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Shiga Kogen IPA (359 of 1001)

October 16, 2017 Leave a 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.)

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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

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

Fugli

July 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

My tenth Oskar Blues beer nwo and my first new one of 2017, the last from the brewery that I reviewed here being their Mama’s Little Yella Pils that I sampled back in October of last year when I tried it on-tap at a local Brewdog bar. This one is a fairly new beer from the brewery, having been first launched in early May this year so I’m surprised that it has made it to the UK whilst still relatively fresh. The beer is a summer seasonal from Oskar Blues that uses yuzu and ugli fruits in the brewing process, both fruits that I’d never heard of before picking this one up. Yuzu is apparently a Japanese citrus fruit that is quite similar to a lemon whereas ugli is a Jamaican fruit that was created by crossing an orange, tangerine and grapefruit with the result fitting the name well. Being so new when I picked this beer up meant it wasn’t a beer that I was familiar with but I always like to pick up new beers from the brewery when I get a chance and I’ve since noticed a couple more of their beers making it the UK lately so beer number eleven from the brewery might not be too far behind this one.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber in colour and fairly clear looking, the beer is topped with an excellent looking head that sits about three centimetres tall initially before losing a little of its height. The texture of the head is a foamy looking one with a few bubbles showing, there is some visible carbonation rising through the body of the beer too and eventually the head settles about half a centimetre tall after thirty or forty seconds.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh on the nose with some subtle pine and citrus hops coming through alongside some grassy ones in the early going but it’s definitely not as strong as I’d been expecting for an American style IPA, especially an Oskar Blues brewed one. there was some lighter malts near the middle of the nose but for the most part there citrus dominated, mainly orange and grapefruit but there was also a little mango or apricot too. Nearer the end I managed to detect some sweetness coming off the back of the malts with a few touches of bread sneaking in as well to help keep the beer balanced down the stretch.
Taste (7/10): The taste here was a strange one that opened with a combination of grassy hops and pine ones, naturally there was a lot of citrus flavours backing these up though but the malts from the nose featured a lot earlier than I’d expected and were quite strong this time around too. The beer was still a fresh one with the grapefruit and orange coming through the most pronounced but they were definitely more subdued than they were with the nose. Towards the end some faint caramel malts and a couple of bread ones featured before a further tropical burst of fruits seen things out, although these weren’t overly strong this time around; the beer was a nice one at this stage though.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and quite tangy with a lot of citrus throughout which also made the beer seem quite crisp and sharp. Carbonation levels were good with this one and it seemed lively too but remained balanced thanks to the lighter malts and touches of sweetness that followed them. An easy beer to drink and one that stayed interesting until the end without being a standout offering.

Overall (15/20): Another enjoyable Oskar Blues offering that was dominated by the tangy hops and citrus flavours, particularly in the early going and with the nose but there was some balance to the beer thanks to the lighter malts and touches of sweetness that featured from the middle on. The beer was fresh and quite lively too, thanks mainly to the good carbonation levels also the citrus touches again too. It’s an interesting beer and probably the first I’ve tried with either yuzu or ugli fruits in it and both seemed to work well and impart a little flavour on the beer along the way too; decent stuff and well worth trying too.

Brewed In: Longmont, Colorado, United States of America
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
First Brewed: 2009
Type: American IPA
Abv: 5.8%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £3.10

Drake’s IPA (354 of 1001)

July 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

The first beer from Drake’s Brewing that I’ll have tried here and another American beer from the 1001 beers list that I can check off as well, bring my total to 354 beers tried from the list. This one isn’t the first Drake’s beer that I’ve seen available in the UK but usually their beers are only available in bombers and priced quite high so when I spotted this one for a more reasonable price recently I decided to finally grab a bottle from them. The beer itself was originally brewed in 2002 as a reworking of an earlier beer brewed by the Lind Brewing Company, the name Drake’s went by before the original owner was bought out. An instant hit, the beer was probably considered quite bitter and hoppy when first brewed and it managed to win a gold medal at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival as well as countless other awards in the years since. I picked this bottle up from my local bottle shop in Glasgow and I’m interested to see how the beer holds up today when compared to modern American IPA’s and it’s one I’m looking forward to cracking open.

Appearance (4/5): Golden amber with a slightly orange hue to it, the beer is quite still looking and topped with a very nice, half centimetre head that is foamy and holds well in the early going.
Aroma (7/10): Definitely more malty and sweet than is the norm for an American IPA, there is a good amount of caramel and some sweet malts in the early part but some juicy notes and a few floral hops feature as well. It’s a strong nose that hits you as soon as the bottle is opened and I enjoyed the burst of pine towards the middle. It’s not as got as many hops showing as expected but I enjoyed this one and it was a nice change of pace with some pineapple and citrus at the end too.
Taste (7/10): Quite a sweet tasting beer as you’d expect given how strong the caramel and the sweet malts were with the nose, it is toned down a little by the taste though but some caramel is definitely still present along with some good floral touches and a bit of citrus too. There was a touch of oily pine around the middle with some grapefruit in there too, the pineapple from the nose then shows itself a little earlier this time along with some juicy fruits; towards the end some grassy hops and a further burst of sweetness see things out.
Palate (4/5): Definitely a sweet beer with more of that showing than there was hops for the most part, there was some subtle bitter touches coming through though and the beer had quite a nice balance throughout thanks to the variety of flavours on offer. Today I’d place this one closer to an American pale ale than an IPA but it was still as nice beer on the palate with light-medium carbonation but quite a dry feel throughout, save for some oily pine touches around the middle.It was an easy beer to drink despite the 7% abv. since the sweetness managed to mask most of the alcohol content but there was still a subtle kick to it, especially nearer the end of the beer.

Overall (16/20): Very nice stuff from Drake’s here and an unexpected taste from the beer given I was expected a tonne of hops before cracking the bottle open. The beer was definitely closer to an American pale ale of today than it was an IPA but it was first brewed 15 years ago and a lot has changed since then, still the beer was excellent with a lot of caramel flavours and a strong, malty taste in the early going. The nose in particular was a sweet one with only a few pine hops and floral notes backing them up, the balance was still maintained though and the beer went down very easily indeed; good stuff and one I wouldn’t mind cracking open again at some point.

Brewed In: San Leandro, California, United States of America
Brewery: Drake’s Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2002
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.80

Farmageddon Mosaic IPA

July 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

Only my third beer from the Farmageddon brewery based in the north of Ireland and a beer that follows on from their very disappointing White IPA and their Gold Pale Ale, although it should be noted that this is the first of the brewery’s beers that I’ve tried outside of Ireland. I was surprised to find bottles this one available a local Irish bar over the weekend and decided to give it a go despite the fact the other beers from the brewery that I’ve tried have both failed to impress. Coming in at 6.1% abv., this one appears to be one of several mosaic IPA’s that the brewery produces and they do appear to be produces a lot more beers than I remember from when I was last in Ireland at the start of the year; hopefully that means I’ll get to try a couple more from them on my next visit too.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a light looking beer, this one is a golden colour that sits semi-cloudy in the glass but is a relatively still looking beer. There is a thin lacing on top of the surface that manages to cover about half of it with a little more build up around the edges of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): The beer was slightly more malty than I’d expected going in and opened with a lot of caramel sweetness coupled with some bread malts in the early going. These were followed by a pleasant burst of citrus and hints of pine as well but it wasn’t an overly bitter beer thanks to the balance which held up throughout. Some floral touches featured down the stretch with some vanilla and butterscotch right at the death which was a nice surprise.
Taste (7/10): The taste was a slightly more sweet one than the nose let on and it opened with some good butterscotch and vanilla flavours before some bread and light floral touches came through nearer the centre. There was some pine around this point too and the grassy flavours make themselves more known too with a subtle burst of hops not far behind. Some citrus and pale malts showed towards the end which helped make this one taste much better than expected before some faint bitterness, a caramel sweetness and the odd herbal touch seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite sweet with some vanilla and caramel helping this in the early going. The beer was smooth and very easy going with a nice balance and the odd citrus burst adding a slightly floral tang. It was a well carbonated beer with subtle bitterness throughout and it was definitely easy to drink, very sessionable too despite the strength of the beer since the alcohol content was well hidden too.

Overall (15/20): This one was a surprisingly good offering from Farmaggedon and miles better than anything I have tried from them before, I almost never ordered this one based on previous beer from the brewery but this one has definitely changed my opinion of their beers and I’ll be on the look out for more of theirs the next time I’m in Ireland. There was a lot of citrus and pine but the biggest surprise with this beer was the sweetness thanks to tonnes of vanilla and butterscotch throughout. It was an easy beer to drink with a great balance and is definitely one I’d have again.

Brewed In: Comber, County Down, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Farmageddon Brewing Co-Op
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.1%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Malone’s, Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £4.50 (approx.)

Pump Action Poet

July 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

Another Brewdog review now and other limited release from the brewery, this one hot on the heels of their Semi-Skimmed Occultist that I recently reviewed here and quite enjoyed. This time is the turn of their Pump Action Poet stone fruit IPA that was released earlier this summer and is one that I managed to try on-tap at on of their Glasgow bars a couple of weeks ago. The beer is one that I was looking out for (like more Brewdog new releases) but since I couldn’t justify an online order for this alone I decided to stop by one of their bars and give it a go. Coming in at 7.5%, this one seemed like a good summer beer going in thanks to the stone fruit and tropical flavours so I was definitely looking forward to trying it when I finally did mid-June this year; here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber coloured and fairly clear looking, there was a thin and foamy white head on top that was very slightly patchy looking towards the middle. There was some touches of lacing on the side of the glass and head retention was about average for the style as well.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a hop-filled offering on the nose, particularly in the early going with some pine and a huge amount of grapefruit coming through alongside a sharp alcohol aroma and of the advertised stone fruits as well. It’s definitely a fresh beer on the nose with some orange and mango nearer the centre, I got touches of citrus and pineapple in there as well before a few lighter malts rounded things off nicely.
Taste (7/10): Like the nose, this one was again quite a fruity offering with some touches of alcohol coming through in there early going but they were toned down slightly from the nose. There was a little spice from some chilies around the middle which provided plenty of heat but thankfully didn’t overpower. Towards the end there was a nice combination of mango and citrus with the odd tropical flavour pushing through which made for fairly strong but enjoyable taste.
Palate (4/5): Strong and quite fresh, this one was showing more alcohol than expected as well as being more spicy than usual for the style but neither seemed to overpower and they both worked well together. It was also quite a juicy beer with touches of tropical fruits throughout and the odd lighter malt to help with the balance which made it easier to drink than usual for a 7.5% beer.

Overall (16/20): Quite a strong beer throughout with more heat than anticipated and a subtle alcohol kick that was apparent throughout but somehow the beer seemed to work and the balance wasn’t too bad either. Opening with a nice burst of fruits to give the beer quite a fresh feel, there was some mango and pineapple alongside the usual orange and citrus flavours. The beer was fairly bitter in the early going to thanks to a pleasant combination of pine and grapefruit as well as the stone fruits, although these seemed to have disappeared come the taste. Definitely an interesting and enjoyable beer from Brewdog but I’m not sure I’d rush back to have it again were it on their permanent roster of beers.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.5%
Serving: Keg (Schooner)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse, Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £4.56