#Mashtag 2016

November 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

The fourth beer in Brewdogs annual #Mashtag series, a beer voted on for by the public via social media and a beer that is usually quite an interesting offering. The three previous offerings in the series have been enjoyable ones, the last two in particular going down well with the 2014 edition currently sitting as the third best Scottish beer I’ve tried and the second best I’ve had from Brewdog; not bad considering how many beers of each I’ve had over the years. On trend that has continued over the last few years with this one is that the beers have become increasingly stronger, starting with the original #Mashtag 2013 which came in at 7.4% before increasing to 9% with #Mashtag 2014 and then again to 10% abv. last year with #Mashtag 2015; this year the beer is only marginally stronger than last with this one sitting at a pretty big 10.5%. Like a couple of other Brewdog beers before it, this is another that is being labelled as a triple IPA (their Anarchist/Alchemist from a few years ago springs to mind) but for the purposes of this blog I’ll count it as my 49th double IPA. Brewed with a combination of US hops, sour berries and oak chips, this one should prove to be quite an interesting offering and it’s one I’ve been holding off drinking since picking it up from the brewery’s online shop a couple of months ago but now seems like as good a time as any to crack it open and see how it rates; if it’s as good as either of the last two in the series then I’ll be very happy indeed.

mashtag-2016

Appearance (4/5): Quite a clear bodied beer, this one pours a medium amber colour and is topped with what turned out to be quite a nice, creamy head that sits about a half centimetre tall is a slightly off white colour. Head retention okay with the size slowly reducing to hint at turning patchy then eventually breaking up a touch in the centre of the beer. All things considered, a particularly given the strength of the beer, this one is a great looking double IPA and one I’m looking forward to trying all the more now.
Aroma (9/10): Very strong opening up, this is quite a hoppy beer on the nose initially with a lot of pine and grapefruit notes alongside a somewhat resinous smell. This was quickly followed by a sticky sweetness that helped mask a lot of the alcohol in the beer and there was a combination of tropical fruits in there helping out as well; in particular some peaches and mango. Around the middle a few hints of caramel and strawberries started to come though which made for a somewhat unusual but interesting aroma that was backed up by some hop oils and further bitterness. The balance on the nose was surprisingly good and there was certainly a lot going on, I was also impressed by how little of the 10.5% abv. was showing at this point; excellent stuff.
Taste (7/10): Opening in a similar fashion to the nose, this one is an incredibly strong-tasting beer with a lot of resinous pine and hop bitterness in the early going. The beer is intensely bitter but comes through with more alcohol in the taste than expected given how well this was hidden with the nose; it wasn’t quite overpowering but the sweetness didn’t do enough here to cover it for my liking. There was some strawberries and mango along with a few peaches and the odd citrus flavour coming through around the middle though and these helped balance things out slightly but I’d definitely have liked less grains and harshness showing towards the end if I’m honest. Some caramel did feature down the stretch and there was an earthy bitterness complimenting some sticky sweetness right at the end though but it didn’t quite reach the heights of the nose sadly.
Palate (3/5): The palate with this one starts quite sharp and aggressive with a lot of resinous pine hops and oils coming through, there’s plenty of bitterness off the back of this and the beer seems a touch harsh from the alcohol grains. There’s a some sweetness that does its best to cover some of the alcohol but the beer still have quite a warming feel to it and it is relatively thick on the way down too. Carbonation levels are somewhat muted with the beer, it sits around moderate and got tougher to drink the longer I sat with it; the flavours were definitely nice but it was just that touch too strong really.

Overall (16/20): Quite an interesting beer from Brewdog, it opened up quite well and the nose in particular was excellent with a lot of resinous pine and some nice fruits coming through; the combination of strawberries with the mango and peach was quite enjoyable and unexpected. The taste of the beer, as well as the palate, was a slight letdown if I’m honest though and it seemed to be a little too harsh and very slightly overpowering with a huge amount of the alcohol showing from the start. It was still an enjoyable beer but it didn’t seem as good as the last two in the series sadly; a nice beer but not quite as good as I’d hoped.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Imperial/Double IPA
Abv: 10.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £4.50

Pistonhead Full Amber

November 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

Only my second ever Spendrups Bryggeri beer now, this is one that found its way into my fridge after a having visitors round but it is one that I’ve been meaning to pick up for some time now, basically since I noticed that most Morrison’s and Tesco supermarkets started selling it in the last year or so. The beer is a Vienna style lager from the Swedish brewery and follows on from their flagship Kustom Lager that I tried while in London back in September 2013; a beer that I found fairly enjoyable at the time. This one will br my fifth Swedish beer in total, the other three all being offerings from The Nils Oscar Company that coincidentally were all reviewed back in 2013; amazingly this is my first new beer from the country in three years so hopefully it’s one to remember.

pistonhead-full-amber

Appearance (4/5): Pouring a lot darker than expected and settling as quite a deep, caramel amber that definitely lived up to the name. The beer was topped with a nice, finger-sized head that was a foamy white colour and left some nice lacing on the sides of the glass. After about a minute or so it had lost about half its initial height but still looking quite good before eventually turning slightly patch in the centre.
Aroma (6/10): This one opens with quite a sweet nose in the early going, there was plenty of caramel to begin with and a few toffee notes too. I got a sticky sweet aroma initially before some toasted malts and earth smells started to come through alongside some sugars and bread malts. The nose was quite a standard one for the style with some faint hops and grassy notes towards the end but none of the citra or cascade hops mentioned on the can made themselves known at this point sadly.
Taste (7/10): As previously mentioned, the beer is a sweet one with a combination of caramel and toffee malts kicking things off alongside the promised citra hops that added a nice tang to proceedings. There was some bread malts and a touch of rye in there too with an earthy bitterness and some sugars not far behind. Again it was quite a standard beer with some lager type hops coming through and bit of sweetness appearing to go along with the caramel at the end; it’s pretty good I guess.
Palate (4/5): Quite a sharp beer on the palate, this one was slightly dry and came through with a medium body that featured a slight tang from the citrus in the hops. There was a decent kick towards the end of the beer thanks to the alcohol and carbonation wise the beer felt about average for a Vienna lager. It was definitely a sweet offering with the caramel seeming strongest throughout but a few sugars also featured and the hop bitterness done its best to level things out.

Overall (15/20): Not a bad beer at all this one, it’s certainly a lot nice than I’d expected given that it falls somewhere in between a craft and a macro beer in my opinion and it is available in most supermarkets now but it was still an enjoyable offering. It opened up quite sweet with a lot of caramel and the citra hops promised in the can really only appeared come the taste but it still came through as a decent beer thanks to the toasted malts and earthy bitterness alongside some of the more basic Vienna lager type flavours. Nice stuff and well worth picking up if you stumble across it but it isn’t one to go searching for really; I still liked it but there Kustom Lager still came out very slightly better.

Brewed In: Grängesberg, Sweden
Brewery: Spendrups Bryggeri
Type: Vienna Lager
ABV: 6.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Glasgow)
Price: Gift

The Kernel IPA Zeus Exp431 El Dorado Nelson Sauvin

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.05

A new release from The Kernel from September this year, the beer being bottled on the last day of August before being released shortly after that. It will go down as my twenty-first different beer from the London-based brewery but surprisingly will be my first new one of this year; the last new offering from them I tried was actually their Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 that I sampled towards the end of October last year. Coincidentally I had this new offering from them almost a year to the day later but it’s taken me a few days to get my review added here this time round. Like most beers I pick up from the brewery, this one is another IPA that simply lists the hops used in the name of the beer; Zeus, Exp 431, El Dorado and Nelson Sauvin in this instance. Anyway, here’s what I thought of my first new Kernel offering in over a year and hopefully I’ll not leave it anywhere near as long before picking up something else from them again.

the-kernel-india-pale-ale-zeus-exp431-el-dorado-nelson-sauvin

Appearance (4/5): This was pours quite a nice and pretty thick looking amber colour that borders on orange and is hazy come very slightly hazy murky in the middle. There is a thin white head that starts just shy of a centimetre tall before slowly receding to settle about a quarter of a centimetre tall and a touch patchy nearer the centre; the beer still looks good though.
Aroma (8/10): Quite fresh in the early going with all the expected hops and citrus notes opening things up, there was some pine and grapefruit in there that I’ve come to expect from Kernel IPA’s but there was slightly more spice and touches of caramel this time round too. I got a bit of orange and plenty of tropical fruits as the beer moved towards the middle; mango, apricot and some peach all featured and were strong. Towards the end I got some faint earthy touches and a light sprinkling of sweetness too but overall the tropical notes and hop bitterness came out strongest.
Taste (8/10): Again quite a strong opening with a combination of pine and tropical fruits kicking things off but they were very slightly less pronounced than with the nose. I got a decent amount of caramel too with the peach and mango from the nose not far behind. The beer was full of hop bitterness but also featured some nice touches of spice and a hint of sweetness too thanks to some lighter cinnamon flavours and the previously mentioned caramel. Nearer the end the pine and some grapefruit bitterness started to take over and there was a hint of the alcohol in there as well too; excellent stuff though and very enjoyable.
Palate (4/5): Very fresh and quite a lively offering with a lot of hop bitterness from the start that was very refreshing to drink. Carbonation levels were about medium and there was a nice citrus tang somewhere around the middle with a dry finish that was loaded with hops and some faint spice too. Some caramel sweetness featured sporadically throughout and right at the end there was a slightly warming touch from some of the alcohol in there but it remained a very easy beer to drink.

Overall (17/20): This one was a very long overdue beer from The Kernel for me and one that was well worth the wait in trying, my first in over a year from the brewery and one that was loaded with hop bitterness and full of flavour. Opening with a great combination of pine and tropical fruits bitterness, there was some sweet caramel and touches of spice in there too that kept things well balanced and enjoyable. I also appreciated the slightly warming finish thanks to the faint touches of alcohol that featured as well. Excellent stuff as always from The Kernel that’s got me looking forward to my next new one from them already; and I won’t be leaving it as long this time.

Brewed In: London, England
Brewery: The Kernel Brewery
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.9%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

Beavertown Stingy Jack

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.25

A seventh beer now from a brewery that seems to be becoming more and more popular by the day, Beavertown. This one will be my first new beer from the London brewery since I tried their Skull King double IPA offering back in April of this year but I am increasingly finding more of their beers available in bars and shops of late and hopefully that’ll give me a chance to pick up a few of their newer beers as well. This one is a an annual winter seasonal from the brewery, released in time for Halloween each year and despite the fact that I’m not usually a huge fan of these type of beers, I opted to grab this one based on how good the last few Beavertown beers I’ve tried have been so hopefully this one will be a decent beer as well.

beavertown-stingy-jack

Appearance (4/5): Copper amber in colour and cloudy looking, the beer is topped with a half centimetre head that is foamy looking and an off-white colour. Head retention is pretty good with little movement in the early going and some touches of lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a spicy nose with a lot of cinnamon opening things up and dominating in the early going before some nutmeg and ginger came through alongside a combination of nondescript spices in the background. There was some faint sweetness with a couple of earthy malts in there too before some cloves and maybe even a little pumpkin featured down the stretch. It was certainly a complex beer with the odd grain in there and some faint caramel to see things out; definitely interesting stuff.
Taste (6/10): Carrying on in a similar fashion to the nose, this one was a very spicy tasting beer that was loaded with cinnamon, ginger and cloves in the early going before some nutmeg and a bit of vanilla featured. The spices were actually slightly more pronounced here than they were with the nose and I got some bread and earthy malts too but these were definitely secondary to the cinnamon. Towards the end some pumpkin and caramel in there with a bit of cardamom too.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied, maybe just a touch lighter but very spicy from the very start with a combination of them coming through from early on. There was some faint sweetness coming through at times but for the most part this was overshadowed by the cinnamon. There was plenty of carbonation and it came through as quite a dry offering but it was drinkable throughout without truly exciting.

Overall (13/20): An interesting beer from Beavertown this one, the beer was incredibly spicy from the start with a cinnamon taste dominating and some ginger, nutmeg and various other spices following on behind. There was a little pumpkin in there too and a few earthy malts but nothing could compete with the spice and as a result it wasn’t up there with the best that Beavertown have to offer sadly. I still felt it was a drinkable offering and one well worth trying but I doubt it’s one I’m likely to go back to again.

Brewed In: London, UK
Brewery: Beavertown Brewery
Full Name: Beavertown Stingy Jack Spiced Pumpkin Ale
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Spice/Herb/Vegetable (Pumpkin Beer)
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.00

Stone Enjoy After Brett IPA

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

Beer number twenty from Stone Brewing now and one that I’ve been looking forward to cracking open for quite some time now, having purchased the beer around the start of the year but having been forced to wait until after the recommended opening date before doing so; since that was a couple of months ago now, it’s finally time to give this one a go. The beer in question is Stone’s Enjoy After Brett IPA (this bottle being the fourth edition of the beer), its unusual follow-up to their Enjoy By IPA that I tried last summer after picking up a bottle in London. Coincidentally this beer and the Enjoy By that I sampled both had the same date on the bottle, only the year being the difference between the two. Definitely an interesting beer here, this one flips convention on its head and recommends not drinking an American style IPA when it’s as fresh as possible but rather cellaring it for upwards of six months and then cracking it open. The beer uses a strain of wild yeast known as Brett, hence the name of the beer, that is added during bottling and slowly acts to change some of the beers properties which is why the recommended date is added to the bottle. Again this is another Stone release that I’m particularly excited about trying and I’m eager to see if it comes out anywhere close to as good as their Enjoy By offering; I guess I’m about to find out.

stone-enjoy-after-brett-ipa-07-04-16

Appearance (4/5): Quite a light golden colour with an absolutely massive head, this one pours with a huge amount of visible carbonation and looks very active with a hazy body and plenty of fine bubbles rising to the surface. Initially pouring with an average size, centimetre or two tall head before getting overly excited and expanding rapidly to end up about three inches tall and overflowing the side of the glass. The head formed a dome shape at the top and looked quite foamy with a white colour and some bubbles up the side of the glass; retention was good too with no movement over the opening couple of minutes but it was a ridiculously large head anyway. After about four or five minutes the head started to reduce somewhat and there was a lot of lacing left down the sides of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a strong yeast nose to open things up, the beer had a definite farmhouse feel to it in the early going with some earthy hops and a touch of citrus coming through. This was followed by a combination of spices and the odd floral note that hinted at a wild ale type nose. There was some faint sweetness in there before some of the more bitter hops and background fruits started to come through. The beer seemed like a fairly dry one on the nose with some pepper and funky notes seeing things out well.
Taste (7/10): Following on well from the nose, the beer is quite a zesty and fresh one that comes through with a lot of wild yeast and funky flavours; in particular some earthy hops and citrus flavours seem most pronounced. The beer isn’t an overly hoppy one but some solid bitterness features alongside the bread malts and background fruits; orange, pineapple and some lemon all featuring.
Palate (3/5): Fresh and lively with good, strong carbonation but not quite as much as I’d expected after seeing how active the beer was upon opening the bottle; although that was definitely a positive in this case. There was a lot of zesty and funky flavours with plenty of citrus and spice that gave the beer quite a dry, sharp feel. There was some nice tangy touches at times but the beer was fairly easy to drink, all things considered, but it did seem a lot more like a saison than the American IPA that I expected.

Overall (13/20): This one was definitely an unusual offering from Stone and not exactly what I was expecting from a beer labelled as an American IPA; there was some hop bitterness coming through but for the most part the wild yeast and funky flavours seemed to dominate. There was some background fruits and spice coming through, in particular some citrus flavours and the odd touch of pineapple with quite a dry finish but it was an interesting beer nonetheless. While it’s not one I’m likely to go back to again, mainly due to the price it must be said, it was an enjoyable beer but their Enjoy By IPA still a much better offering than this one.

Brewed In: Escondido, California, United States of America
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2014
Full Name: Stone Enjoy After 07-04-2016 Brett IPA
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (750ml)
Purchased: BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £15.00

Rothaus Hefeweizen (336 of 1001)

November 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

It’s been a long wait since my last review of a beer to feature in the 1001 beers list, far too long in fact, with the last one being when I tried a bottle of De Dolle’s Stille Nacht back in July and added the review here the next month. This one will be my 336th beer from the list and it is one that was only introduced back in 1995, despite the fact that the brewery was founded in the Black Forest area of Germany as far back as 1791. The brewery is one of three state-owned breweries in the country, the others being Munich’s Weihenstephaner and Hofbräu breweries, and it’s known as being a brewery that traditionally added plenty of malts to their recipes so this should be an interesting take on the hefeweizen style. It comes it slightly stronger than is the norm for this type of beer, sitting at 5.4% it’s a fraction stronger than the 4.9% average for a German hefeweizen and another interesting fact is that the brewery was among the first to offer their beer as a ‘hefeweizen zäpfle’ in 330ml bottles to help it appeal to a wider audience.

rothaus-hefeweizen

Appearance (4/5): A slightly darker orange-amber colour than is the usual for the style, likely due to the extra malts used in the brewery process, this one is a cloudy beer that is topped with a two centimetre tall head that formed after quite a gentle poor. Head retention is pretty good it must be said, there is an initial reduction of just under a centimetre but after that the fluffy, almost creamy looking head doesn’t budge much at all. There’s a touch of lacing on the sides of the glass too and it sits well in the glass, looking quite still and inviting.
Aroma (7/10): Semi-sweet opening up, there is a combination of bananas and wheat in the early going with touches of yeast and some lighter bubblegum notes in there too. It’s more malty than normal for the style but as mentioned above, that is apparently a common theme with beers from this brewery. The beer seemed quite lively and fresh on the nose with some background fruits and citrus in there alongside a couple of bread malts and cloves towards the end; a good start.
Taste (7/10): Quite malty with a sweet backing thanks to the banana and bubblegum flavours carried through from the nose, this one starts with some nice fruits and a little clove, touches of yeast and citrus feature too. There was a malty base that came through with touches of bread and the odd bit of spice but on the whole it was quite standard for a hefeweizen, albeit a malty one.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite fresh, there was amble carbonation from the start and the balance of the beer seemed good too; some early sweetness went well with the malty base and spice. It was a refreshing beer on the way down and proved quite easy to drink as well; nice stuff all round.

Overall (15/20): Quite a nice, well-balanced hefeweizen that was pretty fresh and came through with a lot of malts from the start, There was some nice bread flavours with banana, yeast and cloves on top alongside some touches of yeast and background citrus. It was to drink and enjoyable without being a standout offering or one that I’d go out of my way to hunt down again; I wouldn’t say no to a second either though.

Brewed In: Grafenhausen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Brewery: Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus
First Brewed: 1995
Also Known As: Rothaus Hefeweizen Zäpfle
Type: German Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.00

Abita Andygator

November 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.6

The final beer of six I was given as a gift from relatives returning from the United States over the summer now, this one being the third Abita offering that I’ll be trying. I’ve decided to keep the strongest to last in the hope that it’ll also be the most enjoyable; although to be honest with you, the beer doesn’t exactly get the best reviews online and it’ll have to go some way to beat the same brewery’s Wrought Iron IPA or SweetWater’s Goin’ Costal which have been the pick of the bunch so far. Coming in at 8% abv. and labelled as a helles doppelbock, this one was originally brewed in the late ’90’s as an occasional offering from the brewery at their brewpub but only seems to have been available to the wider public since sometime around 2005. The style itself if one that I’ve tried a few times in the past, but it’s not one of my go-to beers so this one should be a nice change of pace as we get into winter.

abita-andygator

Appearance (3/5): Quite a light and clear looking amber, this one definitely has the appearance of a pale lager in the early going with it being topped with a fairly thin head that is white and initially covers the surface before fainting at one end and turning patchy. There’s a few fine bubbles rising to the surface that hint at good carbonation and there’s decent clarity like I said as well but the lack of a solid head was a slight disappointment.
Aroma (6/10): Quite sweet on the nose in there early going with some butterscotch and a few alcohol notes in there a bit sooner than I’d have liked. There was some grassy touches and a hay backing with a few lager malts and earthy type hops. Nothing particularly stood out beyond the initial sweetness though and the malts came through secondary to it throughout. The odd toasted aroma started to come through nearer the end with further grains, sugar and a bit of vanilla to round things off with.
Taste (5/10): Following on from the nose, this one is again dominated by an early sweetness that bordered on sickening at point here sadly. There was the vanilla and butterscotch flavours that the nose hinted at but both seemed slightly more pronounced this time round, there was a few grains and an earthy taste towards the middle too. Further on and the sugars came through to add to the sweetness and accompany some toasted flavours and a touch of oak alongside more alcohol than I’d have liked and a slightly off finish; disappointing really.
Palate (2/5): This one was definitely an overly sweet beer with far too much sugars and an almost sickening sweetness at times. The beer seemed stronger than you’d have thought and the balance wasn’t particularly good either, although carbonation levels weren’t too bad on the whole.

Overall (10/20): Quite a disappointing offering overall, the beer seemed quite ordinary and definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, especially given it was the last of the American import beers I had to try from over the summer. There wasn’t too much variety to the beer either, beyond the sweetness some pale malts and typical lager type flavours featured alongside an earthy middle and some toasted touches nearer the end; I can’t say this is one I’m likely to have again I’m afraid.

Brewed In: Abita Springs, Louisiana, United States of America
Brewery: Abita Brewing Company
First Brewed: circa. 1997/98
Type: Doppelbock
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Price: Gift