Tag Archive: USA


Barrier: Money 2 Times Dry Hopped IPA (USA: IPA: 7.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lemon juice colour. Huge white mounded ice cream float looking head that leaves suds. Moderate bubbled carbonation and some sediment on final pour.

Nose: Pineapple. Juicy. Wheaty hop character and low but present bitterness. Slightly dry. Lemon juice. Vanilla ice cream.

Body: Vanilla. Buttery. Good hop character. Vanilla ice cream. Kiwi and lime. Resinous. Lots of greenery. Hop oils. Lightly “dank”. Apricot. Creamy. Custard notes.

Finish: Good hop bitterness. Choc toffee eclairs sweets. Good hop character. Some charring. Hop oils. Resinous and “dank”.

Conclusion: Ok there is some serious sediment and haze in this beer, it just didn’t come out in my first pour. The second pour where I emptied the can emptied everything out and really changes this beer!

On first pour this had a good hop character and some bitterness, but it pushed the fruit character more with great kiwi character, and some apricot and pineapple. It had some resinous and hop oil characteristics but they served more as a backing to a fruity IPA.

Then, after taking my time to enjoy this I rolled the remainder of the beer around the can and added it into the glass for a nice refill. Instantly it is more hazy – I was suddenly nervous, was this going to go full NEIPA on me and just be all fruit and hide the hops? Then I saw the sediment that came with it. Was this a good sign of hop character, a sign of bad filtering, a problem, an opportunity, all of the above?

I should not have worried. It became oily, resinous and yes …sigh ..”dank” – all nicely bitter. Whatever had been left in the latter third of the can made this the beer I wanted as soon as it was poured in. Still fruity, but now with the hops up front in all their varied resinous, oily, bitter and fluffy stylings.

Still lightly caramel sweet, with a creamy thick body, but now using it all to kick. Sweet apricot, kiwi, etc are all still there. Custard and toffee notes and still there, especially in the finish, but holy heck it kicks the hops up a notch.

I am digging it. The second pour took this from good to great. Enjoy it if you can.

Background: Independent Spirit had a bunch of breweries from USA I’d not encountered before in, so I decided to grab a couple to try. With a weak pound and all the crap going on we don’t get many of the less mainstream USA breweries these days so was very happy to try. Went mainly with some IPAs as, in general, it seems to be a style where the USA does it best. I don’t know what it is, and it is generalising a massive amount of breweries both in the USA and the world, but they seem to hit the spot more often than most. Anyway, this is a double dry hopped version of the original Money, which I have not drunk so cannot compare. On ratebeer this is listed as a NEIPA – while it is slightly cloudy on the eye it didn’t really hit me as that, but maybe that is because I enjoyed it and I am massively biased against NEIPAs. Who can say? Went with Evil Scarecrow: Galactic Hunt as backing music. Funny, b-movie, horror Metal. Something absurd and fun was just what I needed.

Pipeworks: Imperial Cherry Jones Dog (USA: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Thin grey brown dash of a head.

Nose: Brown sugar. Warming booze. Chocolate smelling alcohol. Walnuts. Cashews. Liquorice. Chocolate cake. Liquorice all sorts.

Body: Black cherry. Toffee yogurt. Liquorice. Walnut cake. Vanilla fudge. Cherry pocked biscuits. Cocoa backing. Glacier cherries touch. Light chalk touch.

Finish: Coffee cake. Walnuts. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Cherry picked biscuits. Cocoa. Vanilla sweetness. Alcohol air.

Conclusion: You know, for an over 10% abv imperial stout stacked with special ingredients, this is fairly restrained. Which as always, I should point out, does mean it would be considered restrained by any normal beers standards, natch, just for one this big.

The special ingredients show differing amounts of influence. There’s a creamy character, but against that a more solid chocolate cake feel and taste. It has a vanilla sweetness matched to the creaminess as one of the bigger elements, but the cherries come out as a subtle character laced throughout – sometimes even coming through more as black cherry.

These all build up over time to an impressive weight of flavour by the end. This is one of the few 10% abv and up beers where the full pint is worthwhile for appreciating the beer, rather than being better suited to a half of even third.

It is slow to build and subtle up front, with a touch of the alcohol noticeable but it is far from boozy. It doesn’t have any one element that pushes it to a classic, but has a lot that works well together – a great cocoa backing, some sweet bursts, subtle cherry and an initially high liquorice that slips out of the way to give the other elements time in the limelight.

By the end are a bit more obvious – more noticeable alcohol, bigger flavour – it isn’t as good in itself, but shows a progression that keeps the beer interesting, which offsets that. It has a good use of the lactose for sweetness and mouthfeel, nice subtle use of the cherry and so much cocoa.

A very complex and solid imperial stout, not a must have but well worth a look.

Background: Pipeworks, a new new brewery on me, but this one sounded fairly epic, so I decided to give it a try. Also, new beers and breweries from the USA are less common than they used to be – for many reasons, one of which I would guess would be the plummeting pound over the years. Anyway, this is made with cherries, cocoa nibs, lactose and vanilla. Of course. Went with Le Tigre’s self titled album for music while drinking. This was another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Bulleit: 95 Rye (USA: Straight Rye Whiskey: 45% ABV)

Visual: Deep dark gold. Fast thick sheet of streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Rye crackers. Black pepper. Orange zest. Planed mahogany wood. Sulphur. Brown sugar. Water adds a honey touch. Apricot skin. Smoke. Peppermint touch.

Body: Thick. Leather. Rye crackers. Black pepper. Dry toffee. Water adds Chilli seed. More leather. Buttery. Vanilla. Soft lime.

Finish: Black pepper and rye crackers. Water makes leathery. Sulphur. Smoke. Dry fudge.

Conclusion: I’ve been sitting here for a while thinking about how best to describe this. Usually rye heavy whiskies are one I find fairly easy to sum on. This is just different enough from those for me to have to take a bit more time and thought on it.

Ok, despite what I said above it is noticeably rye heavy. Possibly even 95% rye heavy. Yes I know, ha fucking ha, ha. Anyway, you get lots of rye crackers, peppery spice and some sulphurous smoke – but there is more to it than that.

I think it is that this is slightly, only slightly, sweeter than your average rye. Gentle but dry toffee, slightly buttery thickness that leans almost savoury but with a sweet touch. All this makes it a slightly more gentle and open rye than most, but again only slightly.

I mean it is still leathery, giving a thick mouthfeel, with a slight chilli seed heat that gives pep – but it is not the one note spice bomb that often comes through with a rye. A drop of water really exposes the contrast, but it is even there neat.

It is … pleasant. Not a masterpiece but pleasant and comparatively easy to drink for a rye.

Spicy, but just eased up a bit for a sweeter rye. I can spend a chunk of time with this. Not a must have but very decent for the price.

Background: I heard about this one a while back, it was recommended as a good, easy to get hold of rye. Since it was available in supermarkets for a while I thought it would be super easy to pick up. My mistake, no-one here seems to have it. After months of searching I gave up and ordered it from The Whisky Exchange. Not much else to add, did these notes after returning from India – I put on At The Drive In: Relationship of Command while drinking. I’m sure At The Drive In also did other albums. Probably.

Brooklyn: Special Effects (USA: Low Alcohol. 0.4% ABV)

Visual: Clear, a darkened caramel brown colour. A caramel coloured inch of mounded head.

Nose: Spicy. Crushed pepper seeds. Thai 7 spice. Caramel. Lightly watery.

Body: Caramel. Watered down treacle. Liquorice. Mint leaves. Greenery. Peppery. Light orange skin.

Finish: Thai 7 spice. Moderate hop character. Light liquorice. Light earthy hops. Peppery. Black and white pepper.

Conclusion: Ok, this is spicier than I imagined it would be. Not super spicy, but it is definitely a solid part of the character. I did wonder if that was due to the hop usage, or if, due to the low abv, they had actually added spice to the beer to make up for that. Now, the ingredient list doesn’t mention any spice, so yeah, just the hops I guess – let me know if you know any better please.

At its base it feels kind of dark lager style, with watered down treacle and caramel notes. For an easy drinking beer, it has a reasonable mouthfeel considering the low abv, if not anything special. It wears a greenery, peppery and some Thai seven spice style into a light earthiness as its main strings to its bow, and it is them that do most of the legwork, if I may mix my metaphors.

It doesn’t feel like a traditional beer in most ways, but carries enough that this semi spice beer meets lager style feels like a decent stand in for one anyway. I feel it would be a good one to go with food where the spice and easy drinking could accentuate the heavier food flavours without needing to be the main event.

As a beer by itself it is ok, but not one to get super engaged with. It feels decent enough for what I will term a “Background beer”. It has enough beer character to fill the space while you are concentrating on something else, but not really one that keeps your attention if that is all that is before you.

So, what I am saying is it is ok and has a place in things.

Background: New low alcohol beer. Pretty much why I grabbed it. These things are vital in my old age. Honest. Anyway, yeah saw a low alcohol from Brooklyn, who tend to do well in their standard beers, so thought I would give it a go. Not much to add on top of that. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. For reasons that probably only amuse me, I went with Cradle Of Filth for music with this one. If you are wondering why look at the notes before this one. That is all.

Heaven Hill: Parker’s Heritage Barrel Finished in Orange Curacao (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 55% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold. Fast thick streaks followed by thin puckering.

Nose: Peppery. Subtle orange sweetness and orange skins. Orange liqueur. Washing up liquid. Dust. Water brings out mint leaves and peppermint.

Body: Smooth and thick. Peppery. Treacle. Strong alcohol. Menthol. Mint leaves. Water adds rye crackers and cocktail bitters.

Finish: Orange liqueur. Menthol. Peppermint. Peppery. Shreddies. Mint leaves. Water adds aniseed and cocktail bitters.

Conclusion: You know, I expected this to be more orangey. I mean, I’m not going to lie, there is a very reasonable amount of orange going on, but what actually stands out from it is something completely different – a strange minty character. I did not see that one coming.

So, before we get too deep into that, let’s look at the base. This rocks the peppery, solid, possibly a touch rye backed bourbon style (google tells me about 10% rye, makes sense). As a bourbon it is solid but unexceptional.

If you look behind the bourbon notes you then find the subtle orange, mixed with cocktail bitters, all which make for understated but highly unusual notes for this odd bourbon. It feels slightly closed and dusty as well, over a thick and slightly treacle feel, yet also somehow smooth body,

Then, as mentioned and you knew I was going to come back to this, we have those minty notes – an oddly vegetable meets fresh peppermint to savoury green leaves style thing. It is all interesting, all unusual, all makes me take my time and examine it, and all makes it one I would not really return to after. It could be a good character elsewhere, but the savoury vegetable like elements of it really stick here.

I mean, it is a fascinating mix that takes a standard bourbon and spins something very different out and makes it interesting – but for the price I need more than interesting. Glad I tried, would not try again.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Oddly I thought bourbon had to be entitrely aged in fresh oak, but this is listed as bourbon and is finished in Orange Curacao cask, so I may be wrong. Anyway, this have been made in memory of the deceased master distiller Parker Beam and is the 12th edition of their releases under that name, each with a different take. I think some money from each bottle sold goes to a charity linked with how the master distiller passed away, but I’ve been having a hard time finding out exactly which charity by googling. Let me know if you know please.

Lux Row – Rebel Yell: Small Batch Reserve (American Bourbon Whiskey: 45.3% ABV)

Visual: Deep thick, darkened gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Pepper. Vanilla. Rye crackers. Heather. Moss. A menthol, minty edge – minty chewing gum. Water adds hot fudge cake.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Rye crackers. Peppery. Slight alcohol over time. Dry fudge. Water adds sweet fudge. Subtle orange crème. Raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Subtle white then red grapes.

Finish: Vanilla. Muesli. Peppery. Rye crackers. Water makes more peppery. Fudge. Light grapes.

Conclusion: You know, usually I find American whiskey, especially bourbon, doesn’t play to well with water. From experience drinking bourbon in the USA I see that ice is popular, but generally for me, water doesn’t do a whole lot.

This bourbon is the counter argument to that idea. Neat it is, well, a bourbon. Rye cracker notes and peppery character puts it on the spicier end of the spectrum, and the alcohol is smooth making it a well made bourbon, but generally it has that same vanilla sweetness base and nothing really stands out. I was actually fairly bored with it, and ready to give it a kicking in the notes, but I wasn’t 100% sure. There were hints. Just hints of something more. There was a strange minty menthol edge to aroma, slight dry fudge in the body. Hints, and not great by themselves but still hints.

Water takes those hints and makes them really come out. Sweet creamy fudge, red and white grape notes. In fact the red grape notes make for what I would swear was sherry ageing notes if for the fact that would not be allowed for a bourbon. It comes across as sweeter and richer notes under the smooth body. Now you have the spicier notes against rich sweetness, fresh notes against sweet grapes. Now I don’t want to emphasise the influence of these new elements too much here, they are but backing notes, but they are a great complement to what has come before.

Now there are still a few sticking points – the finish is a bit dry and a bit overly peppery, but generally this is a good bourbon. With water anyway – so yeah, use water, it is worth it. If you can live with a sub par finish the rest of this is pretty darn good.

Background: So, the “Rebel Yell” was a battle cry by confederate soldiers. Awkward. To not put a too subtle point on it, the confederacy were fucking pricks. It is also a song by Billy Idol which is a bit meh, but not the confederacy, so looks amazing in comparison. Apparently this bourbon was popularised a lot by Billy Idol and Keith Richards – I’ve not heard a lot about it, but it has been in the general background of a bunch of Bourbon discussion so I thought it would be nice to give it a try. This is a wheated bourbon, and was found at Independent Spirit. I went with Rise Against: Appeal To Reason for music while drinking. Not as good as Endgame as an album but definitely one of my preferred Rise Against albums.

Hair Of The Dog: Adam From The Woods 2018 (USA: American Strong Ale: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Slight rim of bubbles but no head.

Nose: Figs. Raisins. Brandy snaps. Chocolate liqueur. Slight black liquorice. Plums. Stewed apricot. Thick.

Body: Smooth. Highland whisky. Cocoa. Figs. Plums. Chocolate liqueur. Liquorice. Bourbon. Vanilla. Chocolate cake. Slight smoke. Slight oak. Coffee cake.

Finish: Cocoa dust. Liquorice. Chocolate liqueur. Chocolate cake. Coffee cake. Smoke.

Conclusion: Ok, wow, I didn’t expect the time in the oak to change the beer so much. It is still amazing but is now such a different beer. Not that you could tell that from the aroma. At this point it is everything you loved from Adam turned up to 11. Dark fruit. Chocolate and spirit soaked notes. Just lovely.

The body is where it really changes. Even smoother than the original beer, giving a lighter mouthfeel, with none of the nicely frothy filling mouthfeel of standard Adam. Instead it comes across like a mix between chocolate liqueur and barley wine that reminds me slightly of Hair Of The Dog’s Matt. It takes few sips for the flavour to build and get grip, but boy, when it does you are in for a treat.

Lots of smooth chocolate, dark fruit, smoothed with vanilla from the oak ageing and a mix of whisky and bourbon notes that go into cocoa and coffee cake notes. A mix of the barrel ageing, the base beer, and newly developed notes. As time goes on it builds up a welcome heavier feel, giving extra umph to all you get.

So, is it better than standard Adam? Not quite. It lacks some of the complexity, such as the tobacco like notes you get from a young Adam, or the real creaminess of an old Adam – great as this beer is, the smoother style leans away from my personal preference and with it loses some of the complexity. Still that is a personal thing, and I still love the beer. Definitely grab it if you can, and if the smoother style is for you, this may end up being an all time classic for you.

Background: All these years on Hair Of The Dog is still one of my favourite breweries, and Hair of The Dog Adam is in my top 5 greatest beers. Especially if it has been aged a few years. Only problem is, their beers very rarely leave Oregon so getting hold of them is a tad difficult. Thus, I have to give many thanks To Paula who was on holiday over there and brought me back a bottle of this, a version of Adam that has spent at least three years in a Bourbon barrel. To say I was excited was an understatement. Many thanks! Went with some quality haunting music I haven’t played for a while to go with it: Ritualz – CDR. Still epic haunting electronic tunes.

Heaven Hill: Mellow Corn (USA: Straight Corn Whiskey: 50% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Thick fast streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Vanilla. Buttery popcorn. Gentle alcohol presence. Soft lime. Shredded Wheat. Slight caramel.

Body: Alcohol warmth. Shredded Wheat. Toffee. Vanilla. Lime. Water smooths the alcohol. Crumpets. Soft apple and honey come out.

Finish: Honey. Shredded wheat. Pepper. Alcohol air. Lime. Water adds crumpets and soft apple.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get this out of the way first. This is fairly simple. It has a fairly basic set of flavour notes, and it shows the same notes from the aroma through to the finish. This is not a whiskey to use for close examination, attempts to dissect and analyse, or even one to do an overly long set of tasting notes on.

So, does that mean it is bad? Fuck no.

It is a really a stripped down smooth version of what people first think of when they think American whiskey. It has the vanilla, the caramel, the cereal notes and – on the outer edges of expectations, a light peppery note. The notes are clear, bright and, especially considering it is 50% abv – fairly easy to drink.

There is a slight alcohol burn, but if that worries you, a little water helps get rid of that, and it just makes all the other flavours even more clear. Even more than that the water adds just the slightest crumpet style savoury note and pushes the lime touch just slightly stronger – just a few tiny rounding notes that is all this needed to be solidly satisfying.

Its main strength is that it is so easy to drink – yet feels like it has a slight weight behind it, like a weightier take on the Irish whiskey style – it is smooth, but nowhere near as light as the average Irish character. It is sweet and honeyed in that slight extra weight. It is a great one for just relaxing with and completely different to what I usually enjoy. Simple and stripped down, normally that would put me off, but is is so enjoyable that I am glad I have a bottle.

The quality whisky to have while relaxing with friends and pouring freely. Not complex, but I guess not everything has to be.

Background: Holy shit how ugly is this bottle? It looks like artificial mass produces squeeze bottle mustard. And that is the most polite description that came to mind. However, I’ve never tried a straight corn whiskey before, and the more I find out about American whiskey, the more I realise there is a huge range there I have only started to tap. So I grabbed a bottle from independent Spirit to give it a go. Expected some fun, party times when drinking, so put on Andrew W.K. – I Get Wet. Time to PARTY HARD!

Firestone Walker: Luponic Distortion: Vol 11 (USA: IPA: 5.9% ABV)

Visual: Light pale yellow. Medium white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Guava. Crisp hops. Light hop oils. Light bitterness. Soft banana chewy sweets. Soft lemon sherbet. Light grapes.

Body: Bready hop character and gritty bitterness. Lemon hard sweet mixed with lemon sherbet. Light cardboard. Dry. Grapefruit.

Finish: Gritty bitterness. Fluffy hop feel. Grapefruit. Dry pineapple. Lemon sherbet. Dried and salted lemon.

Conclusion: This is a pretty dry IPA – well attenuated with a growling, bitter hop character over that. There is a slightly rough feel at times from the combination – slightly gritty – but generally it just provides a drinkable dry feel that works well as a base.

The aroma promises sweet fruit to go along with that – guava and banana sweet notes that, if present, would offset the dry style. Thus it was a bit of a shock when the main body actually gives tart lemon and grapefruit notes, giving a mildly puckering note to go with the dry body. Initially quite sherbety it soon becomes like dry, salted lemon. Again it complements the dry style, but does nothing to offset the rougher notes that came with that.

It feels like it could do with another flavour string added to the bow. The tart lemon and dry body is a nice base for a beer – good hop character, good tartness, but doesn’t go anywhere from there and keeps running into those rough spots.

Good, but not one I would recommend as there are so many other better IPAs out there. A good base that they should return to and experiment with, but not stand out for us drinkers. Yet.

Background: I’m a big fan of Firestone Walker – they’ve been bought up by Duvel Moortgat but the quality doesn’t seem to have changed. So, good for them. What first attracted me to them was their awesome IPAs, so when I saw this experimental series IPA at Independent Spirit I grabbed it to give it a go. From a quick google it uses Australian, German and USA hops, but I couldn’t find which. Ah well.

Ironfire: Synner Hoppy Pale Ale (USA: American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Very large mounded white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Clear main body.

Nose: Musty hops. Some charred and wet wood notes. Apple. Greenery.

Body: Apple. Pineapple. Slight cardboard. Hop bitterness. Grapefruit. Slight hop oils. Slight peach.

Finish: Hop bitterness and charring. Malt toffee. Peppery. Grapefruit. Hop oils. Slight peach. Choc toffee.

Conclusion: This is another one that slowly grew on me after a very rough start. Or more correctly a rough finish. Also a rough start. I’ll get to that in a moment. Anyway, let’s start at the top.

So, to put it bluntly, the aroma is a bit shit. Slightly musty and slightly charred, with not a huge amount going on. Now this could be because the hops they used fade fast and it takes a while for USA beer to reach the UK, or maybe it was always shit. I may never know.

The first sip is ok – a mix of fresh apple and tart pineapple and grapefruit notes. Its got a slight cardboard style to it, but uses the tart and fresh notes well enough to mostly push past that. Mostly. Then you get a charred and rough finish which is just not welcome. It is slightly pepper, but in general it is not showing the choice hops to their best – instead giving a slight rough hop burn. An unexpected but not entirely unwelcome note here is a slight malt toffee notes which calls to a sweeter APA than this which generally has an out of the way malt character in the main body.

The finish never really recovers from this – it gains a bit more malt and chocolate to balance it so it is less ruinous, but I would never go so far as to call it good. What does improve is the main body which steps up with soft peach roughing, more of the appealing tart notes and a better defined hop character. All of which are much appreciated.

So, still not great top and tail, but the improved main body means it isn’t the complete write off it originally seems. Wow I am killing it with faint praise today. Not one I’d recommend but it has its good points.

Background: Managed to get a chance to drop over to Corks Of Cotham in Bristol recently so grabbed a few beers while I was over there. They have been around since before craft beer became huge and have always had a good selection, so was nice to drop back there again. I mainly grabbed this one as the can looked pretty – similarly to keep in theme I put on White Zombie – Astro Creep 2000 while drinking. It all makes sense. From the can’s description this is dry hopped with Citra. A good hop, hope it pays off here.

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