Mahou Negra (352 of 1001)

June 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.1

This one is only my second review of a beer from one of Spain’s biggest brewery’s, Mahou and follows on from their Mahou Cinco Estrellas that I sampled on-tap in Glasgow back in March. This one is the brewery’s flagship dark beer and is actually one that I’ve been on the lookout for over the past year and a bit, having previously tried to pick it up last year when I first visited Barcelona but surprisingly I was unable to locate a bottle. I also attempted to have family members get me a bottle on their trips to Spain but finally I managed to find it in a Carrefour supermarket on La Rambla on my recent trip to Barcelona; better late than never I guess. The beer is another from Spain on the 1001 beers list that I’ve be able to check off and means I only have three more from the country to try and a review of Montseny Lupulus will follow in the coming days, so technically I only have two more to pick up now. As for the beer itself, this one is a dunkel style lager that was first brewed back in 1908 and it wasn’t really one that I held out much hope for before trying it, I really only wanted to check it off the list and had assumed it would be much easier to find than it proved to be. Anyway, here’s what I thought of the beer when I tried it at the start of the month.

Appearance (4/5): Copper brown and semi-opaque looking, the beer is topped with a centimetre tall head that is foamy and tan brown in colour with okay retention but it eventually turns slightly patchy after a minute or so; it’s certainly better than I had expected though.
Aroma (5/10): Dark malts and some caramel notes opening up proceedings here, there is some roasted notes as well but it wasn’t really anything that I hadn’t been expecting. I managed to detect some spice nearer the end but overall it was quite a one-dimensional beer on the nose and not overly exciting sadly.
Taste (6/10): The taste kicked off in a similar fashion to the nose with some basic malts and roasted flavours before a nutty taste started to appear nearer the middle followed by some hints of caramel along with some light spices. There was a few bread malts following on from this with hints of toffee adding to the sweetness from earlier on which meant that this was a slight improvement on the nose but still not exactly a classic.
Palate (3/5): Light medium bodied with a slight tang and quite an easy to drink feel to it, the beer was quite basic and one-dimensional but not off-putting at least. There was some sweetness from the caramel and toffee flavours but the main point to note was the roasted, nutty feel to the beer that dominated throughout.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a basic beer on the whole and pretty much what I’ve come to expect from mass-market beers like this, although it was relatively easy to drink. The beer kicked off with some nutty flavours and a touch of caramel to impart some early sweetness to proceedings. There was a strong roasted bitterness to the beer throughout with touches of toffee nearer the middle that helped add to the earlier sweetness, a few burnt flavours managed to sneak in too though. It’s probably not a beer I’d go back to again, even if it was more readily available to me but it was at least another off the 1001 beers list and it remained drinkable throughout.

Brewed In: Alovera, Spain
Brewery: Mahou S. A.
First Brewed: 1908
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Carrefour supermarket (Barcelona)
Price: €0.85 (£0.75 approx.)

Edge Padrino Porter

June 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

Only my third beer from Barcelona based Edge Brewing now and another that I managed to pick up when visiting the city a few weeks ago. This one is a beer that follows on from the same brewery’s Hoptimista IPA and Squiffy Sailor offerings, both beers that I enjoyed and both that I picked up here in Glasgow so this one will be the first from the brewery that I’ve reviewed in Barcelona despite the fact I’ve visited the city twice in just over a year now; I really should have picked up a few more when I had the chance. The beer itself is an American style porter that was initially released in early 2014 and appears to be one of the brewery’s most readily available options if you go by the amount of reviews it has online; it’s also pretty popular too. Anyway, here is what I thought of the beer when I had it at the start of the month and hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a few from from the brewery before I next visit Barcelona, whenever that may be.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark looking beer, this one pours a mahogany colour with an opaque body and quite a thick looking, centimetre and a half tall head that was a tan brown colour. There is some visible carbonation running through the body of the beer while the surface is covered well by the head which holds relatively well.
Aroma (7/10): Dark malts and some early sweetness kick things off here, there was some caramel with a touch of alcohol nearer the middle as well. There was a good combination of cocoa and roasted malts around the middle too with some burnt toast and the odd hop sneaking in before some coffee and subtle spices seen things out alongside a little grain.
Taste (7/10): Quite a malty beer with some solid roasted bitterness and touches of alcohol that carried on from the nose, there was a little sweetness from the caramel at this point too. The beer was a pleasant some with a nice variety of darker fruits coming through which added to the sweetness and helped balance out the darker, more roasted flavours from the middle of the beer as well as tasting good.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite thick at times, there was a little more alcohol showing in the early going than I would have liked but it was a pleasant beer that went down relatively easily. Some hops did manage to sneak through at times, particularly with the nose but that is something I’d have liked to see a little more of but there was some nice sweetness and touches of spice to shake things up a little which made for a good mouthfeel overall.

Overall (14/20): Quite a nice Spanish brewed porter and another cracking beer from Edge despite the fact it’s probably not the best style of beer to be drinking in the warm weather but is was still an enjoyable one. There was a nice malt bitterness to proceedings with a couple of hops sneaking through in the early going, mainly on the nose but some did show in the taste as well, albeit to a lesser extent. There was some solid roasted flavours with the odd alcohol grain appearing at times but it wasn’t an overly strong beer which meant it was a relatively easy one to drink and one of the better Spanish beers I’ve tried of late, although that’s not always saying too much I guess.

Brewed In: Barcelona, Spain
Brewery: Edge Brewing
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American Porter
Abv: 6.9%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Simply Basic Supermarket (Barcelona)
Price: €3.50 (£3.06)

Common Grounds

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

A late 2015 winter seasonal release from Magic Rock now and a beer that I managed to pick up from Brewdog’s Glasgow bottle shop a couple of months ago but am just getting round to reviewing now. The beer is actually one that I managed to try on-tap between picking it up and now, sampling it at a Glasgow bar in late March and quite enjoying it so I thought it about time I finally gave it a proper review. The beer will be my fifth from the brewery and my first since trying their High Wire Grapefruit offering back in February of last year and not enjoying it quite as much as I’d hoped. Common Grounds will also be the first dark beer from the brewery that’ll have reviewed here, the other four from them have been American pale ales or, in the case of their Cannonball, an IPA.

Appearance (3/5): Dark bodied, almost black in colour and with a thin, tan brown head that’s bubbly and fades to a patchy lacing that sits in the centre of the glass after about thirty or forty seconds. The body is opaque and the beer looks relatively still in the glass too; not a bad start but I’d have liked the head to stick around a little longer.
Aroma (7/10): Very strong coffee notes on the nose to kick things off, this one was slightly stronger than expected too with a nice amount of roasted malts and some earthy bitterness in there too. Some touches of chocolate made themselves known as things got nearer the middle but the coffee was definitely the dominate smell, some faint cocoa and vanilla did however add a hint of sweetness as things got closer to the finish. The beer was relatively well balanced on the nose with a nice variety to it and some milky lactose and further earthy notes seeing things out.
Taste (7/10): Again quite a dark beer and one that follows on well from the nose but the coffee is certainly dialled down every so slightly at this stage without giving too much up to the other flavours. There was some strong roasted malts and a little vanilla off the back of them, the coffee definitely still dominating but there is more room for the the lactose and chocolate flavours to come through this time around as well. I managed to detect touches of spice and even a little caramel towards the end but everything worked well and went down easily.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite thick on the palate, the beer is moderately carbonated with a crisp feel that is also quite smooth. There is a nice balance to flavours and plenty of variety to them as well which makes the beer go down very easily. It’s quite a strong tasting beer and is for the most part dominated by the coffee flavours but they don’t overpower and it’s pleasant drinking throughout.

Overall (16/20): This one was quite an enjoyable beer from the outset, there was a huge amount of coffee coming through and plenty of chocolate and cocoa backed it up, there was even some lactose in there to balance it out slightly. The beer had touches of sweetness nearer the middle with the caramel and some sugars grabbing your attention alongside hints of spice and the faintest of vanilla too. I really like this one, the coffee dominated but didn’t overpower and it was quite easy to drink despite the fact it got off to a poor start appearance-wise with the head fading far too quickly for my liking; nice stuff though and one I’d have again.

Brewed In: Huddersfield, England
Brewery: Magic Rock Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American Porter
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £3.09

Victory Headwaters Ale

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.05

A beer I picked up from an Asda supermarket just over a month ago after seeing it on a previous visit to one of their stores, this one will be my sixth from Victory but is surprisingly only my first since October 2014 when I tried their Golden Monkey tripel offering and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve had quite a few great beer from this brewery so I was excited when I first say this was available in the UK, it was probably the sole reason for me picking the beer up but it turned out to be quite a disappointing beer in the end; the best before on this one wasn’t until early 2018 but that was something that I had to double check after trying the beer and finding it a particularly weak and bland offering. I’ve noticed a few other new Victory beers seem to be available in the UK now but after this one I’m not too sure I’ll be rushing out to grab anymore for a while sadly.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber but pouring with a surprisingly clear and light body that is topped with a large, three or four centimetre tall head. The head texture is quite bubbly and it sits a white colour in the glass and looks relatively thick, just about halving in size over the opening couple minutes and leaving light lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a hop-filled nose in the early going with some grassy notes and the odd tropical fruit but the aroma seems to fade far to quickly and after a couple seconds the beer seems more like a pale lager with some pine and citrus coming through which was somewhat disappointing. There was touches of bread malt in there and the odd touch of bitterness too that’s got a few earthy hops in there too; it’s pleasant enough on the nose but could definitely have been stronger and a little more varied in truth.
Taste (5/10): Quite a lot like the taste sadly, this one starts well with some solid pine and citrus nose before some tropical fruits come through but they all disappear in an instant to leave a basic grassy hop taste that wasn’t unlike more pale lagers out there, albeit a fresh one. Towards the middle there was a slight tang while the bread flavours and earthy bitterness from the nose made an appearance but there wasn’t a whole lot to the beer and it seemed quite weak. The odd floral flavour and hints biscuit make a fleeting appearance but there definitely wasn’t enough variety to this one; very disappointing.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and quite light, perhaps even bordering on thin with an initial burst of flavour that soon passed to leave quite a basic and weak beer with very little going for it. I’d been expecting a lot more from this one but the beer seemed quite bland although it was fairly well carbonated. I managed to detect a light bitterness nearer the end and some earthy touches too but it was a massive let down for me and not at all what I expect from Victory.

Overall (11/20): Disappointing stuff here from Victory, the beer opened well with nice tropical fruits and a lot of pine with some citrus in there as well but in both the nose and the taste these all passed quickly and left little more than a bland, basic beer that was more lager than pale ale. There was the odd touch of earthy bitterness, a faint hint of floral and some biscuit malts but none of these was overly pronounced and the beer just seemed boring and weak throughout; I’d expected much better.

Brewed In: Downingtown, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £1.82

Buxton Axe Edge

June 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

A beer that will be my fifth from Derbyshire based Buxton now, this one will be my first since trying their Quadrupel offering over the Christmas holidays at the very end of last year and is quite a similar offering to the first Buxton beer I ever tried, their Ace Edge that I had back in August of 2014. This particular offering is the original version of Ace Edge, a beer that was modified slightly to use Sorachi Ace hops and give the beer more of a lemon taste so it should be interesting to see how this one compares. I picked this one up a couple of weeks ago when placing an order on the Brewdog online shop since they were having quite a decent sale at the time, otherwise this might not have been a beer I was drawn to given I’ve spotted it in a number of bottle shops over the years and never got around to trying it; this being despite the fact that I really enjoyed the bottle of Ace Edge when I tried it a couple of years ago.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a nice looking beer when initially poured, it sits a medium amber to orange colour in the glass but looks quite hazy. The head is a good one, sitting just over a centimetre tall and looking quite thick and creamy with a creamy white colour to it. Head retention is excellent with little movement or reduction in size over the opening couple of minutes and plenty of lacing left on the sides of the glass when I take a drink. 4.5
Aroma (7/10): Fresh on the nose in the early going with some subtle pine and citrus notes kicking things off before the odd grassy note made an appearance. It’s not an overly strong beer initially but I did get the odd touch of caramel sweetness nearer the middle. Floral touches and bread malts appear nearer the end of this one with some light tropical notes sneaking in as well; it’s definitely a pleasant beer on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Starting with plenty of hops, this one is a fresh beer that has a nice combination of pine and citrus to start before a few tropical flavours start to come through; most notably some mango and apricot but touches of orange and grapefruit feature as well. Around the middle the caramel sweetness and a few bread malts start to come through but they don’t seem as pronounced as they did with the nose, the beer was dominated by the citrus flavours at this point. Towards the end there was more of a hop bitterness with floral flavours and a touch of spice coming through as well. 3.75
Palate (4/5): Fresh and balanced with a medium body and plenty of hops showing throughout. The beer was lively with strong carbonation and proved easy to drink as well, the mouthfeel a dry and crisp one down the stretch. 4.25

Overall (17/20): Another really enjoyable beer from Buxton and very much on par with their Ace Edge offering, although this one definitely seemed more balanced and easy to drink. The beer looked fantastic after I poured it and there was a lot of early citrus and pine coming through to get you interested from the start. I liked the touches of sweetness and the tropical flavours were nice but I’d have liked to see more of the later when it came to the nose. Overall it’s a great beer from Buxton and one that I’d happily go back to again at some point in the future.

Brewed In: Buxton, Derbyshire, England
Brewery: Buxton Brewery
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £3.00

Bintang Pilsner (351 of 1001)

June 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.7

My first ever Indonesian beer now and one that I’ve actually been looking for since I first started working through the beers in the 1001 book. This is a beer that I assumed would be relatively straight forward and easy to pick up in southeast Asia but on my last trip there a couple of years ago there was no sign of it in Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand; I’d didn’t search too hard but I’d thought it would be available everywhere and sadly it was not. The beer is the main one brewed in Indonesia and yet I only managed to pick it up recently when Morrison’s started stocking but it’s better late than never I guess. Brewed in the country since 1930 when Indonesia was still under Dutch rule, the beer is effectively a localised version of Heineken and the brewery is still owned by them so the taste is said to be quite similar so I’m not as hopeful for this one as I was before finding that out.

Appearance (3/5): Medium to light amber in colour but probably not as light as I’d be expecting given it’s a macro pale lager hailing from Asia. The head was a relatively thin, bubbly one that sat a white colour in the glass and initially covered the surface well before starting to turn a little patchy around the edges after thirty seconds or so; there was a touch more build up around the edges through and the beer was a clear one. 3.5
Aroma (4/10): Fairly standard on the nose for the style in the early going, there was some basic grassy notes and a little skunk coming through in the early going whilst some citrus notes were hinted at but never really materialised. The beer was somewhat fresh with the odd lager malt and some earthy hops going but there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Around the middle and towards the end of the beer a hay aroma and faint biscuit started to come through but it was hard to distinguish between smells at times and the grassy notes seemed to dominate for the most part. 2.25
Taste (5/10): Again a basic lager taste that matches the nose closely, there was some grassy flavours and a little corn to open things up before some of the faint citrus touches from the nose started to come through but again they were weak. There was some background biscuit and hay nearer the middle with a bit of vegetable adjunct in there as well but thankfully the skunky flavours were kept to a minimum. The beer was faintly hoppy, mainly from the grassy flavours and the odd bit of grain showed as well but it was nothing to write home about. 2.25
Palate (3/5): This one can only be described as a very light bodied beer that bordered on thin and bland, although it was relatively well carbonated and had a crisp feel that you could easily imagine being refreshing in the Indonesian sun. It’s not got a whole lot going for it and there wasn’t much variety coming through but it was easy to drink with the skunky flavours appearing only briefly and there wasn’t much in the way of offensive flavours beyond them. 2.5

Overall (12/20): This one is pretty much what I’d been expecting when I picked it up, it was an easy going and somewhat refreshing pale lager that could easily be described and basic and bland but definitely not offensive. It was easy to drink without much in the way of flavour showing, some lager malts and the odd grassy flavours were about it really but I won’t complain too much since the beer serves a purpose. I can’t imagine it will be a beer I’d pick up again unless I manage to visit Indonesia, and if I do then I’ll probably end up drinking it 24/7 over there; it’s also not the worse Asian beer I’ve tried which has to count for something.

Brewed In: Surabaya, Central Java, Indonesia
Brewery: PT Multi Bintang
First Brewed: 1930
Full Name: Bir Bintang Pilsner
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 4.7%
Serving: Bottle (620ml)
Purchased: Morrison’s (Glasgow)
Price: £1.67

Bock Damm (350 of 1001)

June 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.9

The second ever beer brewed by Barcelona’s Damm brewery and introduced way back in 1888, this beer is still one of the most popular dark beers brewed in a country those beer scene is almost completely dominated by pale, blond lagers. This one is a beer that features on the 1001 beers list and as a result is one that I’ve been looking to try on my last few trips to Spain but was surprisingly unable to find it one previous visits before finally stumbling across it at the tail end of last month when returning to Barcelona. The beer is actually available in a number of pubs and some supermarkets in the city which makes it all the more odd that I wasn’t able to pick it up sooner but I eventually sampled a pint of the stuff in a local bar just off the Placa Reial in Barcelona city centre just over a week ago. Despite the name of the beer, this ‘bock’ is actually much closer to a Munich style dunkel lager and due to it’s lack of bitterness was in the past aimed at female drinkers in its advertising campaigns while the bottle itself features the image of a goat which was added as a play on the fact that the word ‘bock’ translates from German as billy-goat.

Appearance (3/5): Dark mahogany coloured with an opaque body and quite a thin head on top that was a foamy texture and slightly off-white in colour; there’s was some touches of lacing on the sides of the glass and the surface was covered well too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite nutty on the nose initially with some basic roasted notes and malts coming through in the early going, there was a touch of caramel in there too. The beer turned out to be lighter than expected on the nose which was surprising given it was such a dark beer but some hints of sweetness did manage to appear alongside some grassy touches nearer the end.
Taste (6/10): The taste started off in much the same vein as the nose with a lot of nutty flavours and some lighter caramel sweetness backing it up, there was faint biscuit and some roasted malts in there too. Around the middle I managed to get some lighter grassy flavours but there was no sign of any hops or bitterness and it came across as quite a basic offering.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and moderately carbonated, this one was a semi-sweet offering thanks to the touches of caramel coming through at times. There was a fairly basic feel to the beer and it seemed a lot lighter than expected too but the balance was a decent one and it proved easy enough to drink without being an overly enjoyable one.

Overall (10/20): Quite a basic dark beer that wasn’t quite as strong or as pronounced as I’d been expected with the majority of the taste coming through the roasted malts and faint caramel that featured throughout. There was no sign of any bitterness or hops to the beer which sadly made it seem quite bland and basic but the light sweetness off the back of the caramel was at least somewhat enjoyable. It’s definitely not a beer to go hunting for but it’s always nice to check another beer off the 1001 list even if it’s not a great one.

Brewed In: Barcelona, Spain
Brewery: Damm S. A.
First Brewed: 1888
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Keg (500ml)
Purchased: Cerveceria Canarias, Barcelona, Spain
Price: €4.60 (£4.01 approx.)