Tag Archive: Traditional Ale


Almanac Golden Gale Gose

Almanac: Golden Gale Gose (USA: Gose – Traditional: 5% ABV)

Visual: Golden yellow clear main body. Small white head that fizzes and diminishes quickly.

Nose: Dough. Salt. Cucumber. Chilli seeds.

Body: Sherbety fizzy feel up front. Salt. Sweet lemon and lemon curd. Squeezed lime. Dried banana notes. Doughnut base and rustic notes. Weak orange notes.

Finish: Cane sugar. Earthy bitterness. Lemon and fresh lime. Vanilla ice cream. Carrot and coriander.

Conclusion: Gose gallantly gallops greatly going on. Ok, that was just gratuitous alliteration. So, here the gose goes more towards a slight sour and doughy base that most of the style seems to express, rather than the very fresh example I found in the recent Westbrook take. In fact, while the beers are sour wheat beers at the base, this actually reminds me more of the rustic saisons that are out there- it has that earthy and rough edged touch to it.

Not that it seems that way initially – the aroma is actually quite dull. Slightly vegetable like and uninteresting. The first sip comes in fizzy and excitable but without much flavour. It is only as the beer starts to calm down that the interesting sour dough and rustic saison starts to come out, along with a light spice that also calls to the saison character.

While it doesn’t have the thickest feel the use of the lemon and lime freshness means it works with rather than against that. It doesn’t seem to need much weight to make it work – it has a slightly cordial style and it gives a freshness that belies the solid sour base.

As for the thing that seems ever present in a gose – that being the salt – it is here but gently done. It feels more a flavour enhancer that the thirst inducing element that it can be in some beers.

Overall, pretty robust despite the lighter fizzy textures. The matching of the lighter done citrus fruit character over the grounding of the saison like base and the sour base keeps you going rather than drying you out, and the spices allow for new character to come in late on in the beer. It all makes for a solid beer, not exciting but solidly sippable.

Background: Gose Time. Or, how time gose by. I have terrible puns. Anyway, after missing out on heading to Germany to try the few remaining goses in their home country, I have tried to make up for it by trying a lot of the craft beer examples. This one, made with sea salt, lemon verbena and coriander turned up in Brewdog’s guest beer selection. So I grabbed it.

Westbrook Gose

Westbrook: Gose (USA: Traditional – Gose: 4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice yellow. Large loose white bubbled head.

Nose: Mixed tropical fruit juice. Fresh. Grape skins. Dried apricot.

Body: Sharp. Lemon juice. Salty. Cider and sharp apples. Dried banana. Carrot. Pineapple. Slight sulphur. White wine.

Finish: Sharp lemon juice. Pineapple. Salted biscuits. Carrots.

Conclusion: You know, after the utterly wonderful De Molen Muhle and Bahnhof Barrel Aged Gose every other gose I have had have been interesting  but not really enamoured me with the style. I was wondering if I just don’t get the non barrel aged version of the style. This, thankfully, put me back on track as it is a lovely gose – I have no idea how authentic or not it is, but what matters to me is it is a damn enjoyable beer.

It has a lambic like dry and sharp fruity base, with lots of tropical fruit and some cider apples style. In a way it reminds me of Wild Beer co’s sour beers, mainly in the cider styling. The flavours seem surprisingly consistent for a sour beer as well, with non of the holographic flavour tendencies. A lot of the time it can feel like a very dry alcoholic fruit juice, but one that really enlivens the mouth.

The gose style shows its own twist that comes in with that slight thirst inducing saltiness – not too heavy, but it gives a real urge to drink on and adds to that slight sulphur feel mid body that gives it some weight. For closest comparison it seems like a Wild Beer co Sourdough style base, and then makes it so it drags you into drinking more and more – enhancing rather than quenching your thirst. Each mouthful you take gives the illusion of slaking that thirst before it comes anew.

I am impressed – for me it is far more robust that most goses I have encountered and it means the special elements are not the only elements that stand out. Lambic, cider, salt, fruit juice and white wine all meet and mix to make this a great beer.

Background: Ok, here we gose again. Seriously I should stop doing gose puns. Anyway, the salted wheat beer sour, thing, from Germany – it is getting a nice resurgence from the craft beer movement after damn near dying out. When this turned up on Brewdog’s Guest beer selection I figured it was, again, time to expand my gose experience. Drunk while listening to even more Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Lovely drinking music.

Wiper and True IMBC Gose

Wiper and True: IMBC: Gose (England:Traditional – Gose: 3.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Huge tight bubble white froth for head, which leaves a lot of sud trails as the beer is drunk. Quite a lot of small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Sour cream. Lemon curd. Tiny sulphur. Coriander. Sour dough. Hard boiled eggs. Palma violets.

Body: Gentle mouth feel. Light lemon. Prickly feel. Salt and pepper. Soft white bread. Noble hop feel and bitterness.

Finish: Sour dough and wholemeal bread. Fresh. Some sulphur and boiled eggs. Pepper. Light salt. Light wheaty character. Hop oils

Conclusion: My third gose review! Compared to the last one this is a somewhat simpler beast to get a handle on. It this was a “normal” beer then it would be a gentle, slight lemony, summer beer, low abv, easy to drink, and easy going.

It isn’t a quote unquote normal beer. It is the eternal enigma of the gose, so…

What we have here is a beer with a cloyed sour bread aroma to it, slight sulphur, or egg imagery to it. It feels and smells like reigned in cousin of a whisky mash tun. Though of course, this is a much more enjoyable drink, and doesn’t knock you out if you breath in too hard. I assume. I will admit I didn’t test that last one for health and safety reasons.

It also has that salt character I am coming to link with gose, not heavily in flavour, but the fact that it is rapidly thirst inducing. It all makes for something quite odd – the flavour says easy and just mildly tart, but easy time you dip your head to the glass you are engulfed by big bready sour aroma that utterly encloses the environment you drink in.

It is a charming conceit, despite how unusual it sounds, it feels a bit like a working meal pint. Something to go with a ploughman’s sandwich, or other savoury foods, in the middle of the day. Despite being amused by it, I can’t see it slipping into a standard beer session, or having just as an easy going beer. It does feel like a good complement for food, but it doesn’t quite grab me as a beer by itself.

Again, I describe more that critique – this is not a favourite beer, but of the two “More traditional” gose I have had this is more open and easier to get a hold on. Possibly due to being the less traditional of the two. An experience, and a pint with a purpose, but not one I would have for general consumption.

Background: Continuing experimentation with the Gose style to try and get a handle on this rare style. Apparently this is the less authentic of the two I picked up – though I don’t have the experience on this style to comment. Anyway, drunk, with the now very common background of the Guilty Gear XX music. Picked up from Independent Spirit.

Siren Stillwater When The Light Gose Out

Siren: Stillwater: When The Light Gose Out (England: Traditional – Gose: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Fizzes to a dark head which vanishes quickly. Evident spitting carbonation. When looked at when it settles it looks slightly like coke.

Nose: Hibiscus. Chinese stir fry. Light wood. Brown bread. Nutmeg. Lightly acidic.

Body: Tart. Light apple. Salt touch. A thin treacle element. Sour black cherry touch. Light lime. Roots. Slight charring. Dill pickle and gherkin. Light unsweetened cola bottles.

Finish: Fresh. Thin treacle. Salt. Light vanilla toffee. Light liquorice. Lime. Gherkin. Light lactose and nutmeg.

Conclusion: Ok. Apparently (see background) authentic style gose time, and a dark gose at that. That is a new one on me. Ok, this is going to be odd – I have had a bare handful of gose before, and considering one was bourbon aged I’m guessing they weren’t too traditional. Who knows, maybe time travelling bourbon barrels were used a lot in the old days. I’ve heard stranger things*

So, how do I try to work out how this goes? Step by step I guess.

The beer isn’t half as acidic as I expected – it is fresh, but not really acidic. Also while there is a salt touch, and it does seem to introduce a thirst, it isn’t too heavy on that element either. So a lot of my expectations coming in are already undercut. I am pretty much looking at an outside context problem here.

Not too much is given away up front in the aroma, sight roots, slight stir fry veg, slight nutmeg. All slight, very quiet and subdued. So I am had to dive in to start working it out.

The first sip is fuller, but even more confusing. Light apple tartness, and a thin treacle, or almost cola bottle element, with small saltiness. It is a beer that almost feels absent in texture as it fills the mouth – you get it more early on, but the more you get the flavour, the less you feel the beer, resulting in odd dark flavours seeming to float almost separate from the beer itself. Just hovering with a slightly charred darkness.

It is somewhat earthy as it builds, with roots and nutmeg, stir fry and salty gherkin – it doesn’t get heavy, but gives the main backing to the beer. I really don’t know what to make of it – this streaked sweet notes through a thirst inducing grounded yet mildly tart beer.

It is surprisingly soft to drink, yet full of odd elements – not harsh in the elements, but so full of unexpected elements that I expect a lot of people may not find it to their tastes, even though no one individual element is that challenging.

As it warms the cola backing rises, and the texture thickens, giving context for the other elements. Overall it is one of those beers that while I can describe it, I don’t quite feel competent to critique. I need more reference points. As is, it is a beer that reminds me of what a wide range you can get in the world, and I am intrigued and absorbed by it, I can even say I enjoyed it.

Such a mix of elements, an almost vegetable root beer. Absolutely fascinating.

Background: Gose! That once nigh dead style, that seems to be getting a resurgence. There is a lot of talk about an “authentic” gose. I am not really able to comment on that, I’ve only had a few. I will be hitting Goslar in the future, so will try some gose at the home of gose. Then again a lot of people say that their gose are not traditional, and the most authentic style is at Leipzig. Beats me. Anyway, in preparation I am grabbed a couple of gose beers from Independent Spirit. I have been told this is the more traditional of the two, a black gose made with volcanic black salt and hibiscus.

*admittedly none that turned out to be true, but still, I heard them.

Red Nile

Kizakura: Ruby Nile (Japan: Traditional Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Large banana to toffee colour frothy head over a ruddy brown to caramel colour body.

Nose: Cinnamon and toffee. Light orange peel. Slight fruitcake and cherry. Slightly sour.

Body: Toffee. Cinnamon. Herbs. Light liquorice. Lightly bitter. Orange. Slightly frothy feel. Fruitcake and wheat.

Finish: Liquorice. Basil. Slight mint leaves. Brown bread. Aniseed. Slightly sour. Cherries and fruitcake. Orange. Biscuits.

Conclusion: An ale made with recreated Egyptian wheat, and yeah, I can see that in the beer, but it reminded me quite a bit of the ESB style as well with its fruitcake and cherry flavours.

There is a nice frothy feel and easy going character, full of flavour, but also that herb and light bitterness that calls to more traditional ales. The heavier malt character however makes it feel much fuller than a lot of traditional style ales I have tried.

There is also a slight sourness that I have seen a lot in traditional ales and that makes it very easily drinkable. The herbs grow a bit as you drink, becoming slightly intrusive by the end. It does make the end of the beer weaker, but up until that point it added a nice touch of character.

The mix of ESB style fruitcake and the call back to traditional ales isn’t perfect in how they mix, but the balance of innovation to quality is enough that it is worth arty.

Solid, with a quirk and a tale. Only above average on flavour, but the interesting nature of it pushes it a bit above that.

Background: Made in conjunction with Kyoto and Waseda Universities to revive previously extinct wheat strains from Egypt and use them to make beer. There are blue, red and white Nile beers, of which I grabbed red. Red looks cooler, what you expected a decent reason when I could only barely read the bottles?

This beer was an unexpected one, our tour leader had helped us on an improvised journey to a sake area just outside Kyoto, and when we found it shut he showed us over to the Kappa Country brewpub as he knew I was a craft beer nut. (Kappa incidentally is the name of a type of water spirit in Japan) Now that is dedication! Anyway on seeing something that bit different amongst their beer line up I thought I would give it a shot.

As you may have noticed the pub served in paper cups as we were sat outside, grrr. However with a bit of improvisation and an empty sake glass jar I managed to get a photo of it in more natural conditions to show its colour.

CIMG2088

De Molen: Muhle and Bahnhof Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Gose-Traditional Ale: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Slightly cloudy cherry red, clear in the light at times. No head at all.

Nose: Apple crumble. Stewed fruit. Soft rhubarb. Very soft and delicate and dessert like.

Body: Cherries apple and toffee. Syrup like feel to the texture. Stewed fruit. Just slight tart behind very sweet. Vanilla. Slight salt,

Finish: Banoffee pie. Very thick and slick. Raspberry. Salt. Red wine, rhubarb and apricot.

Conclusion: Holy shit. No seriously. Holy shit. Where do I start with this one? Stewed fruit and apple crumble over soft vanilla and toffee. I had this after a few highly hopped beers and that slight tartness it carried cut straight through them.

Very fruity, slight salt and sourness which has a similar to lambic in its power to deal with other flavours, but this is richer and far less dry than that style. Also much more easy going which I would put down to the fruity character I mentioned. Despite being more easy going that touch of salt can give you a thirst (a tremendous thirst)* on drinking which can result in it going down far too easily for the abv.  There’s so many interesting flavours from rhubarb (which I’m fairly sure I’ve never run into in a beer before), to sweet cider like flavours, and a toffee element that I swear must be from the barrel ageing.

It looks like fruit juice in a very deceptive way, no head no matter how I tired to pour. Despite the abv there is no burn to nose or body, the word that most comes to mind on drinking is stewed fruit, but the exact expression shifts as you drink. I haven’t tried the non barrel aged version,  but I imagine it would be lacking at least some of the heavy dessert sweetness that this thing shows.

A beer to match a great dessert wine, yet still with that sour and salt edge amongst the sweetness. My first gose so I don’t know how well it represents the style but it sets the bar for quality bloody high. This is a great beer.

Background: Finally, I get to review another De Molen beer . It nearly didn’t happen, the stock was still in the cellar of Brewdog Bristol due to a full bottle fridge but they were kind enough to bring one up for me to try. Even then I wasn’t planning on reviewing it until my first sip where I realised I had to record this for posterity. This is a barrel aged version of Matthias & Menno. I’ve never tried a Gose before. They are usually a lot lower alcohol than this and should have at least 50% of the grain being a malted wheat (or so wikipedia tells me, take that with a pinch of salt).  Unusually for German styles this style allows other ingredients include coriander and salt. They have a reputation for sourness, and originally were spontaneously fermented, though that practise is no longer used.

* Yes I am a fan of the Mitchell and Webb Lager Beer Sketch, why do you ask?

 

Boscos Famous Flaming Stone Beer (USA: Traditional Ale (Stone Beer): 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Light banana yellow to amber orange. Thin white dust of a head.

Nose: Light banana and vanilla.

Body: Wheat. Cloves. Overripe banana. Apricot and peach. Vanilla.

Finish: Banana. Slight chalkiness. Peach. Pineapple. Quite fresh and tart,

Conclusion: Very fresh this one, the flavours of banana and cloves call to the weissbier style but there is a lot of American fruit freshness to it. The apricot and peach flavours brighten up and complement the banana well giving a real fruity zing to it. There is a slightly chalky texture , especially in the finish. It isn’t my favourite element but it does give a dryness to balance the fruit and not let it get sickly.

A real easy drinking fruity beer, with a slightly syrupy sweetness at times. Maybe a touch too sweet, even with the chalk offset, but this was a beer that I  found a very welcome respite as I hid from the sun (hey, don’t judge, I’m an Englishman and a Yorkshire man, I distrust the sun).

Apart from the issue of the slight chalk to syrup balance it is a very nice beer. There is heaps of flavour, all delivered in such a way to give the impression of a tropical fruit filled cocktail delight. Either that or a tropical fruit smoothie that someone managed to turn into a beer.

A few minor flaws, but very tasty despite that.

Background: Well, that’s the first time Rate Beer let me down. Couldn’t find out the abv on this from the menu so looked it up on rate beer to find “abv -“. Bugger. Thankfully from beyond the grave Michael Jackson came to my aid. His book of 500 beers listed this beer and the abv of 4.8%. Warning, due to the great man having been dead a while, and that book being quite a few years old the info may be out of date. Better than a bloody dash though.  As you may have guessed this was drunk in Nashville during the road trip of awesome.  This beer has the pretty cool traditional German trick of heating up stones and putting them in the beer during brewing. Ah Germany, A mad beer inventor in it’s day and the USA has happily picked up that legacy and run with it.

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.

De Blaugies: Biere Darbyste (Belgium: Traditional Ale: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy amber to cherry red with a darkened inch of bubbles.

Nose: Plum, wheat and ground spices. Quite earthy. Slight musty cellars. Slight cherries and raspberry seeds.

Body: Very tart, crab apples and gooseberries. Slight syrup sweet smoothness runs through the centre of this otherwise fluffy textured beer. Raspberry

Finish: Sour gooseberries and wheat. Still very tart and astringent. Plums. Very dry wholemeal crackers. Raspberry.

Conclusion: Some times I despair at trying to assign beer styles. Of course I can always look it up, but I like to give it a shot myself first and anyway that often gives contradictory information depending on the source.

Now this beer is definitely not a lambic, but you could be forgiven for thinking it had an influence considering that it brings a lot of the sourness and dry fruit into play, and especially at its dry finish.

It’s this sort of thing that means that it’s not an easy beer to get a handle on, it’s that which also makes it so interesting. The tartness has a definite mouth puckering effect, and the flavours last significantly longer than the end of your sip.

The fig juice used in it has definite influence, even if I would have guessed it as a different fruit, as you can tell from the tasting. That also makes it quite unlike most beers I have tried.  The sour and varied elements will make it an acquired taste, but its well worth taking a moment to find out if it suits you.

Background: “A light blond ale in an unusual style” according to “100 Belgium Beers to Try Before You Die”. According to the same book this beer is made with fig juice in reference to a preacher who insisted that the dark drink his congregation was drinking was fig juice and not the evil ale. Nice wee background and a bit different touch to the beer makes me well disposed before trying it.  Finally found after much looking in the Drankencentrale de Hopduvel in Gent (that place is a beer heaven).

Heather Ales: Fraoch: Heather Ale (Scotland: Traditional Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Light clear amber, an off white head of no duration.

Nose: Syrup and pine cones. Slight cooked chicken and mustiness.

Body: Resin, pine and lemongrass.  Solid malt core, Ginger beer. Slight toffee in the undertones. Bitter back.

Finish:  Ground lemon peel and greenery. Ginger beer again. Slight peppermint.

Conclusion: Now it’s well known that I am a sucker for odd and unusual beers. Add to that the fact that so far the Heather Ales ranges has been batting well and we come to this fourth and last of the pack with not a little anticipation.

Unfortunately here is where it falls down. Just a little, more a trip or stumble than a full on fall, but still not good.  This beer just doesn’t quite play right. Strange as its range of flavours are and they are both unusual and intriguing it should be right in the path of the kind of thing I like. However under all the peppermint and ginger the base of the beer just feels slightly mundane, as if they were just glitzy baubles on an otherwise bare tree.

I don’t want to be too harsh, as it’s not bad, but after the fun of the previous beers from the brewery it just seems weak.  Definitely go for the others in the range instead.

Background: Heather Ales do a lot of old traditional styles of beer with what would now be considered unusual ingredients.  This beer pack was a kind gift from Dylan (thanks Dylan). So far the pack has been well received.

%d bloggers like this: