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Guinness Irish Wheat

January 16, 2018 Leave a 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

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Watt Dickie

December 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.75

A strange on this and a beer that I picked up approximately four years ago, not long after it was released as a one-off from Brewdog back in 2013. The beer is a huge 35% abv. offering that sits closer to a spirit than a beer but started life as an IPA before being freeze distilled and ending up in its current form that is somewhere between an imperial IPA and an eisbock. It is a ‘beer’ that I picked up when it was launched mainly due to the novelty of it and that’s part of the reason I’ve only just opened it now, it should at least be interesting but I’m not holding out much hope for it being a classic. It will be by far the strongest beer I’ve reviewed here so far but I have also tried Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin offering which comes in just a little lighter at 32% and that’s not exactly a beer that I’ve rushed back to try again either.

Appearance (3/5): Dark copper and very thick looking, this one pours with absolutely no sign of a head and is very still in the glass too; slightly disappointing but in truth it was as I’d expected given the high alcohol content of the beer.
Aroma (7/10): Huge alcohol notes on the nose initially, this one is slightly sweet with some toffee before some brandy type aromas and plenty of alcohol coming through. It’s got some peated malts and hints of sherry a little further on too with a subtle touch of vanilla right at the end; there’s a little more to it than I’d initially anticipated which is a pleasant surprise.
Taste (4/10): It took a while to build up trying this one, I wanted to give it some time to open up after pouring but once I finally took the plunge I was greeted by an initial sweetness that was very warming and loaded with alcohol, it somehow managed to seem stronger than the 35% abv. listed on the bottle upon first taking a sip. Once the initial burn passed, there was some sweet malts and toffee coming through alongside touches of brandy and sugar. It was a strong beer as you would expect but also one that was like drinking a spirit and it was definitely a beer to sip rather than rush through, sadly the taste didn’t seem quite as varied or easy-going as the nose was either.
Palate (3/5): Thick and very warming thanks to the abundance of alcohol coming through, there was naturally quite a kick to what was a relatively sweet beer and it was a difficult one to get through as well, I took much longer than anticipated for such a small serving of the stuff.

Overall (9/20): Very strong stuff and nothing like a beer in the traditional sense of the word, this one was a boozy spirit with tonnes of alcohol showing throughout and a warming kick to it was well. There was a little variety to the nose, something that I wasn’t expecting but the taste was pretty much what I thought it would be like going in with plenty of alcohol and a burning feel to it that dominated throughout. It’s one that I’m glad I’ve managed to try but I can’t see me ever giving it a second go, even if I manage to see it again somewhere in the future; dangerous stuff indeed.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Eisbock / Imperial IPA
Abv: 35.0%
Serving: Bottle (60ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £4.50 (approx.)

Heidi-Weisse

December 8, 2017 Leave a 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.)

Doppo White Beer for Oyster

October 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.5

Probably the most random beer that I tried when travelling around Japan recently, this one is an oddly named hefeweizen brewed by a sake company and one that I only spotted on Miyajima Island in Japan despite the fact that the beer isn’t brewed anywhere near the island. I picked this one up based solely on the name and thought it might end up being an oyster stout or at least a darker beer only to find yet another Japanese hefeweizen upon opening it, although luckily it wasn’t a bad one in the end.

Appearance (4/5): Light with a cloudy amber body and a half centimetre head that had good retention, covering the surface well and left some touches of lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a light nose with corn and lager style malts before some wheat and banana started to come through and give it more of a hefeweizen aroma. There wasn’t anything overly strong showing but some citrus and background adjuncts rounded things off.
Taste (6/10): Opening with a combination of banana, wheat and clove, the beer has a standard hefeweizen taste but the odd lager malt still sneaks in at times. There was some subtle grassy hops with a sweetness from the banana but it was a little fresher than the nose and featured some background fruits and citrus too before a little funk showed at the end to round things off.
Palate (4/5):Light-medium bodied and quite sweet with a fairly good balance with some lager malts and wheat beer sweetness working well together with moderate carbonation levels.

Overall (14/20): This one was a beer I went into not having a clue what it would be, even the style was unknown until I cracked the bottle open to be greeted by a wheat beer that started with some lager malts that initially had me slightly confused. As things progressed the banana and clove flavours came to the front alongside some citrus and the beer was definitely a hefeweizen. A pleasant offering that went down quite easily, although I’m not sure how well it would pair with oysters really.

Brewed In: Okayama, Japan
Brewery: Miyashita Shuzo
Type: Hefeweizen
First Brewed: Doppo range since 1995
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Miyajima Island, Japan
Price:‎ ¥600 (£3.97 approx.)

Miyajima Weizen

October 20, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 4.0

The first of two Miyajima Brewery beers that I picked up at the end of September when taking a day trip to Miyajima Island near Hiroshima, I actually thought I’d picked up three of the breweries beers but a mix-up at the shop meant I ended up with two of their still to be review here Pale Ale’s. Prior to my trip to Japan I had read a little about this breweries beers and the fact that they are really only available on the island so I knew I’d find a couple when I visited. Brewed under license at the Helios Craft Beer brewery, this one is yet another Japanese brewed hefeweizen which appear to be a style that absolutely everybody offers in the country and one that I was definitely looking forward to trying.

Appearance (4/5): A very cloudy looking beer that sits with an orange to amber colour in the glass with a nice, two centimetre head that is foamy and white looking. There is some good lacing on the sides of the glass from the head and the beer has a thick appearance with good initial head retention too.
Aroma (8/10): Stronger than expected on the nose with a solid banana aroma in the early going before some further sweetness was provided by an unexpected butterscotch aroma. There was some creamy notes coming through with touches of wheat and clove too, although the citrus touches were minimal. Towards the end some pleasant malts and a little peach showed with a subtle hint of apricot seeing things out nicely.
Taste (8/10): Opening with some wheat and bread, the beer wasn’t quite as sweet as the nose but there was some butterscotch and vanilla showing as well as the creamy touches from the nose. Around the middle some grassy hops and citrus started to come through alongside a bubblegum flavours and a little clove too. It was definitely an interesting take on the hefeweizen style and one that wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied, perhaps a touch thicker and fuller bodied than expected with a smooth and quite sweet feel to it. It’s softly carbonated with a decent balance and a pleasant dryness towards the end; a nice variation on the usual hefeweizen style.

Overall (16/20): Definitely a beer that surprised me a little, after countless Japanese hefeweizens before this one I had assumed they were all pretty similar but the addition of some butterscotch and vanilla to this one kept things interesting. The beer was sweeter than expected and even had some subtle fruits towards the end of the nose which I liked; a very nice beer and one I’d like to try again at some point.

Brewed In: Miyajima Island, Hiroshima, Japan
Brewery: Miyajima Brewery
Type: Hefeweizen
First Brewed: 2013
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Miyajima Island, Japan
Price:‎ ¥500 (£3.31 approx.)