Posts Tagged ‘black beer’

Big Black Berry Chew Chew

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

A second Fallen beer in quick succession and one that follows on from their Grapevine pale ale that I reviewed here recently, this one however is a slightly stronger beer that comes in and 10% abv. and is labelled as a “salted caramel, blackberry and blackcurrant milk stout” which certainly isn’t a style of beer that you see very often. I spotted this one in a local bottle shop alongside the brewery’s raspberry version of the beer and was tempted to pick that one up as well but opted to see how this one goes before grabbing that one as well, so hopefully this one turns out to be as good as the last beer from the brewery that I tried.

Appearance (4/5): Dark ruby with an almost purple hue in places and topped with a quarter-inch foamy head that took a fairly aggressive pour to form and is a light brown colour with purple hues through that as well. It is patchy towards the centre but I don’t have too many complaints given the strength of the beer.
Aroma (8/10): Surprisingly fruity to begin with, there is obviously a lot of the blackcurrant and blackberries coming through in the early going with a subtle hint of cherry too. The beer seems fresher than I’m used to for an imperial stout with some good sweetness and tart notes in the early going as well. There are followed up by the salted caramel advertised on the can as well as some lighter fruits that give the beer a juicy aroma to it. There’s some milky notes further on with some darker malts and roasted notes seeing things out but it’s a lighter smell than expected from such a strong beer with the fruits dominating for the most part and it is certainly something different too.
Taste (7/10): Slightly darker than the nose with lactose and milk flavours coming more to the front alongside the berries from the nose and the blackcurrant too. It’s again sweet and fresh, very juicy too with and little caramel towards the middle that only added to the sweetness before some of the tart from the nose started to come through and eventually eclipsed what was showing on the nose. Again it was an unusual beer for an imperial stout and definitely something different to what I’m used to, it was enjoyable as well which was nice but I’m not totally convinced by it in truth.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and definitely a little lighter than you would expect from a 10% abv. beer but at least it wasn’t a thin offering. The beer was fruity with some nice sweetness and tart showing in both the nose and the taste plus there was good variety to the beer whilst the balance wasn’t too bad either; it was perhaps a little too sweet at times but it remained drinkable throughout anyway. Despite coming through at 10% abv. and being labelled as an imperial stout, the beer was surprisingly light on alcohol flavours and grain, the rest of the fruits seemingly masking the alcohol content completely.

Overall (14/20): Quite an unusual beer here, this one is labelled as an imperial stout but at times seemed closer to a sour or fruit beer with plenty of blackcurrant and berries coming through in the early going, accompanied by some caramel and milk flavours but both of these definitely seemed to take a back seat to the fruits. The alcohol content of the beer in particular was well hidden and it was surprisingly easy to drink, although the sweetness did seem a little overdone at times sadly. It was a varied beer with a lot going on and it was unlike anything I’d tried before but I’m not convinced that it would be a beer that I’d rush back to again I’m afraid since there is already a lot of better imperial stouts out there waiting to be tried.

Brewed In: Kippen, Stirling, Scotland
Brewery: Fallen Brewing
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £4.80


Club of Slaughters

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.25

A fourth Wylam beer now and one that comes after a five-year gap with the last beer from the brewery I tried being their Bohemia pilnser that I sampled back in December 2012. The other two beers from the brewery that I’ve sampled, their Angel and Rocket bitters, were both pretty standard fair but the Newcastle based brewery seems to have upped their game of late and I’ve started to see a few more adventurous offerings from them available. I picked this one up when visiting the city over the summer and also grabbed another couple from them on the same visit that I’ve yet to try. I then spotted yet another imperial stout from Wylam in a Glasgow bottle shop last weekend, a beer that I quickly picked up. This particular offering from the brewery, despite the name suggesting otherwise, is apparently a vegan friendly beer that was first introduced in late 2015 and as yet is not one that I’ve seen available in Scotland but perhaps that is something that will change going forward since last weekend was the first time that I’d spotted any Wylam beers north of the border.

Appearance (4/5): Opaque black and almost oil-like with a foamy brown head that is just under a centimetre tall but holds surprisingly well for a fairly strong beer. The head does slowly fade to leave a thin surface lacing in the middle with a little more build up around the sides but it doesn’t look too bad at all.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a strong beer on the nose with a lot of alcohol showing in the early going as well as a lot of peated malts that gave the beer a type of whiskey aroma. It was slightly sweet towards the middle with some rich and dark fruits coming through alongside some mint that was unusual but enjoyable before the beer was rounded off with some liquorice and alcohol grains.
Taste (6/10): Opening with the same peated malts that featured heavily with the nose, the beer wasn’t quite as strong this time around but there was some strong alcohol grains and smoky flavours present that threatened to overpower at points. I got some roasted flavours around the middle of the beer with touches of mint further on with some more malts seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): A very strong beer with plenty dark and roasted touches that were quite smoky too that’s to the peated malts. The beer was loaded with alcohol and seemed stronger than the 8.8% abv. on the bottle, the balance in particular being a poor one that made it a slow one to get through; not a great one of the style at all and one I’d avoid in future.

Overall (13/20): This one was a very strong beer from the outset and one that was loaded with peated malts, smoky flavours and some wood which all gave the beer a whiskey feel to it in the early going. The alcohol that came through seemed overdone and made the beer seem a lot stronger than the 8.8% advertised on the bottle, it was also a bit of a struggle to finish too, although the surprising addition of some mint to the nose and taste was quite enjoyable but other than that the beer seemed poorly balanced and was a relatively poor imperial stout sadly.

Brewed In: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Brewery: Wylam Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 8.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Fenwicks (Newcastle)
Price: £3.49

Fitzbräu Hop Chocolate

December 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.1

Following on from the last homebrew offering that I reviewed here, this one is my second attempt at making a dark beer and my first ever stout; well second, I also tried making an imperial stout recently too. I brewed this one a couple of months ago and am down to my last few bottles now but as yet haven’t properly reviewed it here, hopefully it’s still fresh enough and I can gauge how it compares to the El Gran Jefe Porter that preceded it. Brewed with sorachi ace, amarillo and magnum hops and American influenced, this is one that I’ had been wanting to brew for a while but ended up delaying it whilst I had a stab at an Imperial Stout that I will likely review soon after this one.

Appearance (3/5): A very dark ruby to black colour that is opaque and topped with quite a disappointingly small head that is well under half a centimetre tall and fades to leave a thin bit of lace around the circumference after twenty seconds or so; likely since this one was bottled a good couple of months ago but I was still hoping for better.
Aroma (6/10): Quite dark with some nice caramel and chocolate flavours in the early going as well as some background hops that hint at some bitterness. There’s a few spiced showing but nothing overly strong before being drowned out by cocoa and an earthy bitterness. It could have been fresher and a little stronger but it wasn’t a bad one on the nose really.
Taste (7/10): Opening with some chocolate and caramel flavours that provided some nice sweetness too, the beer seemed fresher than it smelled with some subtle citrus hops coming through but I’d have liked them to be a little stronger, something I’ll consider if I decide to make a variation of this one again. There was some cocoa and milk like flavours further on with the odd spice sneaking through as well towards the end.
Palate (3/5):
Somewhere around medium bodied and very smooth, the beer was softly carbonated and quite easy going although it could have been a little fresher and more lively, the lack of hop bitterness was also an issue at times for me but it was still a drinkable beer that seemed sweet and creamy at times too.

Overall (12/20): Definitely not as good as some of my previous efforts, partially due to the fact that it was a couple months past its best when I finally got around the reviewing it but I was still hoping for a little better from this one. The beer was smooth and creamy with some nice chocolate malts and caramel at times with a few hints of lactose too but there wasn’t enough hop bitterness other than a subtle touch of citrus featuring around the middle of the taste. It remained a drinkable beer and one that I finished quite easily but it wasn’t as good as I hoped and it will need some tinkering with before I decide to make this one again.

Brewed In: Wishaw, Lanarkshire Scotland
Brewery: Fitzbräu
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American Stout
Abv: 5.38%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Homebrew
Price: N/A

Asahi Super Dry Black

November 14, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

Not to be confused with the similarly named Asahi Black that I reviewed here a few years ago, this one is another dark beer from the brewery that I managed to try in Japan last month and one that is also my penultimate new offering from the brewery that I tried in the country. Seemingly a 2012 release, this one is a newer beer that their Asahi Black (or Asahi Kuronama as it is sometimes known) but unlike that offering, this one isn’t a beer that features in the 1001 beers list sadly. I managed to try this one in a Tokyo whale meat restaurant on my last full night in Japan and opted for it as the only non-pale lager on the menu despite it being one that I had already tried early on my trip to Japan; it is also a nice one to check off since it doesn’t appear to be an Asahi beer that is readily available in the UK either.

Appearance (4/5): Really dark mahogany to black in colour and sitting with an opaque body, this one has quite a thin head on top that sits just under a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, with a little more build up around the edges at least.
Aroma (6/10): Darker malts and some roasted notes kick things off here, there was some earthy bitterness and light coffee in the early going too but neither overpowered thankfully. A little further on there was some grassy smells and a little sweetness but it was quite a basic, almost weak nose at times.
Taste (7/10): The beer opens with some dark and roasted malts, there was some chocolate showing too which provided an early sweetness that only showed towards the end of the taste. Around the middle some grains and subtle hops featured with a few touches of hay before coffee and earthy malts seen things out nicely.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and not overly dry despite the name, the beer was dark and bordered on fresh with a subtle hop bitterness that fades and turns almost watery further on. It was however an easy to drink beer with a nice balance without it being anything overly special on the way down.

Overall (14/20): This one was a fairly enjoyable offering from Asahi and a nice change from the usual pale lagers I was drinking with dinner most nights in Japan, this one was lively and fresh with a slightly dry feel at the end. There was plenty of roasted and dark malts throughout with some grains, hay and grassy hops working well together to help this one go down easily enough.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Asahi Breweries
First Brewed:  2012
Type: Schwarzbier/Black Lager
ABV: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (334ml)
Purchased: Kujiraya, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Price: ¥450 (£2.98 approx.)

Tokyo Black Porter (367 of 1001)

November 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.2

Another Japanese offering from the 1001 beers list, this one being fifth from the Yo-Ho brewery and one that follows from their Yona Yona Ale as the second of their beers from the list that I’ll have tried. This one is an American style porter that will be my first dark beer from the Nagano based brewery and it is one that I spotted in a number of stores throughout Japan but waited until nearer the end of my trip to finally pick up a can in a Bic Camera store when I was back in Tokyo. As the final of Yo-Ho’s beers to feature on the 1001 beers list, this is also the last of their beers that I’m likely to review here for some time since I’ve yet to see anything from them available in the UK sadly but at least I got to try it and check it off for myself.

Appearance (5/5): Very dark mahogany to black in colour with a larger than expected head starting about two centimetres tall ans sitting a beige colour in the glass. Retention wasn’t too bad from the beer either, there wasn’t much initial movement and it looked quite a thick head with some light residue on the sides of the glass as I worked my way down the beer.
Aroma (8/10): A pleasantly strong aroma started things here with a nice combination of roasted malts and chocolate that made the beer one of the stronger Japanese beers on the nose that I’ve reviewed here recently. There was some liquorice and touches of vanilla a little further on with a subtle malt bitterness and some lactose with the odd creamy note following on behind. Towards the end some faint caramel and a touch of spice came through to see things out; this one was enjoyable and exactly what I was after on the nose going in.
Taste (8/10):
Roasted malts and a solid sweetness that featured some vanilla and butterscotch kicked things off with the taste here, both coming through stronger and earlier than they did with the nose before some creamy flavours and touches of lactose followed them up. Around the middle some coffee flavours showed themselves alongside a faint hint of milk chocolate and an earthy malt sweetness as well as some caramel further on that made for quite an enjoyable but varied tasting beer.
Palate (4/5):
Somewhere around medium bodied, perhaps very slightly lighter than expected for the style but it was quite a sweet and creamy offering with a nice balance as well. It had light-medium carbonation levels and was very easy to drink with the vanilla, chocolate and caramel all adding to the sweetness with any of them overdoing it; it was also quite a clean beer with a subtle dryness right at the end.

Overall (16/20): Quite an enjoyable porter and definitely one of the better dark beers that I’ve tried from Japan, this one coming through with quite a sweet but balanced taste than had a great combination of caramel malts and milk chocolate flavours as well as some earthy malts and vanilla in there. The beer was exactly what I was expecting from the style and it went down smoothly too, it’s definitely one I’d have again if I could find it outside of Japan.

Brewed In: Nagano, Japan
Brewery: Yo-Ho Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2005
Type: American Porter
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Bic Camera (Akihabara, Tokyo)
Price: ¥288 (£1.91 approx.)

Minoh Stout

October 31, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

My penultimate Minoh beer now and the only ‘dark beer’ from the brewery that I managed to try sadly, I had been particularly keen to try their Imperial Stout but only found out after my trip that the beer is usually only available early in the year, around January and February, so that one will have to wait. One of the higher rated Minoh beers online and was awarded World’s Best Stout (Japan) at the 2016 World Beer Awards and had a nice sticker on the bottle to tell me this so it was definitely one that I was looking forward to cracking open, doubly so since the last four beers from the brewery were also fairly enjoyable ones.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark looking brown colour that bordered on black and had an opaque body that was topped with a light brown coloured head sitting about three or four millimeters tall and looking more like a thin surface lacing than anything else, before breaking up slightly towards the middle soon after.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with darker malts and a few roasted notes, the beer was a standard stout on the nose initially with a nutty aroma that was backed up by a little chocolate sweetness. Further on and some caramel started to come through alongside a faint liquorice note and then some vanilla following on behind.
Taste (7/10): Kicking off with the darker malts from the nose, the beer is a little more earthy and bitter this time around thanks to the coffee and nutty flavours coming through. A pleasant sweetness sat in the background with some chocolate and sugars as well as the vanilla that featured in the nose. Towards the end I detected a little caramel and some smoked flavours with a combination of roasted barley, spices and a further earthy bitterness seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Quite a thick beer that bordered on being full-bodied at times whilst staying smooth throughout. It’s a moderately carbonated offering that was quite earthy and nutty with a solid bitterness throughout. The balance of the beer was a good one with some sweetness showing further on thanks to the sugars and chocolate malts; this one was a very nice and easy to drink beer.

Overall (16/20): Great stuff again from Minoh and another beer from the brewery that I’d happily have again, it was especially good when compared to other darker Japanese beers that I’ve tried. The beer opened with some excellent roasted malts and an earthy bitterness that was coupled with some sweetness and vanilla flavouring further on; definitely a beer that I’d have again if it was available outside of Japan.

Brewed In: Osaka, Japan
Brewery: Minoh Beer
First Brewed: Brewery since 1997
Type: English Stout
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Yamaya Nagahoribashi (Osaka)
Price: ¥410 (£2.72 approx.)

Kirin Ichiban Shibori Stout

October 20, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.25

Originally released back in 2007 in cans then subsequently available on draft too, this one is the third beer under the Kirin label that I will have tried and follows on from the recent review of their Kirin Tanrei Green Label offering that I managed to try in Tokyo a few weeks ago. I sampled this particular offering on-tap at a small bar in Hiroshima at the end of September, having previously tried it a couple of days before when I had a can of the beer in the Nara area of Japan; I mainly went for it a second time since it was the only none lager available in the bar and not because I enjoyed it so much the first time but it definitely wasn’t too bad a beer from Kirin.

Appearance (4/5): Thick and opaque black in colour with a creamy looking beige head that was more of a surface lacing that had slightly more build up on the sides of the glass.
Aroma (6/10): Lighter roasted malts and some coffee notes kicked things off with touches of earthy malts further on. The beer was balanced with some lactose and a lighter bitterness coming through as well but it wasn’t the most complex stout on the nose.
Taste (6/10):
Very similar to the nose with some earthy note and a solid bitterness to kick things off, there wasn’t many hops coming through but this was made up for by the chocolate and coffee flavours that appeared towards the middle of the beer. Further on and there was a milky sweetness coupled with a subtle bitterness that seem things out but it was fairly standard tasting overall.
Palate (3/5):
This one was a fairly basic stout with moderate to fine carbonation levels on top of a semi-sweet but balanced body that stayed quite easy to drink throughout. There was some light bitterness coming through at times with a few creamy touches as well, whilst the hop presence was kept to a minimum throughout with this beer.

Overall (13/20): Quite a basic beer overall, this one was drinkable throughout with some nice sweetness on top of the usual earthy malts and roasted flavours. Around the middle some chocolate and coffee seemed to make an appearance whilst the balance of the beer was quite good throughout but it wasn’t exactly a must try or one that I’d hurry back to again; still it was worth trying in Japan I guess.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Kirin Brewery Company
First Brewed: 2007
Type: Stout
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Keg (400ml)
Purchased: Pretty Date, Hiroshima, Japan
Price: ¥600 (£3.97 approx.)

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