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Character Assassination

July 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

Brewed in collaboration with south London based Gipsy Hill, this one is my first beer from the Electric Bear Brewery based in Bath and is on that I picked up recently alongside a couple of Trappist beers at my local bottle shop, opting for this one given it’s a one-off New England IPA and it’s the height of summer here. A new beer for 2018, this one was canned in late May and should still be relatively fresh so it’s one that I’m looking forwards to cracking open. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Gipsy Hill over the last couple of years but surprisingly haven’t tried anything from them yet but this one was the first time I’d seen or heard anything about Electric Bear so I’m interested in finding out more and perhaps picking up something else from them in future if this one is any good.

Appearance (4/5): A lot lighter and clearer than I’d expect for a New England IPA, the beer is a light amber with some golden tinges and a thin, half centimetre head that’s foamy and white but starts turning patchy towards one side more quickly than I’d have liked; not a bad looking beer but I’d place it closer to lager than a New England IPA on first looks.
Aroma (7/10): Slightly tropical on the nose initially with some subtle grapefruit and orange coming through but nothing too pungent or overpowering in the early going at least. There was some citrus notes and a little tangerine further on with a couple grassy hops followed by a moderate bitterness and hints of mango and peach further on; it’s definitely an American IPA aroma but it’s not as dank as anticipated.
Taste (7/10): Opening with some pine and grapefruit bitterness that is followed by some nice orange and tangerine flavours, the beer is again slightly tropical with touches mango, apricot and peach bringing in the middle. It’s a solid IPA taste with some grain and a hint of alcohol nearer the end but it wasn’t a anything special or out of the ordinary with a faint sweetness and further bitter flavours seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied with some bitterness showing from the start without it being a dank one really. There was fine carbonation that gave the beer a lively feel and it was quite dry and sharp too. The balance was as you’d expect for the style with the bitter hops and tropical flavours dominating and a touch of the alcohol coming through near the end.

Overall (/20): This was a strange one in the sense that it was a pleasant and enjoyable beer but I feel like there was some false advertising involved where the label states that it’s a New England IPA but it was very much a standard American IPA with very little dank flavours coming through but instead a slightly tropical and bitter beer with the usual grapefruit and pine flavours as well as some mango and apricot further on. It was okay offering overall but one that ultimately left me disappointed given I was expecting something completely different from what I got after reading the label on the can.

Brewed In: Bath, Somerset, England
Brewery:  Electric Bear Brewing / Gipsy Hill (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2018
Full Name: Electric Bear / Gipsy Hill Character Assassination
Type: New England IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.30

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Trooper Hallowed

Rating: 3.35

Apparently the fourth the a series of beers inspired by the band Iron Maiden, although it is only the second the series that I’ll have tried after not being much of a fan of the 2013 original Trooper when I tried it not long after it was released. This offering from Robinsons is a Belgian style dark ale which is the only reason I picked this one up when I spotted it in the shop last year, well that and the fact the bottle cap was a good one. The beer is the sixth from the brewery that I’ll have tried with the last being their Mojo Pale Ale last year and that wasn’t particularly great either, in fact the only okay beer I’ve had from Robinsons is their Old Tom English strong ale from five years ago so I’m not holding out much hope for this one now and likely wouldn’t have bothered with it had I remembered this before picking the beer up.

Appearance (4/5): Caramel amber in colour with a surprisingly clear body and a thick looking, creamy head that was a light tan colour and holds about a centimetre tall after starting roughly double that size.
Aroma (5/10): Surprisingly light and one-dimensional on the nose, there’s some semi-sweet malts with touches of sugar in the early going as well as some faint butterscotch touches. Further on there is some darker fruits and touches of smoke, I got a little plum and fig but neither truly grabbed your attention and it seemed a touch weak at times without being a really bad nose.
Taste (6/10): Opening with a lot of sweet malts, there was more here than with the nose as well as a lot of dark fruits that included some of the plum and fig from the nose as well as some raisin and prunes. It was a little more pronounced at this point too with some alcohol grain and basic spices before some caramel malts and touches of banana came through to add to the sweetness.
Palate (4/5): Quite a sweet beer with a medium body that was slightly lighter than anticipated, the beer was a finely carbonated offering that had some alcohol showing which I thought could have been better hidden given it wasn’t an overly strong beer. There was some sweet malts and spices nearer the end and the balance was fairly good too without it being a beer that grabbed your attention.

Overall (13/20): This one was a bit up and down at times, it started well with some nice sweetness from the malts and dark fruits but there wasn’t a whole lot to it after that it seemed a little weak and one-dimensional at times. It was Belgian influenced at times as the bottle suggested but it fell far short of what I’d expect from a Belgian brewed beer of this style. It’s a better beer than the original Trooper beer in this series from Robinsons but it didn’t do enough for me to make it a beer that I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Stockport, England
Brewery: Robinsons Family Brewers
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Dubbel
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: B&M Bargains (Glasgow)
Price: £1.25

Durham Temptation

Rating: 4.2

This one is my second Durham Brewery beer now and follows on from their Bede’s Chalice that I had back in December after picking the bottle up alongside this one last year at the Fenwick’s store in Newcastle when I visited the city in July. This one is a 10% abv. imperial stout and one that I was quite surprised to see available in a 500ml bottle from a UK based brewery, normally these type of beers are restricted to a smaller 330ml bottle or a larger sharing bottle but seeing this in the shop made it an easy choice for one to pick up.

Appearance (5/5): Jet black with an opaque body and a half centimetre, foamy head that’s a light tan colour and managing to cover the surface well. Surprisingly there wasn’t much reduction in size over the open couple of minutes and the head started to look quite creamy with the odd bubble on the surface too; a great start given the alcohol content on this one with the heading holding on for well over five minutes as I let this one heat up a little after coming out of the fridge.
Aroma (7/10): Not a huge aroma but still quite a strong one with plenty of chocolate and coffee notes kicking things off and giving this one a roasted, dark nose. There’s some alcohol grain in the early going with touches of sweetness dotted about the place too; mainly sugars but a little vanilla and even some light caramel too. It’s earthy further on with the roasted notes coming back alongside a few nutty notes and hints of dried fruit seeing things out without anything dominating.
Taste (8/10): More pronounced than the nose with some chocolate malts and dark, roasted flavours coming through a little stronger this time around as well as a little more of the alcohol content coming through. It’s an earthy tasting offering that’s got some liquorice as well as the dried fruits from the nose, there was some raisin and hints of plum too. Rounded off with some further sweetness and sugars as well as some dates and prunes, the beer seemed quite complex but stopped short of overpowering or having any one flavour dominating.
Palate (4/5): Strong but balanced, this one is a full-bodied stout that had some alcohol showing with the nose and a little more with the taste which made it quite a warming and boozy feeling beer from the middle on. It was a moderately carbonated beer but the balance was very good with some nice sugar and dried fruit sweetness complimenting the dark and earthy malts from earlier on and helping it go down quite easily despite the strength.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Durham, this one got off to a cracking start with a solid head that stayed put throughout the beers life and was one of the best I’ve ever seen on such a strong beer. It’s dark and malty to open with lots of roasted notes and flavours coming through with some chocolate and a little sweetness off the back of this too. Further on I got some dried fruits and sugars coming through as well as some of the alcohol content but it wasn’t too strong, just enough to give the beer and warming and boozy feel that I enjoyed a lot.

Brewed In: Durham, England
Brewery: Durham Brewery
First Brewed: 2005
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Fenwick’s (Newcastle)
Price: £4.49

Pleasures In The Darkness

June 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.0

Beer number six from Wylam for me now, this one being a collaborative offering between the Newcastle based brewery and Kendal based Hawkshead that I picked up a couple months ago and am just getting around to trying now. This one follows on from bottles of Wylam’s Club of Slaughters imperial stout and their Nomi Sorachi pale ale, both of which I tried towards the end of last year after picking them up on a visit to Newcastle last summer. This particular offering is one that I was looking forward to and Wylam definitely appear to have upped there game given the first couple I tried from them were fairly average bitters and pilsners so an imperial stout is nice to see; that being said, there Club of Slaughters was quite a terrible take on the style so I’m hopeful this one is a major improvement on that one.

Appearance (4/5): Pouring a very thick and oily, jet black colour and forming a nice, two or three centimetre tall head that was bubbly and brown in colour but took a fairly aggressive pour to get there. Head retention isn’t great but to be expected given it’s an 11% abv. beer with it fading to quite a thin lacing around the circumference after about twenty seconds before disappearing completely soon after.
Aroma (8/10): Strong on the nose with a lot of coffee and dark chocolate notes opening things up, immediately you notice some touches of alcohol in the early going too with some grain coming through. It’s a dark and heavy beer with dates and liquorice alongside a vanilla sweetness and some sugars. There’s a lot of complexity with raisin and even the odd smoky note starting to come through with an earthy, roasted malt bitterness at the end along with some more dark fruits; excellent stuff.
Taste (8/10): Dark malts and some sweetness kick things off in the early going with a lot of alcohol showing at this stage too but not quite overpowering. The beer was a rich one with some dark fruits coming through that included the prunes and raisins from the nose with some dates too. Around the middle there was a lot of cocoa and chocolate making itself known with a vanilla backing and some caramel at this point too. It’s quite a rich and dark tasting beer with a good amount of sweetness to help the balance and some dark oats further along too.
Palate (4/5): Thick and full-bodied, this one is a very dark beer with a smooth feel that is very lightly carbonated but surprisingly well-balanced given the amount of complexity. It’s a strong one with some alcohol upfront and a warming finish that was slightly boozy and had some sweetness in there too.

Overall (16/20): Quite a strong and rich beer that opens with a lot of alcohol and as a result seems quite boozy and warming, especially nearer the end but it was well-balanced for the most part with some nice caramel malts and chocolate flavours complimenting the coffee bitterness and roasted malts. It was a beer that I had to sip away at and definitely couldn’t rush but it was a pleasant and smooth one with good complexity and nice variety too.

Brewed In: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Brewery: Wylam Brewery/Hawkshead Brewery (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.70

Knight of the Garter

June 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.15

The second of two Windsor & Eton beers that I received as a gift recently, this one following on from the bottle of Windsor Knot that I reviewed here a short time ago. This one is another from the brewery that was initially introduced in 2011 and is now a year-round offering, having first been brewed for the Ceremony of the Garter at Windsor Castle and released in June of that year. Again this one isn’t a beer that I’ve seen or heard of before now, mainly down to the fact that the brewery doesn’t seem to distribute as far north as me but hopefully it’s a good one especially after the disappointment of their Windsor Knot that I had last, it’s been a while since I last tried a new golden ale.

Appearance (3/5): Slightly hazy golden to amber colour, it’s fairly bright and the head is more of a thin, bubbly lacing that is around the circumference but disappears in the middle quickly.
Aroma (4/10): Very light and bland on the nose, the beer is quite basic with some lemon and faint citrus notes but not a lot else shows really. I got a hint of biscuit malts slightly further on but it’s definitely not a fresh beer sadly and it’s a little off-putting at the same time; a terrible start.
Taste (4/10): Opening much like the nose with some cheap citrus and lemon flavours but the biscuit malts were definitely more pronounced and noticeable this time around. There was some earthy malts towards the middle with hints of grassy hop showing as well, a slight improvement on the nose without being all that great either.
Palate (2/5): Medium bodied and moderately carbonated but not very fresh or lively; it’s a basic and at times bland beer that seemed quite cheap too. There was an earthy feel throughout from the malts and hops but not a whole lot going on, the nose in particular quite a weak one.

Overall (7/20): A very basic and quite bland golden ale that was far too weak on the nose with only some faint lemon and background biscuit notes coming through. Thankfully the taste was a little more pronounced with the biscuit coming through stronger but again it was basic and bland with an earthy feel throughout but it didn’t seem too fresh sadly and it was a struggle to get through; definitely not one I’d have again.

Brewed In: Windsor, Berkshire, England
Brewery: Windsor & Eton
First Brewed: 2011
Type: Golden Ale
Abv: 3.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Windsor, England
Price: Gift

Windsor Knot

June 19, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 2.75

A beer I was recently given as a gift from a family member returning from Windsor, this one is a beer that I probably wouldn’t have picked up myself but is one originally introduced as a limited release beer for the 2011 royal wedding of William & Kate before becoming a regular, year-round release after proving popular. The bottle I’ve been given has an updated label design as a result of the royal wedding of Harry & Meghan earlier this year and their names are one the front of the label too. The beer will be my first from Windsor & Eton but I was also given another of their beers alongside this one so expect a review of their Knights of the Garter blonde ale in the not too distant future.

Appearance (3/5): A clear looking caramel amber that’s topped with a thin surface lacing on top that’s white with a touch more build up around the circumference of the glass.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some biscuit malts and a very faint sweetness from touches of bread and earthy malts. Towards the middle some faint fruit notes make an appearance with a floral backing and some apple before a nutty aroma sees things out.
Taste (5/10): Carrying on where the nose left off with some biscuit malts and earthy touches kicking things off, there was a few subtle hops showing alongside a fairly floral middle. I got some bread malts and a hint of nutty bitterness nearer the end but it was quite a basic one overall.
Palate (3/5): Quite light bodied and perhaps a touch thin at times, the beer was floral to start but got steadily more bitter as things moved on. There was a dryness towards the end of what was a light to moderately carbonated beer and further bitterness with the aftertaste as well.

Overall (9/20): It not all that often that I get to try a new English bitter and to be honest this one has just reminded me why, it’s definitely a basic offering with very little going on but it was still drinkable throughout thankfully. It’s not so much that it’s a bad beer but it wasn’t all that interesting either with only some biscuit malts and a bitter, nutty finish grabbing your attention’ I can’t imagine this one is a beer that I’d have again sadly.

Brewed In: Windsor, Berkshire, England
Brewery: Windsor & Eton
First Brewed: 2011
Type: English Bitter
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Windsor, England
Price: Gift

Cloudwater Helles Mandarina

June 13, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

A fourteenth beer from Cloudwater for me now, this one is hot on the heels of several offerings from the brewery, including their Chubbles double IPA that I reviewed here last and is a beer that I picked up online from the brewery’s store thanks to their free delivery promotion for May, otherwise it is a beer that I probably wouldn’t have ended up trying. It is one that I’ve spotted in a number of bottle shops of late though and from what I can tell online, it’s a beer that was initially in the first couple of months of the year so it will be interesting to see if it turns out to be a regular release from the brewery given the majority (if not all) of their beers are brewed once and then never seen again.

Appearance (4/5): Very clear amber in colour, this one had a tiny hint of golden straw showing and is topped with a foamy white head that starts about two and a half centimetres tall but looks quite thick, managing to hold quite well in the early going and leaving some touches of lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (7/10): This one opened with quite a standard helles nose initially, there was the usual lager malts and some grassy touches but there was some faint citrus and orange sitting in the background which was a nice addition. The beer had some floral hops towards the middle and these added a light bitterness but it stayed balanced and had some biscuit malts further on as well. A solid offering that was quite a pleasant helles but one that came with a hint of citrus for a nice twist.
Taste (7/10): Lager malts and some subtle orange touches kick things off here, there was definitely a little more showing that there was with the nose and there beer seemed a touch fresher as a result. It was still quite a light tasting beer with some biscuit malts and earthy touches a little further on before some grassy hops seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and quite light on the palate but coming through with some nice orange and citrus touches that gave the beer a subtle tang. It was an easy to drink offering with a subtle bitterness thanks to the floral hops but the balance was great throughout and it was quite refreshing too.

Overall (16/20): Excellent stuff as always from Cloudwater, this one was a beer that had initially confused me into thinking it was going to be a helles with a mandarin kick given the name but there was at least some touches of orange and citrus coming through on top of what was a very fresh and balanced lager. The beer was a pleasure to drink and went down very well with some nice floral hops and biscuit flavours further on as well as the usual lager malts and grassy hops; this one is up there with some the better German brewed helles that I’ve tried and is one that I’d happily have again.

Brewed In: Manchester, England
Brewery: Cloudwater Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2018
Type: Munich Helles Lager
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Cloudwaterbrew.co
Price: £4.00