Tag Archive: Wales


Tiny Rebel: Siren: Dark Cherry and Chocolate Barley Wine (Wales: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Deep, cloudy brown. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Coca. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Mild black coffee.

Body: Black cherry. Bourbon biscuits. Slightly light mouthfeel. Liquorice. Bourbon whiskey. Vanilla. Slight rye whiskey. Brown sugar. Slight brown bread. Slight chocolate liqueur. Earthy bitterness.

Finish: Black-forest gateaux. Bourbon biscuits. Watery coffee. Rye whiskey. Alcohol air. Liquorice.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m going to open up with the side of this where it is weaker. This is slightly watery on the mouthfeel, which is bloody surprising considering it rocks in at over 10% abv. It isn’t terribly weak, but just slightly thin at the edges, while letting through some of the rawer alcohol notes in the finish. So not light in a super smooth fashion unfortunately. It is definitely lacking a few points in the polish side of things for sure.

So, on a more positive note, this uses the cocoa to chocolate notes well, adding a strong chocolate character while still letting the barley wine come through so it doesn’t just end up feeling like an imperial stout. It mixes well with the brown sugar notes to make a kind of Belgian dubbel meets barley wine kind of thing.

If there is an upside to the rawer alcohol character it is that it results in some bourbon and rye whiskey like notes that makes it feel like this has been barrel aged, (which, while not something they have done for this beer I know is something they plan for the future) though not with the smoothness barrel ageing brings. It does make me genuinely intrigued to see what the barrel aged version of this would be like.

The black cherry (or dark cherry) could do with a bit more prominence here. It is nice but is a gentle backing note to the chocolate. In fact the lighter body seems to make a lot of the non cocoa ingredient flavours seem slightly muted.

So, an ok barley wine with a few nice notes, but definitely needs another run though with a bit more polish.

Background: Final beer from the Tiny Rebel seventh anniversary collaboration box set and I’ve been saving this one for last. I’m a big fan of barley wines and despair that they don’t seem to get as much love as the Imperial Stouts, so this, made with cocoa nibs and dark cherry definitely caught my attention. Totally going against expected mood music for this, went a bit retro with Radiohead – O.K. Computer. It just scratched an itch of awkward, moody music I wanted right then. The box was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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Tiny Rebel: Yeastie Boys: Pomegranate and Molasses Belgian Strong Ale (Wales: Belgian Strong Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark ruddy red to caramel brown body. Inch of creamy browned head.

Nose: Turmeric and coriander. Earthy hops. Crushed peppercorns. Subtle caramel. Yeast funk. Heavy molasses notes. Brown bread.

Body: Chewy. Pomegranate. Mango. Tart apples to grapes. Dried banana. Slightly cloying mouthfeel. Sour-dough. Dry cinnamon.

Finish: Mango juice. Cherry pocked biscuits. Pomegranate. Muted cinnamon. Molasses. Sour cream.

Conclusion: This is a bloody weird beer. For one the pomegranate flavour is right up front and in your face. I always find pomegranate an unusual flavour in itself, but here it is layered over earthy spices, plus a hard to describe spice that I would best call “dry cinnamon”. It calls to spiced tea, just with beer instead of tea, if that makes any sense at all.

The feel is thick, with almost a savoury equivalent of cloying note, backed by sour dough and a grip that makes the flavours thick and clingy. I will say that the actual Belgian strong ale flavours feel lost under everything else. It ends up giving a texture, a funk feel, but not a flavour to match. That is all provided by the extra ingredients.

Early in it felt like it was trying to do too many things at once and felt unbalanced and mixed up. As time goes on it balances better but still feels too led by the special ingredients for me. I don’t mind pomegranate but with the thicker mouthfeel the flavour seemed to grip and hold on longer into the finish than I would like. It’s a flavour that I enjoy in the moment but gets wearing if it sticks around.

Lots of interesting elements in this one, but definitely more interesting than enjoyable for me. I love that the experimented, and like the idea, but it doesn’t quite work as a beer for me.

Background: Second to last of the seven collaboration beers made to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Tiny Rebel brewing. This is an odd one, as the name indicates it is made with pomegranate and molasses, to make what they describe as a Middle Eastern Belgian strong ale. Before drinking I had no idea what that would be like, but was intrigued. The collaboration box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I put on Throwing Muses’ self titled album while drinking as I wanted some gentle but quality indie pop to relax with.

Tiny Rebel: DEYA: NEIPA (Wales: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear apricot. Large white head. Becomes hazy on second pour.

Nose: Apple. Crisp hops. Soft apricot. Slight eggplants.

Body: Eggplant. Slightly oily and resinous hops. Prickly bitterness. Quite savoury. Apricot skin. Grapefruit.

Finish: Resinous. Smoke. Slight oak. Light grapefruit. Earthy bitterness. Apricot skin. Dried mango.

Conclusion: Call me a mad, style enforcing, dictatorial fool, but aren’t New England IPAs supposed to be cloudy? I thought that was there whole thing? Am I in bizzaroverse today?

Those were my first thoughts on pouring this – as you can see from the photo, this is crystal clear. Or more correctly was crystal clear. There was still some beer left in the can due to the large head, so I gave it a quick swirl and pour and – there we go, it is now just slightly hazy. Guess the sediment had all gone to the bottom, I was worried for a minute.

Now I am in a kind of bind on this one – It really doesn’t match most NEIPAs in style points. It it clear on first pour, has oily bitterness, has low amounts of fruit character, etc. However, as most people are aware, I am not a huge fan of the standard NEIPA style, so should I be praising it or damning it for lack of style fidelity? Meh, let’s just look at it as the beer in itself it is and see how it goes.

It is quite .. savoury. That is not what I expected. Kind of eggplant to general vegetable heaviness. This does make me wonder if I got a bum can, especially with the clean first pour. The flavours are very dull and just subside into a lacklustre bitterness haze. It feels like it aims for …sigh.. dank, but ends up staid instead. The fruitiness notes you get are a dried apricot skin kind of note, but with none of the juiciness you should get below the skin.

Giving the beer a good swirl does help a bit, bringing out some grapefruit notes, but still the bitterness of the beer feels weird. It is something I have seen in some other cryo hopped beers, a kind of bittiness that seems linked with the vegetable character in a way that doesn’t work for me.

So, Yeah, this is not the NEIPA for me.

Background: It is well established I am not a huge New England IPA fan. However enough people have done a twist on the base style that I have found examples I enjoy, so was not too worried when I went into this DEYA, Tiny Rebel collaboration – the fifth of the seven collaboration beers they did for their seventh birthday. Said most that I have to say on the box set of collaboration beers in my last few posts on those beers, so all I will add is I put on The Eels, Useless Trinkets album which collects their b-sides and odd releases, to listen to while drinking. Not The Eels best work but it is quite soothing to listen to.

Tiny Rebel: Neon Raptor: Tropical Sorbet IPA (Wales: IPA: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale and just slightly hazy lemon juice colour. Very small bubbled carbonation and a huge white to yellow loose bubbled head.

Nose: Tart grapes. Lemon juice to lemon sorbet. White chunks from tinned tropical fruit. Mild hop character. Crushed palma violets. Grapefruit.

Body: Tangerine. Tart lemon juice. Pink grapefruit. Slight flour like hop character.

Finish: Tangerine. Pink grapefruit. Tart grapes. Crushed palma violets. Pineapple. Standard grapefruit. Mild hop prickle.

Conclusion: Ok, since I have a few spare moments, I would probably argue against this being classified as an IPA, but mainly as an intellectual exercise rather than any genuine gripe. Kind of just trying to work out exactly where the line lies between IPA and not. It is far from the worst offender for not matching style guidelines but it is an interesting one. What do I mean? Well what seems unusual is is the sub 5% abv which, ok has been taken by session IPA but this is definitely not a session IPA. It has low bitterness, which yes is used by NEIPAs, but seriously, screw NEIPAs. It has a mild hop character, and unlike the lower bitterness IPAs I have encountered before the malt character is nearly completely out of the way. The main thing is that it obviously has had a lot of hops used late on to make it very tart and fruit, but nothing is used for bitterness, hop character or similar. Feels more like a very tart hopped APA to me, but anyway.

For the closest IPA comparison it reminds me of those IPAs in style about five years back, utterly smashed with Nelson Sauvin and similar New Zealand hops creating a very tart experience, but with much more out of the way malt styling. On a side note I very much miss those IPAs, I loved the tart, hoppy bombs. Everyone seems to use Nelson Sauvin much lighter these days. Anyway, yeah this beer is like that but with less malt and far more variety in the tart fruit notes.

So, this is very fresh and enjoyable- pushing grapes, lemon, grapefruit and tangerine notes for a great tart medley of an experience. It just lays those tart notes on moment after moment while the actual hop character, when it shows itself, comes across as a subtle flour texture kind of thing – there is no bitterness of hop prickle here. Hence my long ramble on the IPA style above. However, if you ignore the style expectations this is a mouth puckering refresher of a beer and very good at it too.

A tart as heck, kind of IPA if you squint, beer. Please, other people, do this level of tart hops more please. Also, Tiny Rebel please do a variant of this beer, but with more hop character please – that would rock my world.

Background: The …. fourth I think beer from Tiny Rebel’s seventh anniversary box. This one with Neon Raptor, who I love the visual aesthetic of, but their beers have never quite jumped out at me yet. Not much to add really, seems a tad low abv for an IPA, can looks very bright and cheerful. So of course I put on the completely not cheery and angry early era Gallows albums to listen to while drinking. The past few weeks politics bullshit may have left me with a lot of angst and anger to blow off musically.

Tiny Rebel: Magic Rock: Citra Session IPA (Wales: Session IPA: 4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach colour. Moderate creamy off white head.

Nose: Apples. Soft peach. Cream. Creamy strawberry touch. Soft pineapple. Custards. Some sugar dusting.

Body: Bready. Gritty bitterness. Egg plant. Apple. Dry cake sponge. Milky.

Finish: Cake sponge. Sugar dusting. Gritty bitter hops. Apple. Egg plant. Creamy. Unleavened bread. Pepper.

Conclusion: This … is so close to being a kind of ok session IPA. Yes that is intentional damning with faint praise. With the exception of Beavertown’s excellent Neck Oil I just don’t seem to get along with session IPAs. They’ve proven to just not be my kind of thing. Thing is, that one that I do enjoy means I keep trying new ones in the eternal hope that I will find another one I enjoy.

(Update: I have just looked at my old notes, and there are more session IPAs there I enjoyed than I initially remembered. The bad ones must just really stick in my mind)

Now, the aroma on this one is actually spot on – Peach, soft apples, slightly creamy with a gentle hop character. It promises a gentle yet fruity IPA, but at a low session abv. That lying fucking aroma.

The body is kind of milky, but despite that it generally suffers from the overly dry and gritty feel that seems to curse so many session IPAs. The hops here are robust, if – as mentioned- gritty, but the beer feels kind of hollow at the core. Where is that lovely fruit complexity that the aroma promised?

There are some hints – apple notes, creamy notes, but generally a peppery, dry, unleavened bread kind of character dominates. This comes up so many times I have to ask…is this deliberate? Is this actually how the style is supposed to taste and I just don’t like the style, as seriously it does nothing for me.

Anyway, another sub optimal session IPA that promises so much and fails to deliver.

Background: The third of Tiny Rebel’s collaboration beer pack for their seventh anniversary. On opening up the back I find that there is a huge picture to colour in with the provided crayons. Silly, but it made me smile. Seriously need some smiles in the current political climate is all I’m saying. Anyway, I’m not generally a fan of the session IPA style, so, yeah bias warning on this one. Not much else to add, grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on Slipknot’s self titled album while drinking – I had recently found out the lyrics to “Get This” were absolutely nothing like what I had been thinking they were over years of listening to it, so they were back in my mind.

Tiny Rebel: Fourpure: DDH Pils (Wales: Pilsner: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale bananaish yellow. Vary large crisp white head. Clear. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Crisp, wheaty hop character. Soft sweet lemon. Vanilla. Cake sponge.

Body: Soft vanilla. Mild peach and tangerine. Slick and smooth. Popcorn. Slightly floral. Mild but gripping bitter hops. Cake sponge. Light pineapple.

Finish: Good hop bitterness. Slightly gritty. Wet sheen. Light lime. Slightly oily. Slight pineapple.

Conclusion: So, to open up with, this has a thicker body than I expected. It isn’t huge, not a treacly syrupy thing, but has that touch extra grip that gives the hops have got more room to roam. It felt a tad closer to a bohemian pilsner in mouthfeel, just with a different take on the hop usage.

Early on there are some interesting flavours in there – soft peach and tangerine against a gentle hop bitterness that lets the pils feel do its thing and slip down your throat easily. As time goes on the hop bitterness rises and starts to dominate.

It is still easy to drink, but with a good hop bitterness punch to it now; That said, I miss the fruit character that is lost under that higher bitterness. The hop bitterness is satisfying but simple. I preferred the balance and mix of characteristics early on. Still, while I prefer the earlier character, at least the beer has some decent progression to it so it doesn’t get dull quickly.

Even late on a light pineapple character enters the mix. Still not as good as at the start, but again a good progression note and adds a bit more complexity back into the mix. So, it is decent – the main real flaw is in the finish, which can get a bit gritty in its bitterness; Not ruinous, but it results in a weaker experience than the rest of the beer.

A solid pils, works best in its first half, but still decent at the end. A solid second of the seven Tiny Rebel anniversary beers.

Background: Ok, I wasn’t going to get this – a box set of seven beers, seven collaborations, in a box set to celebrate Tiny Rebel’s seventh anniversary. I generally don’t get boxed sets like this, I prefer to grab the exact beers I want rather than a collection. Same reason I don’t use the subscription posted to your door beer set thing much. Then I tried their 0.5% abv not an Imperial Stout thing and it was fucking awesome. So, yeah I own the box now. It also includes a glass (shown in the photo), plus pencils and party balloons, because, yeah, of course! Decided to go for their Pils first – not a style that you see craft beered up as much as, say, IPAs so was an interesting one. Yes this was grabbed from Independent Spirit again – let’s face it, when you have a great selection on your doorstep it does tend to become your go to. I put on Throwing Muses self titled album while drinking, some gentle but high quality indie pop tunes.

Tiny Rebel: Big Drop: Imperial Mocha Vanilla Shot Stout (Wales: Low abv Stout: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large beige head.

Nose: Milky coffee. Massive amounts of espresso coffee. Vanilla. Rich roasted coffee. More rounded coffee notes. Basically a lot of coffee. Milky chocolate. Hot chocolate drinks. Roasted nuts.

Body: Milky coffee. Vanilla. Quite light texture. Creamy. Lightly bitter coca. Sulphur. Tannins.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Vanilla infused coffee. Bitter chocolate cake. Slight sulphur. Cashew nuts. Tannins.

Conclusion: Ok, Tiny Rebel claims this is the low abv equivalent of a big 12% abv imperial stout. It is not like a 12% abv stout. Ok, let’s correct that, it doesn’t have the feel of a 12% abv beer. For all the good work they do with the flavour they just can’t duplicate the viscosity of such a high abv beer without the equivalent malt load.

However, with that out of the way, if you had told me this was a 4-5% abv stout made with coffee, cocoa and vanilla? Yep, I would have believed you easily. Beyond that I would have happy recommended it as being a very good example of that style, a top notch one even. I even tested it by letting my mates try it, and they had no idea of the abv (only single blind test – I was aware of its low abv, my mates were not). This is an utterly amazing low abv beer and would be a very good standard stout, that is bloody impressive.

It has a slightly light mouthfeel, but offset by good use of a creamy note and packs in vanilla and restrained chocolate in the body before heading out into a very coffee filled finish. Now good as that is, it did not manage to live up to the aroma which gives just epic levels of coffee. I mean, based on the aroma alone you would expect this to be competing with full abv Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – unfortunately, good as it is, it is not quite that good!

The main hint of the low abv style of it is a slight tannin character, but thankfully hear that actually works very well with the stout style, turning what could be a flaw in most low abv beers into a positive instead.

Ok, yeah, this is competing with Big Drop’s Pale Ale for best low alcohol beer ever. Pale is a better anytime beer, which is often what you want from a low abv beer – however for a beer to examine, have range of flavours, and just blowing away your expectations, this is the best low abv beer I have encountered. Genuinely impressed.

Background: So, for their 7th anniversary the ever fun Tiny Rebel did a box pack of collaborations they did with various breweries. This one especially caught my attention – in collaboration with Big Drop, the master of low abv beers they did what they pitch as a low abv Imperial Stout. Yeah, silly name, but gets across the gist of what they are trying to do. This was made with oats, rye, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder…ok the text is really hard to read on the can, it’s blue on slightly darker blue. I give up. It is made with ingredients. Special ingredients. Probably vanilla pods, maybe coffee beans. I dunno. Anyway, went with some punk music for this big/small beer – Propagandhi – Victory Lap.

Loka Polly: Citra Double IPA (Wales: IIPA: 8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy bruised apricot to lemon. Large bubbled white head.

Nose: Pineapple. Apple. Crisp hops. Light bitterness. Soft vanilla.

Body: Thick. Huge apple. Honey. Custard. Pineapple. Peach. Solid bitterness. Oily. Passion-fruit. Light sour cream. Banana touches. Strawberry comes out over time.

Finish: Peach juice. Pineapple. Vanilla toffee. Hop oils. Greenery and bitterness. Oily passion-fruit. Guava. Sour cream and chives. Good bitterness.

Conclusion: This is an oily, thick beer. A fact that surprised me at the aroma was all tart pineapple and crisp hops, fooling me into thinking this was going to be a light, fresh thing – not the oily flavour bomb that it actually is.

It isn’t full on “dank” as they say, it is more juicy, with the oily character it mixes to make a thick fruit syrup and oily bitterness thing that results in a bursting with flavour, well contrasting beer.

Flavour-wise it leans heavily on the pineapple freshness and fresh cut apple sweetness to get the job done – I didn’t know hops were capable of sapience enough to link naming similarities of pineapple and apple and to use it to give itself a theme, but apparently it does here! There is peach and even banana sweetness behind that – seriously, jokes aside, I didn’t realise that, as a single hop, Citra could deliver this much range. I can definitely see why it has such a reputation as a hop now.

This is wonderfully full flavoured, with lovely thickness and brilliant oiliness. A slow drinking weight of a beer – no alcohol burn, smooth but weight enough that you know every inch of its abv despite that.

This is very impressive – uses Citra better than nearly any IPA I have encountered. I’ve got to check out more beers from this brewery.

Background: This is one of those beers where I don’t know much about the beer, or the brewery – they just caught my attention as a new brewery to try. Went for the Citra DIPA – I didn’t really get Citra as a hop when I first encountered it, but running into it again and again over the years has made me see exactly how well it can be used, so this seemed a fairly safe jumping on point for the brewery. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I was in a pretty good mood when I drank this – Was just back from watching Deadpool 2 and put on some Andrew WK to match my party mood!

Tiny Rebel: Captain Insano (Wales: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach skin colour. Large mounded white head.

Nose: Dried apricot. Gherkins. Muggy, thick hop character and hop oils. Slight cucumber. Dried banana. Vanilla ice cream to raspberry ripple.

Body: Thick. Kiwi. Kumquat. Key lime. Hop oils. Moderate bitterness. Peach. Green hops. Resinous. Stewed apples. Custard cream biscuits. Nettles. Muggy hop character. Stewed banana.

Finish: Fudge. Kiwi. Hop oils – oily sheen. Apple pie. Pears. Nettles. Thick hop character.

Conclusion:This is thick and full of green, resinous, oily hops. In fact it very much reminds me of being around people with bags of cannabis (As always a disclaimer, I’ve never actually tried cannabis so this is purely from being around friends – I make no claim that it is like the actual cannabis experience). It is full of thick muggy hops, a mix of very fresh feeling and very pungent character dropped straight into a fresh green fruit dominated body. There are slight tart and fresh elements, but mainly the beer follows the thick, almost oppressively weighty style. Which I mean in a good way. Heavy laden flavours in every sip.

There is a hell of a lot of malt in the base, and normally that would be dominating the beer, but here the weight of the muggy hops actually shoves it to the back. You get custard cream biscuits, fudge and vanilla ice creamy from the malt, but it easily becomes second string to the high levels of green feeling hop action. It still kind of works – neither becoming too heavy or too obvious. It is as if by having two heavyweights smashing against each other they cancel each other out.

Probably one of the least subtle ((I)I)IPAS I’ve ever encountered – all of the stewed fruits, all of the hops, all of the malt, everything is desperately trying to be seen from the first sip. Sure as hell isn’t dull.

One of the rawest (however many “I”s it has) IPAs I’ve had of this abv range – I have run into rawer low abv ones, but this manages to match all the raw hop exuberance of an IPA with the massive malt load of an IIPA. Far from a refined, every element mastered, experience – but an enjoyable super enthusiastic hop bomb. Very raw and very enjoyable.

Background: Grabbed this one for two reasons. 1) Tiny Rebel’s Hadouken beer is very nice, so going for a triple IPA from them sounded like a fun thing to do. 2) Insane artwork pink can looked so cool! As always I am kind of easy to sell to. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the epic metal influenced heaviness that is Buckethead’s Cuckoo Clocks Of Hell album. It seemed appropriately heavy and odd for the beer. I had just got back from seeing the stage play of “The Addams Family” had been a bit of a let down – they really didn’t seem to get what was the appeal of the original characters. Ah well.

tiny-rebel-stay-puft

Tiny Rebel: Stay Puft (Wales: Porter: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate creamy brown head.

Nose: Chocolate milkshake. Creamy. Kind of marshmallow like. Vanilla.

Body: Smooth mouthfeel. Dry roasted nuts. Popcorn. Light bitter chocolate. Vanilla. Quite dry. Gelatine sweets. Sour dough.

Finish: Lactose. Chocolate milkshake. Light roasted character. Unpopped popcorn kernels. Roasted character grows over time. Slight bitter coffee.

Conclusion: Since this is described as a marshmallow porter, I have to admit I was expecting a sweeter beer than this.

My first encounter with this gave an impression of it actually being a bit thin, so very much unlike those fluffy marshmallows. However a bit of time definitely let it gain in body, but with that also seemed to become drier in taste. Despite heavy amounts of vanilla in the flavours, the dryness actually seems to call to the drier Irish stout interpretations in a lot of ways – with that vanilla laid atop that in stark contrast.

There is a softer chocolate and the aforementioned vanilla – in fact there is even what can be interpreted as marshmallow in a pinch – if you are feeling generous. So the needed flavours are there, but I find it off that the base is so grounded – with cereal like feel and an unpopped popcorn kind of character. Which I guess would just be corn. Hopefully you get what I mean.

There is also what feels like a lactose touch to the texture (Though I do not think lactose was used in making this) and that gives it some of the mallow like contrast it needs – but never quite enough to feel like its namesake, So, it does not really meet my impressions of what a marshmallow porter would be. So, is it good as a beer in itself?

It is a solid, quite dry porter, with sweet notes laced through – kind of halfway between a sweet stout and a dry stout – but in a porter. Pretty easy to drink despite the grounded character, but slightly over grounded in that base flavour for me to put it as a special beer. Apparantly there is a nitro version of this, and that may give it that bit bigger texture I think it needs to work – I will keep an eye out for it and let you know if it works out if I find it.

Still, I am sure that such a harmless thing from my childhood could never destroy me.

Apart from the alcohol. That is a mild poison.

A tasty, tasty poison.

Background: Ok, I bought this because of the picture of Stay Puft with the Tiny Rebel mascot’s head. I am very simple to sell to and a huge ghostbusters fan. Drunk at Small Bar, where I discussed with the staff on how exactly does a marshmallow porter work? It is made with marshmallow according to the ingredients. Are they added early on to ferment with? Is it made with actual mallow plant stuff? I have no idea. Anyway, one I loved the idea of.

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