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The Goats Butt

July 5, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

A second Hillstown beer in a row and my fourth overall, this one follows on from their The Spitting Llama tripel offering that I tried last and is another that I picked up at a Tesco store in Ireland recently. The beer is an Irish brewed hefeweizen and follows on from the likes of J.W. Sweetman’s Weiss, Franciscan Well’s Friar Weisse and Knockout’s Hefeweizen Max as the fourth Irish hefeweizen that I’ve reviewed here although only the first of those three was a decent offering so hopefully this one can turns things around after two relatively poor Irish hefeweizen’s in a row. The beer is also one that has managed to win medals at the All Ireland Craft Beer Championships two years running as well as being rewards at the Great Taste Awards so I’m hopeful this one turns out to be a decent offering worth picking up again at some point.

Appearance (5/5): A really nice looking beer, this one pours a hazy amber colour that’s quite fizzy and pale in the centre. The head is quite a thick, tall one that’s about an inch and a half tall, quite creamy and dome shapes with it rising slightly long after the beer was poured; a great start from this one and exactly as you’d expect from a hefeweizen.
Aroma (6/10): Fairly light on the nose without being weak, the beer opens with some subtle banana notes and a touch of biscuit with some yeast and faint citrus sitting in the background. It’s a relatively fresh offering that has some lemon in there too but it’s definitely a subdued nose without being a bad one.
Taste (7/10): Fruity to begin with a lot of banana kicking things off alongside some background yeast and a nice citrus backing; there was some orange and lemon showing in the early going. Around the middle some wheat did show with a little spice in there too but it’s the bananas the dominate with this one.
Palate (4/5): Medium, almost full-bodied and quite a smooth, creamy offering with moderate to fine carbonation but one that still seems quite lively and fresh. It’s a crisp beer towards the end with some nice sweetness from the bananas without anything overpowering; quite a balanced and easy-going beer that went down well.

Overall (14/20): Quite a nice hefeweizen without being anything memorable or quite on the level of some of the Bavarian efforts I’ve tried in the past, the beer is quite sweet with the banana flavours dominating for the most part but some yeast and subtle citrus flavours showing at points. It was quite a smooth and balanced beer that was easy to drink with a few fruits in the background too. Interesting stuff and easy one of the better Irish wheat beers that I’ve tried without being one that you’d rush out and buy again, certainly not when there’s a German wheat beer available too.

Brewed In: Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hillstown Brewery
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.3%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.75

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Blanche des Honnelles (382 of 1001)

Rating: 3.6

This one is my second beer from Brasserie des Rocs after trying their Spéciale Noël back in May of 2014 and it is one of two beers that I managed to bring back from Belgium from them, a review of the other will likely follow soon after this one. This particular offering from the brewery is a stronger than normal witbier, coming in at 6% and featuring on the 1001 beers list as well. I wasn’t a big fan of the brewery’s Spéciale Noël so I’m hopeful that this one proves a little better but either way I’m just glad to check another off the 1001 list as it’s not a beer that I’ve seen in the UK expect on the odd specialist Beglian beer sites so I thought it best to pick it up while I had the chance and I was glad to see it survive the flight home undamaged too.

Appearance (4/5): A hazy golden amber that is definitely darker than normal for a witbier but it’s still a relatively light looking beer. It took a very gentle pour but there was quite a large, foamy white head that sits about two inches tall in the glass with tonnes of visible carbonation in the form of fine bubbles rising to the surface too. Head retention is quite good as well with little movement over the opening minutes to get the beer off to quite a good start.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh on the nose with some nice cloves and spices to kick things off, I managed to get some touches of coriander and a little wheat in the early going. Around the middle there was some touches of lemon and Belgian yeast with a little orange and faint banana too but not quiet as much as expected for a witbier before some biscuit notes see things out.
Taste (7/10): Fresh and quite fruity with some banana coming through a lot sooner and stronger than it did with the nose, there’s a nice spice combination with yeast and pepper a little further on. The beer has some good wheat showing with a faint citrus and orange taste around the middle as well as some touches of biscuit malt. Further on I got some coriander and cloves that are typical of the style as well as the odd bit of sweetness nearer the end.
Palate (4/5): Quite a smooth beer with tonnes of carbonation, it’s a medium bodied offering that was lively and fresh with a good mix of sweetness and spice. There’s a nice tang to proceedings from the citrus and it was relatively well balanced too, the nose could have been a touch stronger but it was a pleasant and very drinkable beer.

Overall (14/20): This one was quite a fresh and balanced beer with some nice spices alongside the banana sweetness and cloves, although I couldn’t help but think it seemed a little subdued at times too. It was easy to drink and pleasant in the summer heat without really standing out and in truth I’ve had better witbiers from other breweries so I’m not sure it’s one that I’d pick up again in truth.

Brewed In: Montignies-sur-Roc, Honnelles, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie des Rocs
First Brewed: 1991
Also Known As: Abbaye des Rocs Blanche Double
Type: Witbier
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Carrefour (Brussels)
Price: €1.95 (approx. £1.73)

Cherry Cola Vice

April 23, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

A fairly random offering now and the first of the beers that I recently ordered from Brewdog to take advantage of their 30% off offer for their AGM meeting earlier this month. This one is a Berliner Weisse that struck me as quite a strange offering but one that I decided to pick up given I off to Berlin just after I tried the beer. The beer will be my first of the style since about this time last year when I was in Berlin and sampled a couple over there. This particular version from Magic Rock is a collaborative offering with J Wakefield Brewing of Florida and Slim Pickens Cider & Mead and I think it will be the first UK brewed Berliner Weisse I’ll have tried since Brewdog/Brodies Tayberry Berliner Weisse that I tried on-tap back in 2013. At the very least this one should prove to be something interesting and a little different so let’s see how it tastes.

Appearance (3/5): Pouring as expected initially, this one looks like a glass of cola as it settles a dark black cola with some ruby tinges nearer the bottom. There was a centimetre tall, bubbly head to begin that was tan in colour but it faded quickly to leave a patchy lacing around the circumference of what was a surprisingly still looking beer.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with a lot of cherries that definitely made it seem like a cherry cola to begin, there was a slight sweetness coming through on top of the sugars as well before some faint tart made itself known further along. Around the middle some vanilla touches made an appearance too but the cherries definitely seemed strongest, it was an interesting beer on the nose at least though.
Taste (7/10): More tart than the nose, the cherries came through a lot stronger with the nose and there was even some bitterness following on behind alongside some wheat. It was a funky tasting offering that was sour in places and had a light sweetness coupled with plenty of sugars further on. It seemed like a different beer from the nose at times but the cherries held it together with some vanilla featuring at the end as well.
Palate (4/5): Tarty and well carbonated despite the relatively still looking appearance of the beer, there was a nice sourness to proceedings with some tangy touches as well and a sugary sweetness near the end.

Overall (14/20): This one was definitely a beer that could be described as interesting, it was an unusual tasting offering that came through with a lot of cherries, sugars and some vanilla nearer the end but also had a light bitterness with the taste and was slightly sour and with some tart too. The nose was a little one-sided with the cherries dominating but the taste was slightly more balanced and enjoyable but it’s still probably not a beer that I’d have more than the once given the style.

Brewed In: Huddersfield, England
Brewery: Magic Rock Brewing / J Wakefield / Slim Pickings Cider & Mead (collaboration)
Full Name: Magic Rock Engine Engine #9 Cherry Cola Vice!
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Berliner Weisse
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £2.30

Guinness Irish Wheat

January 16, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.5

My thirteenth review of a beer from Guinness now, this one is a beer that they first released at the start of 2017 with most of the initial online reviews coming from people based in the US but it now appears to be more readily available in the UK now and I was able to grab a bottle in an off license in the north of Ireland over the Christmas holidays. The beer will be my first new one from Guinness since I reviewed and thoroughly enjoyed their Antwerpen Stout back in September when I was last in Ireland. Falling somewhere between a wheat ale and a hefeweizen, this was a bottle that I picked up solely because it was a Guinness offering that I’d not seen back in Scotland, although I assume it’s only a matter of time before it starts appearing in supermarket shelves here as well.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber in colour with a hazy body and a half centimetre tall head that is creamy but a little smaller than anticipated for the style of the beer; retention was great though and the head covered the surface well throughout.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly subdued on the nose with some banana and clove opening things up with some touches of citrus coming through in the early going as well. Around the middle there was some biscuit malt showing with a hint of bread and then some sweet touches near the end with a little lemon peel and coriander to see things out.
Taste (6/10): Opening with some biscuit malts and bread, the beer didn’t seem as fresh on the nose but there was some citrus and lemon coming through towards the middle. I again got some clove and banana coming through and with them a little sweetness before a few pale malts started to show themselves. It was quite a basic tasting beer but fell short of being a bad one thankfully, with some spices and touches of wheat seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Falling just shy of medium bodied, the beer was strongly carbonated and fresh on the nose at least. There was a subtle tang from the citrus at times and it seemed crisp at points too with a subtle sweetness from the banana as well. It was quite an easy beer to drink with a good balance but it definitely bordered on basic.

Overall (14/20): This one was an interesting beer in that it’s nothing like Guinness normal make and it was an enjoyable beer despite it being a little basic at times. There was some nice banana and cloves coming through on the nose and with the taste with some subtle touches of citrus at times too whilst the balance was good enough to make it an easy one to drink. It was a well carbonated offering that was definitely sessionable and the hints of sweetness on top of the light malts and biscuit rounded things of well; it’s not a great beer but it’s certainly well worth trying if you stumble across it.

Brewed In: Dublin, Ireland
Brewery: St. James’s Gate Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Wheat Ale
Abv: 5.3%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.39

Heidi-Weisse

December 8, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.75

A new beer for 2017 from West, this one seemingly introduced earlier in the year to replace the since retired West Hefeweizen that I’ve tried on a number of occasions over the years and usually enjoyed. This is a rarity among West beers in that it is widely available in bottles around Scotland with their St. Mungo being the only other in that regard but it’s also a beer that I’ve tried previously on-tap at the brewery and thought it was a decent enough beer so it’ll be good to give it a proper review this time. This one will be my seventh review of a beer from the brewery and despite it being so close to me, this one will be my first new review of a West beer since trying their West Berlin for the first time back in July 2014 making this one long overdue.

Appearance (4/5): Cloudy and quite dark with the body an almost murky golden colour that is topped with a three-centimetre tall, foamy head that is white and holds well initially with a few bubbles rising to the surface as well.
Aroma (7/10): Light on the nose with some wheat and cloves in the early going, there was some nice banana notes too. Around the middle some coriander started to make itself known with a little citrus and some bread malts in there as well.
Taste (7/10): Wheat and some cloves kick things off with the taste, there was some lemon and faint spice a little further on before the bread malts from the nose made an appearance, coming through a lot earlier this time around. Towards the end the beer was a relatively sweet one with some background fruits and nice banana flavours seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Quiet a lively beer with a sharp feel that was well carbonated and quite crisp as well. It was a fresh, easy beer to drink and the balance wasn’t too bad either with no one flavour overpowering.

Overall (15/20): Pleasant stuff from West, this one was quite a fresh and lively beer that seemed balanced and easy-going with some nice banana and wheat flavours throughout. Definitely a beer that I can see myself having again, it’s not a classic wheat beer but it was still a slight improvement on the West Hefeweizen that it seems to have replaced and that can only be a good thing.

Brewed In: Glasgow, Scotland
Brewery: West Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Aldi (Scotland)
Price: Gift

Grand Kirin White Ale

November 8, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.2

One of two craft style offerings from the Kirin brewery that I managed to try over the course of my last few days in Japan last month now, this one a witbier offering from the brewery that I finally picked up in a Tokyo Family Mart store after seeing it a few times over the course of my holiday. Along with their Grand Kirin IPA that I’ve still to review here, this one appears to be a new offering from the brewery for 2017 and was released sometime around March, probably to get in on the craft beer market since it’s was one of the few craft style beers that wasn’t from the Yo-Ho Brewing Company that was fairly easy to find in convenience stores in the country, although this one obviously has a head start given it’s brewed by one of Japan’s largest breweries.

Appearance (3/5): Pouring with quite a clear body, this one is a light amber colour that is topped with a centimetre tall, foamy white head that has a little more build-up around the sides and left some lacing there as I started drinking the beer.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with a little wheat and some lemon, the main aroma is a citrus one that has some oranges in there too but seemed relatively basic. There was some grapes and faint pine a little further on with touches of earthy malt towards the end too.
Taste (6/10):
Opening with more pine than the nose hinted at, there was a few floral hops and a zesty bitterness to this one towards the middle with it seeming closer to an IPA in style than a witbier. Some earthy hops featured further on with a few burst of citrus and grassy hops with some hay and background fruits seeing things out.
Palate (3/5):
Medium bodied and quite zesty with a well carbonated feel that came through with plenty citrus to add a nice tang to proceedings. The beer hinted at being a dry one towards the end and there was a faint sweetness throughout that helped the balance some too, although it was a relatively basic beer throughout.

Overall (14/20): This one was actually quite an enjoyable offering from Kirin and one of the better from the brewery that I’ve tried, although it wasn’t quite a classic or one that I’d run back to on a regular basis. It started with a solid wheat beer nose that had plenty of citrus and wheat coming through but the taste was closer to an American IPA at times with more grassy hops and bitterness than usual for a wheat beer. It was quite a drinkable offering that had a pleasantly zesty feel, although it was definitely basic for the most part.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Kirin Brewery Company
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Witbier
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Family Mart (Sin-Okubo, Tokyo)
Price: ¥297 (£1.97 approx.)

Minoh Weizen

October 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.6

A third beer from the Osaka based Minoh brewery now and my second in quick succession after reviewing their Pilsner here last. Not to be confused with the brewery’s Momo Weizen that I reviewed recently as well, this one is the second hefeweizen from the brewery that I’ll have tried and another that I picked up from the Yamaya Nagahoribashi supermarket in Osaka during my time in the city. Like their Pilsner before it, this is one of Minoh’s year round offerings and beer that I was quite excited to try upon picking it up despite the fact that I’d tried countless Japanese brewed hefeweizens in the week leading up to this one and the majority had been fairly average offerings; my hopes were that this one would be different.

Appearance (4/5): Golden amber and quite cloudy with a half centimetre head that is white and foamy looking, with the odd bubble showing through it. There was good retention in the early going here with minimal reduction in the size of the head over the opening few minutes and the beer generally looked like a good one upon pouring it.
Aroma (6/10): This one started off with aroma that wasn’t much like a hefeweizen and one that consisted of corn and basic malts but thankfully there was some banana and clove showing nearer the middle of proceedings to turn things around. I got some wheat and the odd adjuncts at this point too before some citrus and biscuit malts came through but it definitely wasn’t the most complex of the style out there.
Taste (7/10): The beer opened with the wheat and clove from the nose, although both came through a little earlier this time around and as a result the beer seemed like a hefeweizen from the start. There was some pale malts and citrus following soon behind as well as some banana and a little coriander towards the middle, although this was quite light in truth. The beer had some touches of spice showing and seemed fresher than the nose with some zesty flavours and a faint touch of bubblegum towards the end; a definite improvement on the nose.
Palate (4/5): A medium bodied beer with a good balance and a semi-sweet feel coming through alongside a citrus tang that featured around the middle. The beer was a touch weak on the nose but that was put right by the taste thankfully and the beer was a well carbonated offering that went down easily enough despite being somewhat basic at times.

Overall (14/20): Not a bad hefeweizen on the whole despite starting poorly on the nose with some corn and basic malts kicking things off, thankfully the traditional wheat beer flavours weren’t too far behind though and it turned out to be a pleasant and drinkable beer with some nice banana, clove and wheat flavours alongside some faint bubblegum towards the end. Whilst not the best of the style I tried in Japan, the beer was enjoyable enough to make it worth trying but I’m not sure if it’s one that I’d go back to again.

Brewed In: Osaka, Japan
Brewery: Minoh Beer
First Brewed: circa. 2004
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Yamaya Nagahoribashi (Osaka)
Price: ¥410 (£2.72 approx.)