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West Side Beavo

October 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.25

A recent collaboration between California-based Firestone Walker and London’s Beavertown, this one is a beer that was brewed over in California but has now made its way to the UK as well. The beer is one that I picked up in July this year and tried at the start of September but it’s one that I’m just getting around to reviewing here now. Given the two breweries responsible for this one are ones that I’m a fan of, I went into this beer expecting something special and sadly it failed to really deliver; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it last month.

Appearance (4/5): Bright and golden-yellow in colour, the beer is very clear and has a few larger bubbles rising to the surface as well. The head is a bubbly white one that starts about two centimetres tall before fading to a thin, half centimetre one that leaves touches of lacing on the sides of the glass as well as covering the surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Clean on the nose with some lager malts and a few touches of corn, there is some bread and the odd background hop as well as some citrus but it’s a fairly mellow aroma and one that could definitely have been stronger.
Taste (6/10): Corn and light biscuit make up most of the taste with some lager malts and citrus not too far behind. The beer was a fresh one with some lemon and grassy hops around the middle but it was quite weak at point too. Towards the end some floral flavours and a lighter bitterness feature as well but it’s not an overly complex offering by any means.
Palate (3/5): Light and crisp with a fresh and mellow feel to it, the beer was fragrant and had a light tang from the citrus too. It was an easy-going beer with a faint bitterness and the odd bit of spice but there wasn’t a whole lot going on in truth.

Overall (13/20): Quite a light and clean beer with touches of citrus and some floral hops as well but it was definitely basic and not as full-bodied as I’d have liked either. The beer seemed thin at point but it was at least easy to drink without it impressing at any point sadly.

Brewed In: Paso Robles, California, United States of America
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. / Beavertown (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Type: India Pale Lager
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.70

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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

Anchor Go West! IPA

April 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.0

Lucky number thirteen from Anchor now, this one will be my first new offering from the California based brewery since I picked up a bottle of their California Lager back in December of 2014 and I can’t believe it’s been so long, especially considering this is usually one of my go-to American breweries; I guess not that many of their beers that I’ve not already tried are making it to the UK in any great numbers. Despite being my first new beer from the brewery in well over a year, this one pushes Anchor into my top ten most tried brewery’s now and is one that I’m quite looking forward to trying. I actually spotted the beer for the first time in an Asda supermarket a few weeks ago now but opted instead to pick up a can Lagunitas’ 12th of Never Ale over this one; hopefully this one turns out to be a better beer though.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber coloured and slightly brighter than expected, this one pours with a fairly cloudy body and is topped with an impressive, centimetre and a half tall head that is bubbly and very slightly off-white in colour but manages to hold relatively well for the style over the opening minute or so.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh on the nose initially but far from as hoppy or bitter as I’d expected going in, the beer was more of a hybrid-lager type nose with some grassy hops and citrus in the early going. There was the odd floral touch with some basic malts making an appearance too. After a minute or so the nose starts to fade a little and begins to become difficult to detect, I got some light bitterness and a hint of sweetness from the malts but beyond that there wasn’t too much coming through sadly.
Taste (6/10): Ever so slightly more bitter than the nose, there was some earthy flavours coming through in the early going of the taste and a few basic malts again backed them up. I got a combination of hay and grassy flavours with a light citrus feel nearer the middle but the beer definitely struck me as quite a basic tasting one. Towards the end some faint yeast and floral touches came through but like the nose it was quite a disappointing one.
Palate (2/5): Sitting somewhere around light-medium bodied, the beer wasn’t as fresh or lively as I’d anticipated but there was a strong tang to proceedings despite the fact the citrus flavours and yeast weren’t particularly strong. There was an odd, almost off-taste to the beer at times with the bitterness not coming through too nicely and the balance could have been improved as well. I got hints of sweetness in the early going, mainly with the nose in truth but I felt the beer was a poor one and more difficult to drink than it should have been.

Overall (12/20): Quite a poor offering from Anchor in truth, I’d been expecting a lot more from a brewery those beers I’ve quite enjoyed over the last couple of years but this one is easily one of the worst from the California based brewery that I’ve tried. Things didn’t start particularly well with the nose being far too weak, particularly after it was given time to settle a little, and the taste was disappointing too; the balance was terrible too. It’s probably not quite as bad as the bottle of the brewery’s Summer Beer that I tried back in September of 2014 but it’s not much better either and it’s not one I’d have again.

Brewed In: San Francisco, California, United States of America
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Abv: 3.7%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £2.02

12th Of Never Ale

March 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

My seventh Lagunitas beer now and one that I hadn’t spotted in the UK before when I stumbled across a can in a local supermarket over the weekend, the beer in question being a 2016 release from the brewery and one that I quickly picked up based on the quality of some of the Lagunitas beers that I’ve reviewed here in the past. This one is an American pale ale from the California brewery and it will be the first beer of theirs introduced since their takeover by Heineken that I will have tried, I’m hoping it will still be a good one though.

Appearance (4/5): The beer pours a lot lighter than I had been expecting, it settles as a light yellow to amber colour with a fairly clear body, only a slightly touch of haze comes through. The head was a half centimetre one that was quite bubbly looking and white in colour with the surface well covered initially. Eventually it starts to break up a little and turn slightly patchy in the middle but it’s not a bad effort really.
Aroma (7/10): The beer opens with a lot of floral hops that give it a fresh nose, there was some citrus bursts in the early going as well. Some tropical notes started to make themselves known nearer the middle of the beer with a combination of mango and pineapple being the most notable but some resinous pine featured as well. Towards the end the beer seemed quite oily with some malts starting to appear and add to the sweetness.
Taste (6/10): The taste was kicked off with a good combination of citrus and pine flavours but the floral hops weren’t too far behind. There was a freshness to the beer that carried on from the nose and a few lighter malts showed themselves nearer the middle. To be honest, the beer wasn’t really anything special and turned out to be far from the best that I’ve tried from the brewery but some lemon and zesty flavours alongside a few biscuit malts rounded things off.
Palate (3/5): Quite a light offering really, this one maybe just manages to sneak in as a light-medium bodied beer that carried a subtle citrus tang with it. The beer was fairly dry with a moderate bitterness and some pleasant enough floral touches from the hops. It was fresh to a point but the balance could have been a little better and there was a slight bitterness showing at the end too.

Overall (14/20): A fairly average offering from Lagunitas and as I’ve already said, this one was far from the best that the brewery has to offer; perhaps the Heineken takeover is starting to have a negative effect on the quality of beer after all. The beer did manage to start well thanks to some citrus and pine flavours in the early going but it was perhaps a touch thinner than I’d have liked, the appearance being somewhat lighter than expected too. It wasn’t a bland or boring beer thankfully, the tropical flavours doing their part to prevent this but I’d have liked to see more malts showing other than the faint biscuit flavours right at the end; it’s an okay beer but definitely not as good as I’d expected.

Brewed In: Petaluma, California, United States of America
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £2.02

Speedway Stout (338 of 1001)

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.55

Another very special beer now, a bottle of AleSmith’s classic Speedway Stout and a beer that I’ve been on the lookout for since spotting it on Brewdog’s online shop a couple of years ago only to discover it was completely sold out. This has happened a few times now so when I spotted it was available in mid-October of last year I decided to quickly order some before they were gone. The beer will be my fourth in total from AleSmith, the second of which that also features on the 1001 beers list and amazingly it will also be my second Speedway Stout offering; I managed to find myself in a Brewdog bar in Glasgow in February and the Vietnamese Coffee version of Speedway Stout was on-tap that day so naturally I ordered myself a glass and it only made me want to try the original version all the more. This one will be my first bottled AleSmith beer since trying and thoroughly enjoying their excellent Horny Devil around Christmas 2014 (although I took a while uploading the review here as I recall). I’ve also been lucky enough to try a bottle of their AleSmith IPA in the past (also featured on the 1001 beers list) and that was another that I loved so I’m sure Speedway Stout will continue the trend and be another excellent AleSmith beer; here’s hoping anyway. The beer is probably the one of those I have cellaring that I’ve been most looking forward to trying and I was actually in two minds about opening it up, with part of me considering keeping it for another year or two before trying but temptation got the better of me. In addition to aging well, the beer is another highly rated one online with it currently ranked as the 8th best imperial stout and the 11th best beer overall on RateBeer whilst BeerAdvocate has it as the 97th best American double stout as well as naming it as their 225th best beer overall.

alesmith-speedway-stout

Appearance (5/5): Jet black with an opaque body and quite a creamy looking head that was part foamy, sitting a medium brown colour. Retention was a lot better than might have been expected for a 12% abv. beer with it starting about a centimetre tall before halving in size over the opening minute then eventually turning slightly patchy without breaking up completely; a very impressive looking beer overall.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong beer on the nose as expected, this one opened with some solid coffee notes and plenty of darker malts coming through alongside some roasted one and a few hints of roasted bitterness too. It’s not quite an overpowering aroma but it doesn’t let up either, there is some strong chocolate smells around the middle with brown sugars in there to add a little sweetness as well. Further on I got some background vanilla notes with touches of cocoa and the odd darker, almost ripe fruit showing itself too; most notably some raisins and dates. Right at the death some of the alcohol starts to show as well but it’s hidden better than I’d been expected.
Taste (9/10): Matching the nose well, this one opens with plenty of coffee alongside a solid malts bitterness and roasted flavours.  There was the cocoa from the nose with some earthy malts backing it up before some of the vanilla started to show itself nearer the middle and worked well alongside the sugars to add some sweetness to proceedings. Touches of butterscotch also made an appearance with the taste, coupled with some oak and light, smoky flavours before a bit of the alcohol started to show nearer the end but it definitely didn’t dominate. The taste was rounded off by some darker fruits, the raisins and dates again present alongside some figs and plum this time too; excellent stuff.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied, this one had quite a rich, thick feel to it and it was slightly sweeter than anticipated without it becoming sickly. There was a lot of darker malts that added to the roasted bitterness of the beer and there was a lot of depth and complexity to this one too. The mouthfeel was quite a crisp, semi-dry one that had fine carbonation and went down very well, the alcohol content being well masked until right at the end.

Overall (19/20): Great stuff from AleSmith again here and a beer that was every bit as good as I’d hope for going in; it was definitely worth the wait in cracking this bottle open. The beer was kicked off by a lot of darker, roasted malts and coffee flavours but it was also a touch sweeter than expected thanks to the sugars and chocolate, but also the darker fruits and vanilla that featured too. The beer was quite rich and complex with good carbonation and only a little of the 12% abv. showing nearer the end of the nose and taste, something that helped the beer down very easily. The beer was very much a moreish offering with some dry touches nearer the end and some subtle darker fruits coming through to keep things interesting at times.; I really enjoyed drinking this one and it seemed to go down slightly better than the Vietnamese Coffee edition that I tried on-tap last year; an excellent beer that you definitely need to try, it’s one that I’ll be on the hunt for again now.

Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.0%
Serving: Bottle (750ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £15.25

Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

A bit of an odd one now for what will be my first beer from Arrogant Brewing but one that follows on from the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale I had in March 2013 as well as the Arrogant Bastard Ale I reviewed the next month. The reason this is my third Arrogant Bastard beer but only my first from the brewery is because the beers were originally brewed under by Stone in California but since 2015 this line of beers has been brewed independently from Stone. Although still based in California, Arrogant Brewing is somewhat of a gypsy brewery and the beers are now brewed in collaboration with other breweries around the world, including Brewdog in Scotland which is the reason I was able to grab a bottle of this one recently. The beer is one of about three year-round Arrogant beers and is actually one that I tried earlier this year in a Brewdog bar but wasn’t to sure about which is one of the reason I decided to order a bottle online when last placing an order.

bourbon-barrel-aged-arrogant-bastard

Appearance (4/5): This one pours a dark caramel to mahogany brown colour and it’s slightly hazy into the bargain, although it did look a touch lighter towards the bottom of the glass. The head was a nice one though, sitting just under a half a centimetre tall and foamy with a few bubbles sitting on the surface too. It was a light tan colour with a bit of break-up towards one side of the surface but on the whole it was a nice looking beer with decent head retention given the abv. of the drink.
Aroma (8/10): This one opens with quite a strong, sticky-sweet nose that features a lot of toffee and caramel aromas alongside some darker fruits; mostly figs, dates and plums featuring at this early stage. There was a touch of alcohol coming through that hinted at the bourbon from the barrels this one was aged in and this was followed by a sweet vanilla or butterscotch smell that had some oak notes backing it up. The beer seemed complex on the nose and there was quite a lot going on but thankfully the balance was a good one and there was a faint pine and citrus finish that hinted at a subtle bitterness too.
Taste (6/10): Kicking off from where the nose finished, this one starts quite sweet with a combination of toffee and caramel malts opening things up before being followed by a bourbon taste that was quite a bit stronger than the nose had hinted at but didn’t quite overpower. There was some dark fruits again with the figs and plums from the nose featuring here as well but also some raisins as well. Towards the end of the beer some further sweetness was imparted thanks to the usual sugars but also some of the vanilla from the nose before some pine, oak and citrus touches rounded things off completely.
Palate (4/5): A somewhat thick offering, this one sat somewhere around medium bodied and was definitely quite a strong beer from the start. There was a nice amount of sweetness throughout this one, initially thanks to the caramel and toffee flavours but also from the darker fruits and sugars that followed. There was a good balance to the beer as well, despite the relatively strong abv. and the bourbon flavours it was never a hard one to drink; it went down quite easily in fact and was enjoyable into the bargain.

Overall (14/20): Quite a nice one from Arrogant Brewing here, the beer was definitely stronger than I’d expected going in, despite the fact I knew it was an 8.1% beer when I cracked it open. There was a lot of bourbon and alcohol flavours around the middle of the beer and plenty of darker fruits helped enhance these flavours. I enjoyed the early caramel touches though and the vanilla sweetness that came from the oak was pleasant too. I’m still not convinced it’s a beer I’ll have again but it was a nice one to sip away at and I’m glad I got to try it.

Brewed In: Escondido, California, United States of America
Brewery: Arrogant Brewing
First Brewed: 2009 (Brewery since 2015)
Type: American Strong Ale
Abv: 8.1%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £5.00

Stone Enjoy After Brett IPA

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

Beer number twenty from Stone Brewing now and one that I’ve been looking forward to cracking open for quite some time now, having purchased the beer around the start of the year but having been forced to wait until after the recommended opening date before doing so; since that was a couple of months ago now, it’s finally time to give this one a go. The beer in question is Stone’s Enjoy After Brett IPA (this bottle being the fourth edition of the beer), its unusual follow-up to their Enjoy By IPA that I tried last summer after picking up a bottle in London. Coincidentally this beer and the Enjoy By that I sampled both had the same date on the bottle, only the year being the difference between the two. Definitely an interesting beer here, this one flips convention on its head and recommends not drinking an American style IPA when it’s as fresh as possible but rather cellaring it for upwards of six months and then cracking it open. The beer uses a strain of wild yeast known as Brett, hence the name of the beer, that is added during bottling and slowly acts to change some of the beers properties which is why the recommended date is added to the bottle. Again this is another Stone release that I’m particularly excited about trying and I’m eager to see if it comes out anywhere close to as good as their Enjoy By offering; I guess I’m about to find out.

stone-enjoy-after-brett-ipa-07-04-16

Appearance (4/5): Quite a light golden colour with an absolutely massive head, this one pours with a huge amount of visible carbonation and looks very active with a hazy body and plenty of fine bubbles rising to the surface. Initially pouring with an average size, centimetre or two tall head before getting overly excited and expanding rapidly to end up about three inches tall and overflowing the side of the glass. The head formed a dome shape at the top and looked quite foamy with a white colour and some bubbles up the side of the glass; retention was good too with no movement over the opening couple of minutes but it was a ridiculously large head anyway. After about four or five minutes the head started to reduce somewhat and there was a lot of lacing left down the sides of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a strong yeast nose to open things up, the beer had a definite farmhouse feel to it in the early going with some earthy hops and a touch of citrus coming through. This was followed by a combination of spices and the odd floral note that hinted at a wild ale type nose. There was some faint sweetness in there before some of the more bitter hops and background fruits started to come through. The beer seemed like a fairly dry one on the nose with some pepper and funky notes seeing things out well.
Taste (7/10): Following on well from the nose, the beer is quite a zesty and fresh one that comes through with a lot of wild yeast and funky flavours; in particular some earthy hops and citrus flavours seem most pronounced. The beer isn’t an overly hoppy one but some solid bitterness features alongside the bread malts and background fruits; orange, pineapple and some lemon all featuring.
Palate (3/5): Fresh and lively with good, strong carbonation but not quite as much as I’d expected after seeing how active the beer was upon opening the bottle; although that was definitely a positive in this case. There was a lot of zesty and funky flavours with plenty of citrus and spice that gave the beer quite a dry, sharp feel. There was some nice tangy touches at times but the beer was fairly easy to drink, all things considered, but it did seem a lot more like a saison than the American IPA that I expected.

Overall (13/20): This one was definitely an unusual offering from Stone and not exactly what I was expecting from a beer labelled as an American IPA; there was some hop bitterness coming through but for the most part the wild yeast and funky flavours seemed to dominate. There was some background fruits and spice coming through, in particular some citrus flavours and the odd touch of pineapple with quite a dry finish but it was an interesting beer nonetheless. While it’s not one I’m likely to go back to again, mainly due to the price it must be said, it was an enjoyable beer but their Enjoy By IPA still a much better offering than this one.

Brewed In: Escondido, California, United States of America
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2014
Full Name: Stone Enjoy After 07-04-2016 Brett IPA
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (750ml)
Purchased: BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £15.00