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Common Grounds

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

A late 2015 winter seasonal release from Magic Rock now and a beer that I managed to pick up from Brewdog’s Glasgow bottle shop a couple of months ago but am just getting round to reviewing now. The beer is actually one that I managed to try on-tap between picking it up and now, sampling it at a Glasgow bar in late March and quite enjoying it so I thought it about time I finally gave it a proper review. The beer will be my fifth from the brewery and my first since trying their High Wire Grapefruit offering back in February of last year and not enjoying it quite as much as I’d hoped. Common Grounds will also be the first dark beer from the brewery that’ll have reviewed here, the other four from them have been American pale ales or, in the case of their Cannonball, an IPA.

Appearance (3/5): Dark bodied, almost black in colour and with a thin, tan brown head that’s bubbly and fades to a patchy lacing that sits in the centre of the glass after about thirty or forty seconds. The body is opaque and the beer looks relatively still in the glass too; not a bad start but I’d have liked the head to stick around a little longer.
Aroma (7/10): Very strong coffee notes on the nose to kick things off, this one was slightly stronger than expected too with a nice amount of roasted malts and some earthy bitterness in there too. Some touches of chocolate made themselves known as things got nearer the middle but the coffee was definitely the dominate smell, some faint cocoa and vanilla did however add a hint of sweetness as things got closer to the finish. The beer was relatively well balanced on the nose with a nice variety to it and some milky lactose and further earthy notes seeing things out.
Taste (7/10): Again quite a dark beer and one that follows on well from the nose but the coffee is certainly dialled down every so slightly at this stage without giving too much up to the other flavours. There was some strong roasted malts and a little vanilla off the back of them, the coffee definitely still dominating but there is more room for the the lactose and chocolate flavours to come through this time around as well. I managed to detect touches of spice and even a little caramel towards the end but everything worked well and went down easily.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite thick on the palate, the beer is moderately carbonated with a crisp feel that is also quite smooth. There is a nice balance to flavours and plenty of variety to them as well which makes the beer go down very easily. It’s quite a strong tasting beer and is for the most part dominated by the coffee flavours but they don’t overpower and it’s pleasant drinking throughout.

Overall (16/20): This one was quite an enjoyable beer from the outset, there was a huge amount of coffee coming through and plenty of chocolate and cocoa backed it up, there was even some lactose in there to balance it out slightly. The beer had touches of sweetness nearer the middle with the caramel and some sugars grabbing your attention alongside hints of spice and the faintest of vanilla too. I really like this one, the coffee dominated but didn’t overpower and it was quite easy to drink despite the fact it got off to a poor start appearance-wise with the head fading far too quickly for my liking; nice stuff though and one I’d have again.

Brewed In: Huddersfield, England
Brewery: Magic Rock Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American Porter
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £3.09

Victory Headwaters Ale

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.05

A beer I picked up from an Asda supermarket just over a month ago after seeing it on a previous visit to one of their stores, this one will be my sixth from Victory but is surprisingly only my first since October 2014 when I tried their Golden Monkey tripel offering and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve had quite a few great beer from this brewery so I was excited when I first say this was available in the UK, it was probably the sole reason for me picking the beer up but it turned out to be quite a disappointing beer in the end; the best before on this one wasn’t until early 2018 but that was something that I had to double check after trying the beer and finding it a particularly weak and bland offering. I’ve noticed a few other new Victory beers seem to be available in the UK now but after this one I’m not too sure I’ll be rushing out to grab anymore for a while sadly.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber but pouring with a surprisingly clear and light body that is topped with a large, three or four centimetre tall head. The head texture is quite bubbly and it sits a white colour in the glass and looks relatively thick, just about halving in size over the opening couple minutes and leaving light lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a hop-filled nose in the early going with some grassy notes and the odd tropical fruit but the aroma seems to fade far to quickly and after a couple seconds the beer seems more like a pale lager with some pine and citrus coming through which was somewhat disappointing. There was touches of bread malt in there and the odd touch of bitterness too that’s got a few earthy hops in there too; it’s pleasant enough on the nose but could definitely have been stronger and a little more varied in truth.
Taste (5/10): Quite a lot like the taste sadly, this one starts well with some solid pine and citrus nose before some tropical fruits come through but they all disappear in an instant to leave a basic grassy hop taste that wasn’t unlike more pale lagers out there, albeit a fresh one. Towards the middle there was a slight tang while the bread flavours and earthy bitterness from the nose made an appearance but there wasn’t a whole lot to the beer and it seemed quite weak. The odd floral flavour and hints biscuit make a fleeting appearance but there definitely wasn’t enough variety to this one; very disappointing.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and quite light, perhaps even bordering on thin with an initial burst of flavour that soon passed to leave quite a basic and weak beer with very little going for it. I’d been expecting a lot more from this one but the beer seemed quite bland although it was fairly well carbonated. I managed to detect a light bitterness nearer the end and some earthy touches too but it was a massive let down for me and not at all what I expect from Victory.

Overall (11/20): Disappointing stuff here from Victory, the beer opened well with nice tropical fruits and a lot of pine with some citrus in there as well but in both the nose and the taste these all passed quickly and left little more than a bland, basic beer that was more lager than pale ale. There was the odd touch of earthy bitterness, a faint hint of floral and some biscuit malts but none of these was overly pronounced and the beer just seemed boring and weak throughout; I’d expected much better.

Brewed In: Downingtown, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £1.82

Disco Forklift Truck

Rating: 3.8

An eleventh review of a Drygate beer now and surprisingly this will be my first new one from the brewery since I tried their collaborative Raspberry Saison offering that they done with North Brewing around this time last year; hard to believe considering how local this brewery really is but it’s usually the same couple beers from them that I see when I’m out and about. This is actually a beer that I’ve tried a couple of times since it was released around April last year but I’ve not properly reviewed it, previously trying it one various nights out or straight from the can. The beer is a mango flavoured tropical pale ale that was released as part of the breweries ‘studio’ range of beer but now seems to be one of their more readily available offering, I picked this can up in a Tesco supermarket earlier this month so hopefully they’ll start stocking a few more from the brewery in the near future.

Appearance (4/5): Light amber in colour with an almost apricot coloured tinge to the beer which also had a very cloudy body. There was a thin, centimetre tall head on the beer that was bubbly and held well over the opening minute with no reduction in size whilst managing to still cover the surface well.
Aroma (7/10): Quite fruity initially with some tropical apricot and citrus notes kicking things off with some pine hops in there too which give it an IPA-like nose in the early going. There was some resinous pine leading to the middle of the beer and I got some of the promised mango and orange too before some of the malts came in and the beer started to seem more like a pale ale at this point too. It’s a fresh and lively smelling beer with touches of tropical fruit and a subtle bitterness seeing things out nicely.
Taste (7/10): Quite fresh and fruity with a combination of resinous pine and mango kicking things off, both coming through slightly stronger than they did with the nose but without totally dominating. There was a nice variation of tropical fruits towards the middle of the beer with some apricot and citrus featuring before some fainter malts appear nearer the end of proceedings.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium to medium bodied and very fresh on the tongue, this one was quite well balanced and quite hop-filled as well, with a definite oily feel to it. There was a subtle tang from the citrus and the beer was quite easy to drink with a nice variety to the flavours coming through but it seemed more IPA than pale ale at times, that’s not necessarily a bad thing though I guess.

Overall (16/20): Fresh and lively the plenty of tropical fruits and an oily hop bitterness, this one was as promised with the mango mentioned on the can coming through quite early with the taste but thankfully not overpowering or dominating proceedings, whilst the beer remained an easy one to drink throughout. Towards the end some of the expected sweet malts and subtle touches of bitterness started to come through as well and the hops started to subside but this one definitely a beer that I enjoyed and one that I’ll be having again soon.

Brewed In: Drygate, Glasgow, Scotland
Brewery: Drygate Brewery
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.1%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Glasgow)
Price: £1.85

Taiwan Long Chuan Beer Peach

Rating: 2.05

Following very quickly on from the lemon version of this beer from the same brewery, I’ll now be sampling the Taiwan Long Chuan Beer Peach flavours which will be my second from the Taiwan Tsing Beer Co. and my third in total from Taiwan, the other being the can of Taiwan Beer Gold Medal that I tried and hated a number of years ago. Thankfully the lemon version of this beer wasn’t quite as bad as the first Taiwan beer I tried and although it wasn’t exactly one to write home about, the beer was drinkable and I’m hopeful that this one will be too. It’s not often I get to pick up a peach flavoured beer and I’m also hoping it is more fruit beer than radler this time but given the fact that it is another 2.5% abv. beer, I’m not exactly holding my breath for it.

Appearance (2/5): Even lighter than the lemon version, this one is incredibly light straw coloured that isn’t too far away from water in appearance. There is again a lot of fine bubbles rising to the surface but this time the head is much better, it’s a white and foamy one that sits about a centimetre tall in the glass and holds a lot better than expected too, lasting the opening minute or so before slowly reducing in size.
Aroma (5/10): Plenty of peach in the early going, the nose was again quite artificial but not overly so at least. There was some sugars adding to the sweetness initially with some apricot and floral notes in there too which meant this was a little bit more to it than the lemon version. It’s overly sweet at times and there isn’t much in the way of the traditional beer notes to this one really with the nose rounded off with what was a very sweet, syrupy type aroma to see things out.
Taste (4/10): Sweet with an opening combination of peaches and apricot, there was some oranges and a syrupy type, artificial sweetness to the beer in the early going. It has no bitterness or any of the usual beer flavours coming through, I got a tonne of sugar and a couple of summer fruits and white grapes nearer the middle but that was about it really; again it’s not much like a beer at all.
Palate (2/5): Light bodied but very sweet and with a slightly syrupy feel, the beer was quite smooth for the most part though but could have been a little stronger at times. There was some summer fruits at times but it was fairly one-dimensional for the most part and not very beer like either.

Overall (7/20): This one was another fairly poor offering from the brewery overall although if pushed I would say it was a very slightly worse that the lemon version at times but it was also overly sweet throughout. There was some peach and apricot with a white grape flavour in there too but there wasn’t a whole lot beyond that and it didn’t seem quite as version as expected either which was disappointing.

Brewed In:  Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Brewery: Taiwan Tsing Beer Co.
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Fruit Beer
Abv: 2.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Chung Ying Supermarket (Glasgow)
Price: £1.28

Taiwan Long Chuan Beer Lemon

Rating: 2.15

This one is only my second ever beer from Taiwan and follows on from the can of Taiwan Beer Gold Medal that I tried back in the summer of 2013 in travelling around southeast Asia and picking up a can of the stuff in Singapore on night. That last beer from the country is one that can only be described as terrible and it’s not an experience I want to repeat so hopefully this fruit beer offering that I picked up from a Chinese supermarket in Glasgow a few weeks ago will turn out to be better. I grabbed this lemon flavoured version (despite the fact a lime is shown on the can) alongside their peach flavour since it was an unusual beer and one I hadn’t spotted anywhere before, hopefully it’s not a decision I’ll come to regret. The beer itself comes in at 2.5% abv. so it should be a relatively easy one to drink for what was a 2012 release from the Taiwan Tsing Beer Co. and will be my first from them so far; let’s find out.

Appearance (2/5): A very clear beer, this one is a light golden straw colour that isn’t unlike a pale lager but it’s definitely got a lot more visible carbonation with a lot of active bubbles rising to the surface in the early going. The head is a thin, foamy one that is white in colour but fades to nothing pretty quickly, there is a tiny bit of lace left sitting in the middle of the glass but that is about it really.
Aroma (4/10): It’s not the strongest beer on the nose, there was a combination of lime and lemon coming through but both definitely had an artificial aroma to them with some sugars and sticky sweetness in there too. It’s very much like a lot of radlers I’ve tried when travelling around Europe in the past, there’s not much to it other than some lemonade type notes and a faint touch of corn nearer the end; pretty disappointing stuff really.
Taste (4/10): Starting in a similar vein to the nose, there was some lemon flavours kicking things off and they were at least a touch stronger than with the nose. Towards the middle some lime and various sugars feature with a corn adjunct taste that was a little off. The beer tasted more like an alcopop than anything else with some sticky touches around the middle and basic adjuncts seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): Quite light and artificial on the palate, the beer was definitely well carbonated though and proved quite refreshing on a warm day but it was a touch thin at times. It was generally quite a sticky and very sweet offering with an okay balance that was definitely helped by the fact that the flavours and the nose were both so light.

Overall (7/20): Quite a basic beer overall and one that was more radler than fruit beer despite what the label said, there was also quite a lot of lime showing which seemed to match the picture on the can but not the name of the beer. It was an easy and refreshing one to drink but it was a little light on taste whilst still being miles better than the last beer from Taiwan that I tried. It’s not a classic by any means, it’s not even a good beer really and it’s almost a stretch to call it a beer but it was at least marginally better than expected and hopefully the peach flavour that I’m trying next is slightly better.

Brewed In:  Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Brewery: Taiwan Tsing Beer Co.
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Fruit Beer
Abv: 2.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Chung Ying Supermarket (Glasgow)
Price: £1.28

Little Bastard Ale

Rating: 3.35

Continuing the theme of my recent reviews here, this one is yet another German beer that I managed to try but this time the beer is one I had at home after ordering it from the Brewdog online shop earlier this month. The beer in question is Little Bastard Ale from Stone’s Berlin brewery and will also be my first from them, despite the fact that I’ve spotted a number of their beers available over the past few months. This particular offering was a later summer 2016 release from the brewery and is a toned down version of their Arrogant Bastard Ale that I’ve reviewed here in the past and thoroughly enjoyed so I was hoping this would be more of the same; here’s how that turned out.

Appearance (4/5): Copper amber and quite a still looking beer, the drink is topped with a half centimetre head that is a light tan colour and has a bubbly texture to it. The head retention isn’t too bad really but it slowly fades to a thin lacing that turns slightly patchy after a minute or so with minimal lacing on the sides.
Aroma (7/10): Slightly more sweet than I’d expected going in, this one opened with some biscuit notes and a solid caramel aroma that was backed up with some toffee and the odd bread malt. It was definitely more of a malty beer with hints of butterscotch adding to the sweetness with a few subtle fruits coming through as well. Towards the end I could detect some figs and cherries with only subtle grassy notes coming through at the end.
Taste (6/10): Again quite a sweet offering but the beer was definitely toned down a little from the nose with the biscuit and in particular the caramel taking more of a back seat this time around. There was some bread malts coming through with more grassy flavours this time around but it still wasn’t a hop-filled beer by any means. Some toasted flavours and more of the sweet malts started to come through around the middle with a couple of subtle fruits as well but it could have been a little stronger in truth.
Palate (3/5): Quite a sweet offering, particularly at the start with a lot of malts coming through as well but the balance didn’t seem too bad overall. The beer was relatively smooth and clean, coming through as a lightly carbonated offering that started well but seemed to fade a little too quickly for my liking.

Overall (13/20): My first beer from Stone’s Berlin outpost and a fairly average one on the whole; it got off to quite a good start with plenty of sweet malts and caramel flavours coming through on the nose but by the time it got to the taste these had faded a little more than I’d have liked and the beer suffered as a direct result. It was a clean and easy to drink beer, the dark fruits with the nose were quite enjoyable too but not enough of the good notes seemed to carry over to the taste and by the end of this one it had begun to turn into a struggle meaning it’s not likely I’ll pick this one up again.

Brewed In: Berlin, Germany
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company (Berlin)
First Brewed: 2016
Full Name: Stone (Berlin) Little Bastard Ale
Type: Amber/Red Ale
Abv: 4.7%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £1.61

Verdant Bloom IPA

Rating: 4.25

The first review of a beer from my latest online order now, this one is a beer that I picked up from the Brewdog online shop last month while they were doing a 30% off offer over the course of their AGM weekend. The beer is an American style IPA from the Verdant brewery that is based in Cornwall, England despite the fact that the name and the design on the can had me thinking that it was actually an American brewed offering. Released in early summer 2016, the beer wasn’t one I had seen prior to picking a can up and I hadn’t heard of the brewery either but this particular offering from them gets pretty good reviews online which was the main reason I picked a can up.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a deep and cloudy looking beer that was an amber colour that looked quite thick in the glass. There was an excellent three or four centimetre tall head on top that was quite foamy to creamy looking with great retention too, there wasn’t much movement over the opening couple of minutes at all and some lacing stuck to the sides of the glass; a great start.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a strong and juicy nose in the early going, there was a nice combination of pine and orange notes coming through with some further citrus not too far behind. Towards the centre some grapefruit and the odd tropical aroma started to show alongside a solid hop bitterness and touches of summer fruits. All of this was followed by further sweetness thanks to some biscuit malts and subtle berries seeing things out.
Taste (8/10): A very fresh tasting beer, this one opens with some excellent citrus flavours and a good helping of the pine that came through in the nose. There was some grapefruit from the nose too and it seemed marginally stronger this time around, I got hints of mango, papaya and some faint pineapple in there as well. The summer fruits and berries from the nose were again present in the taste, some sweetness from bread malts and biscuit coming through nicely alongside them before subtle citrus flavours seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Fresh with a medium body and quite a lively, well carbonated feel to the beer that was quite easy to drink but came through with a good hop bitterness and slight citrus tang. The balance was a good one with some sweetness nearer the end to keep things interesting but the hops dominated; great stuff all round.

Overall (17/20): This one was an excellent beer from Verdant and very enjoyable from the start thanks to the abundance of hops and tropical fruits that featured and gave the beer a very West Coast feel with some nice citrus flavours in there too. The balance of the beer appeared to be a good one and it came through quite fresh and lively too which made it very easy to drink and the addition of some sweeter type malts and biscuit flavours nearer the end were a nice touch too; definitely a beer that I’d have again.

Brewed In: Falmouth, Cornwall, England
Brewery: Verdant Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £2.45