My one and only review of a beer that I tried when I was in County Durham recently and it’s a local one that I managed to sample at the pub attached to the Stables Brewery in Beamish. The beer in question is their English IPA style Silver Buckles offering that I sampled on cask while at Beamish Hall for the afternoon. One of roughly nine beers that the brewery makes, this one appears to be one of their most popular offerings but how popular they are I’m not sure considering the brewpub I visited is likely one of only a handful of places that offer any Stables beers on cask. In addition to being the first beer from the Stables brewery that I’ve tried, this one is also the first beer brewed in County Durham that I’ve sampled and brings my total to thirty-three out of forty-six on the RateBeer website; not bad considering it’s not something I’ve been actively trying to finish, although I may have to start now.
Appearance (4/5): Light golden in colour and semi-cloudy with a creamy white head on top that looked pretty thick and held very well over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (6/10): This nose was a fairly light one here and there wasn’t too much that jumped out or grabbed your attention other than some pleasant malts that gave the beer an almost lager like aroma in the early going. There was some biscuit notes and a few earthy aromas in the early going before some subtle grassy notes and a moderate bitterness came through around the middle and further earthy touches seen things out.
Taste (5/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, the taste is an earthy one with some biscuit and bread malts opening things up alongside some subtle grassy flavours and hops. There was the odd touch of citrus coming through from the middle on wards as well but again it was quite a light and pretty bland tasting beer overall.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and coming through with quite light, soft carbonation and a fairly earthy feel to proceedings, thus one was a semi-dry beer that had some creamy touches to it and was smooth down the stretch as well but was far from being anything special.
Overall (11/20): This one was a fairly poor to average beer on the whole and I can’t see it being one that I’ll remember too much about in a couple of months given how bland it came through for the most part. There was some pleasant biscuit malts and the odd earthy patch but beyond that there wasn’t too much of anything to grab your attention or keep you interested. Some subtle grassy flavours and a bit of citrus helped liven things up but there just wasn’t enough of them to make this one an enjoyable beer that I’d consider having again sadly.
Brewed In: Beamish, Durham, England
Brewery: Stables Brewery
First Brewed: circa. 2010
Type: English IPA
Serving: Cask (Pint)
Purchased: Beamish Hall, Durham, England
My second Harbour beer in recent weeks and this time I’ve decided to go for their Antipodean IPA which I’m expecting to be a slightly stronger (and hopefully better) version of their Session IPA that I tried recently. This one is another that I picked up in Morrisons supermarket on a recent visit and I believe it is the only other Harbour brewery beer that they stock. I wasn’t much of a fan of their session IPA offering when I tried it and that was almost enough to put me off picking this one up but I’m all about giving second chance, so hopefully I won’t be let down again. First introduced in 2015, the beer shouldn’t be confused with the brewery’s regular IPA but if this one proves to be a worthy offering then that’s certainly one that I’ll do my best to track down and give a try at some point in future; I guess we will see if that’s the case or not now though.
Appearance (4/5): Very clear bodied and a lot lighter than I’d anticipated, the beer sitting a light amber to golden colour in the glass with a few bubbles rising to the surface but otherwise looking quite still in the glass. There is a half centimetre head that is a foamy, white one that manages to hold well over the opening couple minutes without breaking up too much at all.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a light beer on the nose and it comes through more like an IPA/lager-hybrid offering that an out-and-out American style IPA that I’d been expecting; it actually reminded me of Caesar Augustus from Williams Brothers in the early going. There was some grassy notes and fresh citrus notes to open things up before some touches of pine and even a little coriander started to make an appearance. I could detect some lager malts and a few touches of bread with the odd hop showing too but it definitely seemed to be the citrus that dominated with this one.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully the taste of this one was a lot more hoppy and bitter than the nose was hinting at and I enjoyed it a lot more as a result. There was some nice pine and citrus flavours that kicked things off, the later being slightly more balanced than with the nose too. There was some grassy hops showing and a little hay with some lemon zest and juicy hops coming through towards the end.
Palate (4/5): Very hoppy with a lot of bitterness showing throughout this one and quite a strong but pleasant tang from the citrus as well. There was some fresh and lively touches and the beer had a medium body but if I’m honest, it did seem a little basic and one-dimensional at times before a lingering bitter finish seen things out.
Overall (13/20): Quite a nice offering from Harbour and definitely better than their session IPA but it still wasn’t a great one either, especially after getting of to such a shaky start with the nose being far too light in that department. Overall the beer seemed to be more of a hybrid offering with hints of lager throughout but it was still a drinkable beer. Things did improve a little with the taste too and there was plenty of bitterness dotted about the place but again it was a fairly basic offering overall with the citrus seeming to dominate more than most would like.
Brewed In: Bodmin, Cornwall, England
Brewery: Harbour Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Morrisons (Glasgow)
My tenth Sierra Nevada offering now and another IPA from the American brewery, this one being a bottle that I managed to sample at Bryon Hamburgers in Glasgow recently. The bottle is one that I only became aware of recently when in Barcelona and I spotted it in a number of different supermarket but this is the first time that I’ve stumbled across it in the UK and it was an easy choice when ordering. The beer will be my first one from the brewery since I reviewed and quite enjoyed their Nooner Pilsner back in April. I was expecting big things from this one going in and part of me was imagining a reworking of their Torpedo IPA that I first tried here a number of years ago now. I’ve not had as many new offerings from this brewery as I’d have liked in recent years but hopefully this one will inspire me to hunt down a few more going forward now.
Appearance (3/5): This one poured a bright and very clear golden colour that had the odd bubble rising to the surface but look surprisingly disappointing given the lack of anything resembling a decent head. There was a few thin traces of white lacing towards on end of the beers surface but even that disappeared pretty quickly after pouring; poor stuff on the eye and definitely not the best from Sierra Nevada so far.
Aroma (7/10): Things thankfully improved with the nose with some pleasant tropical fruits and pine coming through early on, there was some grapefruit and apricot in there too alongside some fainter mango notes. The beer was quite a fresh one on the nose with a little pineapple and some stronger orange notes towards the middle giving the beer quite a fresh and lively smell before some citrus makes an appearance nearer the end. The aroma isn’t quite as strong on the nose as I’d expected but it was a nice one nonetheless and certainly a lot beer than the appearance of the beer.
Taste (8/10): Fresh and quite a lively beer with a lot of citrus and orange flavours to open things up alongside some background spice that’s much fainter but noticeable nonetheless. There was some nice tropical fruits that carried on well from the nose with plenty of pine, mango and apricot coming through in the early going and some peach not too far behind. There was some of the promised hop oils towards the end of the beer that added to the bitterness and a couple of bread malts featured as well but it was definitely a fruity, hop-heavy offering.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and very fresh, this one had quite a zesty feel to it with a lot of citrus tang and lively carbonation as well. There was a nice balance between the tropical fruits with none of them overpowering the rest but beyond that there wasn’t too much else to the beer but it was an enjoyable and bitter one that had a crisp feel and a fairly dry finish too.
Overall (15/20): Quite an enjoyable Sierra Nevada offering all things considered, the beer did get off to quite a rocky start with the appearance being somewhat underwhelming but things soon picked up with the nose coming through with a lot of tropical fruits and bitterness before the taste continued on with more of the same. It definitely wasn’t the most complex or varied IPA out there but it was an enjoyable one with a lot of oranges and citrus giving it a zesty, dry feel and the tropical flavours adding some sweetness and giving it a refreshing feel too; nice stuff and one I’d happily try again.
Brewed In: Chico, California, United States of America
Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Full Name: Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American IPA
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Byron Hamburgers, Glasgow, Scotland
The second new offering in Brewdog’s ‘Hammer Series’ now, this one being a new take on their ever popular Jack Hammer offering and this time it’s been given a darker twist and turned into a black IPA rather than its original American IPA style. The beer is the follow-up to their Monk Hammer offering in the series, one that I enjoyed a couple of months ago and it’s also one that is likely to be followed by a Chilli Hammer and finally a Rye Hammer later in the year, two more beers that I’m looking forward to picking up but it was probably this one I was most excited about when the series was announced. I’ve tried quite a few black IPA’s of late, something that’s fairly unusual considering how difficult new ones seem to be to find but I’m hopeful this will be a good one and perhaps even find itself as an occasional brew from Brewdog in future; I guess I’m about to find out.
Appearance (4/5): Quite a deep, dark brown colour that’s bordering on black and is topped with a thin, half-centimetre tall head that’s a tan brown colour. There’s a slight break-up at one end of the surface of the beer but other than that there doesn’t seem to be much head movement initially and the body of the beer is an opaque one.
Aroma (7/10): Starting quite fresh with some tropical fruits opening things up alongside pine hops and citrus notes; there’s some pineapple, oranges and a touch of grapefruit too in the early going. This is followed by some touches of roasted notes and darker fruits coming through alongside a little bitterness. The beer wasn’t an overly dark one though but some coffee notes and a faint bit of cocoa appeared from the middle on wards with some grassy notes seeing things out.
Taste (7/10): Starting off quite dark with more earthy malts and bitterness showing earlier here than with the nose, there was some coffee and touches of chocolate in there too. The fresh, tropical fruits and pine flavours were present again too though with some citrus and oranges coming through first. These were followed by some mango and pineapple which added to the sweetness and was complimented bu some caramel malts that featured too.
Palate (4/5): Slightly darker than expected without being overdone, the palate was a dark and bitter one with an oily, light-medium body and crisp carbonation. The balance of the beer wasn’t bad either with the tropical fruits and sweetness working well with the roasted bitterness and earthy feel that opened things up but it was very slightly thinner than I’d have liked.
Overall (15/20): Another nice beer in the series from Brewdog, this one struck a good balance between the darker malts and the sweeter, tropical fruits flavours but the former bit seem slightly more pronounced in places. There was good variety to the beer and it was fairly easy to drink but it still probably fell short of the last in the series, the brewery’s Monk Hammer offering and it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the regular Jack Hammer either sadly.
Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Black IPA
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
The third of the four beers I picked up in Manchester now, this one is a bottle-conditioned offering from Squawk Brewing based in the Ardwick area of Manchester and one that I found at the Beermoth bottle shop in the city. Following on from the last review of a beer from the shop (Torrside Candlewick) and continuing the dark beer theme, the beer is an English style porter that was introduced sometime around January 2014 and is also available on cask in the local area too. Like the two beers I brought back from Manchester and have already reviewed here, I didn’t know anything about this brewery previously but I am aware that this is one of their core range of beers and I will now be on the lookout for the others, particularly the next time I find myself in the Manchester area again.
Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark brown to mahogany colour that has a beige, half-centimetre tall, bubbly head on top that looks quite wavy on top of the opaque body.
Aroma (7/10): Roasted malts and some light sweetness kick things off here, there is some nice toffee and caramel notes coming through in the early going that are followed by slightly less pronounced grassy hops. Towards the middle and onwards there was a few dark fruits coming through, with plums, prunes and raisins all featuring before some rich chocolate seen things out.
Taste (7/10): Starting with some sweet malts that are complimented by some nice sugars and caramel, the beer then follows with plenty of darker fruits that also featured with the nose; most noticeably there was some prunes and raisins but a few others featured as well. Nothing particularly seemed to dominate the taste of this one though and there was some chocolate and a few roasted flavours around the middle before a few further earthy malts seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and well carbonated, this one was quite a crisp beer on the palate and it came through with plenty of sweetness from the start too. There was some rich, complex flavours in there and the balance seemed good with the finish a semi-dry and moderately bitter one.
Overall (15/20): This one was quite a nice porter from Squawk, a brewery that I wouldn’t mind seeing more from after trying this one. The beer was a rich, flavoursome porter that had more going for it than I expected from a 4% abv. beer thanks to the sweetness that featured from the start and the dark fruits that complimented them. While there wasn’t anything outstanding about the beer, it was definitely a well-rounded and highly drinkable offering and one I’d happily go back to again.
Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Squawk Brewing Co.
First Brewed: circa. 2014
Type: English Porter
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Beermoth (Manchester)
Following on from the bottle of Quantum’s Magnum P.A. that I reviewed here a short time ago, this one is my second of the four beers that I brought home from Manchester’s Beermoth bottle shop after visiting the city recent and this time the beer in question is an English style stout. Brewed in the town of New Mills in Derbyshire, located roughly fifteen miles from Manchester, I opted for this one at the Beermoth store based on the fact it was a relatively local offering and again it comes from a brewery I had never heard of plus it was a stout which makes a bit of a change since most bottle I end up buying these days are either an America IPA or pale ale. Anyway, here it is and hopefully it will prove to be a somewhat better offering than the Quantum beer that I tried last.
Appearance (4/5): This one poured quite a dark, opaque black colour that had a thick looking body and a few bits of sediment near the bottom of the glass. The head is a thumb-sized, medium tan-coloured one that quickly halves in size but falls just short of turning patchy thankfully.
Aroma (7/10): Strong roasted malts and spices to start with some chocolate in there too in the early going. There was quite a sweet nose to this one initially with some creamy notes and a little caramel making an appearance before some faint coffee comes through from the background. There was certainly more to this one than I’d expected going in and it was fairly complex, being rounded off by some pleasant earthy malts.
Taste (7/10): This taste follows on well from the nose and opens up with some dark malts and roasted flavours alongside a background chocolate flavour that helped add some sweetness to proceedings. There was a nice bitterness throughout which seemed to peak around the middle of the beer with some caramel and touches of smoke soon after but it wasn’t an overly strong beer at any point.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied which was perhaps a touch lighter than I’d have liked from the style, although that might have been expected given the strength of the beer but it was in no way thin bodied thankfully. There was medium to fine carbonation levels and the palate was a semi-dry one with a nice sweetness from the start and a solid roasted bitterness too; towards the end there was a touch of smoke as well.
Overall (13/20): Not a bad stout at all, probably a touch lighter than I’d have liked but the beer was a fairly complex one despite this and the nose in particular had a lot going for it. There was a solid sweetness and plenty of roasted flavours from the start with the beer and the bitterness was good too. A pleasant beer that’s worth trying if you stumble across it but it’s probably not one to go hunting for.
Brewed In: New Mills, Derbyshire, England
Brewery: Torrside Brewing
First Brewed: 2016
Type: English Stout
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Beermoth (Manchester)
The first of four beers that I picked up at the Beermoth bottle shop in Manchester on my recent visit to the city now, this one being a relatively local beer to the city having been brewed in the Stockport area. I picked the bottle up from the shops somewhat limited selection of local beers just before leaving the city and it’s not from a brewery that I’ve ever heard of; usually a good indication that the beer isn’t distributed north of the border and reason enough for me to pick it up. Founded in 2011 and located not far from the much larger Robinson’s brewery, Quantum brew bottles, cask and keg offerings for the local market and from what I can tell, this Magnum P.A. offering is one of their rotating beers and one that I can’t wait to crack open and try now.
Appearance (3/5): This beer pours quite a cloudy, golden amber colour in the glass and is topped with quite a disappointingly thin, white lacing that’s pretty patchy as it sits atop the beer; not a great start sadly.
Aroma (6/10): The nose kicks off with a semi-funky aroma that wasn’t too far off a saison if I’m honest and initially had me thinking the beer might be off. As it turns out, I don’t think it was and this aroma was followed up by some subdued citrus hops and a couple of background fruits with the odd tropical tinge coming through. Definitely a lighter nose than I’d expected but there was some faint sweetness and very light touches of caramel in there alongside some strawberries that I hadn’t been expecting but the beer could definitely have been stronger on the nose.
Taste (6/10): The taste kicks off much like the nose with some subdued citrus hops but this time there is also a touch of pine and very light grapefruit showing too, it could definitely have been more bitter though. There was a few sweet fruits with the odd berry flavour coming through around the middle before some biscuit malts and touches of bread seen things out.
Palate (2/5): Quite a flat and underwhelming beer if I’m honest, I was expecting a bit more in the way of flavour and carbonation really and without either the beer seemed quite bland and boring. There was the odd touch of sweetness showing towards the end of the taste but it was too little, too late and the body was a little thin too; poor stuff in truth.
Overall (13/20): This one has turned out to be my second disappointing beer in a row sadly, mainly due to the bland taste and poor palate that resulted in the beer coming through as boring and flat with little in the flavour to turn things round any. There was some subtle citrus flavours in the early going with touches of pine too but it wasn’t nearly enough to make me want to try this one again; if the date on the bottle didn’t tell me otherwise, I would probably have thought this one was past its best and one to be tried when its fresher but as it stands it’s just another poor beer I’m afraid.
Brewed In: Stockport, Greater Manchester, England
Brewery: Quantum Brewing
First Brewed: 2016
Type: English Pale Ale
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Beermoth (Manchester)