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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

Brewdog Hazy Jane

August 22, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 4.6

Jumping on the bandwagon with the latest craft beer trend, this one is a new beer for summer 2017 from Brewdog and seems almost like a successor to their recent collaboration with Cloudwater when they released a limit edition New England IPA earlier this year. Like that offering, this one is another New England style IPA from the brewery and is actually one that I received a free six-pack as part of their Equity for Punks scheme which was a bonus consider I would have definitely picked up a few cans myself anyway. The beer is actually one that I tried a few times before getting round to giving a proper review here, I spotted it on-tap one evening and couldn’t resist seeing how it compared to the canned version as well; both are excellent in case you are still wondering. This is definitely a beer that I’d like to see become a regular from Brewdog but here’s what I thought of it when I gave it a proper review from the can recently.

Appearance (5/5): This one pours very well and sits a cloudy, light orange colour in the glass and manages to look quite still in the process. The head is a thumb-sized, foamy white one that holds better than expected for a 7.2% beer with some nice lacing left on the sides of the glass too; an excellent start.
Aroma (8/10): Really juicy and fresh on the nose with a lot of tropical notes coming through in the early going to give the beer a refreshing and lively nose without it coming across as too strong or overpowering. There was some touches of pine and grapefruit initially but the touches of pineapple and mango helped to balance things out and stop it seeming overly bitter. Toward the end there was a hint of stone fruit and lighter malts coming through as well but it’s a tropical and juicy nose for the most part, it’s also an excellent one and up there with the best from Brewdog so far.
Taste (9/10): Following on well from the nose, this is again a very fresh and lively beer with a lot of tropical fruits to kick things off; I managed to get some pine and floral hops with a little grapefruit in there before the mango, stone fruit and even some peach made an appearance. It’s got plenty of variety and a hint of sweetness as well with some pale malts in there around the middle too. It’s a more hop-filled taste than the nose hinted at but it’s great on the way down and was rounded off nicely with some further citrus and tropical bursts right at the end.
Palate (5/5): Sitting around medium bodied this one was a very fresh and crisp offering that seemed quite lively and balanced too. There was a lot of tropical flavours that when coupled with the pale malts nearer the middle provided a nice touch of sweetness to proceedings as well. It was a very easy beer to drink and for the most part the alcohol content of this one was well hidden thanks to the abundance of flavour and good variety to it. It was well carbonated and even had a subtle kick right at the death; near perfect stuff on the palate for me.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and easily one of the best I’ve tried from the brewery, if not the very best, I’d love to see this one become a regular offering from them or at least a semi-regular offering. There was a huge amount of tropical fruits and juicy flavours to kick things off but the beer still held its balance throughout. There was some pale malts nearer the middle that provided some sweetness but the pineapple, mango and various other tropical fruits were the dominant flavours to the beer and it was definitely one that I enjoyed; I can see this one being a Brewdog beer that I pick up every chance I get if it does end up of their roster of regular releases.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: New England IPA
Abv: 7.2%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: Free

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

Brewdog New England IPA v2

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

A new release from Brewdog now and one that was only introduced by the brewery just over a week ago but it was one that I was eager to try so I made a point of visiting one of their bars and sampling it on-tap within a day of its initial release. The beer is a reworking of an early collaboration between Brewdog and Cloudwater brewing based in Manchester, their New England IPA which I consider to be the best beer that Brewdog has ever released so naturally I was looking forward to this one. The beer is an 8.5% abv. double IPA which comes in a fair bit stronger than the 6.8% of the original so I did have the fear going in that the quality would suffer like it did when the brewery increased the strength of their Born To Die beer earlier this year only to reduce it again with the next release in the series. I’ve only tried a few New England style IPA’s so far, mainly because it’s still a relatively new style of beer but it is definitely one that I’m a big fan of and I was hoping that would carry over to my first double IPA in the New England style with this offering; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it last week.

Appearance (4/5): Very hazy golden in colour with a yellow hue to it, the beer was quite bright and opaque looking but sadly there wasn’t an overly impressive head to it, all that was left by the time I placed it on the table was a thin, foamy white lacing that was turning slightly patchy but the colour was a nice one.
Aroma (7/10): Not an immediately strong beer on the nose given it was an 8.5% abv. offering but there was a good combination of citrus and pineapple to kick things off before more touches of tropical fruit appeared nearer the middle. Some subtle hops showed around this point too with a few juicy notes and touches of orange and lemon nearer the end. Overall it was a very fresh offering but one that I’d have preferred came through stronger than it did.
Taste (7/10): Starting in a similar fashion to the nose, the taste kicks off with a combination of citrus flavours that is mainly orange and lemon but with some pineapple not too far behind either. The beer was again very fresh with a subtle bitterness off the back of the hops throughout,  there was some juicy flavours and a few tropical ones sitting in the background too which all seemed slightly stronger than with the nose and as such were a welcome change.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and sitting with a medium body and a nice balance too, the beer definitely wasn’t as strong as anticipated for an 8.5% beer and for the most part the alcohol content was masked behind the subtle hops and the tropical, juicy flavours. There was quite a lively feel this one at times, likely from the citrus in the taste and there was moderate carbonation throughout but it was a little lighter than I’d have liked which stopped it from being as good as the original version in my opinion.

Overall (15/20): Very nice stuff again from Brewdog here and ordinarily this would be a beer that I would have loved but given it’s a reworking of the best beer I’ve ever tried from the brewery the bar is naturally set a little higher for this one. The beer open with a pleasant citrus taste that was backed up by some pineapple and the odd tropical flavour, the balance was good too and surprisingly little of the alcohol content was showing so the beer was easy-going and highly drinkable. The main disappointment for me was the fact that the beer was a lot lighter than expected, the nose in particular coming through weaker than expected and overall the original version of this beer was much better in my opinion.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog/Cloudwater (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Full Name: Brewdog vs. Cloudwater New England IPA v2
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Keg (Half Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: £4.28

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