Tag Archive: Wales


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.

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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.

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

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