Tag Archive: Siren


Tiny Rebel: Siren: Dark Cherry and Chocolate Barley Wine (Wales: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Deep, cloudy brown. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Coca. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Mild black coffee.

Body: Black cherry. Bourbon biscuits. Slightly light mouthfeel. Liquorice. Bourbon whiskey. Vanilla. Slight rye whiskey. Brown sugar. Slight brown bread. Slight chocolate liqueur. Earthy bitterness.

Finish: Black-forest gateaux. Bourbon biscuits. Watery coffee. Rye whiskey. Alcohol air. Liquorice.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m going to open up with the side of this where it is weaker. This is slightly watery on the mouthfeel, which is bloody surprising considering it rocks in at over 10% abv. It isn’t terribly weak, but just slightly thin at the edges, while letting through some of the rawer alcohol notes in the finish. So not light in a super smooth fashion unfortunately. It is definitely lacking a few points in the polish side of things for sure.

So, on a more positive note, this uses the cocoa to chocolate notes well, adding a strong chocolate character while still letting the barley wine come through so it doesn’t just end up feeling like an imperial stout. It mixes well with the brown sugar notes to make a kind of Belgian dubbel meets barley wine kind of thing.

If there is an upside to the rawer alcohol character it is that it results in some bourbon and rye whiskey like notes that makes it feel like this has been barrel aged, (which, while not something they have done for this beer I know is something they plan for the future) though not with the smoothness barrel ageing brings. It does make me genuinely intrigued to see what the barrel aged version of this would be like.

The black cherry (or dark cherry) could do with a bit more prominence here. It is nice but is a gentle backing note to the chocolate. In fact the lighter body seems to make a lot of the non cocoa ingredient flavours seem slightly muted.

So, an ok barley wine with a few nice notes, but definitely needs another run though with a bit more polish.

Background: Final beer from the Tiny Rebel seventh anniversary collaboration box set and I’ve been saving this one for last. I’m a big fan of barley wines and despair that they don’t seem to get as much love as the Imperial Stouts, so this, made with cocoa nibs and dark cherry definitely caught my attention. Totally going against expected mood music for this, went a bit retro with Radiohead – O.K. Computer. It just scratched an itch of awkward, moody music I wanted right then. The box was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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Siren: Fred In London (England: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Thin yellowed head. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation. Some suds left by the head.

Nose: Golden syrup and brown sugar. Brown bread. Crushed hard sweets. Dried apricot. Fresh dough.

Body: Fresh bread. Sulphur smoke touch. Brown sugar. Raspberry hard sweets. Dried apricot. Golden syrup. Oily hop bitterness. Brown bread. Honey.

Finish: Golden syrup to treacle. Earthy bitterness. Sour cream note. Oily hop character. Kiwi. Nutty

Conclusion: There are three explanations I can think of my my views on, and reactions to this beer compared to Hair Of The Dog’s original. 1) My previous experiences with Hair of The Dog’s Fred have been with aged examples due to how long it took me to get and drink them, while this is a relatively fresh beer. 2) My memory has exaggerated how great that beer was compared to my experience now. 3) This beer is, in fact, not as good as Hair Of The Dog: Fred.

This is very golden syrup and brown sugar sweet. Very much using the malt needed for the high abv to make it a sugar shock of a hit. By comparison the hop character seems a lot simpler – giving slight kiwi and dried apricot notes, then an odd British real ale feeling touch of sulfur smoke and light earthy hop notes in the finish.

So, based on an ever fallible memory, this is not as good as the Hair Of The God classic. So, does it hold up as a beer in itself instead then?

Well, it has simple, but joy bringing notes. Big golden syrup, big brown sugar and hop oils, wth light but oily bitterness. The smoke, small as it is, adds extra depth – but for all that it feels like a middle of the road barley wine.

In the good news, it does hide the alcohol well. There is a hint in the flavor, but no burn with that – very smooth overall without going so far as to make it seem not beer like – however it seems fairly standard rather than a stand out experience.

Unless my memory is lying to me this is not a patch on the original Fred. Ok, but not up to its heritage.

Background: I freaking love Hair Of The Dog beers, and Fred is one of the first few I ever tried of them. Siren have had a good run with remaking other peoples’ beers in collaboration – most notably their take on Even More Jesus – so when I heard they were doing a collaborative remake of Fred, I decided it was a must grab. This was grabbed from Brewdog’s online store and drunk while listening to Akala: Knowledge Is Power – Vol 2. Still blows me away how good Akala 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.

siren-vermont-tea-party

Siren: Vermont Tea Party (England: American Pale Ale: 3.6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice colour. Small amount of carbonation. Middling size white head.

Nose: Dried mango. Crisp hops. Creamy lemon. Thick flour. Fresher lemon juice.

Body: Tingling nettles. Tea. Brown bread. Tannins. Soft lemon juice. Slight lime. Mango juice. Dry. Flour.

Finish: Tea and definite tannins. Peppery. Brown bread. Mango. Greenery. Gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: I think this is one of those beers that is good, but not aimed at me. From midpoint onwards this very much emphasises the tea – and is very good in that. I talk about coffee beers having well defined range of coffee notes, rather than a generic coffee flavour – and this does that but for tea; It is leafy, peppery, definite tannins – it does the whole nine yards.

The aroma promises something more balanced – it is gently fruity, crisp in the hops but with a thickness to the aroma like flour floating in the air. You keep some of this going into the body – there is a gentle lemon, and a definite flour like grip to the texture – but it becomes drier after a few moments and the very well layered and well defined tea flavours just takes everything over.

So, I don’t mind tea, but I’m not exactly wild for it. Yes I know that makes me an odd Englishman. Live with it. So it is very dominant here – in fact in a way that reminds me of my experience with gunpowder tea – Again something I don’t mind, but not overly my thing. I have to admit I was hoping the tea would be an element amongst the hops and fruit father than the main force. Ah well.

There is some concession to the other flavours – first lime and then soft lemon – again it is done in a tea style though – like when you add lemon slices to the tea. This really dedicates itself to its shtick.

So, definitely not a bad beer – everything it aims for it does well – and I am not hating it. However what it does well isn’t exactly what I am looking for. So, on that I hope you can decide for yourself if you want to investigate this or not.

Background: This beer was a gift from my mate Paul – many thanks. Part of a six pack from Honest Brew. There will be some more notes from the set to come – I had already done notes on two of the beers in the pack. This is a beer made with Siren’s house cultivated yeast from Vermont, Early Grey tea and lemon zest. Very unusual. It was drink while listening to tunes from Miracle Of Sound’s Level 7 album – he does great video game inspired music.

Siren Ten Dollar Shake

Siren: Ten Dollar Shake (England: IPA: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy and hazy apricot to fruit juice with some bits visible. Large off white head.

Nose: Mango. Hop oils and resin. Slightly musty. Quite bitter. Smoother late on. Mashed banana. Cream. Apricot and peach.

Body: Creamy. Banana milkshake. Light hop oils and bitterness. Mango, kumquat and kiwi.

Finish: Shortbread. Cream. Hop oils and bitterness. Banana. Slight flour. Kiwi. Lemongrass. Pineapple.

Conclusion: I’m so glad that this didn’t cost me an actual ten dollars, or it’s current UK equivalent. Mainly because the pound exchange rate is in the toilet right now. Fucking Brexit. Anyway, that is not to say this is not good. In fact give me a 75CL bottle of this and I will not just happily drop best part of ten quid on it, but I would happily drink the entire lot myself as well. Bloody lovely it is. So that is any suspense gone from this set of notes now isn’t it?

This sells the “shake” aspect of its imagery very well – creamy, a good, almost thick milky texture, but doesn’t go so far as to compromise the elements it has chosen to accentuate from the IPA style. It is thick, fruity as well, with all those banana and mango notes that go very well with milkshakes. Also kiwi, which I don’t think is a big milkshake choice – it may be – buggered if I know. Anyway, there are the hop oils, moderate bitterness and resin character that tells the IPA style – not too heavy in that bitterness but it keeps a lot of the familiar hop character despite the creamy nature of the base beer. In fact with the creamy sweetness it feels like a creamier, fruitier take on a USA East Coast IPA style.

This is just wonderfully juicy – I am sure that some of the flavours came from the hops – especially ones such as banana and kiwi where that fruit was not used in making this, but in general it feels like far more comes from the fruit infusion. It just feels juicier and clearer than you normally get from hops alone. So this is creamy, hoppy, fruity, smooth and big. Good set. This is good both as a beer and for delivering on the promise the beer’s name makes. Definitely try this one, it is top bombing.

Background: After a quick google I confirmed my suspicions that this was originally brewed in collaboration with a Brewdog pub (in this case Shepherd’s Bush) for collabfest 2016. Then I looked at the back of the bottle and found that it was mentioned there, so I could have saved a few mins. I have not done a collabfest run the past few years – they were fun but I’m trying to spread out my notes a bit- was very Brewdog heavy during that time. Any which way, this is the bottled version grabbed from Independent Spirit. This is an IPA made with lactose, mango, papaya and passion-fruit. Another quick google told me this was not, in fact,a Pulp Fiction reference as I thought – theirs was a 5 dollar shake. Maybe it is just inflation. Drunk while listening to the Diamanda Hagan anthems – if you have a high tolerance for B move excesses in every fashion her reviews are great – check them out. If any of gore, nudity or swearing put you off – best avoid.

Siren Garage Project Blacklight Banana

Siren: Garage Project: Blacklight Banana (England: Imperial Stout: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of yellow brown head.

Nose: Dried banana. Smoke. Pencil shavings. Quite closed. Fudge. Stewed banana as it warms. Light chocolate dusting.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Very ripe to stewed banana. Palma violets. Smooth and creamy. Praline. Cinnamon. Some blended whisky notes.

Finish: Banana Sunday. Toffee sauce. Mild chocolate. Smooth sheen on tongue. Praline. Bitter cocoa. Cinnamon. Subtle milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, sometimes the very smooth, slightly light, Imperial Stout style can work. Ok, who would have thought that? Normally I find that level of light character in a stout a flaw, but here it just successfully makes room fro those mashed and stewed banana flavours to slot right in.

In fact, with the smoothness, and later on with the whisky notes I wondered if this had been barrel aged. Looking at the bottle I am still not sure – they refer to bourbon barrel aged coffee beans. Lacking a comma that seems to say that just the coffee beans had been barrel aged. So that shouldn’t have made the beer smoother. I guess. Bit of an odd twist. I have no idea. Any which way, the beer tastes barrel aged and that is the important bit.

Actually no, scratch that, the important thing is that this tastes like a Banana Sunday that someone dropped way too much chocolate sauce on. I don’t mean “way too much” in bad way – I just mean that the chocolate would be too dominant if it was a Banana Sunday. It has a very dessert feel, albeit that someone felt a need to drop a shot of Irish whiskey into the mix as well.

Considering the number of elements in it, it plays a fairly small set of notes. That is pretty much the only drawback I have with this beer. It does the dessert, liqueur and chocolate thing very well, but there is no real progression from there. The coffee beans especially seem to have very little input.

Still, works the smooth character well, plays as a dessert beer well – if you want more banana in your life and in your stout then rock on! This does the job.

Background: Another one from the rainbow project – collaborationist between UK and (in this case) NZ breweries, based on a colour set to them. This is the indigo inspired beer, and they went with the idea that under a blacklight bananas look indigo. A nice bit of rules-lawyering of which I approve. It was made with blowtorched bananas, molasses, banana purée and coffee beans that had been aged in bourbon barrels (No I have no idea how that works). Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk while listening to a mix of metal covers of pop songs. I am sucker for such things for some reason.

Siren Le Grappin Funkier Feet

Siren: Le Grappin: Funkier Feet (England: Sour Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Pinky brown with caramel edges to the body. Large off white head with brown sediment in the middle of the mound, coming out from the pour.

Nose: Rose wine. Alpen. White grapes. Lemon. Light cherries. Fresh.

Body: Tart raspberries and juicy red grapes. Lemon undertones. Acidic at the very back of the throat. Tart apples. Strawberry yogurt. Champagne yeast character. Vanilla sweetness. Mandarin orange and pink grapefruit.

Finish: Fresh and lemony. Red grapes. Sweet. Cheese-boards. Champagne. Strawberry. Vanilla yogurt. Rustic notes.

Conclusion: Sour beers can often be oh so fruity, and this, with all its wine influence as well, well it just booms with it. For a beer called “Funkier Feet” I am surprised that it doesn’t actually have that much funky yeast character going on in it, or for that matter it isn’t overly sour. Don’t get me wrong, it is a sour beer, and it is acidic at the very back of the throat. However, generally it feels more refreshing than harshly sour.

In fact it is remarkably sweet with tons of juicy grapes, cherries and strawberry sweetness and all pretty smoothly done. Despite that it keeps that hard to define beer character – there is a rustic note in the finish, and a very “beer” gripping texture, with lambic like dry notes and alcohol character. It is generally very different to a standard beer, but doesn’t fall into the trap of feeling like alcoholic fruit juice or just the wine influence.

As time goes on it descends into more tart apple and pink grapefruit notes, but even here it is still more in the flavour than the acidity. It is very easy to drink considering the big flavours it pulls out, possibly due to the grounding by slight cheeseboard styling that I always associate with a good sour beer.

Overall it is very impressive with mouth sparkling refreshing character, yet much sweeter than most sours, thus avoiding their harsh dryness. It is that character that makes it easy to drink. It is full of fruit, sweetness, and just a tiny touch of funk that gives a kind of bready champagne feel.

It is a delight of a beer. Impressive, progressing, wine touched, yet still beer like, lambic influenced. Both a sour that can be enjoyed by those new to the style and by those who want something with depth to appreciate.

Background: Ok, I never tried the original Funky Feet, but this is the updated version – a brett beer, blended with rose wine, aged with grapes for three months. All in all a bit of a non standard beer. Also a tad unusual in that as I was trying to open the cork it popped off into my hand with the crack like a bloody bullet. A quiet bullet admittedly as I still had my hearing, but still more force than expected. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit a while back and now finally drunk.

Siren Evil Twin Barrel Aged Even More Jesus VIII - Hazelnut Liqueur Barrel Aged
Siren: Evil Twin: Barrel Aged Even More Jesus VIII – Hazelnut Liqueur Barrel Aged (England: Imperial Stout: 11.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate brown head.

Nose: Thick and oily. Green olives, Balsamic vinegar. Walnuts. Chocolate liqueur. Burnt sugar. Caramel.

Body: Very thick. Brown sugar. Hazelnuts. Chocolate liqueur. Crème brulee. Chocolate fondue. Also slight bitter chocolate. Fudge. Brandy cream. Nougat.

Finish: Custard and chocolate mix. Bitter cocoa dust. Bitter coffee. Sherry trifle. Cherries. Rum. Hazelnut liqueur. Brown sugar. Nougat.

Conclusion: This is such a wonderful example of how to have a huge, thick feeling, big tasting, high abv, Imperial Stout, without having to have it taste overly boozy. In fact, it is worrying how well it does that, I could drink this all down without realising how much I had just drunk.

All the old “Even More Jesus” traits are here – dangerously decadent, thick like chocolate fondue, creamy liqueur notes building up over soft crème brulee mixed with rum spicy complexities. The Siren version was always the louder yet less well integrated version of the two. Here the barrel ageing has papered over the cracks, smoothing, enhancing and integrating the base – and when it can’t quite manage full integration it just layers sweet hazelnuts over it, managing to do with pure force what it cannot do with subtlety and giving yet another string to its bow.

It is therefore still the less subtle of the two, but now it actually manages to shine by itself. It feels like it is trying to show you everything it has at once. The chocolate liqueur – the nuts – the spirit notes – the cream – the nougat. Everything is in your face and awesome, but all manages to complement each other now. It is hard to get bored with it, even before the alcohol hits. After it hits everything just looks warm , fluffy and happy.

So, it is its own thing, not just Evil Twin’s Even More Jesus, but what would happen if all that was turned up to 11 and dosed in Hazelnut. Love it.

Background: Well, any excuse for more “Even More Jesus”. I adore this beer. Yes, grabbed from Independent Spirit. Again. They are close, friendly and have a great selection, so I end up using them a lot. Anyway, this version is aged in Hazelnut Liqueur barrel’s which is enough for me to give it another try. This needed big metal music, so Metal Up from Miracle Of Sound was the order of the day.

Siren Cigar City Caribbean Chocolate Cake
Siren: Cigar City: Caribbean Chocolate Cake (England: Foreign Stout: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin dark brown creamy head.

Nose: Thick and cloying. Nutty and sour dough. Light perfumed and spice. Brown bread. Chocolate hints. Tabasco sauce and ketchup.

Body: Condensed cream. Burnt macaroon bases. Milky chocolate. Mild brown sauce. Fruity chilli sauce. Cherries. Cinnamon apples.

Finish: Coconut. Dried mango. Brown sauce and burger meat. Chocolate cake.

Conclusion: I was kind of expecting this to concentrate on the chocolate cake, it is half the name and the part I would most commonly associate with stouts. Well the chocolate cake is there, delivered pretty big as well, but it is far from the whole story.

The story is spicy touched but not harsh or one note. The story is a fruity chilli sauce through to a brown sauce touch, all over a thick textured beer that leaves your mouth feeling like you have chewed a burger as much as had a drink for the imagery it brings.

The chocolate sweetness is thick and condensed cream like that allows all those condiment sauces and spice elements to work as a turbulent undertow that drags you into its depths then blasts you back into the thick sweetness – a wonderful contrast that works magic in your mouth.

To get a hint of what is come with this beer, to get a beer overture, all you need to do is take your time and let the aroma in. It is all hinted at there. the juicy warm sauce just floats out over the glass bubbled over the chocolate.

Frankly an excellent beer – so different, so fruit, warm, thick and so chocolaty – yet still so smooth. The alcohol is so eased out that this could be just a jalapeno chilli dipped chocolate milkshake for all you would know.

Drunk at the end of 2015 and as I drink this it is one of the great beers of 2015, and that is saying something.

Background: This was highly recommended to me at Independent Spirit, I put off grabbing it for a while as my cupboard was stout heavy at the time. As you can tell, I finally picked it up. This was the first use of the new stout glass given to me by craft beer sis at Christmas. many thanks. Only the wheat ale glass to go! This beer was made with coca nibs, cyprus wood and lactose. Drunk while listening to Akala and Napalm Death again.

Siren Evil Twin Even More Jesus VIII

Siren: Evil Twin: Even More Jesus VIII (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Inch of creamy brown froth.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust and cocoa powder. Red grapes.

Body: Smooth. Bitter chocolate powder. Frothy. Vanilla. Toffee and fudge. Muscatel grapes. Slight spice. Brown sugar. Cinder toffee. Nougat.

Finish: Liquorice. Frothy hot chocolate. Brown sugar. Big bitter chocolate. Spicy grapes.

Conclusion: Even more “Even More Jesus“. Yep, I’ve managed to get around the fact I have already done tasting notes for Even More Jesus by taking advantage of the fact that Siren have done a British version. Ha. Rules lawyering. I win.

So, again we have the aroma – one that doesn’t really give anything to get excited about – fairly standard chocolate notes. The body though…. Oh yes the body is exciting. Slightly less viscous than the original. I think. It has been a while. Still a big frothy beast of a beer.

A different frothy beast though – the liquorice is evident here, while I never noticed it in the original. Also it seems to tend more to each of the extremes – the chocolate is more bitter, the spice is more warming, the vinous notes are more grape like and the sweetness is full on brown sugar. It is less integrated than the original, more individual flavours that stand out.

While this is still lovely I do prefer the original – it is more balanced, more integrated – but this is still epic deliciousness. It is sweet as hell in the individual notes but that bitter chocolate backbone swamps around them, leaving the sweet notes as island poking out from within.

Lovely, not the best, but lovely. A very impressive take on a a legend of a beer.

Background: This beer may look a tad familiar. That is because it a take on the Evil Twin Beer “Even More Jesus”, and is made in collaboration with Evil Twin themselves. An imperial stout made with liquorice and muscovado sugar. I was a huge fan of the original beer, so when I saw the limited bottle release in Independent Spirit I grabbed it.

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