Tag Archive: To Øl


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 (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.

Betelgeuze

To Øl: Mikkeller: Betelgeuze (Denmark: Gueuze Lambic: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Short lived white shimmer of a head and some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Apricot, lemon. Dry. Horse blankets. Oat feel. Sour crab apple. Yeasty. Gooseberry. Cashew shells. Slightly cloying.

Body: Sharp at back of the throat. Peanuts. Sherbet. Skittles (The sweets). Hop bitterness. Sour apple. Dried apricot. Sugared almonds. Tiny marshmallows. White wine. Vanilla.

Finish: Dry banoffee? Is that a thing? Cashew. Digestives. Reasonable bitterness. Oak.

Conclusion: Ok, this one is pushing my ability to do tasting notes to the limit (or should that be..TO THE XTREME!!!!) (Actually no that would just be silly) It is a gueuze, that is a style I find hard enough to do good tasting notes on, much as I am growing to enjoy them now, however the interactions with the dry hopping on the beer is just blowing my mind.

There are the fruit flavours which you would expect from the hops, but would never expect from the lambic. The two mix together though, making for very dried fruit and everything seeped in sourness. There is tart apple and gooseberry behind and the beer rocks a slightly nutty character which is not unusual for a lambic, but here it gains a slight sugared almond sweetness. I have no idea how. Everything is familiar and yet everything is the fortean unknown.

This also helps show why lambics are the wine of beers, sour, tart and dry with white wine grape like elements; Against this the hop character still sets its stake and claims it distinctly as a beer. It is so refined, all the complexity of a gueuze, and yet makes itself so very easy to drink, It is pretty much the perfect balance between wine and beer and brings in the best of both while denying neither.

One of those beers that redefines how you look at a style.

Background: This was never meant to be reviewed. Or even bought. I mean it did sound interested, Gueuze – a traditionally low hopped style, instead with dry hopping of *deep breath* Citra, Centennial, Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy, Columbus, Tomahawk, Tettnang, Belma, Mandarina Bavaria, Calypose and Bravo. I don’t even know some of those hops. Anyway, despite that I was going to give it a pass. Then one staff member recommended it. Then another. Then a random beer drinker bemoaned losing a take out bottle after drinking several. I was now intrigued. So I drank it. and reviewed it The result is here. The Brewdog Bristol manager compared it to a souped up Orval and I can definitely see where he is coming from.

Total Hubris
To Øl: Ölrepubliken: Total Hubris (Denmark: Premium Lager: 4.5%)

Visual: Hazy apricot to grain. Large mounded yellowed bubbles for a head and moderate carbonation to the body.

Nose: Fresh grapefruit. Pineapple. Custard. Crisp hops. Floral notes. Oat flakes. Apricot.

Body: Good bitterness and crisp. Lemon fresh. Pineapple. Light peppered crackers. Kumquat. Cloves.

Finish: Kumquat Crisp and dry. Moderate bitterness. Lime. Pepper. Popcorn hope feel. Dried fruit.

Conclusion: Over the years I have gained a hard earned respect for the various lager styles. One that had to wrest away youthful ale dedication and the memories off cheap piss water lagers to be achieved.

This is definitely helping the lager’s case with a massive citrus aroma and crisp hops over a dry and crisp refreshing character. Lots of flavour and a dry peppery element that lingers out into the finish.

It is a full boded yet refreshing lager, and unlike the usual expectation of short finish for lager styles this thing’s final notes hold on for an age.

Now it’s not up with the all time greats that originally rocked my preconceptions of what a lager could do. For closest comparison, a similar quality and high citrus hops style is Mikkeller’s American Dream, a very tasty beer but not one that well emphasises the strengths of what a lager does better than an ale. In this case it results in the dry vegetable flavours becoming a bit too strong twixt sip and finish, a bit cloying at time that hurts the lager freshness.

Still, it may not be perfect but there is a ton of hop flavours in there which makes up for a lot. Now, unfortunately I can’t see a good session of these, as despite the lager crispness the cloying elements would become too heavy, but despite that the level of flavour and ease of drinking means that I can’t be too hard on it. A highly proficient beer with a few flaws that keep it from breaking my expectations.

Background: A collaboration between the Denmark brew team of To Øl and the Swedish Ölrepubliken resulting in me needing to spend a lot of time looking for the extra characters available to me for this write up. Two breweries I have not tried before and in the hard to do well lager stakes. Seemed like a good challenge to see if they were up to their reputation.

%d bloggers like this: