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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)

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)

Laško Dark

October 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

The final beer from those I managed to try over the summer on my visits to Croatia, Slovenia and Italy and a good one to go out with, a dunkel from Slovenian brewer Laško and one that I only stumbled across in a restaurant in Rovinj on the last night of my holiday. The beer is one that I knew existed but I had trouble finding it after being unable to locate a bottle on my brief visit to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana so I was happy to try it with dinner in Rovinj when the chance presented itself. This one follows on from the first Laško beer I tried back in 2011, their Zlatorog offering I first tried back in 2012 and will likely be the last review of a Slovenian beer I add for quite some time.

Laško Dark

Appearance (4/5): This one pours a dark, chocolate coloured brown with an opaque body and a large, three-centimetre tall head that holds better than I would have expected over the opening couple of minutes before eventually halving in size.
Aroma (7/10): Dark roasted malts and quite a lot of chocolate kick this one-off, there is some sweetness off the back of this though and I could also detect some light grain and some subtle sugars. The beer was quite a dark one with some lactose towards the end and coming through with a nice balance overall.
Taste (7/10): Matching the nose well, the taste kicks off with some dark roasted malts and touches of grain but there is slightly less chocolate coming through than there was with the nose. I managed to get some sugars and there was a nice milky taste around the middle before some caramel and nutty flavours made themselves known nearer the end.
Palate (4/5): A smooth and quite a creamy beer on the palate, coming through with a medium body and a pleasant amount of sweetness from the sugars and chocolate in the taste. There was a good balance throughout and the touches of grain were kept to a minimum with some light bitterness seeing things out.

Overall (15/20): Quite an enjoyable beer from Laško and one I’m very pleased to have tried, there was a very nice dark roasted malt flavour with good sweetness and the odd milky taste coming through that all worked well together. The balance of the beer was a good one and it proved very easy to drink, it’s definitely one I’d order again when in the region.

Brewed In: Laško, Slovenia
Brewery: Pivovarna Laško
First Brewed: Brewery since 1825
Also Known As: Laško Temno
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 5.9%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Moneo, Rovinj, Croatia
Price: 25 kuna (approx. £2.42)

Union Temno Pivo (305 of 1001)

September 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

Finally a new review from a beer that features on the 1001 beers list now, a bottle of Union Temno Pivo that I sampled in Ljuubljana last month and my first from the list in quite some time; mainly due to the fact that I had already reviewed both Croatian beers on the list a few years ago and this one is the only Slovenian beer listed. Due to the fact that this one was the only Slovenian beer on the list to try, this one was the beer that I was most anxious to try on my vacation this year despite the fact I didn’t think it would be a particularly good offering; thankfully that wasn’t the case though and it actually proved to be one of the better Slovenian beers I managed to try on my travels; it was also my seventh Union beer alone and the last review of one from me for quite some time now.

Union Temno Pivo

Appearance (4/5): A mahogany brown colour with some red tinges and an opaque body that is one centimetre tall and quite foamy looking with also has creamy spots. It sits a light tan colour on top of the beer with good retention over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (7/10): The nose of this one starts off with some dark roasted malts and an earthy bitterness that features some caramel too. There’s a few darker fruits making an appearance along with some sugars, bread and a touch of toffee. It’s not an overly sweet beer but there is some throughout with some subtle hops sitting in the background to round things off.
Taste (7/10): Earthy malts and sugars kick off the taste of this one, there is some caramel malts not far behind though and these add to the sweetness of the beer a little. Next up is some background fruits and a slightly grainy taste with some subtle hops from the nose making another appearance here. Touches of toffee and a various roasted flavours come through at the end to finish things off.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and moderate carbonation, the beer has some slight grains coming through alongside a decent amount of sweetness from malts and caramel. It was quite an easy beer to drink with a good balance and no alcohol showing.

Overall (15/20): This one was a surprisingly enjoyable dark lager from Union, I say surprising since so many of the beers from them that I’ve reviewed here recently have been fairly disappointing offerings but this one was quite a pleasant one. The beer was well-balanced and smooth with a nice amount of sweetness coming through along with some darker, roasted flavours and a few background fruits. It was an easy one to drink as well with enough variation to keep things interesting.

Brewed In: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Brewery: Pivovarna Union
First Brewed: 1989
Formerly Known As: Union Baron Black/Crni Baron
Type: Dark Lager
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Premier Pub, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Price: €2.80 (approx. £2.04)