Brewdog Beatnik Imperial Red Ale

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

A second beer under Brewdog’s Beatnik Brewing Collective banner now, this is another beer that is brewed by company shareholders (of which I’m one but I’ve nothing to do with this beer sadly) and available only to these Equity for Punks members in Brewdog shops and online. The beer is my first imperial red ale in a while, I’ve only tried two or three others of this type of beer but it’s definitely on that I was looking forward to trying when I seen Brewdog were releasing another. The beer follows on from the Bounty Hunter as my second Beatnik beer and it again uses quite a standard and fairly average label to distinguish it from other Brewdog beers and I’m not sure how many bottles were brewed but the beer no longer seems to be available online or in Brewdog’s Glasgow bars so I guess I was lucky to grab a bottle a couple of weeks ago when I spotted it.

beatnik-imperial-red-ale

Appearance (4/5): A clear bodied amber to caramel red that’s topped with an impressive, three or four centimetre tall head that looks quite foamy and holds pretty well. There’s some light lacing on the sides and the head is a very slightly off-white to cream colour that looks great; a very good start.
Aroma (8/10): Quite hoppy initially but with a lot more sweetness than expected, there’s a combination of caramel and biscuit malts that kick things off before some touches of boozy alcohol and lighter fruits start to come through. The beer is lively with some hints of pine and citrus on top of a toffee base. Some further sweet malts back things up nearer the end with a bit of spice and some floral touches in there too.
Taste (7/10): Following on well from the nose, the taste kicks off with the same sweetness thanks to plenty of caramel malts and toffee coming through alongside plenty of sweet biscuit malts and spice. It’s a malty offering that features a plenty combination of spice and citrus around the middle before subtle fruits make an appearance; there’s a little berries and raisin with touches of blackcurrant in there too. Towards the end some further dark fruits and spices feature with a light bitterness rounding things off nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and definitely a sweet beer, this one is quite a lively offering too with above average carbonation for the style and some nice spices too. Around the middle there was a light citrus tang and although it’s very sweet at times, the balance was better than expected. It’s an easy one to drink and quite moreish too with a lot of fresh, floral hops adding to the bitterness.

Overall (15/20): This one was a pretty good beer and a rare imperial red ale for myself, it was definitely a sweeter than expected beer with a lot of caramel and toffee flavours opening things up alongside the biscuit malts. Some pleasant darker fruits and berries came through with the taste and added a new dimension that wasn’t there with the nose and the beer had enough hop bitterness to keep it interesting too. It was quite an enjoyable beer from Brewdog under their Beatnik Brewing Collective banner and although I probably enjoyed their Bounty Hunter offering marginally better, this one is still a beer well worth trying if you can manage to find a bottle.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2016
Full Name: Brewdog Beatnik Brewing Collective – Imperial Red Ale
Type: Imperial Red Ale
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: BrewDog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £4.00 (approx.)

Brewdog New England IPA

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.6

A new collaborative offering from Brewdog now, this one brewed in conjunction with Manchester’s Cloudwater brewery and was released in bottles and on-tap at the beginning of February too much fanfare online at the time. The beer is actually one that I’ve already managed to try straight from the keg on two occasions, trying it at Brewdog’s DogHouse bar in Glasgow a couple of days after its release and very much enjoying both schooners I had of it. I opted not to give the beer a proper review at the time given I’d already picked up a bottle of the stuff the day before with a view of reviewing that one but I can confirm it’s an excellent beer. The beer is labelled as a ‘Vermont IPA’ that uses Mosaic and Citra hops to give a more subtly hopped flavour but shouldn’t be confused with Brewdog’s B:Side: Vermont IPA that has been released in small batches at their UK bars and is a beer I hope to try soon. Possibly one of the best Brewdog beers that I’ve ever tried and seeing that it is another limited release from the brewery, it’s one that I plan to try as much of as possible before its gone forever.

brewdog-vs-cloudwater-new-england-ipa

Appearance (5/5): Pouring an unusual coloured yellow amber, this one has a very cloudy body that is pretty much opaque. The head is a centimetre tall, foamy white one that eventually settles about a quarter of a centimetre tall but continues to cover the surface of the beer well; a great start.
Aroma (9/10): Very fruity and hoppy in the early going without being an overly pungent nose, there is some nice pineapple notes kicking things off before some touches of peach and orange make themselves know but overall it is a very juicy aroma initially. Some tropical notes that included some lemon, mango and papaya came through around the middle with some further hints of pineapple at this stage too. The beer was very fresh on the nose from the start with nice bitterness that was a little more subtle than expected but definitely still noticeable.
Taste (8/10): An excellent continuation of the nose with an early burst of tropical fruits kicking things off again, the pineapple in particular being quite noticeable. There was some peach, apricot and a little mango following on behind this and I could detect some of the orange, papaya and citrus lemon soon after. The beer was very fresh tasting with some faint pine and grassy flavours nearer the middle before a very subtle hint of sweetness made an appearance along with a touch of spice. There is a nice bitterness nearer the end that’s quite floral and juicy, helping to round the beer off very nicely indeed.
Palate (5/5): Medium bodied and quite a bitter offering without being pungent or too resinous, the hops provided more of a juicy, floral bitterness that was backed up with a nice citrus tang. The balance of the beer was near perfect, the fruits all working well together and the subtle sweetness nearer the end added a nice dimension as things drew to a close. It was a lively carbonated beer that was very fresh and surprisingly easy to drink; outstanding stuff.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and Cloudwater here, this one is a great beer that grabs your attention straight away thanks to the abundance of fresh hops and juicy flavours that kick things off. It’s a more subtly bitter taste than I’ve come to associate Brewdog with but it is great with plenty of pineapple and a great combination of tropical fruits and citrus flavours backing it up. The balance of the beer was particularly good with the hints of sweetness nearer the end coming quite unexpectedly but they very much appreciated. This one is easily up there with the best beers Brewdog has produced and it makes me all the more excited to try a couple more from Cloudwater as well; this one is definitely a must try.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog/Cloudwater (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Full Name: Brewdog vs. Cloudwater New England IPA
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.8%
Serving: Bottle (660ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £6.00

Dorada Especial Roja

February 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.45

Labelled as a limited release and what will be my second beer from the Cervecera De Canarias brewery in Tenerife, this one has been available since late 2015 and follows on from the bottle of Tropical Bandido Cerveza Con Tequila that I reviewed here previously. Like that offering, this one is another that was given to me as a gift from family members returning from Lanzarote recently and prior to trying either beers was the one I held out the most hopes for; hopefully it doesn’t let me down and proves to be a good one. The beer itself is a Vienna lager that comes in slightly stronger than average for the style, sitting at 6.%% abv. in the bottle and will be the first Vienna lager I’ll have tried since the bottle of Trouble’s Kill Lager that I sampled just after New Year. The beer will also be my twenty-fourth Spanish offering but I’ll likely pick up at least a few more when I visit the country again later this year.

dorada-especial-roja

Appearance (3/5): A red tinged caramel amber colour that has quite a clear body and is topped with a decent looking, creamy white head that starts just over a centimetre tall. There is a few bubbles through the head of the beer as well and is slowly loses a bit of its height, ending up about half a centimetre tall after thirty seconds or so but it’s a better than expected looking offering without looking great.
Aroma (4/10): Definitely not as malty or sweet a nose as I’d anticipated in the early going, the aroma is a basic one with some corn adjuncts and a few lighter, almost fruity notes that are reminiscent of most pale lager without being skunky. Touches of citrus come through with a bit of hay and earthy hops in there too but after that I struggled to detect much of anything really. Towards the end the beer was quite a clean, bland one on the nose and it’s not like any Vienna type lager I’ve tried previously; pretty poor stuff really.
Taste (5/10): Thankfully the beer is slightly more to style with the taste and opens with some sweetness that comes from a combination of toffee malts and touches of caramel, t’s not an overly sweet beer but at least some was showing. This was quickly followed by citrus and lemon flavours alongside some corn adjuncts from the nose and a little hay; a few grassy hops featured as well. Some subtle background fruits and a light bitterness came through as things drew nearer to the end and I got an earthy, almost toasted malt taste right at the end too.
Palate (3/5): Quite a clean, crisp beer that was a little too bland at times as well as coming through a little lighter than I’d have liked; it was somewhere between a light and light-medium beer but it definitely seemed a touch thin at times sadly. There wasn’t anything offensive about the beer though and it was fairly easy to drink but it was miles away from the Vienna style of lagers at times and far to basic into the bargain.

Overall (11/20): This turned out to be a bit of a strange one considering it was labelled as a Vienna style lager but then failed to deliver on the sweetness or malty flavours for the most part, it also opened with a tonne of skunk on the nose that I really wasn’t expecting. The beer improved a little after being given some time to open up and allow the skunk to subside a little but there wasn’t enough from the caramel or toffee malts to make it a great one. It wasn’t really an offensive offering and the light body coupled with the crisp, clean palate made it an easy one to drink but it’s unlikely I’ll have it again.

Brewed In: Tenerife, Spain
Brewery: Compañía Cervecera De Canarias
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Vienna Lager
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Lanzorote, Spain
Price: Gift

Tropical Bandido Cerveza Con Tequila

February 22, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 2.0

A rare beer from a Spanish island now, this one is a beer that was introduced in late 2016 and brewed on the island of Tenerife. The beer is one that I was given as a gift from family returning for Lanzarote recently and by the looks of it, the beer is the Spanish take on France’s Desperados tequila beer. I’m informed that the beer selection on Lanzarote wasn’t really up to much and I’m not really expecting anything great from this one either but it’s always nice to try a new beer that I’d not have found otherwise; I just hope it’s better than the likes of the Amigos Tequila Beer that I tried a while back.

tropical-bandido-cerveza-con-tequila

Appearance (2/5): A clear and fairly light looking amber colour that is topped with a foamy white head that sits about a quarter of centimetre tall then fades to leave a little lacing around the circumference of the glass after about twenty seconds or so.
Aroma (4/10): The beer opens with quite a strong and skunky nose that is mainly corn and basic adjuncts but thankfully this subsided a little after a couple of seconds and the lime notes started to come through along with some sweeter malts that definitely made the beer seem quite cheap one the nose but not necessarily off-putting at least. Some lemon and citrus notes start to come through nearer the middle with the odd grassy note in there as well but after the initial skunky notes the lime was what dominated and it definitely wasn’t a great beer on the nose.
Taste (4/10): Opening with the lime and citrus from the nose, there’s not as much of skunk coming through at this stage with the taste thankfully and the beer seems a touch sweeter this time round too. I got some basic malts and vegetable adjuncts with some sharp spice around the middle before an almost lemonade like flavour came through nearer the end. It’s not a strong beer on the taste and again the lime flavours dominate, giving the beer a syrupy taste in the process too.
Palate (2/5): Light bodied but fairly well carbonated and almost gassy at times, the beer was very sweet with a syrupy feel to it from the lime which also seemed artificial. There was some skunk, particularly as I opened the bottle but it settled some after a while but it’s quite a poor beer really.

Overall (8/20): Starting as a very poor beer, particularly on the nose where the skunky notes were very strong in the early going but thankfully it settled down a little by the middle. There wasn’t a whole lot to this beer in truth save for the lime and basic adjuncts that followed the skunk from the nose, there was touches of citrus and a few grassy flavours nearer the middle but it’s definitely a basic beer and one that I’d avoid having again.

Brewed In: Tenerife, Spain
Brewery: Compañía Cervecera De Canarias
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Spice/Herb Beer
Abv: 5.9%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Lanzorote, Spain
Price: Gift

Sanda Blonde IPA

February 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.55

A fourth beer from Fyne Ales for me now and a relative bargain too, I managed to find this one on special in a Morrisons supermarket recently and quickly grabbed a bottle, along with their Sanda Black IPA as well. The two beers are similar offerings, both coming in at 5.5% and using the same base with one being a black IPA and this one being an American style IPA. I previously tried the black IPA version of the beer back in late 2013 and quite enjoyed it, vowing to try this version when I got that chance but in the three and a bit years since, this is the first time I’ve taken notice of it and decided to grab a bottle. The beer also follows on from the brewery’s Nice Christmas beer and their Zombier homebrew competition winner but will be my first new beer from the brewery since December 2014; I really should start picking up a few more of their bottles this year.

sanda-blonde-ipa

Appearance (3/5): A slightly hazy amber colour with a thin, foamy white head on top that’s only a couple of millimetres tall but still manages to cover most of the beers surface and has the odd bubble there too; a fairly average looking beer so far.
Aroma (7/10): Nice and lively initially on the nose, there was a good amount of citrus hops coming through with a couple of floral ones backing them up and it was also a little stronger on the nose than I’d expected. Some hay and a few biscuit malts started to come through once the initial burst of hops settled down a little, there was even some faint sweetness in there at this point too. Around the middle some zesty notes such as orange featured with a hint of tart as well but it was definitely a hoppy nose up to this point. Nearer the end the sweet from the malts got a touch stronger and there was further bitters and background fruits rounding things off nicely.
Taste (7/10): Not quite as hoppy as the nose was initially but some floral touches did come through in the early going. The biscuit malts from the nose take more of a front seat here and as a result the beer isn’t as sweet or hoppy as expected when it comes to the taste. There was some grassy flavours though and a little citrus in there alongside a couple of subtle earthy flavours. Around the middle some of the fruits start to come through a little stronger and I managed to detect some orange, grapefruit and a little grape too; nice stuff all in all.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and a lot more zesty and crisp than I’d expected going in, the beer was a very fresh and lively offering that had strong carbonation but came with a nice balance. There was touches of sweetness at times, particularly nearer the middle and end of the beer but it was an enjoyable, easy one to drink.

Overall (15/20): Pretty nice stuff from Fyne Ales, it definitely opened up stronger and more hoppy than I’d expected with a lot of citrus and floral hops kicking things off. Things settled down a little once things had time to open up some and at this point touches of sweetness and the odd earthy flavour started to make itself known, there was even touches of tart with the nose at this stage. The beer had a decent balance and was quite an easy one to drink throughout, the carbonation was good and there was a nice, crisp feel to proceedings that was enjoyable too. It’s a nice and very sessionable IPA from the brewery but I probably preferred their Sanda Black IPA to this one and am looking forward to trying that one again over this.

Brewed In: Argyll, Scotland
Brewery: Fyne Ales
First Brewed: 2012
Type: American IPA
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Morrisons (Glasgow)
Price: £1.00

Bath Ales Gem

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.55

My second Bath Ales beer now, this one following hot on the heels of their Wild Hare pale ale that I reviewed here recently. This one is another that I picked up from Whole Foods Market at the start of the month and is a beer I’ve been keeping a lookout for over the last few months, having previously failed to try it when visiting Bath at the end of last summer. This one is a beer that is very popular in the south-west of England, I believe it is one of the best-selling bottled craft beers in the UK too, possibly placing as high as second behind Punk IPA but don’t quote me on that as I can’t find the article I think I read it in now. The beer is my first premium bitter in quite a while so it should act as a good refresher on the style and is one that I was actually quite surprised to find didn’t make the 1001 beers list given its popularity in southern England, perhaps that’s a fairly recent things though. Gold medal winner and best ale up to 5% at the 2014 International Beer Challenge, as well as a silver medal winner in 2015, the beer should be a good one despite the fact that the brewery changed hands last year and is now owned by the St. Austell Brewery Company after the acquired the Bath Ales portfolio for an undisclosed in July of last year; hopefully the beer itself hasn’t suffered though.

bath-ales-gem

Appearance (4/5): Pouring quite a dark, almost caramel amber colour this one has a fairly clear body and a thin, foamy white head on top that’s more of a thin lacing than anything else really; there’s a little more build up around the edges but for the most part it is just a patch of foam in the centre of the surface.
Aroma (7/10): Quite sweet but not overly so, this one opens with a nice combination of caramel and toffee notes before some burnt sugars and very subtle toasted malts start to come through. There’s a little bit of biscuit following on behind plus some earthy notes start to make themselves known nearer the middle of the beer. Towards the end there is a some roasted malts and even a hint of chocolate coming through as well but it was subtle and fleeting. The beer was rounded off with an earthy bitterness and faint citrus notes that seemed to work well together.
Taste (7/10): Opening with the toffee that carried on from the nose, the beer didn’t seem quite as sweet but there was at least some showing with touches of caramel not far behind. I could detect a few brown sugars and toasted malts nearer the middle with biscuit and bread ones nothing featuring before an earthy bitterness showed alongside some subtle earthy hops.
Palate (3/5): Sweet with a light tang at points, this one had a medium body and proved to be a well-balanced offering that was a little basic and one-dimensional but still a pretty drinkable beer. While not as good as the bottle of Wild Hare I had from the brewery last, this one was also a good session beer that went down easily enough but without really exciting at any point. There as some nice malts showing at times and the toasted malts/toffee flavours were a nice addition but I was expecting it to be a little more varied and at times a little stronger too.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff again from Bath Ales but probably not quite as enjoyable a beer as their Wild Hare pale ale that I tried last. This one was obviously a little darker and the sweetness seemed more pronounced at times with a nice combination of darker malts, toasted flavours and some sugars that complimented the caramel and toffee flavours nicely. Nothing seemed overdone and a good balance was maintained throughout, making this one another decent session offering but I’m probably go back to other beers before having this one again; still it’s definitely a nice beer and well worth trying.

Brewed In: Bristol, England
Brewery: Bath Ales
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Whole Foods Market (Giffnock)
Price: £1.79

Bath Ales Wild Hare (342 of 1001)

February 13, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.75

My first beer from Bath Ales now and one that I’ve been on the hunt for recently since it features in the 1001 beers list, it’s actually one I was looking for on a visit to Bath and Bristol last year but never managed to find it in any of the pubs I visited. This one will be the sixty-first English beer from the 1001 list that I’ll have managed to try to I finally found a bottle of the stuff in a Whole Foods Market store at the start of the month, picking it up alongside another of the brewery’s beers that doesn’t feature on the list but is one I’ve been looking to try for a while now as well. Falling somewhere between an English pale ale and a golden ale, this year round offering from Bath Ales is a 5% beer that is also an organic offering that gets fairly good reviews online and is one I’m looking forward to trying.

bath-ales-wild-hare

Appearance (4/5): Quite a clear bodied offering, this one pours a bright, golden amber colour that is topped with a thin, quarter centimetre head that has a bubbly texture and a white colour. The head retention is fairly ordinary, initially covering the surface well but it soon starts to break up a little round the edges and leave more of a patch in the centre of the glass after about thirty to forty-five seconds but there is plenty of visible carbonation thanks to the countless fine bubbles rising to the surface of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh on the nose with a subtle sweetness to it that hints at some vanilla before some light citrus and lemon notes start to come through. There is a fruity base to the beer that also features touches of biscuit and the odd grassy hop too but there’s not too much bitterness really. Towards the middle there is a couple of floral smells coming through but it’s generally quite light and easy-going on the nose; an inoffensive, balanced beer so far.
Taste (7/10): Continuing on from where the nose left off, this one opens with some pleasant lemon flavours that are backed up nicely by touches of hay and again some subtle grassy hops that hint at an earthy bitterness. There’s a couple of background fruits and the odd biscuit malt nearer the middle with the sweetness that little bit stronger this time round and a few bread malts before a floral and citrus finish rounds things off nicely; definitely a subtle taste like the nose but again it is a good one.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium bodied and quite fresh, the beer is very well-balanced with no one flavour or smell dominating at any point but it still didn’t seem like a weak beer. There was some nice sweetness early on with a tiny bit of hop bitterness showing around the middle. A very easy to drink beer, the majority of this down to the balance but it might have benefited from being a touch stronger at times, that’s a minor criticism though.

Overall (15/20): An excellent first Bath Ales beer for me and one that was very well-balanced whilst being quite a light, easy-going beer that would definitely make an excellent session offering. There was some pleasant citrus flavours in the early going with a sweetness that got slightly stronger as things went on plus the floral touches that featured nearer the end were enjoyable too. The beer was at times a touch light but it didn’t take much away from what was otherwise a great beer. It certainly wasn’t the most complex offering I’ve come across recently either but it was well made and drinkable; decent stuff and one well worth picking up if you find it.

Brewed In: Bristol, England
Brewery: Bath Ales
First Brewed: 2005
Type: English Pale Ale/Golden Ale
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Whole Foods Market (Giffnock)
Price: £1.79