La Meule (316 of 1001)

November 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

My first beer from the Franches-Montagnes brewery now, usually abbreviated as BFM, this is a small brewery based in the canton of Jura which shares a border with Basel which is where I managed to grab a bottle while on vacation there recently. This one is one of the first that the brewery made way back in 1998 (although the recipe has been tweaked slightly since then) and it is a beer that takes some influence from Saison Dupont, a beer I’ve reviewed here previously. This one is another Swiss beer to feature in the 1001 beers list, my sixth such beer and the penultimate one of those I still have to add here. Founded in 1997 by Jérôme Rebetez, the BFM brewery is one that specialises in barrel-aged beers and using unusual ingredients. This particular offering, their La Meule, is labelled as a Swiss golden ale but is probably closer to a spiced or herb ale and it is one of two beers from the brewery that I managed to try whilst in Switzerland, the other being their soon to be reviewed Curvee Alex Le Rouge imperial stout.

La Meule

Appearance (4/5): This one pours a hazy orange colour with a  one centimetre, foamy white head on top that is slightly creamy looking and quite thick. Retention is pretty good with the beer with it managing to hold well for the opening couple of minutes and keep about three-quarters of its original height.
Aroma (7/10): This one opens up with quite a lot of yeast coming through, there is some nice citrus notes as well and I got a few touches of spice into the bargain. The nose featured some oranges and plenty of coriander alongside a hint of sourness. The balance seemed good with fresh and floral notes coming through alongside some herbs and a hint of bitterness right at the end.
Taste (7/10): Light, pale malts and a good helping of spice kick things off here before some coriander, cloves and some citrus flavours start to show themselves; there is a nice mix or orange and lemon flavours with some yeast not far behind. I managed to detect some biscuit malts around the middle with touches of bread before the floral flavours from the nose along with some junipers, pine and grassy touches that sneak in towards the end.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and quite a lively feel thanks to the strong carbonation levels which helped to give the beer a refreshing feel and made it an easy one to drink. The balance of the beer seemed good throughout with it featuring quite a dry and crisp palate that was sharp towards the end but very pleasing.

Overall (16/20): This one was quite a lively and spicy beer with good carbonation as well as being an easy one to drink which helped it to grow on me as I worked my way down the glass. There was some refreshing aspects to the beer and the citrus played its part in balancing out the pale malts and spice whilst adding some to the complexity of the beer making La Meule one of the better spiced beers I’ve tried; great stuff all round.

Brewed In: Saignelégier, Jura, Switzerland
Brewery: BFM (Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes)
First Brewed: 1998
Full Name: BFM La Meule
Type: Herbed/Spiced Beer
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 5.20 CHF (approx. £3.37)

Schwarzer Kristall (315 of 1001)

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.0

Translated as ‘Black Crystal, this dark schwarzbier was first introduced in 2007 and will be my fourth from the Appenzeller brewery with each of them featuring on the 1001 beers list; this brewery seems to dominate the Swiss offerings on the list. The beer itself is based on a recipe from the late 19th century but was given a few additional, modern touches as well. The beers from the brewery that I’ve tried thus far have been a fairly average bunch with the bottle of Naturperle (the first from them I reviewed here) going down best and since this one is the last from Appenzeller that I still have to review here it would be nice to go out with a good one, thankfully this beer does not disappoint in that regard. It is currently the seventh highest ranked schwarzbier on BeerAdvocate and is also highly ranked on RateBeer, sitting about forty-forth on that site.

Schwarzer Kristall

Appearance (4/5): This one poured an opaque black with a thick looking, one and a half centimetre tall beige head that is foamy and straight looking with very good retention. There is little movement over the opening couple of minutes before it eventually reduces to about half its original size.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a dark beer on the nose, I’d expected as much from the second I’d started pouring this one. There was plenty of roasted malts and coffee to kick things off, I also got a few background fruits making an early appearance too. The aroma was slightly earthy at times with some grain and a few touches of sweetness sneaking in as well. The beer was also lightly smoked on the nose with some cocoa and sugars right at the end.
Taste (8/10): This one follows on from the nose well with some nice malts, particularly the darker one but also some coffee from the nose featuring as well. The beer was definitely a dark one with sugars, grain and chocolate all making themselves known before a few dark and ripe fruits showed themselves; most notably some raisins and prunes. There was some roasted flavours and smoky flavours towards the end with some caramel seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium to full body with a few creamy patches on top of light carbonation. The beer was quite well-balanced and easy-going with some smoke showing in areas and some sweetness sneaking in too; an enjoyable mouthfeel.

Overall (16/20): This one was a really nice beer and definitely one of the better Swiss beers that I managed to try on my trip to the country. The taste of this one was good and the nose in particular was an enjoyable one with some good roasted malts and dark fruits showing themselves alongside sugars and chocolate flavours plus a touch of smoke towards the end; great stuff and very much a beer that I wouldn’t mind having again at some point.

Brewed In: Appenzell, Switzerland
Brewery: Locher Appenzeller
First Brewed: 2007
Full Name: Appenzeller Schwarzer Kristall
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: 6.3%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 2.90 CHF (approx. £1.88)

Appenzeller Vollmond Bier (314 of 1001)

November 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.1

A third beer from the Appenzeller brewery now with this one following from the previously reviewed bottles of Naturperle and Hanfblüte that I managed to try when in Basel recently. An unusual beer in that it is only ever brewed on the night of a full moon (coincidentally there was one here last night) and that’s what gives the beers its name, Vollmond being German for ‘full moon’. This one is another from the brewery that features on the 1001 beers list and will be my 314th from the list to have been reviewed here and my fourth Swiss beer from the list as well, Einsiedler Lager Hell been the other falling under that category not already mentioned here. This one was actually one for the first bottles I spotted in the Drinks of the World bottle shop located in Basel’s train station when visiting the city and since it appeared in the 1001 list I was quick to grab a bottle, going for the larger 500ml offering rather than one of the smaller bottles they also stocked. The beer is described as a premium lager and in truth it wasn’t on I held out much optimism for but regardless, here’s what I thought of it when I managed to give it a try.

Appenzeller Vollmond Bier

Appearance (3/5): This one pours a light and slightly hazy, golden straw colour with a thin, one-centimetre tall head on top that is white and foamy, covering the entire surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): This one has quite a standard pale lager aroma on the nose with some corn and light citrus notes kicking things off alongside some earthy hops and a few grassy notes. There is a relatively fresh aroma to this one with some background sweetness coming through to accompany some touches of grain and faint floral notes. It’s quite a basic beer on the nose in truth but it’s not off-putting and I couldn’t detect any skunk which is always a positive.
Taste (6/10): The nose kicks off with some grain and corn initially but there is also some grassy hops and floral flavours to back these up. I could detect some faint flavours and the citrus from the nose also made an appearance with some pale malts but again nothing really stuck out with this one and it was all a bit ordinary in truth.
Palate (3/5): Light and fluffy on the palate with some dry and crisp touches alongside average carbonation levels. This one was fairly easy to drink and the balance was okay but this was mainly down to it lacking any distinctive flavours and it did seem a touch faint in places.

Overall (14/20): Quite a fresh beer and the balance was nice enough with some good citrus and light malt flavours coming through but at the same time nothing stood out or done all that much to impress me either. It was quite a good session pale lager with a clean and crisp feel but it’s not one that I’d go out of my way for really.

Brewed In: Appenzell, Switzerland
Brewery: Locher Appenzeller
First Brewed: 1991
Type: Premium Lager
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 3.50 CHF (approx. £2.28)

Appenzeller Hanfblüte (313 of 1001)

November 24, 2015 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

This one will be my tenth Swiss beer now and the third from the country I’ll have tried that also features on the 1001 beers list, not bad going considering I hadn’t tried any at the start of the month. This one is another beer from the Appenzeller brewery and following on from the bottle of Naturperle I reviewed here previously, this will be my second from the brewery with both listed in the 1001 Beers To Try Before You Die book. Hanfblüte is a beer infused with hemp leaves and blossom, something I was unaware of at the time of drinking this one but if I knew German then I’d have realised the name translates to ‘hemp blossom’ and that might have tipped me off to the fact. As it stood, this one was quite a surprise when I tried it given I’d been expecting a simple, pale lager but it wasn’t a bad surprise thankfully.

Appenzeller Hanfblüte

Appearance (3/5): Pale golden to straw coloured with a hazy body and a two centimetre tall head that is foamy looking and slowly recedes to sit at about half its original size after roughly thirty seconds.
Aroma (6/10): This one was really spicy on the nose with quite a lot of yeast coming through early on and some citrus notes backing it up. There was quite a few herbal touches to the nose with a strong smell of hemp making itself known alongside bursts of coriander and some pepper. The nose was quite an unusual smelling one, specifically the hemp was not at all what I’d been expecting since I knew little about this one before trying it but it was pungent and quite a bit different.
Taste (7/10): As expected given the nose, this one started off very spicy with a tonne of yeast and plenty of hemp flavours coming through in the early going. There was some strong herbal flavours that featured a little pepper and coriander on top of some pale and light malts. I could detect some fresh flavours with some citrus and floral touches in there before a lingering spicy taste see things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and very lively with a lot of strong carbonation and plenty of spice on the palate. This one is a very dry and crisp beer with a light-medium body that had the odd hint of bitterness in places and a fairly noticeable tang to proceedings as well; a nice beer at not at all what I was expecting.

Overall (14/20): This beer was a little bit of a strange one really, I grabbed a bottle without knowing anything about it but having tried others from the brewery but nothing prepared me for the taste really with quite a lot of herbal flavours and tonnes of hemp coming through early on. Having been expecting a pale lager when I bought the bottle, this one was a pleasant surprise and not like anything else I’ve tried previously with tonnes off spice and the hemp definitely started to grow on me as I worked my way through this one and settled down some. It’s probably not one I’m very likely to have again but it was certainly something a little different and one well worth giving a go at least once.

Brewed In: Appenzell, Switzerland
Brewery: Locher Appenzeller
First Brewed: 1997
Type: Herbed/Spiced Beer
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 4.00 CHF (approx. £2.59)

Longfin Lager

November 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.9

Longifn Lager is my seventh Ballast Point beer and another I picked up over the weekend after learning that Brewdog would no longer be stocking their beers once their current stock was finished thanks to Ballast Point being sold to Constellation Brands in the United States recently. The beer is one of the brewery’s core beers, available year round and brewed in the Munich helles style that is supposedly “clean with a hint of hops” and is my second beer from Ballast Point in very quick succession, following on from the can of Even Keel that I reviewed here a short time ago. I was actually considering ordering a can of this beer online when I last bought some beers from Brewdog’s online shop about a month ago but other beers got in the way so when I popped into the newly opened Glasgow BottleDog from Brewdog the other day and spotted a can in the fridge I decided to give it a go at the second time of asking.

Longfin Lager

Appearance (2/5): Quite a light golden amber and a very clear body that looks very active with plenty of visible carbonation. The head is a bubbly white one that starts about half a centimetre tall but it disappeared completely after about twenty seconds and looks pretty pathetic at that stage with was disappointing.
Aroma (6/10): Definitely a clean nose with some lager malts and touches of corn and very faint citrus; to be honest I had a hard time detecting much of anything from this one but at least it wasn’t any skunk or off-putting aromas. There is some bread malts and faint hops coming through with a few hints of grass and hay plus some grains right at the end.
Taste (7/10): This one follows on from the nose and is very clean tasting with some light hay and grassy hops, a touch of citrus which is quite faint and some light, lager style malts but nothing really stands out or dominates. There is some floral touches in there with the odd hit of grain and bread before being finished off with some semi-sweet flavours and a light bitterness.
Palate (3/5): Fairly light bodied without being thin or watery (although it did look slightly watery in truth). The palate was a very clean one of the palate with a faint sweetness and it is similarly bitter at the end, with the balance quite a good one because nothing really stands out or dominates flavour wise. As a result, it’s quite an easy beer to drink but it wasn’t particularly interesting sadly.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite an ordinary lager from Ballast Point to be honest, the thing that stuck most with me was how clean it was on the palate but there wasn’t really a whole lot going on with it in truth. There was all the usual lager flavours with some light grassy hops, hay and touches of corn alongside some bread malts but nothing really grabbed me or made me want to try this one again which was disappointing given how good some of the brewery’s other beers are.

Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company
Full Name: Ballast Point Even Keel Session IPA
First Brewed: 2006
Type: Munich Helles Lager
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £3.00

Ballast Point Even Keel

November 23, 2015 1 comment

Rating: 3.85

My sixth beer from Ballast Point now and one that I picked up over the weekend at the new BottleDog shop from Brewdog in Glasgow as thanks to being inspired to grab a few beers from the brewery after reading about their resent purchase by Constellation Brands for $1 billion the other week. I’ve also read that Brewdog will no longer be stocking their beers after the current batch sells out and I’d been wanting to try their Grapefruit Sculpin but sadly they had already sold out so I settled for this and another two from the brewery that I hadn’t tried yet. Despite the fact their recent takeover will mean they have more funds available for expansion, I doubt I’ll get an opportunity to try many more Ballast Point beers after I get through they ones I have left in the house as Brewdog seemed to be the only ones importing any of their stuff to the UK; you never know though, I might get my hands on some Grapefruit Sculpin yet. This one is actually my twelfth beer that falls under the session IPA category and the beer must have been one of the first of the style when it was introduced way back in 2006, although it was probably labelled different back then as no one was really talking about session IPA’s until a couple of years ago. The beer is well hopped with one and a half pounds used per barrel when it is double dry-hopped so I’m expecting plenty bitterness from a beer that won silver at the 2007 California State Fair and a bronze at last years Brussels Beer Challenge.

Ballast Point Even Keel

Appearance (4/5): This one pours quite a nice and bright, medium amber colour with a very clear body and a half centimetre tall head that is white and bubbly. Head retention of this one was okay with it sitting for a bit before fading to a thin and soapy lacing on top of the beer.
Aroma (7/10): This one is quite fresh on the nose with pine and floral hops to start with but they did seem ever so slightly subdued initially. There is some touches of spice and grain coming through early on as well with a few biscuit note around the middle before some of the tropical fruits start to make themselves known. The nose seemed well-balanced with a few lemon and citrus towards the end but the pine was the most dominant, almost resinous at times and definitely pleasant.
Taste (7/10): A combination of pine, citrus and floral hops kick things off with the taste and some spice backs it up in the early going. Again the beer was fresh with some light but earthy malts coming through around the middle with touches of biscuit and a very faint sweetness. There is some grapefruit and a slight acidity around the middle and heading towards the end with a very nice bitterness too.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium bodied and very fresh with a lot of citrus and floral touches coming through and sitting on some spice as well. There was a nice bitterness running through this one for the start and I got some decent sweetness from the malts as well which also helped balance things out nicely.

Overall (17/20): This one was quite a fresh and hoppy beer that packed a tremendous amount of flavour into its 3.8% abv. and there was a lot more to it that I’d been expecting going in. The hops initially seemed a little light and subdued on the nose but this definitely sorted itself out come the taste with plenty of hops showing alongside some resinous pine and nice citrus flavours. A really nice beer and one of the better session IPA’s that I’ve had, it’s up there with Stone’s Go To IPA and Founders All Day IPA although it maybe just falls slightly short of both of them but it’s still an excellent beer.

Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company
Full Name: Ballast Point Even Keel Session IPA
First Brewed: 2006
Type: Session IPA
Abv: 3.8%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £2.80

Modern Times Black House

November 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.3

A new San Diego brewery for me now, this one will be my first from Modern Times Beer but it is a brewery that I’ve been aware of for a while now as their beers always seem to be popular online. This particular can is one that I ordered from Brewdog’s online shop recently after missing out on two other beers from the brewery after they sold out relatively quickly. Since ordering this one I’ve learnt that it is a coffee flavoured stout and that the brewer actually roasts their own beans to use when making it so it should be packed with flavour. This one is one of four main core beers from the brewery that is available year round and since Brewdog have recently started stocking this and a few others I’m hoping this won’t be the last I get to try from the brewery.

Modern Times Black House

Appearance (3/5): This one is a really dark black colour with an opaque body and some deep ruby tinges at the bottom of the glass. There’s not much in the way of a head sitting on top, just a thin and patchy tan brown head that disappears almost as soon as I poured it to leave a few bubbles around the circumference of the glass.
Aroma (6/10): Quite dark nose to this one as you’d expect with a lot of dark malts and roasted flavours coming through. These are backed up by some strong coffee flavours and rich chocolate with a few oats thrown in for good measure. I could detect some bitterness and espresso notes right at the end alongside touches of grain, sugars and very faint caramel.
Taste (6/10): This one starts with plenty of dark, roasted flavours that are backed up with a little grain and some sugars. There is some earthy touches and the dominant flavour seems to be a combination of strong coffee and rich, dark chocolate that seemed to work well together with some bitterness seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with quite a thick and full body that comes through very dark bringing with it some sweetness from the sugars and rich chocolate. There is also a lot of bitterness thanks to the coffee and I got medium carbonation levels and a dry finish.

Overall (12/20): This one was a beer that was fairly disappointing in truth, I’m not entirely sure what I had been expecting going in but I definitely wanted more than this. The taste, and the nose in truth, was quite basic and not unlike a lot of other English style stouts that I’ve tried over the years although it was a nice enough taste without ever exciting.; I doubt this will be one I go for again.

Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: Modern Times Beer
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Oatmeal Stout
Abv: 5.8%
Serving: Can (473ml)
Price: £4.00


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