La Trappe Quadrupel

April 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.55

A real treat now, this huge hitter of a beer is one that I had been aiming to try on my recent trip to Amsterdam seeing as it is one of the highest rated beers from the Dutch La Trappe brewery and one of their main beers that I hadn’t already tried prior to my trip. This one will be my fourth La Trappe beer, following on from their Blond, Dubbel and Witte Trappist offerings but this is definitely the one I most wanted to try from the breweries roster. The beer was first brewed back in 1991 when La Trappe was the first brewery to use the term ‘Quadrupel’ to described a beer, a term that is now used across the brewing world as a style to describe beers this and similar beers. The beer is a 10% one that is the breweries strongest (alongside the Oak Aged version of this beer) and promises a taste that is packed with flavour so I’m very glad I managed to find this whilst in Amsterdam recently.

La Trappe Quad

Appearance (5/5): A slightly cloudy, dark amber to mahogany colour with a thin, foamy white head that is make of plenty of fine bubbles and sits about quarter of a centimetre tall, holding great for the strength of the beer and leaves some nice lacing on the glass too.
Aroma (8/10): Sweet smelling with quite a nice balance between toffee and caramel notes with some darker, ripe fruits following soon behind. I managed to detect plums and almonds with some dates coming through as well. The beer was quite malty with a few earth hops sneaking in too and further sweetness with vanilla notes providing most of this. Surprisingly for such a strong beer there was no alcohol to be found on the nose from what I could tell and the balance seemed excellent.
Taste (9/10): Matching the nose well initially, this one starts quite sweet tasting with some dried, dark fruits that include dates, plums and some raisins as well as adding some sugar to the mix. There is some floral flavours coming through as well as some dark malts ad caramel which also gives the beer some additional sweetness without it seeming sickening thankfully. Cherries and fig start to appear towards the end with some prunes too.
Palate (5/5): This one is a silky smooth and medium to full-bodied beer with pretty much no alcohol showing through which is remarkable for such a strong beer. La Trappe Quadrupel was a dangerously easy beer to drink with a nice, sweet feel from the start with touches of stickiness dotted throughout and a slightly dry finish but the highlight was how well-balanced the beer was from the very start; excellent stuff.

Overall (17/20): Great stuff from La Trappe here, this one really didn’t seem like a 10% beer at all and this was largely down to the fact that the beer was so smooth to drink and the alcohol was almost completely masked in both the taste and the smell. The taste was a sweet, slightly dry one that proved incredibly easy to drink with some great, dark fruity flavours balancing well with the caramel and dark malts; amazing drinking and I’m already hoping to get my hands on the barrel aged version now.

Brewed In: Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands
Brewery: Brouwerij de Koningshoeven
First Brewed: 1991
Type: Quadrupel
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Arendsnest Proeflokaal, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: €6.00 (approx. £4.44)

Astra Urtyp

April 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.6

One of several beers that fall under the Astra umbrella that I managed to try in Germany in February this year now, this was the only one I managed to bring back with me though after I found a can in one of the airport shops on my return leg. Being one of the main beers in Hamburg means I’ve tried this beer more than I’d have liked over the past year on my two visits to the city but until now I’ve never given it a proper review. Originally brewed by the Bavaria – St Pauli brewery that was formed in 1922 by a merger of Bavaria Brauerei (1897) and St. Pauli Actien-Brauerei (19862), Astra is a beer most commonly associated with the St. Pauli football team whereas Holsten beers are normally associated with their local rivals Hamburg SV – despite the fact that both beers are now brewed by the same company. After the brewery was threatened with closer in 2003 the city of Hamburg bought it before selling it a year later to Holsten who where in turn bought by Carlsberg who closed the originally brewery. From what I remember, this beer isn’t anything special and there’s certainly better Hamburg brewed beers out there but at least it’s another one I can check off now that I’ve given it a proper review.

Astra Urtyp

Appearance (4/5): A light golden colour that boarders amber and is topped with a centimetre tall, foamy white head that holds surprisingly well for the style. There is a small touch of lacing on the sides of the glass and the beer is quite clear with a lot of visible carbonation.
Aroma (5/10): Light malts and some corn on the nose initially, here is quite a basic aroma to this one with some light, grassy notes and a few earthy hops as well but there not much else going on really.
Taste (5/10): Lager malts and grassy hops kick off the taste with this one, there is a background biscuit aroma too and some corn sneaking in alongside touches of grain. Again this one is fairly basic and definitely seems more pale ale and pilsner to me but at least it’s drinkable, even if only just.
Palate (2/5): Smooth on the palate but also quite light and thin with average carbonation and a few watery patches. The mouthfeel is a clean one with a light bitterness sneaking in throughout but as with the taste and smell, this one is nothing special.

Overall (8/20): This one turned out much as I remember from drinking it in Hamburg on numerous occasions over the last year and is quite an average beer, even for a macro pale lager with very little going for it. As I’ve said, it at least remains drinkable throughout but it falls well short of being a good beer with more skunk than I’d have liked (even from a can of the stuff) and a very basic taste and smell.

Brewed In: Hamburg, Germany
Brewery: Holsten-Brauerei AG (formerly Bavaria-St.Pauli-Brauerei)
First Brewed: Former brewery since 1922
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 4.9%
Serving: Cam (500ml)
Purchased: Hamburg Airport (Germany)
Price: €2.50 (£1.83 approx.)

Kowabunga

April 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

Time for my third beer from The Cromarty Brewing Company based in the Scottish Highlands now, this one follows on from their Rogue Wave pale ale and their AKA IPA, both of which I reviewed here last March. Of the two, I particularly enjoyed the Rogue Wave offering thanks to the abundance of hops in the taste so I’m hoping this one provides more of the same from a brewery whose beers I really should have tried more of. Taking its name from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles slogan (an old favourite show of mine), this beer was released around a year ago now and it’s one I’ve spotted on a number of occasions since then so it is about time I got round to sampling it and seeing how it rates.

Cromarty Kowabunga

Appearance (5/5): A really nice looking, deep amber colour with am almost caramel like appearance to it. The head was slightly off-white in colour and roughly a centimetre tall with quite a foamy texture whilst retention was fairly good over the opening few minutes of the beers life.
Aroma (6/10): Quite light on the nose, surprisingly so as it happened but with some nice floral notes and a helping of subdued hops as well. Nothing really stuck out with the nose but I detected some citrus as well as some caramel and further sweetness right at the end. A nice smelling beer but one that was too weak on the nose for my liking.
Taste (7/10): This one starts off with some sweet malts and a few citrus hops backing them up, there is a nice floral flavour coming from the beer as well. Thankfully the taste was a lot stronger than the nose and that made things more enjoyable straight away. There was a nice bitterness throughout and some tropical fruits appearing around the middle too but no one flavour seemed to dominate, the hops did seem stronger the more I drank though but fell short of overpowering.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite bitter throughout with some sweetness sitting in the background. The beer was well-balanced and carbonation levels were about moderate for the style too.

Overall (14/20): This one started really well, an excellent looking beer really and one that seemed to let me down immediately after this initial success. The beer was very weak on the nose and this made it a struggle to detect much of anything but at least there was no off smell or anything disgusting on the nose. Things improved slightly when it came to the taste with some nice tropical fruits and hops making themselves known, not a bad beer in the end but definitely not a classic either.

Brewed In: Cromarty, Highlands, Scotland
Brewery: Cromarty Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.6%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £3.00

Winster Valley Hurdler

April 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.75

A second beer from the Winster Valley brewery now, this one follows quickly on from last months bottle of Old School that I reviewed. Like that particular offering, this one was another bottle I reviewed as a gift from my parents on their return from Ambleside in the Lake District last month and was pleasing as both were beers from a brewery that I had never heard of before which is always a nice surprise. This beer is seemingly available in bottles (obviously) but also on cask as a special and is dedicated to the Cartmel Racecourse in the town of Cartmel, Cumbria – a small racecourse with about seven race days each year – with the name of the course appearing on the pump clips for this beer.

Winster Valley Hurdler

Appearance (4/5): Light and golden amber in colour with a clear body and a thumb-sized, foamy white head on top that sits about two centimetres tall and gradually reduces in size to about half its originally size, leaving some touches of lacing on the sides as it goes down.
Aroma (5/10): Some nice floral hops and touches of citrus with some sweetness coming through thanks to a nice butterscotch aroma. There was some grassy notes too with orange and lemon right at the end and faint hints of bitterness.
Taste (6/10):  Floral tasting with some citrus and flowery hops, there is some earthy malts coming through as well with a background sweetness and some biscuits. Overall the taste was quite a basic one but it was also quite enjoyable too.
Palate (2/5): Smooth with a medium body and a mouthfeel that was sweeter than I had expected but thankfully wasn’t overdone. I was surprised that the beer actually seemed slightly boozy despite only coming in at 3.5% and the carbonation levels were soft.

Overall (9/20): Quite a disappointing beer sadly, there wasn’t a whole lot going on with it and despite the odd burst of sweetness there wasn’t really anything to grab your attention. Quite basic and a very ordinary beer really and not one that I would recommend picking up.

Brewed In: Winster, Cumbria, England
Brewery: Winster Valley Brewery
First Brewed: circa. 2011
Type: Golden/Blond Ale
Abv: 3.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Ambleside, Cumbria, England
Price: Gift

Winster Valley Old School

March 26, 2015 1 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

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