Tag Archive: To Øl


To Øl: Põhjala: Graff Gadient – Rye and Apple Gose (Estonia: Gose: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Light clear brown to apricot. Short lived off white head.

Nose: Cloying sweet apricot. Crushed palma violets. Stewed peaches. Apple. Thick syrup character. Apple pie fillings. Cough syrup.

Body: Apple pie filling. Oak. Apple juice. Tart. Rye bread. Acidic front. Oats.

Finish: Tart cider. Dry fudge. Acidic pear. Varnish air. Fresh cut apples. Menthol cough sweets. White wine.

Conclusion: I’ve come to accept that the goses I encountered in Germany, and the goses I encounter in the rest of the world are going to be totally different things. That’s cool, styles cross pollinate and pick up local character. Even with that said, this, this is unusual.

It is tart, kind of gose meets lambic or berliner weisse – that bit sharper and tarter than most gose are, and with lots of the apple on show. It is a mix of tart cider like notes, matched with thick apple pie filling sweetness, all over dry rye bread notes.

Now that is odd, not not that odd, definitely not odd enough to trip my WTF? radar. So what is unusual, ok, but unusual is this menthol cough sweets to cough syrup set of notes that come across in a medicinal but very syrupy way. That was unexpected. It matches with the stewed apricot and peach notes, so is not as out of place as you might expect – but is still a strange feel and taste based on 1) My expectations of a gose 2) My expectations based on the special ingredients and 3) my expectations of any beer ever.

It isn’t bad, but it feels weird – you can be enjoying those tart apple notes, and general acidic character – when suddenly you are hit with the cough syrup notes and it just takes out out of it. It breaks up the experience in a way that ruins the flow of the beer.

Interesting but the medicinal cough syrup notes just make it one I can’t get into properly.

Background: This is described as both a rye and apple gose, and half beer half cider. Made with spontaneous fermented cider, Estonian apple juice and three varieties of thyme, this sounded odd enough to be worth a try. Not tried anything from Põhjala before, but To Øl tend to be pretty good. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on a mix of Jonathan Young stuff while drinking, mainly his excellent track “Bait”- an original track rather than the covers he tends to do. Well worth checking out.

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Wild Beer Co: To Øl: TrØffeler (England: Saison: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large white head.

Nose: Chestnut mushrooms. Ground pepper. Quite fresh. Fresh sour dough. White pepper. White wine. Sulphur.

Body: Dry. White pepper. Dry lemon juice. Earthy bitterness. Dried mushrooms. Spritzy to soda water.

Finish: Spritzy. Soda water. Chalk touch. Peppery. White wine. Sage. Dried meat chunks. Coriander.

Conclusion: This is very spritzy, very peppery, mixed with some earthiness and spice over white wine dryness. That last element is especially odd as this has been aged in sweet Sauternes wine casks so you would expect something sweeter, but hey, I can only call ’em as I see ’em.

The body is softly lemony, which is probably the most normal element going on here. When that lemon is combined with the spice it feels like it calls to a more traditional take on a Belgian wit, but with a heavier, earthy saison edge to it.

I’m finding it hard to say exactly what the truffles bring here – there is a chestnut mushroom like note, a general set of savoury notes mid body, but nothing that stands out as massively unexpected, nothing that says unusual ingredient rather than beer hop character. Then again, my knowledge of truffles is entirely from truffle oil. So, for all I know this could be super truffly and I am just ignorant. I hear truffles are quite earthy, so maaaaybe that is them?

Anyway, this is easy drinking early on, and very earthy and spicy late on. In fact a bit too much spice for me. Reined in at the end this would be super drinkable and an awesome mix of wit and saison notes. As is it starts out good but feels a tad rough by the end.

So, not too stand out, but has promise for tweaking with.

Background: So, I am a huge fan of To Øl, they are very talented and turn out amazing beers. I am also a fan of Wild Beer co – they can be variable, but when they are on they are on. However the reason I bought this is not because of either of those. It is because it is made with truffles. I mean, WTF right? Terrible or great that was something I wanted to try. To be more specific this is made with truffles, sage and aged in Sauternes barrels. Saw that Crossfaith are coming back to Bristol later this year so put on a mix of their tunes while drinking. This was another one bought from Independent Spirit.

To Øl: Sur Tangerine/Mosaic Lemonade Shandy (Denmark: Shandy: 2.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Fast small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized loose white head.

Nose: Tangerine. Flour. Wheaty bitterness. Peppery. Fresh white bread. Tart grapes. Sprite.

Body: Fizzy. Lightly chalky. Lightly sour. Lightly acidic. Lemon. Dried mango. Dried tangerine.

Finish: Chalky. Fresh feeling air. White grapes. Gritty bitterness. Traditional lemonade. Mandarin orange. Acidic air. Lemon juice. Light guava. Dried apricot. Charred notes

Conclusion: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this, which is kind of appropriate in a way, as I’m drinking it now and I’m not quite sure what I’ve got.

It is kind of generically sour at first, but quite chalky with that which gives a rough rather than a refreshing edge. It has light lemon and grape fresh notes, but shortly after a more identifiable set of orange fruit notes come along – both in a fresh front and more clinging and dry behind.

That mix of elements seems to be the duality that is the issue at the heart of this beer. It has the bright notes from the hops, all orange and tart, which is matched to a drinkably low abv and the lemonade tangerine characteristics, but the chalk note and matching, long lasting, slightly gritty bitterness really work against those positives and make it harder to drink.

It isn’t terrible, which is enough to make me keep thinking that the hops are going to manage to save this beer and smooth out the rough notes. But they don’t. The hop use does bring big flavour from the well used Mosaic hop, which is impressive considering the low abv, but for all that works well when you reach the finish it leads out all dry and charred.

Interesting and even good up front, but gets rougher as it goes on and ends up going against its best elements in the finish. It doesn’t land what it aims to do and I cannot recommend it.

Background: This was a bit of a spur of the moment purchase, it is also the first shandy to have notes done on this site! I saw it as a sour beer at lower abv, with tangerine like flavours and only on closer inspection saw that it was a shandy. So I thought “Fuck it, let’s give it a go, To Øl tend to be solid”. So, it is a mosaic hop sour session IPA mixed with tangerine lemonade. Sure, makes perfect sense. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to The Eels: Live and In Person. I’ve seen The Eels live a few times live, and each show had a radically different feel, with old tunes redone in the style of new albums, so I always like their live albums.

To Øl: Santa Gose F*** It All (Denmark: Gose: 4% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark yellow. Massive sud leaving yellow white head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Gooseberry. Light wheat. Light white pepper. Dry passion fruit.

Body: Tart. Gooseberry. Salt. Tart grapes. Slight guava. Light chalk. Dry mango. Flour.

Finish: Lime. Tart. Pineapple. Salt. Slight sweat. Wet cardboard. Guava juice. Dry mango. Dry bitterness. Flour. Slight grit. Charring.

Conclusion: So, after trying an authentic German gose earlier this year, and after trying a couple of the varied new wave craft goses that have come out recently, I find myself with this – THE CHRISTMAS GOSE!

I’m not sure what part of this makes it a Christmas beer, but what it does have is that it opens with an appropriately tart gooseberry like base that seems to be moving more towards the new wave craft interpretation of a gose, backed by soft salt, almost sweat like notes. Man the things you write that sound terrible but actually are not. Anyway, initially that salt character is pleasant but by the end the salt does become very drying in the finish.

More on that later – for now we shall look at the mid body, which is where the fruit infusion comes in. It is quite subtly done, with sweet guava and dry mango notes around the edges giving some much needed extra body. It isn’t that the main body is bad, just a little light, but still very fresh and easy to drink.

So, the first half to two thirds of this beer does the job well – tart, fruity, fresh with subtle salt over time. Then, we get that finish…

The finish starts ok, with some pineapple but also a slight cardboard touch which does not work. Then that cardboard touch becomes gritty, then charred and matched with rough, dry salty bitterness. It is harsh and feels like it works against everything the rest of the beer sets up.

Two thirds of this is a good beer, with a third of fuck no. Nearly good but that finish hurts it so bad I can’t recommend it.

Background; The censorship is on the can, not because of me – I would happily have written “Fuck It All”. In fact I just did. A beer for the Christmas period, with appropriate sentiments. I am not a total Grinch, more nonplussed than angry about Christmas – for me it is just a nice time to catch up with friends and family. Anyway, this is a gose – a salted wheat beer style that nearly died out, but has had a recent resurgence. Like a lot of the craft beer interpretations this one is made with fruit – Passion fruit, guava and mango to be exact. Picked up from Independent Spirit. I got into the festive spirit by putting on Testament – Low. Ok they have nothing to do with Christmas, so I was in the right spirit for me.

To Øl: Sur Sorachi Ace (Denmark: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon yellow to apricot. Very large mounded white froth head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Light cheese puffs funk and wheat. Flour. Lemongrass. Brown bread. Pepper. Bready in general.

Body: Sour. Sour dough. Lemon-juice. Lemongrass. Marshmallows. Brown bread. Dill pickles.

Finish: Flour. Cloying bitterness. Sour cream. Lemon-grass. Dill pickle. Slight charring.

Conclusion: Ok, maybe Sorachi Ace doesn’t go with everything. Which is a pity. I still hold that a single hopped Sorachi Ace barley wine would be awesome – but apparently the hop doesn’t suit a sour pale ale. Pity. Anyway, despite how I just opened the notes, this isn’t a bad beer. I just don’t think that Sorachi Ace added to it that well is all I am saying.

The base is still pretty nice – a tart sour character mixed in with a quite bready grounding. As I found with my experience with Sur Mosaic they have the base sour pale down pat – it is bit charred in the finish, which can be a flaw sometimes, but just about fits in here.

The issue then is that the lovely lemongrass, bubblegum and dill pickle flavours of Sorachi Ace kind of get lost in here – it is already quite sour lemon and slight pickle to the base so instead of the hop adding, you just end up with the vegetable kind of notes of the character, and less of the cool stuff. You still get some lemongrass, but generally what shines through here is the (admittedly good) base. The slight greenery just takes away from that. It is far from a bad beer, as To Øl know their shit – but even as a Sorachi Ace fan I have to say it doesn’t fit well here.

So, solid beer in execution of the concept – but the idea, or at least the hop choice, lets it down. Despite that I can still enjoy it for the quality of the base beer and will probably experiment with more of the sur hops range to see which hops work better.

Background: I love sorachi ace. Seriously love this weird hop. I had a very good experience with my last Sur * beer from To Øl – so this was definitely one to try. A soured pale ale, single hopped – what is not to like? Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while putting on some heavy duty Meshuggah for enjoyment. It is worth noting there is no name on the front of this beer, just a bunch of sperm looking lines. The only place you find the name is in the description on the back. Which doesn’t seem to have been done for the rest of the range. Odd.

To Øl Roses are Brett

To Øl: Roses are Brett (Denmark: Saison: 6% ABV)

Visual: Deep cherry red. Red touched inch of froth. Some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Tart raspberries. Natural yogurt. Slight yeast funk character. Strawberry. Light pepper.

Body: Raspberries. Sour cream. Charred bitterness. Rose wine. Slight bready backing. Milky character. Slight funk sourness. Sour lime. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Rose wine. Sour dough. Charred bitterness. Raspberry. Orange juice. Lemon curd. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Sometimes I praise beer for their complexity – sometimes being able to dig deep into a beer; being able to take your time and find a shifting, ever evolving beer is a great reward. Other times it is enough just to find a beer that does what it does very well and doesn’t shift from that. This is that second type of beer.

It is a very raspberry filled, slightly tart beer with a bready backing, some funk and sour character and a few sour fruit notes that spin off from that main core set. It is that beer at the beginning and that beer at the end.

What sells it as a beer that is more than that simple description is the feel – With a very recognisably saison mouthfeel, slightly rustic and bready, kind of funky with a slight milky smoothness. It lets that lovely sharp raspberry float in the air and do its thing, without losing such a distinctive beer character. It has a feel that doesn’t interfere with the main flavour that lets it keep it simple without being dull. Bravo.

The other fruit flavours mentioned earlier are an extra note there, though they definitely feel like they spin out of the sourness of the main raspberry flavour – you get lime sours, notes of lemon freshness and the like. They are all similarly fresh, tart and sour notes that just add a bit of sparkle. The oddest other flavour you get in the mix is a kind of rose wine feel – possibly that is why the beer is named as it is, or maybe that beer’s name is what caused the image to come to mind for me.

Any which way, this is lovely – from a minute or so in you know what you are getting for the rest of the beer, but it is polished so well that you can just lean back and enjoy it as it is. It strips out everything it doesn’t need and just delivers what it does best. Very good indeed.

Background: This is one grabbed on a whim from Brewdog’s guest beer selection -To Øl, like a lot of the Scandinavian craft beer scene, is solid as hell and the idea of a brett and raspberry saison sounded like just the thing for me at the moment. As the second raspberry infused beer back to back for doing notes on it was interesting to mentally compare it to the De Molen raspberry beer. Anyway, felt like some weird and heavy music to go with this so put on Buckethead’s Cuckoo Clocks Of Hell – a guitar virtuoso’s crunchy, metal like, heavy album.

To Øl Sur Mosaic

To Øl: Sur Mosaic (Denmark: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Massive lace leaving yellow white head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Tangerine. Crisp hop character. Banana. Wheat. Gherkin like sourness.

Body: Lightly tart. Apples. Passion-fruit. Grapes. Dried banana. Moderate bitterness. Sour grapes. Mild gherkin. More sour as it warms. Quite thick for the style. Custard slices. Apricot. Toffee.

Finish: Mild custard hop character. Mild bitterness. Kiwi. Mild gherkin. Mild vinegar on chips.

Conclusion: Sours in a can? Ok, I’ll take that, especially when they are as hop forward as this sour ale. Cans tend to be good at preserving hop flavours, and you wouldn’t want to lose the big flavours you get with mosaic hops.

Now, I say sours in a can – this isn’t half as sour as I would have expected from the name. Make no doubt, it is a sour beer, but more in a cloying, thick, sour dough, mild gherkin kind of way. A very savoury base, refreshing and cloying in equal measure.

This all provides a base from which to take that mosaic hop style and blow you away. I’m very fond of the mosaic hop and that sour beer platform works far better with it that I would ever have expected. There is lots of bright orange and green fruit, all delivered just slightly tarter than a clearer pale ale base would allow, it just gives a different tweak on the hop.

The hop level makes me think of an IPA base with its soft custard and toffee notes amongst the more cloying and sour elements. If it wasn’t for my hated for the number of {adjective} IPA style names out there I would call this a sour IPA. But I do, so I won’t.

Overall, very good with lovely sweet flavour, soft bitterness and cloying sourness. The cloying element does get a bit heavy towards the end – I think it would work better as a 330ml can, or possibly if I had kept the can chilled and poured top ups regularly from that. Any which way, despite that slight flaw this is a very enjoyable beer. Minor points that get in the way of an extended session with it but generally fan and a different use of hops.

Background: A sour pale ale hopped up with the wonderful mosaic hop, from the reliable To Øl. Yeah, worth a shot. Canned, at a larger can size than the usual for craft beers, which is odd in itself. Anyway I am not 100% sure but by memory I think I grabbed this one from Independent Spirit. I could be wrong. Anyway, not much else to add, just trying to get back into putting regular notes up again.

To Øl Black Malts and Body Salts

To Øl: Black Malts and Body Salts (Denmark: Black IIPA: 9.99% ABV)

Visual: Black. Huge coffee froth and a tight bubbled mound of a head that leaves coffee sud rings.

Nose: Coffee granules. Light granite. Bitter character. Burnt wood. Earthy.

Body: Bitter coffee. Charcoal dust. Blended whisky undertones. Salt touch. Some thick chocolate notes.

Finish: Bitter, especially bitter coffee. Charcoal dust. Salt touch. Earthy and spicy. Light strawberry notes occasionally.

Conclusion: This is a harsher black IPA than most of the style. Against expectations it seems to go down the more earthy and straightforward hop bitterness of a British IPA rather than the more fruity use of the word IPAs. But with a Black IPA here obviously. Or a coffee BIPA as it turns out.

Strange as I don’t think they use British hops – could just be emphasising the early boil hops for bitterness maybe? Not really sure, but that is how it ends up feeling anyway.

Now the coffee makes up a very big part of the overall character – and very bitter coffee at that, easily matching the raw bitter hop character. It gets smoother mid body and is backed by some chocolate maltiness, but top and tail is very raw bitter coffee.

The harsher edges are emphasised, with the burnt wood into charcoal notes that make what would be an otherwise smooth beer come out as very drying into the earthy end. It is a very robust beer, so much so that – combined with the abv – there is a spirity kind of blended whisky undertone. Odd as the beer is so smooth texture wise, but there are definite signs of the alcohol in there.

I haven’t ran into many earthy based BIPAs, so this gets points for doing that well, and the coffee is used well – so much so it seems to be basically coffee beer half the time. Overall though – it is only an ok beer to me, and in the market of Black IPAs which is filled with greats. I like that it is a different take on the style but it doesn’t really excite – it has a few notes it does well, but doesn’t really seem to expand out.

A solid well made beer, but nothing that declares it a must drink.

Background: Ok, erm, I just looked this up on rate beer and it is their #1 rated Black IPA. I swear I don’t just write these things to be controversial. Anyway, I picked this up from Brewdog’s Guest Beer section as I had heard a good buzz about it. Anyway this is a Black IPA brewed with coffee, and, according to rate beer – body salts. I have to admit I thought that was just a clever name. Anyway, drunk while listening to a bit of 8 bit zoo – a nice bit of cheery light heartedness to get over the fact I had basically just watched a vast amount of Marble Hornets and I kind of wanted to sleep at some point this lifetime.

Brewdog To Øl Hardcore Maelk

Brewdog: To Øl: Hardcore Maelk (Denmark: Black IPA: 10.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Good sized creamy brown head that leaves suds.

Nose: Grapes. Champagne. Light spritzy apple juice. Vanilla slice. Light hoppiness. Gooseberry. Slight gin.

Body: Milk chocolate. Apple spritzer. Whisky infused sponge. Gooseberry. White wine. Light roasted back. Cherries. Creamy texture. Light milk coffee notes. Some bitterness.

Finish: Bourbon. Rye crackers. Apples. Elderberry. Gin. Pineapple. Light but rising bitter chocolate. Cognac.

Conclusion: Ok, not what I expected. At all. It is a dark beer. A very dark beer. I know it is half IIPA, but it is still half Imperial Stout. Yet what I get first is tastes like apples and elderberry mixed in with white wine. The fuck? Now I know what an IPA stout mix is, but I have never experienced one that comes through so fruity and fresh.

Behind that fresh fruit comes the more expected dark beer notes that show through with dark and velvety chocolate. It is a beer that suits perfectly being chilled down, where all those lovely fresh notes comes out, then being allowed to warm with dark rich fruit, cognac and chocolate. Even as it warms it shifts back and forth, allowing different elements to come to the fore – at times fresh and spritzy with hop notes, and at others dark and rich.

It is a lovely blend of hops and malt, making for a rich complex ale. Through that you get the feeling it has been soaked through in spirit like a tiramisu base – the balance is impeccable. By the end of the beer you are steeped in classy cognac notes, and quality chocolate delights – the elements before having built to this crescendo, which soothes you down after that high, relaxing from the fresh hops and fruit. This is a beer that is not just good in individual moments but throughout a well progressed life-cycle.

Utter class, in a glass.

Background: A mix of Hardcore IPA and Jule Maelk aged in whisky barrels. Before I had broken it open I was already hearing a positive buzz about it. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was drunk while having a pre Christmas catch up with friends. This should be going up on Christmas day, so hope everyone is having a great time. This mix of IPA and stout is often called a black and tan in the USA, it is sometimes called that in England, but less so, and never in Ireland. Because over here Black and Tan was also the name of a British quasi military group used in Ireland which, well, performed a shitload of atrocities. Never order a Black and Tan in Ireland. This was a public service announcement.

By Udder Means

To Øl: By Udder Means (Denmark: Sweet Stout: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large inch of creamy chocolate ice cream head.

Nose: Rich milky chocolate. Dry roasted peanuts. Cloying cream cheese and sourdough. Lactose. Cashews. Grapes.

Body: Rough feel. Charring. Lactose. Slightly sour blueberries. Milky chocolate. Feels smoother over time. Gin and juniper. White juicy grapes.

Finish: Bitterness. Rough hop feel. Charring. Blueberry pie. Bitter chocolate. Cashew and hazelnuts. Choc orange. Gin touch. Elderberry. Touch of green leaves.

Conclusion: I may have started this one when it was just a touch over chilled methinks. Initially it felt a bit over harsh, charred and bitter edge filled. I wasn’t getting much complexity mid body and the harsh texture seemed to work against the beer’s stated intent.

Let me say up front, the beer that I finally experienced is not that beer I got at the start. No, no, when you get it just right, just slightly chilled, well then you get something a bit different.

So, where to start?

Well the main body is milky chocolate, initially a tad trough but smoothes over time to a very nice texture. The flavour has traditional stout roasted nuts and sour dough as well. Nothing too abnormal.

Then you get the good stuff. Behind a solid milk stout you get juniper, gin, and juicy grapes. It is like a (very subtle) beer cocktail in itself. Nowhere do you get a spirit feel, but there are a lot of flavours that I would associate with those delicious crafted cocktail concoctions. By which I mean the well made cocktails, not the get pissed for a fiver variety.

It really is a milk stout cocktail, lots of lactose, some coffee and all marked by berries and greenery. Thankfully it is also quite lovely, and I don’t know how they do it. A fruity full milk stout. Never thought I would see the day.

I very much approve. To the cocktail beer of joy!

Background: According to rate beer’s translation of the commercial description this beer is the result of wanting a thick textured stout with a low abv. Erm, guys, 7% is not low abv. Seriously. Anyway, this was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section. Again. I mainly bought it because the name made me laugh.

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