Tag Archive: Thornbridge

Thornbridge: Big Easy (England: Low Alcohol Pale Ale: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lager yellow-gold colour. Small white head. Only a small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Soft pineapple and lychee. Soft kiwi and lime. Moderate hop character and low bitterness. Vanilla. Fresh orange juice.

Body: Chalky. Soft lychee. Fizzy feel. Dry malt character. Moderate hops and bitterness.

Finish: Fizzy. Chalk. Lychee. Moderate hop prickle and charring.

Conclusion: This doesn’t stand chilling down well – a light cooling works ok, but any more than that and it can get a tad rough, empty and temperamental.

Ok, that is jumping in at the end, let’s wind things back a bit. The aroma on this is very nice indeed – soft fruit notes like falling apart lychee and pineapple chunks make up the core with a few gentle green and orange notes around the edges.

Of that the soft lychee is the main element that actually makes it through to the main body, and this brings us back to the start of the notes, as this is where the issue with chilling comes in. A tad too cool and it just feels chalky, fizzy and rough. The gentle flavours seem to need at least a little warmth to give them some grip.

Warmer it still has a rough touch, but it feels more like a hop bite than an off note, which lends a reasonable “beer” feel to this low alcohol drink. So, it is ok, not as good as the rest of the fantastic new wave of low alcohol beers that has come recently, but its gentler take on flavours is interesting. A lot of low alcohol beers go as big and booming as they can to compensate for the lack of abv body. Going for a gentle tart and citrus touched beer with a light hop bite is a commendable goal to go for to make something different.

It is not quite there yet. It is ok when warmer, but I hope they work with this one, as if they can master it, it will be a very welcome entry in the low alcohol range.

Background: Low alcohol time again! Healthy low alcohol drink day. Thankfully low alcohol beers are actually good these days, which makes life so much easier for beer fans like me. I’ve had a few bottles of Thornbridge’s low alcohol take but not really examined it, so after grabbing a few more bottled from Independent Spirit I decided to properly put it under the microscope. Put on The Germs for listening to while drinking – been a while since I’ve pulled out their stripped down, real DIY punk tracks for a listen.


Thornbridge Love Amongst The Ruins

Thornbridge: Love Amongst The Ruins (England: Sour Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown to red. Hazy thin rim of off white bubbles.

Nose: Sour cherries and sour black-cherries. Mature cheese. Red wine. Blackcurrants. Peach. Wet wood. Slight perry. Vanilla. Strawberry yogurt

Body: Brown envelopes and gum. Slight vinegar touch. Chocolate undertones. Tart raspberry. Strawberry crème and bitter chocolate. Dried banana. Pears. Soft cherries. Cake sponge. Slight tart cherries as well.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Acidic. Toffee. Cider. Strawberry crème. Cherry-aid and cherries. Perry. Muscatel cherries. Marmalade. Red wine.

Conclusion: Ok, I kind of expected more cherries in this. This being the one with cherries used to make it and all. That didn’t seem too wild a guess. Still, subtly of cherries aside, this is very similar to its sister beer before it, a fruity and sour red ale – just dealing a very different set of notes to what I expected.

It really is very similar a beer at its base (Ok that is admittedly probably because it is the same base beer, but roll with me here). It is lightly tart with that brown gummed envelope character, and very mild vinegar calls – backed by the sweet vanilla, toffee and chocolate subtle notes below the freshness.

The fruit character is the very surprising difference. The is some tart dark fruit, but there is also a real kind of pear to perry styled soft easygoing fruit character to this. The exact opposite of what I expected going in.

The more red fruit comes out later on as it warms, and, similar to its sister beer, you also get some orange fruit mixed in. A lot of the same compliments I gave Day’s Of Creation also apply here – the same refreshing acidic but smooth character. Same good use of sweet notes. Same feel of what seems like American hop character (despite the fact this is, apparently, an unhopped beer so I have been told) and the same natural fruitiness. I think I prefer Day’s Of Creation – the raspberry seemed to give the fruit a bit of a better defined character. This is softer and more soothing, with a lot going on but less immediately evident. Still a very good beer, and the softness here makes it an usual one – I’m just not quite sure why the cherries didn’t have more impact.

Any which way – Very good, but for my mind the silver award winner of Day’s of Creation takes the gold medal of my appreciation over this.

Background: I’ve had a few questions about if I would do this one since I did notes for its sister beer Day’s Of Creation. Well, here it is! Grabbed from Independent Spirit at the same time as its sister beer, this is the gold medal winner of the two! I have previously mentioned my slight distrust of such things though. To keep this distrust in its place, this was drunk while listening to the excellent album from Carcass – Surgical Steel. Songs about rotting flesh and death should help with my cynicism. This is nigh exactly the same as Day’s Of Creation – A sour red ale aged in red Burgundy Barrels, but this time with cherries instead of raspberries.

Thornbridge Days of Creation

Thornbridge: Days of Creation (England: Sour Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Deep caramel brown to red. Thin burgundy to white bubbled head.

Nose: Red wine. Big juicy red grapes and dry white grapes. Tangerine. Mild sulphur. Wet wood. Cake sponge. Nettles. Cherries. Grapefruit juice.

Body: Raspberries. White tart grapes. Juicy red grapes. Brown sticky gummed envelopes. Strawberry. Dry white wine. Acidic at back of the throat. Tart pineapple juice.

Finish: Cherries, strawberries and raspberry. Cherry-aid. Dry white wine. Lightly tart. Tangerines and mandarin orange. Gummed brown envelopes. Cider. Pineapple. Tropical fruit tins.

Conclusion: Ok, I was expecting this to be ok, but nowhere near its rep. Thornbidge do solid beers, but it has been a while since one of them really shook my world. I nearly didn’t buy this due to that, and its high cost.

Frickin’ love this beer. Tart without being harsh, with the only real acidic showing being as it hits the back of your throat. It shows that traditional slight gummy brown envelope red ale base, but with a bursting level of fruitiness – not just raspberry but a whole range of red fruit and orange variants amongst them. It really nails the easy drinking tartness level, making it refreshing while still distinctly showing the beer characteristics that separates it from just seeming like an alcoholic fruit drunk, then leads out into a tropical fruit finish.

It is delightfully full, smooth, and, while I’m sure it benefited from the wine barrel ageing, it is too well integrated to say where the beer ends and the ageing begins. That is a compliment by the way. The beer moves from what feels like fruity hop character, to booming kind of Flemish red sourness, to dry wine complexity, to raspberry fruitiness, and never lets an element dominate or even stand in a way where it is not intertwined with at least two other characteristics.

It can be drunk easily to refresh you, it can be sipped slowly to be appreciated. It is welcome at first taste, or after it has built up over the entire beer. This is probably one of the best UK sours I have ever had, and in fact, while it is different – smoother and fruitier, emphasising different notes – it still stands up amazing well against the best Belgian red sour beers.

I take my hand off to it*, it is bloody lovely.

Background: Ok, this is a sour red ale, aged in red burgundy barrels with raspberries, and also the silver medal winner for wood and barrel ages sour beers at the world beer cup 2016. I have to admit I tend to be a bit sceptical on awards, I have seen so many beers I don’t rate or find good but not great, win big awards. There is such a difference in peoples tastes that is to be expected though. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, at the same time as its sister beer “Love Among The Ruins”. Drunk while listening to the excellent electro-metal mashup Crossfaith again. Awesome energy live band.

* this is not a typo, only an in joke that about three people will get.

Epic: Thornbridge Stout (New Zealand: Stout: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Black with a reddish brown bubbled froth head of moderate size.

Nose: Dry roasted peanuts. Slight cream cheese. Black coffee. Very roasted with some treacle notes.

Body: Smooth, but bitter and roasted. Bitter chocolate. Some charring elements. A tingling hop feel.

Finish: Roasted and dry with good bitterness. Charring. Slightly earthy.

Conclusion: Stouts always seem to have one preferred element they concentrate on, be it chocolate, coffee, or in this case the roasted character.  It enhances it with quite the hop character and marries it to a decent chunk of roasted nuts.  Here I need to admit a touch of bias, as the more hoppy or roasted interpretations of the style tend not to be my favourite. It just feels too easy to misuse the hops and create an overly dry or rough beer without adding to the flavour.

Here it doesn’t do too badly, though it does lead to a very dry feeling stout. There is also nice bitter chocolate, but predominantly the beer seems to work to leave you thirstier than when you started drinking.

There are other familiar elements including that slightly soured cream cheese touch, or cloying cream maybe. It’s a slightly thick element that can be used to add refreshment to a stout if done well, or become annoying intrusive if not. Here it doesn’t add that much but does balance well with the roasted character.

Initially tried chilled, it is much better warm. It’s smoother and there is more of the deliciously bitter chocolate that offsets the roasted elements.  Chilling seems to down play the flavour and allow the hops too much free reign.

It is a drinkable beer, despite my general aversion to its chosen emphasis. Oddly if it was less roasted the smooth texture and chocolate would play well to create a beer I really think I would enjoy. As is it is a solid smooth stout but not great. A stout with more weight to it that the body would make you think, you can feel the liquid running down your throat with some determination.

Not bad, but not special enough to be enthralling, and not high quality enough to make it a gem, but still decent.

Background: Not, in fact, one of the New Zealand beer care package my sis brought back. This one hailed from Brewdogs guest beer section. Had a bit of a problem getting this one, but thankfully Brian from Brewdog helped sort it all out, much appreciated! This one is a collaboration between the British Brewery Thornbridge and the New Zealand brewery Epic. Both are pretty good breweries, if not in my all time favourite list, but each have put out some stonking beers.

Thornbridge: Bracia (England: Traditional Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Looks like treacle or coffee liquor on the pour and leaves a thin sheen over the glass where it has been. Sheer black with a solid coffee brown head made up of a thick bubbled froth.

Nose: Honey. Chestnuts, aniseed and treacle. Very sweet and cloying. Apple orchards and raisins.

Body: Slick thick and smooth. Sweet honey.  Treacle tart. Froths up very easily bringing a light milky coffee to it. Raisins again. Very sugary dried apricots has a light influence.  Can be black cherry and liquorice near the end and finally develops tons of fruitcake and port as it sinks in.

Finish:  Rich chocolate. Treacle tart again. Light apples. Malt drinks. Dry liquorice grows throughout the beer.

Conclusion: Hope you like your beers cloying thick and sweet. That isn’t a criticisms but it is damn important if you are going to break a bottle of this open.

It really is like someone poured a horn of mead into a thick fruity traditional English ale, then aged it in port for good measure.  It feels a very old beer, it seems to weigh down your tongue. The weight and mead kick makes it feel every inch of its abv. That oddly is not a bad thing, as it feels strong but does not burn thus just seems to seep into your system.

It feels like it should be drunk from a massive tankard in a feast hall full of roasted pigs on a spit.  It really does feel that massive a beer. Whilst not as madly awesomely proficient as Hair of the Dog Adams it does feel like a British take on the style (with mead of course) and does pretty damn well for itself anyway.

A mix of insanely honey sweet, lashings of dark fruit and a light touch of porter like flavour.  This may be a too rich beer for some tastes, but will be a godsend for others.

Background: Bottled Winter 2010: Drunk Autumn 2011. Picked up from the bottle shop in York.  Thornbridge have been a solid brewery for me so far, and Bracia comes with a hell of a rep.  Made with chestnut honey this is a loose recreation of an old style based on descriptions of what it was like.  The beer has the beloved Sorachi Ace hop in it, even if its influence is not overly evident.  Whilst talking with a mate I pretended something was wrong with the beer, which led to said friend thinking and saying, “yes, it has a slight metallic taste, doesn’t it.”  Thus the power of mind games to alter a tasting has again been shown. That and the fact I’m a total bastard.

Thornbridge: Jaipur (England: IPA: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Light, completely clear yellow orange with a decent clear white bubbled head.

Nose: Lime and decent hops, toffee and lemon.

Body: Creamy with decent hops, then more hops! Orange peel. Fluffy, lime/lime jelly and vanilla.

Finish: Massive hops, little lime, touch of milk chocolate.

Conclusion: Hellish high hops with a bit of citrus back defines this heavy going IPA. It doesn’t play a wide range but delivers a great punch.

Not the best I’ve had, but a distinct hop attack with enough flavour behind to make it worthwhile. In the higher end of assault IPAs, definitely behind Hopslam and Hardcore IPA V2. Not a subtle beast and proud of it.

Thornbridge: Saint Petersburg (England: Imperial Stout:7.7% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black with a small rich chocolate/caramel brown head.

Nose: Lime, washing up liquid. Cream, hops and treacle.

Body: Chocolaty good bitter, nuts toffee. Slight fizzy texture. Vanilla, intense. Raspberry, ice cream. Some hops and some mocha.

Finish: Bitter chocolate, strawberry, charring hops. Sudden nuts. Blackcherry, lime.

Conclusion: An intense and complex pint with a hideous nose to say the least. Once you get past the washing up liquid aroma there is an intense ride awaiting you, it’s not always working out, but at least it doesn’t bore you.

It can, on a good mouthful, be exceptional, but on a bad swig it’s unpleasant. Not a reliable bottle of stout – a Russian roulette of flavour.

Do you feel lucky? Well take a mouthful.

%d bloggers like this: