Tag Archive: Stewart Brewing

Stewart Hawkshead Margarita Gose
Stewart: Hawkshead: Margarita Gose (Scotland: Gose: 6% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed to lemon juice coloured body. Large off white head. Hazy mid body. Lots of sediment at the base.

Nose: Green leaves. Slight sweat. Thin squeezed lime. Crushed sesame seeds. Thin lemon. Bitty orange juice. Malt toffee drinks.

Body: Slightly tart and sour. Sour cream and chives. Greenery. Tart apples. Sharp lime. Sherbety feel and flavour. Blackpool rock. Wheaty. Malt drinks.

Finish: Lemon. Funky character. Sharp lime. Brown bread. Sour pineapple juice air. Lemongrass. Cane sugar. Greenery.

Conclusion: The observant of you may have noticed that I have not used the word “Margarita” at any point in the actual tasting notes above. This can be interpreted in one of two ways 1) That I am a dedicated tasting noter and as such would not take such short cuts. Or 2) That it has been fucking years since I have had a margarita and as such I only have a vague memory of what they taste like. (Hypothetically there is a 3) It tastes nothing like a margarita, but from the notes you can probably guess that is not true)

Anyway, number 2 is true, I admit. From my vague-arse memories this does take pretty margarita like. So…

Well, for a gose they have worked very well on the body. I’ve had a few gose now, and a thin body seems to be the curse of a bad gose resulting in that terrible sweat sock water style that is the bad stereotype of the style. This pulls forwards a decent body and instead just bursts with flavour. It is a sour, tart base, pushed with squeezed fruit sharp flavours and greenery. This , more than anything else puts me in mind of the first description I ever heard of a gose – like a sour salted Belgian wit. The base really has that Belgian wit texture that is not evident in many of the style I have tried.

As it warms more malt drink notes come out – it makes it more beer like and robust, though that does seem to work against the main margarita conceit. So, rambling aside – is it any good? Actually – yeah it is. Based on vague memory I would say it seems to meet its concept well. As a gose it emphasises the positive of the style and hides the negative. As just a beer it is just beer like enough to feel worth doing rather than just having a margarita itself, it is fresh and refreshing and has a good wodge of tart flavour. Another beer that could have been just a gimmick, but ends up working out much better than that.

Background: Been meaning to try this for a while, recommended by Independent Spirit it is a gose made to try and emulate Margaritas. To do so they have used motueka hops, salt and kaffir lime leaves. In preparation for the soon to be released new Against Me! Album, I was listening to 23 Live Sex Acts album while drinking this.

Stewarts Elysium 3 Speyside Sherry Malt Edition

Stewarts: Elysium 3: Speyside Sherry Malt Edition (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Short lived brown head that settles to a brown dash over the main body.

Nose: Raisins. Nutmeg. Tannins. Liquorice. Charred oak. Port. Raspberries. Brandy cream. White bread rolls. Mildly astringent.

Body: Sour red wine. Tannins. Charred oak. Bitter cocoa. Cream. Slight cream cheese and chives. Blueberry. Thick. Milky coffee.

Finish: Black cherry and blackcurrants. Slightly dusty. Charred oak and charcoal touch. Raisins. Bitter red wine. Bitter cocoa. Cream cheese. Spiced grapes. White chocolate. Brown bread.

Conclusion: Back when I tried the bourbon version of this I thought it was slightly too light and needed a heavier barrel to give it some heft. Well, damn, this is a heavier barrel.

The nicely textured, creamy, body below is still present with its mild white chocolate notes, but any of the light points have been barricaded up by spicy red wine, tannins and a range of dark fruit. Exactly what the doctor ordered. Though, slightly ironically, this now almost suffers from the inverse issue – that of almost overpowering the base beer. Almost. It keeps just on the right side of the line. While not performing miracles of complexity the base beer provides an excellent thick, creamy, yet slightly dry and bread base beer to work from on the texture side; On the flavour side the sour cream, bitter cocoa and white chocolate seem to create suitable grounding notes for the barrel ageing.

And what wide ranging barrel ageing it is. There are a mix of spiced grapes, dark berries, charred oak – sweet and sour notes meet, harsh then relieving the kick. The oak influence doesn’t feel overly booming though – the drier body keeps it grounded in that cream cheese and sour dough like notes. Generally it works so the experience isn’t as sickly sweet as many big imperial stouts, and so seems less garish.

The dryness does work against it in the finish though – initially fine it does become over dry and cloying over time. A pity as this is generally a very rewarding imperial stout indeed – not one that instantly shows everything, or instantly appeals due to the dryness. One that instead rewards you time.

A challenge and a beer with some flaws, but a challenge worth taking on and drinking.

Background: I managed to get through the wax on this bottle very quickly. This makes me happy. Hard to get into waxed bottles are the bane of my beer drinking existence at the moment. I grabbed this from Independent Spirit as the bourbon aged version had been interesting but just a tad light – I wondered what the extra weight of a speyside ex-sherry barrel would do. This is bottle number 204 of 621. That is a fair small run. Drunk while listening to David Bowie – Blackstar. An absolutely haunting final album from an excellent artist.

Stewart Hollyrood Pale Ale

Stewart: Hollyrood Pale Ale (Scotland: American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow gold. Inch of tight bubbled white head.

Nose: Wheaty and musty. Dried lemon. Slight salt.

Body: Soft lemon and dried lemon mix. Tangy lime. Wheaty feel and oatmeal taste. Milky. Orange. Smoke. Passion fruit. Kiwi.

Finish: Dried orange. Slight sulphur. Light wheaty character. Light pepper. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: Is it wrong that this makes me think of the result of a three way tryst between Kiln Embers whisky, a weissebrau and an American Pale Ale?

All of you who answered “Yes”, you are prudes. Anyway…

What makes me think of Kiln Embers is not a whisky character, but that gentle salted and dried lemon like character that is both refreshing and thirst inducing, matched by a slight amount of sulphur. That is then laid over a wheaty feeling body – an oddity as I am fairly sure no wheat was used in this ale, it even has that hefe weisse citrus character and easy drinkability. The American Pale Ale side brings more of the fruit character from the hops.

It has a fairly thick mouthfeel – halfway between oatmeal and milk – it keeps the beer from feeling as dry as many APAs are but also seems to mute the hop character -you get more fruit than bitterness – you only really get a bitter touch in the finish while the fruit comes out full and sparkling in the main body.

And fruity it is. It takes time to open up, starting with just that mouth freshening salty lemon and lime notes that never fade away, but expands into the milky texture to spread soft passion fruit and kiwi.

The initial impression was of a beer that was different and mouth refreshing, but simple with that. As the beer has opened up the simple descriptor has slipped away to leave a very thick yet fresh pale ale. The milkiness is a crowd splitter – for me it can feel weird every now and then, but the softness it brings is a solid part of the base so I am willing to accept the trade off of it not quite meshing sometimes.

A little bit not quite meshing but generally solid and different, and hey, I like a little bit weird. Not perfect but I can seriously recommend this one for a check out.

Background: This was recommended at Independent Spirit, and since I am a bit low on the lighter coloured beers in my cupboard right now I decided to grab one. I have far too many Imperial Stouts in the cupboard is what I am saying. Not much else to say. Drunk while listening to more Ritualz.

Stewart Elysium 1 Bourbon Edition

Stewart: Elysium 1: Bourbon Edition (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thick brown head that dissipates to a dusting quite quickly.

Nose: Vanilla. Cherries and fruitcake. Big fudge. Vanilla yogurt. Plums. Big but smooth. Rum soaked raisins. Shortbread. Rye bourbon.

Body: Smooth, almost light. Cocoa powder. Vanilla yogurt. Strawberry yogurt. Plums. Red wine and red berries. White chocolate.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Vanilla toffee. Vanilla yogurt. White chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, this tastes like a white stout. Okay, okay, white stout seems to have many definitions these days, some just based on stout meaning strong. This one tastes like an imperial stout, but with everything switched to white; White chocolate, the vanilla delivered as vanilla yogurt. In fact that yogurt is the element that really makes my point here. Lots of imperial stouts can feel like a chocolate milkshake – this turns that on its head and feels like its yogurt smoothie cousin.

Now the traditional stout flavours aren’t missed out, with dark fruit embedded in it and dark cocoa notes, but that different vanilla yogurt feel and taste mid body puts those traditional notes into a completely different context.

This different take on the Imperial Stout works better as it warms. Cool the yogurt dominates too much and it can make the beer feel kind of empty. Warm you get deep red wine and fruitcake notes that fill the emptiness and create contrast, like raspberries pocked in white chocolate.

In really intrigued to see how much of this is the base beer, and how much the barrel ageing. I’m used to vanilla and toffee notes from a bourbon barrel but not so much that they overpower the base imperial stout character.

Even as it warms it feels a tad too yogurt influenced to be special, a bit thick and cloying. It is very different though and I always appreciate that. I wonder if the Elysium would take better to a heavier barrel ageing. They have other variants so it may be worth a test. Anyway, overall more interesting as an experience than a beer in itself, but it has a lot of promise to make a very different take on the beer if they can just fine tune it.

Background: Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is one of three barrel aged version of their Elysium imperial stout. The other two being Speyside whisky casks, one ex-sherry and one, I presume, ex-bourbon cask. I decided to go for the bourbon version as I have not tried Elysium and bourbon is often the smoothest and less intrusive barrel ageing method for me, so may give the best idea of the base beer. Or that is the theory at least. Drunk whilst listening to Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip: Repent Replenish Repeat. I love that album.

Stewart Brewing First World Problems

Stewart Brewing: First World Problems (Scotland: Belgian Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Thick dark gold. Large yellow white frothed head.

Nose: Crushed bird seed. Soft banana skin. Mild apples. Yeastie and light bitterness. Nettles.

Body: Creamy texture. Pear drops. Apple. Moderate bitterness. Hop oils. Nettles. Slightly acrid. Light banana. Cumin. Soft pastry. Apricot.

Finish: Good bitterness. Charred wood. Slight hop oils. Nettles. Cloves. Custard cream biscuits. Peppery.

Conclusion: This is on of those beers that, on paper, look right up my alley, but there is just something off about it in practise. There is a big mix of stuff I like, I mean I am well disposed towards Belgian IPAs in general and this blends a soft Belgian ale with a good level of spice influence, Belgian IPA hoppyness and bit of funky yeast character. Ok, near all of those are Belgium related – I just happen to like Belgian beers, ok?. I was surprised by the spice level, I couldn’t find any indication of added spice so I must guess it is all from hop choice.

However despite my love of individual elements, overall it didn’t quite mesh, and I’m having a hard time quite saying why. The soft sweetness is  well done – soft pears, apples and the like. The hops are present, but possibly could do with a bit more traditional hop character. In fact a lot of what I would expect from an IPA is actually provided by the spiciness not the hops. I think this may be my main issue. The emphasis on the spice gives a bit of a greenery character that makes the beer feel slightly acrid in the harsher notes and that becomes dull fast – leaving the better elements hidden behind.

A pity as with a bit more clean hop and a bit less acrid I could see this having a lot of legs. The base texture works very well, and the clean custard like sweetness is very much in its favour, but everything ends up leading to that peppery and clove filled finish that seems to dispatch all the subtlety that came before.

So, close, but needs a bit of work. Or so I think. A quick google seems to indicate most of the internet disagrees with me. Oh, the pain, the pain, the regrets. Such first world problems eh?

Background: Ok, I bought it mainly for the funny name and cool can art (hopefully shown in more detail below). I’m allowed to be shallow once in a while. Anyway, a Belgian style IPA with an IBU of 80 and made with wheat and oats. I was listing to my friends band Television Villain (plug plug) while drinking this. Yeah, I know, mates and all but it is genuinely good in my opinion as well. Bought at the increasingly well stocked Independent Spirit.

First World Problems 2

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