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Asahi Super Dry Black

November 14, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

Not to be confused with the similarly named Asahi Black that I reviewed here a few years ago, this one is another dark beer from the brewery that I managed to try in Japan last month and one that is also my penultimate new offering from the brewery that I tried in the country. Seemingly a 2012 release, this one is a newer beer that their Asahi Black (or Asahi Kuronama as it is sometimes known) but unlike that offering, this one isn’t a beer that features in the 1001 beers list sadly. I managed to try this one in a Tokyo whale meat restaurant on my last full night in Japan and opted for it as the only non-pale lager on the menu despite it being one that I had already tried early on my trip to Japan; it is also a nice one to check off since it doesn’t appear to be an Asahi beer that is readily available in the UK either.

Appearance (4/5): Really dark mahogany to black in colour and sitting with an opaque body, this one has quite a thin head on top that sits just under a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, with a little more build up around the edges at least.
Aroma (6/10): Darker malts and some roasted notes kick things off here, there was some earthy bitterness and light coffee in the early going too but neither overpowered thankfully. A little further on there was some grassy smells and a little sweetness but it was quite a basic, almost weak nose at times.
Taste (7/10): The beer opens with some dark and roasted malts, there was some chocolate showing too which provided an early sweetness that only showed towards the end of the taste. Around the middle some grains and subtle hops featured with a few touches of hay before coffee and earthy malts seen things out nicely.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and not overly dry despite the name, the beer was dark and bordered on fresh with a subtle hop bitterness that fades and turns almost watery further on. It was however an easy to drink beer with a nice balance without it being anything overly special on the way down.

Overall (14/20): This one was a fairly enjoyable offering from Asahi and a nice change from the usual pale lagers I was drinking with dinner most nights in Japan, this one was lively and fresh with a slightly dry feel at the end. There was plenty of roasted and dark malts throughout with some grains, hay and grassy hops working well together to help this one go down easily enough.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Asahi Breweries
First Brewed:  2012
Type: Schwarzbier/Black Lager
ABV: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (334ml)
Purchased: Kujiraya, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Price: ¥450 (£2.98 approx.)

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Mahou Negra (352 of 1001)

June 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.1

This one is only my second review of a beer from one of Spain’s biggest brewery’s, Mahou and follows on from their Mahou Cinco Estrellas that I sampled on-tap in Glasgow back in March. This one is the brewery’s flagship dark beer and is actually one that I’ve been on the lookout for over the past year and a bit, having previously tried to pick it up last year when I first visited Barcelona but surprisingly I was unable to locate a bottle. I also attempted to have family members get me a bottle on their trips to Spain but finally I managed to find it in a Carrefour supermarket on La Rambla on my recent trip to Barcelona; better late than never I guess. The beer is another from Spain on the 1001 beers list that I’ve be able to check off and means I only have three more from the country to try and a review of Montseny Lupulus will follow in the coming days, so technically I only have two more to pick up now. As for the beer itself, this one is a dunkel style lager that was first brewed back in 1908 and it wasn’t really one that I held out much hope for before trying it, I really only wanted to check it off the list and had assumed it would be much easier to find than it proved to be. Anyway, here’s what I thought of the beer when I tried it at the start of the month.

Appearance (4/5): Copper brown and semi-opaque looking, the beer is topped with a centimetre tall head that is foamy and tan brown in colour with okay retention but it eventually turns slightly patchy after a minute or so; it’s certainly better than I had expected though.
Aroma (5/10): Dark malts and some caramel notes opening up proceedings here, there is some roasted notes as well but it wasn’t really anything that I hadn’t been expecting. I managed to detect some spice nearer the end but overall it was quite a one-dimensional beer on the nose and not overly exciting sadly.
Taste (6/10): The taste kicked off in a similar fashion to the nose with some basic malts and roasted flavours before a nutty taste started to appear nearer the middle followed by some hints of caramel along with some light spices. There was a few bread malts following on from this with hints of toffee adding to the sweetness from earlier on which meant that this was a slight improvement on the nose but still not exactly a classic.
Palate (3/5): Light medium bodied with a slight tang and quite an easy to drink feel to it, the beer was quite basic and one-dimensional but not off-putting at least. There was some sweetness from the caramel and toffee flavours but the main point to note was the roasted, nutty feel to the beer that dominated throughout.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a basic beer on the whole and pretty much what I’ve come to expect from mass-market beers like this, although it was relatively easy to drink. The beer kicked off with some nutty flavours and a touch of caramel to impart some early sweetness to proceedings. There was a strong roasted bitterness to the beer throughout with touches of toffee nearer the middle that helped add to the earlier sweetness, a few burnt flavours managed to sneak in too though. It’s probably not a beer I’d go back to again, even if it was more readily available to me but it was at least another off the 1001 beers list and it remained drinkable throughout.

Brewed In: Alovera, Spain
Brewery: Mahou S. A.
First Brewed: 1908
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Carrefour supermarket (Barcelona)
Price: €0.85 (£0.75 approx.)

Bock Damm (350 of 1001)

June 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.9

The second ever beer brewed by Barcelona’s Damm brewery and introduced way back in 1888, this beer is still one of the most popular dark beers brewed in a country those beer scene is almost completely dominated by pale, blond lagers. This one is a beer that features on the 1001 beers list and as a result is one that I’ve been looking to try on my last few trips to Spain but was surprisingly unable to find it one previous visits before finally stumbling across it at the tail end of last month when returning to Barcelona. The beer is actually available in a number of pubs and some supermarkets in the city which makes it all the more odd that I wasn’t able to pick it up sooner but I eventually sampled a pint of the stuff in a local bar just off the Placa Reial in Barcelona city centre just over a week ago. Despite the name of the beer, this ‘bock’ is actually much closer to a Munich style dunkel lager and due to it’s lack of bitterness was in the past aimed at female drinkers in its advertising campaigns while the bottle itself features the image of a goat which was added as a play on the fact that the word ‘bock’ translates from German as billy-goat.

Appearance (3/5): Dark mahogany coloured with an opaque body and quite a thin head on top that was a foamy texture and slightly off-white in colour; there’s was some touches of lacing on the sides of the glass and the surface was covered well too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite nutty on the nose initially with some basic roasted notes and malts coming through in the early going, there was a touch of caramel in there too. The beer turned out to be lighter than expected on the nose which was surprising given it was such a dark beer but some hints of sweetness did manage to appear alongside some grassy touches nearer the end.
Taste (6/10): The taste started off in much the same vein as the nose with a lot of nutty flavours and some lighter caramel sweetness backing it up, there was faint biscuit and some roasted malts in there too. Around the middle I managed to get some lighter grassy flavours but there was no sign of any hops or bitterness and it came across as quite a basic offering.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and moderately carbonated, this one was a semi-sweet offering thanks to the touches of caramel coming through at times. There was a fairly basic feel to the beer and it seemed a lot lighter than expected too but the balance was a decent one and it proved easy enough to drink without being an overly enjoyable one.

Overall (10/20): Quite a basic dark beer that wasn’t quite as strong or as pronounced as I’d been expected with the majority of the taste coming through the roasted malts and faint caramel that featured throughout. There was no sign of any bitterness or hops to the beer which sadly made it seem quite bland and basic but the light sweetness off the back of the caramel was at least somewhat enjoyable. It’s definitely not a beer to go hunting for but it’s always nice to check another beer off the 1001 list even if it’s not a great one.

Brewed In: Barcelona, Spain
Brewery: Damm S. A.
First Brewed: 1888
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Keg (500ml)
Purchased: Cerveceria Canarias, Barcelona, Spain
Price: €4.60 (£4.01 approx.)

Plaza Vieja Negra

January 13, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.25

The third and final Taberna de la Muralla beer that I’ll be reviewing here and also the last review I’ve still to add from my trip to Cuba last year; likely my last review of a Cuban beer for quite some time too I’d imagine. This one is the darkest offering available at the Factoria Plaza Vieja brewpub in Havana and is probably also the darkest beer available in Cuba, certainly of all the Cuban brewed beers anyway. Like the Obscura before it, this is a beer I was really looking forward to hunting down and trying when I was in Cuba and perhaps I’d built it up a little too much in my mind because it definitely wasn’t as good as I’d expected, I actually preferred the Obscura to this one and was looking for something a little darker and malty from this beer. Still, if you find yourself in Havana then it is definitely a beer to go looking for as it’s sadly one of the better beers available in the country; something that’s more a reflection of the state of Cuban beer than on how good this one is though.

plaza-vieja-negra

Appearance (4/5): I was expecting something a little darker but this one turned out to be a caramel amber that was reminiscent of the Obscura from the brewery and was again topped with a foamy white head that was bubbly around the edges. The body looked slightly hazy and head retention was okay as well, not a bad-looking beer so far.
Aroma (6/10): An earthy caramel nose opens things up here and there was some subtle hops following on behind that added some faint bitterness. The beer was quite dry on the nose and has a semi-sweet aroma to it with some darker malts but definitely not as many as I’d have expected. Towards the end some sugars featured and added a little to the sweetness but it could definitely have been a little stronger.
Taste (6/10): Sweet with some nice caramel malts and the odd earthy flavour to kick things off, the beer is again quite dry with a slight bit of citrus showing but it definitely wasn’t a complex beer. There was some toffee and sugars around the middle but very little else of note; still it’s not bad for a Cuban beer.
Palate (3/5): A light-medium bodied beer with a semi-sweet feel to it, this one was quite dry and balanced which allowed it to go down relatively easily. It wasn’t a complex offering but there was some slight citrus adding a subtle tang to go along with a light hop bitterness that kicked things off.

Overall (13/20): A decent third beer from this Havana based brewpub but one that definitely wasn’t as dark or malty as expected; the anticipated roasted flavours were also missing sadly. The beer as a result felt closer to an amber ale than a dark lager but it was still enjoyable given how hard it is to find a decent beer in Cuba at times. While not as good as the Obscura from the brewery in my opinion, it was better than the Clara and is still a beer well worth checking out if you happen to find it in Cuba.

Brewed In: Havana, Cuba
Brewery: Taberna de la Muralla
Full Name: Taberna de la Muralla Negra
Also Known As: Factoria Plaza Vieja Negra
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: circa 4.2%
Serving: Draught (500ml)
Purchased: Factoria Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba
Price: 2 CUC (approx. £1.56)

Baltika 4 Original (333 of 1001)

June 15, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 3.2

A second beer from my recent trip to Barcelona now and again it is a Russian beer from the Baltika brewery that follows on from their #8 Wheat beer that I reviewed here last. This is another that I picked up from a Russian mini-market on my trip to the Catalonian city based solely on the fact that I knew it would be a new beer from the 1001 beers list that I’ve not been able to track down in the UK since I started my quest to drink all the beers I could from the list. This one is the second of two beers from the brewery that feature on the list, the other being their #6 Porter that I managed to try back in December 2013; it also means that I’ve now tried both the Russian beers to feature on the list given no other brewery’s managed to get a beer listed. Thankfully this one is the last review of a non-Spanish beer that I have from my trip to Barcelona and although I didn’t manage to sample as many new beers as I would have liked, I did at least manage to check a beer from the country off the 1001 beers list during my visit.

Baltika 4 Original

Appearance (2/5): Dark ruby to amber in colour and topped with a thin, quarter centimetre tall head that is a foamy texture and beige in colour that fades almost instantly to leave little more than some faint lacing around the sides of the glass.
Aroma (6/10): Quite strong on the nose and definitely malty with a lot of sweet malts and caramel in the early going. There was some nice toffee notes coming through alongside a few dark, ripe fruits that includes some dates, prunes and figs. Towards the middle bread malts and a background alcohol aroma came through, as did some berries and a hint of vanilla that added to the sweetness and sugars but it was the malts that seemed to dominate.
Taste (7/10): Dark malts and figs kick things off here with some dates and plenty of caramel not too far behind. The beer matches the nose well with a lot of sweetness showing and some burnt sugars too. Again the bread malts from the nose feature with some darker fruits and there is a touches of sweetness towards the end; nice stuff.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite sweet with light-medium carbonation levels that seemed quite soft at times and a wet finish. The beer had a sticky feel to it at times, probably from the strong sweetness and sugars but overall it was quite smooth and easy to drink without truly excelling.

Overall (14/20): This one was an okay offering from the Baltika brewery without being the best from them that I’ve tried thus far. There was a nice sweetness to proceedings and I quite enjoyed the sticky patches that showed with the beer thanks to the caramel malts and sugars. Overall the balance was good and it was definitely an enjoyable beer but it just didn’t seem to grab me.

Brewed In: St. Petersburg, Russia
Brewery: Baltika Breweries
First Brewed: 1992
Full Name: Baltika 4 Originalnoe (Original)
Type: Dark Lager/Dunkel
Abv: 5.6%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Mini Mix Russian Shop (Barcelona, Spain)
Price: €1.05 (approx. £0.82)

Schwarzer Kristall (315 of 1001)

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.0

Translated as ‘Black Crystal, this dark schwarzbier was first introduced in 2007 and will be my fourth from the Appenzeller brewery with each of them featuring on the 1001 beers list; this brewery seems to dominate the Swiss offerings on the list. The beer itself is based on a recipe from the late 19th century but was given a few additional, modern touches as well. The beers from the brewery that I’ve tried thus far have been a fairly average bunch with the bottle of Naturperle (the first from them I reviewed here) going down best and since this one is the last from Appenzeller that I still have to review here it would be nice to go out with a good one, thankfully this beer does not disappoint in that regard. It is currently the seventh highest ranked schwarzbier on BeerAdvocate and is also highly ranked on RateBeer, sitting about forty-forth on that site.

Schwarzer Kristall

Appearance (4/5): This one poured an opaque black with a thick looking, one and a half centimetre tall beige head that is foamy and straight looking with very good retention. There is little movement over the opening couple of minutes before it eventually reduces to about half its original size.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a dark beer on the nose, I’d expected as much from the second I’d started pouring this one. There was plenty of roasted malts and coffee to kick things off, I also got a few background fruits making an early appearance too. The aroma was slightly earthy at times with some grain and a few touches of sweetness sneaking in as well. The beer was also lightly smoked on the nose with some cocoa and sugars right at the end.
Taste (8/10): This one follows on from the nose well with some nice malts, particularly the darker one but also some coffee from the nose featuring as well. The beer was definitely a dark one with sugars, grain and chocolate all making themselves known before a few dark and ripe fruits showed themselves; most notably some raisins and prunes. There was some roasted flavours and smoky flavours towards the end with some caramel seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium to full body with a few creamy patches on top of light carbonation. The beer was quite well-balanced and easy-going with some smoke showing in areas and some sweetness sneaking in too; an enjoyable mouthfeel.

Overall (16/20): This one was a really nice beer and definitely one of the better Swiss beers that I managed to try on my trip to the country. The taste of this one was good and the nose in particular was an enjoyable one with some good roasted malts and dark fruits showing themselves alongside sugars and chocolate flavours plus a touch of smoke towards the end; great stuff and very much a beer that I wouldn’t mind having again at some point.

Brewed In: Appenzell, Switzerland
Brewery: Locher Appenzeller
First Brewed: 2007
Full Name: Appenzeller Schwarzer Kristall
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: 6.3%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 2.90 CHF (approx. £1.88)

Ueli Robur Dunkel

November 19, 2015 2 comments

Rating: 3.75

My second ever Swiss beer now, following on from the macro pale lager Feldschlössen Original, this was another beer that I managed to sample on my first day in Basel recently when I stopped by the brewpub having made a point of finding it on my trip. This one differs from the pint of Feldschlössen I had before it in that this one is more of a craft offering and is one of the first beers the Fischerstube brewery produced when it started operations back in 1974. Like all the brewery’s beers, this one falls under the ‘Ueli Bier’ banner and I opted for a large glass of this one on-tap when I spotted it in the menu since it had been a while since my last dunkel; I also managed to try some of their weizen offering when in the pub (a review of the bottled version of that beer will follow shortly).

Ueli Robur Dunkel

Appearance (4/5): Copper red and cloudy with some orange touches and a one centimetre tall, foamy white head on top that is slightly rusty with great retention over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (7/10): This one kicks off with plenty of sweet malts and a solid caramel backing, there is some nice sugars thrown into the mix as well and toffee notes that follow on from that. Whilst not being the strongest smelling beer out there, the beer is definitely a sweet one on the nose with some roasted malts and a few dark fruits making themselves known towards the end.
Taste (7/10): Following on closely from the nose, this one is again quite a sweet beer with a good combination of caramel and toffee malts that are backed up by some sugars and a good, malty base. There’s a few dark fruits sitting in the background and the toasted malts, biscuits and subtle bitterness all work together well.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and lightly carbonated, this one is very sweet and malty on the palate with some nice bitterness towards the end as well; the balance of the beer was particularly good as a result with it going down very easily indeed.

Overall (15/20): This one was quite a nice, easy going dunkel that was a major step up from the only other Swiss beer that I’ve tried to date (Feldschlössen Original) and the fact there was actually some flavour to this one was definitely a plus. There was plenty of sweetness throughout but it didn’t seem overdone and the balance was quite good with some pleasant bitterness towards the end as well.

Brewed In: Basel, Switzerland
Brewery: Brauerei Fischerstube
First Brewed: circa. 1974
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Draught (500ml)
Purchased: Restaurant Fischerstube, Basel, Switzerland
Price: 6.80 CHF (approx. £4.41)