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Miyajima Pale Ale

October 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

Following on from the can of their Miyajima Weizen that I reviewed here a short time ago and actually tried a day or two before I had this one over in Japan, this is my second beer from the Miyajima brewery and one that appears to be their flagship offering. The beer was probably the most readily available of all Miyajima beers when I visited Miyajima Island late last month and is another beer that I had been on the look out for prior to my trip after reading a little about it online. The beer gets mixed reviews online and is an English style pale ale that has been available since either 2010 or early 2011 and is the final beer from the brewery that I’m likely to try, unless I make a return visit to the island at some point in the future but at the moment that looks unlikely.

Appearance (4/5): A cloudy, thick looking amber colour that has some orange hints showing and is topped with a thick, creamy white head that has a few bubbles through it and covers the surface well, holding on with good retention too.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a sweet nose initially with some caramel and toffee malts to start things off, there was some bread and biscuit malts further on too. The beer was definitely quite fresh with some sugars showing and it was more pronounced on the nose than a lot of Japanese craft beers I’ve reviewed here recently with some herbal touches seeing things out towards the end.
Taste (7/10): Fresh and quite sweet like the nose, the beer had a caramel malt opening that was combined with a few sugars and some toffee flavours. Towards the middle there was some biscuit and earthy malts alongside the odd floral touch and some lighter citrus before a subtle hop bitterness seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied, full at points with a smooth feel and plenty of citrus coming through which provided a subtle tang towards the middle. The beer was definitely a fresh one with some sweetness throughout as well, mainly from the caramel and toffee malts, although these were definitely strongest with the nose. It was an easy to drink beer with a moderately bitter finish that was English in style and highly drinkable throughout.

Overall (15/20): Very pleasant stuff from Miyajima this time round and although their Weizen still seemed like the better beer, this one was a highly drinkable beer that kept a good balance between the caramel sweetness and the floral touches that featured later on. It was very much an English style beer with plenty of malt sweetness alongside an earthy bitterness but it was easy-going and had a nice balance to it as well; definitely a beer worth looking out for if you’re in Japan.

Brewed In: Miyajima Island, Hiroshima, Japan
Brewery: Miyajima Brewery
Type: English Pale Ale
First Brewed: circa. 2010
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Miyajima Island, Japan
Price:‎ ¥500 (£3.31 approx.)

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McGrath’s Irish Blonde

August 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.0

Following on from the recent review of the very disappointing Blanche de Namur, this one is the second of two beers that were picked up on my behalf from a local Home Bargains store recently and again it is another beer that I’ve spotted in the past. The beer is brewed in County Armagh in the north of Ireland and is the second from the brewery that I’ve tried, I previously enjoyed their McGrath’s Irish Red Ale back in July 2015 when I picked it up over in Ireland, I actually remember this particular offering being available alongside that one and I almost picked it up but now I’m finally getting to give it a try.

Appearance (3/5): Pouring a blond looking golden colour that was quite clear, the beer was topped with a three centimetre tall head in the early going. The head was a bubbly white one that quickly halved in size over the opening couple of seconds and then settled as a thin, half centimetre one from the on.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some fresh citrus notes and a little bitterness from the hops, the beer seemed lively in the early going with a faint bit of funk or tart in there too. There was some biscuit notes towards the middle with a few pale malts showing themselves as well before some lemon and background fruits seen things out.
Taste (6/10): Kicking off with some biscuit flavours and a couple of citrus hops, the beer didn’t seem quite as fresh or tarty as it did with the nose but there was some lemon coming through in the early going at least. There was a subtle bitterness coming through with touches of pale malt and cereal but nothing stood out beyond the citrus and lemon really. Towards the end there was perhaps a touch of sweetness but certainly not a lot before a few nondescript fruits finished things off.
Palate (3/5): Fresh and lively to start, the beer was moderately carbonated and the lemon flavours along with the tart made it seem fresher than it probably was in the early going. It was quite a one-dimensional beer for the most part but it was easy to drink as a result but the body was perhaps a tad thin at times sadly.

Overall (12/20): An interesting one from McGrath’s here and a beer that opened quite fresh and lively with a nice combination of citrus and lemon flavours alongside some tart and funk that seemed slightly stronger with the nose than it was in the taste, although it was still noticeable with both. There was some pale malts and biscuit in there too, not to mention hints of sweetness down the stretch but I couldn’t help but find it a fairly one-dimensional and average offering from the brewery which I probably wouldn’t have again; it wasn’t a bad beer by any stretch though, it’s just there are plenty of better ones out there.

Brewed In: Craigavon, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Clanconnel Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2010
Full Name: Clanconnel #2 McGrath’s Irish Blonde
Type: Golden/Blond Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Home Bargains (Scotland)
Price: £0.69

Robinsons Mojo Pale Ale

March 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.3

My fourth beer from the Robinsons brewery now and what will be mu first new offering from them since I reviewed their Iron Maiden Trooper beer back in the summer of 2013. The brewery is one that I’m quite familiar with given their beers are usually quite easy to find in UK supermarkets but I’ve not tried all that many of them and the one that I have tried haven’t really been that impressive. I decided to pick this bottle up when I spotted it in a Morrison supermarket recently, mainly based on the name but also because it came in a smaller 330ml bottle and was positioned amongst the supermarkets craft beer selection; only later did I find out it was a Robinsons brewed beer. The beer has been about in one form or another since 2015 and can be found as a cask offering coming in at 3.7% but I can’t imagine that it’s a version I’ll get to try anytime soon and I’ll be sticking to the bottled version for now; hopefully it’s a first good one from the brewery.

mojo-pale-ale

Appearance (4/5): Clear amber coloured but it does form a nice, foamy white head that has a few tiny bubbles dotted about the place as well plus head retention is pretty good with a little lacing on the sides and not much reduction in size from its original one centimetre height.
Aroma (4/10): This one opens as a very fruity beer with quite a lot of floral notes coming through initially alongside some citrus and an unexpected blend of strawberries and peach; the peach seemingly the most dominant of the two. There was some orange and berries soon after and it seemed fresh at times but also a little weird in truth, almost soapy and artificial at times. Beyond the fruits there wasn’t too much else to report except some basic English style malts before some further floral notes rounded things off; it’s not a bad-smelling beer but it was definitely a little odd and that ended up putting me off some.
Taste (4/10): Again quite a fruity offering although the taste was toned down a little from the nose but it’s still an incredibly floral tasting beer with a lot of berries and elderflower coming through alongside the strong peach flavours that carry on from the nose. Around the middle there is some citrus and the odd tropical flavours too but it’s also quite odd again and seems all over the place. Towards the end some touches of biscuit and basic English malts start to come through but for the most part the berries and the floral flavours drown them out.
Palate (2/5): Really floral with a lot of citrus adding a tang to proceedings in the early going but it’s also an overly sweet beer thanks to the huge amounts of peach showing in both the taste and smell. It’s not a very well-balanced offering but it comes through with a light-medium body and subtle carbonation. It’s a poor offering really and almost ends up undrinkable nearer the end thanks to the sweetness of the stuff.

Overall (6/20): Rubbish stuff from Robinsons here, this one was an overly floral and ridiculously sweet beer that was odd tasting from the start and smelt like a bar of soap at times. It was just about drinkable and no more, with very little else managing to make itself known over the top of the floral flavours and the huge amounts of peach that featured. I was so disappointed with this one that I ended up giving my second bottle away as it was pretty much drain pour to me by the time I made it to the end of the first bottle.

Brewed In: Stockport, England
Brewery: Robinsons Family Brewers
First Brewed: 2015
Type: English Pale Ale
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Morrisons
Price: £1.69

Bath Ales Wild Hare (342 of 1001)

February 13, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.75

My first beer from Bath Ales now and one that I’ve been on the hunt for recently since it features in the 1001 beers list, it’s actually one I was looking for on a visit to Bath and Bristol last year but never managed to find it in any of the pubs I visited. This one will be the sixty-first English beer from the 1001 list that I’ll have managed to try to I finally found a bottle of the stuff in a Whole Foods Market store at the start of the month, picking it up alongside another of the brewery’s beers that doesn’t feature on the list but is one I’ve been looking to try for a while now as well. Falling somewhere between an English pale ale and a golden ale, this year round offering from Bath Ales is a 5% beer that is also an organic offering that gets fairly good reviews online and is one I’m looking forward to trying.

bath-ales-wild-hare

Appearance (4/5): Quite a clear bodied offering, this one pours a bright, golden amber colour that is topped with a thin, quarter centimetre head that has a bubbly texture and a white colour. The head retention is fairly ordinary, initially covering the surface well but it soon starts to break up a little round the edges and leave more of a patch in the centre of the glass after about thirty to forty-five seconds but there is plenty of visible carbonation thanks to the countless fine bubbles rising to the surface of the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh on the nose with a subtle sweetness to it that hints at some vanilla before some light citrus and lemon notes start to come through. There is a fruity base to the beer that also features touches of biscuit and the odd grassy hop too but there’s not too much bitterness really. Towards the middle there is a couple of floral smells coming through but it’s generally quite light and easy-going on the nose; an inoffensive, balanced beer so far.
Taste (7/10): Continuing on from where the nose left off, this one opens with some pleasant lemon flavours that are backed up nicely by touches of hay and again some subtle grassy hops that hint at an earthy bitterness. There’s a couple of background fruits and the odd biscuit malt nearer the middle with the sweetness that little bit stronger this time round and a few bread malts before a floral and citrus finish rounds things off nicely; definitely a subtle taste like the nose but again it is a good one.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium bodied and quite fresh, the beer is very well-balanced with no one flavour or smell dominating at any point but it still didn’t seem like a weak beer. There was some nice sweetness early on with a tiny bit of hop bitterness showing around the middle. A very easy to drink beer, the majority of this down to the balance but it might have benefited from being a touch stronger at times, that’s a minor criticism though.

Overall (15/20): An excellent first Bath Ales beer for me and one that was very well-balanced whilst being quite a light, easy-going beer that would definitely make an excellent session offering. There was some pleasant citrus flavours in the early going with a sweetness that got slightly stronger as things went on plus the floral touches that featured nearer the end were enjoyable too. The beer was at times a touch light but it didn’t take much away from what was otherwise a great beer. It certainly wasn’t the most complex offering I’ve come across recently either but it was well made and drinkable; decent stuff and one well worth picking up if you find it.

Brewed In: Bristol, England
Brewery: Bath Ales
First Brewed: 2005
Type: English Pale Ale/Golden Ale
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Whole Foods Market (Giffnock)
Price: £1.79

Farmageddon Gold Pale Ale

August 18, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 3.65

A second beer from the Farmageddon Brewing Co-Op now and a beer that I really had to think twice about before picking up. This one follows from the same brewery’s White IPA that I reviewed last summer on a previous trip to Ireland and at the time I hated the beer, it still ranks as the 25th worst beer I’ve every tried, listed elsewhere on this site but it’s also a beer that a lot of people seem to like so it’s always been at the back of my mind that I might had got a dodgy bottle. For that reason alone, I decided to give the brewery another chance and picked up this one from them, their Gold Pale Ale in the hope that it would prove to be a lot better than the last from them. This one is a beer that was introduced back in 2013, the same year the brewery was founded and I’m hoping that being one of their first beers that it is also one of their best; we shall see though I guess.

Farmageddon Gold Pale Ale

Appearance (4/5): A light, slightly watery looking amber with a hazy body and a two centimetre tall, foamy head that forms a dome shape at the top of the glass and holds remarkably well over the opening couple of minutes. There’s almost no movement initially and the head even looks to have gained a little height after a minute or so.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh and quite zesty on the nose with some orange and lemon notes coming through in the early going, followed quickly by some touches of  coriander too but they were quite light in truth. There was some biscuit notes around the middle with a few grassy touches too before some pale malts and earthy aromas started to appear. A couple of background fruits including some pear and apples followed nearer the end but as I’ve found to be the case with countless Irish beers, this one could have been fractionally stronger on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Quite a fresh and hoppy opening, there is some biscuit malts and touches of lemon in the early going. I got a faint, earthy malt taste coming through with some background fruits carried through from the nose; both the apple and pear featured. There was a slightly dry sweetness towards the end with a grassy taste but it wasn’t overly complex in truth.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and quite dry with a light-medium body, this one was zesty and fairly well carbonated with a nice tang from the citrus and a crisp finish to proceedings. The beer was also quite sharp and towards the end it came through with a moderate bitterness but as I’ve mentioned already, it definitely wasn’t the most complex beer out there.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff from Farmageddon this time round, this offering proving to be miles better than their White IPA that I really didn’t enjoy at all; thankfully this one wasn’t quite as off-putting or unbalanced. There was a fresh and quite hoppy start to the beer as it came through with subtle bitterness and a few earthy flavours at points. There was a couple of background fruits that appeared around the middle and touches of biscuit featured heavily too. Without being an overly complex beer, there was still enough to keep me interested and I’d be tempted to try more from the brewery now given the vast improvement between this and the last from them that I tried.

Brewed In: Comber, County Down, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Farmageddon Brewing Co-Op
First Brewed: 2013
Type: English Pale Ale
Abv: 4.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.29

Hilden Headless Dog

August 9, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 2.95

Surprisingly this one will be the first beer brewed in the north of Ireland that I’ll have tried in a while, that being despite the fact I recently spent a week in the country. On my visit I had made a point of sticking to Irish beers but as it happened, most I tried were brewed in the south and this ended up being one of only four beers I sampled that were brewed in the north. I managed to find a bottle of this one at a Wetherspoons pub in Enniskillen, although it was one that I’d previously spotted in a couple of the supermarkets in the area as well. The beer itself is a Hilden brewed offering that I decided to try based on the fact I’d seen the beer listed on a ‘Best of Irish Craft Beer’ list recently and it follows on from Hilden’s Belfast Blonde and Twisted Hop beers that I’ve sampled here previously.

Hilden Headless Dog

Appearance (3/5): Quite a bright and cloudy amber looking beer, this one was topped with a thin, bubbly white head that faded to a faint white rim around the edges of the glass and left the surface looking quite patchy after about thirty seconds or so.
Aroma (6/10): A basic opening that consisted of pale malts and a few earthy hops alongside some citrus that definitely gave the beer an English style nose in the early going. There was some background sweetness and the odd touch of fruit but it seemed quite a subdued offering with nothing really standing out. There was some bitterness towards the end too and although it wasn’t a bad aroma, it could definitely have been much stronger.
Taste (6/10): Pale malts and some earthy flavours kick things off here, there was some decent bitter flavours coming through as well and I got the odd English style hop as well. There was some citrus following on behind and the sweetness from the background fruits carried through from the nose with the beer tasting ever so slightly smooth but again it could have been stronger.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and quite sharp with a crisp and dry feel that comes through with moderate carbonation that was just a fraction softer than I’d been expecting. There was a nice bitterness throughout the beer but it was definitely far too light and even a little bland at times.

Overall (11/20): Quite a disappointing Hilden beer if I’m honest, I was expecting a bit more from the brewery with this one if I’m honest and it just seemed far too light at times with both the taste and the nose seeming somewhat subdued and weak. There was some pale malts and the off background fruit coming through alongside nice helping of citrus but it all seemed a touch bland and flat at times and it was wasn’t one that I particularly enjoyed sadly.

Brewed In: Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hilden Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2006
Type: English Pale Ale
Abv: 4.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: The Linen Hall (JDW), Enniskillen, N. Ireland
Price: £2.99

Quantum Magnum P.A.

July 6, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 2.85

The first of four beers that I picked up at the Beermoth bottle shop in Manchester on my recent visit to the city now, this one being a relatively local beer to the city having been brewed in the Stockport area. I picked the bottle up from the shops somewhat limited selection of local beers just before leaving the city and it’s not from a brewery that I’ve ever heard of; usually a good indication that the beer isn’t distributed north of the border and reason enough for me to pick it up. Founded in 2011 and located not far from the much larger Robinson’s brewery, Quantum brew bottles, cask and keg offerings for the local market and from what I can tell, this Magnum P.A. offering is one of their rotating beers and one that I can’t wait to crack open and try now.

Quantum Magnum P.A.

Appearance (3/5): This beer pours quite a cloudy, golden amber colour in the glass and is topped with quite a disappointingly thin, white lacing that’s pretty patchy as it sits atop the beer; not a great start sadly.
Aroma (6/10): The nose kicks off with a semi-funky aroma that wasn’t too far off a saison if I’m honest and initially had me thinking the beer might be off. As it turns out, I don’t think it was and this aroma was followed up by some subdued citrus hops and a couple of background fruits with the odd tropical tinge coming through. Definitely a lighter nose than I’d expected but there was some faint sweetness and very light touches of caramel in there alongside some strawberries that I hadn’t been expecting but the beer could definitely have been stronger on the nose.
Taste (6/10): The taste kicks off much like the nose with some subdued citrus hops but this time there is also a touch of pine and very light grapefruit showing too, it could definitely have been more bitter though. There was a few sweet fruits with the odd berry flavour coming through around the middle before some biscuit malts and touches of bread seen things out.
Palate (2/5): Quite a flat and underwhelming beer if I’m honest, I was expecting a bit more in the way of flavour and carbonation really and without either the beer seemed quite bland and boring. There was the odd touch of sweetness showing towards the end of the taste but it was too little, too late and the body was a little thin too; poor stuff in truth.

Overall (13/20): This one has turned out to be my second disappointing beer in a row sadly, mainly due to the bland taste and poor palate that resulted in the beer coming through as boring and flat with little in the flavour to turn things round any. There was some subtle citrus flavours in the early going with touches of pine too but it wasn’t nearly enough to make me want to try this one again; if the date on the bottle didn’t tell me otherwise, I would probably have thought this one was past its best and one to be tried when its fresher but as it stands it’s just another poor beer I’m afraid.

Brewed In: Stockport, Greater Manchester, England
Brewery: Quantum Brewing
First Brewed: 2016
Type: English Pale Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Beermoth (Manchester)
Price: £2.40