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Victory Headwaters Ale

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.05

A beer I picked up from an Asda supermarket just over a month ago after seeing it on a previous visit to one of their stores, this one will be my sixth from Victory but is surprisingly only my first since October 2014 when I tried their Golden Monkey tripel offering and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve had quite a few great beer from this brewery so I was excited when I first say this was available in the UK, it was probably the sole reason for me picking the beer up but it turned out to be quite a disappointing beer in the end; the best before on this one wasn’t until early 2018 but that was something that I had to double check after trying the beer and finding it a particularly weak and bland offering. I’ve noticed a few other new Victory beers seem to be available in the UK now but after this one I’m not too sure I’ll be rushing out to grab anymore for a while sadly.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber but pouring with a surprisingly clear and light body that is topped with a large, three or four centimetre tall head. The head texture is quite bubbly and it sits a white colour in the glass and looks relatively thick, just about halving in size over the opening couple minutes and leaving light lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a hop-filled nose in the early going with some grassy notes and the odd tropical fruit but the aroma seems to fade far to quickly and after a couple seconds the beer seems more like a pale lager with some pine and citrus coming through which was somewhat disappointing. There was touches of bread malt in there and the odd touch of bitterness too that’s got a few earthy hops in there too; it’s pleasant enough on the nose but could definitely have been stronger and a little more varied in truth.
Taste (5/10): Quite a lot like the taste sadly, this one starts well with some solid pine and citrus nose before some tropical fruits come through but they all disappear in an instant to leave a basic grassy hop taste that wasn’t unlike more pale lagers out there, albeit a fresh one. Towards the middle there was a slight tang while the bread flavours and earthy bitterness from the nose made an appearance but there wasn’t a whole lot to the beer and it seemed quite weak. The odd floral flavour and hints biscuit make a fleeting appearance but there definitely wasn’t enough variety to this one; very disappointing.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and quite light, perhaps even bordering on thin with an initial burst of flavour that soon passed to leave quite a basic and weak beer with very little going for it. I’d been expecting a lot more from this one but the beer seemed quite bland although it was fairly well carbonated. I managed to detect a light bitterness nearer the end and some earthy touches too but it was a massive let down for me and not at all what I expect from Victory.

Overall (11/20): Disappointing stuff here from Victory, the beer opened well with nice tropical fruits and a lot of pine with some citrus in there as well but in both the nose and the taste these all passed quickly and left little more than a bland, basic beer that was more lager than pale ale. There was the odd touch of earthy bitterness, a faint hint of floral and some biscuit malts but none of these was overly pronounced and the beer just seemed boring and weak throughout; I’d expected much better.

Brewed In: Downingtown, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £1.82

Buxton Axe Edge

June 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

A beer that will be my fifth from Derbyshire based Buxton now, this one will be my first since trying their Quadrupel offering over the Christmas holidays at the very end of last year and is quite a similar offering to the first Buxton beer I ever tried, their Ace Edge that I had back in August of 2014. This particular offering is the original version of Ace Edge, a beer that was modified slightly to use Sorachi Ace hops and give the beer more of a lemon taste so it should be interesting to see how this one compares. I picked this one up a couple of weeks ago when placing an order on the Brewdog online shop since they were having quite a decent sale at the time, otherwise this might not have been a beer I was drawn to given I’ve spotted it in a number of bottle shops over the years and never got around to trying it; this being despite the fact that I really enjoyed the bottle of Ace Edge when I tried it a couple of years ago.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a nice looking beer when initially poured, it sits a medium amber to orange colour in the glass but looks quite hazy. The head is a good one, sitting just over a centimetre tall and looking quite thick and creamy with a creamy white colour to it. Head retention is excellent with little movement or reduction in size over the opening couple of minutes and plenty of lacing left on the sides of the glass when I take a drink. 4.5
Aroma (7/10): Fresh on the nose in the early going with some subtle pine and citrus notes kicking things off before the odd grassy note made an appearance. It’s not an overly strong beer initially but I did get the odd touch of caramel sweetness nearer the middle. Floral touches and bread malts appear nearer the end of this one with some light tropical notes sneaking in as well; it’s definitely a pleasant beer on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Starting with plenty of hops, this one is a fresh beer that has a nice combination of pine and citrus to start before a few tropical flavours start to come through; most notably some mango and apricot but touches of orange and grapefruit feature as well. Around the middle the caramel sweetness and a few bread malts start to come through but they don’t seem as pronounced as they did with the nose, the beer was dominated by the citrus flavours at this point. Towards the end there was more of a hop bitterness with floral flavours and a touch of spice coming through as well. 3.75
Palate (4/5): Fresh and balanced with a medium body and plenty of hops showing throughout. The beer was lively with strong carbonation and proved easy to drink as well, the mouthfeel a dry and crisp one down the stretch. 4.25

Overall (17/20): Another really enjoyable beer from Buxton and very much on par with their Ace Edge offering, although this one definitely seemed more balanced and easy to drink. The beer looked fantastic after I poured it and there was a lot of early citrus and pine coming through to get you interested from the start. I liked the touches of sweetness and the tropical flavours were nice but I’d have liked to see more of the later when it came to the nose. Overall it’s a great beer from Buxton and one that I’d happily go back to again at some point in the future.

Brewed In: Buxton, Derbyshire, England
Brewery: Buxton Brewery
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £3.00

Disco Forklift Truck

Rating: 3.8

An eleventh review of a Drygate beer now and surprisingly this will be my first new one from the brewery since I tried their collaborative Raspberry Saison offering that they done with North Brewing around this time last year; hard to believe considering how local this brewery really is but it’s usually the same couple beers from them that I see when I’m out and about. This is actually a beer that I’ve tried a couple of times since it was released around April last year but I’ve not properly reviewed it, previously trying it one various nights out or straight from the can. The beer is a mango flavoured tropical pale ale that was released as part of the breweries ‘studio’ range of beer but now seems to be one of their more readily available offering, I picked this can up in a Tesco supermarket earlier this month so hopefully they’ll start stocking a few more from the brewery in the near future.

Appearance (4/5): Light amber in colour with an almost apricot coloured tinge to the beer which also had a very cloudy body. There was a thin, centimetre tall head on the beer that was bubbly and held well over the opening minute with no reduction in size whilst managing to still cover the surface well.
Aroma (7/10): Quite fruity initially with some tropical apricot and citrus notes kicking things off with some pine hops in there too which give it an IPA-like nose in the early going. There was some resinous pine leading to the middle of the beer and I got some of the promised mango and orange too before some of the malts came in and the beer started to seem more like a pale ale at this point too. It’s a fresh and lively smelling beer with touches of tropical fruit and a subtle bitterness seeing things out nicely.
Taste (7/10): Quite fresh and fruity with a combination of resinous pine and mango kicking things off, both coming through slightly stronger than they did with the nose but without totally dominating. There was a nice variation of tropical fruits towards the middle of the beer with some apricot and citrus featuring before some fainter malts appear nearer the end of proceedings.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium to medium bodied and very fresh on the tongue, this one was quite well balanced and quite hop-filled as well, with a definite oily feel to it. There was a subtle tang from the citrus and the beer was quite easy to drink with a nice variety to the flavours coming through but it seemed more IPA than pale ale at times, that’s not necessarily a bad thing though I guess.

Overall (16/20): Fresh and lively the plenty of tropical fruits and an oily hop bitterness, this one was as promised with the mango mentioned on the can coming through quite early with the taste but thankfully not overpowering or dominating proceedings, whilst the beer remained an easy one to drink throughout. Towards the end some of the expected sweet malts and subtle touches of bitterness started to come through as well and the hops started to subside but this one definitely a beer that I enjoyed and one that I’ll be having again soon.

Brewed In: Drygate, Glasgow, Scotland
Brewery: Drygate Brewery
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.1%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Glasgow)
Price: £1.85

Dolden Berg Sturer-Bock

Rating: 3.3

Another random beer that I managed to try in Berlin when visiting last month, this one is actaully the penultimate beer from the trip that I’ve still to review here. The beer is one that was picked up for me from a Netto supermarket in the Alexanderplatz area of the city and appears to be one that is brewed exclusively for the retailer and available only at their stores, it is brewed at the Jacob Stauder brewery in Essen though and for that reason I’ll list the beer under that particular brewery. The beer is one that I had in the late afternoon back at my hotel and to be honest I wasn’t expecting a great deal from what was essentially a supermarket own-brand, strong beer but it turned out to be at least slightly better than expected without being one I’d rush back and pick up again; here’s how it turned out.

Appearance (4/5): A malty looking, almost caramel amber coloured beer that was semi-clear and had quite a nice and thick looking head sitting on top of it. The head was a foamy looking one, sitting a creamy white colour with some nice lacing on the sides of the glass and looking much better than I’d expected.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a strong beer on the nose, this one kicked off with a lot of caramel malts and some early sweetness as well, it seemed relatively thick on the nose too with some solid sugars and darker fruits featuring nearer the middle. I managed to detect a combination of plums, raisins and some dates with a few sticky grains in there too. Towards the end some of the alcohol starts to show and it did seem stronger than the 7.5% abv. listed on the bottle but it fell short of being overpowering at least.
Taste (6/10): A very malty beer with a lot of sweetness in the early going, there was some strong hops coming through as well with a touch of warming alcohol backing it up. Towards the middle there was some citrus before darker fruits started to come through, I got touches of plum and raisins with some dates rounding things off nicely but it wasn’t an overly complex really.
Palate (3/5): Quite a thick, almost full-bodied beer that was very malty and strong, opening with a lot of sweetness before some touches of warming alcohol and grain showed up. It definitely seemed stronger than the 7.5% listed on the bottle but remained drinkable, it’s definitely not one to rush though. There was an abundance of sugars in there too, coupled with the fruits and this one was quite a sweet offering that was light on bitterness and perhaps just a touch too strong for my liking at times.

Overall (14/20): Quite a boozy and strong offering with a lot of sweetness throughout, it’s probably not the best beer to kick off the night with but it was drinkable and enjoyable at times without ever threatening to be a classic. There was a lot of dark malts and fruits coming through, most notably plums and dates but nothing out of the ordinary for the style really. It’s one that’s worth trying if you stumble across it, mainly because it’s not as bad as you’d expect from the price but it was probably just marginally better than average and not one I’d be likely to pick up again.

Brewed In: Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Brewery: Privatbrauerei Jacob Stauder
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Doppelbock
ABV: 7.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Netto (Berlin)
Price: €0.69 (approx. £0.60)

Little Bastard Ale

Rating: 3.35

Continuing the theme of my recent reviews here, this one is yet another German beer that I managed to try but this time the beer is one I had at home after ordering it from the Brewdog online shop earlier this month. The beer in question is Little Bastard Ale from Stone’s Berlin brewery and will also be my first from them, despite the fact that I’ve spotted a number of their beers available over the past few months. This particular offering was a later summer 2016 release from the brewery and is a toned down version of their Arrogant Bastard Ale that I’ve reviewed here in the past and thoroughly enjoyed so I was hoping this would be more of the same; here’s how that turned out.

Appearance (4/5): Copper amber and quite a still looking beer, the drink is topped with a half centimetre head that is a light tan colour and has a bubbly texture to it. The head retention isn’t too bad really but it slowly fades to a thin lacing that turns slightly patchy after a minute or so with minimal lacing on the sides.
Aroma (7/10): Slightly more sweet than I’d expected going in, this one opened with some biscuit notes and a solid caramel aroma that was backed up with some toffee and the odd bread malt. It was definitely more of a malty beer with hints of butterscotch adding to the sweetness with a few subtle fruits coming through as well. Towards the end I could detect some figs and cherries with only subtle grassy notes coming through at the end.
Taste (6/10): Again quite a sweet offering but the beer was definitely toned down a little from the nose with the biscuit and in particular the caramel taking more of a back seat this time around. There was some bread malts coming through with more grassy flavours this time around but it still wasn’t a hop-filled beer by any means. Some toasted flavours and more of the sweet malts started to come through around the middle with a couple of subtle fruits as well but it could have been a little stronger in truth.
Palate (3/5): Quite a sweet offering, particularly at the start with a lot of malts coming through as well but the balance didn’t seem too bad overall. The beer was relatively smooth and clean, coming through as a lightly carbonated offering that started well but seemed to fade a little too quickly for my liking.

Overall (13/20): My first beer from Stone’s Berlin outpost and a fairly average one on the whole; it got off to quite a good start with plenty of sweet malts and caramel flavours coming through on the nose but by the time it got to the taste these had faded a little more than I’d have liked and the beer suffered as a direct result. It was a clean and easy to drink beer, the dark fruits with the nose were quite enjoyable too but not enough of the good notes seemed to carry over to the taste and by the end of this one it had begun to turn into a struggle meaning it’s not likely I’ll pick this one up again.

Brewed In: Berlin, Germany
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company (Berlin)
First Brewed: 2016
Full Name: Stone (Berlin) Little Bastard Ale
Type: Amber/Red Ale
Abv: 4.7%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £1.61

Verdant Bloom IPA

Rating: 4.25

The first review of a beer from my latest online order now, this one is a beer that I picked up from the Brewdog online shop last month while they were doing a 30% off offer over the course of their AGM weekend. The beer is an American style IPA from the Verdant brewery that is based in Cornwall, England despite the fact that the name and the design on the can had me thinking that it was actually an American brewed offering. Released in early summer 2016, the beer wasn’t one I had seen prior to picking a can up and I hadn’t heard of the brewery either but this particular offering from them gets pretty good reviews online which was the main reason I picked a can up.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a deep and cloudy looking beer that was an amber colour that looked quite thick in the glass. There was an excellent three or four centimetre tall head on top that was quite foamy to creamy looking with great retention too, there wasn’t much movement over the opening couple of minutes at all and some lacing stuck to the sides of the glass; a great start.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a strong and juicy nose in the early going, there was a nice combination of pine and orange notes coming through with some further citrus not too far behind. Towards the centre some grapefruit and the odd tropical aroma started to show alongside a solid hop bitterness and touches of summer fruits. All of this was followed by further sweetness thanks to some biscuit malts and subtle berries seeing things out.
Taste (8/10): A very fresh tasting beer, this one opens with some excellent citrus flavours and a good helping of the pine that came through in the nose. There was some grapefruit from the nose too and it seemed marginally stronger this time around, I got hints of mango, papaya and some faint pineapple in there as well. The summer fruits and berries from the nose were again present in the taste, some sweetness from bread malts and biscuit coming through nicely alongside them before subtle citrus flavours seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Fresh with a medium body and quite a lively, well carbonated feel to the beer that was quite easy to drink but came through with a good hop bitterness and slight citrus tang. The balance was a good one with some sweetness nearer the end to keep things interesting but the hops dominated; great stuff all round.

Overall (17/20): This one was an excellent beer from Verdant and very enjoyable from the start thanks to the abundance of hops and tropical fruits that featured and gave the beer a very West Coast feel with some nice citrus flavours in there too. The balance of the beer appeared to be a good one and it came through quite fresh and lively too which made it very easy to drink and the addition of some sweeter type malts and biscuit flavours nearer the end were a nice touch too; definitely a beer that I’d have again.

Brewed In: Falmouth, Cornwall, England
Brewery: Verdant Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £2.45

Cloudwater DIPA v13

May 12, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.95

My third beer in this series from Cloudwater, having previously tried their DIPA v10 and DIPA v11 offerings and enjoying both a great deal; this one is however the first time I’ll be trying one of the beers in the series in from a can because the previous version were in a bottle and on-tap respectively so it should be interesting to see how this one compares. This one is also the last in the monthly series from the brewery meaning it was one of the most sought after too, I was lucky to see my local bottle shop posting that they had some in so I quickly headed round to grab a can before it was too late. At the time of drinking, the beer also had some pretty impressive reviews online and was ranked as the 8th best beer on the RateBeer website in the double IPA category as well as being fiftieth on their list of the top beers listed on the site; not a bad feat even though it has since slipped out of the top fifty overall beers since the weekend.

Appearance (4/5): A hazy orange colour that looks quite like but is very cloudy and opaque, the head is quiet a thin one though and sits about a half centimetre tall before fading to quite a small, bubbly lacing after about thirty seconds or so. The beer does look incredibly thick sitting in the glass though and it is quite still too; not a bad start.
Aroma (7/10): Not overly strong on the nose right away, the beer starts with subtle lemon/citrus notes before the hops start to come through; there was a nice combination of mango and orange followed by touches of peach but it definitely wasn’t as strong at this point as previous offerings in the series have been. Around the middle of tropical notes and faint grapefruit start to come through, overall the balance on the nose is quite good as well but nothing was truly jumping out at me and grabbing my attention up until this point. It’s a solid DIPA on the nose but I felt that previous offerings were slightly better. Things do improve some and gather some strength after the beer is given more time to open up but I’d have liked this to show earlier.
Taste (8/10): Thankfully the taste kicks off a lot stronger than the nose with some good hop bitterness in the early going before touches of citrus and pine coming through alongside the grapefruit from the nose. There was a little more sweetness at this point too with the mango and peach from the nose featuring strongly here with some malts following on behind. It’s quite a fresh tasting beer with some pleasant floral flavours coming through as well and it seemed juicy towards the end; good stuff and much better than the nose in my opinion.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied with a smooth, quite tangy feel that was also pretty dry. The beer is well-balanced with an early bitterness that is soon joined by a subtle sweetness that stays with the beer throughout. It’s very easy to drink despite the 9% abv. and the alcohol content is exceptionally well hidden too; great stuff and very enjoyable too.

Overall (17/20): Excellent stuff again from Cloudwater, they are definitely a brewery that know how to make excellent DIPA’s and this one is no exception. The beer started a little slower than I’d have liked and the nose was far from as strong as previous offering but it wasn’t quite weak either; it did eventually open up with some nice citrus notes and the odd hop but it could definitely have been stronger. Thankfully things improved substantially come the nose and plenty of hop bitterness featured alongside strong malts and various tropical fruits to give the beer an excellent taste. It’s probably not as good as some previous offering from the brewery, especially there DIPA v10 & v11 in this series but it was still a great beer and one I’d have again; if only the nose was a little better than it might have been something truly special.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £5.90