Posts Tagged ‘bitter’

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


Windsor Knot

June 19, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 2.75

A beer I was recently given as a gift from a family member returning from Windsor, this one is a beer that I probably wouldn’t have picked up myself but is one originally introduced as a limited release beer for the 2011 royal wedding of William & Kate before becoming a regular, year-round release after proving popular. The bottle I’ve been given has an updated label design as a result of the royal wedding of Harry & Meghan earlier this year and their names are one the front of the label too. The beer will be my first from Windsor & Eton but I was also given another of their beers alongside this one so expect a review of their Knights of the Garter blonde ale in the not too distant future.

Appearance (3/5): A clear looking caramel amber that’s topped with a thin surface lacing on top that’s white with a touch more build up around the circumference of the glass.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some biscuit malts and a very faint sweetness from touches of bread and earthy malts. Towards the middle some faint fruit notes make an appearance with a floral backing and some apple before a nutty aroma sees things out.
Taste (5/10): Carrying on where the nose left off with some biscuit malts and earthy touches kicking things off, there was a few subtle hops showing alongside a fairly floral middle. I got some bread malts and a hint of nutty bitterness nearer the end but it was quite a basic one overall.
Palate (3/5): Quite light bodied and perhaps a touch thin at times, the beer was floral to start but got steadily more bitter as things moved on. There was a dryness towards the end of what was a light to moderately carbonated beer and further bitterness with the aftertaste as well.

Overall (9/20): It not all that often that I get to try a new English bitter and to be honest this one has just reminded me why, it’s definitely a basic offering with very little going on but it was still drinkable throughout thankfully. It’s not so much that it’s a bad beer but it wasn’t all that interesting either with only some biscuit malts and a bitter, nutty finish grabbing your attention’ I can’t imagine this one is a beer that I’d have again sadly.

Brewed In: Windsor, Berkshire, England
Brewery: Windsor & Eton
First Brewed: 2011
Type: English Bitter
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Windsor, England
Price: Gift

Bath Ales Gem

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.55

My second Bath Ales beer now, this one following hot on the heels of their Wild Hare pale ale that I reviewed here recently. This one is another that I picked up from Whole Foods Market at the start of the month and is a beer I’ve been keeping a lookout for over the last few months, having previously failed to try it when visiting Bath at the end of last summer. This one is a beer that is very popular in the south-west of England, I believe it is one of the best-selling bottled craft beers in the UK too, possibly placing as high as second behind Punk IPA but don’t quote me on that as I can’t find the article I think I read it in now. The beer is my first premium bitter in quite a while so it should act as a good refresher on the style and is one that I was actually quite surprised to find didn’t make the 1001 beers list given its popularity in southern England, perhaps that’s a fairly recent things though. Gold medal winner and best ale up to 5% at the 2014 International Beer Challenge, as well as a silver medal winner in 2015, the beer should be a good one despite the fact that the brewery changed hands last year and is now owned by the St. Austell Brewery Company after the acquired the Bath Ales portfolio for an undisclosed in July of last year; hopefully the beer itself hasn’t suffered though.


Appearance (4/5): Pouring quite a dark, almost caramel amber colour this one has a fairly clear body and a thin, foamy white head on top that’s more of a thin lacing than anything else really; there’s a little more build up around the edges but for the most part it is just a patch of foam in the centre of the surface.
Aroma (7/10): Quite sweet but not overly so, this one opens with a nice combination of caramel and toffee notes before some burnt sugars and very subtle toasted malts start to come through. There’s a little bit of biscuit following on behind plus some earthy notes start to make themselves known nearer the middle of the beer. Towards the end there is a some roasted malts and even a hint of chocolate coming through as well but it was subtle and fleeting. The beer was rounded off with an earthy bitterness and faint citrus notes that seemed to work well together.
Taste (7/10): Opening with the toffee that carried on from the nose, the beer didn’t seem quite as sweet but there was at least some showing with touches of caramel not far behind. I could detect a few brown sugars and toasted malts nearer the middle with biscuit and bread ones nothing featuring before an earthy bitterness showed alongside some subtle earthy hops.
Palate (3/5): Sweet with a light tang at points, this one had a medium body and proved to be a well-balanced offering that was a little basic and one-dimensional but still a pretty drinkable beer. While not as good as the bottle of Wild Hare I had from the brewery last, this one was also a good session beer that went down easily enough but without really exciting at any point. There as some nice malts showing at times and the toasted malts/toffee flavours were a nice addition but I was expecting it to be a little more varied and at times a little stronger too.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff again from Bath Ales but probably not quite as enjoyable a beer as their Wild Hare pale ale that I tried last. This one was obviously a little darker and the sweetness seemed more pronounced at times with a nice combination of darker malts, toasted flavours and some sugars that complimented the caramel and toffee flavours nicely. Nothing seemed overdone and a good balance was maintained throughout, making this one another decent session offering but I’m probably go back to other beers before having this one again; still it’s definitely a nice beer and well worth trying.

Brewed In: Bristol, England
Brewery: Bath Ales
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Whole Foods Market (Giffnock)
Price: £1.79

Marston’s Resolution

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 1.8

Another beer that I sampled over the Christmas holidays now and what I think was my eighth Marston’s offering although I’ve not had anything new from the brewery in a while so I can’t be too sure. This one is a beer that was originally introduced sometime around the 1960’s and went by the Low C name to indicate that it was a low carbs offering from the brewery. In early 2004 the beer was re-branded under its current Resolution name and is a beer that I received as a Christmas gift as part of a gift pack that contained a few other beers that I’d already tried, including bottles of Hobgoblin and Spitfire but this was the only one I hadn’t already sampled previously. The beer came in quite a small, 275ml bottle which ended up being a blessing but here’s what I thought of it when I tried it at the very start of this year.


Appearance (3/5): A light copper to amber colour with a very clear body and a centimetre tall, foamy white head on top that holds relatively well. There was no signs of any visible carbonation with the beer and it looked quite still in the glass with the head eventually starting to turn patchy after a minute or so as well.
Aroma (4/10): Some subtle spice and grassy hops kick things off here, the beer turned out to be quite a light one on the nose with only a few touches of hay and some basic malts coming through in the early going. There is the odd adjunct sitting around the middle with a background sweetness and bread malts following on behind before some skunky notes see things out.
Taste (3/10): This one is almost like a lager initially with some corn and basic adjuncts featuring alongside some basic malt bitterness and the odd skunky vegetable flavour. There was a subtle spice around the middle and the odd bit of sweetness too but nothing concrete really. Towards the end some skunky bitterness and what can only be described as a musky taste started to come through but this wasn’t a pleasant tasting beer at all really.
Palate (1/5): Quite a light, weak and almost watery beer on the whole, this one was definitely a disappointment from the start with very little in the way of complexity or even flavour to it. There was a lot of carbonation to this one that made it seem lively but also a little over carbonated at times, bordering on gassy. There seemed to be a lot of adjuncts and the beer ended up with quite a skunky, off feel to it that wasn’t enjoyable at all.

Overall (6/20): Really poor stuff from Marston’s here and probably one of the worst from the brewery that I can remember trying; not an enjoyable beer at all. There was a weak, quite bland feel to proceedings and the taste was definitely lacking, I got some early adjuncts and the odd lager taste but none of this was enough to distract from the skunk bitterness or the cheap feel of the beer; definitely not one to seek out.

Brewed In: Burton-on-Trent, England
Brewery: Marston, Thompson & Evershed, Plc.
First Brewed: circa. 1960’s (rebranded in 2004)
Original Name: Marston’s Low C
Type: Bitter
Abv: 4.7%
Serving: Bottle (275ml)
Purchased: North of Ireland
Price: Gift

De Molen Op & Top

April 26, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 4.15

On of the last new Beers from a Beer52 variety box that I ordered a couple of months ago now, this one was the only De Molen offering in the box and will be my ninth beer from the Amsterdam based brewery. The beer follows on from the brewery’s Hop & Liefde which was an American pale ale that I sampled back in December after receiving it in as part of another Beer52 box that I was gifted for Christmas. I quite enjoyed that previous De Molen effort and as a result, this one is another beer from the brewery that I’m looking forward to trying; the fact that it’s currently ranked as the 38th best bitter on the RateBeer website only sweetens the deal. This particular offering is an American influenced bitter that I’m expecting to be more hop filled and hopefully more interesting that some of the more traditional British offerings of the same style. Bitters are a style that I no longer try as many beers from as I used to and that’s mainly down to the fact that there are so many poor ones out there but I’m optimistic that this will prove to be a good one, based mainly on the fact that De Molen beers rarely disappoint; fingers crossed that this one is more of the same from them.

De Molen Op & Top

Appearance (5/5): Quite a hazy amber colour that was darker than expected and came close to sitting a copper colour in the glass. The head was a large, three centimetre tall one that looked quite active and foamy with a slight dome shape forming at the top and retention was quite good initially as I let the beer sit in the glass and open up some; this one was a very nice looking beer.
Aroma (7/10): This nose is kicked off with some subdued, American style hops and citrus in the early going that likely comes from the Amarillo hops mentioned on the bottle. There was some pleasant biscuit notes coming through as well and the beer had a nice balance initially. Some earthy notes and a hint of caramel start to come through soon after with a few background fruits as well; most notably some orange and peach but there is also some faint tropical notes too. This was definitely an interesting bitter on the nose with some darker fruits in there towards the end and the American influence on it was noticeable from the start with the beer a better one for it; good stuff so far without it being a particularly strong one.
Taste (8/10): The taste follows on well from the nose with the Amarillo hops providing some nice citrus bitterness and a little pine in the early going. It’s not an in your face hop presence but it was more than I’d been expecting for a bitter I guess. There was a good amount of biscuit and caramel taking things forward after that and I managed to detect some tropical fruits as well but, like the nose, these weren’t particularly strong. Some toasted malts and an earthy sweetness featured around the middle and the hops made themselves known again towards the end giving some grassy, almost floral flavours and a little spice a chance to make itself known too.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and well-balanced with the citrus tops providing a nice tang and the earthy malts and caramel sweetness contrasting and complimenting it nicely. The beer was easy to drink and carbonation levels were about average, made a touch stronger than the norm for a bitter but then again this wasn’t like most of the English bitters you’re likely to try. Quite refreshing and with a good bitterness towards the end that was very slightly dry and lingering.

Overall (17/20): This one was a really interesting beer from De Molen and one that I quite enjoyed into the bargain given it was unlike the majority of bitters out there and came through with more hops, bitterness and caramel sweetness than any English style bitter I’ve tried in the past. The bottle calls it an ‘American bitter-ish’ and you could definitely tell it was American influenced with the citrus hops, touches of pine and the very nice tropical flavours that featured throughout. The beer was a good one from the start and is definitely one that I’d look forward to trying again at some point; great stuff again from De Molen.

Brewed In: Bodegraven, South Holland, Netherlands
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
First Brewed: 2010
Type: American Bitter
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Price: £1.62 (approx.)

Jeffrey Hudson Bitter (326 of 1001)

March 7, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

A beer that I’ve been on the lookout for recently and one that I actually spotted an earlier this year in a B&M Bargains store only to be put off buying it by the fact is was well past its freshness date and I wanted to give it a fair review. Luckily I was able to find a bottle in the Drygate bottleshop in Glasgow a few weeks ago and quickly grabbed a bottle. The beer is a regular cask offering from Oakham Ales and will be my third from the brewery, following on from their excellent Citra American pale ale and their fairly average Inferno golden ale, the later of which I reviewed here back in May of last year. Named after a Mr. Jeffrey Hudson, a royal courtier of King Charles I in the 17th century, the beer is another dry-hopped offering from Oakham and has been crowned Champion Beer of Britain in the bitter category twice, back in 1999 and again two years later in 2001 so I’m expecting it to be a good one for what will be the 326th beer from the 1001 list that I’ll have tried.

Jeffrey Hudson Bitter

Appearance (4/5): Pouring a very light and clear golden colour, this one has a few fine bubbles rising to the surface and is topped with a thin, white head that is a foamy and just about covers the surface of the beer with more of a build up to the one side. Retention is okay with the head eventually turning patchy and leaving some traces in the centre of the glass but it falls short of disappearing completely.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a fresh nose with some floral touches and a nice citrus backing plus plenty of pale malts to open things up with. The beer had some bread and cereal coming through which also added a moderate sweetness with some lemon not far behind. There was a few more hops coming through than I’d anticipated and the nose was all the better for it with the odd burst of fruit and some hints of bitterness towards the end as well; nice stuff.
Taste (8/10): Starting off in a similar vein to the nose, this one opens up with some citrus and lemon flavours along with a solid amount of pale malts and to a lesser extent some floral flavours, the bread malts are present here too. Around the middle I got some hints of tropical fruits with an earthy bitterness and biscuit malts not far behind before some musty touches come through towards the end. The beer was zesty and feature some nice but subdued hops, hay and grassy flavours as well as a further hit of citrus and some herbal flavours right at the end.
Palate (4/5): This one came through very fresh and zesty with moderate carbonation levels and a light-medium body as well as touches of sweetness, particularly with the nose. The beer was crisp and well-balanced with a lively feel and a moderate bitterness too; excellent stuff.

Overall (14/20): Very nice stuff from Oakham Ales here, this one was well-balanced and fresh with some good floral flavours and was exactly what you’d expect from a good golden ale. The beer was an easy one to drink with some good pale malts and bread to kick things off alongside a pleasant citrus zest and nice bitterness; it’s definitely one of the better beers of the style that I’ve tried of late and one that I wouldn’t object to having again at some point either; although it’s probably not quite as good as the breweries Citra pale ale offering but it’s not too far off it either.

Brewed In: Peterborough, England
Brewery: Oakham Ales / The Brewery Tap
First Brewed: 1993
Also Known As: Oakham JHB
Type: Golden/Blond Ale
Abv: 4.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Drygate (Glasgow)
Price: £3.60

Hatherwood Ruby Rooster

November 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.35

Another beer received as a gift for my birthday now, this one will be my second beer to fall under the ‘Hatherwood’ banner from the Wychwood brewery and following on from their Golden Goose bitter, it is another that is contract brewed by them for Lidl supermarkets in the UK. After reviewing a bottle of Hatherwood Golden Goose recently and being particularly blown away by the beer I’m not really expecting a lot from this one and if it proves be another drinkable, standard bitter then I guess I’ll consider it a success but you never known, it might even surprise me.

Hatherwood Ruby Rooster

Appearance (4/5): Ruby to deep amber coloured with a slightly cloudy body and a half centimetre head that is foamy and light tan coloured, covering the entire surface of the beer but eventually starting to thin out around the edges.
Aroma (6/10): Sweet with some roasted malts and caramel coming through early on, there is some sugars too and quite a strong toffee aroma to this one. I could detect some nutty aromas and a little bread with some biscuit malts towards the end.
Taste (7/10): Quite a nutty tasting beer with lots of sweetness early on, most notably a toffee taste but there was also some caramel coming through as well. This one was very earthy on the tastebuds with some pale and roasted malts around the middle before the bitterness began to assert itself towards the end. It was definitely a basic tasting beer but it seemed to be put together well and wasn’t a bad tasting one.
Palate (3/5): Smooth and featuring a medium body with light carbonation, this one was quite easy and sessionable to drink with some nice sweetness and moderate bitterness coming through alongside some pleasantly earthy touches; basic but enjoyable with a pleasant balance.

Overall (13/20): There was a good amount of sweetness coming through on top of some earthy and nutty flavours with the beer going down easily. Despite not being a huge fan of bitters in general, this one was a highly enjoyable offering consider it is a beer contract brewed for a budget supermarket.

Brewed In: Witney, England
Brewery: Wychwood Brewery
First Brewed: 2013
Full Name: Lidl Hatherwood Ruby Rooster
Type: English Bitter
Abv: 3.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Lidl
Price: Gift