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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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Ewe Rebel

Rating: 3.9

A second beer from Whitewater in quick succession, this one following on from their Maggie’s Leap that I reviewed here last and is another I picked up whilst in Ireland; my tenth in total from the brewery. This one is relatively strong from an Irish brewed IPA, coming in at 7% abv. and is one that I picked up pretty much for that reason alone, my thinking being that it would actually be more American in style which can only be a good thing for this type of offering; I’m quite a big fan of the brewery’s Hoppelhammer beer and that’s one I’ve picked up a few times now so hopefully this one turns out to be a similar offering and I can go back to again in future.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a hazy amber with orange and light copper tinges, the head is a centimetre tall one that sits quite foamy and covers the surface completely with little subsidence or reduction in height over the opening minutes which was nice to see.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh and quite fruity on the nose initially with some citrus hops and touches of pine coming through as well. The beer is sweeter than anticipated with a few caramel malts in the early going too, there’s touches of biscuit in there too though. Beyond that some mango and orange shows, as does a little grapefruit to add the the bitterness before some subtle spice and sugars see things out.
Taste (8/10): Opening with some nice citrus hops again, the beer was fresh but probably not quite as sweet at the nose with some orange and mango still coming through alongside a few other background fruits. It’s an balanced taste with the sweet malts and caramel from the nose still featuring with a few sugars further on too but they’re a touch less pronounced than the nose without being weak.
Palate (4/5): A medium bodied beer that was fresh and lively with fine carbonation and a nice tang. It opened very sweet before settling down some with a good combination of background fruits working well with the caramel and sweet malts. It was relatively well-balanced and easy going with a smooth, semi-dry finish as well.

Overall (16/20): Really nice stuff from Whitewater and easily one of their best, this one buck the recent trend from them and is a very enjoyable beer that kicks off with a pleasant sweetness from the caramel and sweet malts followed by some nice citrus hops and subtle tropical fruits. It was a balanced and easy-to-drink beer with a fresh feel and good carbonation levels, definitely one of theirs that I’ll pick up again when I’m back in Ireland.

Brewed In: Saintfield, County Down, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Whitewater Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Dolan Centra (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.00

Whitewater Maggie’s Leap IPA

July 5, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 2.9

The first of two Whitewater bottles I picked up recently in Ireland, this one and a bottle of their Ewe Rebel that I quick looking forward to were available together for a discounted £4 so I quickly grabbed the pair since I’d been looking to pick up this particular beer from the brewery for some time now after reading about it online a number of years ago. This one will be my ninth beer from the County Down based brewery with all ten of those being beers that I’ve picked up and tried in Ireland since they brewery doesn’t really appear to export anything over the Irish channel and I have seen a couple more of their beers in supermarkets in the north of Ireland so perhaps I’ll pick up a few more later this year as well.

Appearance (4/5): Pale golden amber and quite a clear body with a lot of fizz showing. The beer is topped with a very foamy, thick looking white head that’s got a few holes through it and sticks to the sides of the glass as well.
Aroma (5/10): Quite fresh and floral in the early going with a few biscuit malts but it starts to fade a little too soon after that. There’s some herbal notes and a touch of earthy hop around alongside some lemon from the middle on. It’s basic on the nose but balanced, nothing jumps out at you either though which was a little disappointing.
Taste (6/10): Biscuit malts and some bread ones too, the beer is floral and has some grassy hops coming through alongside quite an earthy taste. There’s some faint citrus and herbal flavours further on with lemon and background fruits showing before some subtle, almost roasted malts see things out.
Palate (2/5): Medium bodied and quite clean with a crispness to it and a subtle tang from the citrus as well. It’s earthy throughout with a moderate bitterness further on but I definitely found it a little bland and one-dimensional too.

Overall (12/20): Average stuff from Whitewater here, this one opened with some nice sweetness and a few earthy flavours as well as the usual grassy hops and background fruits but it was definitely a basic offering that didn’t offer much in the way of imagination. There was a few floral touches in the early going too and it was a relatively bitter beer but it seemed too weak on the nose and too one-dimensional tasting; it’s not a beer I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Saintfield, County Down, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Whitewater Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American IPA
Abv: 4.7%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Dolan Centra (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.00

The Spitting Llama

July 5, 2018 2 comments

Rating: 3.65

My third Hillstown Brewery beer now, this is another that I picked up from a Tesco store when in Ireland and follows on from their Squealing Pig English IPA and their Horny Bull imperial stout from around Christmas time last year, although I wasn’t a huge fan of either of those offerings so hopefully this one will be better. I was attracted to this one as it’s labelled as a tripel which is an unusual style of beer from an Irish brewery and I’m interested to see how that turns out, part of me has a feeling that it will end up closer to a golden ale but the 7% abv. of this one is reassuring and I’m quietly optimistic that this could be a good one

Appearance (4/5): Quite a clear amber colour with a few orange tinges and a white head on top that’s foamy but quite thin, sitting a millimetre or two tall before turning patchy after twenty seconds or so.
Aroma (6/10): Disappointingly subdued on the nose for the style and the strength of the beer, there’s some light grassy notes and a touch of yeast in there early going but not too much else sadly. I got some apple with a faint sweetness that had touches of butter and background spice coming through. Towards the end some pear and a hint of alcohol shows but it was underwhelming for the most part without being a bad smelling offering.
Taste (7/10): A touch more pronounced and variety with the taste, there was some yeast and spices in the early going as well as some banana that I’d been expecting with the nose but that was sadly missing. There’s some apple and pear coming through as well with a slightly floral taste that has some butterscotch sweetness backing things up; a definite improvement on the nose with a touch of warming alcohol at the end.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and spicy with a lot of Belgian yeast upfront that works well with the citrus to provide a nice tang to proceedings. The balance wasn’t the best with the nose far too weak and bland but the banana and butterscotch sweetness around the middle was a welcome one. Overall the beer is quite boozy and warming, especially towards the end of what was a moderately carbonated but fairly crisp offering.

Overall (15/20): Good stuff in the end, the beer definitely didn’t get off to the best of starts with an average appearance and an underwhelming nose that was too weak and bland for a 7% abv. tripel but thankfully the taste turned things around with some good banana sweetness and background fruits. There was a good butterscotch backing with some apple and touches of pear in there, both of these working well with the moderate carbonating and the subtle citrus tang. A nice offering that went down well in the end but isn’t really a patch on some of the better Belgian offerings that I’ve tried of late.

Brewed In: Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hillstown Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Tripel
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.75

Brewdog Hop Shot

Rating: 3.85

Another new Brewdog beer for me now, this is one that was actually released way back in later 2016 as a one-off from the brewery that I have spotted a few times on the Brewdog website but have continually avoided picking up but since I had a 30% off discount recently I decided to grab a bottle and see how it rates. Coming in at a massive 22%, this eisbock comes in an unusually sized 110ml bottle that’s a third of the standard sized bottles from the brewery but it’s a strong beer so that seems sensible. This one will actually be the second strongest beer that I’ve ever tried and follows on from the similarly styled Watt Dickie offering from the brewery that I tried back in December but didn’t really enjoy; hopefully this one proves to be a little more palatable. Labelled as a quadruple IPA, this one is brewed with grapefruit peel, oranges and yuzu as well as some pine hap and resin so I’m expecting something with a few hops showing despite the fact that the beer was bottled about a year and a half ago.

Appearance (4/5): Pouring as quite a thick beer, this one was a bright amber colour with a clear body and absolutely no sign of a head despite an aggressive pour. It was a still beer with a clear body but that was to be expected given the strength of the beer.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a lot of hops kick things off with some grapefruit and pine coming through too but it definitely wasn’t as resinous as normal for such a strong IPA, it was a super strength offering though so it’s not a total surprise. There was a lot of heavy alcohol notes with some grain around the middle too but some orange and even a little banana showed at this point followed by some peach and background sweetness too. The beer was surprisingly complex on the nose with the alcohol dominating but enough other characteristics showing to keep it interesting.
Taste (7/10): Incredibly strong stuff with a lot of oily hops kicking things off followed by some nice grapefruit and pine. There was a tonne of alcohol and grain in the early going with some sweet malts, I got some caramel and sugars as well as some marzipan too but the alcohol definitely dominated. There was some spice near the end with hints of orange and a couple background fruits, mainly peach and mango but touches of apricot too.
Palate (4/5): Very thick and full-bodied, the beer was an oily effort with a touch of carbonation that made it seem crisp and even tangy at points. It was sporadically sweet too with quite a warming feel further on and some faint spice came through alongside the oily hop bitterness that closed things out.

Overall (15/20): Very thick and strong, the beer is oily with a very hoppy feel and quite a lot of bitterness as well. There’s a lot of alcohol grain that seems to dominate but there was some citrus and even some banana coming through as well, something I hadn’t expected. It’s definitely one to sip and very much a one-off beer but it was more drinkable than anticipated despite the alcohol content and how boozy it was.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Eisbock/Imperial IPA
Abv: 22.0%
Serving: Bottle (110ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £4.55

Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor (384 of 1001)

July 4, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 4.15

Only my second review of a Gouden Carolus beer as well as my second from the Het Anker brewery responsible for that range of beers, this despite being tempted to buy a few of their offerings online previously but opting for something else instead. This one is another beer that features in the 1001 beers list and is a relatively hop-driven beer for a Belgian offering which is part of the reason I opted for it over others that were available in the Staminee De Garre pub were I eventually tried this one whilst in Bruges recently. This one follows on from my review of the brewery’s Gouden Carolus Classic that I loved when I tried it back in January of 2015 and I was able to try both those beers again when I visited the Het Anker brewery on a day trip to Mechelen a couple of days after trying this one, on that occasion I had a sample flight of the brewery’s Gouden Carolus offerings as well as their Lucifer strong ale, a beer that I hope to pick up a bottle of to give it a full review at some point in the future.

Appearance (5/5): Very bright looking with a slightly hazy body, the beer was a golden colour with the odd amber tinge and some touches of orange in there as well. The head was quite a big one, sitting a couple of inches tall initially before slowly fading to leave a two centimetre, foamy white head with good lacing on the sides too; an excellent start to this one.
Aroma (7/10): Quite hoppy without overpowering, the beer was fresh with some citrus and pine notes in the early going alongside a huge amount of Belgian yeast. It was lively with some biscuit malts and grassy hops towards the middle and a hint of both lemon and coriander a little further on. Towards the end some grapes and a further hop bitterness seen things out alongside touches of grape and various other light background fruits.
Taste (8/10): Lively with some of the lighter fruits from the nose kicking things off, most notably the grapes with some apple and pear not too far behind. There was a freshness to the beer that coupled with some spices and Belgian yeast towards the middle before some pine hops and strong floral flavours started to show themselves, as did some faint alcohol to see things out.
Palate (4/5): Quite a lively and effervescent beer with a bubbly and light feel, there was some nice alcohol touches further on too which added a slightly boozy and warming feel to this one. The citrus and floral touches gave the beer a good tang and I found it quite easy to drink with a nice balance despite the alcohol content, it was also quite interesting and complex for the style which made it quite enjoyable to drink.

Overall (17/20): Fairly light and easy-going for both the style and the alcohol content, this one was a fresh and lively beer with a good balance and quite a lot of hops for a Belgian offering too. There was a nice combination of pine and floral hops in the early going with some biscuit malts and background fruits helping with the balance and making it an easy on to drink with good complexity without being too heavy or strong; a great beer.

Brewed In: Mechelen, Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker
First Brewed: 2008
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale/Belgian IPA
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Staminee De Garre, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €4.50 (approx. £3.99)

Kinnegar Crossroads

July 4, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

An eighth Kinnegar beer for me now and an American IPA from the brewery that I picked up in Donegal Town alongside their White Rabbit and Swingletree offerings reviewed here previously. The beer is a 2015 release from the brewery that was a special to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the McHughs off-license in Dublin before becoming a year-round offering from Kinnegar. The beer is one that I’ve spotted online previously but never in store anywhere I’ve been in Ireland so I was quick to grab a bottle when I spotted it. Previously known as ‘Roadtrip’, the beer has since been renamed Crossroads and has even been available in the UK via Brewdog’s website so I hope that means it’s a good one given it’s apparently better distributed than most Irish craft beers; fingers crossed.

Appearance (4/5): Quite bright looking and hazy, the beer is an orange amber colour with a large head that sits about an inch tall and looks quite foamy with a few bubbles through it. Head retention is quite good with a slight reduction in size initially but holds around two centimetres tall after that; a nice start.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh and fruity with some good tropical notes in the early going, I got some mango and apricot followed by a few citrus hops and touches of pine. It’s lively but not overpowering, there’s some pineapple towards the middle before a few light malts start to come through and help with the balance thanks to a touch of sweetness near the end. It’s a pleasant nose but it could perhaps have been slightly more pronounced, particularly with regards to the malts but it was enjoyable enough.
Taste (7/10): Tropical and fruity with some nice mango and apricot again followed by a solid sweetness that’s more pronounced than it was with the nose thanks to the caramel and sweet malts. It’s a slightly floral beer with citrus and pine towards the middle with a good hop bitterness backing it up; good stuff again from Kinnegar.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and floral with quite a sharp feel and strong carbonation, the beer is lively and gets more sweet as things progress with a nice citrus and pine bitterness as well as some faint spices.

Overall (16/20): This one is a very nice IPA from Kinnegar and one that went down easily after opening with some nice tropical fruits that included both mango and apricot. There’s some good hop bitterness and plenty of citrus flavours with the sweetness a little light on the nose but present before it started to become more pronounced and noticeable with the taste. It was lively and sharp with a dry finish but it was exactly what I’d expect from an American IPA and one I’d happily have again.

Brewed In: Rathmullan, County Donegal, Ireland
Brewery: Kinnegar Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Previously Known As: Roadtrip
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.2%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Paul’s Off License (Donegal)
Price: €3.25 (approx. £2.85)