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Posts Tagged ‘north america’

Victory Headwaters Ale

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.05

A beer I picked up from an Asda supermarket just over a month ago after seeing it on a previous visit to one of their stores, this one will be my sixth from Victory but is surprisingly only my first since October 2014 when I tried their Golden Monkey tripel offering and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve had quite a few great beer from this brewery so I was excited when I first say this was available in the UK, it was probably the sole reason for me picking the beer up but it turned out to be quite a disappointing beer in the end; the best before on this one wasn’t until early 2018 but that was something that I had to double check after trying the beer and finding it a particularly weak and bland offering. I’ve noticed a few other new Victory beers seem to be available in the UK now but after this one I’m not too sure I’ll be rushing out to grab anymore for a while sadly.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber but pouring with a surprisingly clear and light body that is topped with a large, three or four centimetre tall head. The head texture is quite bubbly and it sits a white colour in the glass and looks relatively thick, just about halving in size over the opening couple minutes and leaving light lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a hop-filled nose in the early going with some grassy notes and the odd tropical fruit but the aroma seems to fade far to quickly and after a couple seconds the beer seems more like a pale lager with some pine and citrus coming through which was somewhat disappointing. There was touches of bread malt in there and the odd touch of bitterness too that’s got a few earthy hops in there too; it’s pleasant enough on the nose but could definitely have been stronger and a little more varied in truth.
Taste (5/10): Quite a lot like the taste sadly, this one starts well with some solid pine and citrus nose before some tropical fruits come through but they all disappear in an instant to leave a basic grassy hop taste that wasn’t unlike more pale lagers out there, albeit a fresh one. Towards the middle there was a slight tang while the bread flavours and earthy bitterness from the nose made an appearance but there wasn’t a whole lot to the beer and it seemed quite weak. The odd floral flavour and hints biscuit make a fleeting appearance but there definitely wasn’t enough variety to this one; very disappointing.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and quite light, perhaps even bordering on thin with an initial burst of flavour that soon passed to leave quite a basic and weak beer with very little going for it. I’d been expecting a lot more from this one but the beer seemed quite bland although it was fairly well carbonated. I managed to detect a light bitterness nearer the end and some earthy touches too but it was a massive let down for me and not at all what I expect from Victory.

Overall (11/20): Disappointing stuff here from Victory, the beer opened well with nice tropical fruits and a lot of pine with some citrus in there as well but in both the nose and the taste these all passed quickly and left little more than a bland, basic beer that was more lager than pale ale. There was the odd touch of earthy bitterness, a faint hint of floral and some biscuit malts but none of these was overly pronounced and the beer just seemed boring and weak throughout; I’d expected much better.

Brewed In: Downingtown, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £1.82

Anchor Go West! IPA

April 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.0

Lucky number thirteen from Anchor now, this one will be my first new offering from the California based brewery since I picked up a bottle of their California Lager back in December of 2014 and I can’t believe it’s been so long, especially considering this is usually one of my go-to American breweries; I guess not that many of their beers that I’ve not already tried are making it to the UK in any great numbers. Despite being my first new beer from the brewery in well over a year, this one pushes Anchor into my top ten most tried brewery’s now and is one that I’m quite looking forward to trying. I actually spotted the beer for the first time in an Asda supermarket a few weeks ago now but opted instead to pick up a can Lagunitas’ 12th of Never Ale over this one; hopefully this one turns out to be a better beer though.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber coloured and slightly brighter than expected, this one pours with a fairly cloudy body and is topped with an impressive, centimetre and a half tall head that is bubbly and very slightly off-white in colour but manages to hold relatively well for the style over the opening minute or so.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh on the nose initially but far from as hoppy or bitter as I’d expected going in, the beer was more of a hybrid-lager type nose with some grassy hops and citrus in the early going. There was the odd floral touch with some basic malts making an appearance too. After a minute or so the nose starts to fade a little and begins to become difficult to detect, I got some light bitterness and a hint of sweetness from the malts but beyond that there wasn’t too much coming through sadly.
Taste (6/10): Ever so slightly more bitter than the nose, there was some earthy flavours coming through in the early going of the taste and a few basic malts again backed them up. I got a combination of hay and grassy flavours with a light citrus feel nearer the middle but the beer definitely struck me as quite a basic tasting one. Towards the end some faint yeast and floral touches came through but like the nose it was quite a disappointing one.
Palate (2/5): Sitting somewhere around light-medium bodied, the beer wasn’t as fresh or lively as I’d anticipated but there was a strong tang to proceedings despite the fact the citrus flavours and yeast weren’t particularly strong. There was an odd, almost off-taste to the beer at times with the bitterness not coming through too nicely and the balance could have been improved as well. I got hints of sweetness in the early going, mainly with the nose in truth but I felt the beer was a poor one and more difficult to drink than it should have been.

Overall (12/20): Quite a poor offering from Anchor in truth, I’d been expecting a lot more from a brewery those beers I’ve quite enjoyed over the last couple of years but this one is easily one of the worst from the California based brewery that I’ve tried. Things didn’t start particularly well with the nose being far too weak, particularly after it was given time to settle a little, and the taste was disappointing too; the balance was terrible too. It’s probably not quite as bad as the bottle of the brewery’s Summer Beer that I tried back in September of 2014 but it’s not much better either and it’s not one I’d have again.

Brewed In: San Francisco, California, United States of America
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Abv: 3.7%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £2.02

12th Of Never Ale

March 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

My seventh Lagunitas beer now and one that I hadn’t spotted in the UK before when I stumbled across a can in a local supermarket over the weekend, the beer in question being a 2016 release from the brewery and one that I quickly picked up based on the quality of some of the Lagunitas beers that I’ve reviewed here in the past. This one is an American pale ale from the California brewery and it will be the first beer of theirs introduced since their takeover by Heineken that I will have tried, I’m hoping it will still be a good one though.

Appearance (4/5): The beer pours a lot lighter than I had been expecting, it settles as a light yellow to amber colour with a fairly clear body, only a slightly touch of haze comes through. The head was a half centimetre one that was quite bubbly looking and white in colour with the surface well covered initially. Eventually it starts to break up a little and turn slightly patchy in the middle but it’s not a bad effort really.
Aroma (7/10): The beer opens with a lot of floral hops that give it a fresh nose, there was some citrus bursts in the early going as well. Some tropical notes started to make themselves known nearer the middle of the beer with a combination of mango and pineapple being the most notable but some resinous pine featured as well. Towards the end the beer seemed quite oily with some malts starting to appear and add to the sweetness.
Taste (6/10): The taste was kicked off with a good combination of citrus and pine flavours but the floral hops weren’t too far behind. There was a freshness to the beer that carried on from the nose and a few lighter malts showed themselves nearer the middle. To be honest, the beer wasn’t really anything special and turned out to be far from the best that I’ve tried from the brewery but some lemon and zesty flavours alongside a few biscuit malts rounded things off.
Palate (3/5): Quite a light offering really, this one maybe just manages to sneak in as a light-medium bodied beer that carried a subtle citrus tang with it. The beer was fairly dry with a moderate bitterness and some pleasant enough floral touches from the hops. It was fresh to a point but the balance could have been a little better and there was a slight bitterness showing at the end too.

Overall (14/20): A fairly average offering from Lagunitas and as I’ve already said, this one was far from the best that the brewery has to offer; perhaps the Heineken takeover is starting to have a negative effect on the quality of beer after all. The beer did manage to start well thanks to some citrus and pine flavours in the early going but it was perhaps a touch thinner than I’d have liked, the appearance being somewhat lighter than expected too. It wasn’t a bland or boring beer thankfully, the tropical flavours doing their part to prevent this but I’d have liked to see more malts showing other than the faint biscuit flavours right at the end; it’s an okay beer but definitely not as good as I’d expected.

Brewed In: Petaluma, California, United States of America
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £2.02

Speedway Stout (338 of 1001)

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.55

Another very special beer now, a bottle of AleSmith’s classic Speedway Stout and a beer that I’ve been on the lookout for since spotting it on Brewdog’s online shop a couple of years ago only to discover it was completely sold out. This has happened a few times now so when I spotted it was available in mid-October of last year I decided to quickly order some before they were gone. The beer will be my fourth in total from AleSmith, the second of which that also features on the 1001 beers list and amazingly it will also be my second Speedway Stout offering; I managed to find myself in a Brewdog bar in Glasgow in February and the Vietnamese Coffee version of Speedway Stout was on-tap that day so naturally I ordered myself a glass and it only made me want to try the original version all the more. This one will be my first bottled AleSmith beer since trying and thoroughly enjoying their excellent Horny Devil around Christmas 2014 (although I took a while uploading the review here as I recall). I’ve also been lucky enough to try a bottle of their AleSmith IPA in the past (also featured on the 1001 beers list) and that was another that I loved so I’m sure Speedway Stout will continue the trend and be another excellent AleSmith beer; here’s hoping anyway. The beer is probably the one of those I have cellaring that I’ve been most looking forward to trying and I was actually in two minds about opening it up, with part of me considering keeping it for another year or two before trying but temptation got the better of me. In addition to aging well, the beer is another highly rated one online with it currently ranked as the 8th best imperial stout and the 11th best beer overall on RateBeer whilst BeerAdvocate has it as the 97th best American double stout as well as naming it as their 225th best beer overall.

alesmith-speedway-stout

Appearance (5/5): Jet black with an opaque body and quite a creamy looking head that was part foamy, sitting a medium brown colour. Retention was a lot better than might have been expected for a 12% abv. beer with it starting about a centimetre tall before halving in size over the opening minute then eventually turning slightly patchy without breaking up completely; a very impressive looking beer overall.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong beer on the nose as expected, this one opened with some solid coffee notes and plenty of darker malts coming through alongside some roasted one and a few hints of roasted bitterness too. It’s not quite an overpowering aroma but it doesn’t let up either, there is some strong chocolate smells around the middle with brown sugars in there to add a little sweetness as well. Further on I got some background vanilla notes with touches of cocoa and the odd darker, almost ripe fruit showing itself too; most notably some raisins and dates. Right at the death some of the alcohol starts to show as well but it’s hidden better than I’d been expected.
Taste (9/10): Matching the nose well, this one opens with plenty of coffee alongside a solid malts bitterness and roasted flavours.  There was the cocoa from the nose with some earthy malts backing it up before some of the vanilla started to show itself nearer the middle and worked well alongside the sugars to add some sweetness to proceedings. Touches of butterscotch also made an appearance with the taste, coupled with some oak and light, smoky flavours before a bit of the alcohol started to show nearer the end but it definitely didn’t dominate. The taste was rounded off by some darker fruits, the raisins and dates again present alongside some figs and plum this time too; excellent stuff.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied, this one had quite a rich, thick feel to it and it was slightly sweeter than anticipated without it becoming sickly. There was a lot of darker malts that added to the roasted bitterness of the beer and there was a lot of depth and complexity to this one too. The mouthfeel was quite a crisp, semi-dry one that had fine carbonation and went down very well, the alcohol content being well masked until right at the end.

Overall (19/20): Great stuff from AleSmith again here and a beer that was every bit as good as I’d hope for going in; it was definitely worth the wait in cracking this bottle open. The beer was kicked off by a lot of darker, roasted malts and coffee flavours but it was also a touch sweeter than expected thanks to the sugars and chocolate, but also the darker fruits and vanilla that featured too. The beer was quite rich and complex with good carbonation and only a little of the 12% abv. showing nearer the end of the nose and taste, something that helped the beer down very easily. The beer was very much a moreish offering with some dry touches nearer the end and some subtle darker fruits coming through to keep things interesting at times.; I really enjoyed drinking this one and it seemed to go down slightly better than the Vietnamese Coffee edition that I tried on-tap last year; an excellent beer that you definitely need to try, it’s one that I’ll be on the hunt for again now.

Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.0%
Serving: Bottle (750ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £15.25

Princesa Clásica

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.35

Quite a rare, pretty hard to find offering here and the final review of a beer I tried in Cuba now, I was mistaken in thinking that the Plaza Vieja Negra was the last but I’d forgotten about this one. The beer is one that I struggled to find out anything about online and I’m not even sure the name of the brewery but I’ll list it under Cervecería Princesa for the purposes of tracking here. All I do know is that it is brewed in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba and not Holguin like the majority of the islands beers; namely them from the Bucanero brewery. The beer is one that I found at a roadside café while travelling by collectivo taxi from Cienfugos to Vinales at the end of last year, the precise location I’m unsure of but it was about forty minutes from Vinales and it was the only place I managed to find the beer on my travels. I can’t imagine this is a beer that many people outside of Cuba have tried and as such I’m glad I stumbled across it, in the end it wasn’t too bad for a cheap Cuban beer picked up at a roadside stall – it was certainly better than expected but still not great.

princesa-clasica

Appearance (3/5): A really clear, light golden colour that bordered on amber and was topped with a large, three centimetre tall head that was white and surprisingly foamy looking. There was some initial lacing on the sides of the glass and retention wasn’t too bad either.
Aroma (4/10): Quite cheap on the nose, this one was skunky and came through with some early notes of hay and basic adjuncts. I detected some biscuit malts around the middle and there was a faint bitterness in there too but the highlight was the hints of sweetness and vanilla that came through nearer the end. It was an interesting beer on the nose but still seemed quite basic despite the touches of vanilla in there.
Taste (5/10): Hay and corn open things up here alongside some basic bitterness and a bland, almost cheap malty base. There was some biscuit flavours around the middle and the odd touch of maize before the vanilla from the nose made a second appearance in the taste with a little citrus backing it up. There was definitely more to it than I’d been expecting but it was still far from an exciting offering.
Palate (2/5): Quite a thin and somewhat bland beer, this one featured some light bitterness at times and seemed a touch warmer towards the end. It was definitely a basic, cheap offering but it also seemed quite clean. There wasn’t much in the way of carbonation really but the touches of sweetness coming through were welcome additions.

Overall (9/20): Quite a strange beer and whilst still a basic offering, it was slightly more complex than I’d been expecting going in; the touches of vanilla in particular being a surprise. There was the usual lager adjuncts coming through alongside some biscuit malts but the citrus towards the end of the taste was quite nice to see. Definitely one that I enjoyed more than I thought I would and it’s worth trying if you can find a bottle but it’s not likely I’d go hunting for it again, even if I was in the Pinar del Rio area of Cuba again.

Brewed In: Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Brewery: Cervecería Princesa
Full Name: Princesa Clásica Cervesa Clara
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 5.3%
Serving: Bottle (350ml)
Purchased: Caféteria & Comida Criolla (Pinar del Rio, Cuba)
Price: 1 CUC (approx. £0.78)

Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

A bit of an odd one now for what will be my first beer from Arrogant Brewing but one that follows on from the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale I had in March 2013 as well as the Arrogant Bastard Ale I reviewed the next month. The reason this is my third Arrogant Bastard beer but only my first from the brewery is because the beers were originally brewed under by Stone in California but since 2015 this line of beers has been brewed independently from Stone. Although still based in California, Arrogant Brewing is somewhat of a gypsy brewery and the beers are now brewed in collaboration with other breweries around the world, including Brewdog in Scotland which is the reason I was able to grab a bottle of this one recently. The beer is one of about three year-round Arrogant beers and is actually one that I tried earlier this year in a Brewdog bar but wasn’t to sure about which is one of the reason I decided to order a bottle online when last placing an order.

bourbon-barrel-aged-arrogant-bastard

Appearance (4/5): This one pours a dark caramel to mahogany brown colour and it’s slightly hazy into the bargain, although it did look a touch lighter towards the bottom of the glass. The head was a nice one though, sitting just under a half a centimetre tall and foamy with a few bubbles sitting on the surface too. It was a light tan colour with a bit of break-up towards one side of the surface but on the whole it was a nice looking beer with decent head retention given the abv. of the drink.
Aroma (8/10): This one opens with quite a strong, sticky-sweet nose that features a lot of toffee and caramel aromas alongside some darker fruits; mostly figs, dates and plums featuring at this early stage. There was a touch of alcohol coming through that hinted at the bourbon from the barrels this one was aged in and this was followed by a sweet vanilla or butterscotch smell that had some oak notes backing it up. The beer seemed complex on the nose and there was quite a lot going on but thankfully the balance was a good one and there was a faint pine and citrus finish that hinted at a subtle bitterness too.
Taste (6/10): Kicking off from where the nose finished, this one starts quite sweet with a combination of toffee and caramel malts opening things up before being followed by a bourbon taste that was quite a bit stronger than the nose had hinted at but didn’t quite overpower. There was some dark fruits again with the figs and plums from the nose featuring here as well but also some raisins as well. Towards the end of the beer some further sweetness was imparted thanks to the usual sugars but also some of the vanilla from the nose before some pine, oak and citrus touches rounded things off completely.
Palate (4/5): A somewhat thick offering, this one sat somewhere around medium bodied and was definitely quite a strong beer from the start. There was a nice amount of sweetness throughout this one, initially thanks to the caramel and toffee flavours but also from the darker fruits and sugars that followed. There was a good balance to the beer as well, despite the relatively strong abv. and the bourbon flavours it was never a hard one to drink; it went down quite easily in fact and was enjoyable into the bargain.

Overall (14/20): Quite a nice one from Arrogant Brewing here, the beer was definitely stronger than I’d expected going in, despite the fact I knew it was an 8.1% beer when I cracked it open. There was a lot of bourbon and alcohol flavours around the middle of the beer and plenty of darker fruits helped enhance these flavours. I enjoyed the early caramel touches though and the vanilla sweetness that came from the oak was pleasant too. I’m still not convinced it’s a beer I’ll have again but it was a nice one to sip away at and I’m glad I got to try it.

Brewed In: Escondido, California, United States of America
Brewery: Arrogant Brewing
First Brewed: 2009 (Brewery since 2015)
Type: American Strong Ale
Abv: 8.1%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £5.00

Plaza Vieja Negra

January 13, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.25

The third and final Taberna de la Muralla beer that I’ll be reviewing here and also the last review I’ve still to add from my trip to Cuba last year; likely my last review of a Cuban beer for quite some time too I’d imagine. This one is the darkest offering available at the Factoria Plaza Vieja brewpub in Havana and is probably also the darkest beer available in Cuba, certainly of all the Cuban brewed beers anyway. Like the Obscura before it, this is a beer I was really looking forward to hunting down and trying when I was in Cuba and perhaps I’d built it up a little too much in my mind because it definitely wasn’t as good as I’d expected, I actually preferred the Obscura to this one and was looking for something a little darker and malty from this beer. Still, if you find yourself in Havana then it is definitely a beer to go looking for as it’s sadly one of the better beers available in the country; something that’s more a reflection of the state of Cuban beer than on how good this one is though.

plaza-vieja-negra

Appearance (4/5): I was expecting something a little darker but this one turned out to be a caramel amber that was reminiscent of the Obscura from the brewery and was again topped with a foamy white head that was bubbly around the edges. The body looked slightly hazy and head retention was okay as well, not a bad-looking beer so far.
Aroma (6/10): An earthy caramel nose opens things up here and there was some subtle hops following on behind that added some faint bitterness. The beer was quite dry on the nose and has a semi-sweet aroma to it with some darker malts but definitely not as many as I’d have expected. Towards the end some sugars featured and added a little to the sweetness but it could definitely have been a little stronger.
Taste (6/10): Sweet with some nice caramel malts and the odd earthy flavour to kick things off, the beer is again quite dry with a slight bit of citrus showing but it definitely wasn’t a complex beer. There was some toffee and sugars around the middle but very little else of note; still it’s not bad for a Cuban beer.
Palate (3/5): A light-medium bodied beer with a semi-sweet feel to it, this one was quite dry and balanced which allowed it to go down relatively easily. It wasn’t a complex offering but there was some slight citrus adding a subtle tang to go along with a light hop bitterness that kicked things off.

Overall (13/20): A decent third beer from this Havana based brewpub but one that definitely wasn’t as dark or malty as expected; the anticipated roasted flavours were also missing sadly. The beer as a result felt closer to an amber ale than a dark lager but it was still enjoyable given how hard it is to find a decent beer in Cuba at times. While not as good as the Obscura from the brewery in my opinion, it was better than the Clara and is still a beer well worth checking out if you happen to find it in Cuba.

Brewed In: Havana, Cuba
Brewery: Taberna de la Muralla
Full Name: Taberna de la Muralla Negra
Also Known As: Factoria Plaza Vieja Negra
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: circa 4.2%
Serving: Draught (500ml)
Purchased: Factoria Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba
Price: 2 CUC (approx. £1.56)