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Asahi Red Eye

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 1.65

The final beer from those that I managed to try on my recent trip to Japan now and one that I tried on my last morning in the country before heading home; I do at least have a couple more Japanese beers to review though after picking some up on my final day in the country. This beer isn’t really one that I was holding out much hope for when I first picked it up but it was a new an unusual beer so I decided to give it a go given I’d likely never see it outside of Japan. Described as part tomato juice and part beer, this one was my fifth Asahi beer and follows on from their Super Dry Black offering that I reviewed here recently but sadly this one wasn’t anywhere near as good as that one.

Appearance (2/5): A light tomato red colour that was pretty much what I’d expected, there was a small foamy lacing on top for a head but this disappeared completely after about twenty seconds though and the beer was an opaque looking one that looked pretty much like a glass of tomato juice after the head vanished.
Aroma (3/10): Opening with tonnes of tomato notes initially, there wasn’t really much to this one beyond that in the early going but further on some background malts did feature, they were very faint though.
Taste (3/10): The initial taste was a very close relation to the nose with tonnes of tomatoes opening and dominating the early going before some basic sweet malts and a tiny bit of citrus started to come through towards the end with subtle grassy flavours too.
Palate (2/5): Surprisingly this one was quite a thin bodied beer with a lot more carbonation than expected too, it was quite a lively but ultimately a basic beer on the way down. There was some touches of sweetness towards the end thanks to the malts but that was about it really.

Overall (5/20): Not a great beer at all, this one was basically an alcoholic tomato juice that was miles behind even a poor Bloody Mary. The beer did have some basic sweet malts and hints of citrus and grassy flavours further on with the taste but it was almost completely dominated by tomato juice flavours and was a struggle to drink. Definitely one that I’d avoid in future, even if you’re usually a tomato juice fan because I can’t see how anyone would enjoy this when the real stuff is probably miles better as well.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Asahi Breweries
First Brewed:  circa. 2012
Type: Fruit/Vegetable Beer
ABV: 3.5%
Serving: Can (350ml)
Purchased: Don Quijote (Sihinbuya, Tokyo)
Price:¥153 (£1.01 approx.)

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Joshuaku Plum Ale

October 20, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.15

The first of two beers from the Ichijoji brewery that I managed to try in their Kyoto taproom when I visited late last month on a trip to the city; this one appearing to be an autumn seasonal from the brewery. I opted for this particularly offering as my first beer in the taproom since it was a rare chance to try a Japanese fruit beer on-tap and because it was a seasonal offering; it’s also very possibly my first ever plum beer too.

Appearance (4/5): Cloudy, medium amber with a half centimetre, foamy white head that turns to a fine surface lacing after a minute or so but leaves some nice lacing on the sides of the glass in the process.
Aroma (5/10): Fairly light with some background fruits initially, there was some plum in there (or at least that’s what I assumed it to be) followed by some earthy hops and a touch of bread malt. The beer was semi-sweet around the middle with a little honey coming through but not too much else really which made it seem weak at times, although a tiny bit of tart did see things out.
Taste (6/10):
Slightly more pronounced than the nose, the taste kicked off with some basic malts and honey before the plum from the nose made a brief appearance. There was some citrus towards the middle with biscuit and bread malts following on behind; an improvement on the nose but still not great.
Palate (3/5):
Opening with some tart and a medium body and plenty of funk alongside a slight citrus tang, this was a medium bodied beer that was slightly fresher than expected but definitely far too weak; there was at least some sweetness at the end though. The balance seemed okay but that was partially down to the fact that nothing was particularly strong coming through which in turn made it easy on the way down but not overly enjoyable.

Overall (13/20): This one was definitely a weak offering but also one that took a while to open up so it didn’t end up being as bland or poor as I’d initially feared; it still wasn’t the strongest but some nice funk and tart flavours did feature further on. The plum advertised in the beer’s name was relatively light and difficult to detect but there was some background fruits and a light sweetness to the beer but it wasn’t great really; still it’s likely the only Japanese fruit beer I’ll try for a while.

Brewed In: Kyoto, Japan
Brewery: Ichijoji Brewery
First Brewed: circa. 2017
Also Known As: Ichijoji Sumomo Ale
Type: Fruit Beer
Abv: 5.3%
Serving: Keg (270ml)
Purchased: Ichi-Ya Bar, Kyoto, Japan
Price: ¥648 (£4.29 approx.)

Taiwan Long Chuan Beer Peach

Rating: 2.05

Following very quickly on from the lemon version of this beer from the same brewery, I’ll now be sampling the Taiwan Long Chuan Beer Peach flavours which will be my second from the Taiwan Tsing Beer Co. and my third in total from Taiwan, the other being the can of Taiwan Beer Gold Medal that I tried and hated a number of years ago. Thankfully the lemon version of this beer wasn’t quite as bad as the first Taiwan beer I tried and although it wasn’t exactly one to write home about, the beer was drinkable and I’m hopeful that this one will be too. It’s not often I get to pick up a peach flavoured beer and I’m also hoping it is more fruit beer than radler this time but given the fact that it is another 2.5% abv. beer, I’m not exactly holding my breath for it.

Appearance (2/5): Even lighter than the lemon version, this one is incredibly light straw coloured that isn’t too far away from water in appearance. There is again a lot of fine bubbles rising to the surface but this time the head is much better, it’s a white and foamy one that sits about a centimetre tall in the glass and holds a lot better than expected too, lasting the opening minute or so before slowly reducing in size.
Aroma (5/10): Plenty of peach in the early going, the nose was again quite artificial but not overly so at least. There was some sugars adding to the sweetness initially with some apricot and floral notes in there too which meant this was a little bit more to it than the lemon version. It’s overly sweet at times and there isn’t much in the way of the traditional beer notes to this one really with the nose rounded off with what was a very sweet, syrupy type aroma to see things out.
Taste (4/10): Sweet with an opening combination of peaches and apricot, there was some oranges and a syrupy type, artificial sweetness to the beer in the early going. It has no bitterness or any of the usual beer flavours coming through, I got a tonne of sugar and a couple of summer fruits and white grapes nearer the middle but that was about it really; again it’s not much like a beer at all.
Palate (2/5): Light bodied but very sweet and with a slightly syrupy feel, the beer was quite smooth for the most part though but could have been a little stronger at times. There was some summer fruits at times but it was fairly one-dimensional for the most part and not very beer like either.

Overall (7/20): This one was another fairly poor offering from the brewery overall although if pushed I would say it was a very slightly worse that the lemon version at times but it was also overly sweet throughout. There was some peach and apricot with a white grape flavour in there too but there wasn’t a whole lot beyond that and it didn’t seem quite as version as expected either which was disappointing.

Brewed In:  Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Brewery: Taiwan Tsing Beer Co.
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Fruit Beer
Abv: 2.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Chung Ying Supermarket (Glasgow)
Price: £1.28

Taiwan Long Chuan Beer Lemon

Rating: 2.15

This one is only my second ever beer from Taiwan and follows on from the can of Taiwan Beer Gold Medal that I tried back in the summer of 2013 in travelling around southeast Asia and picking up a can of the stuff in Singapore on night. That last beer from the country is one that can only be described as terrible and it’s not an experience I want to repeat so hopefully this fruit beer offering that I picked up from a Chinese supermarket in Glasgow a few weeks ago will turn out to be better. I grabbed this lemon flavoured version (despite the fact a lime is shown on the can) alongside their peach flavour since it was an unusual beer and one I hadn’t spotted anywhere before, hopefully it’s not a decision I’ll come to regret. The beer itself comes in at 2.5% abv. so it should be a relatively easy one to drink for what was a 2012 release from the Taiwan Tsing Beer Co. and will be my first from them so far; let’s find out.

Appearance (2/5): A very clear beer, this one is a light golden straw colour that isn’t unlike a pale lager but it’s definitely got a lot more visible carbonation with a lot of active bubbles rising to the surface in the early going. The head is a thin, foamy one that is white in colour but fades to nothing pretty quickly, there is a tiny bit of lace left sitting in the middle of the glass but that is about it really.
Aroma (4/10): It’s not the strongest beer on the nose, there was a combination of lime and lemon coming through but both definitely had an artificial aroma to them with some sugars and sticky sweetness in there too. It’s very much like a lot of radlers I’ve tried when travelling around Europe in the past, there’s not much to it other than some lemonade type notes and a faint touch of corn nearer the end; pretty disappointing stuff really.
Taste (4/10): Starting in a similar vein to the nose, there was some lemon flavours kicking things off and they were at least a touch stronger than with the nose. Towards the middle some lime and various sugars feature with a corn adjunct taste that was a little off. The beer tasted more like an alcopop than anything else with some sticky touches around the middle and basic adjuncts seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): Quite light and artificial on the palate, the beer was definitely well carbonated though and proved quite refreshing on a warm day but it was a touch thin at times. It was generally quite a sticky and very sweet offering with an okay balance that was definitely helped by the fact that the flavours and the nose were both so light.

Overall (7/20): Quite a basic beer overall and one that was more radler than fruit beer despite what the label said, there was also quite a lot of lime showing which seemed to match the picture on the can but not the name of the beer. It was an easy and refreshing one to drink but it was a little light on taste whilst still being miles better than the last beer from Taiwan that I tried. It’s not a classic by any means, it’s not even a good beer really and it’s almost a stretch to call it a beer but it was at least marginally better than expected and hopefully the peach flavour that I’m trying next is slightly better.

Brewed In:  Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Brewery: Taiwan Tsing Beer Co.
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Fruit Beer
Abv: 2.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Chung Ying Supermarket (Glasgow)
Price: £1.28

Abita Blueberry Wheat

September 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.75

One of the more unusual beers that I received as a gift from relatives returning from New Orleans recently, this Blueberry Wheat will be my second Abita beer and follows on from their Wrought Iron IPA that I reviewed here last week. The beer is one that was initially announced in March this year before being released as a summer seasonal from the brewery in June. Falling somewhere between a wheat ale and a fruit beer, this is the first blueberry beer that I’ll have tried and I can’t recall of even hearing about another so this should all be new to me and I’m not really sure what to expect. The beer is part of Abita’s ‘Harvest Series’ of beers, not that it means much to me since it is not a brewery I’m likely see much from in the UK but all the brews in the series are made using local Louisiana grow produce; in this case the blueberries. Despite not known much about this one going in, I did quite enjoy the only other beer from the brewery that I’ve tried so hopefully this one continues the trend; I’m hopeful it will even though the online reviews I’ve read haven’t been overly complimentary.

abita-blueberry-wheat

Appearance (4/5): Quite a light golden colour, it is partially clear bodied but looks very slightly watery. The head is a thin, foamy white lacing that covers the surface well and there’s quite a few fine bubbles rising to the surface as well.
Aroma (5/10): Quite a floral nose with the blueberries from the nose coming through quite early on and the beer also seems sweet too. It’s a juicy beer on the nose with some wheat and pale malts in there too but the fruits and in particular the blueberries dominated. There wasn’t a whole lot else coming through really but the aroma wasn’t a bad one, just a little different.
Taste (5/10): Opening up quite sweet with some blueberries coming through but they’re definitely not as strong as they were with the nose. Some pale, bread malts and a little wheat come through around the middle with a hint of citrus too but again the beer wasn’t the most varied or complex. Towards the end there is a touch of sourness as well but like the nose, the blueberries seemed strongest.
Palate (2/5): Smooth bodied and very softly carbonated without quite being flat. The beer was light-medium bodied and initially quite sweet until nearer the end when touches of citrus added a light tang and some sourness seen things out. Definitely not a complex beer, it actually seemed a little weak nearer the end and was pretty one-dimensional throughout.

Overall (11/20): Quite a disappointing beer on the whole really and one that seemed fairly one-dimensional throughout, only the blueberries that the beer took its name from made themselves known and everything else came through a little too light by comparison. There was an okay sweetness in the early going and the odd floral touch but then things started to fade, the taste was notably weaker than the nose as well and it turned fairly bland towards the end. Overall, not a great one from Abita and not one I’d go back to again.

Brewed In: Abita Springs, Louisiana, United States of America
Brewery: Abita Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Fruit Beer/Wheat Ale
Abv: 4.4%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Price: Gift

Bramble Blitz

Rating: 3.35

Quite a new one here now, this is the latest Brewdog sour offering and a precursor for their soon to launch ‘sour facility’ near there Ellon brewery that will specialise in, you’ve guessed it, sour beers. This particular offering is brewed in the Berliner Weisse style and appears to have only been introduced last week as a keg special at a number of their UK bars and since I found myself in Manchester recently, I couldn’t avoid stopping by and seeing what they had on-tap that afternoon. Although not a style of beer that I’m overly familiar with or one that I’d naturally go for, it was one of the few Brewdog beers available that I hadn’t already tried so I decided to give this one a go as my first beer of the day; after all sour beers are all the rage at the moment so what better time to give this one a try.

Bramble Blitz

Appearance (3/5): Pouring an off-orange colour that borders on amber with some pink tinges coming through as well, this one was a cloudy beer that was topped with a thin, foamy white head that looked like and thick lacing and ended up quite patchy on the surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): This one was quite a sour beer on the nose with some sharp and tangy notes to open things up alongside plenty of berries. Towards the middle some wheat and further acidity made itself known and overall the aroma was a fresh one with some nondescript background fruits featuring too but the sourness was what dominated.
Taste (7/10): Following on closely from the nose, this one was again quite a sour beer in the early going with a lot of acidity to open things up before some brambles and the berries from the nose came through strongly. I got some touches of orange and citrus towards the middle whilst the sourness began to settle down a little thanks to touches of grapefruit and some of the wheat from the nose and finally, some currants featured at the end to round things off nicely.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and quite a sharp, crisp feel to this one with lots of fine carbonation and a tonne of sourness coming through from the start. Things settled some and became more balanced towards the middle of the beer with a faint sweetness starting to come through thanks to some of the fruits but it was definitely the tart and sour flavours the dominated this one. Despite the strong, sharp flavours and feel to the beer, it was still a relatively easy one to drink and was quite enjoyable too with further acidity and a funky bitterness right at the end.

Overall (13/20): This was quite a sour and strong offering with a lot of flavour packed into a relatively low abv. beer and it opened with quite a lively feel thanks to the ample carbonation levels and the fruity tart flavours that featured throughout. There was a lot of berries and brambles coming through with some citrus and the odd tropical fruit and grapefruit to help with some faint sweetness and plenty of sharp bitterness and tart. Touches of pale wheat and faint malts did appear in places but for the most part the funky flavours, yeast and sourness crowded them out. Still, this one was quite a nice beer and an interesting take on the style that was well worth trying without it being anything too special.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Berliner Weisse
Abv: 3.2%
Serving: Draught (Half Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog, Manchester, England
Price: £3.30

Cantillon Blåbær Lambik

April 13, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 4.4

A very special beer now, this one was my fourth Cantillon beer and it’s easily the rarest from them I’ve tried to date, perhaps even the rarest beer I’ve tried from any one actually. This beer is a fruit lambic from the brewery that is brewed with blueberries provided by the owner of the Ølbutikken bottle shop in Copenhagen. Initially released as a limited, 50 bottle run back in 2005 and only available from Ølbutikken, the bottle I’ll be reviewing is a 2015 Vintage which also makes it the 10th anniversary edition of the beer too. I was particularly excited about tracking this one down and trying it on my recent trip to Copenhagen and was initially led to believe that Ølbutikken would be the only place to find it (and it happened to be closed for most of the time I was in Copenhagen over Easter) but as it turns out, a limited supply is also available at the Himmeriget bar in the city as well, sometimes on-tap as well. On my visit to Himmeriget, when I finally found the bar, there didn’t appear to be any on-tap but they had a selection of vintages in 375ml and 750ml bottle from the last few years, with prices increasing the further back you went. Being Copenhagen and taking into account how rare the beer is, bottles were not cheap but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try this one and happily stumped up the cash to try last years release, this despite the fact I’m not a huge fan of lambics either; it also doesn’t hurt to mention that the beer is currently the top rated fruit lambic on the RateBeer website.

Cantillon Blåbær Lambik

Amazingly this Cantillon offering will be my first try of a new beer from the brewery since I reviewed their Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio offering back in January of 2013, so trying another is long overdue. After a bit of research online, I found it quite hard to get an exact figure on how much of this beer was released for the tenth anniversary vintage but Lambic.info mentions that 400 litres were brewed for each batch between 2010 and 2012, with 100kg of blueberries added. It also mentions that officially only sixty 750ml bottle and a further seventy 375ml bottle were sold to take away, presumably from Ølbutikken but this obviously doesn’t include the total brewed for consumption at Ølbutikken and Himmeriget but I can’t imagine it’s all that common to find the beer anywhere else. This is definitely on that I’m glad to have found whilst in Copenhagen and one that I don’t think I’ll get a chance to try again, so in that sense it was worth the money.

Appearance (4/5): This one pours a deep, cherry red colour that boarders on purple in places. The head was a bubbly white one that was initially about a centimetre tall but quickly settled as a thin surface lacing before eventually disappearing in the centre and leaving the odd bit of lace around the edges.
Aroma (8/10): strong cherries and a lot of sweetness with a bit of tart off the back of that and the blueberries aren’t too far behind either. There was a lot of funky notes and some background acidity but nothing really overpowered thanks to the nice balance of this one. Towards the end some raspberries make an appearance along with the odd hint of yeast; it’s pretty good so far at least.
Taste (9/10): Much as I expected given the nose, this one kicks off with quite a lot of funk and sour notes, there is plenty of raspberries and cherries coming through as well but the blueberries come through with quite a pungent nose as well. There was a nice amount of sweetness and good acidity with a few grapes showing towards the middle with a few sour touches but it was a very balance and enjoyable tasting beer that went down well.
Palate (5/5): This one was a very dry but also quite a smooth beer that was as funky as I expected and came with a pleasant sourness that thankfully wasn’t too overpowering. There was an outstanding balance to the lambic with the sweetness that followed on from the cherries seeming to hold things together quite nicely and the funky flavours followed on quite nicely from there. There was quite a bit of tart throughout and the finish was a sharp, crisp on that worked well with the lively carbonation and the slight tang on the tongue that seemed to linger long after each sip.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Cantillon and easily the best of the four beers that I’ve tried from them so far, it’s also probably the best lambic that I’ve tried as well thanks to the incredible balance and complexity to the beer. Things got off to a good start with some nice cherries and raspberries to open things up before the blueberries promised on the label started to come through with plenty of funk and tart. The mouthfeel in general was excellent and the lingering sourness on the finish stayed with you after each sip; excellent stuff and a must try if you can find it.

Brewed In: Anderlecht, Brussels, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon
First Brewed: 2005
Full Name: Cantillon Blåbær Lambik 2015 Vintage
Type: Lambic – Fruit
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (375ml)
Purchased: Himmeriget, Copenhagen, Denmark
Price: 160 Danish Krone (approx. £17.60)