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Abstrakt AB:13

July 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

My third beer from Brewdog’s Abstrakt series now, this one follows on from their outstanding AB:10 that I tried way back in late 2013 and their AB:19 that I finally got around to trying around Christmas time last year. This one is a 2013 release from the brewery that I’ve had since then and it’s a cherry imperial stout that is aged for fourteen months in sherry whisky barrels to give it some of its taste. I believe I picked this one up from the Brewdog online store roughly five years ago and had always been saving it for around Christmas time each year but I’d never get around to trying it so I decided to scrap that recently and finally crack the bottle open and see how it tastes now it’s five years old. I’m expecting big things from this one given how good their AB:10 was all those years ago, I still enjoyed the AB:19 but that didn’t quite hit the same heights so at the very least it should be interesting to see  how this one turns out; the beer itself is numbers 8659 of 9972 so there can’t be too many of these left kicking about either.

Appearance (4/5): A very dark, cola like black colour with very thin, bubbly lacing on top that was a fiery brown in colour but faded quite quickly to leave not much of anything upstairs but that was to be expected given both the age and strength of this one.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a dark, oak like nose with a lot of roasted malts and liquorice upfront alongside a solid base of alcohol grain and an earthy bitterness from some coffee and chocolate notes. It’s slightly sweet with some caramel and dark fruits showing, mainly some dates and prunes but also a few sugars come through to help out. It’s a heavy aroma with some raisins and toffee towards the end to see things out; very strong stuff.
Taste (7/10): Dark fruits and alcohol flavours kick things off, it’s definitely got a sherry taste to it with some darker malts and chocolate following on behind, I managed to get some cherries alongside prunes and dates with a few raisins following on behind. It’s slightly sweet the caramel and a toffee taste further on alongside molasses and a few hints of vanilla and oak.
Palate (4/5): Fill-boded but after five years there’s very little carbonation showing, although it doesn’t seem flat given the type of beer it is. It’s loaded with alcohol from the start and shows pretty much all of it’s 11.3% abv. from the first sip. Some touches of sweetness by way of the chocolate and vanilla, not to mention the dark fruits and cherries helps to make it a drinkable offering but it’s not one to be rushed.

Overall (15/20): This one was a very strong and boozy beer from the start with a tonne of alcohol showing and a little sweetness further on from the dark fruits, molasses and vanilla. It’s a beer to take your time with and sip rather than rush through it given the strength and the age of the beer, although it holds up quite well for a bottle that’s been sitting in my attic for the best part of five years. It’s a thick and chewy, full-bodied beer that I’m glad I’ve finally tried but it was just that little bit too strong for my liking so I doubt I’d have picked it up again had it been a regular from Brewdog and it doesn’t quite hit the heights of either of the previous two Abstrakt beers I’ve tried.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: BrewDog
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11.3%
Serving: Bottle (375ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £10.00

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Durham Temptation

Rating: 4.2

This one is my second Durham Brewery beer now and follows on from their Bede’s Chalice that I had back in December after picking the bottle up alongside this one last year at the Fenwick’s store in Newcastle when I visited the city in July. This one is a 10% abv. imperial stout and one that I was quite surprised to see available in a 500ml bottle from a UK based brewery, normally these type of beers are restricted to a smaller 330ml bottle or a larger sharing bottle but seeing this in the shop made it an easy choice for one to pick up.

Appearance (5/5): Jet black with an opaque body and a half centimetre, foamy head that’s a light tan colour and managing to cover the surface well. Surprisingly there wasn’t much reduction in size over the open couple of minutes and the head started to look quite creamy with the odd bubble on the surface too; a great start given the alcohol content on this one with the heading holding on for well over five minutes as I let this one heat up a little after coming out of the fridge.
Aroma (7/10): Not a huge aroma but still quite a strong one with plenty of chocolate and coffee notes kicking things off and giving this one a roasted, dark nose. There’s some alcohol grain in the early going with touches of sweetness dotted about the place too; mainly sugars but a little vanilla and even some light caramel too. It’s earthy further on with the roasted notes coming back alongside a few nutty notes and hints of dried fruit seeing things out without anything dominating.
Taste (8/10): More pronounced than the nose with some chocolate malts and dark, roasted flavours coming through a little stronger this time around as well as a little more of the alcohol content coming through. It’s an earthy tasting offering that’s got some liquorice as well as the dried fruits from the nose, there was some raisin and hints of plum too. Rounded off with some further sweetness and sugars as well as some dates and prunes, the beer seemed quite complex but stopped short of overpowering or having any one flavour dominating.
Palate (4/5): Strong but balanced, this one is a full-bodied stout that had some alcohol showing with the nose and a little more with the taste which made it quite a warming and boozy feeling beer from the middle on. It was a moderately carbonated beer but the balance was very good with some nice sugar and dried fruit sweetness complimenting the dark and earthy malts from earlier on and helping it go down quite easily despite the strength.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Durham, this one got off to a cracking start with a solid head that stayed put throughout the beers life and was one of the best I’ve ever seen on such a strong beer. It’s dark and malty to open with lots of roasted notes and flavours coming through with some chocolate and a little sweetness off the back of this too. Further on I got some dried fruits and sugars coming through as well as some of the alcohol content but it wasn’t too strong, just enough to give the beer and warming and boozy feel that I enjoyed a lot.

Brewed In: Durham, England
Brewery: Durham Brewery
First Brewed: 2005
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Fenwick’s (Newcastle)
Price: £4.49

Very Big Moose

Rating: 4.55

Another beer from Fierce brewing, this one a collaboration with Brewdog and the staff from their Aberdeen bar as part of Brewdog’s Collab Fest 2017; this one the winner of the event in October last year. An imperial stout with touches of cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon and coming in at a strong 12% abv., this one is a beer that I was looking forward to trying but never managed to make it to a Brewdog bar during the event itself so I thought I’d missed out on trying the beer until I spotted it online over Brewdog’s AGM weekend in April this year. This one is a beer I’m very much looking forward to trying and it follows on from the can of Very Big Moose: Tonka that I reviewed here recently as well, that one being a collaboration with Brew York that used tonka beans in the brewing process so I’m interested to see how this one compares.

Appearance (4/5): Very thick looking as it pours, the beer is opaque and jet black in colour with a half centimetre tall head that is foamy and covers the surface initially before breaking up in the centre but holding around the edges of the beer; it’s better than expected for the strength of the beer anyway.
Aroma (9/10): This one gets off to a strong start with a lot of chocolate and alcohol grain kicking things off, there’s a background sweetness to though with some vanilla notes coming through in the early going. Further on I got some dark, almost roasted malts and oak coming through with more sweet alcohol that resembles rum at points. There’s the odd spice towards the end with a bit of cinnamon but the chocolate and vanilla are strongest throughout; excellent stuff on the nose.
Taste (9/10): The taste follows on in a similar fashion to the nose with some strong chocolate flavours upfront alongside the same vanilla sweetness that carried on from the nose as well. There’s some rum and alcohol grain showing towards the middle but more of this is masked than anticipated with some darker malts and cocoa covering it for the most part alongside some spices.
Palate (5/5): Full-bodied and quite thick throughout, this one was smooth and strong with a warming alcohol feel from the middle on and as a result the end of the beer was quite a boozy one. The beer had an excellent balance and a lot of the alcohol content was hidden but you knew it was a strong one with a touch of dryness towards the end and plenty of sweetness throughout thanks to the chocolate and oak but mainly the vanilla flavours that featured heavily from the start.

Overall (19/20): Outstanding stuff from Fierce and Brewdog, this one is loaded with flavours and opens with a strong sweetness that was mainly down to the vanilla but also some chocolate malts and oak too. It’s a strong one with some rum and alcohol grain towards the middle but it remained quite easy to drink thanks to the smooth body and excellent balance. I went in expecting this to be similar to the Tonka version of the beer that Fierce done with Brew York not long after this one was initially release but this version is so much better and has a lot more going on as well. There was some nice roasted flavours towards the end with background spice, in particular cinnamon coming through to round things off exceptionally well; an amazing beer that I could drink again and again (although not in one sitting) and I’m thankfully I picked up another one to try at a later date now – believe the hype.

Brewed In: Aberdeen, Scotland
Brewery: Fierce Beer/Brewdog (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £5.60

Omnipollo/Buxton Original Texas Pecan Ice Cream

Rating: 4.3

My first ever beer from Omnipollo, this one is a collaborative effort from them and England based Buxton Brewery and will be my eighth Swedish beer in total, following quickly on from the can of Backyard Brew Bee 17 that I reviewed here recently. This one is a 10% imperial porter that I picked up online back in April and like the Buxton/Stillwater Subliminal that came before it, this one is another that I had been saving for around Christmas time in the hope that it would make an excellent winter beer but never got around to trying until now. The beer is one that I’m really looking forward to after reading some online reviews, it currently sits as the 39th best imperial porter on RateBeer and part of the Omnipollo/Buxton Original Ice Cream Series that took off in 2014, this was one of several collaborative offering between the two brewery’s that Brewdog were selling earlier in the year, I opted for this one as it seemed to be the most highly rated of the selection available when I was placing my order so hopefully I won’t be disappointed. It should be noted that the beer is in fact brewed in Buxton’s facilities but I’ll still listed it primarily as a Swedish beer by Omnipollo here as I believe they were the main brewers or that it was brewed in Sweden first.

Appearance (4/5): Jet black and thick looking, the beer has an oily texture and is opaque bodied with a thin, foamy head that’s a tan brown colour but mainly sits around the sits with a few tiny touches near the centre too.
Aroma (8/10): Opening with a nice sweetness that has a lot of dark chocolate and cocoa coming through alongside touches of pecan and a solid vanilla aroma that adds to the sweetness as well. There’s something resembling a milky aroma that has you thinking of ice cream given the name, with touches of fudge and caramel with faint alcohol nearer the end too. Towards the end there was some roasted notes but it was definitely the sweetness and nutty notes that dominated with this one.
Taste (9/10): Sweet with some solid chocolate and pecan flavours with some nutty touches in the back, the beer was strong with a little alcohol grain showing. The beer had a lot of vanilla and some lactose too before the odd roasted malt sees things out; very nice stuff.
Palate (5/5): Surprisingly lively and well-carbonated for such a strong beer, there was some alcohol showing towards the middle but it didn’t quite seem like a 10% abv. offering thanks to the sweetness helping out with the balance. It’s a nice one to drink because it was so smooth and clean, going down easily with quite a full body that seemed thick, particularly at the end.

Overall (16/20): It’s been a while since my last imperial porter but I remember it delivering quite a few good beers and this one is no exception, the beer opened with a lot of sweetness from the chocolate, vanilla and some pecan before a little alcohol grain came through and gave it a thick, warming and boozy feel. It was a balanced offering that was still drinkable with some milky flavours and some roasted malts at the end. Very nice stuff from the brewery and one that I enjoyed without it truly blowing me away; I would definitely be happy to have it again but given the limited availability and the price that might not happen so I’m glad I tried it once and will look at a few others in the series going forward.

Brewed In: Stockholm, Sweden
Brewery: Omnipollo/Buxton Brewery (collaboration)
Type: Imperial Porter
First Brewed: 2016
ABV: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £5.60

Buffalo Belgian Stout

Rating: 3.75

My first review of a Van den Bossche beer now and it’s not a brewery I’ve seen anything from before, this one is another beer I managed to try at the De Garre pub in Bruges recently and is the last of the three beers I tried there, following on from their house Tripel Van De Garre and the bottle of Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor that I tried there before getting round to this one. Falling somewhere between a strong Belgian dark ale and an imperial stout, this was a beer I went for on a whim and thankfully it turned out to be another good one, here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Really dark stuff, this one is a deep brown to mahogany coloured beer with a thin white head that was more of a fine lacing around the circumference with little in the middle of the beer which looked relatively thick and oily.
Aroma (7/10): Mainly dark and earthy malts with a lot of coffee coming through in the early going but it wasn’t quite as strong as anticipated for a 9% abv. offering with the balance obviously a good one and some of the alcohol hidden too. There was a lot of darker fruits showing with some raisin and plum alongside touches of cocoa and a few dates thrown in for good measure as well; nice stuff with some faint alcohol towards the end too.
Taste (7/10): Quite similar to the nose with dark fruits opening the show, I got some raisin, plum and dates with touches of fig and plenty of darker malts too. It was an earthy tasting beer with some coffee bitterness and cocoa around the middle which helped to impart a faint sweetness with a few sugars seeing things out too.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium to full body with quite subdued carbonation but a good sweetness coming through from the chocolates as well as the darker fruits. It was a relatively rich and complex beer without overpowering thanks to the balance and there was a touch of alcohol at the end to give it a nice kick too.

Overall (15/20): Quite a strong beer at points but still not as overpowering as some imperial stout thanks to the good balance and the nice sweetness coming through from the chocolate, dark fruits and even a little caramel malt. It was drinkable with a smooth feel and good complexity as well. An interesting beer that I’m glad I managed to try, although there are definitely better imperial stouts out there to be had.

Brewed In: Herzele, East Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Van den Bossche
First Brewed: circa. 2004
Type: Imperial Stout/Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Staminee De Garre, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €4.50 (approx. £3.99)

Kinnegar White Rabbit

July 4, 2018 2 comments

Rating: 3.25

The first of four beers from Donegal based Kinnegar Brewing now, this one is a beer that I managed pick up on a visit to Donegal Town were I stopped off an a bottle shop I visited a couple of years ago as well; this time grabbing the only four beers from the brewery I hadn’t already tried. The beer itself is labelled as a ‘White Session IPA’ but it’s basically a wheat ale when you drink it so I’m not sure how the brewery came up with the IPA part. The beer will be sixth from Kinnegar and my first since thoroughly enjoying a bottle of their Rustbucket beer back in the summer of 2015, also when visiting Ireland and again another beer I picked up in Donegal Town on my last visit there.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a clear but very fizzy looking beer, this one is a pale golden colour and it’s topped with a foamy white head that starts about two or three inches tall with a sloped surface and quite a thick texture to it. Head retention is much better than I’d have expected with no subsidence in the opening few minutes and still a tonne of bubbles rising to the surface too.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh and floral with lemon notes dominating in the early going followed by some grassy hops and a further touch of citrus. The beer is lively with some background fruity esters and subtle wheat. It’s not all that complex a beer with very little beyond the initial lemon and grassy notes showing for the most parts but there was some light bitterness at the end too.
Taste (6/10): Zesty with some nice citrus and lemon initially followed by background wheat and a few floral flavours; there’s some faint spice here too. Around the middle some wheat, light biscuit and the odd earthy hop starts to show but again it’s basic with some orange and pine seeing things out alongside a soft bitterness.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and quite fresh, the beer is tangy with a crisp and sharp feel as well as lively carbonation. It’s not overly complex but remains easy to drink without really exciting at anypoint; a basic beer in truth.

Overall (13/20): Not the best from Kinnegar, the beer was quite fresh and floral with a lot of lemon and citrus opening alongside some background fruits and wheat but it was definitely missing something and seemed a little bland at points. It was crisp and well-carbonated with a crisp, sharp feel but it didn’t grab my attention at any point and I can’t imagine it will prove memorable either. There was a light bitterness seeing things out with some pine and grapefruit too but it’s definitely nothing special sadly and it’ll likely be a one-off trying this one for me.

Brewed In: Rathmullan, County Donegal, Ireland
Brewery: Kinnegar Brewing
First Brewed: 2013
Full Name: Kinnegar White Rabbit Session IPA
Type: Wheat Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Pauls Off License (Donegal)
Price: €3.25 (approx. £2.85)

Black Albert (383 of 1001)

Rating: 4.05

My second beer from Struise after their Pannepot offering and one that I managed to pick up when I stopped by their bottle shop in Bruges a couple of weeks ago in the hope of finding this and another of their beers that I’ll be reviewing soon, their Aardmonnik Flemish Oud Bruin that I was lucky enough to find as well. This beer is a 2007 release from the brewery and I managed to pick up a bottle from 2016 at a very reasonably priced €5, not bad at all for a beer that comes in at an impressive 13% abv. and isn’t the easiest to find, even in Belgium. Originally brewed for Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine, this is now a year-round offering from the brewery and takes inspiration from American and Scandinavian attempts at the style, this was Struise’s first imperial stout and but it has since branched out to brew several more, including their Cuvée Delphine which is the same beer after it has been aged for a year in bourbon barrels; hopefully I’ll be able to try it at some point in the future as well.

Appearance (4/5): Jet black in colour with an opaque body, this one pours like oil with a thin, bubbly head on top that was a beige to brown colour but sat mainly to one side of the beer without managing to cover the entire surface. It was still and thick looking in the glass with a thin lacing around the circumference as well but that was expected given the strength of this one.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a strong nose with some liquorice and dark chocolate to kick things off, there was a solid coffee bitterness in the early going too but this was quickly followed by warming alcohol notes and some grain. The beer was very strong with some darker fruits coming through, mainly raisins and prunes with some spices showing towards the middle as well. Further on there was hints of vanilla sweetness and a couple of sugars too; a very strong beer without overpowering too much thankfully.
Taste (8/10): Very strong stuff with huge amounts of alcohol grain and warming touches showing immediately but there was some nice dark chocolate and coffee flavours soon after to help balance it out a little. It was an earthy and bitter offering with some nice sugars and the vanilla sweetness from the nose showing here too. Further on some dark fruits came through as well, both the raisins and prunes from the nose with some plums and figs as well before some subtle spices and more dark malts see things out alongside a boozy alcohol finish.
Palate (4/5): Full-bodied and very thick, this one was a smooth and oily feeling beer on the mouth with very soft carbonation and a warming, boozy feel that seemed every bit like the 13% abv. it was. There was a creamy feel to the beer but it was quite malty and earthy too with nice complexity but it was perhaps just a touch strong as times whilst still being a very nice beer to drink.

Overall (17/20): Strong and thick, this one was a beer I really had to take my time with given the alcohol content and how boozy and warming it was at times. It opened with some nice chocolate and bitter coffee flavours that were complimented by a vanilla sweetness and some sugars further on but it definitely wasn’t a beer to rush. It seemed a little too strong at times, particularly early on but it was complex and rich with some pleasant dark malts and dark fruits showing too; a beer well worth trying and one I’d happily pick up again for a special occasion too.

Brewed In: Oostvleteren, West Vlaanderen, Belgium
Brewery: De Struise Brouwers
First Brewed: 2007
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 13.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Struise Beershop (Bruges, Belgium)
Price: €5.00 (approx. £4.43)