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Kyoto Ichii Senshin

October 18, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.6

My first beer from the Kyoto Brewing Company and the first review of a beer that I managed to try in Kyoto recently, I actually thought I’d tried a couple of beers from this brewery but it turns out that several breweries use ‘Kyoto’ as a prefix to their beers in the area. The name roughly translates to ‘single-minded’ and  the beer is a fairly new one, initially released as a Belgian IPA from the brewery in late 2016 and it’s one that I managed to stumble upon in one of Kyoto’s craft bars on my first night in the city, opting for this over several other of the brewery’s beers since it’s not often I find a new Belgian style IPA on-tap.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber with a fairly bright body and a half centimetre head that is foamy and holds quite well with good lacing on the sides as well as covering the entire surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a light beer on the nose with a fresh feel to it, there was some light grapefruit and touches of pine in the early going before some biscuit malts made an appearance. Further on and some yeast showed itself, coupled with pear and grapes as well as some earthy malts around the middle. It’s definitely a pleasant one on the nose but it could have been a little more pronounced at times to make it a good one.
Taste (7/10):
Definitely more Belgian tasting that it smelt, there is some yeast and subtle tart flavours to kick things off alongside a combination of pine and grapefruit hops. There are touches of citrus coming through with a subtle spice, the former being more pronounced than it was with the nose. Towards the end there was some basic malts but it was fresher than anticipated without being overly hoppy; some floral bitterness did see things out though.
Palate (4/5):
Light-medium bodied and quite fresh without being over-carbonated or gassy. There was a subtle bitterness throughout, mainly floral in style with a nice tang coming through as well. It was an easy-going beer with a dry finish but it wasn’t exactly an exciting offering.

Overall (14/20): An enjoyable enough beer without it ever really surprising, there was some pleasant pine and grapefruit flavours coming through alongside some floral touches and a hint of Belgian yeast but my biggest complaint with this one was that it wasn’t ever really strong enough sadly. There was some nondescript fruits and further malt bitterness towards the end but it wasn’t quite as pronounced as I’d have liked to make this a beer that I’d hurry back to.

Brewed In: Kyoto, Japan
Brewery: Kyoto Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Belgian IPA
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Keg (Schooner)
Purchased: Beer Bar Miyama 162, Kyoto, Japan
Price: ¥1000 (£6.62 approx.)

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Shiga Kogen IPA (359 of 1001)

October 16, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.65

The second review of a beer that I managed to try in Japan recently, this one is the first of the beers on the 1001 list from the country that I managed to find as well. I stumbled across this one at the Two Dogs Taproom in the Roppongi area of Tokyo on my second night in the city and it was the first I ordered on my visit. Brewed by Tamamura Honten (itself a well established sake brewery) in the Nagano area of the country, this was I believe the only beer from the brewery that I tried during my time in Japan but I did see a few of their other beers in a bottle shop towards the end of my trip but never picked any new ones up; instead I opted for bringing a bottle of this one home with me to the UK.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber in colour with a still body and a quarter centimetre head that was about double that initially but had settled by the time it reached my table. The surface was well covered on the beer though, only a slight break up showed at one side and it was a decent start.
Aroma (7/10): Hoppy to start with, the beer opened with some grapefruit and a light citrus aroma that was coupled with some faint earthy notes towards the middle. There wasn’t anything overpowering on the nose but a slight malt bitterness further on was a nice touch.
Taste (6/10): The taste of this one matches the nose quite closely with some grapefruit and pine in the early going but it wasn’t quite as malty as the nose was. There was some citrus notes and a few earthy flavours as things progressed before some biscuit and bread malts started to show; a few subtle spices and fruits rounding things off nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and fairly bitter with some resinous pine bitterness in the early going before turning to a more malty, earthy bitterness further on. The balance of the beer was a good one which made it quite easy to drink and it was well carbonated too.

Overall (15/20): This one was a decent first beer from the brewery for me and one that got off to a good start with a solid pine and grapefruit bitterness. Things remained balanced thanks to the earthy malts and touches of sweetness that appeared further on which made it an easy beer to drink; I looking forward to trying this one again with the bottle I brought home with me.

Brewed In: Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan
Brewery: Tamamura Honten
First Brewed: 2004
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Keg (473ml)
Purchased: Two Dogs Taproom (Roppongi, Tokyo)
Price: ¥950 (£6.29 approx.)

Knockout Middleweight IPA

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.4

My second beer from my recent trip to Ireland now and also my second from Belfast based Knockout Brewing, this one following on from their Hefeweizen Max that I reviewed here previously. Their Middleweight IPA is another that I picked up from a local bottle shop, mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t a beer that I’d seen before and it came from a brewery that I’d never heard of either. An English IPA by style, I was hoping this offering would prove itself to be a little better than the last from the brewery that I tried and here’s what I thought of it when I tried it late last month.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a fizzy and active beer, this one wasn’t as foamy as the previous from the brewery but it managed to form a two and a half centimetre head that was dome shaped and quite foamy looking. There was a thick and cloudy look to the body of the beer and head retention was good too, there was almost no movement at all over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (6/10): Citrus notes and some faint pine opening things up here, I got a little orange and some lemon with the odd biscuit note not too far behind. Some subtle background fruits and juicy aromas feature around the middle of the beer, I managed to detect some grapefruit too but it could definitely have been a touch stronger at times as well; towards the end some earthy malts and bitterness seen things out nicely though.
Taste (6/10): Following on well from the nose, the beer starts with citrus and orange flavours that were backed up by a few pine hops and touches of grapefruit but neither were particularly strong initially. There was some biscuit and earthy malts around the middle before some hints of sweetness made a brief appearance too; towards the end there was a nice bitterness to round things off.
Palate (3/5): Quite crisp and fresh with lively carbonation and a nice tang to proceedings, the beer was semi-sweet and had a nice floral touch at points thanks to the background fruits and hops. There was a faint bitterness from the middle on and although it could have been stronger, the balance of the beer was a good one and I enjoyed it more than expected.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a nice IPA from Knockout, it was definitely an English style IPA but had leanings towards an American version at points too, particularly when the pine and grapefruit bitterness started to come through but it was just a touch weaker than I’d have liked. The citrus and orange flavours were well received and the beer was an easy one to drink throughout.

Brewed In: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Knockout Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Type: English IPA
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

Native Son IPA

August 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.2

Another new Brewdog IPA here, this one a July 2017 release that I managed to try earlier this month when I spotted off for a quick beer at one of their Glasgow bars. Going in at 8% abv. and loaded with Columbus, Centennial, Citra, Chinook, Comet and Simcoe hops, the beer should be as American as an IPA can get. Following on from their The Physics and Hazy Jane offerings, this beer is my 139th from Brewdog and it was actually one that I was hoping to sample when I visited their pubs, mainly because IPA’s are definitely the brewery’s speciality and I was eager to see how this one compared to previous offerings from them; here’s what I thought at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a light and surprisingly clear beer that is a light amber colour with excellent clarity. The head is a fine, white coloured one that sits about a quarter of a centimetre tall in the glass and holds on quite well considering the strength of the beer, keeping its height over the opening couple minutes and leaving some nice lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some tropical fruits and a faint sweetness, the beer definitely wasn’t as strong on the nose or as bitter as I’d anticipated going in. There was some resinous pine towards the middle with a few touches of spice as well but it was quite light and basic with some pineapple and mango coming through further on.
Taste (6/10): Quite a similar taste to what the nose hinted at, the beer was still a lot lighter than I’d expect from an 8% abv. offering but there was some pleasant dry hops and pine to kick things off and thankfully both were at least a touch stronger than with the nose. I managed to get some mango and faint citrus around the middle of the beer with touches of spice not too far behind. Towards the end there was some floral flavours coming through but it wasn’t a typical IPA taste or one that I was a huge fan of really.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied, perhaps a touch thicker but definitely a spicy offering that was less bitter than anticipated. The beer had a nice tang at points and hints of alcohol featured throughout without ever overpowering,although it still wasn’t the easiest beer to drink and I felt that some of the flavours could have been a little stronger too.

Overall (12/20): This one proved to be a fairly average beer overall from Brewdog and one that was surprisingly unlike a typical American IPA with the bitterness a little lighter than expected but the floral flavours coming through a touch stronger. There was some alcohol showing throughout with plenty of spice nearer the middle of proceedings but it seemed a little basic at times too, pineapple and mango were about the only fruits worth mentioning and there wasn’t a whole lot beyond them to keep you interested.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American IPA
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Keg (Half Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog Doghouse, Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £4.04

Brewdog Hazy Jane

August 22, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 4.6

Jumping on the bandwagon with the latest craft beer trend, this one is a new beer for summer 2017 from Brewdog and seems almost like a successor to their recent collaboration with Cloudwater when they released a limit edition New England IPA earlier this year. Like that offering, this one is another New England style IPA from the brewery and is actually one that I received a free six-pack as part of their Equity for Punks scheme which was a bonus consider I would have definitely picked up a few cans myself anyway. The beer is actually one that I tried a few times before getting round to giving a proper review here, I spotted it on-tap one evening and couldn’t resist seeing how it compared to the canned version as well; both are excellent in case you are still wondering. This is definitely a beer that I’d like to see become a regular from Brewdog but here’s what I thought of it when I gave it a proper review from the can recently.

Appearance (5/5): This one pours very well and sits a cloudy, light orange colour in the glass and manages to look quite still in the process. The head is a thumb-sized, foamy white one that holds better than expected for a 7.2% beer with some nice lacing left on the sides of the glass too; an excellent start.
Aroma (8/10): Really juicy and fresh on the nose with a lot of tropical notes coming through in the early going to give the beer a refreshing and lively nose without it coming across as too strong or overpowering. There was some touches of pine and grapefruit initially but the touches of pineapple and mango helped to balance things out and stop it seeming overly bitter. Toward the end there was a hint of stone fruit and lighter malts coming through as well but it’s a tropical and juicy nose for the most part, it’s also an excellent one and up there with the best from Brewdog so far.
Taste (9/10): Following on well from the nose, this is again a very fresh and lively beer with a lot of tropical fruits to kick things off; I managed to get some pine and floral hops with a little grapefruit in there before the mango, stone fruit and even some peach made an appearance. It’s got plenty of variety and a hint of sweetness as well with some pale malts in there around the middle too. It’s a more hop-filled taste than the nose hinted at but it’s great on the way down and was rounded off nicely with some further citrus and tropical bursts right at the end.
Palate (5/5): Sitting around medium bodied this one was a very fresh and crisp offering that seemed quite lively and balanced too. There was a lot of tropical flavours that when coupled with the pale malts nearer the middle provided a nice touch of sweetness to proceedings as well. It was a very easy beer to drink and for the most part the alcohol content of this one was well hidden thanks to the abundance of flavour and good variety to it. It was well carbonated and even had a subtle kick right at the death; near perfect stuff on the palate for me.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and easily one of the best I’ve tried from the brewery, if not the very best, I’d love to see this one become a regular offering from them or at least a semi-regular offering. There was a huge amount of tropical fruits and juicy flavours to kick things off but the beer still held its balance throughout. There was some pale malts nearer the middle that provided some sweetness but the pineapple, mango and various other tropical fruits were the dominant flavours to the beer and it was definitely one that I enjoyed; I can see this one being a Brewdog beer that I pick up every chance I get if it does end up of their roster of regular releases.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: New England IPA
Abv: 7.2%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: Free

The Full Irish

August 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

A first beer from Eight Degrees Brewing now but my 56th Irish brewed beer in total, although this one is my first new offering from the country in a while since I’ve not visited the country since January and there seems to be a lack of beers from the south of the country that make it to the UK. This one is actually a beer that I’ve been on the lookout for on my recent trips to the country after finding it listed somewhere as one of the better Irish beers to try, I have also hopeful of picking this one up on a planned visit to Cork but since I spotted it in a local bottle shop I decided to grab it while I had the chance.

Appearance (4/5): Light amber and semi-cloudy in appearance, this one was an almost bright yellow colour that sat with a decent looking head in the early going. The beer was topped with a white and foamy looking number that started about a centimetre tall and held quite well over the opening minutes, leaving a nice bit of lacing on the sides of the glass into the bargain.
Aroma (7/10): Definitely a malty beer with plenty of bitterness to open things up alongside some caramel sweetness and the odd toasted not that set the tone for the rest of the beer. There was some subtle hops and the odd floral aroma coming through with touches of citrus not too far behind, a combination of orange and peach also featured at this point with faint pineapple rounding things off nicely; it seemed well-balanced on the nose but slightly understated.
Taste (7/10): Following on well from the nose, the beer opened with quite a malty taste that featured some citrus and floral fruits alongside some earthy bitterness. Towards the middle the sweetness from the nose started to come through, there was a caramel and toffee combination that worked well with some tropical flavours following on behind; I could detect some pineapple and faint apricot at this point with orange and light mango flavours coming through as well. Towards the end the grassy touches and pale malts started to come through but it was a nice beer at this point, if perhaps a little weak at times.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite soft levels of carbonation, the beer was balanced well but seemed quite dry overall with good levels of bitterness showing. There was a slight tang from the citrus and orange flavours and the beer was quite sweet, particularly in the early going thanks to the caramel flavours coming through. Overall the beer was an enjoyable one to drink and one that went down well but I would have liked it to be a little stronger at times too.

Overall (15/20): Quite a nice offering from Eight Degrees, this one was definitely one of the better Irish beers I’ve had of late but still wasn’t a standout or a classic really. It opened a lot more malty than I’d expected with the hops taking more of a backseat and an earthy bitterness coming to the fore. There was a freshness about the drink though and it was quite easy to drink with some subtle tropical fruits and citrus coming through around the middle. The taste could perhaps have been a little stronger but it was definitely a nice beer and one well worth trying if you get the chance.

Brewed In: Mitchelstown, County Cork, Ireland
Brewery: Eight Degrees Brewing
First Brewed: 2014
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.00

Cloudwater DDH Ella Ekuanot Pale Ale

July 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

A seventh Cloudwater beer for me now and my first since having a can of their Motueka Pilsner back in May, a beer that was fairly average at the time. I was looking forward to trying this one last week when I ordered it in my local Brewdog beer, mainly because I’ve had some great Cloudwater beers in the past and this one was only my second keg offering from the brewery; the other being their excellent DIPA v11 that I tried towards the end of January this year. This particular offering is a spring/summer offering for 2017 from the brewery and is another of their double dry-hopped beers that I’ve been hearing so much about of late. From what I’ve been reading online, this one seems to be a keg only offering from Cloudwater so it’s one that I’m glad I managed to try while it was still available and here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (4/5): A semi-bright looking beer that was amber in colour and came with a cloudy body, topped with a somewhat disappointing head that was little more than a thin white lacing around the sides of the glass. There was a faint bit of lacing on the side wall of the glass too but beyond that there wasn’t a whole lot going on and the surface of the beer was quite patchy too sadly.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh with some pine coming through early on the nose, there was some touches of grapefruit and the odd tropical smell too, a combination of passion fruit, pineapple and orange all making an appearance at this point. A few solid floral hops followed towards the middle and the nose seemed balanced initially, I managed to get some citrus and a little sweetness coming through though before some mango and further floral touches seen things out.
Taste (7/10): The taste of this one matches the nose well and opens with some citrus and floral hops, there was a nice touch of pine showing around this point as well and the beer was definitely a fresh one. There was plenty of tropical flavours showing with mango, peach and pineapple all coming through along with some orange in there too. Following this I managed to detect a hint of further sweetness from some of the malts and there was the odd grassy flavour to see things out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and quite crisp, this one was a lively beer that came through with solid, fine carbonation and a nice tang in there from the citrus too. Throughout it was a relatively bitter beer with some dry touches nearer the end but for the most part it was a juicy, balanced beer that went down well.

Overall (16/20): Another enjoyable beer from Cloudwater, this one was a great sessionable offering that went down well and was both crisp and lively throughout. There was solid carbonation levels to the beer and the balance was good as well, a combination of tropical fruits working well with the sweeter malts and floral bitterness; excellent stuff and one that’s well worth trying if you get the chance.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £4.40