ripple – The beer. So I can’t do that again. So, erm, this is raspberry ripple – The lager!

Hah, I win. Anyway…

I have a feeling that without the rum cask finish this would be a dull but inoffensive beer. There is some vanilla sweetness, but not much noticeable in the base apart from that. The rum influence, on the other hand, is fun. There is a lot of sweet raspberry ripple there, but more importantly it adds a kind of bitter red wine spiciness to the undercarriage, something with a bit of bite to what would otherwise be a sweet dominated beer.

I’m slightly torn. There is a slight cardboard touch to the body, and a lot saying that the base beer is pretty unexceptional – but it has very much gained from the rum, so much so that I genuinely enjoyed it.

As screw it, always good to have some fun in your life. This is not an examination beer, but slip it into your life when you want an easy going but sweet lager – chill out with friends, along with a meal, and you will find it gives a generally happy atmosphere.

A nice bit of fun that pushes its one strength enough to make up for the weak base.

Background; So, you probably have seen the whole beer and whisky map thing. So, three guesses why I grabbed a beer from Barbados, and the first two don’t count. Still, a lager aged in Mount Gay rum casks. Sounds interesting. Had music on random while drinking this, realised that I used to have some terrible taste in music. I may still do. Bought at independent spirit.

Carlsberg Sverige Backyard Brew Bee 17
Carlsberg Sverige: Backyard Brew: Bee 17 (Sweden: Premium Lager: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Clear banana skin to gold. Moderate creamy bubbled head. Low carbonation.

Nose: Soft lemon. Soft hops. Coriander spice. Palma violets. Meringue.

Body: Honey touch. Some hop character. Lemon. popcorn feel. Hop oils. Slightly bready. Reasonably thick texture. Light pepper.

Finish: Light bitterness and hop oils. Slightly gritty. Lemony. Pepper.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s deactivate craft beer snobbiness. Hmmm. This beer is ok. No seriously, it’s ok. Fairly soft, lemony feel, light spice, fairly crisp. A honey touch. Now, like their previous beer, the finish is a bit of a let down. It is a bit gritty and rough, though thankfully nowhere near as bad as the Amber Lager had it. It is just a bit of a rough ending – not nice, but no so bad that it is pissing all over the rest of the beer.

The rest of the beer is fairly standard, drinkable though not special. It puts me in mind of a rougher take on This. Is Lager. – it has the same mix of soft body and light spice. If they could work out how to ditch that rough feel, especially in the finish, then I would be able to easily recommend it as a beer for chilling out and easy drinking. Hmm, wonder how long the beer is lagered for? It feels like it is relying more on the hop character than the natural lager character, so I wonder if they are cutting corners on that aspect. I could be completely off base, it just feels like it could have done with more time to smooth and round out.

As is, well it is flawed, but still does a nice job with the soft main body braced by a higher hop and hop oil character than usual, along with a bit of noble hop spice. It is actually pretty drinkable despite its sins.

I can’t say it should be a go to, but it is a pleasant lager with a bit of hops – they just need how to work out how to put a decent finish on their beers.

Background: Again, a disclaimer – knowing this is made by the big Carlsberg group I am torn between worries that I am biased as it is a macro lager, and bias because I am overcompensating for that. hopefully I hit a happy medium. This was donated for review purposes. Drunk while listening to the Super Meat Boy Soundtrack. It has been long enough since I completed that, that I no longer shudder in memory on hearing some of the tunes. That game was hard. Also, random plug. An old friend of mine has a book out, Nemesis by Bec and N.J Pearce. Available in paper back, and super cheap Kindle edition at amazon.co.uk and amazon.com Maybe give it a look please.

This Is Lager
Brewdog: This. Is. Lager. (Scotland: Premium Lager: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Pale light grain. Medium bubbled white head that leaves suds. Small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Floral. Palma violets. Vanilla. light lemon.

Body: Brown bread and soft vanilla. Soft banana and apricot. Toffee malt. Soft cake sponge. Palma violets.

Finish: Bready. Light dried apricot. Light banana and custard. Cake sponge. Light hops and pepper. Pineapple.

Conclusion: Oddly, as lagers are generally served quiet chilled, this actually needs just a bit of time to warm up. Not a lot, but chilled way down this was actively dull. Can something be actively dull? I’m going with yes. Anyway…

Then, when you let it get just a tad warmer, you get a very soft cake sponge texture, then banana starts coming out. It is very smooth as a lager, a touch of that Palma violets that I associate with bohemian pilsners, but not otherwise heavily calling to that style. Instead it seems to be a soothing rather than a crisp beer. The finish doesn’t have quite as much finesse, a bit bready and peppery, still some of the same notes but rougher done.

If you let it get closer to room temperature, late on for the beer, it gets rougher edged again, which loses a lot of the more delicate characteristics that define the beer, though in exchange you do get a more citrus character. I think the main element against the beer is the pepperyness – the main flavours are so soft that the pepper seems out of place and a bit roughshod over it.

As I seem to say a lot with Brewdog lagers, it is ok, definitely better flavour and texture than previous examples, but the offset notes that I don’t enjoy are also more present. So, both better and worse than before in different elements. It could do with maybe making the main body flavours a bit bigger against the pepper, but it is progress.

Not up their with the top German or Czech pilsners, either for crispness or flavour, it is a different take – much softer and that soft main body is nice, just not the showstealer they are looking for.

Background: Brewdog have a varied history with lagers, none have been bad, but they keep seeking for the show stealer lager. This is their latest attempt. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Whether good or not, this seems to have been successful, I have barely seen it in stock on the Brewdog store for more than an hour so far. This was drunk in Brewdog Bristol, they were giving away free third pints as a promotion, which I bought up to 2/3rds size to make for a fair review size.

Curious Brew Lager

Chapel Down Winery: Curious Brew Lager (England: Premium Lager: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Very pale yellow. Surprisingly small white head and low carbonation in the body.

Nose: Crisp. Resinous hops. Slight citrus. Lime. Parma violets. Grain fields. Butterscotch.

Body: Smooth. Slight golden syrup. Banana. Parma violets. Hop oils. Butterscotch popcorn. Light hop bitterness. Shredded wheat.

Finish: Hop oils. Parma violets. Banana. Butterscotch. Light citrus. Slight hop character. Dry.

Conclusion: Had a few odd thoughts while drinking this one. Mainly about butterscotch. The presence of too much butterscotch flavour in a beer is often looked upon as a flaw in the beer – the sign of an excess of Diacetyl and thus a flaw in the brewing process. Some even look at any butterscotch flavour at all being a sign of a problem with the beer, though most are not as strident and absolute as that.

The thing is, here the butterscotch is not just present, but a vital component that compliments the other flavours of the beer well. What we have is a sweet and thick lager beer with a light citrus character.

For the most part the thicker character means that it doesn’t seem as dry or crisp as many lagers. This is a mixed blessing, it allows the sweetness of the beer to develop in banana and Parma violets characteristics, but does mean it isn’t as easy drinking or thirst quenching as you would expect of a lager.

This is emphasised in the texture details below, a kind of shredded wheat malt base with popcorn fluffiness. It works well as a base for flavour, but the beer feels like it could do with that crisper note. Something to make the flavours come out cleaner and more refreshing. The beer is ok here but it doesn’t have either the depth of flavour of a complex ale, nor that real drinkability of a great lager.

Still, it isn’t a bad beer, and the sweet flavours balance themselves well, going down reasonably easily. There are no real bad elements, even the feared butterscotch works well, but it doesn’t have those elements that lets it stand against the top class of the style.

Background: It’s nice have beer fan relatives. This was brought up at Christmas by my sister and she let me take a bottle back to review. Many thanks sis (and Brother in law). This was refermented with champagne yeast and made with nelson sauvin hops. Sorry about the delay in getting reviews up, it’s been a busy week.

Total Hubris
To Øl: Ölrepubliken: Total Hubris (Denmark: Premium Lager: 4.5%)

Visual: Hazy apricot to grain. Large mounded yellowed bubbles for a head and moderate carbonation to the body.

Nose: Fresh grapefruit. Pineapple. Custard. Crisp hops. Floral notes. Oat flakes. Apricot.

Body: Good bitterness and crisp. Lemon fresh. Pineapple. Light peppered crackers. Kumquat. Cloves.

Finish: Kumquat Crisp and dry. Moderate bitterness. Lime. Pepper. Popcorn hope feel. Dried fruit.

Conclusion: Over the years I have gained a hard earned respect for the various lager styles. One that had to wrest away youthful ale dedication and the memories off cheap piss water lagers to be achieved.

This is definitely helping the lager’s case with a massive citrus aroma and crisp hops over a dry and crisp refreshing character. Lots of flavour and a dry peppery element that lingers out into the finish.

It is a full boded yet refreshing lager, and unlike the usual expectation of short finish for lager styles this thing’s final notes hold on for an age.

Now it’s not up with the all time greats that originally rocked my preconceptions of what a lager could do. For closest comparison, a similar quality and high citrus hops style is Mikkeller’s American Dream, a very tasty beer but not one that well emphasises the strengths of what a lager does better than an ale. In this case it results in the dry vegetable flavours becoming a bit too strong twixt sip and finish, a bit cloying at time that hurts the lager freshness.

Still, it may not be perfect but there is a ton of hop flavours in there which makes up for a lot. Now, unfortunately I can’t see a good session of these, as despite the lager crispness the cloying elements would become too heavy, but despite that the level of flavour and ease of drinking means that I can’t be too hard on it. A highly proficient beer with a few flaws that keep it from breaking my expectations.

Background: A collaboration between the Denmark brew team of To Øl and the Swedish Ölrepubliken resulting in me needing to spend a lot of time looking for the extra characters available to me for this write up. Two breweries I have not tried before and in the hard to do well lager stakes. Seemed like a good challenge to see if they were up to their reputation.

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