Tag Archive: The Wild Beer Co


wild-beer-co-billionaire

Wild Beer Co: Billionaire (England: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate caramel brown head.

Nose: Salted caramel. Malt chocolate. Cocoa dust. Bean paste.

Body: Toffee. Chocolate fondue. Slight moss. Slight oily cooked fish skins. Savoury tofu middle. Slight subtle pickles.

Finish: Chocolate milkshake. Toffee. Tofu. Bean paste. Lactose. Fudge.

Conclusion: Well, this is quite the savoury (Well probably umami, but I’ve never really felt quite qualified to describe that taste), yet sweet also mix. The base stout has all the extra thickness that enhances the Millionaire style. It gives a very solid chocolate, salted toffee and fudge base. No real bitter notes but manages to not push itself to sickly sweet despite that. The lactose instead gives a very chocolate fondue to chocolate milkshake effect.

The savoury elements though are what make it stand out. Initially there wasn’t much in the way of these more unusual flavours – There was a slight moss and lichen taste but over time as the beer thickens a bean paste and tofu flavour (the tasty kind not the shitty bland kind) comes out. It gives nice solid weight to the beer, and as time goes on, those lovely savoury flavours take up a more and more central place in the beer.

It is very solid and far above the already decent Millionaire – it uses the large heft of a 10% abv beer to give it all the weight it needs to pull off the slightly unusual elements. The individual elements are not really distinct, but instead combine together to make an overall feel of the elements in a very different beer.

Very much enjoyed this – both as a beer in itself and as an unusual take on the imperial stout. The exact opposite of the sickly sweet style that seems so popular these days and oh so much better for it.

Background: I’m confused – Wild Beer Co made the beer Millionaire, then Gazillionaire – now Billionaire. Now I know Gazillionaire isn’t really a number, but it sounds bigger than Billionaire, it just does – so it seems an unusual progression. Anyway, this is a bigger version of Millionaire – to a degree – it is made with lactose, sea salt. Caramelised miso and tonka beans. Which sounds both odd and fucking awesome. This was drunk while listening to some Louis Distras, and was done shortly after starting the DLC areas of Dark Souls 2. I earned a treat is what I am saying. Not finding main Dark Souls 2 that hard currently, but the DLC areas are nicely brutal. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

wild-beer-co-breakfast-of-champignons

Wild Beer Co: Breakfast Of Champignons (England: Sour Ale: 4.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark apricot skin colour. Settles to a thin white head a few seconds after pouring. Some dark sediment.

Nose: Sour. Chestnuts. Lemon juice. Dry. White pepper. Slight vinous and raisins undertones and dry Madeira.

Body: Tart – tart apples. Slight chestnut. Light vinegar touch. Tart apricot notes. Slight floral notes. Generally nutty. Aniseed. Madeira. Malt chocolate. Grapes.

Finish: Lemony. Tart. Slight orange juice. Dried mushrooms. Petals.

Conclusion: OK, I am not quite sure what I was expecting from this beer. I mean, mushroom in a beer? I don’t really have much experience to extrapolate from here. No idea how it would alter the beer. Now I have it in my hands, I am still trying to work out what exactly it is I have got.

Well, what we seem to have is a lightly nutty sour ale. From my love of mushrooms in general I am happy to guess that the mushrooms provide the nuttiness. I’m going out on a limb here. Any which way. Not as wild and out there as you may expect from the beers base concept – let’s face it lambics can be slightly nutty in their sourness – so this sour ale isn’t too unusual in bringing more of that.

Generally it is a nice beer – Comes in with reasonable but not heavy sourness – more fresh than anything else for the most part – with occasional harsher vinegar notes. Gives the expected lemon and apple tart notes which become less evident as the nuttiness rises. It does have some unusual depth to it though – both on the nose and the body, just at the edges you may catch some subtle Madeira and vinous notes. Very subtle undertones, but nice to see they are there.

The tartness of the beer get soothed over time, late on you get much more predominance from the nuttiness and even some light malt chocolate merges in to give a very different beer to what you started with – though you never completely lose the tart base. It is a reasonable enough beer, but doesn’t feel too special – or even too unusual all things considered. It was an odd choice going with mushrooms as the extra ingredient, and it had resulted in the neither a terrible, nor an expectational beer – just a subtle influence on a competent sour.

Not raving, not complaining – an oddly standard sour.

Background: OK. Right. Erm. This is a beer made with mushrooms. So, yeah that is a thing. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this is a beer made with Penny Bun to be exact – a wild mushroom that mankind has yet to manage to deliberately cultivate. Which is interesting. Was a tad nervous about it after Wild Beer Co’s lobster beer didn’t work out well – but finally decided to give it a try.

wild-beer-co-smoke-n-barrels-autumn

Wild Beer Co: Smoke ‘n’ Barrels: Autumn (England: Smoked Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy caramel brown. Moderate off white head.

Nose: Blue cheese. Barbecued sausage. Smoke. Light caramelised brown sugar.

Body: Caramel. Blue cheese. Brown sugar. Light golden syrup. Orange zest and cloudy apple juice. Treacle toffee. Light chalk. Cinnamon and strawberry notes.

Finish: Light oak and smoke. Cloudy apple juice and a touch of orange juice. Cinder toffee. Slight peppermint and nutmeg. Sausage.

Conclusion: Ok, Autumn, this is very definitely Autumn. From the colour of the beer, the smoke, the sweet bonfire night treacle and cinder toffee notes, to the almost more winter touched additional spice – this really calls to mind the curling orange leaves and burning fire of an Autumn night. So – step 1 – appropriate imagery – achievement unlocked!

So – step 2 – does it taste good. Yep. Simple answer. From the aroma through it has a mix of wonderful blue cheese and barbecued cooked sausages; Which are some of my favourite elements that you can get out of smoking a beer.

The lovely smoked flavours are layered over a solid caramel to treacle toffee base. A nice, brown sugar touched, sweetness. Feels like a black lager more than an ale most of the time, but that works well with the sweetness and style. Very big flavour, yet the texture makes it very easy drinking. The only real flaw does come out here though – the black lager like notes can result in an occasional lapse into thin treacle being the sole element – which I tend to associate with lower quality beers. Generally however the other flavours are built up enough that the treacle is but one element in a fine set beer.

Finally, onto this is added a gentle spice and fruitiness. Wonderfully understated – it uses them to accentuate the rest of the beer rather than dominate it. The mix of nutmeg spice, apples and orange zest give rounding notes – warming in the case of the spice, and giving much needed freshness from the fruit that goes against the treacle and sweet dominant main character.

Genuinely easy drinking, yet packed with flavour – Wild Beer Co have swung and missed with a few of their recent beers for me – but this hits it out of the park. A good beer any time, and a perfect beer for the Autumn season.

Background: I grab most Wild Beer co beers that come out – the bottled ones at least. While some of their recent beers have been better ideas than they have been beers, the Smoke ‘n’ Barrels series has been pretty solid -with even the weaker gose entry being ok. This one sounds pretty cool – Smoked, like all of the series – it is made with apples and apple juice, and the wood used for smoking is apple wood. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit – though I have to question the “Autumn” bit, we are in full on winter now, right? Hope we don’t have to wait too long for the actual winter entry. Drunk while listening to a whole bunch of The Eels. Oddly bittersweet music.

Wild Beer Co: Of The Sea (England:Wheat Ale:7% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold with a thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Bubblegum. Calamari. Slightly salty.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Raspberries. Slightly rubbery. Oily. Mussels. Salt. Crab paste. Slightly cloying. Bubblegum. Sour cream.

Finish: Raw eel sashimi. Slight brown sugar. Slightly rubbery. Slight cardboard. Charred bitterness. Thousand Island Dressing. Sulphur. Salt. Lemongrass.

Conclusion: Ok, first up – It has been ages since I had lobster – I tend to use my available funds on expensive beer more than expensive food, so it is not something I am much of an expert on. So, when this is inspired by lobster bisque, I really can’t tell you if it matches that. However, I have tried to match the closest flavours I could find while drinking this.

It, well, it isn’t a total train wreck, I will say that. Though admittedly that is never a good start to a set of notes. It is pretty much the second worse “damned with faint praise” after “It doesn’t taste like Hitler’s putrid puss filled jizz”. So, let’s move on and examine the beer shall we?

Well, to concentrate on the positive – solid toffee base with some tart raspberry edges, nothing too intrusive, a solid back for the unusual character to work from. Also, there is definite seafood character – kind of calamari, crabs and mussels. They have completely dedicated themselves to this thing’s seafood concept.

Ok, right, so, the downsides. This is really rubbery and salty – not in an awesome Islay kind of booming way, More in a kind of sulphur filled, bringing the beer down with off flavours kind of way. In fact there are a lot of off notes, maybe they are intrinsic to the seafood being used to make it, but they taste very similar to mistakes during the brewing process.

Overall, in the seafood notes that work the crab paste and calamari are the highest and most dominant. The other dominant notes, well there is a bubblegum and lemongrass like character, which actually makes me think a lot of the Sorachi Ace hop – no idea of they used it here, but the tastes are similar. I love that hop, but the flavours here make it feel more artificial which is something this beer really doesn’t need.

So, I love the idea, and dig the innovation, but – this beer really doesn’t work. Sorry.

Background: I have no idea what style this is. There isn’t an acknowledged seafood category that I am aware of. The bottle mentioned a large amount of wheat being used, so I’ve shoved it under Wheat Ale. I also considered spice/herb/vegetable beer, but that seems to ignore the main point of it. I also considered traditional ale, as that is a good catch all, but this seems pretty much the opposite of traditional. Anyway, this was a beer I was excited to try for sheer audacity, but was nervous it was going to suck. The reason why is kind of simple to see – this is and ale made with – Cockles and lobsters, kombu (edible kelp), dulse seaweeds, sea salt, saffron and star anise. I love Wild Beer Co’s innovation, though as of recently they have been about 50/50 with on if they actually work. Sometimes their ideas outreach their ability to implement them. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Anthrax, Amongst the Living.

Wild Beer Co: 8 Wired: Black and Blue (England: Sour Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to peach hazy body with moderate white head.

Nose: Fresh and acidic. Fresh apples. Horse blankets. Peppered beef slices. Lightly salty. Flour. Light smoke.

Body: Acidic. Apples and pears. Tart. Apricot sweetness. Light vinegar notes. Fizzy. Chalk touch. Slight strawberry. Slight sulphur. Lemon.

Finish: Pineapple. Fresh. Flour touch. Slight strawberry. Slight black liquorice. Lemon.

Conclusion: Ok, hello, welcome to holographic flavour time again. For those of you not accustomed to the term (understandable as I think I am the only one who uses it this way) it is how I describe the experience with sour beers where amongst the sour flavours you suddenly get a host of unexpected flavours; Seemingly like an illusion caused by the shock to your tongue. It is a pretty cool thing and one of the things I love about sour beers.

This has pretty sharp sourness and acidity – not Cantillon level, but just a step past the level used by most sour beers, and beyond what I would imagine would be the comfort zone of people not used to them. As a result it isn’t one to use as an introduction sour – it hits the back of the throat with an acid burn and carries a light vinegar touch

There are slight rounding in characteristics, such as light flour and sulphur touches – possibly from the charred oak, or maybe not, but it does give a nice bit of contrast to the acidic apples and such like. It gives a slightly steam beer like texture to the middle, which for some reason feels kind of appropriate.

Pretty satisfying, but does feel a bit like a base beer to be worked from rather than the finished article. Once you get used to it, it taste pretty solid but no frills. The charred oak and the peppercorn are fairly subtle in their influence – definitely better than being overly dominant, but this could do with a little extra polish and piazza before being ready for the prime time.

Worth noting, though possibly, in fact probably psychosomatic – after I read the bottle and where the name came from, I got a kind of rare steak image of flavour around the acidic notes. Wonder how much of that was all in my mind. Anyway, a good sharp base – worth taking to some time to work from this.

Background: I am amused by the rainbow project – an attempt to link up British and world brewers ( this year New Zealand), give them a colour to use as inspiration ( in this case blue) and let them go hog wild on a collaboration. So, apparently inspired by black and blue streaks (because of course) this is a unhopped, non boiled sour ale that has been aged in charred bourbon casks for six months, and with green, black and white peppercorns added in. Never a boring moment. I love that Wild Beer co are bringing so much sour beer experimentation to the UK, and 8 wired is easily one of my favourite NZ brewers, so lots of hope for this one. Took my time with this one, was doing a full disk and system backup on my computer so had plenty of time to go. Drunk while listening to Iron Maiden: Book of Souls again. Had been debating with people at work who found it a very poor album. Still have to disagree, more an album experience than any individual song, which I can see would put people off, but very listenable as that. This was grabbed from the ever reliable Independent Spirit of Bath.


Wild Beer Co: Gazillionaire (England: Amber Ale: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Thin white bubbled head.

Nose: Hot cross buns and butter. Lime cordial. Sulphur. Ginger. Lightly sour. Lactose. Orange zest. Toasted tea cakes. Shredded wheat.

Body: Cinnamon bun. Vanilla pods. Very ripe bananas. Toast. Slightly watery mouthfeel. Buttery. Strawberry. Butterscotch. Toffee. Thicker as it warms, and brings out condensed cream and orange crème.

Finish: Buttery. Cinnamon. Toasted teacakes. Light cloves and coriander. Carrot. Butterscotch.

Conclusion: It is odd when you encounter a flavour that is normally viewed as the result of a flaw in the brewing process, but you are fairly sure that, in this case, it is being used deliberately.

In this case I am talking about the buttery and butterscotch flavour encountered. Often a flaw, here it is used alongside the bready notes in a way that matches with their stated inspiration of a Swedish Bun concept beer.

This is a very non standard beer, by look to the eye, and by texture on sipping it seems like a very hand pumped real ale. It has those sulphur notes and that slightly thin mouthfeel that can come with the lighter end of the real ale abv scale.

The flavours are very sweet, with buttery and toffee notes, mixing fruity crème with cinnamon. However due to that slightly thinner texture, and the savoury, bready base. It doesn’t feel super sweet. In fact there is a slightly tart lime cordial like note, quite watered down cordial, but still there. In fact it is very hard to tie this to any one style or set of expectations. A creamy, sweet, yet real ale and sulphur beer.

It is hard to know where I stand on this. People call stout the liquid bread of beer, but, while this is not as filling as a stout, it definitely has more of that bread, nay toast, character. With the spice it is basically cinnabon – the beer. That breadiness is another element that means it is easy to drink despite the sweetness.

It feels to be a good beer to have with pastry food or similar. I don’t love it as a beer, but I certainly don’t hate it. It feels like a beer I never demanded, or would have thought to do so, and I probably will not return to, but have enjoyed this odd moment with.

Background: Normally I try to make up my own mind on beer style, using how the beer identifies itself as a solid guideline, altered by my own impressions. I had no idea for this one, so just looked up what ratebeer said, as fucked if I know. The bottle calls it a “Non-imperial milk not-stout”, which is not helpful in the slightest. The beer was apparently inspired by a Swedish bun, and results in a beer made with lactose, cardamom and vanilla. Because of course. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to Leftover Crack, in preparation of seeing them live the next night. A fun gig, with lots of warm up bands resulting in a huge mash up of varied punk styles.

Wild Beer Co Pogo

Wild Beer Co: Pogo (England: American Pale Ale: 4.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to grain. Large carbonation. Clear body. Massive white bubbled mound head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Guava. Very fresh. Orange juice. Crisp hops. Pineapple. Light lemon sorbet.

Body: Orange juice. Fluffy hop feel. Dry passion fruit. Guava juice. Low bitterness backing. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Mild hop character. Low bitterness. Light squeezed orange. Slight sour cloying character.

Conclusion: I’m just listing the special ingredients here, aren’t I? Basically there is lots of fruit in it, resulting in fruit flavours, delivered in a fruit juice kind of fashion, along with a light hop character. The main malt beer body itself seems to keep itself to a just slightly dry and refreshing character – I’m getting nearly nothing of the malt flavours in this. The malt seems to just give some mouthfeel then gets out of the way to let the special ingredients and hops do the work instead.

The special ingredients and hops do work well together, giving fresh and real feeling fruitiness. There is, at the end, an odd interaction between the hops and the fruit that gives a slight bitter sour character to it on the way out. A cloying twist that makes it seem like a much more savoury end point.

So, a mix of bright fruit and slight cloying hops – pretty satisfying, pretty easy drinking, a nicely dry body against the fresh fruit. Not as stand out bright fruitiness as some, but still pretty evident.

Pretty solid, in the end it is pretty much what the ingredients describe, and delivered competently. Nicely enjoyable, but not surprising – a solid, just above session abv beer, that hits very much in the middle flavour wise for a session beer.

Background: Yeah, I pretty much grab as many of the Wild Beer Co beers as I can get my hands on. This one grabbed, unusually enough, from Independent Spirit. It is a pale ale made with Orange, Guava, Passion fruit, Wheat and lactose. So a fairly non standard set. Drunk while listening to Godspeed You!Black Emperor again. This time “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven” – it is good background drinking music.

Wild Beer Co Smoke and Barrels Summer

Wild Beer Co: Smoke ‘n’ Barrels: Summer (England: Gose: 4% ABV)

Visual: Light clear lemon juice. Small mound of bubbles for a head.

Nose: Lightly tart. Peaty smoked bacon. Light brine. Black olives. Tart lemon juice. Salt. White bread. Meringue.

Body: Fresh. Pocari sweat. Pineapple. Mineral water. Light squeezed orange. Mild salami. Lightly acidic.

Finish: Brown bread. Smoked ham. Lemon juice. Squeezed orange. Dried seaweed wraps.

Conclusion: Another gose, I seem to be almost tripping over them these days. This continues the trend of each gose I encounter being very odd in a completely different and distinct way from the last one.

It is quite light texture wise, and this the acidity and citrus flavours brought to it are similarly mellow. That is a touch disappointing as the smooth aroma was promising a bigger, smoked bacon style beer. Being promised bacon and then having it snatched a way is a mean trick indeed.

In fact the smoke doesn’t seem to have made a huge impact on this. What you do get of it is more an edge note that saves itself for a slightly bigger showing in the finish. Now the smoke isn’t absent, but it isn’t heavy and the aroma promised more. However because of that it lacks the instant hook that the excellent spring version of this had. Instead, and oddly for an orange gose, you mainly get a salted lemon juice flavour with the smoke just adding a gritty feel at the edge.

It is ok, kind of fresh, and shows the gose character without being heavily defined by it – but it doesn’t really hang its various elements together well enough to become more than, or make full use of, the sum of its parts.

A fresh gose then, light of texture, with only a bit of smoke weight.

So, erm, ok.

Background: The second Smoke and Barrels of the year. As I was very impressed with the Spring one, I thought grabbing the next take was a no brainer. This one is going a tad more unusual, with the base being the suddenly popular gose style, made with smoked malts, sea salt, and smoked orange, after time spent ageing in the wooded ex beer barrels. Drunk while listening to Dope: Life for a bit of energy to the night. This was grabbed from the ever reliable local – Independent Spirit.

Wild Beer Co Smoke 'N' Barrels Spring

Wild Beer Co: Smoke ‘N’ Barrels: Spring (England: Smoked: 4% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain. Large white bubbled head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Blue cheese. Wet wood. Hickory smoke. Perfume. Barbecue pits.

Body: Lime notes. Soft cheese. Smoked beef. Sage stuffing. Dried cherry pocked biscuits. Light syrup sweetness. Vanilla.

Finish: Wood chips. Paprika. Sage and onion. Beef stew. Light treacle. Vanilla. Smoke.

Conclusion: This gets oh so much right – it tastes like a mix between breathing in aromatic burning wood smoke, blue cheese, sage stuffing and smoked beef. That is a hell of a set for a smoked lager, no?

It is big and chewy feeling, despite the fact that the lager textured does not deviate much from expectations of a base lager – the wealth of flavour provides the weight which the texture does not.

In fact, for all the joy this beer brings, all the herbs and big smoke, it could actually probably do with a bit of a drier, and slightly less intrusive base. Now this is just me being picky, the base is pretty well done, but every now and then the sweetness rises from the normal smooth vanilla note level to a more treacle and syrup level and that additional sweetness breaks the wonderful savoury grip that the beer has on your tastebuds which is a pity.

Now that is just a minor point on how I feel the already good beer can be improved on. As for the rest of the beer? I love this – it has a wonderful use of the wood to create a medley of barbecue smoke notes in the mouth. Also it is wonderfully low abv for such a flavoursome beer – and the lager style makes it very manageable to drink despite the big flavours. This is one I could keep on for a while. Even better, the smoke is flavoursome rather than just ashed as hell – it mixes with the herbs and spice to create a wonderfully rich mix.

It is far from the most intense for smoke, so if that is the appeal for you, then this is not the one to go for. However for smoked backed flavour this is great, a few minor tweaks and it is ready to be a classic. Looking forwards to the next one.

Background: I’m a big fan of Wild Beer Co, and this smoked lager sounded pretty interesting. It is the spring entry in a range of smoked beers – this one using cherry and oak along with rosemary and sage. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to, yet again, the excellent David Bowie album Black Star”

Hawkshead Wild Beer Oat Wine Cider Brandy Barrel Aged

Hawkshead: Wild Beer: Oat Wine: Cider Brandy Barrel Aged (England: Barley Wine: 9% ABV)

Visual: Deep hazy dried apricot darkened body. Moderate dark brown bubbled head.

Nose: Oily and apples. Hop oils. Stewed apricot. Alpen – with raisins and sultanas emphasised. Dried banana. Raspberry tart notes. Syrupy.

Body: Raspberry. Malt chocolate. Fudge. Apple syrup. Vanilla custard. Hop oils and accompanied bitterness. Alpen. Peach.

Finish: Apple syrup and hop oils. Malt chocolate and fudge. Dry oats. Vanilla and vanilla pods. Raisins. Spicy rum. Greenery bitterness.

Conclusion: Oat Wine! Apple filled oat wine! Now, the original Oat Wine collaboration didn’t really grab me. This is similar, but the cider brandy ageing has had an interesting effect.

That base muesli style and those apricot fruit notes, are still there. In fact the pre hop styling greenery bitterness is kind of still there as well, but leaning towards a more hop oil evident character here.

What is added is a sweet syrupy character, very apple flavoured – though very artificial tasting due to the sweetness. It made me think of apple ice cream syrup, if there is such a thing. I have never encountered it, but if it does exist I would imagine it tastes like this.

Does the beer work? Hmm. Well, while artificial feeling, the sweetness of the apple adds a strong note that does help the beer early on. It adds an easily identifiable element at a point where the base beer was struggling to find itself – this strong character added to the Alpen like base does help sooth some of the flaws.

Later however it does become kind of wearing – the bitterness and oats mix in a slightly leaden fashion. However, overall I will say it is a slight improvement. It still feels like it doesn’t really do enough to leverage the strength of the oat style, but the early,bright, moments are pleasant.

Still weak, but less weak than before. At 9% abv kind of ironic, no?

Background: Not an auspicious start for this one. I had grabbed it at the same time as the standard Oat Wine, a beer which didn’t really impress me. Then I was warned by one commenter to avoid the Cider Brandy barrel aged version. Which I already had. Fuck. Ah well, I oft go against common consensus on beers so let’s give it a go anyway. Drank while listening to New Model Army: Thunder and Consolation. NMA are such a great band.

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