My first beer from the Glasgow based Shilling Brewing Co. and a beer that I managed to try on-tap at the end of March in their brewpub based in the city centre of Glasgow. It was my first visit to their brewpub despite it opening last summer in a very central location, although now I’ve been once I imagine it would be long before a return visit. I opted for the brewpubs flagship Unicorn IPA on my first visit despite the bar launching two sour gueuze beers on the night I visited, my thinking was that it must be a good introduction to their beers and luckily my suspicions turned out to be correct.
Appearance (4/5): Medium to bright amber with a centimetre and a half tall head that was foamy white and looked quite thick and held very well, sitting on top of quite a clear body.
Aroma (7/10): Starting with some nice citrus notes and a little lemon, the beer had a pleasant biscuit base to proceedings with some earthy malts and a subtle bitterness coming through as well. It wasn’t an overly strong offering but some butterscotch sweetness and a slightly floral aroma did feature further down the line which gave it a nice balance without it being overly complex.
Taste (7/10): The taste was a fairly bitter one to begin with, more so than the nose with some earthy flavours backing it up before some biscuit malts and hints of citrus showed themselves. There was more malts this time around too with some butterscotch and vanilla sweetness seeing things out nicely.
Palate (5/5): Full bodied and quite fresh, the beer came through with a lot of earthy bitterness as well as a slight citrus tang. It was quite an easy-going and smooth beer that was also quite creamy and seemed almost like a cask beer at times; excellent stuff.
Overall (16/20): Quite a nice one overall, it was a smooth and creamy offering with a full body that had me thinking it was closer to a cask than a keg offering at times. This coupled with the nice sweetness and the good balance to the beer made it quite an easy one to drink without it being overly complex or a standout offering; it’s one I’d have again though.
Brewed In: Glasgow, Scotland
Brewery: Shilling Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Pale Lager
Serving: Draught (Pint)
Purchased: Drygate Brewery, Glasgow, Scotland
Another beer from one of the biggest craft breweries in Poland, this one is my second beer from the Artezan brewery based just outside of Warsaw and is another that I tried whilst visiting the city last month. I grabbed this one on keg at the Drugie Dno bar on my last night in the country having made a point of stopping by the bar on my travels and being influenced by the good online reviews this beer received, it looks like it previously featured in the list of the fifty best American pale ales on RateBeer (although it no longer appears on the list today). Following on from the brewery’s Mera IPA that I had tried a day or two before this one, I was particularly looking forward to seeing how this one would turn out when I ordered it last month; here’s what I thought.
Appearance (4/5): A bright amber coloured beer with a cloudy body, it has quite a foamy head that is white and starts about half a centimetre tall before fading to leave a bubbly lacing after about a minute, but one that still manages to cover the surface well.
Aroma (6/10): Hop-filled with a lot of floral notes and some citrus to kick things off, there was some bitterness off of the back to these too. The beer wasn’t overly strong on the nose sadly but some pineapple and lemon notes did some through and were easily detectable. These were followed by some lighter pine notes and then some biscuit malts that added a little to the sweetness before a few tropical fruits seen things out. It was a nice beer on the nose with enough going on to keep it interesting but it seemed a little weak for my liking I’m afraid.
Taste (7/10): The taste was slightly more malty than the nose had been but the pine and tropical fruits did carry through well. These were followed by some pleasant orange and lemon flavours too but neither seemed overly pronounced, a few touches of peach and grapefruit did back them up though. Towards the end there was the biscuit malts from the nose making an appearance alongside an earthy bitterness before the faintest of caramel touches seen things out.
Palate (3/5): Not as fresh or as lively as I’d hoped going into this one, the beer was sweet with a nice combination of tropical fruits and biscuit sweetness working well together. The body was light medium with average carbonation levels for the style and there was a slight tang at the end on top of what was a fairly dry beer overall.
Overall (14/20): This one turned out to be a slightly underwhelming offering from Artezan and not as good as their Mera IPA that I reviewed here previously, particularly considering the fact that I ordered this one based on how good some of the online reviews of it had been. The beer opened with some biscuit malts and the odd tropical fruit flavours but I was expecting more in the way of a juicy hop taste and nice bitterness, neither of which materialised. It was definitely a beer that could have used being a little stronger and carbonation levels could have been increased too but as it stands the beer was quite an average one and probably not a beer I’d go for again.
Brewed In: Błonie, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland
Brewery: Browar Artezan
First Brewed: 2013
Type: American Pale Ale
Serving: Keg (300ml)
Purchased: Drugie Dno, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 10PLN (appox. £1.96)
My first beer from the Okocim brewery now, a brewery which was one of the few Polish ones I was aware of before my first to Warsaw last month. This particular offering is a strong Baltic porter from the brewery that comes in at 8.9% abv. and is one that I managed to pick up when on a night out of the city back in March; it’s taken me longer than expected to get round to adding my review here though. Although not a beer that features in the 1001 list, another from the brewery does so I was also keen to try this offering when I spotted a bottle in the fridge behind the bar. Not to be confused with the brewery’s Okocim Porter, the offering that I’m reviewing here appears to be a more recent beer having only been introduced sometime around 2013, here’s what I thought of the bottle that I tried.
Appearance (4/5): Pouring a really dark brown colour, this one is topped with a quarter centimetre head that is foamy and sticks to the sides a little; it’s a still and opaque bodied beer but it’s nothing special in the early going really.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly dark malts open the nose up with touches of grain coming through from the alcohol as well, there was a hint of caramel malt as well. The beer seemed earthy with some chocolate notes and a little cocoa towards the middle before some fainter fruits seen things out. Overall the beer was well-balanced on the nose with slightly less alcohol showing than expected but some did manage to sneak through all the same.
Taste (7/10): Definitely more malty than the nose indicated, there was a lot of earthy flavours in the early going but they were thankfully backed up by a little sweetness that came from the chocolate flavours and some sugars. The taste seemed semi-bitter with some caramel malts in there as well as some smoke nearer the end to make a nice beer without it being a standout offering.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied with a smooth feel for the most part and some early alcohol touches that kicked the nose off. There was some smoke showing at times too but for the most part the sweetness from the chocolate and the malts seemed strongest, and carbonation wise it was quite a soft beer that coupled with the smoothness made it an easy one to drink.
Overall (15/20): Quite a strong beer with plenty of sweetness that managed to cover most of the alcohol malts and grains that appeared in the early going, there was a slightly warming feel to the beer nonetheless though. The beer was just shy of being full-bodied offering and together with the smooth feel, it was quite an easy beer to drink despite coming in so strong and showing some alcohol grain at times. The smoky flavours near the end of the beer weren’t too bad either but I’m still not sure it’s one that I’d rush out to try again, mainly because of the strength of the beer though.
Brewed In: Brzesko, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Brewery: Browar Okocim
First Brewed: circa. 2013
Type: Baltic Porter
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Verado Bar, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 10PLN (appox. £1.96)
Only my fourth Cloudwater beer now and follows on from the brewery’s DIPA v10 and v11 beers, both of which I sampled earlier this year, as well as their Lapsang Lichtenhainer wild ale which was a bit of a disappointment. This one was actually one of three beers from the brewery that I picked up earlier on this afternoon, I also grabbed a can of their DIPA v13 and their Motueka Pilsner but I was actually in two minds about this one since it was another sour offering from the brewery and the only other in that category I’ve tried from them was pretty poor. The beer itself appears to have originally been released back in early 2016 then discontinued for a time but it is now available again so I thought I may as well grab a can while I had the chance. Brewed using 230kg of oranges from the Ave Maria farm in Spain, this is definitely one that I’m looking forward to trying.
Appearance (3/5): Quite a deep, almost murky amber that starts with a half centimetre tall, white head that is bubbly but disappears almost instantly and leaves no trace after only a couple of seconds. The beer is cloudy but there is some evidence of visible carbonation in the way of small bubbles rising to the surface of the beer throughout but it was slightly disappointing given the lack of head.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a fresh and zesty beer on the nose initially, there was a lot of orange kicking things off as you might expect given the name of the beer but I got some lemon and touches of grape as well. There was a slightly sour base to proceedings with some yeast in there too; a nice start. The beer was a little strange though, in that it didn’t really smell like a beer at all and was more like an carbonated orange juice but at least it wasn’t a bad smell one.
Taste (6/10): Again opening with a lot of zest and orange flavours but it is slightly toned-down from the smell, there was more yeast and light malts this time around but it was still quite fresh tasting. Touches of sweetness appeared nearer the middle and it was definitely a juicy offering that hinted at some sourness but not enough to name the beer after it really. It’s a nice tasting beer on the whole but it was also slightly more basic than I’d have liked and naturally the orange flavours dominated.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium to medium bodied and quite a smooth, dry beer that was sightly sweet at times but for the most part came through as a zesty and fresh offering with moderate carbonation and hints of sourness, although definitely not a lot. It was relatively easy to drink but seemed a little one dimensional nearer the end and wasn’t anything too exciting really.
Overall (13/20): An interesting one here from Cloudwater, the beer started well with the promised burst of orange and citrus but it definitely wasn’t as sour as I’d been expecting given the name of the beer. There was a little sourness that followed on from the orange flavours, some yeast backing it up but it was more light and subdued than I’d hoped for. It was quite a smooth and easy to drink offering but it was more like an alcoholic orange juice really and probably not one worth bothering with in my opinion, especially given the likely price.
Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Sour/Wild Ale
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
A fourth beer from the Żywiec brewery now and another that I sampled whilst visiting Warsaw last month, this one following on from bottle of their Porter and Saison that I managed to try in the city as well. Unlike their Porter, this particular offering isn’t a beer from Żywiec that I was aware of before visiting Poland but since I always like to pick up new wheat beers when I can, I opted to give this one a go in my hostel bar and actually ended up drinking a couple bottles of the stuff. The beer is a witbier styled offering that was introduced in 2014 and appeared to be readily available throughout Warsaw, although it also appears to have attracted some poor reviews online but I didn’t feel it was a particularly bad one; here’s what I thought of it at the time.
Appearance (3/5): A cloudy amber coloured beer that was slightly lighter and less bright than expected, the head was also a slight disappointment given it started about a centimetre tall and then disappeared completely within the first minute; not what I expect from a wheat beer really.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some wheat and banana notes in the early going, there was some bread and a few malty smells following on behind before some subtle citrus started to come through. The beer wasn’t overly lively or fresh really, it featured some lemon and a few touches of biscuit nearer the middle but it was standard to basic for the style really.
Taste (7/10): Again opening with a combination of bread malts and banana, the beer was sweet and slightly stronger than the nose with some citrus featuring as before. There wastouches of clove and a few fresh fruits nearer the centre, I managed to detect some orange and naturally a lot of wheat. Down the stretch there was some floral touches but again the beer was a relatively basic offering for the style.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied but with less carbonation than I’d have expected, the beer was sweet at times and slightly dry nearer the end. As I’ve said, it was a basic take on the witbier still but it was crisp and relatively easy to drink too.
Overall (14/20): A fairly standard but still drinkable wheat beer, there was a good opening with the banana working well together with the bread malts to give the beer a sweet but balanced taste. The beer was definitely lighter and less carbonated than I’d have liked to see but it was drinkable without being one I’d seek out if it was available in the UK.
Brewed In: Żywiec, Poland
Brewery: Grupa Żywiec
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Premium Lager
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Oki Doki Hostel, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 9PLN (approx. £1.80)
Yet another Polish beer here, this one being my first from the Łódź based Antybrowar and one that I picked up in the Piw Paw Beer Heaven bar in Warsaw last month, a bar with roughly 91 taps and thankfully it as quite busy on the Sunday night that I visited so I felt like no one beer would have been lying in the keg for too long (unlike one of their other locations I visited earlier that day). This particular beer was one that caught my eye because it was listed as a Belgian style IPA but when I actually tried it, it seemed much closer to an American IPA with plenty of tropical flavours and a floral bitterness; it was still quite a nice offering though and here’s what I thought of it at the time.
Appearance (4/5): Medium amber with some bright tinges throughout, the beer also had quite a large head that was a foamy white and managed to leave some nice lacing on the sides of the glass as I worked my way through it; the body was a cloudy one as well.
Aroma (7/10): Floral hops and some pine open things up initially, there was a few bursts of citrus in the early going too. Further on and I could detect some grapefruit and subtle pineapple notes along with touches of mango and apricot that gave the beer a fresh, tropical nose; towards the end some lighter malts and sweetness started to come through as well.
Taste (7/10): Opening with some nice floral hops and a pleasant citrus flavour that carried on from the nose, this one was a fresh beer with more of a tropical feel to it this time around. There was some pineapple and orange nearer the middle but the mango flavours seemed most pronounced and I managed to get some lemon and peach too. Nearer the end some grassy hops and a light hint of spice started to come through and see things out quite nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium body and fresh, this one was a fairly dry offering that was quite floral in the early going too. It had quite a tropical feel to proceedings, particularly when it came to the taste and I managed to get some spice right at the end which was a nice change up. It was definitely a lively and well carbonated offering with a slight tang from the citrus in there and overall the balance seemed to be a good one.
Overall (15/20): Quite a nice beer but one that definitely seemed more like an American style IPA than a Belgian one despite the fact that’s what it was listed as in the bar. There was a very nice combination of floral hops and tropical fruits that worked well and was backed up by some decent citrus bursts too. I enjoyed the sweetness in the middle and the beer was definitely an easy one to drink, although it was probably on the basic side of things; pretty nice stuff on the whole but not one that I’d go hunting for I guess.
Brewed In: Łódź, Łódź Voivodeship, Poland
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Serving: Keg (330ml)
Purchased: Piw Paw Beer Heaven, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 12PLN (appox. £2.40)
A rarity here in that this will be my first review of a completely new style of beer to me, this one will be my first ever sahti which, as you’ve probably guessed, is not a style that I know very much about. The beer is another from Poland’s Pinta brewery that follows on from the A Ja Pale Ale and one that I managed to try in the Kufle i Kapsle craft beer bar in Warsaw when I visited last month, I was immediately drawn to this one since I knew I hadn’t tried the style before. Traditionally a Finish style of beer that was predominantly flavoured with juniper berries in the past, either in addition to or instead of using hops. Another milestone with the beer is that it takes me within two styles of trying every one that is listed on the RateBeer website, I now only need to try both a Faro and an Unblended style Lambic to complete the list and hopefully that is something I’ll be able to do sooner rather than later. This one is an especially good beer to check off since none of this style ever seems to make it to the UK, it is definitely more of a northern European type of beer. This particular offering from Pinta was also quite a good introduction to style as it is listed on RateBeer as the 26th best sahti, although it’s not as if it has tonnes of competition to appear on the list.
Appearance (4/5): A bright amber coloured beer that has a few darker tinges and is opaque in body. There was a bubbly white head on top that sat about half a centimetre tall and managed to hold on well.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a tarty/funky beer on the nose with some sour fruits showing as well, there was a bit of wheat following on behind too. The beer was more fresh than I’d expected and although it was my first ever sahti and I didn’t know what to expect, this one was quite a nice beer on the nose. There was some subtle malts and a faint sweetness nearer the end that made for an interesting start to the beer.
Taste (6/10): Slightly more subtle than with the nose, the taste kicks off with some early sweetness and a few touches of cherry that was surprising since the nose gave no indication of this. There was some tart and a few sweet malts nearer the middle, I detected some banana with faint cloves and yeast as well before some bread and faint spice seen things out.
Palate (4/5): An oily but quite a smooth beer, this one was light-medium bodied and came through with a fair amount of sweetness too, particularly with the nose. Carbonation levels were soft with the beer and it felt quite dry as it got nearer to the end, a slight tang featuring at this point too. Definitely an interesting offering with a lingering aftertaste and some hints of bitterness showing too.
Overall (14/20): This was an interesting first sahti for me, the beer opened with a lot of sweetness and some nice malts but there was also hints of tart that I’d not expected but that were fairly enjoyable. There was hints of a wheat beer at times thanks to the banana and cloves that featured, particularly with the nose and I thought it was a relatively easy beer to drink. It had a nice balance and was pleasant enough but I’m not sure I’d put it up there with my favourite styles of beer just yet, it was at least another style tick and one that I’m glad to have found since I’ve never seen one available in the UK so far.
Brewed In: Żywiec, Poland
Brewery: Browar Pinta
First Brewed: circa. 2012
Serving: Keg (300ml)
Purchased: Kufle i Kapsle, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 11PLN (approx. £2.20)