Time for one of those beer that I really should know better than to pick up now, this one is a bottle that I grabbed at the local Chinese supermarket over the weekend since it was the first time the store has had a new beer I’ve not tried in quite some time. This one is a strong malt liquor from San Miguel in the Philippines and will be the fourth beer from the brewery that I’ll have tried; it’ll also be the first from them since I reviewed their terrible San Mig Light offering when I was in Thailand a few years ago. Introduced in 1982 as the Philippines first extra strong lager, the beer has managed to win a gold medal at the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards as well as a trophy for the best international lager at the same awards a year later. Brewed at various San Miguel breweries across southeast Asia, the beer comes in anywhere between 6% and 8% abv. depending on where it has been brewed; this particular bottle is a 7% offering and to be honest it’s not one I’m looking forward to much; hopefully it can surprise me though.
Appearance (2/5): Pouring with a really clear body that is a watery looking amber colour, the beer has quite a lot of bubbles rising to the surface in the early going and the head disappears fast. Initially forming as a thin, quarter centimetre head that was bubbly and white, it managed to appear then disappear completely again in the space of about ten seconds.
Aroma (5/10): Surprisingly light on the nose in the early going for what I thought would be a strong and offensive aroma, this one opened with some light corn and a few touches of skunk but nothing that dominated really. There was a bit of alcohol and some grain which was to be expected but beyond that there was really only some basic vegetable adjuncts and a bit of hay. It’s not exactly a nose that you would call enjoyable but it’s miles better than I expected and I’m not as fearful of the taste as a result; a decent start.
Taste (5/10): Opening with a slight alcohol sweetness that wasn’t too sickly thankfully and was followed by some basic vegetable adjuncts and some corn. Like the nose, this wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared with the majority of the taste coming from some basic lager malts, a light touch of hay and some background skunk. There was a faint spice nearer the end and I got some light sugars rounding things off; again not a bad beer so far, all things considered.
Palate (2/5): Really thin and bone dry, the palate lets this beer down ever so slightly but you’d expect it to in some respects given the type of beer this one is. There was moderate carbonation to the beer but not too many hops or much bitterness at any point; I did get some touches of sweetness in the early going though and the alcohol seemed well hidden, definitely more so than I thought it would be. Despite the strength it was also a fairly easy beer to drink and went down a lot easier than I’d imagined it would going in.
Overall (10/20): This one was definitely a surprising beer and a lot better than I’d expected it to be without it turning out to be a must try or anything like that. The beer opened with a fairly light nose considering the strength of the beer and thankfully it wasn’t an offensive or unpleasant aroma, I got some touches of corn and the odd adjunct coming through alongside a basic corn and lager malt body. The taste followed on in a similar vein with only the odd touch of alcohol grain coming through and the sweetness from the nose featuring here as well. It’s not exactly a must try offering but it went down a lot better than I thought it would and it’s not one that I’d run scared of were I to stumble across it again either.
Brewed In: Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Brewery: San Miguel Corporation
First Brewed: 1982
Full Name: Red Horse Beer Extra Strong
Type: American Malt Liquor/Imperial Pils
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Chung Ying Grocceries
The third beer in Brewdog’s 2016 ‘Hammer Head’ series now, this one is the penultimate beer in the series and puts a chilli beer twist on the original Jack Hammer. The beer is labelled as a chilli-mango IPA and is the second chilli beer from the brewery that I’ll have reviewed of late, this one following on from the schooner of Neon Overlord that I sampled on-tap at one of Brewdog’s Glasgow locations soon after its release. This offering was coincidentally released alongside Neon Overlord and both being chilli beers, it seems like someone at the brewery ordered too much of the stuff and this was a quick way of getting rid of it. As I’ve mentioned already, this is the third in the series I’ve reviewed and it follows on from their Monk Hammer and Black Hammer offering which both seemed to go down quite well when I initially reviewed them. Sadly this is the beer in the series that I was looking forward to the least but I’m hopeful it is not too bad and perhaps might even be a slight improvement on the fairly average Neon Overlord; I guess we’re about to find out either way.
Appearance (3/5): Light bodied and golden tinged, this one has a fairly clear body and is topped with what can only be described as a disappointing looking head that sits as a fine lacing around the circumference of the beer with nothing in the centre really.
Aroma (6/10): Spicy on the nose initially but not quite in your face, this one opens with some background hops and a faint citrus that also has some tropical notes showing. There’s a light bitterness in the early going with some sweetness coming from the grapefruit and mango before some chillies start to feature around the middle. It’s a refreshing nose in the early going with a few touches of orange and a little pepper coming through too.
Taste (5/10): Definitely a spicy beer in the early going, the chillies from the nose feature with the taste a lot earlier and they seem a lot stronger too; although unlike the Neon Overlord offering from Brewdog, this one still remains drinkable to an extent and doesn’t overpower completely. There is some pepper in there too and a little citrus that ushers in touches of sweetness from the tropical fruits but none seem as strong as they were on the nose. There is a little mango, some apricot and oranges with touches of pine and grapefruit around the middle too. It’s still a fresh tasting beer but the chillies seem to take away from the rest of the taste in my opinion and exactly what I’d call a great tasting beer sadly.
Palate (2/5): Naturally spicy and quite sharp, this one sits with a medium body and a slight tang thanks to the citrus that comes through quite early on. There’s a basic sweetness to proceedings from the tropical fruits that manage to sneak in between the chillies and pepper spice and carbonation is about medium too. It wasn’t overpoweringly spicy but it did still seem quite difficult to drink and I tried of it by the end sadly.
Overall (11/20): This one an interesting one in some respects, after all it’s not everyday you get to try a new spiced/chilli beer but it wasn’t exactly a great tasting offering sadly. Compared to the last chilli beer I had, Neon Overlord from the same brewery, this one was quite drinkable and didn’t overpower but it’s not the type of beer I’m likely to pick up ordinarily. There was some nice sweetness coming through early on and a few citrus bursts featured too but as you’d expect from this type of beer, the pepper and chillies dominated and beyond that everything else seemed like a bonus.
Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Spiced Beer (Chilli Beer)/American IPA
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
My third beer from the Galway Bay brewery now and like the previous two, this is another than I had to travel to Galway in order to get my hands on. Following on from the brewery’s Buried At Sea & Full Sail offerings, both of which were very enjoyable beers, this is one that I’m really looking forward to trying. The beer is one that I picked up in the McCambridges of Galway shop over the summer after having it near the top of my ‘Irish beers to try’ list for quite some time. Widely regarded as one of the islands best beers, this one is a double IPA that comes in at 8.5% abv. and was first introduced in late 2013 before going on to be one of the brewery’s most popular offerings. Like the majority of Irish craft beers this isn’t one that I’ve spotted outside of Ireland, and to be honest I’ve only seen it in Galway itself so I doubt it’s one that’s likely to make it to Scotland anytime soon but it’s definitely one that I’ll be on the lookout for the next time I’m over in Ireland if it’s half as good as the online reviews suggest it will be; let’s find out if it is.
Appearance (5/5): Quite a bright looking beer, this one sits as a cloudy orange colour that boarders on amber and is topped with a respectable, one centimetre tall head that’s quite thick and foamy looking; it’s fits the name at least. Retention is very good as well here, there’s almost no movement at all over the opening minutes and the head manages to stay throughout the time it took me to finish the beer, there was also some touches of lace on the sides of the glass on the way down too; excellent stuff.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong nose as I’d expected, the beer opens with a solid tropical aroma that’s coupled with some grapefruit and pine notes; there was a mix of orange, mango and apricot coming through with some citrus not far behind. There’s a nice floral aroma around the middle of the beer and a couple of sweet malts make an appearance to help the balance; some brown sugars and caramel make up the bulk of this. Towards the end some touches of alcohol show but only faintly and there is some further fruits in there too.
Taste (8/10): Opening up quite a bit more bitter than the nose hinted at, this one was very hoppy with a lot of tropical fruits in the early going; in particular some mango, apricot and orange from the nose show but there is also some grapefruit, passion fruit and peach in there. Around the middle there is a lot of sweet malts and caramel coming through, just like with the nose, alongside some biscuit flavours and a bit of pine too. It’s definitely a strong beer with a lot going one and it’s rounded off by some pleasant floral touches and some touches of citrus; excellent stuff.
Palate (4/5): Quite a thick, full-bodied beer with a huge amount of hops coming at you from the opening bell. There was tonnes of bitterness to this beer and it seemed relatively fresh with moderate carbonation levels and a few citrus bursts. There was a resinous feel to the bitterness at points and it was sharp too with quite a dry finish that seemed to linger.
Overall (18/20): This one was a truly excellent Irish beer, easily coming in as the best beer from Ireland that I’ve tried and well ahead of the next closest which coincidentally happens to be another Galway Bay offering; their Full sail IPA. The beer opens up with a lot of tropical fruits, some nice pine bitterness and some sweet malts helping the balance the beer some. It was full of flavour from the start, the combination of fruits early on being particularly good and the relatively high alcohol content was also quite well hidden too. The beer was an easy one to drink and well worth the fairly high price I paid for the bottle; it’s definitely one worth hunting for if you find yourself in Ireland at any point.
Brewed In: Galway, County Galway, Ireland
Brewery: Galway Bay Brewery
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Double IPA
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: McCambridges of Galway (Galway, Ireland)
Price: €7.15 (approx. £6.44)
A truly local beer now, this one is what I believe is the first ever beer from the town where I grew up now, excluding my previous homebrew efforts anyway. The beer is one of roughly three currently brewed by the Beehive Brae brewery in Lanarkshire after they successfully ran a Crowdfunding campaign last year to upgrade their facilities. The beer is a golden ale style offering with honey and is one that a few Aldi supermarkets were stocking earlier in the year, meaning I was able to get my hands on this one after being gifted it by a relative. Despite this one being brewed so close to me, I must admit that it’s not a brewery I had even heard of before getting this bottle and a look at their website might give you an idea why; their beers appear to be incredibly expensive when compared to similar offerings and might explain why nobody I know has ever tried it. The beer does also appear to be available as a cask offering in a few pubs, particularly in the Edinburgh area but not being a huge fan of cask beers means I’d be unlikely to try it by that means either; I can only hope that Aldi start selling the other beers the brewery produces now and give me a chance of trying them as well.
Appearance (3/5): A very clear looking golden amber colour that has a few fine bubbles rising to the surface and was initially topped with a thin, half centimetre tall head that was foamy but it managed to disappear almost completely after about twenty seconds to leave a little patch in the centre of the glass. It looks to be a well carbonated offering and it’s relatively bright looking as well.
Aroma (7/10): Fairly sweet on the nose to open up, there’s a nice amount of honey in the early going but it thankfully doesn’t overpower. There’s some sweet malts and a few grassy touches alongside some medium sugars and a bit of hay. A couple of citrus notes and a floral backing come through with the second half of the nose and I got some further earthy malts to see things out nicely.
Taste (6/10): Picking up where the nose left off, this is quite a sweet tasting beer with the honey and sugar flavours dominating the early going before some of the background hay and grassy hops start to come through nearer the middle. There is a couple of subtle, earthy type malts and biscuit flavours coming through as well that help balance out the sweetness before some floral touches bring up the rear. It’s fresh tasting with some citrus and lemon in there and it matches the nose very closely indeed.
Palate (4/5): Quite a light body, it’s perhaps a touch thin but nothing major and it did have quite a clean, almost crisp feel to it. There was some sweetness from the start and a few citrus burst that gave it a slight tang nearer the middle. Not much sign of any bitterness really and some further sweetness came through right at the end.
Overall (14/20): Quite a fresh, easy-going beer that opened up with plenty of sweetness like you’d expect from a honey beer but still remained relatively well-balanced throughout thanks to the earthy malts, come nice grassy touches and the odd citrus burst. Without standing out as a classic beer or one you have to track down, the beer was quite enjoyable as a session offering and one worth trying if you stumble across it; that and it was also quite nice to try a truly local beer given it’s brewed in my hometown.
Brewed In: Wishaw, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Brewery: Beehive Brae
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Golden/Blond Ale
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Aldi Supermarket (Scotland)
My ninth Oskar Blues beer now and my first new offering from the brewery since trying their Death By Coconut and IPA beers back in March of this year, with the IPA turning out to be quite a decent beer. This particular beer is one from the brewery that I’ve seen a number of times over the years but never got around to trying, I’m usually put off by the price since I’m never overly keen to pick up pilsners over other styles of beer. I finally got round to trying this one last night at Brewdog’s Doghouse in Glasgow after finding it freshly on-tap and decided it was finally time I gave it a go. First introduced way back in 2007, this one is a Czech style pilsner that uses both Saaz and Bavarian hops that helped it win a silver medal at the 2001 Great American Beer Festival in the bohemian pilsner category. Anyway here it is, my ninth from the brewery and I’m already looking forward to trying number ten.
Appearance (4/5): Slightly cloudy but still a fairly bright golden colour that is topped with a relatively thin, foamy white head that sits a couple of millimetres tall in the glass. There was plenty of lacing on the sides of the glass though which seemed to make up for the fairly small head.
Aroma (6/10): Subdued on the nose initially, this one was as I’d expected from a pilsner in the early going with some subtle grassy hops and a light citrus nose coming through. The beer was definitely balanced but light with some pleasant sweetness and a touch of corn before the earthy hops and faint spice came through. It was a nice beer on the nose overall but it could probably have used being a little stronger.
Taste (7/10): The taste follows on well from the nose and starts perhaps a touch sweeter too, only just though. There was some nice citrus touches and a grassy hop base with some fruits in the background and the odd hop in there too. Again not too strong going down, this one would have been better had it been slightly more pronounced.
Palate (4/5): Light medium bodied and quite a clean beer that was also fairly crisp on the palate. There was some light citrus around the middle that gave the beer a subtle tang alongside the moderate carbonation levels and overall it was quite easy to drink. As I’ve said, it wasn’t the strongest beer out there but it was fresh and pleasantly refreshing.
Overall (14/20): This one wasn’t too bad a pilsner from Oskar Blues, it was crisp and quite clean with some early sweetness alongside a light citrus and grassy hop flavour. There was some background fruits and it proved quite easy to drink, my biggest complaint being that it wasn’t quite as strong as I’d have liked but it was a decent beer despite this.
Brewed In: Longmont, Colorado, United States of America
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
First Brewed: 2007
Type: Czech Pilsner
Serving: Keg (Schooner)
Purchased: Brewdog Doghouse, Glasgow, Scotland
A beer I’ve been in two minds about trying for a few months now, this one is the last collaboration between Brewdog and Ballast Point, brewed last year when Ballast were still an independent craft brewery and before they were bought by Mexican distributor Constellation Brands. I’m always interested in trying new Brewdog beers and this was no exception but I was initially put off by the fact that it was on sale for just £9.99 a bottle but when I was in one of the brewery’s bars over the weekend I decided to take the plunge try it while it was still on-tap. The beer was launched in late March this year as a ‘redacted collaboration beer’ with the Ballast Point wording on the label being blacked out as well. As for the beer itself, this one was aged in whisky casks, some of which had Sal de Gusano, a Mexican spice/salt, added as well and the beer also features mezcal flavours which is somewhat ironic considering Ballast Point was then bought out by a Mexican company. Despite the brewery politics, this one is a beer I was still happy to try since I’ve not had too many bad beers from Ballast Point; whether that changes going forward remains to be seen.
Appearance (4/5): This one poured a fairly bright amber colour that wasn’t too far away from orange. The body was quite clear and formed a small, foamy white head on top that was relatively good considering the strength of the beer but it was a touch patchy towards the centre of the surface; not too bad really.
Aroma (6/10): Sticky sweet on the nose initially, the beer wasn’t quite as strong as I’d expected in the early going which wasn’t a bad thing. There was some light hops and a bit of spice coming through alongside a background alcohol smell and a little grain. This was followed by some smoky notes and wood/oak from the whisky barrels that give the beers an almost rauchbier like aroma at times.
Taste (6/10): The taste kicked off a lot stronger than the nose indicated with the alcohol and whisky flavours more pronounced here than before, there was also a tequila like aroma that I’d put down as mezcal since that’s what was promised. There was some wood and oak flavours towards the middle of the beer with a few smoky touches too and overall it was a little rough and grainy on the way down. Some background hops and a touch of sweetness came through with some spice nearer the end but it wasn’t too bad a taste, it was just a little a strong for my liking.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and coming through with very little carbonation at all, this one was quite a rough beer on the way down thanks to the alcohol and grain that featured heavily from the start and made the beer a more difficult one to drink than I’d have liked. It was an overly strong beer but at the same time, it was still drinkable but I really had to take my time with it.
Overall (11/20): This one was definitely an interesting offering and one that started a lot lighter on the nose than I’d feared it might, it certainly wasn’t a weak offering and some oak notes did feature alongside some smoky ones but it wasn’t anywhere near as strong as some other beers coming in north of 10% abv. either. Things were stepped up a gear come the taste though and it was a lot stronger by then thanks to the whisky flavours and touches of background sweetness; there was some tequila type notes as well and touches of grain that gave it quite a harsh feel but it just about remained drinkable. It’s not really one I’d be tempted to go back to but that’s really only because it was such a strong offering, it was nice though and it’s well worth trying.
Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog / Ballast Point (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American Strong Ale
Serving: Keg (1/3rd Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse, Glasgow, Scotland
Quite a rare re-review of a beer I’ve already tried here before, this one being my second go at Farmageddon’s White IPA that I first tried last July when over in Ireland. Since trying the beer back then, I’ve spotted several online reviews and posts mentioning how good the beer is and that it’s definitely one worth trying which got me thinking that the bottle I first tried might have already been past its best. The first time I sampled this one I remember it being far too funky and a lot more like a bad saison than a wheat ale or IPA but nothing obvious stuck out about it being off or a bad batch, this coupled with the fact that it was still well within its best before date meant I just assumed it was a bad beer, either way this re-review should clear things up and it’ll be interesting to see how it comes out this time around.
Appearance (4/5): A hazy, golden amber colour with quite a lot of visible carbonation as I poured from the bottle; there was a huge white head as well that was very foamy looking and say about two inches tall in the glass. Retention was quite good from the beer with some touches of lacing on the sides and the head looked quite thick too; good stuff and already an improvement on last time.
Aroma (6/10): A hoppy open that was definitely complimented by some strong wheat notes in the early going, this one seems like a completely new beer this time around and there is some nice fruits coming through as well. There was a slight touch of funk around the middle but nowhere near as much as the last time, with some spice and orange notes following on behind. The beer seemed somewhat refreshing on the nose with some floral touches in there too. It’s still not the most complex beer that you’re likely to come across but it was a nice one.
Taste (5/10): Slightly more funky and some tart in there as well initially but the wheat flavours that the nose hinted at are present too. Some floral hops and a few bursts of citrus follow on behind before a faint hint of spice and some background fruits come through. It didn’t seem as strong as I remember from last time but the flavours themselves seem much better and the beer is actually drinkable this time around. There was some earthy hops and a light bitterness as we got nearer the end too but nothing really jumped out after the initial funk and tart.
Palate (2/5): This one was a very strongly carbonated offering and at times seemed to border on gassy. The body was quite a light one, perhaps even thin but not overly at least and there was some touches of funk and tart early in the taste; thankfully neither being as strong as the last time I tried this one though. There as a light bitterness towards the end and some dry touches too but the balance could probably have been a little better, it still wasn’t too bad though overall and some spice in there too seemed to help.
Overall (12/20): My second time trying this and it was almost like a completely new beer, it was so different from the first but there was just enough similarities to remind me I’d had this before. The beer was still overly carbonated but probably not quite as bad as last time, the balance still wasn’t great either and I could probably have done without the touches of funk and tart but both were thankfully a lot weaker than last time. There was some nice floral hops and the wheat seemed stronger this time which helped things considerably, I also got the odd citrus burst and some hints of spice at times which was just enough to keep me interested. It’s not one I’ll have a third time I don’t think but at least it was better than when I first tried it last summer.
Brewed In: Comber, County Down, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Farmageddon Brewing Co-Op
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Wheat Ale
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)