Tag Archive: USA


Founders: Green Zebra (USA: Gose: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Slightly dark lemon juice. Some carbonation. Large fluffy white head.

Nose: Slight sulphur. Distinct watermelon.

Body: Golden syrup. Vanilla. Watermelon. Cane sugar. Grapes. Honey. Apples. Salt. Shortbread.

Finish: Golden syrup. Watermelon. Salt and vinegar crisps. Honey. Apples. Crapes. Lime cordial.

Conclusion: This is possibly the sweetest gose I have ever had. It eschews the harshly salty and tart recent craft takes on the style, even goes past the light sweetness of the Goslar breweries’ take in the style, and instead goes into a full on honey beer thing that tastes more like a watermelon mead than anything else.

Now the salt notes come out softly later, so it isn’t abandoning the gose side – but what really sells this beer is the watermelon. I was imaging this would be fresh watermelon over a tart gose- instead I’m getting sweet watermelon doused in syrup and honey. It is a simple joy. It is shockingly sweet for a sub 5% abv beer – I don’t know how the heck they manages that without a higher malt load, then they use an impressively detailed set of watermelon notes, along with apples, grapes and other green fruit to add contrast and complexity to the beer.

The most gose like element is the slightly drier and saltier finish, but even that is fair honey dominated. Time allows you to get used to the sweetness, and then the watermelon and the rest of the fruit can really rock – in fact, at this point I kind of dig it.

Now – this is a simple sweet crowd pleaser of a beer and far from what you would expect from a gose, but frankly I enjoy it. Go in to it with the right expectations (i.e. not expecting heavy tartness or saltiness) and this does the watermelon thing in a really fun fashion. It it a classic? No. Is it a joy to drink? yes. And some days that is all you want.

Background: I’ve been meaning to pick this up for a while, a watermelon gose just sounded off enough to be fun. Unfortunately other beers kept jumping ahead in the queue. But now, finally I have it. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Goses are now far from the nearly dead style they once were – slightly salted wheat beers that vary massively in level of tartness, sweetness and saltiness in the expressions I have encountered. This was drunk while listening to Andrew WK’s new album again – it is just so damn joyous.

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Halfacre: Daisy Cutter Pale Ale (USA: American Pale Ale: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to apricot. Large white mounded bubbled head. Tiny bubbled carbonation. Head leaves suds.

Nose: Flour. Peach. Lemon curd. Dry. Watermelon.

Body: Stewed apricot. Dry. Flour. Vanilla. Apple pie jelly centres. Moderate hop character. Low to middling bitterness. Pineapple.

Finish: Dried and stewed apricot. Moderate hop prickle and bitterness. Bitterness grows over time. Gelatinous fruit pie centres. Tart apples. Vanilla. Watermelon. Pineapple.

Conclusion: You know, I started off not enamoured with this, but each sip had it grow on me more and more. Initial impressions are dry with a flour touch, which are dominant, only allowing small amounts of fruit come out behind. A good base, but not much else.

As time goes on the fruit rises in a way that I can best describe as if it mixed half stewed fruit and half dried fruit, all mixed up in that gelatinous stuff that you get in fruit pies. It gives a real thickness of feel and flavour is what I mean.

The bitterness has a similar path. It starts low but rises quickly. Never into IPA territory, but solid enough to really give it an edge for a hophead like me. Then, as if that was not enough, time brings out delicious watermelon notes with tart pineapple behind that pick up the beer, dust it off and refresh it for the latter half of enjoyment.

Often for me the dryness of an APA can be an off-putting note and a failure in the beer, making it too harsh to drink. This shows how to get the dryness, matches it with huge flavour and sets out something challenging, rewarding and always giving good character. Definitely in the top few APAs I have encountered.

Background: This was a pretty random grab – A brewery I haven’t tried before from America – figured it was worth a try. Went for their APA as I spend less time with that style – it is hit or miss for me – sometimes great, some times far too dry. Thought it was a good time to roll the dice again and see how this did. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to At The Drive In – Relationship Of Command. Had an odd thought while drinking – I love that album, absolutely love it, but have never checked out any other At The Drive In stuff. I should correct that at some time. Incidentally on googling I found that this is described as “A west coast Pale Ale chock-full of dank, aromatic hops.”. Much as I enjoyed it, I would not call it “Dank” in any way. Maybe something was lost in the journey to the UK.

Founders: DKML (USA: Malt Liquor: 14.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale brown to apricot. Large creamy bubbled white to beige head.

Nose; Vanilla. Bourbon. Condensed cream. Toffee. Crushed Blackpool rock. Raspberry yogurt.

Body: Vanilla. Fudge. Cream. Rye biscuits. Grapes. Brown bread. Peppery. Cardboard. Cherries. Brown sugar. Liquorice.

Finish: Pepper. Rye crackers. Fudge. Cream. Brown bread. Rough alcohol edge – cheap spirit. Vanilla. Slight dried apricot. Unflavoured puff crisps.

Conclusion: I am fairly sure that this is leaning very, very heavily on the bourbon ageing to make it manageable. Now, for all that, I will admit the bourbon ageing does do its job well – lots of vanilla, toffee, cream and fudges notes. That part is very well done.

The base finds it hard to peak through all that bourbon, but when it does, it does seem like more of a mixed bag. There are cherry notes, grapes and even occasion apricot elements which are good, though none are too formidable, they are all lighter, harder to find elements. On the bad side of things, well there is an unfinished alcohol sheen, a kind of rough pepper to rye crackers thing, and even the dreaded cardboard notes. Some of these are elements that can be used well, but are just a tad rough here, some is just rough alcohol notes.

Taken in small amounts it is quite appealing and better than most examples of the… style that I have encountered; There has been a lot done to make the top half of the beer quite appealing. Unfortunately in the latter half of drinking this the body starts pushing the rough edges and unfinished alcohol style into a more unenjoyable look.

An interesting experiment and half a good beer, but also half a massive failure of a beer, and together not one I would say to grab.

Background: Malt Liquor? Something I’ve pretty much only ever encountered in the USA, and, frankly, tends to be more than a tad grebby. Thus I was intrigued by this – a malt liquor by the respected Founders brewery, aged in bourbon barrels, and one that actually has a decent reputation on review aggregation sites. So, ok, I thought – let’s do the first malt liquor review of the site and hope for the best. Yet again, one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on Miracle Of Sound’s Level 8 collection of film and video game inspired music while drinking this – the guy is a genuine music maestro.

Evil Twin: Even More Coco Jesus (USA: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Creamy brown head.

Nose: Hazelnuts. Cocoa dust. Bitter black chocolate. Burnt brown sugar.

Body: Creamy thickness. Treacle toffee. Chocolate fondue. Caramel. Nougat. Coconut. Burnt brown sugar. Frothy. Golden syrup. Slight smoke and slight medicinal.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Dry coconut. Bitter coffee. Brown sugar. Treacle. Smoke. Maple syrup late on. Slight salt touch.

Conclusion: Oh hello Even More Jesus, welcome back! So, how are you? Still big huh? Still creamy and full of flavour. Cool, though it does feel a tad drier this time around – possibly the coconut notes are doing their thing which causes it – they seem to come out more natural and dry here rather than the sweeter, gooier coconut macaroon style I am more used to.

Anyway, this is still recognisably Even More Jesus – still a huge beer – the sweeter elements are more evident here, with the smoke touch and such kept until the end. Oddly, for all I love coconut in Imperial Stouts, here it feels like a weaker element. It is a little too dry, as I referenced before, not so much as to heavily hurt the beer, but it doesn’t feel like it enhances it either. A kind of natural change that seems out of place when put against the intense treacly, syrupy sweetness that is also thrown into the mix.

This, therefore is a mix of a more sweet up front, with the extra syrup notes, and a drier end as the finish finally comes out with the medicinal and smoke notes meeting the dry coconut.

Still great, but I would say not as great as the standard edition is – there is less balance between each note – something the original has down to a fine art. If this is the only Even More Jesus you can find it is still worth it, but if you can get the original, do. It is the best and fucking amazing.

Background; I keep going to place Evil Twin in Denmark, even though they are based in the USA now – it is going to take me a long while to get used to the switch over. Even More Jesus is one of my favourite Imperial Stouts of all time, and I have grabbed every chance I can to do notes on a different version of it. So, this one, made with maple syrup and coconut practically leapt into my hands from the shelf. I’m a big fan of coconut in beer, so hoped this could take Even More Jesus to the next level. Another Independent Spirit grabbed one, drunk while listening to Propagandhi – Potemkin City Limits, in my opinion easily their best album and an utter classic of punk.

Deschutes: The Dissident: 2016 Reserve (USA: Sour Ale: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy cherry red. Thin off white head. Still.

Nose: Massive cherries and black cherries. Smoke wisps. White chocolate. Malt chocolate. Raisins. Oak. Vanilla. Buttery shortbread. Sherry trifle. Bourbon.

Body: Figs. Cherries. Apple pie. Pears. Smooth. White chocolate. Gummed brown paper. Vanilla toffee. Malt chocolate. Bourbon.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Raisins. Sour red wine. Port. Light oak. Figs. Gummed brown paper. Tinned tropical fruits.

Conclusion: Ok, going to have to take some time to unpack this beer – first impressions are a big, very sweet beer, barley wine in style more than a sour red. Considering the abv a big beer is unsurprising, but the sweetness did take me a bit by surprise. There are big chewy cherry notes, port soaked raisins – lots of dark fruits and even an unusual smoke wisp acting a a lead in to the second big element of the beer – the oak influence. The oaken notes themselves are fairly low – instead it shows itself as white chocolate, toffee, vanilla and tinned tropical fruit notes similar to what I expect from bourbon aged whisky. Together they are very big, very chewy, very flavoursome, but stills feels like a big barrel aged barley wine. Good but not what I expected.

Time exposes what was previously missing elements – a mix of malt chocolate and gummed brown paper that gives hints of the Flemish brown base. Even here there is barely any sourness or tartness, just light backing notes that gives a slightly more vinous feel backing the sweet notes and an even more chewy character. While not heavily done that light tartness and distinct gumminess final makes it stand out from the barley wine it otherwise feels like. Late on you start getting those odd flavour mixes you would expect from a more sour, acidic, beer – soft green fruit starts coming out along with sour red wine notes – all the odd flavours, but without the harshness.

Here, it now has all the sweetness and big flavours, all smoothly delivered, but with that slight freshness so that each sip feels now with renewed decadence. It is so dangerously easy to drink for the abv, you can feel the abv hinted at in the flavours, but it is so smooth you don’t care. The oak aged Flemish bruin and barley wine mash up you never knew you wanted. Very impressive. A decadent dessert treat for yourself.

Background: Grabbed this a short while ago from Brewdog’s guest beer selection – I figured as a sour beer of high abv it was unlikely to go off so could save for when I wanted something big and good – getting back from the China trip seemed to deserve something like that to welcome me home. This is a sour Flemish style bruin made with cherries and with 40% of the beer aged in French oak. I think the ageing varies year by year so your experience may vary with future years’ releases. I’ve tried Deschutes a few times at Real Ale festivals, and some of their collabs, but this is the first time I have done notes and tried them in an environment where I have not ruined by tastebuds beforehand. Drunk while listening to a mix of cheery Jonathan Young tunes – mainly Ducktales and the Zootropolis tunes.

Full Sail: Wassail Winter Ale (USA: English Strong Ale: 7.2% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red, or brown if not held to the light. Some carbonation. Large solid toffee brown head.

Nose: Cinnamon. Cherries. Caramel. Slight cream. Slight cloves and nutmeg.

Body: Nutmeg. Raisins. Malt chocolate. Warming vinous red wine notes. Caramel. Earthy bitterness.

Finish: Glacier cherries. Dry malt chocolate. Crushed peanuts. Cloves and nutmeg. Dry roasted peanuts. Toffee. Earthy bitterness. Sour red wine vinous notes.

Conclusion: This feels like a Christmas spiced dopplebock in a lot of ways – a quick search tells me it is a English strong ale – Michael Jackson’s book calls it an old ale – though that may have changed since the book was published. Any which way – definitely has some dopplebock like notes.

Anyway, this is a dry malt chocolate and dry roasted nut tasting base – smoothly deliverer and grounded by what feels like an earthy British hop style – a part that made me finally decide to list this as English Strong Ale style. A solid base, and one offset by slight caramel sweetness, but one that could have become wearing if not for the other two big influences.

Influence one is a vinous – sour red wine and sweet glacier cherries style set of notes – giving high sweet notes and vinous depth that makes for an interesting top and tail to the beer. This develops the more dopplebock like elements, bringing out rich raisin notes and Christmas cake imagery to this winter beer.

The other influence is the moderately used spice notes– a nutmeg middle, clove heaviness and cinnamon sweet spots. Again it really widens the range of the beer and is used heavily enough without dominating the beer.

Together it is very Christmassy, very solid. Very smooth and with a very good range. A medley of Christmas experiences – cake, wine and spice, all shown in one beer. Very high quality and well worth trying if you can grab it. Not a world best, but about as good as you can get without reaching those echelons.

Background: An American beer? As part of my China trip? Yep, found this in a supermarket in Chengdu and memory told me it was one of Michael Jackson’s 500 beers. I checked when I got back, and I was right! Go me! Before I get too full of myself though, the supermarket had another Full Sail beer that was also one of Jackson’s 500 picks which I did not remember, so missed a chance to grab. Stupid me. Anyway, drank this on a cruise down the river – had to ask the staff for a fridge so I could chill it as the room didn’t have one by default. Due to being a solo traveller I had to share the room with another traveller – a Chinese man who spent a lot of time walking around in his boxers and rearranging his junk. So, yeah, a …unique background to doing these notes.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 1 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Standard whiskey barrel with #3 char)

Visual: Very dark reddened bronze.

Viscosity: Very fast sheet of streaks.

Nose: Thick and full of alcohol. Rye crackers and brown bread. Honey. Aniseed. Treacle. Light prunes.

Body: Honey. Charring. Slightly dry back. Rye crackers. Water makes more honeyed and smooth. Slight dried apricot. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Alcohol. Rye crackers. Honey. Slightly rough. Charring. More honeyed with water. Light mocha. Slight cloying sour cream note. Slight sulphur air.

Conclusion: This is – well – the most pedestrian of the 5 experiments I would say. It matches the more simple description of the process it went through – a more charred standard barrel – by being a very stripped down whiskey/bourbon compared to the complex language and layers of the others. A baseline I guess – the base experience that the other experiments build off.

Neat it is very much rye crackers touched with honey backing – pretty much the base bourbon concept but with none of the frills. At this point it is also a tad alcohol touched which doesn’t help it.

Water does help to a degree – it takes out some of the alcohol and lets the honey notes seeps over the harsher charring; It still has a bit of sulphur and other harsh notes – stuff that work with bigger whiskeys or bourbons, but feel off notes here.

It is … sub optimal shall we say – feels a very basic bourbon, with a few off notes. Not one I would recommend – especially considering the equivalent price you are paying for the set of the experiment bourbons as a whole. There is hints of some good stuff, and some mocha notes in the finish which are nice – but generally it feels very generic, with a few points letting it down.

To give it a more positive spin – this is the base, it lets you see how the other experiments develop in relation to it. As itself, it is not much, especially for the cost, It is only really useful as a benchmark to see how the other experiments differ.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, just more charred – so is probably the most normal of the experiments. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is the largest one, so I could spend a bit more time with it.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 11 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Original Barrel: Inserts for used wine barrels. High mocha)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Lightly milky coffee. Tiramisu. Some alcohol. Toffee. Salted lemons. Water adds menthol.

Body: Orange cream. Peppery. Peppermint. Some alcohol. Shredded wheat. Slight sour tang. Orange jelly sweets. Water adds honey and menthol.

Finish: Alcohol. Peppermint. Orange cream. Lime tang. Water adds menthol and mint. Slight milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, like the no 5 whiskey/bourbon I tried before this, this leans towards a more traditional bourbon but with one unusual element that comes out.

What you have here at the base is a sweeter, slightly orange cream touched bourbon – fairly normal, albeit with more alcohol feel than normal.

What comes out, especially with water, is a slightly peppermint to menthol character – a much fresher set of notes than usual. If you need a comparison I would say it comes in kind of similar to Johnnie Walker Green, to my hazy recollection of last time I tried that – however the menthol notes don’t seem to mesh quite as well to the bourbon style as they did to that blended whisky take.

It is odd that that peppermint style freshness is what stands out, as the aroma was quite coffee touched, which made me think that this was going to be similar to experiment 10 – while, admittedly the coffee does come out in the finish, for the most part the coffee really doesn’t seem to have much influence here. A pity.

It’s not terrible, but the twist and the main bourbon don’t mesh in a way that enhances either side. So, interesting, but one of the weaker experiments.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, with wine barrel wood staves put in for extra oak influence, and charred for mocha styling. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the larger ones, so I could spend a bit more time with it. Drunk while (still) listening to Scroobius Pip – No Commercial Breaks – yes, I did this one immediately after doing notes on experiment 5.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 5 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% BV)

(Whiskey barrel 3: Standard whiskey barrel. #3 char with a cuvee cube tube.)

Visual: Deep bronzed to red.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey. Rye crackers and pepper. Caramel. Water adds more crackers and some brandy cream.

Body: Warming. Cherries. Oak. Honey. Vanilla. Slight alcohol dryness. Water makes much more cherries. Slight fudge. Aniseed.

Finish: Charring. Treacle. Dry. Oak. Slight menthol. Water adds cherries. Slight brandy cream. Peppery.

Conclusion: This is a more standard bourbon/Whiskey than the last two I tried, but still has a few twists in its tail. First impressions are a honeyed bourbon with charring, oak and similar peppery notes. Nothing bad but also nothing unusual.

A bit of time taken and the first oddity comes out – a slight cherry sweetness that isn’t something I see often in bourbon. It is nice, and gives a slight Irish Whiskey style call – especially the sherry aged examples of such. An easy going spirit meeting the more peppery spiced bourbon.

Water brings this side out much more – more sweet cherries matched with slight brandy cream – a quite rich experience and one I enjoyed very much. As time passes the more traditional bourbon notes rise again to take centre stage, with the sweeter elements pushed to the side.

So, overall it has a slight showing of a good twist to a fairly standard bourbon. Fairly solid quality in general. If it managed to balance the sweetness with the bourbon style over a longer time scale this would have been well worth recommending. As is, its a nice twist but not a must have.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, with cuvee cube tube added for extra wood exposure, then given extra charring. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the larger ones, so I could spend a bit more time with it. Drunk while listening to Scroobius Pip – No Commercial Breaks – still listening to the music Speech Development Records gave away for free digital download.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 10 (USA Bourbon\Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(1 French/American hybrid wine barrel 225L. Traditional with #25 toast profile)

Visual: Deep bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Full. Treacle. Pencil shavings. White chocolate. Light wood smoke. Toasted teacakes. Water makes more toasted teacakes.

Body: Light front. Orange. Peppery. Slight alcohol weight. Tinned tropical fruit. Milky mocha coffee. Lightly nutty.

Finish Toasted teacakes. Milky coffee. Milky hot chocolate. Light nuts.

Conclusion: Even with the small amount I had of this, the split between two distinctly different sides was evident. So, yeah, take everything here as a small first impressions.

Up front in the aroma and on the first sip this seemed fairly booming, but not an unusual bourbon – peppery, slightly smokier than normal in a woody way, and as mentioned, quite booming. Sipping brought a familiarly bourbon orange note in kind of creamy style so, solidly big, but not unusual.

Then the finish comes around and this is where it changes to style two. Milky mocha coffee, gentle and soothing, comes out – plus it returns to some toasted teacake notes that were only hinted at in the aroma, but held off being full developed until the end.

This part is very nice, very easy going, very soothing while delivering well developed coffee flavour. Even better as my sample was coming to the end this part started backing up into the main body, indicating it was probably going to play a bigger part as the drink went on.

I can’t add much more to the notes than that as I added a drop of water to what was left and that returned it to the more standard bourbon that it seemed at the start. So, a mix of two tales, but that coffee part is lovely – hope it would have had more of that if I had spent longer with it.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a barrel constructed from two smaller barrels, then given extra charring. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the smaller ones, so I presume was one of their favourites – as of such its more a first impressions than a full tasting note. Hope that is ok with all of you – thought it was still worth sharing as it is a bit unusual. Drunk while listening to some Warrenpeace as he gave an album away free for digital download – pretty cool so far.

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