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144 Roman Heads

February 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

My fourth ever beer from Slovakia now but my first since trying three beers from the country when visiting Bratislava back in 2011; it’s been a while. Amazingly this seems to be a country that doesn’t really export beers to the UK, something that is surprising given how many Czech beers seem to make it into supermarket here. This one follows on from the pint of Zlaty Bazant that I tried in Bratislava as my first Slovakian beer in about seven years, the other two from the same trip that I tried were draft servings of Kelt 10% and Šariš 11% Tmavý so this one will be my first ‘craft’ beer from the country as well; hopefully I won’t need to wait as long before trying another in future.

Appearance (4/5): An almost murky amber colour that was cloudy and topped with an oversized, foamy head that was off-white and started about two inches tall before reducing very slightly in size. It looks like quite a strongly carbonated beer as it’s poured but head retention is quite good at least.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a lot of hops kick things off here and there is definitely some grapefruit and pine opening the show with a solid helping of apricot following soon after. I managed to get some sour touches and a little citrus around the middle before some caramel malts and background fruits came through towards the end; there was some orange and grapes in there with a little pear too.
Taste (6/10): Quite bitter with a lot of pine and grapefruit hops in the early going, the beer is quite a resinous one with some tropical fruits showing as well; there was the apricot from the nose with some mango and peach in there too. It’s a strong beer with some apples, grapes and a little sourness around the middle with some citrus not too far behind. The malts are more hidden with the nose, I did manage to get a little biscuit towards the end but the bitterness drowned out most of the rest.
Palate (3/5): Quite a strong beer that was very hoppy and pungent at times, there was a lot of resinous pine and grapefruit kicking things off and I’d liked to have seen more malts to balance this out a little. The alcohol content of the beer was showing towards the end too, although only slightly and it remained drinkable throughout with a dry feel throughout and moderate carbonation.

Overall (15/20): Nice stuff from Unorthodox initially with a lot of hop bitterness on the nose with pine and grapefruit dominating alongside some background fruits. Further on there was some touches of sourness that I hadn’t expected and some sweeter malts started to come through; this carried over to the taste with more bitterness showing this time but the balance could have used some work in truth.

Brewed In: Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Brewery: Unorthodox Brewing
Full Name: Unorthodox 144 Roman Heads 20°
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Double IPA
Abv: 8.1%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

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Rathlin Red

January 24, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.8

The final beer of those that I picked up and tried while in Ireland over the Christmas holidays, this one is a County Antrim brewed beer from the Glens of Antrim brewery that I sampled on my last night in the country. Like a lot of the beers that I tried over the holidays, this one is another from a brewery that I’ve not come across before and is one that I picked up in a local bottle shop for that reason alone. The beer is an Irish red ale that I was surprised to learn uses Slovenian hops and will likely be one of my last new Irish beers until I return to the country later this year, mainly because I’ve tried most of the beers from the country that manage to make it to Scotland already

Appearance (3/5): A dark caramel amber that was hazy and topped with a half centimetre tall head that had a bubbly texture and white colour; it managed to hold well initially before a couple of patches slowly formed around a minute or so.
Aroma (6/10): Quite earthy with a lot of toasted malts and some background sweetness, the beer had some toffee showing initially with a touch less caramel following on behind. Around the middle I started to get some honey sweetness and a few biscuit malts with a roasted aroma seeing things out.
Taste (5/10): Sweeter than the nose with a lot more toffee showing and there was probably slightly more caramel coming through as well. These were followed by some biscuit malts, toasted flavours and a little bread with some nutty touches further on. Towards the end the sweetness continued with some honey and vanilla showing as well as some spice and basic malts.
Palate (3/5): Falling just shy of medium bodied, the beer was slightly lighter than I’d been hoping for but it was quite a smooth one with plenty of sweetness showing throughout. The balance wasn’t the best in truth and it wasn’t overly enjoyable either sadly but it was moderately carbonated and dry towards the end with a toasted bitterness seeing things out.

Overall (10/20): Quite a disappointing offering from Glens of Antrim and one that I’d been hoping for more from, it was a little poor with the sweetness a little more pronounced than expected too. There wasn’t a great deal of variety to the nose and although the beer did improve slightly with the taste, it’s not likely that it’s a beer that I’d go back to again.

Brewed In: Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Glens Of Antrim
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Irish Red Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.79

Carlingford Tholsel Blonde

January 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.8

The second of the two Carlingford beers that I picked up while over in Ireland at Christmas, this one is also the penultimate beer from my trip that I’ll be reviewing here; only a review of a Glens of Antrim beer is left after this one. This one was a beer that I opened shortly after finishing a bottle of the brewery’s Taaffe’s Red and although that one turned out to be quite a disappointing beer I was still hopeful this one would prove more enjoyable; here’s what I thought of it in the end.

Appearance (3/5): A light, almost watered down looking amber that had a slightly hazy body and a half centimetre, bubbly white head on top that turned quite patchy after about thirty seconds.
Aroma (5/10): Basic lager type malts and some biscuit notes kick things off here, there was some earthy hops and touches of hay with a light citrus backing but there wasn’t a whole lot going on really. Towards the end some grassy hops and touches of lemon featured with a little pepper and spice to see things out.
Taste (6/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, the beer opened with some biscuit malts and a few earthy hops with some faint grassy hops in there as well. Nearer the middle some citrus and touches of hay started to appear as well as some bread malts and straw. It was quite a basic tasting beer with a few light fruits and background malts but it wasn’t anything special really.
Palate (3/5): Quite sharp and crisp with a light-medium body and some fresh touches; it was a well carbonated offering that came through fresh initially but started to fade towards the middle before finishing poorly.

Overall (10/20): Quite a bitter and harsh beer that was earthy throughout and very basic at times too. The beer had a light-medium body with some biscuit malts and touches of bread as well as some lighter fruits and hops sitting in the background but it was quite a poor offering that I’ll be avoiding in future.

Brewed In: Riverstown, County Louth, Ireland
Brewery: Carlingford Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Belgian Ale
Abv: 4.6%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

Carlingford Taaffe’s Red

January 23, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.15

The first of two beers from the County Louth based Carlingford brewery now, this one will actually be my first craft beer from the county since the others I’ve tried from there are all brewed by Dundalk which covers the Smithwick’s range as well as Harp Lager. I’m hoping this one will be a step up from those mass-market offerings and that’s part of the reason I picked this one up alongside a bottle of the brewery’s Tholsel Blonde, a review of which will follow this one. Labelled as an Irish red ale, this one will also be the first of the style that I’ll have reviewed in a while and was one of the beers that I tried on my last night in Ireland before returning home for the New Year.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark caramel brown to chestnut with a half centimetre head that was an off-white to light-tan colour with a bubbly texture; it did take quite an aggressive pour to form though but managed to hold well with only a slight break-up towards one side.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with biscuit malts and some light caramel notes, the beer had some toffee coming through and seemed nutty overall. It was quite mellow around the middle with some toasted malts and a few background, almost summer type fruits rounded things off nicely.
Taste (6/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, the taste kicked off with some biscuit malts and nutty flavours with some subtle caramel backing it up and adding a nice sweetness. Towards the middle some toasted malts and a few fruits started to come through on top of quite an earthy but basic body before some grassy hops and a few touches of bread seen things out.
Palate (3/5): Light medium bodied and not quite as full as expected, the beer was quite crisp though with a sharp feel that was clean and towards the end turned quite dry. There was an earthy, nutty feel throughout this one and it wasn’t overly bitter at least but it definitely seemed quite basic throughout.

Overall (11/20): This one started quite strong with a nutty taste that was quite earthy throughout too, there was one subtle bitterness at points as well which was nice to see. Further on there was a few caramel touches and some nice background fruits to keep things interesting but the balance wasn’t a particularly good one and it was also a little lighter than I’d have liked so it’s probably one that I’d avoid in future sadly.

Brewed In: Riverstown, County Louth, Ireland
Brewery: Carlingford Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Irish Red Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

Reel Deel Jack The Lad

January 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.15

My first beer from Reel Deel, a County Mayo based brewery that is responsible for this one; a beer they label as an ‘Irish pale ale’. The beer is one that I sampled over the holidays after picking the bottle up on Christmas Eve along with a few other Irish beers. Although not from a brewery that I’d heard anything about previously, the beer is one that caught my eye thanks to the label design. This was one of several from the brewery that the shop had in stock as well, so hopefully I’ll be able to try a couple more from Reel Deel when I’m back over in Ireland later in the year.

Appearance (3/5): Copper tinged amber with a slightly hazy body and quite a large, foamy white head on top that threatened to overflow the glass. The beers head was quite a thick looking one that was wavy on top and left plenty of lacing on the sides of the glass too. It was an active looking beer that had tonnes of visible carbonation and the head seemed to constantly be rising, taking an age to finally settle and allow me to start drinking.
Aroma (7/10): Quite strong on the nose with lots of citrus hops and some pine backing them up which gave the beer a fresh and lively feel on the nose. There was some grapefruit and hints of orange coming through with a little biscuit malt further on and some earthy touches towards the middle and end. It was quite a floral nose that finished things off with some spices coming through then as well.
Taste (6/10): Following on nicely from the nose, the beer was again quite fresh and lively with a solid hop bitterness and a few floral touches as well; citra hops were the most pronounced in the early going. Towards the middle there was a nice combination of orange and pine with a few pale malts and biscuit flavours following on behind and the finish seemed more herbal than the nose was but a few of the background spices still showed this time around.
Palate (3/5): Quite an active and fizzy beer that was over-carbonated and resulted in an over-sized head that took an age to settle. The beer was crisp and quite lively though but seemed to be lacking a good balance and sat pretty average on the palate as I worked my way down the beer.

Overall (13/20): Quite lively but definitely over-carbonated, this one was bordering on gassy at times but was still quite a fresh, crisp offering that started with a lot of citrus and pine hops with some grapefruit backing them up. It was definitely stronger on the nose than expected which was nice and further on the taste was a fairly standard one that was a combination of the usual biscuit and earthy malts. It was a drinkable beer that went down easily enough but I’m not sure there was enough going on for it to warrant a repeat visit.

Brewed In: Knockalegan, County Mayo, Ireland
Brewery: Reel Deel Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.50

Lacada West Bay

January 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.3

My first beer from the County Antrim based Lacada Brewery in the north of Ireland and another beer that I picked up just before Christmas whilst visiting the country. I opened this one a couple of days after Christmas while it was still fresh and although it wasn’t a beer that I’d been aware of previously, I was looking forward to seeing how it turned out given it’s not one that I’m likely to see in Scotland anytime soon. Part of the Irish brewery’s Salamander Series, this one is a new citra pale ale for 2017 from a brewery that only launched back in October 2015 so hopefully I’ll see a few more of the brewery’s beer when I make return trips to Ireland later this year.

Appearance (4/5): A hazy, almost copper amber colour that had a centimetre tall, bubbly white head on top that started to turn foamy on the surface but managed to hold well initially without much break up.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a lot of hops open things up with some citrus and pine coming through strong and some touches of grapefruit not too far behind. The beer was definitely a fresh and zesty one with some lemongrass and a few pale malts towards the middle before some biscuit malts rounded things off.
Taste (6/10): Quite a zesty tasting beer with strong citrus/lemon flavours initially, there was some strong hops and grapefruit at this point too. Towards the middle I got some pale malts that seemed a touch stronger than they were with the nose and a hop bitterness started to appear towards the end alongside some lighter fruits.
Palate (3/5): Light bodied and a touch watery at points, the beer was moderately carbonated with a slight citrus tang and some hop bitterness but seemed quite basic and weak at points too sadly.

Overall (12/20): Quite an underwhelming beer that was interesting on the nose but faded come the taste with only some basic hops and citrus flavours coming through. At times it seemed closer an IPA than a pale ale but it started to fade towards the middle and end, seeming weak and bland at points; it’s not one I’d go for again.

Brewed In: Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Lacada Brewery Co-Op
First Brewed: 2017
Full Name: Lacada Salamander Series #5: West Bay Citra Pale Ale
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.6%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.39

O Brother The Sinner

January 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

The second of two beers from the O Brother brewery now, this one follows quickly on from their The Chancer American pale ale that I reviewed here previously and is another I picked up over in Ireland just before Christmas at the end of last year. This particular offering from the brewery comes in slightly stronger than their last, sitting at 6.2% abv. and promising a hop-filled taste, this is another from the brewery that I was looking forward to prior to opening just after Christmas; especially since their The Chancer offering turned out to be a fairly good one.

Appearance (4/5): An almost caramel amber with a foamy head on top that was thick looking before starting to turn bubbly but retention was good at least.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a malty beer with some subtle hops and citrus coming through in the early going, there was some earthy hops showing as well. Around the middle some pine started to make itself known alongside some light caramel which also helped some with the balance of the beer on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Opening with a few biscuit malts and some background citrus, the beer was quite fresh tasting with a light grapefruit flavour towards the middle and some tropical fruits not too far behind. It was quite a bitter beer with some caramel sweetness later on and a few pale malts seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Somewhere around medium bodied and quite a bitter offering, the beer was fresh and strongly carbonated with a smooth mouthfeel. From the middle on the beer was quite dry but definitely easy to drink with a crisp finish that was quite enjoyable.

Overall (15/20): Definitely a fresh and lively beer, this one opened with some pleasant citrus flavours that were backed up by some grapefruit and pine which gave the beer a hop-filled taste in the early going. There was some biscuit and earthy malts further on with some caramel sweetness doing well to provide a nice balance with the beer; a decent effort and one well worth trying.

Brewed In: Kilcoole, County Wicklow, Ireland
Brewery: O Brother Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.50