Winster Valley Old School

March 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.2

Another random beer now, this one a beer I received as a gift from my parents on their return from the Lake District recently. The beer is a local brew from the Winster Valley Brewery located in the village of Winster and brewed on site at the Brown Horse Inn in the village where the beer is also available to try on cask as well as in bottles. I never know what to expect from these types of beer with they ranging all the way from terrible right up to excellent so it really is just your luck but as always I’m optimistic going in and hopefully it turns out to be a decent offering; at the very least it’s another beer that I wouldn’t have been able to try without visiting the area myself so I’m glad I’m getting to try it anyway.

Old School

Appearance (3/5): This one pours a slightly copper tinged, light amber colour with a half centimetre, bubbly white head that fades to leave quite a patchy lacing after about a minute.
Aroma (7/10): This one smelt surprisingly nice with quite a sweet aroma complimented by a light earthy malt backing and some nice toffee notes. There was a nice balance to the beer with some butterscotch coming through as well and helping to add the the sweetness.
Taste (6/10):  The taste started with some biscuit malts and a few earthy hops before hints of sweetness and caramel started to come through. The sweetness wasn’t as pronounced as the nose and some light bitterness helped balance any there was out. I managed to detect some butterscotch from the nose though and there was a background floral flavour in there too.
Palate (3/5): Smooth and quite bittersweet on the palate, although the sweetness probably comes through stronger of the two. The beer had a medium body and soft carbonation with quite a dry finish but a nice balance overall.

Overall (14/20): This one was surprisingly enough quite a pleasant and easy to drink beer, not a bad effort for such a random bottle and one that I enjoyed trying. The beer had quite a nice biscuit malt and toffee flavour with the butterscotch sweetness complimenting this nicely; a decent effort despite not being on that’s going to blow you away or anything like that.

Brewed In: Winster, Cumbria, England
Brewery: Winster Valley Brewery
First Brewed: 2009
Type: English Pale Ale
Abv: 3.9%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Ambleside, Cumbria, England
Price: Gift

The Kernel India Pale Ale Enigma Chinook

March 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

Another beer from The Kernel now, this one follows on from their bottle of London Sour that I reviewed here recently and didn’t really enjoy all that much if I’m honest, mainly down to the fact that I’m not a huge fan of sour beers. As a result of that slight disappointment I thought it best to get back to what I know and love from the brewery, namely their hop-filled IPA’s which I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad one of. This particular offering is a beer that was released in mid-February this year and it will be my seventeenth beer from the London based brewery so I kind of know what to expect from this one but I’m excited to find out if I’m right nonetheless.

The Kernel IPA Enigma Chinook

Appearance (4/5): Medium to light golden amber with a slightly hazy body and a nice, foamy white head about a thumbs-width tall and sporty good retention over the opening few minutes, leaving specks of lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh on the nose with medium strength hops that give off a nice tropical fruit aroma with some background citrus notes coming through. The nose is more subdued than I had been expecting from The Kernel but it is still pleasant with some grassy hops and a few caramel and sweet malts coming through to offset some of the bitterness from the hops before a few floral notes finish things off.
Taste (7/10): The taste follows on from the nose well and matches it fairly closely with some nice tropical fruits making themselves known early on, the citrus from the nose features as well although this does seem ever so slightly more pronounced here. Again nothing about this beer is in your face or overpowering, some floral and grassy flavours come through followed by sweet caramel malts before touches of pine see things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and medium bodied with light-medium carbonation levels and quite a crisp, dry finish to the beer that is moderately bitter throughout with some touches of sweetness dotted about the place. This one proved quite easy to drink and was even refreshing at times plus the balance was spot on; this one is a very nice beer on the palate and one that goes down well.

Overall (14/20): This was an odd one from The Kernel for me, on the one hand it was a good beer and done everything you would expect from an American IPA but on the other it didn’t quite live up to their admittedly high standard and never quite hit the spot for me. Despite this the beer is still a very nice one and it’s definitely not one that I’d pass up if someone offered me a bottle but at the same time it’s not likely I’d pick it up again if they ever decided to brew it again in the future – they have so many better IPA’s out their for me to try first I’m afraid.

Brewed In: London, England
Brewery: The Kernel Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.9%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

Stone Coffee Milk Stout

March 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.2

Time for what will be my twelfth beer from Stone now, a milder stout from the brewery which is in contrast to the high alcohol content, imperial Russian stouts that they are well known for. The beer will be my first new one from the brewery this year, the last I tried from them being their Go To IPA that I reviewed just before Christmas now. This beer is one of the lightest alcohol-wise that Stone has brewed in some time, Lee’s Mild which was a one-off release from 1999 was the last to come in weaker than this one. I grabbed this particular bottle whilst in my local bottle shop a couple of weeks ago based on the fact it was a Stone beer I hadn’t tried or seen before but it is one that I’m looking forward to since I enjoy a milk stout (when it’s done well anyway) so hopefully this one fits the bill.

Stone Coffee Milk Stout

Appearance (4/5): This one pours pitch black with a light brown head about quarter of a centimetre tall that slowly recedes to leave a fine lacing that just manages to cover the surface of the beer which itself looks relatively still.
Aroma (6/10): Quite light roasted malts upfront on the nose with some coffee coming through as you would expect plus a slightly milky aroma but not as much as is usual for this style of beer in my experience. Some earthy hops and a little sweetness follow but in truth it’s hard to detect much beyond the roasted notes and the coffee but the nose isn’t a bad one, just a little basic.
Taste (6/10): Starting with the roasted malts and coffee from the nose, there is a nice bitterness to the beer with some faint hops coming through as well alongside a milky flavour that goes nicely with the coffee. Hints of background chocolate come and go with this one and there is plenty of sweetness that accompanies it but like the nose, the taste isn’t the most overly complex and is pretty much what you’d expect from the style.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and really smooth, not quite creamy but it goes down very easily. There is a hint of bitterness and quite a bit of sweetness throughout whilst carbonation was quite light with a slightly watery feel right at the end.

Overall (12/20): This one is an easy drinking sweet stout from Stone that had a good balance and went down easy enough but ultimately failed to excite, it was quite an average beer for me really and not one I’d be likely to go back to again. While it definitely wasn’t a bad one from the brewery, it never really hit the heights of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout or even Left Hand’s Milk Stout that I tried a couple of months ago; a drinkable beer but there are certainly better examples of the style out there to be had.

Brewed In: Escondido, California, United States of America
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Milk/Sweet Stout
Abv: 4.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

The Kernel London Sour (3.1%)

March 17, 2015 1 comment

Rating: 3.35

My sixteenth beer from The Kernel now and a rare one that doesn’t fall under the American pale ale or IPA category, this one is a Berliner Weisse style beer from the London-based brewery. The beer in question, London Sour comes in at 3.1% and the bottle I have is one of several different releases of London Sour that all seem to have varying alcohol levels. Seemingly the most common version was the 3.8% one but there is also 2.2% and a 3.2% versions among others, not to mention several different flavoured versions of the beer too. This was a bottle that I picked up in Good Spirits Co. the other week based solely on the reputation of the brewery, I’ve already had fifteen beers from The Kernel and I don’t think  I’ve had a bad one so far but at the same time I’m not the biggest fan in the world of sour, Berliner Weisse style beers so this one should be interesting at the very least.

The Kernel London Sour (3.1%)

Appearance (3/5): This one sits really light in the class, it’s a lemon tinged golden colour that is slightly hazy and doesn’t have anything in the way of a head. Initially there was a few bubbles sitting around the circumference but these disappeared fairly quickly leaving nothing in its place.
Aroma (6/10): Tarty on the nose, this one is obviously quite sour with lots of funk and tart coming through early on. There is some nice citrus notes with the majority of it lemon as well as some acidity and grapes but thankfully the nose isn’t a harsh or overpowering one.
Taste (7/10): Matching the nose fairly closely, this one starts with quite a sour taste that features some citrus and lemon flavours but nothing as strong as the nose indicated might be the case. Some white grapes and funk come through soon after and there is a various background fruits making themselves known as well, most notably some apples. The beer is sour and tarty but it’s definitely not as strong as I had been expecting and as a result the beer is a much easier one to consume.
Palate (4/5): This one is a smooth, light bodied beer that is sour from the offset with plenty of funk and tart as well as a nice tang from the citrus. Carbonation is lighter than I had been expecting going in and is probably light-medium while the taste is dry from the start.

Overall (13/20): This one was a fairly interesting beer and going in it wasn’t one I was overly optimistic I would enjoy given I’m not a huge fan of sour beers but this was an offering that definitely grew on me some as I worked my way down the glass. The beer was obviously a sour one (the name was the give away for me) but it fell short of overpowering at any stage and maintained a pleasant balance throughout thanks to the background fruits such as the apples and grapes coming through. Being that I’m not a huge fan of the style, it’s not likely I’ll go for this one again but I did enjoy trying it nonetheless and despite being the worst beer from the brewery that I’ve reviewed so far, it’s done nothing to tarnish the reputation of The Kernel in my eyes either.

Brewed In: London, England
Brewery: The Kernel Brewery
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Berliner Weisse
Abv: 3.1%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £2.80

Three Boys Porter

March 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.5

Another beer from the weekend now and one I picked up in Good Spirits Co. the other week after looking at it and discovering that it was actually a relatively well-price beer from New Zealand, an increasingly rare thing these days. The beer was my first from Three Boys Brewery based in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island and is an English style porter that I was pleased to see in a can rather than a bottle, something I enjoy more when the beer is a smaller one. From what I can tell looking online, this one appears to be one of the brewery’s year-round offerings along with their IPA, wheat beer, pils and very possibly an oyster stout as well so hopefully I can pick up a few more from them in the future if the price remains right.

Three Boys Porter

Appearance (4/5): After what was a fairly dodgy pour, this one settled with quite a dark, black body that was opaque and topped with a large, inch tall head that looked to be a foamy, tan brown colour with nice retention. The head held well over the opening few minutes, slowly reducing in size to leave one about a centimetre tall with some nice lacing on the sides.
Aroma (7/10): Malty and almost creamy on the nose with a lot of dark, roasted notes coming through early on with hints of chocolate adding some sweetness as well and a few sugars making an appearance. The odd hop seems to sneak through on the nose as well and there is a touch of lactose in there too giving the beer a nice combination of smells and helping it achieve a nice, balance nose.
Taste (7/10): Plenty of dark malts and roasted flavours kick things off here with a hint of cocoa and some smoke coming through as well. There beer had some sweetness and very faint hints of caramel coming through as well but it was definitely the roasted malts that dominated from the off with some earthy hops playing second fiddle in the background.
Palate (3/5): Silky smooth and creamy on the way down, this one has a light-medium body that perhaps seemed a little thin and the carbonation levels appear to be soft with a hint of smokiness coming through as the beer works its way down but the palate was definitely a clean one with some dryness at the finish.

Overall (14/20): Not a bad English style porter with a nice roasted malts taste that went down pretty smoothly and was kept interesting by the addition of some good, earthy hops but on the downside the beer did seem a little light bodied in places. Overall this one was an enjoyable effort from Three Boys but in truth I’m not sure it’s one I’d be all that likely to pick up again soon.

Brewed In: Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand
Brewery: Three Boys Brewery
First Brewed: Brewery since 2004
Type: English Porter
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £2.80

Russian Doll – Double IPA

March 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

The third of four beers from the Brewdog Russian Doll series, this one the double IPA from the series that comes in at 8% abv. and follows on from both the pale ale and the IPA from the four-pack that I’ve already reviewed here previously. The series got off to a poor start with the pale ale but certainly redeemed itself with the American IPA that I tried last and fairly enjoyed so I’m hopeful this one will be more of the same. Brewdog are famous for the IPA’s and double IPA’s so all signs are pointing towards this being an good beer but I’ve been disappointed with some of their one-off offerings in the past so let’s see how this one rates.

Russian Doll Double IPA

Appearance (4/5): A slightly cloudy but quite still looking medium orange-amber coloured beer that is topped with a half centimetre tall, foamy head that is a cream colour and sits as a fine lacing over the surface with more build up round the edges after a minute or so.
Aroma (7/10): Nice amounts of citrus and light pine coming through alongside some tropical fruits such as mango and apricot. The beer isn’t quite as hoppy as I was expecting but there was a touch of bitterness coming through on the nose right at the end. Some resin appears and the beer seems quite refreshing on the nose at least.
Taste (8/10): More bitter on the taste buds than the nose indicated with the hops and resinous pine more pronounced here than it was with the nose. There is some nice tropical fruit flavours with the mango and apricot both present alongside some some grapefruit and a nice amount of citrus. The taste is rounded off with some nice caramel malts that add a little sweetness to proceedings and the beer is a better one as a result.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and slightly sticky, this one has a fairly good balance and goes down well over the course. There was a nice bitterness to the beer and the alcohol content is fairly well hidden with the finish coming through as clean, dry one.

Overall (15/20): This one is quite a refreshing and very drinkable double IPA, if I’m honest it actually seems more like a regular American IPA to be but I’ll trust Brewdog on this, they know their IPA’s after all. The beer has quite a good balance with a nice hop filled flavour with some good tropical fruits coming through and the caramel right at the end seen things out well.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Imperial/Double IPA
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £2.50 (approx.)

Russian Doll – IPA

March 15, 2015 1 comment

Rating: 3.85

The second of four Brewdog beers in their Russian Doll series, this one following on from the 4% American pale ale in the series that I reviewed here previously. Coming in at 6%, this one is the beer that I think could prove to be the best of the four beers since it is the style of beer that Brewdog seem to be most at home brewing but at the very least I am hoping that it will prove to be better than the first one from the Russian Doll four-pack that I tried and was fairly disappointed with. As I’ve previously mentioned when reviewing the pale ale in the series, these are beers that I’ve been waiting to try for some time now so hopefully at least a couple of them will prove to have been worth the wait. All four of the beers feature exclusive artwork designed by Esther McManus.

Russian Doll IPA

Appearance (4/5): Very slightly hazy looking golden amber colour that is topped with a centimetre tall, part bubbly, part foamy head that sits a nice white colour after a fairly aggressive pour. Retention is about what you’d expect from the style with it very slowly receding to leave a nice surface lacing after just over a minute or so.
Aroma (8/10): Quite fruity with a lot of tropical notes hitting you straight after opening the bottle but the hops start to make themselves more known once the beer has been poured into the glass. There is some citrus and grapefruit with a little less pine following on behind the tropical notes before the malt base starts to come through. There is a nice sweetness to this one with some caramel and toffee coming through to help balance things out nicely; this one is again really nice on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Taste-wise this one follows on in a similar fashion from the nose with some nice tropical fruits and hoppy flavours coming through before some sweet caramel malts make an appearance further on in to balance the taste out, the main difference between this and the aroma is that the taste does seem a touch weaker and certainly less pronounced that the nose. Starting with some mango, citrus and a little grapefruit this one is definitely fruity and slightly floral in places with just enough hops to keep you interested before the malt base kicks in, still it’s quite a nice beer nonetheless.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with slightly oily texture that turns sticky at the end. The beer has a medium body and is complimented by lively carbonation and a nice, hoppy feel that goes down well. The finish is a dry one as you would expect by it’s nothing severe and the beer actually seemed quite refreshing.

Overall (15/20): Finally a solid effort from Brewdog as part of their regular one-off four packs, a really nice IPA that goes down a treat without truly blowing me away. The beer is nice and hoppy to begin with plenty of tropical fruits coming through early on but the malts and caramel sweetness are excellent and play a big part in balancing out the hops and fruits, this is actually a limited release that I’d be willing to pick up on a fairly regular basis.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £2.50 (approx.)

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