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Minoh W-IPA (366 of 1001)

November 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.5

My first and final new Minoh beer that I managed to try in Japan now, this one being the only one of their beers to feature on the 1001 beers list and the one that I was most hoping to try from them during the course of my trip. The beer is a 9% double IPA that follows on from their Minoh Stout that I reviewed here recently. Initially released sometime around 2006, the beer became a regular from the brewery in 2008 and has been one of their most popular ever since; thankfully it is a year round offering as well which meant I was able to grab a bottle when I was in Osaka recently. Checking this beer off also means that I now only have to try another ten Japanese beers to complete those listed in the 1001 beers book, although sadly one of those appears to no longer be available now.

Appearance (4/5): This one pours quite a dark amber to caramel colour with an opaque body and some sediment floating about initially before settling at the bottom of the glass. The head was a centimetre tall one that looked frothy and was a creamy white to light tan colour that had excellent retention over the opening few minutes, holding much better than expected from a 9% abv. double IPA; there didn’t seem to be any movement or reduction in size over the opening five minutes and there was some nice lacing left on the sides of the glass as a bonus too.
Aroma (9/10): Quite strong with a lot of hops showing in the early going, there was plenty going on and this is what I’d been expecting from a strong double IPA with a nice combination of resinous pine and floral hops kicking things off. There was some citrus and a good helping of tropical fruits in the early going as well, I got some mango, apricot and grapefruit with a little pineapple not too far behind either. Further on there was some sweeter notes starting to come through with caramel and biscuit malts but it was a balanced, lively nose that I really enjoyed.
Taste (9/10): The taste matches the nose well with some strong pine and floral hops getting things going alongside some solid citrus flavours, although the beer wasn’t quite as pungent or resinous as it had been with the nose. There was some tropical fruits towards the middle with the mango and apricot from the nose being the dominant pair but the pineapple and some peach weren’t too far behind. Like the nose, there was a good amount of sweetness further on with the caramel and biscuit coming through a touch earlier this time around and some bread flavours featuring as well. It’s definitely a lively and hop-filled beer with some spices towards the end and a few further floral flavours as well; very nice stuff.
Palate (5/5): Well carbonated and almost a full-bodied beer, this one was very fresh and lively with a lot of hops coming through from the start to contribute towards a very bitter, resinous beer that went down great. There was some of the alcohol content coming through at points but for the most part it was well hidden and nothing seemed to overpower thanks to the excellent balance of the beer, the sweet malts and caramel working very well alongside the pine and floral hops not to mention the tropical fruits too.

Overall (18/20): This one was an excellent and highly enjoyable double IPA that grabbed my attention almost immediately thanks to the strong hops and resinous pine notes that greeted me opening the bottle. There was a lot going on with this one thanks to a combination of tropical fruits balancing well with sweeter malts and citrus. The beer was fuller than expected and quite varied too with good carbonation and the alcohol content was hidden well too. Excellent stuff from the start and a beer that I’m every glad I managed to find, it was definitely the best beer I managed to try on my trip to Japan and probably the best from the country that I’ve ever tried; a must try if you can find it and one well worth its place on the 1001 Beers to try before you die list as well.

Brewed In: Osaka, Japan
Brewery: Minoh Beer
First Brewed: circa. 2006
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Yamaya Nagahoribashi (Osaka)
Price: ¥410 (£2.72 approx.)

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Out of Envy

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.35

A first beer from a Ushitora brewery now and one that I managed to try on keg at the very start of October, on my last night in Osaka at the Craft Beer Works Kamikaze bar in the city. I had a look for this beer at the time and couldn’t find much about it, from what I understand it is quite a new beer that was only released at the end of September so I’m glad it’s one that I managed to try while it was still fresh and new.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber and slightly cloudy with a thin white head that was more a surface lacing than anything else but did at least leave some further lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with a lightly hopped aroma and some good citrus notes, the beer had touches of grapefruit coming through as well but wasn’t anywhere near as strong as I’d have expected from a double IPA sadly. There was some pale malts and touches of spice around the middle of the nose and a couple of background fruits seen things out but it was very weak for the style.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully coming through stronger than the nose, the taste of this one starts with a nice combination of citrus and grapefruit before touches of spice and a floral bitterness appear towards the middle. There was some pale malts a little further on with some a subtle bitterness seeing things out; definitely an improvement on the nose but not quite a must-try for me.
Palate (3/5): Sitting around medium bodied, the beer was very light on the nose but at least came through stronger with the taste despite remaining quite a basic tasting beer throughout. There was a pleasant hop bitterness with a good floral feel to it while it was also well carbonated but I couldn’t get over it being so light and, at times, so weak.

Overall (13/20): Quite a disappointing beer for what was a pretty rare Japanese brewed double IPA for me, the main problem with this one being how light it was on the nose and that was something I struggled to get over as I was drinking this one. The beer opened with some light hops and a grapefruit nose that had some floral touches backing it up but it never really got going until the taste. It was far too weak for my liking and quite basic too, although it was well-carbonated and the alcohol content was relatively well hidden but it’ still not one that I’d recommend.

Brewed In: Shimotsuke-shi, Tochigi, Japan
Brewery: Ushitora Brewing
Type: Double IPA
Full Name: #209 Ushitora Out of Envy DIPA
First Brewed: 2017
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Keg (Half Pint)
Purchased: Craft Beer Works Kamikaze, Osaka, Japan
Price:‎ ¥750 (£4.97 approx.)

Cloudwater DDH Ella Ekuanot Pale Ale

July 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

A seventh Cloudwater beer for me now and my first since having a can of their Motueka Pilsner back in May, a beer that was fairly average at the time. I was looking forward to trying this one last week when I ordered it in my local Brewdog beer, mainly because I’ve had some great Cloudwater beers in the past and this one was only my second keg offering from the brewery; the other being their excellent DIPA v11 that I tried towards the end of January this year. This particular offering is a spring/summer offering for 2017 from the brewery and is another of their double dry-hopped beers that I’ve been hearing so much about of late. From what I’ve been reading online, this one seems to be a keg only offering from Cloudwater so it’s one that I’m glad I managed to try while it was still available and here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (4/5): A semi-bright looking beer that was amber in colour and came with a cloudy body, topped with a somewhat disappointing head that was little more than a thin white lacing around the sides of the glass. There was a faint bit of lacing on the side wall of the glass too but beyond that there wasn’t a whole lot going on and the surface of the beer was quite patchy too sadly.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh with some pine coming through early on the nose, there was some touches of grapefruit and the odd tropical smell too, a combination of passion fruit, pineapple and orange all making an appearance at this point. A few solid floral hops followed towards the middle and the nose seemed balanced initially, I managed to get some citrus and a little sweetness coming through though before some mango and further floral touches seen things out.
Taste (7/10): The taste of this one matches the nose well and opens with some citrus and floral hops, there was a nice touch of pine showing around this point as well and the beer was definitely a fresh one. There was plenty of tropical flavours showing with mango, peach and pineapple all coming through along with some orange in there too. Following this I managed to detect a hint of further sweetness from some of the malts and there was the odd grassy flavour to see things out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and quite crisp, this one was a lively beer that came through with solid, fine carbonation and a nice tang in there from the citrus too. Throughout it was a relatively bitter beer with some dry touches nearer the end but for the most part it was a juicy, balanced beer that went down well.

Overall (16/20): Another enjoyable beer from Cloudwater, this one was a great sessionable offering that went down well and was both crisp and lively throughout. There was solid carbonation levels to the beer and the balance was good as well, a combination of tropical fruits working well with the sweeter malts and floral bitterness; excellent stuff and one that’s well worth trying if you get the chance.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £4.40

Brewdog New England IPA v2

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

A new release from Brewdog now and one that was only introduced by the brewery just over a week ago but it was one that I was eager to try so I made a point of visiting one of their bars and sampling it on-tap within a day of its initial release. The beer is a reworking of an early collaboration between Brewdog and Cloudwater brewing based in Manchester, their New England IPA which I consider to be the best beer that Brewdog has ever released so naturally I was looking forward to this one. The beer is an 8.5% abv. double IPA which comes in a fair bit stronger than the 6.8% of the original so I did have the fear going in that the quality would suffer like it did when the brewery increased the strength of their Born To Die beer earlier this year only to reduce it again with the next release in the series. I’ve only tried a few New England style IPA’s so far, mainly because it’s still a relatively new style of beer but it is definitely one that I’m a big fan of and I was hoping that would carry over to my first double IPA in the New England style with this offering; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it last week.

Appearance (4/5): Very hazy golden in colour with a yellow hue to it, the beer was quite bright and opaque looking but sadly there wasn’t an overly impressive head to it, all that was left by the time I placed it on the table was a thin, foamy white lacing that was turning slightly patchy but the colour was a nice one.
Aroma (7/10): Not an immediately strong beer on the nose given it was an 8.5% abv. offering but there was a good combination of citrus and pineapple to kick things off before more touches of tropical fruit appeared nearer the middle. Some subtle hops showed around this point too with a few juicy notes and touches of orange and lemon nearer the end. Overall it was a very fresh offering but one that I’d have preferred came through stronger than it did.
Taste (7/10): Starting in a similar fashion to the nose, the taste kicks off with a combination of citrus flavours that is mainly orange and lemon but with some pineapple not too far behind either. The beer was again very fresh with a subtle bitterness off the back of the hops throughout,  there was some juicy flavours and a few tropical ones sitting in the background too which all seemed slightly stronger than with the nose and as such were a welcome change.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and sitting with a medium body and a nice balance too, the beer definitely wasn’t as strong as anticipated for an 8.5% beer and for the most part the alcohol content was masked behind the subtle hops and the tropical, juicy flavours. There was quite a lively feel this one at times, likely from the citrus in the taste and there was moderate carbonation throughout but it was a little lighter than I’d have liked which stopped it from being as good as the original version in my opinion.

Overall (15/20): Very nice stuff again from Brewdog here and ordinarily this would be a beer that I would have loved but given it’s a reworking of the best beer I’ve ever tried from the brewery the bar is naturally set a little higher for this one. The beer open with a pleasant citrus taste that was backed up by some pineapple and the odd tropical flavour, the balance was good too and surprisingly little of the alcohol content was showing so the beer was easy-going and highly drinkable. The main disappointment for me was the fact that the beer was a lot lighter than expected, the nose in particular coming through weaker than expected and overall the original version of this beer was much better in my opinion.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog/Cloudwater (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Full Name: Brewdog vs. Cloudwater New England IPA v2
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Keg (Half Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: £4.28

Cloudwater DIPA v13

May 12, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.95

My third beer in this series from Cloudwater, having previously tried their DIPA v10 and DIPA v11 offerings and enjoying both a great deal; this one is however the first time I’ll be trying one of the beers in the series in from a can because the previous version were in a bottle and on-tap respectively so it should be interesting to see how this one compares. This one is also the last in the monthly series from the brewery meaning it was one of the most sought after too, I was lucky to see my local bottle shop posting that they had some in so I quickly headed round to grab a can before it was too late. At the time of drinking, the beer also had some pretty impressive reviews online and was ranked as the 8th best beer on the RateBeer website in the double IPA category as well as being fiftieth on their list of the top beers listed on the site; not a bad feat even though it has since slipped out of the top fifty overall beers since the weekend.

Appearance (4/5): A hazy orange colour that looks quite like but is very cloudy and opaque, the head is quiet a thin one though and sits about a half centimetre tall before fading to quite a small, bubbly lacing after about thirty seconds or so. The beer does look incredibly thick sitting in the glass though and it is quite still too; not a bad start.
Aroma (7/10): Not overly strong on the nose right away, the beer starts with subtle lemon/citrus notes before the hops start to come through; there was a nice combination of mango and orange followed by touches of peach but it definitely wasn’t as strong at this point as previous offerings in the series have been. Around the middle of tropical notes and faint grapefruit start to come through, overall the balance on the nose is quite good as well but nothing was truly jumping out at me and grabbing my attention up until this point. It’s a solid DIPA on the nose but I felt that previous offerings were slightly better. Things do improve some and gather some strength after the beer is given more time to open up but I’d have liked this to show earlier.
Taste (8/10): Thankfully the taste kicks off a lot stronger than the nose with some good hop bitterness in the early going before touches of citrus and pine coming through alongside the grapefruit from the nose. There was a little more sweetness at this point too with the mango and peach from the nose featuring strongly here with some malts following on behind. It’s quite a fresh tasting beer with some pleasant floral flavours coming through as well and it seemed juicy towards the end; good stuff and much better than the nose in my opinion.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied with a smooth, quite tangy feel that was also pretty dry. The beer is well-balanced with an early bitterness that is soon joined by a subtle sweetness that stays with the beer throughout. It’s very easy to drink despite the 9% abv. and the alcohol content is exceptionally well hidden too; great stuff and very enjoyable too.

Overall (17/20): Excellent stuff again from Cloudwater, they are definitely a brewery that know how to make excellent DIPA’s and this one is no exception. The beer started a little slower than I’d have liked and the nose was far from as strong as previous offering but it wasn’t quite weak either; it did eventually open up with some nice citrus notes and the odd hop but it could definitely have been stronger. Thankfully things improved substantially come the nose and plenty of hop bitterness featured alongside strong malts and various tropical fruits to give the beer an excellent taste. It’s probably not as good as some previous offering from the brewery, especially there DIPA v10 & v11 in this series but it was still a great beer and one I’d have again; if only the nose was a little better than it might have been something truly special.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £5.90

Born To Die 17.03.2017 (9.5%)

March 21, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.95

My third review of a beer in Brewdog’s Born To Die series of beers and my first since late 2015 when I tried their 27.11.2015 edition on-tap at one of Brewdog’s Glasgow bars. The reason for me trying that particular version is because there was a slight recipe tweak between that and the original 04.07.2015 version that I’d tried earlier in the year, plus it’s always nice to try a beer on-tap as well. I’ve now decided to give the latest release from the brewery a fresh look since the abv. of the beer has been dumped up from its original 8.5% to 9.5% and I’m quite excited about that. The beer is probably my favourite Brewdog beer that’s not a one-off, special release and I usually try to get my hands on each new edition of the beer when it’s released; hopefully it’s still as good this time with the updated recipe.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber in colour and quite a clear body, the beer is topped with a thumb-sized head that is foamy white but also has a couple of bubbles sitting on its surface. There was quite good retention considering the strength of the beer, only a slight reduction in size occurred initially and there was a lot of visible carbonation thanks to the fine bubbles that were rising to the surface throughout.
Aroma (7/10): Really fresh and with a lot of citrus in the early going, there was a lot of hop bitterness that featured some pine and grapefruit notes alongside a sticky sweetness. Hints of alcohol started to feature nearer the middle of the beer but thankfully some lemon, orange and pineapple notes managed to cover them for the most part before some sweet malts and biscuit flavours came through as well. Towards the end there was some further tropical fruits with the beer seeming fairly complex but not quite as strong as I’d expected given the previous offerings in the series from Brewdog.
Taste (8/10): Following on well from the nose, this one is again quite a hoppy beer with a lot of fresh flavours coming through from the start, the pine and grapefruit from the nose being quite pronounced but there was some tropical fruits coming through earlier this time too. The beer featured a nice combination of orange, lemon and pineapple with a little mango in there as well plus it was a touch stronger than the nose which helped things too. Around the middle there was some faint hints of alcohol that came through with a bubbly citrus tang and some oily hop flavours that were quite resinous before some light spice seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite tangy with an oily hop bitterness, particularly nearer the end of the beer. There was a strong, resinous bitterness to proceedings with a fresh, crisp feel and some nice sweetness from the tropical fruits. The beer was a dry one that had some prominent alcohol touches from around the middle on but nothing that was likely to overpower. The balance was also a good one with it going down easier than expected but I’d have liked to have seen the nose come through slightly stronger.

Overall (17/20): Quite a strong and very hoppy offering from Brewdog, just what I’ve come to expect from those in their Born To Die series of beers. This one opened with a lot of resinous pine flavours and plenty of grapefruit too before some hints of alcohol came through nearer the middle. It was also a fairly sweet beer from the middle on thanks to the tropical fruits and the citrus gave it a bubbly feel too; nice stuff from the brewery but I’m afraid it’s not quite as good as the last in the series I tried so hopefully the tone down the alcohol a little next time.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial/Double IPA
Abv: 9.5%
Serving: Bottle (660ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £6.94

Cloudwater DIPA v10

January 25, 2017 3 comments

Rating: 4.35

Only my second ever Cloudwater beer, this despite the fact that the brewery seems to becoming more popular by the day of late. This offering is the tenth in a series of double IPA’s from the Manchester based brewery that continually tweaks their double IPA recipe with each release. This one follows on from the brewery’s Lapsang Lichtenhainer offering that I tried back in March and to be honest, it wasn’t one that I found enjoyable at all so I’m very hopeful that this one will prove to be a must better beer than that one. I picked this one up a couple of days before Christmas and although it isn’t exactly a winter offering, I thought it would finally give one from this series of beers a try; hopefully it’s as good as I’ve been told.

cloudwater-dipav10

Appearance (5/5): A really cloudy beer that is light amber in colour but bordering on yellow to faded orange, finished off with a foamy white head that is almost creamy in texture. Head retention is pretty good with the beer, it holds remarkably well given the strength of the beer  and there’s even some touches of lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (9/10): Pine and grapefruit notes open things up here but there is also some nice touches of mango too. The beer isn’t particularly pungent given the abv. of this one but it wasn’t weak either and there was some fruity, tropical smells around the middle before the malty base starts to make itself known. Towards the end of the beer some floral touches and further bitter hops round things off nicely.
Taste (8/10): The taste opens as a continuation of the nose with plenty of pine and grapefruit alongside some floral bitterness and a combination of tropical fruits; peach, mango and apricot all featuring early on. There was some earthy malts around the middle that also imparted some nice sweetness on proceedings before a few citrus touches and further resinous pine flavours brought things to a close.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and medium bodied, this one was quite a lively and fresh beer that was a touch thicker than I’d expected. There was a slight tang around the middle from the citrus which made it an easy drink to get through. There was a nice balance to the beer that was particularly enjoyable.

Overall (17/20): Great stuff from Cloudwater here, a very enjoyable double IPA that was incredibly well-balanced and very easy to drink given how well the alcohol content was hidden. There was some great bitterness opening things up alongside plenty of resinous pine flavours that also made beer a relatively sweet offering. An excellent beer and one that I’d definitely like to try again; I’m also interested to see what the other beers in the series are like given the chance.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £4.40