Tag Archive: Sweden


Omnipollo: Buxton: Texas Pecan Ice Cream (Sweden: Imperial Porter: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Froths up a head that vanishes nigh instantly.

Nose: Pecan. Cashew. Coffee cake. Cocoa dust. Light charcoal ash. Caramel. Creamy.

Body: Blackcurrant and liquorice. Slight sherbety feel. Chocolate liqueur. Slightly bready. Crushed pecan. Lactose feeling, yet slightly light mouthfeel. Light chalky feel. Caramel.

Finish: Chocolate bourbon biscuits. Crushed peanuts. Blackcurrant liquorice sweets. Milky. Leaves sheen on tongue. Dry fudge. Pecan pie.

Conclusion: I’m fairly sure Texas Pecan Ice Cream isn’t made with blackcurrant and liquorice. I mean, I could be wrong – ya know, not being from Texas and all that, but I’m still fairly sure.

You may be wondering why I am saying that, it is an odd way to open up the notes. Well, I say it as, while the nuts definitely dominate the aroma – on taking the first sip this came in big with those old blackcurrant and liquorice sweet character. Nice, but completely unexpected given the beer’s concept.

The nuttiness instead rises in the body as the beer warms – so don’t worry about that. There is a similar progression in the texture – while it does have a lactose, creamy mouthfeel, early on it feels deceptively light. I do wonder if this difference in texture is part of what makes an Imperial porter stand out from an imperial stout – they are such close linked styles. The weight does grow over time, but even late on it doesn’t have the fullness you would expect of a lactose infused, 10% abv beer. Even feels slightly sherbety against some chalk feel, and still slightly light. Unusual.

So – it is different to what I expected from the description – early on it is very enjoyable in the blackcurrant and liquorice it brings, and that always plays as a backing to the main beer. The nuttiness becomes quite present over time mixing with creamy caramel and fudge sweetness – it isn’t quite pecan ice cream to my mind, probably would need just a bit more body to sell that imagery – it isn’t bad at all, but it really feels like a bit more work, a bit more body and this could be a huge beer and much better.

Pretty good, a mix of the core concept with a radically different imperial porter base, but not 100% on point.

Background: I very much enjoyed the Ominpollo and Buxton collaboration Ice Cream themed beers when I first ran into them about a year ago. Seeing that Independent Spirit had one of the ones I had missed back in stock, I decided to grab it and give it a try. Made with vanilla and lactose sugar, along with wheat and oats in the malt bill – though not, it seems, any actual pecans. I could be wrong on that so don’t quote me on that one. Drunk while listening to The Algorithm – Brute Force. Missed seeing them live last year despite having tickets, which was a pity, but great electronic, mathcore style fun to listen to when drinking.

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Poppels: DIPA (Sweden: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark yellow with brown hints, a massive yellowed head upon that which leaves suds.

Nose: Thick, resinous, oily hops. Some bready bitterness. Malt chocolate and choc limes. Dried apricot and dried banana. Mocha.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Brown bread. Malt chocolate. Apples. Good bitterness. Milky coffee. Resinous hop oils. Orange. Slight peach. Kiwi. White grapes.

Finish: Choc lime. Good hops. Vanilla Toffee. Milky coffee. Good bitterness. Kiwi. Apples.

Conclusion: This is very malt led for an IIPA. I know IIPAs tend to be a bit more malty than their standard IPA cousins, and that the more malt led variants are a recognised thing, but when you get one with this much malt it can seem a tad odd to me. What makes it more odd is how the malt leads – it is surprisingly dark in its flavour choices. White there is a more traditional vanilla toffee character it matches a coffee character – admittedly a very milky coffee character, but still coffee – then even some malt chocolate notes. All stuff I would normally associate with darker beers.

Hop flavours are there, but, apart from the resinous character, they feel more like gentle rounding fruity notes. There’s dried apricot and kiwi that slowly build up over time but are always gentle, creamy flavours rather than body and assertive hops. What is odd about this is that the aroma is everything the body is not – the aroma is thick, oily, resinous and very assertive – which is why I was expecting something big and booming which I did not get.

Still, expecting is one thing – enjoying is another. The beer is still fairly resinous as I mentioned before, the actual hop character a bit more bready – it all results in a more sturdy, heavy beer than you would expect, but with less of the sticky muggy hops that would often come with that.

Together, those darker sweet malt notes, bready and kind of resinous hops, and soft fruity notes, come together in something that is not a standard IPA – even with all the variants in style these days – it is more soothing than brutal, more warming than wake up – but with good flavours. It is like a night cap IPA, which is an odd set of ideas together – but enjoyable in that.

Make of that what you will.

Background: This 80 IBU double IPA was the 2013 winner of best Swedish beer – so probably going to be good. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk while listening to some Jackamo Brown – another from the batch of music Speech Development records gave away free digital downloads of – nice relaxing stuff.

Brekeriet: Picnic Sour Ale (Sweden: Low Alcohol Sour Ale: 2.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Small white head. Fizzing carbonation.

Nose: Rhubarb. Oats. Horse blankets. Lightly tart- pineapple and soft tangerine.

Body: Acidic. Lemon. Dry. Slight cardboard. Tart rhubarb and pineapple. Chalky. Tart raspberry.

Finish: Dry. Squeezed lemon. Slight chalk. Rhubarb rises up over time. Tangerine.

Conclusion: If only there was as much rhubarb in the rest of the beer as the aroma promised. The aroma just oozes rhubarb, I could smell it the entire time I was doing the initial photos to go with these notes. A simple aroma admittedly, but enticing definitely.

The main body still has some rhubarb, more acidic lemon than that, but also it comes with a dull cardboard middle which hurts it. Similarly the generally tart beer has a soft chalkiness that it really doesn’t have enough body to accommodate.

The finish does recover a bit – with the rhubarb fully developing again. Over time the beer does shift back and forth in how it feels – some times it comes across quite full and fruity, other times quite empty and chalky. Generally the longer you hold the beer, the more likely it is that some of the rougher elements come out.

So, it is close to working – some times you get everything coming together just right – but it is too variable in how it comes across. Even when it is more full bodied it is fairly simple in delivery; You get the lemon, the rhubarb and the pineapple at the core – though sometimes a slight tangerine and raspberry come out, especially as time goes on.

I want to like this beer, but it just can’t hold its good points reliably – resulting in an overly dry and chalky feel as you drink on..

A good attempt with distinctly sub optimal results.

Background: After having a great time with the last Brekeriet sour beer I tried, I decided to pick up this low abv one – Looked very interesting, made with rhubarb, which is something I am a big fan of. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to a bit of Erock on youtube.

Brekeriet: Berliner Spazz (Sweden: Berliner Weisse: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large yellowed white head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Fresh pineapple and guava juice. Soft creamy lemon. Mashed white grapes. Pencil shavings. Bitty orange juice.

Body: Tart lemon. Soft vanilla. White grapes. Tart pineapple. Lightly acidic. Slight cider. Orange juice.

Finish: Stewed banana. Passion fruit. White grapes – both juicy and tart. Pineapple. Dried mango. Wheat. Vanilla. Salted water. Rhubarb. White wine.

Conclusion: The first thing that hit me here is that the berliner weisse is really just providing a backbone for the rest of the elements to influence. The main flavour instead is all juicy tart fruit as all heck. The passion-fruit is massive and juicy top and tail – oddly in the middle it is a lesser element, with the tarter character giving more pineapple and lemon. The body seems to push the tarter flavours over the sweeter passion-fruit.

The berliner weisse is there – giving slight cider like tartness and a slight extra roughness of feel that shows the base ingredients. Generally though it just pushes the tart, sour body and lets everything else work up form there.

While this is not heavily sour – more tart and fresh – it comes in with the huge range of flavour that I associate with the heavier duty sour beers – from orange juice, to a drier, tarter rhubarb character. Lots of fruit notes is what I am saying, with just a slight dryness. There is a lot to enjoy.

Feels like an awesome, refreshing, summer sun beer. The only real drawback is that the abv is a bit high to do that perfectly; It feels so fruit juice like and so refreshing that it could be dangerous to drink in the sun as you could easily go through them without realising how much you are drinking.

Apart from that , this is a brilliant summer sun bit of fruit drinking – it may not show the base beer style too much, but it is still something that could only be done in an alcoholic drink and benefits from that to make a distinct experience. Very nice.

Background: I sure hope this beer’s name has a different meaning in Sweden. In the UK it is an offensive slang term for someone with cerebral palsy. So, erm, yeah, the oddities that happen in differences between languages. Did a bit of googling but couldn’t find what the meaning or reference would be in Sweden – if anyone knows please let me know. Anyway this is a berliner weisse made with passion fruit. And vanilla beans. Which is a new take on the style for me. Drunk while listening to some awesome Against Me!

Stigbergets: API Lairepmi (Sweden: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, with a milky apricot colour. Moderate bubbled, yellowed head.

Nose: Banana. Creamy hop character. Milkshakes. Mashed kiwi. Vanilla custard.

Body: Pumpkin. Apricot and peach. Slight musty hop bitterness and light hop prickle. Banana and custard. Toffee. Slight kiwi.

Finish: Banana and banana yogurt. Popcorn hop feel. Light greenery and growing bitterness. Dried apricot. Buttery shortbread.

Conclusion: This is very easy going for an 8% abv beer, and, in fact, very easy going for an Imperial IPA. There is very little hint of the alcohol – unless you count the obvious additional sweetness from the bigger malt load as a tell, but in this case I do not.

As indicated above, flavour wise it, initially, seems pretty easygoing as well – feeling like sweet banana milkshake or smoothie. It even matches the character down to the creaminess and the kiwi notes that can be used to beef up a lot of smoothies. There are some other notes that complement this – peach and vanilla custard that really does make it feel like rich, full mix of milkshake and smoothie. The fruit feels full, and far from artificial in character.

However, the eagle eyed of you may have noticed I said “Initially” it was easy going – That is because the hop character does grow, as you would expect of an IIPA. Initially (there’s that word again) the hops are fairly light, which alters into a kind of popcorn texture hop feel, then growing slightly into greenery touched bitterness. It is never particularly heavy, but it does make sure that the beer is recognisably in the IPA range.

For weaknesses of the beer, and I’m not sure if this is just due to travel time to the UK, but the hops can feel a tad muggy, which is an aspect that doesn’t work well with the creamy smoothness and easygoing style of the rest of the beer. It does lead out into a kind of buttery shortbread style finish, which does work ok, so a reasonable trade-off, but one of the weaker elements of a good beer.

So – generally good – not a huge range, but works well with what it does. The hopped banana milkshake of the beer world. Feels like the beer take on a banana cocktail, albeit hopped rather than sugar shock styling – which works for me . Good times of soothing and chilling in the sun styled beer.

Background: Ok, it is no secret that I am a touch of a leftie. So, yeah the rise of the far right has been worrying the shit out of me. So, I must admit the concept for this beer touched a cord with me – a beer hoping for a shift to the left. Now, let’s face it – a beer isn’t going to change the world, but it is nice to see people standing up. Anyway, now I’m fairly sure a chunk of my readers are not lefties, and that is fine – I can accept difference of opinion – it is the massive levels of hate that come with the alt-right (aka fucking Nazis), EDL (Aka bigoted shits), etc that worry me. So, as long as you are not a bigot or someone who shits on the poor, etc, I’m cool with you. Also, yes I know the extreme left can have worrying views and acts as well – however since right now I am more likely to die by being impaled on a unicorn horn than them get anywhere near power, I’ll hold off worrying about that to another day. Anyway, this was grabbed from the Brewdog guest beer shop. Also, lovely metallic style art on the label – absolutely wonderful to look at.

brewski-brewing-persiko-feber-ipa

Brewski Brewing: Persiko Feber IPA (Sweden: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Lemon juice colour. Moderate white head. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Peach. Slight musty hop character. Soft pineapple.

Body: Slight musty feel. Pineapple. Dried peach. Good level of bitterness. Slightly chalky. Slight sour dough and sour cream. Dried mango.

Finish: Moderate bitterness. Nettles. Good hop feel. Quite dry. Slight granite. Slight sour dough. Dried mango.

Conclusion: I have to admit, I expected something very juicy based on the fact that actual peaches were used to make this beer. The mackoff peach on the label kind of reinforced that impression as well. This is fruity, but in a very dry and clinging bitter fashion. Especially on smaller sips – like that it goes all sour dough and bitterness which really doesn’t let the fruit out.

Larger mouthfuls seems to give more room that you can get more of the fruit. However even with the enhanced fruit there seems a strong cloying sour twist to it – nothing like what I would have anticipated – felt kind of like sucking the peach remains off the stone at its heart.

So, as you may have guessed, I am not overly taken by this. The fruit seems less peach most of the time, and closer to a dried mango flavour. The body feels closer to an APA dryness than the bigger character of an IPA. Finally the aforementioned sour dough notes are very long lasting into the finish, and the bitterness seems rough. It is fruity, aye, but in a way that seems cloying and closed.

So, considering this is a fair popular beer I wonder what I am missing? The bitterness is impressive I will admit, but without a balanced back it just makes it wearing over time. It just feels too closed for me. Used in moderation a sour twist can be a nice break in midst an IPA, but this seems dominated by it. So, not for me I’m afraid.

Background: This brewery was recommended to me as the “Hipster beer” due to the little top hat, monocle and moustached man on the front. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this brewery seem to have a very good rep. This one is an IPA made with Peach. Looking online after I had finished the notes, most people seem to be having a very different experience with this than me. Odd. Bad bottle? Or just me not being in line with the rest of the world yet again? Beats me. This was drunk after coming back from a Chaos Wrestling event which had been great fun, so was in a generally chipper mood.

Dugges Stillwater The Tropic Thunder
Dugges: Stillwater: The Tropic Thunder (Sweden: Sour Fruit Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow to lemon juice. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Peach to peach melba. Very fruity.

Body: Lightly tart. Peach. Apples. Slightly chalky. Mango, Gooseberry.

Finish: Apples and peach melba. Drying yet sweet. Mango juice. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: Man, it’s going to be hard to make this anything but a short set of notes. We are in tart alcoholic fruit juice territory again. So, first up – this is very fruity indeed. Predominantly with peach melba flavours, but with tarter apples and gooseberry at the edges, and some influence from the mango showing its head from time to time. While passion fruit is listed as being used in making this I didn’t really taste any present during my time with it.

The base is fairly light on the tartness, definitely there but just a refreshing character rather than anything harsh. Just a kind of mild gooseberry character, and a slight dryness from the acidity. It is also actually slightly chalky as well late on, so it manages to head out still feeling sweet from the fruit, but grounded quite dry in the texture.

So, those are the main elements – not the best sour I have had, and not too complex, but is is definitely the most peach melba styled though. On that I will also say the aroma for that is fantastic – if the entire beer was a big as the aroma, then, simple as it is in range, I would have no hesitation in recommending it. The rest of the beer, well it is solid, nothing too challenging, but it does feel like a drier backed alcohol fruit mix and not much more than that. Not bad in any way, definitely enjoyable with the slightly sharp fruit character – but nothing really stands out apart from the unusual fruit choice.

So, yeah, I made the notes manage to last this long but that is all I have to say. Peach melba fruit sour, slight chalk back. Ok, but not more than that.

Background: Another case where a new brewery to me caught my eye, at a sour beer with unusual fruit, and at sub 5% abv it seemed a interesting and easy one to slip into the tasting note list to have. Grabbed from Independent Spirit as is becoming slightly predictable these days. There is also a similar but lower abv version of this available called Tropic Folk – I was a tad confused – the description and fruit listed were identical, with only the abv changed. Then it was pointed out that in Sweden beers above a certain abv can only be sold in government shops, which despite my recent trip to Sweden I had forgotten. So I am presuming the lower abv one is so it can be sold in grocery stores in Sweden. Drunk while listening to Prodigy: Always outnumbered, Never outgunned. Not their best album, but one I haven’t listened to for a while.

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Dugges: Stillwater: The Tropic Thunder (Sweden: Sour Fruit Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow to lemon juice. Thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Peach to peach melba. Very fruity.

Body: Lightly tart. Peach. Apples. Slightly chalky. Mango, Gooseberry.

Finish: Apples and peach melba. Drying yet sweet. Mango juice. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: Man, it’s going to be hard to make this anything but a short set of notes. We are in tart alcoholic fruit juice territory again. So, first up – this is very fruity indeed. Predominantly with peach melba flavours, but with tarter apples and gooseberry at the edges, and some influence from the mango showing its head from time to time. While passion fruit is listed as being used in making this I didn’t really taste any present during my time with it.

The base is fairly light on the tartness, definitely there but just a refreshing character rather than anything harsh. Just a kind of mild gooseberry character, and a slight dryness from the acidity. It is also actually slightly chalky as well late on, so it manages to head out still feeling sweet from the fruit, but grounded quite dry in the texture.

So, those are the main elements – not the best sour I have had, and not too complex, but is is definitely the most peach melba styled though. On that I will also say the aroma for that is fantastic – if the entire beer was a big as the aroma, then, simple as it is in range, I would have no hesitation in recommending it. The rest of the beer, well it is solid, nothing too challenging, but it does feel like a drier backed alcohol fruit mix and not much more than that. Not bad in any way, definitely enjoyable with the slightly sharp fruit character – but nothing really stands out apart from the unusual fruit choice.

So, yeah, I made the notes manage to last this long but that is all I have to say. Peach melba fruit sour, slight chalk back. Ok, but not more than that.

Background: Another case where a new brewery to me caught my eye, at a sour beer with unusual fruit, and at sub 5% abv it seemed a interesting and easy one to slip into the tasting note list to have. Grabbed from Independent Spirit as is becoming slightly predictable these days. There is also a similar but lower abv version of this available called Tropic Folk – I was a tad confused – the description and fruit listed were identical, with only the abv changed. Then it was pointed out that in Sweden beers above a certain abv can only be sold in government shops, which despite my recent trip to Sweden I had forgotten. So I am presuming the lower abv one is so it can be sold in grocery stores in Sweden. Drunk while listening to Prodigy: Always outnumbered, Never outgunned. Not their best album, but one I haven’t listened to for a while.

Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter Börb_nåhallon

Närke: Kaggen Stormaktsporter Börb’nåhallon (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown rim of a head around the glass.

Nose: Bourbon. Vanilla. Spicy rum. Toasted teacakes. Buttery popcorn. Cinnamon. Treacle. Chocolate liqueur. Smoke. Fudge.

Body: Treacle. Molasses. Toasted teacake. Bitter chocolate. Cherries. Chewy. Black cherry. Heavy. Chocolate liqueur. Spicy rum. Bourbon. Honey. Vanilla toffee. Alcohol edge. Marshmallows.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Fudge. Toasted teacakes. Cherries. Butter. Spicy rum. Long lasting spice – jar of seven spice. Rye bourbon air. Bitter cocoa air. Red wine. Charring. Smoke.

Conclusion: There are times in a beer reviewers life that you wonder, am I just looking for flaws to be controversial? This beer has a huge rep, am I just being contrary? So, I have indicated I think this beer has a flaw, what is it? Kind of two fold. One, it is so packed that it can get crowded. Two, that it does show its alcohol. Yep, that’s it. Not much really.

Thing is, imperial stout is packed field of awesome beers. Is that enough though to disqualify it from being the best of the best? Good question, but we are getting ahead of ourselves, lets talk about the beer first and come back to that.

This is thick, spicy and chocolate liqueur loaded, all layered over a real wonderful toasted teacake base. Very good start. The spicy character reminded me of the excellent De Molen 666, but the rest of the beer means it is grounded completely differently. It is utterly intense, delivering cherries, cinnamon, chocolate, bourbon and smoke. Definitely spirity, but despite the alcohol very much showing through it is not harsh. It really lays that spice character on heavy, but thankfully the rest of the beer is big enough to cope with it. Similarly it lays down massive sweet honey, again relying on the weight of all the other elements so it is not sickly.

It is a mix of so much, creamy with fudge notes like the sweeter end of the Imperial Stout scale – Spicy like a rum aged IS, Vanilla and rye bourbon like ageing notes like a, well, bourbon aged IS, Even smoke like an Islay aged IS. It has so much depth, and frankly I’m guessing a few more years ageing would sooth that extra alcohol that is the problem.

As it is, rather than as an imagined aged version? Erm. Well, it is basically insane complexity vs that alcohol edge. Well, I am a fan of rough edged gem beers, but for smoothness the aforementioned 666 is better, for complexity this wins. I think it comes down to the fact that this doesn’t quite come to a coherent whole with all its elements, but each individual element is excellent. So, not quite a personal favourite, but bloody good, and I’m sure that it will be many of yours, it is on that knife edge.

The everything and a kitchen sink of the Imperial Stout range and impressive as fuck.

Background: WE GOT ONE! After finding this but not being able to buy it on the first day in Gothenburg, I was put in a dilemma on finding it on the last day in Akkurat, Sweden. I had already done two sets of notes. I tend to limit myself to that as afterwards I find alcohol and conflicting tastes make the notes less reliable. Then again, I had been taking my time, drinking water between beers, having lots of conversations and enjoying the awesome band that had come on at this point. So, I figured that I could do one more – let’s face it, it is an imperial stout, a big imperial stout, that should kick over anything drunk before it. By this point Akkurat was ram packed, with an awesome live band playing behind us – great atmosphere but because of this light was down, so my photo was not quite as good as it could have been. Apologies. According to a quick bit of google translate, this is the same base beer as the standard Stormaktsporter, which is brewed with honey – this has been flavoured with raspberry and aged for fourteen months, three of which are bourbon, and bottled in 2015. It is currently the highest rated Swedish beer on ratebeer, and one of the world top 50. As I was finishing this a kind Swedish man bought me a pint of Oppigårds El Dorado – a very good show of the hop but damn after everything else drunk I did feel pissed. Many thanks still!

Narke Jontes Atgier

Narke: Jontes Atgeir (Sweden: American Pale Ale: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain to yellow with a white inch of head.

Nose: Hay and light bitterness. Bready. Slight sour dough.

Body: Apricot. Cream. Peach. Light hop character. Light bready character. Moderate bitterness. Unleavened bread. Vanilla custard. Apples.

Finish: Peaches and cream. Brown bread. Light hop character. Vanilla custard. Croissants. Bitterness grows. Slightly dry. Apples.

Conclusion: Oft I can find the American pale ale style to be too dry a beer for me. They tend to have moderate hop bitterness, but done with a drier base such that they end up feeling far more punishing than the IPAs. This is dry, but seems to know exactly how much sweetness to keep in the beer to keep it on the knife edge of just working.

On the nose it doesn’t seem like much at all, just light hay and bitterness. So I was a bit nervous going in. The first sip was a surprise then, coming in far fruitier than the nose let on – a mix of peach and vanilla. Creamy and nothing like what I expected from an American Pale Ale. It seemed against the style, but despite that was very nice indeed. The next few sips followed suit – then the beer remembered it was an APA.

There comes out a bready character, the beer texture feels drier, and with it gentle hops come out. Then it gets drier and harsher hopped. Then by half way through the beer you get brutal hops and dryness.

Normally this would be causing me terrible pain, and cursing of a good beer gone bad, but here it is wonderfully done. There still is that fruity, creamy and IPA like higher malt feel up front, just the end is bitter and punishingly dry. Because of that contrast, and well done switch of gears mid beer I find it hard to begrudge it its dryness.

It still feels slightly harsh for it to be considered perfect, but for the dry side of the pale ale it does indulge the style wonderfully while still not going too far.

A very interesting take on a style that is not normally my scene.

Background: Narke is a Swedish brewery I have heard a lot about, so was determined to do a set of notes on while I was over in Sweden. I had tried their bitter earlier in the trip, but this, found at Akkurat bar in Stockholm was my first chance to do notes. Akkurat has a huge rep and, even fairly early on a Sunday night, was packed – we just managed to grab seats at the bar. This was on our final night in Sweden and planning on going out with a bang.

Norrkopings Bastarden

Norrkoping: Bastarden (Sweden: American Strong Ale: 7.1% ABV)

Visual: Deep black cherry red. Thin off white head.

Nose: Red wine and glacier cherries. Chocolate liqueur. Brandy cream. Port and fruitcake. Treacle.

Body: Very smooth. Malt chocolate. Rye crackers. Light paprika. Treacle. Black cherry. Light chalk. Red grapes. Oatmeal biscuits. Red wine.

Finish: Light chocolate. Quite clean. Rye crackers and pepper. Light charring. Roasted nuts. Red grapes. Oatmeal. Red wine.

Conclusion: Wow, what a nose on this one. It promises a very full, spicy, spirity and red wine influenced beer. I had to look up the abv while I was drinking this as from the aroma it felt like a dangerous 10% abv monster. Thankfully, it turned out to be the mildly safer 7.1%.

The body doesn’t quite follow through with that weight, especially when chilled. Then again, if it delivered a 10% abv of full on flavour at 7.1% then it would be setting new levels of awesome and I would be praising it to high heaven.

Chilled it is definitely a bit weak, and kind of thin, but as is oft the case a bit of heat can do a world of good. It becomes, well, not heavy, but definitely much more complex. Not quite full force, but a lot of those influences shown in the aroma finally get some play – even better it is backed by a slight rye style spice and leads out into a roasted nut finish. Definite improvement.

While still not quite full in flavour the body does gain a good oatmeal style heft to it – with the lack of evidence of the alcohol in the body (as opposed to the very obvious nose) a bit of extra texture to remind you of what you are drinking is a good idea.

For a quick sum up – it is kind of like a fruitcake influenced English Strong Ale, meets a Rye Red Ale, with a barley-wine styled heavy nose. It needs a touch more body I would say, but overall, while not as good as the nose suggests, it is a spicier take on the English Strong Ale and so a reasonable hit with me. Not great, but enjoyable and a nice style mash up.

Background: Described by the label as an Imperial Red Ale, this was found in Norrkoping at the Saliga Munken bar, which google tells me translates as Blessed Monk. Norrkoping is referred to as the Manchester of Sweden and the bar seemed to go out of its way to meet that image, playing mid 90s Britpop pretty much the entire night. Some real cool tunes from my childhood came out there which I had not heard for years. My friend and drinking buddy was happy – he is a coaster nut and after hitting Wildfire at Kolmården Wildlife Park during the day, on the way to the pub we found a temporary fair in town with two more coasters for him to add to his list. All in all a good set up for a beer. Yes I did order this one just because it was called bastarden.

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