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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

Buxton Axe Edge

June 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

A beer that will be my fifth from Derbyshire based Buxton now, this one will be my first since trying their Quadrupel offering over the Christmas holidays at the very end of last year and is quite a similar offering to the first Buxton beer I ever tried, their Ace Edge that I had back in August of 2014. This particular offering is the original version of Ace Edge, a beer that was modified slightly to use Sorachi Ace hops and give the beer more of a lemon taste so it should be interesting to see how this one compares. I picked this one up a couple of weeks ago when placing an order on the Brewdog online shop since they were having quite a decent sale at the time, otherwise this might not have been a beer I was drawn to given I’ve spotted it in a number of bottle shops over the years and never got around to trying it; this being despite the fact that I really enjoyed the bottle of Ace Edge when I tried it a couple of years ago.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a nice looking beer when initially poured, it sits a medium amber to orange colour in the glass but looks quite hazy. The head is a good one, sitting just over a centimetre tall and looking quite thick and creamy with a creamy white colour to it. Head retention is excellent with little movement or reduction in size over the opening couple of minutes and plenty of lacing left on the sides of the glass when I take a drink. 4.5
Aroma (7/10): Fresh on the nose in the early going with some subtle pine and citrus notes kicking things off before the odd grassy note made an appearance. It’s not an overly strong beer initially but I did get the odd touch of caramel sweetness nearer the middle. Floral touches and bread malts appear nearer the end of this one with some light tropical notes sneaking in as well; it’s definitely a pleasant beer on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Starting with plenty of hops, this one is a fresh beer that has a nice combination of pine and citrus to start before a few tropical flavours start to come through; most notably some mango and apricot but touches of orange and grapefruit feature as well. Around the middle the caramel sweetness and a few bread malts start to come through but they don’t seem as pronounced as they did with the nose, the beer was dominated by the citrus flavours at this point. Towards the end there was more of a hop bitterness with floral flavours and a touch of spice coming through as well. 3.75
Palate (4/5): Fresh and balanced with a medium body and plenty of hops showing throughout. The beer was lively with strong carbonation and proved easy to drink as well, the mouthfeel a dry and crisp one down the stretch. 4.25

Overall (17/20): Another really enjoyable beer from Buxton and very much on par with their Ace Edge offering, although this one definitely seemed more balanced and easy to drink. The beer looked fantastic after I poured it and there was a lot of early citrus and pine coming through to get you interested from the start. I liked the touches of sweetness and the tropical flavours were nice but I’d have liked to see more of the later when it came to the nose. Overall it’s a great beer from Buxton and one that I’d happily go back to again at some point in the future.

Brewed In: Buxton, Derbyshire, England
Brewery: Buxton Brewery
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £3.00

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

Cloudwater Motueka Pilsner

Rating: 3.4

My sixth in total from the Cloudwater brewery and I’m pleased to report that their beers seem to be more readily available north of the border than was previously the case; always a good thing. This one follows quickly one from the can of their DIPA v13 that I reviewed here recently and is actually another can from the brewery that I picked up alongside that one, the other being the can of their Seville Orange Sour that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t particularly impressed with so hopefully this one turns out a little better. This one is a limited release pilsner from the Manchester based brewery and part of their Spring/Summer series of beers and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a couple more of their beers in the near future; hopefully they will be slightly more reasonably priced than this one was though.

Appearance (4/5): Pouring quite a light and very clear golden colour that isn’t too far off of a straw colour, the beer is topped with a fairly nice looking head that is white and foamy, sitting just over a centimetre tall and holding quite well into the bargain. There is a lot of visible carbonation with the beer and the clarity of the drink is excellent, the head also looks to leave some nice lacing on the sides of the glass as well when I start drinking it; nice stuff so far.
Aroma (6/10): Quite fresh on the nose but definitely not the strongest in the early going, this one opens with some subtle grassy notes and a little citrus lemon which makes it seem lively initially. There was some faint herbal touches around the middle and I got a hint of biscuit as well before the odd hop makes an appearance around the middle. Towards the end some hay and light sweetness feature with it seeming quite refreshing at this point as well but it could have been a bit stronger really.
Taste (7/10): Following on well from the nose, this one is a fresh and lively beer in the early going with some lemon coming through again but the hops from the nose come through a lot earlier this time around. There was some herbal touches with a little citrus and hints of grassy hops around the middle, a subtle hint of hay is also present before the malts start to make themselves known. Towards the end there is a combination of sweet malts and biscuit flavours to see things out but it still feels like a lager to me, albeit it a fairly good one but certainly nothing outstanding.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and fresh, the beer was a relatively crisp and lively offering that was well carbonated and balanced but could definitely have been stronger. It was a nice lager on the palate and it’s always nice when none of the usual skunk flavours are present but it certainly wasn’t anything spectacular from Cloudwater and I’m not sure it’s one that would grab anyone’s attention really.

Overall (14/20): Nice stuff for a lager from Clouwater, this one was quite a lively and fresh offering that was pretty easy to drink thanks to the decent balance but in truth I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that it wasn’t a little stronger, particularly in the early going with the nose. There wasn’t too much to the beer that stood out either, I got some light malts and biscuit flavours coming through alongside the usual grassy hops and hay plus some pleasant enough lemon and citrus flavours but there was nothing to really grab my attention and I’m not sure it’s a beer I’d go back too, especially not at the same price as what I paid for this can; it was okay but could definitely have been better.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Pilsner
Abv: 5.6%
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £4.10

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

Bristol/Dark Star Southern Conspiracy

April 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.9

A collaborative offering between the Bristol Beer Factory and the Sussex based Dark Star brewery that will mark my first beer from Bristol and only my second from Dark Star, following on from their Espresso stout that I reviewed here back in late 2013 and quite enjoyed. Bristol is a brewery whose beers I’ve spotted a number of times over the years but sadly have never manged to try, although in this instance I’m not exactly sure why that is the case as I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. This offering appears to be a beer that was originally introduced as a one-off back in 2012 then promptly disappeared before being released again this year. I managed to try a half pint of this American style IPA in Glasgow’s Inn Deep bar last month and am only now getting around to adding my review here, this is what I thought of the stuff.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber coloured and slightly hazy, the beer has a thin but foamy white head that is about a quarter of a centimetre tall and doesn’t move much in the early going; there is even some nice lacing left on the sides of the glass which remains until I’m almost finished the beer.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a fresh and hoppy beer with some citrus and floral touches in the early going too, it also featured some oak sweetness in there too. There was a good combination of tropical fruits soon after with some mango and peach making up most of the middle of the beer but some apricot and faint pineapple made an appearance as well. It was quite an enjoyable beer on the nose with a few sugars and a lingering bitterness near the end that had me looking forward to tasting the beer.
Taste (7/10): The beer opens with a lot of floral hops and pine flavours that give the beer quite a sweet feel that is coupled with a strong hop bitterness and plenty of sugars. It seemed quite fresh and lively with a lot of mango carrying through from the nose that was backed up by some peaches and apricot before some oak and vanilla sweetness came through. There was a little yeast and funk nearer the end that hinted at an almost saison like flavours too but overall it was a decent tasting IPA.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and very lively with a surprising amount of funk and tart showing, particularly nearer the end. There was a floral bitterness throughout with some hops adding to this as well and the balance seemed like a good one with a nice tang nearer the end too. The beer perhaps edges nearer to the sweeter side of things at times but it did remain a pleasant and highly drinkable beer with a medium but well carbonated body; great stuff.

Overall (16/20): Quite a nice collaborative effort here from the two English based breweries, the beer was definitely a hop-filled one with a bit more sweetness than I’d anticipated at times but the oak and vanilla flavours were nice to see in this type of beer. For the most part it was the tropical flavours and hop bitterness that dominated proceedings but I was also surprised to see some of tart and funky saison like flavours near the end which were unexpected but welcome additions to the beer. It was a fresh and lively offering that proved quite easy to drink despite its strength; good stuff and one I’d be open to having again.

Brewed In: Bristol, England
Brewery: Bristol Beer Factory/Dark Star
First Brewed: 2012
Full Name: Bristol Beer Factory/Dark Star Southern Conspiracy
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.4%
Serving: Keg (Half Pint)
Purchased: Inn Deep, Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £3.50

Seville Orange Sour

April 13, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.15

Only my fourth Cloudwater beer now and follows on from the brewery’s DIPA v10 and v11 beers, both of which I sampled earlier this year, as well as their Lapsang Lichtenhainer wild ale which was a bit of a disappointment. This one was actually one of three beers from the brewery that I picked up earlier on this afternoon, I also grabbed a can of their DIPA v13 and their Motueka Pilsner but I was actually in two minds about this one since it was another sour offering from the brewery and the only other in that category I’ve tried from them was pretty poor. The beer itself appears to have originally been released back in early 2016 then discontinued for a time but it is now available again so I thought I may as well grab a can while I had the chance. Brewed using 230kg of oranges from the Ave Maria farm in Spain, this is definitely one that I’m looking forward to trying.

Appearance (3/5): Quite a deep, almost murky amber that starts with a half centimetre tall, white head that is bubbly but disappears almost instantly and leaves no trace after only a couple of seconds. The beer is cloudy but there is some evidence of visible carbonation in the way of small bubbles rising to the surface of the beer throughout but it was slightly disappointing given the lack of head.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a fresh and zesty beer on the nose initially, there was a lot of orange kicking things off as you might expect given the name of the beer but I got some lemon and touches of grape as well. There was a slightly sour base to proceedings with some yeast in there too; a nice start. The beer was a little strange though, in that it didn’t really smell like a beer at all and was more like an carbonated orange juice but at least it wasn’t a bad smell one.
Taste (6/10): Again opening with a lot of zest and orange flavours but it is slightly toned-down from the smell, there was more yeast and light malts this time around but it was still quite fresh tasting. Touches of sweetness appeared nearer the middle and it was definitely a juicy offering that hinted at some sourness but not enough to name the beer after it really. It’s a nice tasting beer on the whole but it was also slightly more basic than I’d have liked and naturally the orange flavours dominated.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium to medium bodied and quite a smooth, dry beer that was sightly sweet at times but for the most part came through as a zesty and fresh offering with moderate carbonation and hints of sourness, although definitely not a lot. It was relatively easy to drink but seemed a little one dimensional nearer the end and wasn’t anything too exciting really.

Overall (13/20): An interesting one here from Cloudwater, the beer started well with the promised burst of orange and citrus but it definitely wasn’t as sour as I’d been expecting given the name of  the beer. There was a little sourness that followed on from the orange flavours, some yeast backing it up but it was more light and subdued than I’d hoped for. It was quite a smooth and easy to drink offering but it was more like an alcoholic orange juice really and probably not one worth bothering with in my opinion, especially given the likely price.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Sour/Wild Ale
Abv: 3.5%
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.70