This beer was initially known as Irie Pirate Ale but underwent a name change as it was deemed too similar to another breweries beer, it is now simply known as AleSmith IPA. First brewed in 1999, this is one of the beers and breweries that helped transform San Diego into a brewing hot spot. I managed to find this one, my first ever AleSmith beer by the way, on the Brewdog.com online shop and quickly snapped it up before it sold out; I also managed to pick up a bottle of their Horny Devil that I’ll drink at a later date since the beer apparently ages well. This one will be the 185th beer from the 1001 beers list that I will have tried and it is one that I am particularly excited about trying after reading some online reviews of it. I’ve also read that the hops are added towards the end of the boil in this beer which stops it from being overly bitter but does give the beer a great, hop filled flavour and aroma.
Appearance (5/5): A dark golden colour with a great, two finger sized and foamy white head on top that looks to hold pretty well initially. There is some lacing left on the sides of that glass and the beer is a clear looking one. Every IPA should look like this one does.
Aroma (9/10): Very fruity with tonnes of tropical fruits on the nose to begin with, there is also a touch of spice and a solid, juicy aroma along with some nice, lighter pine hops and some bitterness.There mango and citrus along with some sweet malts, caramel, mango and some grapefruit.
Taste (9/10): A combination of sweet malts and caramel upfront with some pine hops and grapefruit giving a sweet, medium strength bitter taste. The beer is a great one with plenty of tropical flavours coming through that includes some mango, orange and tonnes of hops yet the bitterness levels are not as high as you would expect. An excellent tasting beer that with a truly exceptional taste.
Palate (5/5): Medium bodied and very smooth with an almost creamy mouthfeel and good, strong carbonation. There is some sweetness and a medium bitter finish that was not as strong as I was expecting but worked well for the beer. This one is also dangerously easy to drink with the alcohol completely hidden.
Overall (19/20): Quite possibly the best beer I’ve ever had, this one is as close as I’ve come to perfection in a beer. Starting with a great tropical fruits and pine hop aroma that is followed up by a taste in a similar vain, the beer is incredibly easy to drink and goes down far too quickly. There is a great consistency between the taste and the smell and the pine hops taste is amazing, coupled with the fact that the beer isn’t overly bitter makes this one a drink you simply have to try.
Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
First Brewed: 1999
Type: American IPA
Serving: Bottle (650ml)
This one is probably my oldest beer, a bottle I picked up from the Brewdog online shop about ten months ago as I thought it would be a very limited release beer and available for a short time only. The beer is a special, one off from Brewdog that they call the worlds first triple IPA, basically it’s just a really strong double IPA though. From the looks of things this one wasn’t a beer that seemed to sell particularly well on their website and was still available earlier this year, I imagine the £9.99 price tag would have had a lot to do with this. It was a beer I fancied trying so picked on up for my cellar where it remained until the weekend, hopefully it will have been worth the wait now that I finally built up the courage to try it.
Appearance (4/5): A very clear and bright, orange amber colour with a half centimetre tall and bubbly head that is a very light tan colour. Retention isn’t great with the head turning to patchy lacing after a couple moments although what do you expect from a beer that comes in at 14% abv.
Aroma (8/10): Strong, bitter hops and a good helping of alcohol mixed with some tropical fruit notes kicks things off quite well. There is some citrus notes, grapefruit and some sweeter malts coming through with some vanilla and some grain too. It’s not as harsh on the nose as I was expecting but it is definitely a strong beer with a pungent aroma right from the get go.
Taste (7/10): Very sweet with some subdued hops and a touch of vanilla along with huge amounts of alcohol and grain. There is some citrus, apricot and pine with some spice and pepper too. The taste is quite nice but then all of a sudden the alcohol takes over and seems to take immediate effect. It taste good but really is a beer to sip at over a good few hours.
Palate (3/5): Full bodied and backed up with huge amounts of alcohol and grain. There beer is quite fruits and sweet with a strong and dry finish that feels quite thick and oily.
Overall (14/20): A strange one this, it started off as a really nice yet very strong double IPA (well triple IPA apparently) with a lot of bitter hops and sweetness coupled with tonnes of alcohol but as the drink progressed it managed to settle down some and turn it to a very strong and warming beer that I spent well over an hour sipping away at. Quite a nice taste throughout but because of the alcohol content the beer ended up being a hard one to drink.
Brewed In: Fraserburgh, Scotland
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Imperial/Double IPA
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Flying Dog is fast becoming my go to American craft brewery given how readily available their beers seem to be in the UK these days, this one is their winter seasonal that is available from around November to March each year since it was launched back in 1999. I opted to buy the beer at my local bottle shop when I was told it was discounted by the distributor to clear some stock otherwise I might have gave the beer a miss given I have so many others to get through at the minute, a few of them other Flying Dog offerings. This one is a strong winter ale using a combination of Munich and Chocolate malts among others and comes in at 30 IBU’s so it shouldn’t be all that bitter. It’s not one of the brewery’s beers I’ve heard much about but as always the label art is good so I’m willing to give it a go.
Appearance (4/5): A deep and rich looking copper colour with a large and foamy looking head that is a light brown colour. Retention isn’t too bad with some lacing left on the glass and minimal reduction in size to begin with.
Aroma (5/10): Quite an earthy aroma with some light malts and a touch of sweet caramel and toffee. There is some spice and darker fruits but these aromas are kept to a minimum. Not all that exciting and lacking depth to be honest.
Taste (6/10): Again there is some earthy malts and some caramel ones too, I could also detect some darker fruits but like the smell these were at least partially masked throughout. There is some spice and lighter hops but everything just seems to blur together and do little to keep me interested.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied with a sweet, warming alcohol taste and some touches of earthy bitterness but not a lot. The carbonation is quite mild and the beer comes across as a basic one with a very smooth mouthfeel.
Overall (12/20): Quite a basic and unexciting taste that is out of character for Flying Dog as their beers are usually always interesting and worth trying. This one started pretty slow but did have some nice caramel malts and some fruits somewhere around the middle but it wasn’t enough to save the drink I’m afraid and it’s not one I’d seek out again.
Brewed In: Frederick, Maryland, United States of America
Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery
Full Name: Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale
First Brewed: 1999
Type: Winter Warmer
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Another of the new beers I ordered from the Brewdog online shop that arrived early last week after some delay, this one coming from the Danish brewer Mikkeller that Brewdog seems to have close ties with. This is a special edition American pale ale brewed for winter 2012 although last week on the Brewdog store was the first time I had seen or heard of the beer. I wasn’t sure if it was a beer I wanted to try or not but given the last few Mikkeller beers have been good ones I decided to buy a bottle to stick in with the rest of my order. At least it’s not one that is all that common and hopefully it lives up to the last few beers from the brewery that I’ve tried.
Appearance (5/5): Pours a light, golden amber colour with a pretty big, three fingers tall head that is foamy looking and holds well. The beer shows lots of evidence of strong carbonation and looks quite lively as it is being poured but the head on this one is fantastic.
Aroma (8/10): Really strong fruits on the nose to start things off with, there is some apricot and a touch of mango with some sweet hops and plenty of citrus notes. The beer is very fresh smelling and quite juicy too with some apple and grapes coming through as well.
Taste (6/10): A combination of bitter hops and summer fruits to begin with here. There is some apples and apricot with a hint of mango but the bitter hops and pine seem to overpower the rest of the beer and definitely dominate the taste. There is some lemon and citrus flavours with a touch of orange but these all play second fiddle to the bitter hops. It does open up some towards the end but it still seemed slightly too bitter for me to really enjoy.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and medium bodied but very bitter with some fruits and a touch of sweetness in the background and the beer is quite refreshing around the middle. Carbonation is about medium and the finish is crisp but very dry.
Overall (14/20): Not a bad beer really although the taste did let this one down somewhat. The beer had a nice and refreshing aroma to it with plenty of summer fruits and a great, hoppy bitter feel to it but this became slightly overpowering as I worked my way down the drink. A pretty average offering from Mikkeller if I’m honest and probably not one that I would seek out again.
Brewed In: Copenhagen, Denmark
First Brewed: 2012
Type: American Pale Ale
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
This one is a beer I’ve been meaning to try for a while now and have passed it up on a couple of occasions whilst out as I wanted to try it properly for the first time and not already be drunk when sampling it. Tremens as it is commonly known is a strong Belgian pale ale that was initially launched as a 9% abv. beer back in 1989 (Boxing day to be precise) before being reduced to the 8.5% abv., bottle conditioned beer that it is now. The beer along with the brewery’s Nocturnum offering come in a unique, ceramic style bottle that doesn’t let any light in at all and makes the beer stand out amongst a crowd. The beer has been nominated as the “best beer in the world” several times and also won a gold medal at the 1998 World Beer Championships in Chicago. Oh and the name is also a cracker.
Appearance (5/5): A very pale, golden amber colour with a massive, foamy white head on top that holds very well given the 8.5% abv. There is evidence of strong carbonation in the bubbly and lively appearance of the beer and there is some nice lacing left on the glass as the beer is drank too.
Aroma (8/10): Light hops and some nice, fruity notes that includes some cloves, spice, apple and some pineapple too. There is a touch of peach, some yeast and a nice helping of citrus on top of a well balanced aroma that also includes from grassy hops and light, summery notes.
Taste (8/10): Light fruits to begin consisting mainly of some grapes, apple and citrus notes with some lively hops and a touch of sugar too. There is a touch of banana and the alcohol content is dangerously well hidden in a taste that reminds me of Duvel.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied with a lively mouthfeel and strong carbonation. Smooth with nice, light spice and a hoppy feel with a subtle bitter finish.
Overall (16/20): Quite a nice beer with a very lively and hoppy feel and some very nice light fruit notes. This one is very well carbonated and looks great with a very nice mouthfeel. The alcohol is very well hidden in this one and the beer is an easy one to drink, so much so that I’m already looking forwards the breweries Nocturnam that I picked up alongside this one.
Brewed In: Melle, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Huyghe
First Brewed: 1989
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: The Cave (Glasgow)
There is a real bit of history to this one, apparently when it was first introduced back in 1976 (having been brewed in November of the previous year) it was the first barleywine available in the United States and it took some time before people began to appreciate it. Today it is one of the worlds most well known barleywine and a beer that also features in the 1001 beers list. The alcohol content of the beer seems to vary year on year and can be anything from 8.4% abv. all the way up to the 6.4% abv. bottle that I will be reviewing here. The beer is one that Anchor founder Fritz Maytag brewed after returning from a trip to England and drawing inspiration from similar beers found in the UK that he hadn’t heard of before, although the barleywine style wasn’t even popular there at the time and not much seems to have changed here with regard to that since. This one is also the fourth of five Anchor beers that feature in the 1001 beers list that I will now have reviewed, only their Christmas beer ‘Our Special Ale’ to go and luckily enough I happen to have a bottle of the stuff in my cellar that I am tempted to keep for near to the holiday season later this year.
Appearance (4/5): A bright, deep amber to light brown colour with a clear body and a light brown, bubbly lacing on top for a head that ends up as more of a touch of foam around the circumference after a minute or so.
Aroma (9/10): Very hoppy initially with a lot more coming through than I expected despite the fact I knew before hand that the beer is dry hopped after fermentation. There is a strong and fruity aroma that is full of caramel malts, sugar, toffee and darker fruits. There is a touch of alcohol but not as much as I would have expected from the abv. on the bottle and there was some butterscotch and a touch of spice to round things off with.
Taste (7/10): A very strong alcohol and sweet malt taste kicks things off along with some background caramel and some brown sugar. There is a lot of hops plus some prunes, figs berries and dates as well as some lighter fruit such as apricot and apple. A very complex tasting beer that is stronger than the nose but almost as nice too, if at times a little strong.
Palate (4/5): Very sweet and with quite a bit of sugar, there is a lot of alcohol in the the beer that the smell only hinted at and the carbonation levels are low. The beer is full bodied and quite smooth with a spicy, warming finish.
Overall (17/20): This one was a bit of a surprise to me, since I don’t try the barleywine style all that often I was fearing the worst for this one but it turned out to be quite a nice beer and whilst strong it was still a very pleasant beer. Definitely one to be sipped away at due to the massive alcohol content, the beer was very complex in both smell and taste with plenty of sweet malts and fruits featuring. Probably not one I will have too many time again but a very nice drink and one that I imagine would age quite, so much so that I am tempted to pick up another and let it sit of a couple of years before trying it again.
Brewed In: San Francisco, California, United States of America
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company
First Brewed: 1975
Type: English Barleywine
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
This one is a beer I tried in The Pot Still in Glasgow over the weekend having ordered it based on the fact that I thought it was the breweries Summer Ale that I have heard some good things about. My only previous experience of the brewery is of trying their Boston Lager which I enjoyed and is a beer I go back to quite often since it seems to be available more and more in the UK these days. This one was first introduced as a year round beer back in 2010 after winning the brewery’s annual Beer Lover’s Choice competition the year previously. Apparently the competition pits two Samuel Adams beers against each other giving drinkers across the United States a chance to vote of the better beer with this one coming out on top after 67000 votes.
Appearance (3/5): Clear bodied with a golden amber colour and a thin, foamy white head on top that holds relatively well over the course.
Aroma (7/10): Sweet with some grassy hops, some lemon notes and light hops plus a touch of citrus and lemongrass. There is some apple too and overall the beer is light and sweet on the nose.
Taste (6/10): Some light malts and a touch of citrus to kick things off, this is all followed by some basic pilsener malts and hops. The beer is crisp with a light bitter finish.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with some light medium carbonation and a similar body, there is a citrus tang and the beer is crisp, refreshing and light bitter at the end.
Overall (14/20): Not a bad beer really, it was light and refreshing with nice sweet touches and a nice mouthfeel. The taste was a little light but it went down easy enough and had a pleasant, summery feel to it.
Brewed In: Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
Brewery: Boston Beer Company
First Brewed: 2010
Type: Czech Pilsener
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: The Pot Still, Glasgow, Scotland