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Black Eyed King Imp (Vietnamese Coffee Edition)

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.15

At the time I purchased this one last August it was the strongest canned beer in the world (apparently) but it’s taken me over a year to finally open it. Brewed as a one-off from Brewdog in 2015, this was a beer that I almost didn’t bother picking up given the price but eventually changed my mind last year when placing another online order with the brewery. This one is the Vietnamese coffee edition of the beer and one that I finally cracked open early last month so I was interested to see how the beer had held up in the year since I’d bought it; as it turns out it had aged pretty well.

Appearance (4/5): Oil black and opaque with quick a thick looking pour, the head is a medium, tan brown colour that is about half a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, covering the centre and some of the edges of the surface.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong opening but not one that overpowered, there was some strong coffee and vanilla notes to open things up alongside some dark, roasted malts and plenty of chocolate. I managed to get some sweetness in the early going with some touches of oak and subtle fruits that seemed to work well together towards the end; dates and plums featured strongest but there was also some dates in there as well.
Taste (8/10): Opening with a lot of chocolate and a solid sweetness off the back of this, the beer also had some subtle vanilla flavours and sugars coming through in the early going. Further on some oak and dark, roasted malts from the nose started to come through alongside a few creamy touches and more coffee. Towards the end there was a few dark fruits with plum and raisin seeming the most pronounced and continuing what the nose had earlier started.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and full-bodied with soft carbonation levels and quite a dark, rich feel to proceedings. There was a lot of complexity to the beer and the balance was quite good too, it was a lot easier to drink that I’d expected from such a strong beer.

Overall (17/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and definitely one of their better beers, this one seemed to hold up well in the year plus since I bought the can. Opening with plenty of coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavours and some nice roasted malts too, this one was a complex but very well-balanced beer that went down quite easily considering the strength. It’s rich but softly carbonated with some darker fruits near the end although things did fade a touch nearer the end too but I guess that’s understandable given how long I took enjoying it; it was a great beer throughout.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.7%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £9.50

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Broughton Clipper I.P.A. (Bottle)

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

A sixth beer from Broughton Ales now but only my first since reviewing their Merlin’s Ale back in June of 2017, a fare gap for a brewery relatively close to home but for the most part I’ve tried everything I want to from them that is readily available. This one is a beer that I tried about five years ago as a cask offering in a Glasgow pub but felt it was worth another try as a bottled version when I spotted it travelling from Edinburgh airport recently, picking it up at the JD Wetherspoon bar in the airport on a recent trip to Poland and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from it but hoped that it would end up closer to an American style IPA, the bright label on the bottle being a good indication that it might be.

Appearance (4/5): Pouring a semi-bright and clear amber, this one was topped with a thin head that was closer to a thin lacing covering the circumference of the beer after about thirty seconds.
Aroma (6/10): Subtly hoppy with some floral touches and the faint hint of citrus not too far behind. There was some basic fruits showing with it sitting somewhere between an English and an American IPA on the nose but either way, it could definitely have been a little stronger. Towards the end some biscuit was showing as well but for the most part it was quite a basic beer on the nose.
Taste (7/10): The beer was quite fresh tasting with some citrus and subtle pine coming through in the early going but neither seemed overly pronounced. There was some grassy hops and a few floral bursts towards the middle with a hint of grapefruit and faint mango featuring before the earthy hops and biscuit from the nose started to take over down the stretch and some pleasant bitterness seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite fresh, the beer was crisp and lively with some tang coming through from the citrus and a nice bite to proceedings as well. It was balanced and easy to drink, if a little weak with regards to the nose but it was still a pleasant and enjoyable offering.

Overall (14/20): Nice stuff from Broughton and definitely up there with the best of the six beers I’ve tried from them so far, only their Old Jock Ale would give it a run for its money. The beer was fresh without be overly hoppy and sat nicely between an English IPA and the American IPA I was hoping it would be when I ordered a bottle. It was an easy to drink offering with light pine and citrus flavours working well with the grassy hops and biscuit that featured around the middle. While not a beer that I’d go out of my way to try again, I would happily drink another if I stumbled across it again at some point.

Brewed In: Biggar, Scotland
Brewery: Broughton Ales Ltd.
First Brewed: circa. 2003
Type: English IPA
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: The Sir Walter Scott (Edinburgh Airport)
Price: £4.80

Loch Lomond Peat Smoked Ale

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 1.3

This one is my fourth Loch Lomond Brewery beer now but only my first since their Kessog brown ale that I had back in May 2015 but it’s not a brewery that I’ve seen too much from of late. This is a bottle that I was given as a gift recently and ordinarily it’s not a style of beer that I’d have went for but I’m hoping it’ll turn out to be a good one. Labelled as a special edition from the brewery but one that has been available since mid-2015, the beer is a rauchbier or smoked beer offering more usually associated with German ales so it should be interesting to see what a Scottish version tastes like.

Appearance (3/5): Quite a thick and fairly cloudy looking orange colour that bordered on amber red. The beer is topped with a thin, quarter centimetre head that was foamy and managed to cover the surface of the beer before starting to break up around the edges after thirty seconds or so; it’s an unusual colour but it’s not too bad a start.
Aroma (2/10): Naturally a very smoky and strong beer, there is again a distinct ham aroma that is common with most rauchbier style offering and it’s definitely not a smell that I can ever seem to get used to; it overpowers the rest of the nose in truth and only a few strong malts sneak in beyond that. There is some peat malt and earthy notes but the ham and smoke dominate; awful stuff.
Taste (2/10): Initially not as bad as I’d anticipated based on the nose, when I started taking a sip the ham wasn’t immediately present and there was a few pale malts coming through but as soon it hit the back of the mouth the ham and smoke flavours hit hard, overpowering straight after that. Definitely my least favourite type of beer, this one was a struggle for me to drink almost any of and I struggled to give it a proper review due to the fact it was so disgusting to drink and that most of it ended up down the drain. In between all of this there was some faint hints of sweetness and basic fruit flavours somewhere in the middle but that was about all I managed to detect.
Palate (1/5): Somewhere around medium bodied, perhaps just a touch lighter than that but a very smoky beer throughout with tonnes of strong malts and an almost offensive taste as a result. The beer is definitely not my style and as a result it was a real struggle to drink, the smoke overpowering from the start which wasn’t helped by the poor balance of the beer; not one I’d have again.

Overall (2/20): This one was a real struggle for me to drink, the nose in particular was a strong and harsh one with a lot of smoke and ham notes but the taste initially didn’t seem as strong, only for things to change on the way down with the malts giving way to more smoke and ham. Beyond that I found it hard to detect much of anything, the seemed to overpower the rest of the beer and I couldn’t finish this one in the end sadly; it was that bad.

Brewed In: Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Brewery: Loch Lomond Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Rauchbier/Smoked Beer
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Aldi (Lanarkshire)
Price: Gift

Brewdog Mandarina Lager

August 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.15

The second of two new Brewdog beers I tried in quick succession now, this one follows on from their Native Son IPA that I reviewed here last and like that offering is another that I sampled at one of their Glasgow bars earlier this month when stopping in for a mid-week beer. The beer itself is a small batch, experimental offering from the brewery that is currently only available at their UK bars on-tap which is one of the reasons I tried it when I was in. Brewdog have brewed a number of lagers over the years and most have been quite average, with the likes of their Vagabond Pilsner a rare exception to that rule. Thanks to their fairly poor record at brewing decent lagers, I wasn’t holding out a great deal of hope going into this one but I was hopeful it would at least improve upon the fairly disappointing Native Son IPA that I had just finished prior to ordering this one.

Appearance (4/5): A clear golden beer that was almost yellow looking but came topped with a nice head that was white and fluffy looking, holding well over the opening minutes before eventually settling as a nice surface lacing.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with plenty of pale malts and a couple of floral lager hops, this one seemed fresh in the early going with some hints of citrus and a few lighter fruits in the mix. There was a grassy aroma with touches of hay and a bit of lemon nearer the middle of the beer with the odd perfume note and a couple of herbs rounding things off. It’s definitely not the strongest beer on the nose but it’s not too bad for a lager and there was no skunk or off-notes either which was a plus.
Taste (5/10): Kicking off with a few floral flavours and hints of citrus, the beer was slightly more herbal than the nose hinted at and there was some nice lavender notes in there too which I hadn’t been anticipating. It had a subtle sweetness to proceedings with the fruits providing most of this but they did seem a touch weaker than they were with the nose which was a slight disappointment. Some orange flavours and a little bitterness featured down the stretch to see things out but it wasn’t a great taste in truth.
Palate (3/5): Quite a crisp lager but definitely not as fresh as expected, the beer’s name had me thinking it would be quite a lively offering but sadly this wasn’t to be. Carbonation levels were about average for the style and a slight citrus tang, along with some faint bitterness at the end featured but it was quite a boring and difficult to drink beer.

Overall (11/20): Quite a disappointing Brewdog offering if I’m honest, for whatever reason the brewery just can’t seem to brew a decent lager despite the amount of attempts they’ve made over the years. This one was quite average for the most part, it did get off to a good start appearance wise and the nose wasn’t too bad either but it was let down by the taste sadly. It was a semi-sweet offering with some basic herbal touches and a combination of lager malts but remained quite weak throughout and didn’t really have too much to keep things interesting. There was some unusual floral touches and hints of lavender at times but it wasn’t exactly what I had been looking for and it didn’t really seem very special either; it’s one to avoid in my opinion.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Full Name: Brewdog Small Batch Mandarina Lager
Type: Premium Lager
Abv: 5.3%
Serving: Keg (Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse, Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £4.32

Native Son IPA

August 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.2

Another new Brewdog IPA here, this one a July 2017 release that I managed to try earlier this month when I spotted off for a quick beer at one of their Glasgow bars. Going in at 8% abv. and loaded with Columbus, Centennial, Citra, Chinook, Comet and Simcoe hops, the beer should be as American as an IPA can get. Following on from their The Physics and Hazy Jane offerings, this beer is my 139th from Brewdog and it was actually one that I was hoping to sample when I visited their pubs, mainly because IPA’s are definitely the brewery’s speciality and I was eager to see how this one compared to previous offerings from them; here’s what I thought at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a light and surprisingly clear beer that is a light amber colour with excellent clarity. The head is a fine, white coloured one that sits about a quarter of a centimetre tall in the glass and holds on quite well considering the strength of the beer, keeping its height over the opening couple minutes and leaving some nice lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some tropical fruits and a faint sweetness, the beer definitely wasn’t as strong on the nose or as bitter as I’d anticipated going in. There was some resinous pine towards the middle with a few touches of spice as well but it was quite light and basic with some pineapple and mango coming through further on.
Taste (6/10): Quite a similar taste to what the nose hinted at, the beer was still a lot lighter than I’d expect from an 8% abv. offering but there was some pleasant dry hops and pine to kick things off and thankfully both were at least a touch stronger than with the nose. I managed to get some mango and faint citrus around the middle of the beer with touches of spice not too far behind. Towards the end there was some floral flavours coming through but it wasn’t a typical IPA taste or one that I was a huge fan of really.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied, perhaps a touch thicker but definitely a spicy offering that was less bitter than anticipated. The beer had a nice tang at points and hints of alcohol featured throughout without ever overpowering,although it still wasn’t the easiest beer to drink and I felt that some of the flavours could have been a little stronger too.

Overall (12/20): This one proved to be a fairly average beer overall from Brewdog and one that was surprisingly unlike a typical American IPA with the bitterness a little lighter than expected but the floral flavours coming through a touch stronger. There was some alcohol showing throughout with plenty of spice nearer the middle of proceedings but it seemed a little basic at times too, pineapple and mango were about the only fruits worth mentioning and there wasn’t a whole lot beyond them to keep you interested.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American IPA
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Keg (Half Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog Doghouse, Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £4.04

The Physics

August 22, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

Another beer re-released by Brewdog as part of their tenth anniversary celebrations back in April, I picked this one up alongside their original version of Punk IPA that I first tried years ago and a new beer for me, their Hop Rocker that I’ve since reviewed here as well. This is one that I probably just missed when getting into craft beer and one that the brewery stopped brewery not long before I regularly began looking for new beers in the supermarket but it was always one I’d wanted to try based on the number of reviews it has online, although I can’t remember if they were good ones or not now. Apparently this one was the inspiration for one of Brewdog’s flagship, year-round offerings in their 5 A.M. Saint which is a beer of theirs that I’m quite partial to so hopefully this one will be just as good. An added bonus to this one, thanks mainly to the large discount I received when ordering, this one worked out as quite a cheap beer for a Brewdog offering.

Appearance (4/5): This one pours quite a dark, almost mahogany amber that definitely has a caramel look to it upon closer inspection. The beer is topped with quite a thick looking, creamy head that is a tan brown in colour and quite wavy looking on the surface too. Head retention is excellent here though, there is almost no movement over the opening couple of minutes and there is hints of some lacing being left on the sides of the glass too; a better than expected start to this one.
Aroma (7/10): Quite malty and sweet on the nose in the early going, there was a few burnt notes initially but for the most part it was a caramel aroma that seemed to dominate proceedings. The beer was somewhat sticky on the nose with some toffee malts coming through alongside a biscuit aroma and plenty of further sweet malts. There was a roasted nose following on from this and a few subtle fruits and hops sneaked in towards the end but it was definitely the caramel and toffee that dominated here.
Taste (6/10): Again this one was quite a sweet beer but it didn’t seem as thick or full as the nose did and the caramel flavours took a lesser role here, it was the burnt toast and biscuit flavours that seemed to come to the fore. There was a lot of darker, more earthy malts at this point too with not as much sweetness showing as the nose indicated although some subtle fruits and raisins did show themselves around this point too. Towards the end the beer was quite bitter-tasting with the sweetness all but gone sadly but it was still a drinkable offering at this stage.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied but falling somewhat short and flat carbonation wise, the beer could definitely have done with a little more in this department. Opening as a very sweet and malty beer, things seemed to fade with taste and the bitterness came into its own at this point, there was quite an earthy feel to the beer at this point too and it definitely suffered as a result in my view, whilst still remaining drinkable throughout.

Overall (14/20): Opening very well, this beer got off to an excellent start thanks to how good the nose was when it came through with tonnes of caramel malts and sweetness, some toffee backing them up as well. Things changed after that though, the taste being an altogether different affair with less sweetness and caramel but a lot more bitterness and earthy flavours which weren’t too my liking after the great opening to the beer. Throughout it remained an enjoyable beer but sadly the change of direction wasn’t completely to my liking and I feel like I would have liked this one more had the caramel flavours continued throughout; nice stuff but nowhere near as good as the brewery’s 5 A.M. Saint for me I’m afraid.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2007 (re-released 2017)
Type: Amber/Red Ale
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £1.29 (approx.)

Brewdog Hazy Jane

August 22, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 4.6

Jumping on the bandwagon with the latest craft beer trend, this one is a new beer for summer 2017 from Brewdog and seems almost like a successor to their recent collaboration with Cloudwater when they released a limit edition New England IPA earlier this year. Like that offering, this one is another New England style IPA from the brewery and is actually one that I received a free six-pack as part of their Equity for Punks scheme which was a bonus consider I would have definitely picked up a few cans myself anyway. The beer is actually one that I tried a few times before getting round to giving a proper review here, I spotted it on-tap one evening and couldn’t resist seeing how it compared to the canned version as well; both are excellent in case you are still wondering. This is definitely a beer that I’d like to see become a regular from Brewdog but here’s what I thought of it when I gave it a proper review from the can recently.

Appearance (5/5): This one pours very well and sits a cloudy, light orange colour in the glass and manages to look quite still in the process. The head is a thumb-sized, foamy white one that holds better than expected for a 7.2% beer with some nice lacing left on the sides of the glass too; an excellent start.
Aroma (8/10): Really juicy and fresh on the nose with a lot of tropical notes coming through in the early going to give the beer a refreshing and lively nose without it coming across as too strong or overpowering. There was some touches of pine and grapefruit initially but the touches of pineapple and mango helped to balance things out and stop it seeming overly bitter. Toward the end there was a hint of stone fruit and lighter malts coming through as well but it’s a tropical and juicy nose for the most part, it’s also an excellent one and up there with the best from Brewdog so far.
Taste (9/10): Following on well from the nose, this is again a very fresh and lively beer with a lot of tropical fruits to kick things off; I managed to get some pine and floral hops with a little grapefruit in there before the mango, stone fruit and even some peach made an appearance. It’s got plenty of variety and a hint of sweetness as well with some pale malts in there around the middle too. It’s a more hop-filled taste than the nose hinted at but it’s great on the way down and was rounded off nicely with some further citrus and tropical bursts right at the end.
Palate (5/5): Sitting around medium bodied this one was a very fresh and crisp offering that seemed quite lively and balanced too. There was a lot of tropical flavours that when coupled with the pale malts nearer the middle provided a nice touch of sweetness to proceedings as well. It was a very easy beer to drink and for the most part the alcohol content of this one was well hidden thanks to the abundance of flavour and good variety to it. It was well carbonated and even had a subtle kick right at the death; near perfect stuff on the palate for me.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and easily one of the best I’ve tried from the brewery, if not the very best, I’d love to see this one become a regular offering from them or at least a semi-regular offering. There was a huge amount of tropical fruits and juicy flavours to kick things off but the beer still held its balance throughout. There was some pale malts nearer the middle that provided some sweetness but the pineapple, mango and various other tropical fruits were the dominant flavours to the beer and it was definitely one that I enjoyed; I can see this one being a Brewdog beer that I pick up every chance I get if it does end up of their roster of regular releases.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: New England IPA
Abv: 7.2%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: Free