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Character Assassination

July 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

Brewed in collaboration with south London based Gipsy Hill, this one is my first beer from the Electric Bear Brewery based in Bath and is on that I picked up recently alongside a couple of Trappist beers at my local bottle shop, opting for this one given it’s a one-off New England IPA and it’s the height of summer here. A new beer for 2018, this one was canned in late May and should still be relatively fresh so it’s one that I’m looking forwards to cracking open. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Gipsy Hill over the last couple of years but surprisingly haven’t tried anything from them yet but this one was the first time I’d seen or heard anything about Electric Bear so I’m interested in finding out more and perhaps picking up something else from them in future if this one is any good.

Appearance (4/5): A lot lighter and clearer than I’d expect for a New England IPA, the beer is a light amber with some golden tinges and a thin, half centimetre head that’s foamy and white but starts turning patchy towards one side more quickly than I’d have liked; not a bad looking beer but I’d place it closer to lager than a New England IPA on first looks.
Aroma (7/10): Slightly tropical on the nose initially with some subtle grapefruit and orange coming through but nothing too pungent or overpowering in the early going at least. There was some citrus notes and a little tangerine further on with a couple grassy hops followed by a moderate bitterness and hints of mango and peach further on; it’s definitely an American IPA aroma but it’s not as dank as anticipated.
Taste (7/10): Opening with some pine and grapefruit bitterness that is followed by some nice orange and tangerine flavours, the beer is again slightly tropical with touches mango, apricot and peach bringing in the middle. It’s a solid IPA taste with some grain and a hint of alcohol nearer the end but it wasn’t a anything special or out of the ordinary with a faint sweetness and further bitter flavours seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied with some bitterness showing from the start without it being a dank one really. There was fine carbonation that gave the beer a lively feel and it was quite dry and sharp too. The balance was as you’d expect for the style with the bitter hops and tropical flavours dominating and a touch of the alcohol coming through near the end.

Overall (/20): This was a strange one in the sense that it was a pleasant and enjoyable beer but I feel like there was some false advertising involved where the label states that it’s a New England IPA but it was very much a standard American IPA with very little dank flavours coming through but instead a slightly tropical and bitter beer with the usual grapefruit and pine flavours as well as some mango and apricot further on. It was okay offering overall but one that ultimately left me disappointed given I was expecting something completely different from what I got after reading the label on the can.

Brewed In: Bath, Somerset, England
Brewery:  Electric Bear Brewing / Gipsy Hill (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2018
Full Name: Electric Bear / Gipsy Hill Character Assassination
Type: New England IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.30

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Brugge Tripel

Rating: 3.7

A second beer from Palm now this one following on from their flagship Belgian pale ale that I reviewed here a few weeks ago after also trying that one in Belgium but now is the turn of the brewery’s Brugge Tripel. I picked this one up one night in Burges before saving it and trying it later on in my holiday having felt it wrong to leave Bruges without grabbing a bottle of this one. The beer was originally brewed in Bruges by De Gouden Boom up until 2004 when production switched to Palm Breweries but the beer is apparently still known as ‘The Beer of Bruges’ despite no longer being brewed there but it was still one that I wanted to try.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a bright orange colour with a bubbly white head on top that was about a centimetre tall, the beer had good head retention and it looked quite thick and fluffy too.
Aroma (7/10): Floral and spicy in the early going with some biscuit malt and pepper showing initially, there was some earthy touches alongside hints of Belgian yeast and some light alcohol notes further on. There was some oranges and cloves nearer the end with further spice and background fruits that were dominated by an apple aroma.
Taste (7/10): Biscuit malts and spice kick things off with some strong banana and apple coming through as well. I managed to get some bread malts around the middle with a little yeast and some fruity, floral flavours around the middle as well. It seemed quite fresh and herbal with a sugar sweetness and more background fruits seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Spicy and quite light with a fresh and summer-like feel that was sharp and came with a medium body too. The beer was strongly carbonated but well-balanced with a nice sweetness at times from the banana and sugars as well as some tangy touches further on but despite not being the most complex tripel it was still a nice one to sip away at.

Overall (14/20): Not quite as strong or complex as some of the Belgian tripels I’ve reviewed here of late but this one was quite a light and fresh version of the style with some nice banana sweetness coupled with tastes of apple and some nice bread malts too. There was a nice combination of spices, yeast and some herbal touches in there too but there’s definitely a lot better tripels out there that I’d go back to over this one in future.

Brewed In: Steenhuffel, Flemish Brabant, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Palm
First Brewed: Brewed by Palm since 2004
Type: Tripel
Abv: 8.7%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Pita Burger Snacks House (Bruges)
Price: €3.50 (approx. £3.09)

Straffe Hendrik Tripel

Rating: 3.75

A fourth beer from the De Halve Maan brewery now, this one also being the fourth from them that I tried when visiting Bruges earlier this summer and is one that I had on my last morning in the city in the beer garden of the oldest pub in the city too, Café Vlissinghe. This one follows one from Brugse Zot and Brugse Zot Dubbel that I tried in Bruges, although I had previously tried the former of those two beers a couple of years ago as well and the beer falls under the same banner as the brewery’s Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel that I tried a couple of days before this one as well. This particular offering from the brewery is one that I was close to picking up when visiting the brewery itself on my first day in Bruges but since it was a nice day I opted instead for their flagship Brugse Zot again before trying their dubbel for the first time so I thought it fitting that I eventually tried this one as my last beer in the city since I seen it available in almost ever bar I stopped at and I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to pick up once I was back in the UK.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber to orange with a quite a large, foamy white head sitting several inches tall before settling as a thick surface lacing with some touches on the side and a creamy texture towards the centre.
Aroma (7/10): Quite fruity on the nose with some spice and biscuit notes coming through in the early going, there was some lemon and citrus in there too. I detected quite a flowery and floral nose to this one with some herbal touches towards the middle and subtle sweetness as well thanks to the malts. It was light and summery with some apple, pear and grapes as well as faint banana and some yeast in there too.
Taste (7/10): Biscuit malts and quite a fresh, floral taste kick things off here with some pine and herbal touches soon after. The beer was fruity with apple and grapes both showing along with some of the banana from the nose and a little orange too. The beer was pleasant tasting with a hint of tart and some yeasty, spice-like flavours to see things out as well.
Palate (4/5): Very fresh and quite sharp too, the beer was dry with a lot of spices and yeast showing as well. The beer was medium-bodied and effervescent with quite a lively feel from the strong carbonation levels and the balance meant that a lot of the alcohol content was hidden save for a touch right at the end.

Overall (15/20): Quite a light and floral tasting tripel with plenty of herbal touches and a lot of yeast coming through along with some spices. The beer was interesting with some nice pine and biscuit flavours in there on top of quite strong carbonation and a very lively, sharp feel to the beer. It’s flavoursome without being too complex and it proved easy to drink throughout but it’s not quite up there with some of the other Belgian tripels I’ve had of late sadly and the quadrupel from the brewery was a much better beer too.

Brewed In: Bruges, West Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan
First Brewed: circa. 2008
Full Name: Straffe Hendrik Bruges Tripel Bier 9°
Type: Tripel
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Café Vlissinghe, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €4.20 (£3.68)

Ewe Rebel

Rating: 3.9

A second beer from Whitewater in quick succession, this one following on from their Maggie’s Leap that I reviewed here last and is another I picked up whilst in Ireland; my tenth in total from the brewery. This one is relatively strong from an Irish brewed IPA, coming in at 7% abv. and is one that I picked up pretty much for that reason alone, my thinking being that it would actually be more American in style which can only be a good thing for this type of offering; I’m quite a big fan of the brewery’s Hoppelhammer beer and that’s one I’ve picked up a few times now so hopefully this one turns out to be a similar offering and I can go back to again in future.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a hazy amber with orange and light copper tinges, the head is a centimetre tall one that sits quite foamy and covers the surface completely with little subsidence or reduction in height over the opening minutes which was nice to see.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh and quite fruity on the nose initially with some citrus hops and touches of pine coming through as well. The beer is sweeter than anticipated with a few caramel malts in the early going too, there’s touches of biscuit in there too though. Beyond that some mango and orange shows, as does a little grapefruit to add the the bitterness before some subtle spice and sugars see things out.
Taste (8/10): Opening with some nice citrus hops again, the beer was fresh but probably not quite as sweet at the nose with some orange and mango still coming through alongside a few other background fruits. It’s an balanced taste with the sweet malts and caramel from the nose still featuring with a few sugars further on too but they’re a touch less pronounced than the nose without being weak.
Palate (4/5): A medium bodied beer that was fresh and lively with fine carbonation and a nice tang. It opened very sweet before settling down some with a good combination of background fruits working well with the caramel and sweet malts. It was relatively well-balanced and easy going with a smooth, semi-dry finish as well.

Overall (16/20): Really nice stuff from Whitewater and easily one of their best, this one buck the recent trend from them and is a very enjoyable beer that kicks off with a pleasant sweetness from the caramel and sweet malts followed by some nice citrus hops and subtle tropical fruits. It was a balanced and easy-to-drink beer with a fresh feel and good carbonation levels, definitely one of theirs that I’ll pick up again when I’m back in Ireland.

Brewed In: Saintfield, County Down, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Whitewater Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Dolan Centra (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.00

Whitewater Maggie’s Leap IPA

July 5, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 2.9

The first of two Whitewater bottles I picked up recently in Ireland, this one and a bottle of their Ewe Rebel that I quick looking forward to were available together for a discounted £4 so I quickly grabbed the pair since I’d been looking to pick up this particular beer from the brewery for some time now after reading about it online a number of years ago. This one will be my ninth beer from the County Down based brewery with all ten of those being beers that I’ve picked up and tried in Ireland since they brewery doesn’t really appear to export anything over the Irish channel and I have seen a couple more of their beers in supermarkets in the north of Ireland so perhaps I’ll pick up a few more later this year as well.

Appearance (4/5): Pale golden amber and quite a clear body with a lot of fizz showing. The beer is topped with a very foamy, thick looking white head that’s got a few holes through it and sticks to the sides of the glass as well.
Aroma (5/10): Quite fresh and floral in the early going with a few biscuit malts but it starts to fade a little too soon after that. There’s some herbal notes and a touch of earthy hop around alongside some lemon from the middle on. It’s basic on the nose but balanced, nothing jumps out at you either though which was a little disappointing.
Taste (6/10): Biscuit malts and some bread ones too, the beer is floral and has some grassy hops coming through alongside quite an earthy taste. There’s some faint citrus and herbal flavours further on with lemon and background fruits showing before some subtle, almost roasted malts see things out.
Palate (2/5): Medium bodied and quite clean with a crispness to it and a subtle tang from the citrus as well. It’s earthy throughout with a moderate bitterness further on but I definitely found it a little bland and one-dimensional too.

Overall (12/20): Average stuff from Whitewater here, this one opened with some nice sweetness and a few earthy flavours as well as the usual grassy hops and background fruits but it was definitely a basic offering that didn’t offer much in the way of imagination. There was a few floral touches in the early going too and it was a relatively bitter beer but it seemed too weak on the nose and too one-dimensional tasting; it’s not a beer I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Saintfield, County Down, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Whitewater Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 4.7%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Dolan Centra (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.00

Brains SA (385 of 1001)

Rating: 3.1

My third Brains beer now, this one follows on from their SA Gold that I tried way back in 2012 after grabbing a bottle in Newcastle and thinking it was the regular Brains SA from the 1001 beers list that I’m reviewing now; the other beer was a bottle of Barry Island IPA that I picked up from Tesco a few years ago now. This one will be my 379th from the 1001 beers list and my first of seven Welsh beers on the list, beers that have proved quite difficult to find anywhere I’ve been so far and I can see it taking a trip to Wales at some point to actually check a few more of them off.

Appearance (4/5): After an aggressive pour this one sits a caramel amber colour and is topped with a half centimetre, foamy white head that starts turning patchy in the middle after thirty seconds or so with a little more build up around this sides.
Aroma (5/10): Quite earthy and bitter in the early going with some biscuit malts and a few nutty notes as well. It’s not overly pronounced but some caramel and butterscotch sweetness a little further on before some bread malts see things out.
Taste (6/10): Similar to the nose with some caramel malts and a background sweetness coming through, the beer was earthy with some hops and the odd touch of biscuit in the early going. The nutty notes from the nose aren’t as pronounced here but there is some bread malts and butterscotch as well with hints of citrus rounding things off, although it was relatively subdued throughout.
Palate (3/5): Somewhere around medium bodied and quite crisp, the beer is smooth and semi-sweet thanks to the caramel malts and butterscotch. It’s relatively well-balanced and moderately carbonated with a sharp tangy feel from the citrus around the middle. It’s earthy throughout and definitely basic but it was easy enough to drink and probably quite sessionable too.

Overall (12/20): Basic stuff but drinkable through, the beer was quite earthy with a combination of bread and biscuit malts along with the odd nutty flavours dominating for the most part, there was some caramel sweetness and touches of butterscotch though. It’s not a beer that I went into with high hopes but it was decent enough and much as I’d expect from the style too, a solid English style bitter that was easy to drink an inoffensive.

Brewed In: Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales
Brewery: SA Brain & Company Ltd.
First Brewed: 1958
Type: English Bitter
Abv: 4.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.70

Massey Red Ale

Rating: 2.95

The third of three new Hillstown beers that I picked up in Tesco recently whilst visiting Ireland, this one will be my fifth overall from the brewery after I also tried a couple of there beers at the end of last year and into the start of this one. The last beer from the brewery that I reviewed here, The Goats Butt hefeweizen was actually the best that I’ve tried from the brewery so far and their The Spitting Llama before it was a decent beer too so I’m hopeful this one turns out decent as well. The beer itself is an Irish red ale and is one I picked up as part of an offer in Tesco, overlooking a pale lager from the brewery in favour of this one so perhaps I’ll head back at some point and try the lager too since I’ve enjoyed the last two from the brewery.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark amber that that’s somewhere between copper and mahogany in colour and topped with quite a thick head that’s a creamy texture and off-white in colour, starting about an inch and a half tall and managing to hold quite well over the opening few minutes which was impressive.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly floral initially which wasn’t expected but the caramel and sweet malts come through straight after with some nice earthy notes and a little citrus at this point too. It was a fresh beer but quite balanced too with a couple background fruits that included apple, light berries and some apple too. It wasn’t the most varied or pronounced offering on the nose but it got things started and wasn’t offensive in anyway at least.
Taste (6/10): Opening with some floral touches again and a few biscuit malts, the beer was more earthy tasting than the nose hinted it but for the most part it was quite sweet. Towards the middle some berries and fruity esters started to show but it was a relatively subdued taste for the most part with some caramel towards the end alongside some faintly nutty flavours.
Palate (2/5): Smooth and medium bodied but softly carbonated and a little bland at times, it was definitely a subdued beer and not the freshest feeling either. This was a subtle sweetness around the middle after a floral start but the beer seeemed a little one-dimensional and didn’t have enough going for it to really grab my attention sadly.

Overall (11/20): Quite disappointing from Hillstown again here, the beer was fairly one-dimensional and basic throughout with some floral flavours opening things followed by some biscuit malts and background fruits but not much beyond that. It was quite earthy yet bland at the same time with a few nutty flavours and malts coming through but it’s definitely not the best nor is it one that I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hillstown Brewery
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Irish Red Ale
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.75