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144 Roman Heads

February 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

My fourth ever beer from Slovakia now but my first since trying three beers from the country when visiting Bratislava back in 2011; it’s been a while. Amazingly this seems to be a country that doesn’t really export beers to the UK, something that is surprising given how many Czech beers seem to make it into supermarket here. This one follows on from the pint of Zlaty Bazant that I tried in Bratislava as my first Slovakian beer in about seven years, the other two from the same trip that I tried were draft servings of Kelt 10% and Šariš 11% Tmavý so this one will be my first ‘craft’ beer from the country as well; hopefully I won’t need to wait as long before trying another in future.

Appearance (4/5): An almost murky amber colour that was cloudy and topped with an oversized, foamy head that was off-white and started about two inches tall before reducing very slightly in size. It looks like quite a strongly carbonated beer as it’s poured but head retention is quite good at least.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a lot of hops kick things off here and there is definitely some grapefruit and pine opening the show with a solid helping of apricot following soon after. I managed to get some sour touches and a little citrus around the middle before some caramel malts and background fruits came through towards the end; there was some orange and grapes in there with a little pear too.
Taste (6/10): Quite bitter with a lot of pine and grapefruit hops in the early going, the beer is quite a resinous one with some tropical fruits showing as well; there was the apricot from the nose with some mango and peach in there too. It’s a strong beer with some apples, grapes and a little sourness around the middle with some citrus not too far behind. The malts are more hidden with the nose, I did manage to get a little biscuit towards the end but the bitterness drowned out most of the rest.
Palate (3/5): Quite a strong beer that was very hoppy and pungent at times, there was a lot of resinous pine and grapefruit kicking things off and I’d liked to have seen more malts to balance this out a little. The alcohol content of the beer was showing towards the end too, although only slightly and it remained drinkable throughout with a dry feel throughout and moderate carbonation.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff from Unorthodox initially with a lot of hop bitterness on the nose with pine and grapefruit dominating alongside some background fruits. Further on there was some touches of sourness that I hadn’t expected and some sweeter malts started to come through; this carried over to the taste with more bitterness showing this time but the balance could have used some work in truth.

Brewed In: Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Brewery: Unorthodox Brewing
Full Name: Unorthodox 144 Roman Heads 20°
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 8.1%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

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Scuttlebutt Hoptopia

February 10, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.95

My fourth beer from a Washington based brewery and my second from Scuttlebutt, like the bottle of their Amber Ale that I reviewed last this one is a beer I picked up from Glasgow’s Wee Beer Shop in late January based on the fact that it was an American brewed double IPA and I was quite interested in seeing how it rated. The beers name did seem somewhat familiar when I spotted this one in the shop but it turns out that it wasn’t a beer that I’d ever seen before but just before opening it I was really hoping that it would turn out to be a better offering than the offering I tried from the brewery the day before.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber with a slight haze to the body and foamy head that turns quite bubbly in texture after about thirty seconds but manages to hold relatively well with some good lacing stuck to the sides of the glass as well.
Aroma (7/10): Definitely not as hop-filled as you’d expect from a double IPA but the beer did open with some nice pine and grapefruit bitterness that was backed up by a pleasant sweetness from some biscuit and caramel malts; this also gave the beer a slightly American pale ale style nose in the early going which was interesting. Further on and there was some orange zest and light citrus featuring with a touch of sugar and some bread malts further on before some light bitterness seen things out. It was quite a subdued nose for the style but it came through with a pleasant aroma that I definitely enjoyed.
Taste (8/10): More bitter than the nose for sure with a lot of resinous pine and grapefruit kicking things off that was almost out of the blue when compared to the nose and very welcome. There was some orange and citrus flavours with a lot of pine following on behind which made the beer seem every bit the double IPA that I was expecting. Towards the end some of the caramel malts, biscuit and bread flavours from the nose started to come through and as a result some light sweetness was imparted on the taste, something that definitely helped the balance as things drew to a close.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite resinous with a lot of bitterness coming through from the start, the beer was a very dry offering as expected with a slight citrus tang around the middle and some sweetness further on. The balance was a good one, although the hop bitterness of the taste naturally dominated but it was still an easy one to drink and the alcohol content seemed well hidden too.

Overall (17/20): Great stuff from Scuttlebutt here, this one definitely started a lot more subdued on the nose than expected with only some light grapefruit and pine coming through but these seemed to be fighting to be noticed alongside the sweeter malts and biscuit notes at this point. Things changed with the taste though thanks to a lot of hop bitterness jumping to the front in the form of resinous pine and grapefruit flavours, there was also some orange following on behind before the sweet malts and biscuit seen things out nicely.

Brewed In: Everett, Washington, United States of America
Brewery: Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2006
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £3.10

Scuttlebutt Amber Ale

February 3, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.3

My first beer from the Scuttlebutt brewery and only my third beer from Washington state, this one follows on relatively soon after the can of Evo IPA from Two Beers which was the last offering from Washington that I had tried when I reviewed that one towards the end of last year. Like that previous offering, this one from Scuttlebutt is another beer that I picked up from my local bottle shop after noticing it was reduced on a recent visit; opting for it based solely on the fact that it was the first time I’d seen on of the breweries beers available in the UK and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. Although not an offering that gets particularly good reviews online, this is a beer that I’m looking forward to cracking open given it is the first of two beers from the brewery that I now have to review since I’ll soon be giving their Hoptopia double IPA a go too.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber to copper coloured and quite clear looking, the beer has a nice sized head on top that looks quite creamy and sits as a wavy, off-white that manages to hold well in the early going.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a basic, earthy nose opens things up with some light caramel and subdued hops alongside an earthy bitterness and some nuts. There was less hop bitterness than expected with some honey, spice and basic fruits making up the rest of the nose with some biscuit seeing things out.
Taste (6/10): Following on closely from the nose, the beer again started quite earthy with some caramel touches in the early going too. It was a semi-sweet beer with some nutty flavours and lighter fruits, apples in particular coming through with some basic biscuit malts not far behind. Towards the end there was some funk and sourness starting to come through with a couple of light spices seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and semi-sweet, the beer was earthy and quite dry throughout with a few subtle spices further on. The balance was quite a basic one that bordered on poor with more sourness than anticipated sneaking through with some funk further on but it was certainly interesting at least.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a strange beer in that it started as very much an amber ale with some sweetness and basic malts coming through alongside a few nutty flavours and biscuit but further on there was a lot of sourness and funk coming through, particularly towards the end which made the beer seem a little unbalanced. It was drinkable throughout but definitely not a classic that I’d rush back to, it just seemed a little strange and the sour touches weren’t at all what I’d be expecting.

Brewed In: Everett, Washington, United States of America
Brewery: Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.
First Brewed: circa. 2003
Type: Amber/Red Ale
Abv: 5.1%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £2.50

Spencer Trappist Ale

January 25, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.25

A first new Trappist beer in quite some time now, this one is a beer from the only Trappist brewery in the United States and is a Belgian style pale ale that I picked up from a local bottle shop just before Christmas. This one is a beer that I’ve been aware of since shortly after the brewery was founded within the Abbey, back in 2013 and it’s a beer that I’ve been looking forward to trying ever since. Brewed at the St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts and available since later 2013/early 2014, this is one of several beers that the abbey now produce and it was also the first Trappist beer to be brewed outside of Europe so it’s definitely an interesting beer and I’m glad I’ve finally been able to track a bottle down.

Spencer Trappist Ale

Appearance (5/5): Pale amber in colour with a hazy body and quite a large, foamy head that was a creamy white in colour and looked quite thick. Head retention was quite good as well with the no reduction in size over the opening couple of minutes which was nice to see.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a fresh and lively beer with some Belgian yeast and slightly funky notes kicking things off, there was some light citrus and a hint of pear in the early going too. Towards the middle I got some apple as well as a subtle sweetness thanks to some bananas before bread malts, cloves and light spices seen things out.
Taste (8/10): Opening with a nice combination of yeast and fruit esters, there was a few herbal touches and spices to get things started with the taste before some banana sweetness started to feature nearer the middle The beer was slightly fresh at points with some peaches, apples and pears coming through from the nose alongside a selection of pale malts followed by some bread malts at the end.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and quite lively, this one came through with a lot of spices and a background sweetness thanks to the fruits featured throughout; most notably the banana flavours and to a lesser extent the peaches. It was quite a well balanced and easy-going offering that was moderately carbonated and sat with a medium body that was very enjoyable.

Overall (17/20): Quite an interesting beer that definitely seemed like a Belgian offering as I worked my way down the glass, it was quite a lively and fresh beer that had a fluffy, light feel to it throughout. There was a nice balance to this one with some banana sweetness working well with the background fruits and yeast as well as some touches of funk featuring a little later on. The beer was definitely a good one that I enjoyed and wouldn’t mind picking up again or, better still trying one of the breweries other offerings.

Brewed In: Spencer, Massachusetts, United States of America
Brewery: Spencer Brewery
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £4.20

Rathlin Red

January 24, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.8

The final beer of those that I picked up and tried while in Ireland over the Christmas holidays, this one is a County Antrim brewed beer from the Glens of Antrim brewery that I sampled on my last night in the country. Like a lot of the beers that I tried over the holidays, this one is another from a brewery that I’ve not come across before and is one that I picked up in a local bottle shop for that reason alone. The beer is an Irish red ale that I was surprised to learn uses Slovenian hops and will likely be one of my last new Irish beers until I return to the country later this year, mainly because I’ve tried most of the beers from the country that manage to make it to Scotland already

Appearance (3/5): A dark caramel amber that was hazy and topped with a half centimetre tall head that had a bubbly texture and white colour; it managed to hold well initially before a couple of patches slowly formed around a minute or so.
Aroma (6/10): Quite earthy with a lot of toasted malts and some background sweetness, the beer had some toffee showing initially with a touch less caramel following on behind. Around the middle I started to get some honey sweetness and a few biscuit malts with a roasted aroma seeing things out.
Taste (5/10): Sweeter than the nose with a lot more toffee showing and there was probably slightly more caramel coming through as well. These were followed by some biscuit malts, toasted flavours and a little bread with some nutty touches further on. Towards the end the sweetness continued with some honey and vanilla showing as well as some spice and basic malts.
Palate (3/5): Falling just shy of medium bodied, the beer was slightly lighter than I’d been hoping for but it was quite a smooth one with plenty of sweetness showing throughout. The balance wasn’t the best in truth and it wasn’t overly enjoyable either sadly but it was moderately carbonated and dry towards the end with a toasted bitterness seeing things out.

Overall (10/20): Quite a disappointing offering from Glens of Antrim and one that I’d been hoping for more from, it was a little poor with the sweetness a little more pronounced than expected too. There wasn’t a great deal of variety to the nose and although the beer did improve slightly with the taste, it’s not likely that it’s a beer that I’d go back to again.

Brewed In: Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Glens Of Antrim
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Irish Red Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.79

Carlingford Tholsel Blonde

January 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.8

The second of the two Carlingford beers that I picked up while over in Ireland at Christmas, this one is also the penultimate beer from my trip that I’ll be reviewing here; only a review of a Glens of Antrim beer is left after this one. This one was a beer that I opened shortly after finishing a bottle of the brewery’s Taaffe’s Red and although that one turned out to be quite a disappointing beer I was still hopeful this one would prove more enjoyable; here’s what I thought of it in the end.

Appearance (3/5): A light, almost watered down looking amber that had a slightly hazy body and a half centimetre, bubbly white head on top that turned quite patchy after about thirty seconds.
Aroma (5/10): Basic lager type malts and some biscuit notes kick things off here, there was some earthy hops and touches of hay with a light citrus backing but there wasn’t a whole lot going on really. Towards the end some grassy hops and touches of lemon featured with a little pepper and spice to see things out.
Taste (6/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, the beer opened with some biscuit malts and a few earthy hops with some faint grassy hops in there as well. Nearer the middle some citrus and touches of hay started to appear as well as some bread malts and straw. It was quite a basic tasting beer with a few light fruits and background malts but it wasn’t anything special really.
Palate (3/5): Quite sharp and crisp with a light-medium body and some fresh touches; it was a well carbonated offering that came through fresh initially but started to fade towards the middle before finishing poorly.

Overall (10/20): Quite a bitter and harsh beer that was earthy throughout and very basic at times too. The beer had a light-medium body with some biscuit malts and touches of bread as well as some lighter fruits and hops sitting in the background but it was quite a poor offering that I’ll be avoiding in future.

Brewed In: Riverstown, County Louth, Ireland
Brewery: Carlingford Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Belgian Ale
Abv: 4.6%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

Carlingford Taaffe’s Red

January 23, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.15

The first of two beers from the County Louth based Carlingford brewery now, this one will actually be my first craft beer from the county since the others I’ve tried from there are all brewed by Dundalk which covers the Smithwick’s range as well as Harp Lager. I’m hoping this one will be a step up from those mass-market offerings and that’s part of the reason I picked this one up alongside a bottle of the brewery’s Tholsel Blonde, a review of which will follow this one. Labelled as an Irish red ale, this one will also be the first of the style that I’ll have reviewed in a while and was one of the beers that I tried on my last night in Ireland before returning home for the New Year.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark caramel brown to chestnut with a half centimetre head that was an off-white to light-tan colour with a bubbly texture; it did take quite an aggressive pour to form though but managed to hold well with only a slight break-up towards one side.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with biscuit malts and some light caramel notes, the beer had some toffee coming through and seemed nutty overall. It was quite mellow around the middle with some toasted malts and a few background, almost summer type fruits rounded things off nicely.
Taste (6/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, the taste kicked off with some biscuit malts and nutty flavours with some subtle caramel backing it up and adding a nice sweetness. Towards the middle some toasted malts and a few fruits started to come through on top of quite an earthy but basic body before some grassy hops and a few touches of bread seen things out.
Palate (3/5): Light medium bodied and not quite as full as expected, the beer was quite crisp though with a sharp feel that was clean and towards the end turned quite dry. There was an earthy, nutty feel throughout this one and it wasn’t overly bitter at least but it definitely seemed quite basic throughout.

Overall (11/20): This one started quite strong with a nutty taste that was quite earthy throughout too, there was one subtle bitterness at points as well which was nice to see. Further on there was a few caramel touches and some nice background fruits to keep things interesting but the balance wasn’t a particularly good one and it was also a little lighter than I’d have liked so it’s probably one that I’d avoid in future sadly.

Brewed In: Riverstown, County Louth, Ireland
Brewery: Carlingford Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Irish Red Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49