Tag Archive: Wales


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.

mad-dog-its-all-propaganda

Mad Dog: It’s All Propaganda (Wales: Black IPA: 5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Large creamy heads. Not quite opaque in body.

Nose: Bitter cocoa. Light charred notes. Bitter hops. Lemongrass and a touch of key lime. Fresh wet lettuce. Roasted nuts and cashew nuts. Fresh doughnut dough. Coffee.

Body: Lemon sorbet. Malt chocolate and chocolate liqueur. Kiwi. Lemon milkshake.

Finish: Lemongrass. Bitter chocolate. Charring touch. Lemon sorbet. Kiwi. Light apricot. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: Did you say Sorachi Ace was used in making this? Instant five stars. Would drink again! More seriously, these hops work much better in a Black IPA than I originally thought they would. I had bought this more out of whimsy than thinking it would actually work.

The malt base is definitely present, but not too heavy – kind of chocolate, bitter coffee and slightly doughnut dough like. Those elements show a lot more later on though, as the hops stop doing their thing. Thus the finish especially feels quite roasted stout like, sure, but the first sip is more than malt base mixed with fresh lemongrass and a kind of lemon milkshake creaminess, followed by a nice hop punch. You are always very much aware of the darker set of notes, so your tastebuds feel slightly confused as it tries to reconcile a lemon creamy notes with bitter chocolate and hoppiness. The conflict seems less as time goes on, with the savoury lemongrass as closer match to the black IPA base.

If I was to pick a main criticism it is that, based on expectations of the style, the base feels closer to a general British dark ale than specifically a Black IPA – probably due to the comparatively restrained abv for a BIPA of 5% ABV. So, best view it as a hopped dark ale than a BIPA if you are thinking about if you want to grab it.

Generally, taken as itself, taken as that British dark ale with a bit more hops, it gives a nice bunch of freshness early on, and a solid darker set of notes to dominate the back, with the savoury a line throughout.

So, fun for me, not dominated by Sorachi Ace, but enhanced by it. Not super refined as a beer, and not closely tied to BIPA expectations. However for general drinking I enjoyed the hell out of it. Could it be made more polished? Sure. As is it is a fun one though.

Background: I grabbed this from The Beer Emporium, it hit a few of the things that make a beer interesting to me -new brewery on me, sorachi ace hops, Black IPA. Nice mix of stuff to grab my eye. Especially as the hop choice is a very odd one for a BIPA. I try to grab beers from over in Wales as well – they don’t get much of a look out a lot of the time, but there is some very good stuff there. Drunk while listening to a mix of old school Offspring albums. Used to be a huge fan of them during my teen years, no so much a fan of their recent stuff. I may just be getting old.

Brewdog Celt Home Of The Fruitcakes
Brewdog: Celt Experience: Home Of The Fruitcakes (Wales: Fruit Saison: 6% ABV)

Visual: Strawberry red to peach. White dash at the edges but no real head. Clear. Almost looks like rose wine in light.

Nose: Strawberry yogurt. Raspberry ripple ice cream. Cream. Ice cream syrup. Peach.

Body: Sparkling and evanescent feel. Some oak. Light strawberry and peach. Slight funky yeast feel. Light grapes.

Finish: Cheese puffs. Dry oak. Wet air. Funky yeast. Peach. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: You know, for collabfest this year, this is almost normal. By which I mean it is full of peach melba spritzer notes that is in fact a saison. With strawberries. and raspberries.

My definition of normal is fucked.

The aroma is wonderful – creamy and full of varied red fruit notes, mixing to create calls to strawberries and cream and raspberry ripple ice cream. The body is simpler, and less full bodied. It pulls peach elements from somewhere, and I honestly couldn’t tell you where, and uses some of that funky Belgian yeast character in feel to remind you it is a sasion, but doesn’t pull in more of the base saison than that. It means that the beer really doesn’t progress beyond feeling fun – which is not bad thing in itself, but doesn’t make for a classic beer. It manages to avoid a lot of the flaws of similarly fun fruit beers, it never feels cheap or syrupy however it is dominated by a few flavours and doesn’t really round itself out which means it misses its chance to really shine.

As mentioned the base saison really doesn’t push through – you get some rustic character, a bit of funky yeast, but it really doesn’t make the most of that part. It is light fun, and despite not having any peach in it, It does seem like a peach melba or strawberry ice cream beer. Simple and fun, but not much to come back to

So, a fun experience, but not a great one.

Background: Beer six of Collabfest 2014! At this point another drinker joined us as we had a seat spare – I love Brewdog pubs for stuff life this, you get a chance to just chat with fellow craft beer fans. Anyway, this one is a sasion made with raspberry and strawberry with, and- i quote – “a literal ton” of fruit. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

614 Annees

Celt Experience: Saint-Germain: 614 Annees (Wales: Imperial Porter: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Loose off white head.

Nose: Rye. Toffee. Bourbon. Orange zest. Malt chocolate. Peppercorn. Vanilla. Light nuts. Treacle.

Body: Chocolate liquore. Thick. Brown bread or bagel. Molasses. Treacle toffee. Fudge. Rye spice. Sweet orange liquore. Cinnamon. Cream centres.

Finish: Rye. Orange. Dry spice. Light lime sorbet and orange sorbet. Charring. Smoke.

Conclusion: A competitor for the place of awesome cask porter that can go head to head with Bristol United’s Collaboration Smoked Porter. Both are collaboration ales, both porters, though this is a tad stronger, and this uses rye instead of smoked malt.

This thing is smooth, sweet and huge. Even the aroma feels chewable, and the body more so. It mixes molasses, treacle and fudge, with even the spice coming in as sweet cinnamon. You do get hints of the drier rye spice, but far from too harshly, just harsh enough to add a bit of backbone to it.

What brings such joy for this is the unexpected level of chocolate fruit centres you get in the sweetness, light orange and lime in a subtle sorbet style some times, and in line with the thick creaminess of the over the top flavours at other times. The texture definitely helps – it is very creamy, very much a feel that allows the flavour grip. It is like a slightly harsh dessert with smoke and spice.

The treacle and toffee are thick as sin, but they do not overwhelm, there is so much going on. The flavours are complex, from the sweet surface notes, to hints of spice below. There is such great contrast, and such a great feel that you can return to it again and again.

Easily a competitor with Collaboration Smoked Porter. Not session beer, no, a heavy and decadent Celt Experience. They have done themselves proud here. This is lovely.

Background: Last of the three cask ales I reviewed at the Cardiff CAMRA beer festival. I drank more beers after, but I don’t tend to trust my tastebuds enough for a review after three. This big boy I saved for last, a strong porter made with rye and cascade hops. This was made in collaboration with the French craft brewers Saint-Germain, who I don’t think I have run into before. Incidentally this beer fest had a bloody Fosters stand. A busy Fosters stand. My friend, below, shows our shared opinion on this matter.

IFeelSickTonight

Chilliplum Porter

Waen: Chilliplum Porter (Wales: Porter: 6% ABV)

Visual: Dark black with a small browned bubbled head.

Nose: Chilli seed. Coffee. Light spirit. Stewed dates. Malt chocolate.

Body: Chocolate liquore. Warmth if held for a while. Subtle plums. Figs. Bitter chocolate. Raisins. Molasses. Black cherry. A touch of candy floss. Vanilla. Toffee.

Finish: Warmth and chilli seeds. Bitter chocolate. Slight plums comes out. Black berry. Toffee.

Conclusion: My fellow tasters called this “weird”. I feel that I should attempt to be vaguely more professional and descriptive than that. This is an oddly well balanced beer. It uses a very chocolaty porter as the base – nothing too heavy or complex, but tasty enough. The beer is very simple in the aroma, you can get other elements if you dig around, but by that point you risk psychosomatic influences. Simple aroma, but competent enough in what it has.

The plums does its work in the mid body mainly, it is delivered very carefully along with other dark fruit sweetness and some candy sugars. At this point the beer pretty much has no warmth unless you go looking for it, but the fruit side is giving it a range of delicious flavour. The first sip won’t really bring it out, at about the quarter pint point is when I started getting the range of complexities.

Finally the warmth shows itself in the finish. The finish is simple, like the aroma, but warming – never hot- just a pleasant warmth. If you want a burning beer that will challenge you this is not it, the heat is just an element, along with all the others.

The combination of the three elements, base, plum and heat, is odd, but they are balanced excellently against each other. On each sip the weight and sweet fruit dims the heat from the tail end of the last. The three basic elements become a richly complex beer and more than the sum of its parts, and very easily drinkable at that.

I’d say while not the best chilli beer I have had, it is the best balanced, and very delectable.

Background: Second beer of the Cardiff Beer Festival 2014. This one stood out on the list as a self explanatory beer. It has plums. It has chilli. It is a porter. This was drunk while chatting with a few of the fellow festival goers. The guy serving me was enthusiastic about the beers, and due to it not been too busy yet, I was able to have a good chat while considering the options, which was nice.

Millenium Stadium

Ysbrid y Bannau

Brecon: Genesis 3: iii: Ysbrid y Bannau (Wales: English Strong Ale: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Moderate yellow touched bubbled head.

Nose: Stewed banana. Vanilla. Light tart lime. Banoffee. Baileys.

Body: Toffee. Slick and not heavy texture. Lime jelly. Banana. Light oak. Lightly menthol. Gin touch. Banana sandwich (worth mentioning separate from just banana of course!)

Finish: Menthol and mint. Light spirit air. Whisky mash. Bourbon. Earthy bitter. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: So, we have today’s round of “Unexpected words I never thought I would say”. This is like a British bitter AB 14. No, don’t run away, stick with me on this one. I’m not mad. On this anyway.

It has got this very soft banoffee and vanilla flavour, but here it is not delivered in such a syrupy sweet way. This, well I guess it should be a golden ale from the colour, but it’s delivered like a bitter base. It is lightly earthy in that base, but with all those lovely soft elements layered on top. Not as decadent as AB14, but feels more like what you would expect from a beer. Will seem more like a “real” beer to traditionalists. This makes it an easier beer to return to. The oak aged character makes it very smooth, and very easy to drink despite the slightly above average strength for a real ale.

It is very endearing, but like an endearing friend it also has its…. quirks, shall we say? Yes quirks is a good word. There is light menthol greenery, and a spirity, maybe gin like air. Both work against the light dessert bitter feel. Oddly it never affects the smoothness, just the flavour. The spirit is a bit too harsh flavoured, and the greenery tends to tread over the best flavours.

So, quirky, but it is such a cute pint that you can overlook that. As I say, endearing – a lovely mix of base bitter to dessert that you can keep with it, despite its foibles.

A worthy and quirky friend.

Background: This looks to be a very similar beer to “Ysbrid y Ddraig”, both are oak aged golden coloured beers from their descriptions. Maybe they age in different oak? I’m not sure. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to review more cask ales and a beer festival in Cardiff seemed a good time to do so. The fest was in the Millennium Stadium – a hallowed Rugby ground to Welsh fans. being neither Welsh, nor a rugby fan I had never been inside before, therefore I was uniquely not shocked by the lack of grass on the rugby pitch. Instead a bare grey floor was available for the beer stands.

Cardiff Beer Fest

NP10

Tiny Rebel: NP10 (Wales: Abbey Tripel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Clear with a colour like tropical fruit juice. Froths up a bit but the white head does not settle. Some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Yeastie. Dried banana. Fresh white bread. Mango. Candy floss.

Body: Banana. Candy Cane. Watermelon. Apricot. Hard Sweets. Yeastie middle.

Finish: Light bitterness. Dry malt. Pineapple. Yeastie. Candyfloss.

Conclusion: Ok, this is nice, maybe a bit rough around the edges, but, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I prefer a bit of a rough edge to my Belgian style beers, both because it feels closer to the native Belgian interpretations and also because that roughness often provides a lot of charm.

The thing is, that this never goes beyond just nice. It doesn’t use the rough edges to do anything. For that matter it doesn’t even seem to leverage any of the opportunities brought along with its high abv. It doesn’t do anything to push the boat out and make something special. When you have such a high abv, and when you have a roughness to your beer you really need that something special to make it worthwhile.

The elements of the beer are by the numbers Belgian ale. The yeast feel is there, the banana notes, the candy cane and hard sweets. The necessary elements are present, and all nice, if a bit more boozy feeling than it earns, but again none of them shine. The Belgian market is already flooded with very high quality examples of these kind of beers, and this needs something to stand out.

So, I guess in the end it is slightly disappointing. It is nice, but for an event beer and a beer from such a good brewery it doesn’t have any spark. It apes the Belgian style well but does not add anything nor stand alone.

So, not bad, just an underwhelming 10%er.

Background: Tiny Rebel seems to be finally getting the exposure they deserve, showing up around Bath and Bristol, and have their own craft beer bar in Cardiff. This was however found at the old trustworthy Independent Spirit. Tiny Rebels first attempt at a Belgian abbey style I think so I definitely wanted to grab it.

Hadouken

Tiny Rebel: Hadouken (Wales: IPA: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Darkened gold. Massive bubble mound of froth.

Nose: Resin. Hop oils. Grapefruit. Fluffy hops. Pineapple. Custard cream biscuits. Wheat fields. Toffee. Lime cheesecake. Nettles.

Body: Rock solid bitterness. Vanilla. Hops. Passion fruit. Thick yeast character. Key lime. Bitter milk and digestives. Solid malt. Brown bread undertones. Egg plants.

Finish: Rough hops and bitterness. Resin. Vanilla yogurt.

Conclusion: HADOUKEN! SHOURYUUKEN! Yes, I’m a geek. Leave me alone.

This is a beer I am unfeasibly pleased with. Probably because it is called Hadouken. And I am a geek. I may have mentioned that. It is an interesting one though, solid as hell base, big and hoppy and a real stripped down character. No nonsense and joyously hoppy.

As you hold it though it expands, gaining and unusually yeasty feel and bringing with it soft touches of fruit in passion fruit and key lime. For such a fruity beer though it still feels grounded, almost brown bread or earthy to the base. The contrast works great and the lime character over hops reminds me of the excellent Union Jack IPA. Though this beer has more emphasis on the rough base and hop brutality. It feels more like a do it yourself punk joy than an ultra refined smooth experience, but loses none of the quality for that.

I am biased on this due to the name, but I love its feel, it calls to the harsher edges of Punk IPA but takes it further and makes it the core of the beer. Less showy and crisp than the USA take on IPAs, and closed to the more melded hop character of the UK style but with the USA’s full on fruit flavour.

So, yeah, I am biased, but I love this IPA.

Background: Ahem, Tiny Rebel I respect you. A lot. However to quote the bottle “A dedication to the classic finishing move from one of our favourite video games”. THE HADOUKEN WAS NOT A FINISHING MOVE! If it was I wouldn’t have had to put up with people spamming it until their wrist went sore and they had ruined their sex life. Anyway, that aside. ROCK ON. I tried this on tap a while back, just because it was called hadouken, and I have been searching for it in bottle ever since. I finally found it at the ever excellent Independent Spirit. If anyone out there is wondering what a hadouken is I feel sorry for you and your arcade game deprived life. Either that or I’m just getting old. Down, down forwards, forwards, punch. Repeat until wrist cramp, or your opponent punches you in real life for being a spamming tit. In other news I may have broken my camera’s ability to focus properly. Will have a tweak and see if I can fix it. Drunk while listening to Dan Le Sac Vs Sroobius Pip’s “Terminal”. That song is just hauntingly wonderful.

The Full Nelson

Tiny Rebel: The Full Nelson (Wales: American Pale Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot skin. Slight white rim of bubbles. Some carbonation.

Nose: Peach. Sour tayberry and grapefruit. Gooseberry. Very tart.

Body: Vanilla. Big pineapple. Lime. Toffee and malt. Grapefruit. Very tart raspberry. Light acidic feel.

Finish: Sour lime. Very fresh. Pink grapefruit. Very tart and tangy. Lime Kelly. Slight dry granite.

Conclusion: A tiny half from the Tiny Rebel, but this packs an anything but tiny citrus punch. Ok, that is a bit of a cliché opener, but it is also true so please forgive me it. The various grapefruit elements are the most obvious expression of its tart citrus style, and with little malt working against it, is full bore, acidic fresh and tingling. What really shoots the tangy levels up though is the sharp lime, pretty much like a real lime has been squeezed straight into the beer. Very much a wake up call to the tastebuds.

There is some malt working against it, light though it may be, and also there is subtle vanilla and toffee flavours, It is always sliding around behind the main flavours, accentuation them by way of contrast.

It is a lovely summer beer, very easy to drink even though it is so tart, and it both refreshes and shakes you awake with its tart citrus punch. A beer to take it easy with in the sun, or just to enjoy for the beer it is. It is higher abv than the perfect session beer, but you get such a long lasting finish, especially the lingering pink grapefruit elements, that you don’t have to rush the beer, so with a little effort you could make a few last for a moderate session.

Any which way a lovely, taste bud jangling, tart joy of a beer.

Background: Tiny Rebel! Love these guys so far, their Hadouken is bloody excellent and a reference to Street Fighter 2. Why have I never reviewed them until now? Happenstance. I’ve never had my book to hand, or I’d had a few and didn’t consider my senses up to scratch. Then I found this at the Bath Brew House one Saturday lunch. Game on as they say.

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