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Posts Tagged ‘dark beer’

Black Eyed King Imp (Vietnamese Coffee Edition)

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.15

At the time I purchased this one last August it was the strongest canned beer in the world (apparently) but it’s taken me over a year to finally open it. Brewed as a one-off from Brewdog in 2015, this was a beer that I almost didn’t bother picking up given the price but eventually changed my mind last year when placing another online order with the brewery. This one is the Vietnamese coffee edition of the beer and one that I finally cracked open early last month so I was interested to see how the beer had held up in the year since I’d bought it; as it turns out it had aged pretty well.

Appearance (4/5): Oil black and opaque with quick a thick looking pour, the head is a medium, tan brown colour that is about half a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, covering the centre and some of the edges of the surface.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong opening but not one that overpowered, there was some strong coffee and vanilla notes to open things up alongside some dark, roasted malts and plenty of chocolate. I managed to get some sweetness in the early going with some touches of oak and subtle fruits that seemed to work well together towards the end; dates and plums featured strongest but there was also some dates in there as well.
Taste (8/10): Opening with a lot of chocolate and a solid sweetness off the back of this, the beer also had some subtle vanilla flavours and sugars coming through in the early going. Further on some oak and dark, roasted malts from the nose started to come through alongside a few creamy touches and more coffee. Towards the end there was a few dark fruits with plum and raisin seeming the most pronounced and continuing what the nose had earlier started.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and full-bodied with soft carbonation levels and quite a dark, rich feel to proceedings. There was a lot of complexity to the beer and the balance was quite good too, it was a lot easier to drink that I’d expected from such a strong beer.

Overall (17/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and definitely one of their better beers, this one seemed to hold up well in the year plus since I bought the can. Opening with plenty of coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavours and some nice roasted malts too, this one was a complex but very well-balanced beer that went down quite easily considering the strength. It’s rich but softly carbonated with some darker fruits near the end although things did fade a touch nearer the end too but I guess that’s understandable given how long I took enjoying it; it was a great beer throughout.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.7%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £9.50

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Guinness Antwerpen Stout

September 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.2

The final beer that I picked up on my recent trip to Ireland now and what will be, I think anyway, my thirteenth beer from Guinness and one that I was surprised to see when I stumbled across it in a Tesco supermarket in the north of the country. This one is apparently a beer that has been available to the Belgian market since 1944 and also goes by the ‘Guinness Special Export Stout (Belgian Version)’ name as well. Coming in at 8%, it’s definitely one of the stronger offerings from the brewery that I’ve tried and I was also quite surprised at how cheap it was selling for. Following on quickly from the brewery’s Milk Stout, I went into this one with high hopes and thankfully I was not disappointed.

Appearance (4/5): Very dark ruby in colour with a larger than expected head, it sat about three centimetres tall and was a tan beige colour with a foamy texture that had the odd bubble through it as well. After about a minute or so it starts to lose some of its initial height but it’s got quite good retention given the strength of the beer.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a strong and rich nose initially with some chocolate and plenty of sugars coming through that give the beer a nice sweetness to it. There was definitely a lot more complexity to the beer than expected from the brewery with some rich notes and touches of coffee making an appearance around the middle. Towards the end some darker fruits begin to come through and round things off; raisins and plums with the odd date making up most of the aroma right at the end.
Taste (9/10): Opening with a combination of chocolate malts and further sweetness from the sugars, there was some coffee following on behind and the taste definitely matched the nose in the early going. There was some darker fruits that seemed to appear much sooner than they did with the nose, again there was dates, raisins and some plum which added some complexity to proceedings. Overall it was a rich taste with some roasted malts right at the end and it was stronger than expected too.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite rich with a sweetness to it in the early going that was relatively complex and very smooth. The alcohol content was fairly well hidden with a faint touches showing nearer the end but it was still a strong beer that was well carbonated and quite easy to drink too.

Overall (18/20): This one was a very nice beer from Guinness and easily one of the best, if not the very best, that I’ve tried from the brewery so far. There was a lot more complexity to the beer than anticipated with it coming through quite rich and sweet, plenty of chocolate and darker fruits featuring alongside some nice coffee and roasted flavours. It was a balanced and smooth offering that went down much easier than I thought it would and it’s definitely a beer that I’ll be on the look out for again.

Brewed In: Dublin, Ireland
Brewery: St. James’s Gate Brewery
First Brewed: 1944
Also Known As: Guinness Special Export Stout (Belgian Version)
Type: Foreign / Export Stout
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.68

Guinness Milk Stout

September 19, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.75

The first of two new Guinness beers that I managed to try on a recent trip to Ireland last month, this one is a new release for 2017 and was only made available some time around March this year; as yet I’ve not spotted it in Scotland so I was quick to pick a bottle up when I spotted it in an Irish Tesco store a couple of weeks ago. Released as part of Guinness’s ‘Brewers Project’, this one follows in the footsteps of their Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter offerings that I tried upon their release a couple of years ago; my hopes going into this one was that it would prove a slightly better beer than either of those two did at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Very dark ruby in colour, bordering on black and sitting with an opaque body. The beer had a thin, centimetre tall head that was bubbly looking and a light brown colour, settling as a thin surface lacing after a minute or so and leaving slightly more build up around the edges of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a light nose with some subtle sweetness and touches of sugar coming through in the early going, there was a lactose aroma that was backed up by the odd darker malt but it could definitely have used being a little stronger. There was some milk notes around the middle with lighter coffee ones too but beyond that it was quite a basic offering with little bitterness to be seen anywhere either.
Taste (7/10): Opening a little sweeter than the nose, this one opened with some milk sugars and touches of coffee which featured much earlier than it did with the nose. There was some touches of chocolate following on behind and thankfully there is more showing here than what there was with the nose too, it’s nowhere near as light this time around. Towards the end there was a further helping of sweet malts and pleasant creamy flavours with a subtle bitterness seeing things out as well.
Palate (4/5): Quite a smooth and balanced offering, this one was a creamy beer that had a touch more carbonation than expected and sat somewhere around moderate. It was a lively offering for the style with plenty of sweetness and it was also a very easy to drink beer into the bargain.

Overall (15/20): A much better beer than I’d been expecting from Guinness here, this one was balanced and very drinkable with some pleasant sweetness in the early going that was coupled with touches of malts and coffee, some fainter chocolate flavours featuring as well. The only downside to this one was that it wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped for at times; although the taste was a slight improvement on the nose, the aroma definitely seemed a touch weak at times.

Brewed In: Dublin, Ireland
Brewery: St. James’s Gate Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Sweet Stout
Abv: 4.3%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.80

McGrath’s Irish Stout

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

My third beer to fall under the McGrath’s banner and my second in relatively quick succession, this one follows on from the Clanconnel  brewery’s McGrath’s Irish Blonde that I tried only a couple of years ago; the other beer from the brewery that I have tried was their McGrath’s Irish Red Ale that I tried just over two years ago in the summer of 2015. This particular beer is actually one that was recommended by a friend and I was on the lookout for it on my recent trip to Ireland, luckily I found it in a local Tesco supermarket without too much searching and was able to give it a try. I’ve also noticed that the odd one of this brewery’s beers are starting to make appearances in Scotland from time to time, hopefully that means I’ll be able to try a couple more from them without searching for them when I’m next in Ireland.

Appearance (4/5): Opaque black in colour and quite thick looking too, this one is a very dark beer with a large head that sits about three centimetres tall in the glass. It’s a tan brown coloured head with a foamy texture and it seems relatively thick too, as well as hold steady it also leaves touches of lacing on the sides of the glass and looks good.
Aroma (7/10): Quite dark on the nose with a lot of roasted notes coming through in the early going with touches of sugar and coffee not too far behind; it’s a relatively strong nose initially. I detected a few earthy malts and faint touches of chocolate towards the middle as well but it was definitely the coffee that seemed strongest without overpowering; nice stuff.
Taste (7/10): Roasted malts and quite a bit of coffee kick things off here, there was some sugars and a touch of sweetness as a result too. There beer was faintly spiced around the middle with some earthy malts and dark flavours in there as well. Towards the end I got some toasted flavours that came through a little stronger than the coffee and chocolate ones with some nice liquorice to round things off with.
Palate (4/5): Sitting around medium bodied and quite lively for the style, this one had above average carbonation levels and a semi-sweet feel to it, thanks mainly to the chocolate and sugars in the early going. There was a roasted feel to the beer from the middle on and I managed to detect the odd grain towards the end of what was quite a dry finish; the balance of the beer was a good one too.

Overall (14/20): This one was a very nice stout from Clanconnel, definitely much better than either of the two beers that I had from the brewery previously and one that I’ll likely find myself drinking again at some point in the near future. The beer p[opened with some great roasted flavours along with subtle touches of sugar and chocolate to add a little sweetness; there was some pleasant coffee flavours too which helped impact just a touch of bitterness. It was relatively complex, especially when compared to previous offerings from the brewery and it went down very easily as well; great stuff.

Brewed In: Craigavon, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Clanconnel Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Full Name: Clanconnel #6 McGrath’s Irish Black Stout
Type: Irish Dry Stout
Abv: 4.3%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.80

Hilden Irish Stout

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.2

My fourth beer from the Hilden Brewing Company now and my first since last July when I tried their Headless Dog English pale ale. Prior to that offering I tried their Belfast Blonde and their Twisted Hop golden ale in 2014 and 2015 respectively so it would appear that I manage to try one new beer of theirs each year but as yet I’ve not really been impressed with anything the brewery has had to offer. This one is a beer that I stumbled across in a Tesco supermarket while over in Ireland late last month and although I recognised the brewery, this wasn’t a beer of theirs that I’d spotted before so I decided to give it a try despite the fact that the last few from Hilden have been relatively poor; my thinking was that hopefully this one would turn things around.

Appearance (4/5): A very dark brown coloured beer that was opaque and just about bordered on black. There was some bubbles rising to the surface of the beer and the head was a thin, half centimetre one that was an off-white colour and managed to hold slightly better than anticipated before eventually turning patchy and leaving some lacing on the sides.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a nutty and dark beer on the nose with some fainter chocolate and dark malts coming through in the early going. There was a nice helping of coffee to back things up and I managed to detect some roasted malts too. It wasn’t an overly strong beer on the nose really but some sugars and earthy notes do come through around the middle before some faint sweetness featured but the nutty, roasted malts seemed to come through strongest with this one.
Taste (6/10): The taste opens with more of the same nuttiness from the nose, there was some roasted malts and an earthy bitterness in there again too; this time both were a little stronger as well which was nice to see. There was a few of the coffee flavours the nose hinted at as well but less sugars this time round which impacted the sweetness a little too but not overly so. Towards the end some caramel flavours featured alongside a subtle bitterness but overall it was quite a basic tasting stout.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and perhaps a little thin for the style, the beer was balanced but a little bland and unexciting with some watery touches coming through as well. There was quite a lot of carbonation showing with this one though which was surprising and a slight disappointment but the beer was still a drinkable one.

Overall (12/20): A fairly average Irish stout from the start here,t his one opened with plenty of roasted flavours and a nuttiness about it that was quite enjoyable too; these coupled with some subtle sweetness got the beer off to a good start but things faded a little after that. The beer seemed quite basic and ordinary with little else beyond what featured in the early going to keep you interested sadly. It remained a drinkable offering throughout but definitely seemed uninspiring and it’s not likely that I’ll pick another bottle up again either.

Brewed In: Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hilden Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Irish Dry Stout
Abv: 4.3%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.89

Semi-Skimmed Occultist

July 10, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.9

A new limited release, small batch beer from Brewdog that was launched in March this year and will be my 134th different beer from the brewery so far. This one follows on from the bottle of their re-released Hop Rocker offering that I reviewed here at the end of May and is one of countless Brewdog beers that I have in my cellar, still awaiting a review. This is actually a beer that I’ve been looking forward to since first hearing about it in one the brewery’s newsletters towards the end of last year (or possibly at the every start of this one) and I was quick to pick up a can at their Glasgow shop soon after its initial release, just in case it disappeared quickly. Brewed as an 8% abv. sweet stout that could almost be considered an imperial stout, the beers seems to have attracted fairly positive reviews online and I’ quite excited to crack this one open now.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a nice looking beer when I initially poured it, this one sits a dark and opaque looking brown to ruby-black colour that is also very still looking. The beer is topped with a beautiful, foamy head that is tan coloured and dome-shaped, holding incredibly well over the opening few minutes which is doubly impressive given it is such a strong beer. It quite thick and creamy looking once the head eventually starts to subside slightly but it doesn’t lose very much of its head at all and looks excellent throughout, holding steady as I work my way down the glass and leaving plenty of lacing along the way too; a perfect start.
Aroma (6/10): Perhaps not quite as strong a beer on the nose as I’d anticipated for an 8% stout but it wasn’t exactly a weak one either and some solid roasted malts opened the show alongside touches of coffee and some early hints of sweetness. There was a nice amount of cocoa and chocolate notes showing in the early going too with a bit of caramel thrown in for good measure. Nearer the middle some of the milky aromas and lactose started to come through, adding a little to the sweetness along the way but definitely not stealing the limelight any. There was a little vanilla nearer the end with some further roasted malt bitterness and faint touches of smoke to see things out but it’s definitely one that could have been just a touch stronger; the alcohol was very well hidden throughout though.
Taste (7/10): Opening much like the nose before it did, this one kicks off with a lot of roasted malts but it’s thankfully a little stronger this time around with some hints of alcohol grain managing to sneak in there as well. There was a lot of sweetness early one from the chocolate, caramel and touches of chocolate malt too, a faint taste of vanilla wasn’t too far behind either. It wasn’t an overpowering taste by any means and it was definitely closer to what I’d expected going in that the nose was, there was a lot of oats and some earthy bitterness around the middle with a bit of coffee to back it up as well. Towards the end the sweetness really began to take hold with some milky touches and further bitter malts seeing things out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied, perhaps just a touch lighter than expected for an 8% stout but it was far from thin and there was a lot going on anyway. The beer opened with a plenty of roasted malts and a solid helping of sweetness from the caramel and chocolate backing it up, some vanilla to help out as well. The beer was surprisingly easy to drink throughout and the balance was a good one, some faint alcohol showed at the start of the taste but was masked completely with the nose and it only started to seem like an 8% offering nearer the end of proceedings. Overall it was an incredibly smooth but quite sweet offering that went down a treat.

Overall (16/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog here, the beer got off to a perfect start after I poured it where it looked fantastic sitting in the glass; the nose however was a very slight let down given that it wasn’t quite as strong as I’d been expecting but it was still a pleasant enough beer aroma-wise. Things were turned around completely with the taste and the beer started to come into its own with an early roasted bitterness that quickly lead to an abundance of sweetness that really made the beer; a combination of chocolate malts, lactose and vanilla with some caramel thrown in for good measure all worked well together. The beer was smooth and balanced with a subtle kick thanks to the alcohol as well; it’s just a shame that it’s a limited release from the brewery otherwise I could see this being one I’d go back to at some point in the future.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Sweet/Milk Stout
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: £3.56

Mahou Negra (352 of 1001)

June 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.1

This one is only my second review of a beer from one of Spain’s biggest brewery’s, Mahou and follows on from their Mahou Cinco Estrellas that I sampled on-tap in Glasgow back in March. This one is the brewery’s flagship dark beer and is actually one that I’ve been on the lookout for over the past year and a bit, having previously tried to pick it up last year when I first visited Barcelona but surprisingly I was unable to locate a bottle. I also attempted to have family members get me a bottle on their trips to Spain but finally I managed to find it in a Carrefour supermarket on La Rambla on my recent trip to Barcelona; better late than never I guess. The beer is another from Spain on the 1001 beers list that I’ve be able to check off and means I only have three more from the country to try and a review of Montseny Lupulus will follow in the coming days, so technically I only have two more to pick up now. As for the beer itself, this one is a dunkel style lager that was first brewed back in 1908 and it wasn’t really one that I held out much hope for before trying it, I really only wanted to check it off the list and had assumed it would be much easier to find than it proved to be. Anyway, here’s what I thought of the beer when I tried it at the start of the month.

Appearance (4/5): Copper brown and semi-opaque looking, the beer is topped with a centimetre tall head that is foamy and tan brown in colour with okay retention but it eventually turns slightly patchy after a minute or so; it’s certainly better than I had expected though.
Aroma (5/10): Dark malts and some caramel notes opening up proceedings here, there is some roasted notes as well but it wasn’t really anything that I hadn’t been expecting. I managed to detect some spice nearer the end but overall it was quite a one-dimensional beer on the nose and not overly exciting sadly.
Taste (6/10): The taste kicked off in a similar fashion to the nose with some basic malts and roasted flavours before a nutty taste started to appear nearer the middle followed by some hints of caramel along with some light spices. There was a few bread malts following on from this with hints of toffee adding to the sweetness from earlier on which meant that this was a slight improvement on the nose but still not exactly a classic.
Palate (3/5): Light medium bodied with a slight tang and quite an easy to drink feel to it, the beer was quite basic and one-dimensional but not off-putting at least. There was some sweetness from the caramel and toffee flavours but the main point to note was the roasted, nutty feel to the beer that dominated throughout.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a basic beer on the whole and pretty much what I’ve come to expect from mass-market beers like this, although it was relatively easy to drink. The beer kicked off with some nutty flavours and a touch of caramel to impart some early sweetness to proceedings. There was a strong roasted bitterness to the beer throughout with touches of toffee nearer the middle that helped add to the earlier sweetness, a few burnt flavours managed to sneak in too though. It’s probably not a beer I’d go back to again, even if it was more readily available to me but it was at least another off the 1001 beers list and it remained drinkable throughout.

Brewed In: Alovera, Spain
Brewery: Mahou S. A.
First Brewed: 1908
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Carrefour supermarket (Barcelona)
Price: €0.85 (£0.75 approx.)