Posts Tagged ‘english strong ale’

Belheather Whisky Beer

January 31, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 2.55

Anyway, this one is a beer that is brewed exclusively for Lidl stores in the UK and is one that I received as a gift towards the end of last year before finally sampling it right at the start of this one. I never really hold up much hope for beers from this brewery, they always tend to be somewhat average offerings at best but I was interested to try another whisky beer and see if I liked it any better than the like of 1488 Whisky Beer or Innis & Gunn’s Irish Whiskey Cask; it turns out I did not.


Appearance (2/5): Medium amber and a fairly cloudy offering, this one was topped with a thin, foamy white lacing in lieu of a head and wasn’t much to look at really. The lacing was quite a patchy one, not doing particularly well to cover the surface really and it was a disappointing start.
Aroma (5/10): A very subdued offering, the beer was almost weak on the nose with only a few bread malts and touches of caramel coming through initially. There was some further background sweetness and the faintest of citrus touches alongside some basic hop bitterness. Towards the end some touches of oak did materialise but there was none of the promised whisky flavours, or even any peat; not what I was expecting really.
Taste (5/10): Like the nose, the beer opened with the same caramel malts and bread flavours before some citrus came through; there wasn’t a great deal but it did seem a touch stronger than with the aroma. It’s still not the strongest beer out there but some vanilla and touches of oak did appear, still no whisky though. Towards the end I got some biscuit flavours and subtle hops with touches of smoke seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and quite a lively, well carbonated offering with plenty of sweetness from the malts but some blander, almost weak touches nearer the centre that meant this one definitely didn’t seem like a 6.5% abv. beer. The balance was okay at times but again this was more to do with some of the flavours being so weak, it did remain drinkable though but it certainly wasn’t one that I enjoyed.

Overall (11/20): Quite a disappointing offering on the whole, the beer was a sweet one with plenty of caramel and bread malts making up most of the flavours before some biscuit ones appeared nearer the end but there was none of the advertised whisky flavours showing. I managed to get some oak, vanilla and lighter smoky flavours towards the end of the taste alongside some faint alcohol grain but it seemed bland and weak at points, showing itself to be quite a cheap, one-dimensional beer that I wouldn’t pick up again.

Brewed In: Stirling, Scotland
Brewery: Black Wolf Brewery
First Brewed: 2016
Type: English Strong Ale
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Lidl
Price: Gift


Shepherd Neame 1698 (277 of 1001)

December 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

Yet another from the 1001 beers list now, they seem to be like buses in that I don’t drink many for a while then tonnes come along at the one time. This one is another English offering from the list, a ‘Kentish Strong Ale’ from Shepherd Neame that follows on from Bishops Finger as the second beer on the list that the brewery produces. This one was originally brewed back in 1998 to mark the brewery’s tricentennial celebration, back then it was a 10.5% abv. affair but a 4.5% cask version was also available. The beer was then relaunched in March 2005 as a 6.5% abv. bottle conditioned beer and is now just referred to as 1698 without the celebration part at the end. The beer is a very local affair with all the ingredients sourced within the region and it is a beer I’ve been on the lookout for since this time last year, finally finding a bottle in a Tesco supermarket last month; I’m looking forward to this one.

Shepherd Neame 1698

Appearance (5/5): A bright and clear copper colour with a fairly large, two centimetre tall head that is a foamy white one with a thick looking texture and good retention. There looks to be good carbonation with this one, there are plenty of fine bubbles moving about the body of the beer, some sediment at the bottom and the head takes on a domed shape with no reduction in size over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (7/10): Stronger on the nose that I was expecting, there is a good amount of toffee and caramel making an appearance early on with some sugary sweetness and a solid caramel malt base. Some biscuit notes come through as well and there spice to round things off with.
Taste (7/10): Quite a sweet tasting beer with a combination of caramel malts and toffee coming through together at the start, there is some spice too with hints of ginger among them. Some biscuit malts and a hint of vanilla make an appearance but it was definitely the caramel and toffee that seemed to dominate with a hop backing throughout as well.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and well carbonated, this one from Shepherd Neame is fairly sweet with a smooth mouthfeel and some spice coming through as well with only a touch of alcohol showing.

Overall (13/20): Definitely one of the better Shepherd Neame beers I’ve tried, this one is likely the pick of the eight I’ve now tried. The beer was quite sweet with a good combination of caramel, toffee and sugars without seemingly sickeningly sweet. It’s by no means a classic beer but it was a nice one to sip away at on a cold winters night.

Brewed In: Faversham, England
Brewery: Shepherd Neame Ltd.
First Brewed: 1998 (relaunched in 2005)
Also Known As: Shepherd Neame 1698 Celebration Ale
Type: English Stong Ale/ESB
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Glasgow)
Price: £2.15

Yorkshire Stingo (250 of 1001)

Rating: 4.15

A relatively new one from Samuel Smith’s brewery now, by their standards anyway, this one is a strong English ale from the brewery that was first launched back in 2008 and I managed to picked up a 2012 bottle of the stuff whilst in York late last year. The beer takes its name from an old English folk song with ‘Stingo’ meaning strong ale so it fits this one perfectly. The beer was introduced 250 years after the founding on The Old Brewery although it isn’t a commemorative beer despite the fact it could easily be one given the strength of the beer. This one should have the potential to be aged for a number of years but can also be drank fresh due to the fact that Samuel Smith ages the beer for a year before bottling anyway, for this reason I’ve decided to try it now and see how it tastes, if it’s as good as I hope then I’ll have to see about picking up another bottle and aging that one.
Yorkshire Stingo

Appearance (5/5): Caramel brown with a huge, inch high, very foamy looking head that has a creamy looking layer at the top. Retention is excellent here, particularly given the abv. of the beer with zero movement over the opening four or five minutes before it eventually starts to subside, leaving what is still a fairly sizable head sitting a couple of centimetres tall with some nice lacing on the sides of the glass.
Aroma (8/10): Strong on the nose with good malts and toffee coming through plus a nice alcohol edge to it as well. Plenty of ripe and sweet fruits, oak and vanilla featuring too. A very good smelling beer with a solid balance and the touches of alcohol only improve things, as does the sweetness from the fruits.
Taste (7/10): Again the sweetness kicks things off with some ripe fruits and vanilla coming through, there was some of the oak from the aroma in there as well and I could detect bread and malts with a great balance between flavours. The beer is rounded out with some toffee and the flavour was a very good one.
Palate (4/5): Very smooth with a nice alcohol kick throughout, there isn’t much in the way of bitterness to this one but some sweetness is present from the start. The balance of this one was good and despite the strength it was quite an easy one to drink.

Overall (17/20): Another very good offering from Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery, a strong one from the start but it didn’t overpower and went down surprisingly easy with a good balance. The beer was a good one to mark me making it through 250 beers from the 1001 beers list, I quite enjoyed this one and would definitely be tempted to pick this one up again if I can manage to find it and the price maybe isn’t quite as much as I paid this time around; regardless it’s still a great beer.

Brewed In: Tadcaster, England
Brewery: Samuel Smith Old Brewery
First Brewed: 2008
Full Name: Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo
Type: English Strong Ale
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (550ml)
Purchased: Evil Eye Lounge (York)
Price: £6.00 (approx.)

Arran Milestone

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.9

One of the lesser known Isle of Arran beers here, this one is a beer I was given as a gift from someone returning from the island and despite the fact it has been available since at least 2006, it is not a beer I have ever seen or heard about until now. It is not one of the beers from the brewery that makes it to UK supermarkets as far as I can tell and had to be picked up from the brewery shop on Arran earlier this year. This one will be my fifth beer from the brewery and to be honest it isn’t one of my favourites, with three of the previous four I have tried coming across as pretty average so hopefully this one is a beer that can change that.

Appearance (4/5): A copper amber colour with a thumb-sized, creamy white head on top that holds remarkably well over the opening five minutes.
Aroma (5/10): Some very strong fruity notes initially that are almost pungent with some orange, lemon and a slightly tropical aroma with some passion fruit in the mix. There is some acidity too, and this is followed by a sweetness and hops but overall it is the blend of fruits that dominates. The smell isn’t particularly well balanced and is overly strong to begin with sadly.
Taste (5/10):
Fruit to begin with an orange and tropical fruit taste again dominating, much like the smell. There is some hops coming through not long after this and hints of spice too. The citrus flavours seem overdone if I’m honest and there is touches of caramel interspersed with various of hints of fruit.
Palate (3/5): This one is probably about medium bodied and very fruity throughout with a slight citrus tang and hints of alcohol too. The carbonation is medium to high and the finish is a sweet one.

Overall (10/20): I wasn’t particularly impressed with this one at all and felt that the balance was poor throughout with the orange and tropical fruits dominating from the offset and neither being particularly enjoyable. The beer also seemed over-carbonated and just didn’t sit well with me for one reason or another. Sadly the worst of the Isle of Arran offerings I have tried thus far but it is still an excellent brewery.

Brewed In: Isle Of Arran, Scotland
Brewery: Isle Of Arran Brewery Company
First Brewed: circa. 2006
Type: English Strong Ale
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Isle of Arran, Scotland, UK
Price: Gift

Fuller’s Vintage Ale (2010 Edition) (115 of 1001)

September 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.25

Although not a re-review this one is very close to it in that I will be trying the 2010 version of Fuller’s Vintage Ale after first trying the 2011 version in June of last year and rating it quite highly. I managed to try the year before s version in the Iron Duke pub in the Mayfair area of London recently since the Fuller’s pub I stopped off in didn’t have the greatest selection of bottles and I didn’t feel like a cask beer. Since I’ve already reviewed a version of this beer I’ll keep this post short but it will be interesting to see if the beer is any different or how my tastes have changed over the past year and a bit. I’ve also marked this one as featuring in the 1001 beers list, although obviously not as a new entry since I’ve already tried it.

Fuller's Vintage Ale (2010 Edition)

Appearance (5/5): A deep copper colour that is a sort of amber brown with a thin, foamy layer on top for a head that doesn’t budge at all and leaves some great lacing on the glass too.
Aroma (8/10): Initially there is a boozy smell with lots of sweetness and sugar plus some nice caramel notes. There is a lot of background fruits making up the aroma with plums, apples and raisins all featuring along with some vanilla and a touch of butterscotch. A great aroma and just as good as the 2011 version.
Taste (8/10): Again this one starts off quite boozy with a pleasant and warming alcohol taste that is complimented by the caramel and toffee that follows. There is some background fruits again and this time some banana features, although it is a light smell and again vanilla adds to the sweetness. A complex and very good taste overall.
Palate (4/5): Smooth tasting with a strong alcohol taste but not an overpowering one thankfully. There is some sugar and lots of sweetness with a warming feeling coming from the alcohol. Carbonation is medium but the body is a thick and full one.

Overall (17/20): A good beer with a very strong combination of flavours and a great balance between the fruits, sweetness and the alcohol that helps the beer go down very easily. A great beer that does lose anything as it settles and is drank, although maybe not quite as good as the 2011 version but it was very tight. Hopefully I’ll get to try a few other versions of this beer and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the 2012 and 2013 versions with a view of aging them for a later date.

Brewed In: London, England
Brewery: Fuller, Smith & Turner
First Brewed: 1997 (2010 for this version)
Type: English Strong Ale
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Iron Duke, Mayfair, London, England
Price: £6.00

K-9 Cruiser

Rating: 3.1

Flying Dog is fast becoming my go to American craft brewery given how readily available their beers seem to be in the UK these days, this one is their winter seasonal that is available from around November to March each year since it was launched back in 1999. I opted to buy the beer at my local bottle shop when I was told it was discounted by the distributor to clear some stock otherwise I might have gave the beer a miss given I have so many others to get through at the minute, a few of them other Flying Dog offerings. This one is a strong winter ale using a combination of Munich and Chocolate malts among others and comes in at 30 IBU’s so it shouldn’t be all that bitter. It’s not one of the brewery’s beers I’ve heard much about but as always the label art is good so I’m willing to give it a go.
K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale

Appearance (4/5): A deep and rich looking copper colour with a large and foamy looking head that is a light brown colour. Retention isn’t too bad with some lacing left on the glass and minimal reduction in size to begin with.
Aroma (5/10): Quite an earthy aroma with some light malts and a touch of sweet caramel and toffee. There is some spice and darker fruits but these aromas are kept to a minimum. Not all that exciting and lacking depth to be honest.
Taste (6/10): Again there is some earthy malts and some caramel ones too, I could also detect some darker fruits but like the smell these were at least partially masked throughout. There is some spice and lighter hops but everything just seems to blur together and do little to keep me interested.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied with a sweet, warming alcohol taste and some touches of earthy bitterness but not a lot. The carbonation is quite mild and the beer comes across as a basic one with a very smooth mouthfeel.

Overall (12/20): Quite a basic and unexciting taste that is out of character for Flying Dog as their beers are usually always interesting and worth trying. This one started pretty slow but did have some nice caramel malts and some fruits somewhere around the middle but it wasn’t enough to save the drink I’m afraid and it’s not one I’d seek out again.

Brewed In: Frederick, Maryland, United States of America
Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery
Full Name: Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale
First Brewed: 1999
Type: Winter Warmer
Abv: 7.4%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £2.40

Old Tom (181 of 1001)

Rating: 3.4

This is a bottle from the 1001 Beers list that I stumbled upon in Asda a few months ago and quickly picked up, surprisingly the only bottle I purchased that day. On the bottle the brewer proudly proclaimed the beer is the “Worlds Best Ale” although judging by some of the reviews online I would say that is a bit of a stretch. It looks like it’ll be a nice tipple but probably not likely to trouble many of the higher rated beers on this blog. The beer is an English strong ale/barleywine and from brewery records it is known that the beer was first brewed by then head brewer Frederic Robinson on the 1st of November 1899, the notes also feature a drawing of the brewery cat that now features on both the bottle and the bottle cap. The beer is one that ages well and gives a warming alcohol feel to it making it the perfect winter drink…apparently.
Old Tom

Appearance (4/5): A mahogany to chestnut brown colour with a few red tinges and a tiny, white to tan lace on top that turns patchy fairly quickly.
Aroma (6/10): A fruity one this, there are a few sweet malts and a lot of alcohol on the nose with some darker, strong fruits and berries coming through. There was also a touch of caramel and some rich fruits with sugar. Pleasant but perhaps the alcohol could have been hidden slightly better.
Taste (7/10): Sweet with some alcohol but not as much as with the smell, there is however the same, strong fruit and richness. I could detect some plums and a few other darker fruits with some caramel and toffee coming through as well as some cherries.
Palate (3/5): Smooth and a little spicy but with a lot of alcohol that had a negative impact on my opinion of the beer. The taste was sweet and boozy and the mouthfeel was medium to full bodied.

Overall (14/20): A fairly average beer if truth be told, I did enjoy it but they alcohol was a little strong and although pleasant the sweetness and fruity flavours did little to mask it. The beer is a strong and boozy one that leaves you with a warming alcohol taste to it and it was easy enough to drink, even with the huge alcohol kick.

Brewed In: Stockport, England
Brewery: Robinsons Family Brewers
Full Name: Robinsons Old Tom Strong Ale
First Brewed: 1899
Type: English Strong Ale
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Morrisons
Price: £1.25