A sneaking keg review of one of Brewdog’s latest releases, their Neon Overlord chilli mango IPA that was released towards the end of last week and was initially one that I stopped by their Glasgow bottle shop to pick up a can of. As it turned out, a mere 24 hours after its release, I was already too late and the last can had been sold so instead I opted to try a schooner of the beer on-tap in the bar next door and see how it rated. Released alongside the latest in the brewery’s ‘Hammer Head’ series, their Chilli Hammer beer, I immediately thought the two beers would end up being quite similar and that this release was a quick way of getting rid of the excess chillies the ordered in when making the Chilli Hammer beer. I’m not usually a fan of spice or herb beers and the first thing I think of when someone mentions a chilli beers is how much I hated Cave Creek Chili Beer when I tried that one; still a beer that ranks in top 10 worst beers I’ve ever tried, although I’m assuming this one will be at least a slight improvement on that one.
Appearance (4/5): Quite a bright looking beer that sat medium amber in the glass and had pretty good clarity too. The beer was topped with a thin, foamy white head that done well to cover the surface of the beer but was more of a thin lacing that a head in truth.
Aroma (6/10): A moderate strength beer on the nose and one that opened up with some pleasant American style hops as well as some touches of citrus and a couple of pale malts too. There was hints of mango and a little of the spice that I expect to come through later as well but it definitely wasn’t the strongest aroma I’ve come across. Towards the end some touches of candy and a little sugary sweetness started to come through but the tropical notes seemed strongest without ever really dominating.
Taste (5/10): The spice from the nose is what grabs you first with the taste, there is a lot of it here and it generates an insane amount of heat that hits the lips as well as the back of the throat and immediately gets your attention. This flavour pretty much dominates the entire taste of the beer alongside some peppers and chilli and seemed to overpower for the majority of proceedings; only at the end did things subside slightly once I got more accustomed to the taste but by then it was too late. There was the odd bit of citrus sneaking through towards the end too and the odd fruity hop but the spice and heat is pretty much all you notice.
Palate (2/5): This one probably sat around light-medium bodied and as I’ve already mentioned, it came through with a lot of heat from the chillies and spice which kept up pretty much until the end. It was quite a hard beer to drink and I struggled with it initially but once it had a little time to settle it calmed down slightly and some of the background flavours started to make an appearance and I even got a hint of bitterness towards the end. There was at least an attempt to balance the beer out slightly with some citrus and a hop bitterness but neither of these worked and the spice dominated throughout.
Overall (10/20): This one was quite a strange offering on the whole, taken as a chilli beer it was quite good when comparing it to others of the style but on its own it wasn’t that great an offering and ended up being one I struggled to finish a schooner of. It started off quite interesting and the heat it generated was pretty impressive but this soon turned to overpowering and challenging meaning I came away thinking that a third of a pint or at a push, a half pint of this one would have been more than enough. It’s definitely one I’m glad I tried but it’s not one I’d have again either; it’ll be interesting to see how the brewery’s Chilli Hammer offering released alongside this one compares in the coming weeks.
Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Herbed/Spiced Beer (Chili Beer)
Serving: Keg (Schooner)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasg0w)
My first Abita beer now and what will technically be my second ever beer from Louisiana but is really more like my first given the Dixie Beer that I tried way back in 2012 was originally from the state but the bottle I tried had been brewed under license in the EU. This one is a late 2014 release from Abita Brewing and like the last beer I reviewed here, SweetWater’s Goin’ Costal, this is another that I was given as a gift from a relative returning from the states over the summer. Although I’ll not be counting this one as a new state, I am pleased to finally be trying a beer that was actually brewed within Louisiana state limits and I fully expect it to be better than that last ‘Louisiana beer’ I reviewed year a good few years ago now. Anyway here it is, my review of my first of three beers from Abita that I’ll be reviewing over the coming weeks and hopefully it’s a good one.
Appearance (4/5): A light, copper amber colour that is cloudy bodied and thick looking. The beer is topped with a thin, foamy white head that’s more lacing than anything else and looks quite patchy sitting on top of the beer after settling down. There is slightly more build up round the edges of the glass though and it falls short of disappearing completely which is nice.
Aroma (8/10): Upon opening the bottle this one was quite a bit sweeter than I’d been expecting, there was a lot of caramel malts and sweet bread coming through alongside touches of earthy malts. The hops that I’d expected going in were present soon after though and I manged to detect some nice tropical fruits and touches of pine alongside the toasted notes. The balance of the beer seemed to be a good one, initially at least anyway, and some citrus and floral notes rounded things off nicely.
Taste (7/10): Continuing on from were the nose left off, this one was a very sweet tasting beer that had a lot more caramel and bread malts than I’d expected but with the taste the pine hops and touches of tropical fruit seemed slightly more pronounced as well. It still wasn’t an all out hop bomb but there was some nice touches of orange and mango coming through alongside a few toasted malts to help the flavours balance out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and particularly well-balanced, as I’ve mentioned it was also a lot sweeter than expected too with plenty caramel malts complimenting the tropical fruits nicely and actually coming out stronger than them for the most part too. There was light-medium carbonation and the finish was wetter than expected too but overall this was a beer that definitely impressed me.
Overall (17/20): An excellent introduction to Louisianan brewed beer, this one was a really sweet styled American IPA but it also managed to come through with some decent tropical fruits and touches of pine hop as well. Despite the name, it definitely seemed more like an American pale ale at times but the balance remained pretty good throughout and it was quite an easy beer to drink. The finish was quite a wet one too and that seemed to keep me going back for more; nice stuff all round and one I’d have again.
Brewed In: Abita Springs, Louisiana, United States of America
Brewery: Abita Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American IPA
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
A new beer from a new American state for me now, this one will be my first ever Georgia brewed beer and is a bottle I received as a gift from a family member returning from Atlanta recently. The beer is a fairly new offering, initially being introduced in May of this year but already it’s one I’ve seen a lot of online and I’m glad it’s one I’ve managed to get my hands on. The beer takes my tally of US states one closer to the halfway mark and I’ve now reviewed beers from twenty-three states, although I’m counting Washington D.C. in there as well. This particular offing as an American style IPA that is laced with pineapple and it was all the makings of a great beer, I just hope the pineapple doesn’t overpower and that it’s an improvement on some of the grapefruit beers I’ve tried this year; particularly Brewdog’s Elvis Juice and Magic Rock’s High Wire Grapefruit offerings.
Appearance (4/5): Cloudy and bright orange to amber in colour, this one was quite well-carbonated when I opened the bottle and it looked like overflowing but upon pouring it settled with a half centimetre tall, bubbly white head that covers the majority of the beers surface. It’s a nice looking beer with some build up in the centre of the glass and touches of lacing left on the sides as I worked my way down the glass.
Aroma (8/10): Opening up with quite a fruity and tropical tinged nose, there is some early hops coming through and giving the beer a fresh, slightly bitter start. The pineapple promised on the bottle features quite early on as well and is coupled with some nice citrus and orange notes. It’s a balanced aroma with some pine in there too and a bit of mango following on behind as well. Towards the end a faint bit of caramel sweetness seems to make itself known before some bread malts and a subtle bitterness see things out.
Taste (8/10): Matching the nose, the beer opens up with quite a fresh and tangy flavour that is a combination of pineapple, orange and citrus as well as a bit of mango and apricot that helps to add touches of sweetness to the beer too. Plenty of hops feature as well but they are quite subtle when compared to other American style IPA’s and as result the beer isn’t overly hoppy, instead seeming quite refreshing and sessionable. There was some touches of grapefruit and pine around the middle which led nicely into the malty sweetness that seen things out.
Palate (4/5): This one was a seriously fresh and quite lively beer with a plenty tropical fruits that helped to add some sweetness nearer the end of proceedings; there was a nice tang from the pineapple as well though. The balance of the beer was nice with a subtle bitterness from the hops but not too much and the carbonation levels were good too.
Overall (17/20): Fresh, light and really easy to drink, this beer was a prefect one to kick off an evening of beers and is one that went down exceptionally well from the start. The promised pineapple that the label mention came through quite early as you would expect but unlike a lot of similar beers, it wasn’t an overpowering or sickening taste and the balance was pretty good too. There was touches of sourness coming through nearer the end and the variety of tropical fruits on show was good too; excellent stuff and one I wouldn’t mind trying again if it ever made its way to the UK at some point in the future.
Brewed In: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
Brewery: SweetWater Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Serving: Bottle (3550ml)
Purchased: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
A second Irish beer in a row now and another IPA from the country, this time a black IPA that follows on from the Bo Bristle IPA that I reviewed here last. Like that offering, this one was another that I picked up a bottle of from the Ennistown SuperValu when travelling through County Clare in the summer. As with most of the beer that I tried in Ireland over the summer, this bottle from Blacks Of Kinsale is a beer I had read a little about prior to my visit and have been on the lookout for during my travels; especially because if is a rare black IPA from Ireland. I’ve also managed to reach another milestone upon reviewing this one here as well, the beer will be the fiftieth unique offering from Ireland that I’ll have tried and it is also the penultimate beer of those that I brought home from Ireland that I have left to try, with only Galway Bay’s Of Foam and Fury double IPA left to open after this one.
Appearance (4/5): An opaque and really dark mahogany colour that looks black on first glance and is topped with a huge, two and a bit inch head that holds pretty well and actually seems to gain a little height as it settles. The texture of the head is a foamy one and retention is excellent and there is plenty of lacing on the sides as the head recedes a little more.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a dark nose with some coffee and caramel coming through in the early going alongside touches of bitterness and a little citrus as well. The hops start to come through around the middle with some faint pine and herbal touches in there too. It’s not the strongest beer on the nose but some darker roasted notes feature towards the end, as do some darker malts.
Taste (7/10): Much like the nose, this one starts quite dark with some roasted malts and a few burnt ones too but the hops from the nose seem more pronounced here and there’s a touch more of the citrus too. It’s not an overly hoppy number but a little pine does come through before being followed by a little caramel sweetness. A few grassy hops feature towards the end off this one and it was quite easy to drink as well.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and fairly smooth, it seems crisp in places but doesn’t have anywhere near as much carbonation coming through as I’d expected. It’s pretty well-balanced on the whole and easy to drink as well with quite a wet finish that touched on some light bitterness.
Overall (13/20): Not a bad attempt at a black IPA here, this one wasn’t quite as hoppy as I’d have liked but there was some touches of bitterness and a little pine coming through but I felt these could have been a little stronger. The dark malts and roasted flavours, alongside some chocolate seemed to be the easiest to detect but the beer held a nice balance and was quite an easy one going down so I’ll not complain too much about it.
Brewed In: Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland
Brewery: Blacks Of Kinsale Craft Brewery
First Brewed: 2013
Type: American IPA
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: SuperValu (Ennistown)
Price: €3.59 (£3.08 approx.)
One of the last few remaining Irish beers that I managed to pick up while travelling around the country during the summer there, this one being a bottle that I stumbled across in a SuperValu store in Ennistown, County Clare. The beer is one of the many beers I’d noted the name of prior to visiting the country again and although I’m not 100% sure, I think it might also be my first beer from County Offaly as well. This one will be the 49th Irish beer that I’ll have reviewed here and given how much I visit the country, it’s hardly surprising that it’s now sitting sixth in my beers by country list; so let’s find out how this one compares to the rest from the country.
Appearance (3/5): Quite a lively looking beer as I poured it and it soon developed a fairly large, inch and a half head that was a foamy white but receded quickly to settle around a centimetre tall. The body of the beer was very clear looking and surprisingly still once the head had settled, sitting a light amber to copper colour. there was a touch more build up of lacing round the circumference of the beer but only slightly more than to be found at the centre and the beer was definitely darker and clearer looking than I’d expected.
Aroma (6/10): Not quite what I was expecting on the nose when I opened this one, the beer was surprisingly unlike an IPA with it actually seeming more like a lager or pilsner at times. There was some corn and bread malts alongside a touch of sweetness and only around the middle did some lighter hops start to make themselves known. It definitely wasn’t a hoppy offering and the tropical fruits I’d expected going in were sadly missing. There was some touches of citrus sneaking through though and I managed to detect caramel but beyond that it was quite a light beer on the nose I’m afraid.
Taste (6/10): Continuing from where the nose left off, this one was again quite a light beer with too few hops and not enough bitterness coming through for it to be a true American IPA. There was more sweetness this time round at least and the caramel also seemed more pronounced but the bread malts and the corn from the nose were present too and ended up dominating down the stretch of the beer. There was the odd citrus flavour and a faint touch of fruit in there too but it almost seemed like a pale ale/lager hybrid offering at times and wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I picked it up.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and quite a smooth beer on the palate, it wasn’t as crisp as I’d anticipated after seeing the active carbonation when opening the bottle but it wasn’t exactly flat either. There was some caramel sweetness at times, particularly nearer the end and I got a little bitterness around then too, plus the balance wasn’t too bad either but I was definitely expecting more of tropical fruit bitterness and a nice citrus tang if I’m honest and sadly the palate didn’t quite live up to that.
Overall (14/20): When I was buying this one, and indeed when opening it, I was expecting quite a tropical beer with plenty of hop bitterness and a nice variety of fruit coming through but in the end it was much more like an English style IPA than an American one, evening seeming a touch bland at times. Going into this one with no expectations you’d likely come away thinking it was a fairly okay beer and one that went down easy enough but I was expecting something a lot more from it and as a result it’s not likely to be one I’d pick up again sadly.
Brewed In: Banagher, County Offaly, Ireland
Brewery: Bo Bristle Brewing Company
First Brewed: circa. 2012
Type: American IPA
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: SuperValu (Ennistown)
Price: €3.59 (£3.08 approx.)
The latest new offering from Brewdog that I’ve managed to get my hands on now, this one coming from their B-Side series of beers and one that was listed on the board behind the bar as being their Prototype Helles. The beer, as you might have guessed from the name, is a helles style lager that appears to have been first introduced at their UK bars in August of this year. There’s always a certain amount of luck with regards to how good one of these ‘prototype’ beers will be going in and I was quite surprised to see a lager style one on offer so soon after the brewery released their Kingpin lager recently but given it was the only beer under 9% abv. from the brewery that I hadn’t tried when I found this one on-tap, I opted to give it a go anyway and see how it compared to the countless other lagers the brewery has released over the years.
Appearance (4/5): Bright amber with a fairly clear body, this one was topped with a thin, white head that was slightly foamy and just about managed to cover the surface of the beer, leaving a touch of lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (6/10): Starting of with a semi-sweet aroma on the nose, this one was quite light overall and I struggled to detect too much really. There was some touches of corn and a few lager malts in the early going though, before some touches of citrus featured alongside a basic hay smell. Pretty average stuff really and not one I’ll remember much about to be honest.
Taste (5/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, this one was really quite a light and basic offering; especially compared to some of the brewery’s much better beers I’ve tried before. There was some early sweetness and a light citrus flavour around the middle with the usual hay and grassy hops adding a tiny bit of bitterness before some lager malts and corn came through to settle things out; really disappointing stuff.
Palate (2/5): Medium bodied and quite smooth but with fairly light, soft carbonation that almost gave it a flat feel at times. There was none of the lively, crisp feel that I was after going into this one and it seemed bland and exceptionally one-dimensional too sadly; definitely not a beer to look out for I’m afraid.
Overall (10/20): This one was a very disappointing Brewdog beer on the whole, I know it was only a prototype offering and there is still a possibility the recipe could be tweaked come before being released again but I’d be very surprised to see this one again given just how average and plain it was. Beyond an initial hit of sweetness and some basic lager style malts, there wasn’t really much of anything featured here and I had a hard time detecting anything in truth. Poor stuff from the brewery I’m afraid and, in my opinion at least, one to avoid if you stumble across it in one of the brewery’s bars at any point.
Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Helles Lager
Serving: Keg (Pint)
Purchased: BrewDog DogHouse (Glasgow)
The second of two Indian beers that I have reviewed in quick succession now, this one following on from my recent review of Shimla. Like that previous offering, this is another beer I received as a gift recently and is another new offering from the Mohan Breweries & Distilleries based in Chennai, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. As was the case with the bottle of Simla that I reviewed, this one comes in at 4.8% abv. and I can’t help but suspect going in that this one will be pretty much the same beer with a few minor alterations; although as only my fifth Indian beer, it’s still one that I’m looking forward to but it’s not one I’m expecting a whole lot from really.
Appearance (1/5): Quite a light bodied beer again from this brewery, the beer was a light golden colour that seemed overly watery at first glance. There was some large bubbles rising to the surface and no sign of a head at all sadly; disappointing stuff so far.
Aroma (3/10): Pretty weak on the nose initially, there was a touch of sweetness and some a little grain coming through alongside some basic corn and lager malts. There wasn’t really much to this one other than some faint hay and the odd adjunct nearer the end.
Taste (4/10): Again not an overly strong beer but there was a little more to it than the nose at least, I got some touches of citrus and a faint grassy flavour in the early going before some touches of hay and a basic lager malt taste around the middle. There wasn’t much in the way of any bitterness coming through really but I did detect some touches of sweetness and a few vegetable adjuncts following on behind them. It’s definitely a basic beer but it is at least a step up from the brewery’s last offering.
Palate (2/5): Definitely a thin, light bodied beer but not quite watery, there was some touches of citrus and a faint tang to proceedings. Whilst not an offensive beer on the palate, the balance wasn’t exactly a good one and I can’t image this will be a beer I remember much about in a couple of months.
Overall (7/20): Another very basic beer from Mohan breweries but at the same time it was a major step up from their last offering, Shimla. This one was cheap and basic but unlike its predecessor, this one wasn’t an offensive or overpowering offering thankfully and the skunky flavours were kept to a minimum. There wasn’t a whole lot to the beer really, I got some basic citrus and a few touches of corn in the early going before some grassy flavours featured towards the end. All in all a pretty poor beer but one that was a lot better than I’d expected going in, given the last beer from the brewery was undrinkable.
Brewed In: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Brewery: Mohan Breweries & Distilleries Ltd.
Type: Pale Lager
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Home Bargains (Scotland)