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Posts Tagged ‘stout’

Horny Bull Stout

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.55

The second of the two Hillstown Brewery beers that I picked up in Ireland recently, this one following on from the bottle of Squealing Pig IPA from the brewery that I reviewed here last. This one is a beer that was originally a 12% abv. beer before being reduced to its current 7% abv. in subsequent batches but it’s still labelled as an imperial stout and that’s part of the reason I picked this one up. Like the bottle of Squealing Pig before it, this isn’t a beer that I’d seen on any of my previous trips to Ireland despite it being about since late 2014 but it does seem to attract fairly good reviews online and it was definitely one that I was excited about trying when I cracked the bottle open on Christmas Eve, here’s what I thought of it when I did.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a thick looking, black coloured beer that formed a large, foamy head that was domed shaped and almost overflowed the glass as I poured. It was a thick looking, light beige head that held well with little initial reduction in size for the first couple minutes before eventually settling as a centimetre and a half tall head that looked great.
Aroma (6/10): Not a huge amount came through initially with the nose, something that was a little surprising given the strength of the beer itself but there was some roasted malts and a subtle touch of alcohol in the early going. Towards the middle there was some lighter chocolate notes and a bit of caramel with some liquorice following on behind but it’s definitely a beer that could have been a lot stronger on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully the taste opened with more strength and flavour than the nose hinted at, there was some cocoa and chocolate to kick things off with a nice caramel sweetness bring things towards the middle. The beer seemed stronger with a touch of alcohol coming through alongside a few roasted malts and what was quite a creamy finish.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied with a slightly sweet feel that had some alcohol showing at times but was fairly well balanced for the most part. The body was softly carbonated and easy going despite the strength and the warming alcohol towards the end but it was nothing special sadly and I was definitely expecting a little more from it.

Overall (13/20): Quite a strange one from Hillstown here, the beer definitely opened lighter than expected for a beer that was 7% abv. and labelled as an imperial stout with the nose bordering on weak at points. Thankfully the taste was a little better with some nice cocoa and chocolate flavours alongside a caramel sweetness and subtle touches of alcohol to add a little strength and a slightly warming finish. The beer sadly wasn’t as exciting or varied as I’d anticipated and perhaps it lost something when it changed from a 12% abv. offering to it’s current 7% but it’s probably not a beer that I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hillstown Brewery
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.59

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Brewdog/Beavertown Coffee and Cigarettes

January 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

Released at the start of summer last year, this beer is a collaborative offering from Brewdog and London based Beavertown that I picked up soon after it was released but was purposely keeping to try over the holiday season, finally getting round to it on my last day off before starting back work again. A huge imperial stout that comes in at 12.% abv. and is aged in three different types of whiskey casks before being blended together again; Islay, Bourbon and Rye whiskey casks were all used during the brewery process with this one. The beer itself was one that I wasn’t too sure about picking up but it was one of the few I hadn’t tried from Brewdog when I was visiting their bottle shop so I decided to grab myself one for winter, here’s what I thought of it when I finally got round to cracking a bottle open.

Appearance (4/5): Opaque black in colour, this one looks like oil in the glass and is topped with a half centimetre foamy head that is a light brown colour and settles as a fine surface lacing after thirty seconds or so but is still pretty good considering the strength of this one.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a strong nose kicks things off here, there was plenty of coffee initially with a touch of chocolate backing it up and adding some sweetness to the equation along with subtle liquorice notes too. Around the middle the ‘cigarette’ side of things started to make itself known with some strong smoked notes and touches of wood coming through, a hint of oak showed itself here too. It was definitely a dark beer on the nose with some peat and warming alcohol aromas at the end, as well as some subtle vanilla sweetness.
Taste (6/10): Mirroring the nose, the beer opens with strong chocolate and cocoa flavours alongside a solid coffee taste that was slightly bitter. There was some alcohol showing soon after with the beer having quite a strong kick to it which made it seem boozy and warming then from about the middle on there was some wood and smoked notes coming through with some of the vanilla (or possibly coconut) sweetness from the nose carrying through as well. At the end there was a definite whisky taste with peat malts and some darker fruits coming through as well, most notably I got some raisins and plum but it was definitely the alcohol that dominated nearer the end.
Palate (4/5): A very strong, full bodied beer that was loaded with alcohol from the start and definitely lived up to its 12.1% abv. content although at least some of the alcohol was masked by the chocolate and vanilla sweetness along with the coffee bitterness and wood flavours but I felt these could have been stronger. The beer was a softly carbonated offering that was quite warming at the end and came with quite a strong kick to it but I was hoping for a slightly better balance to make it an easier to drink offering in truth.

Overall (15/20): Very strong stuff from Brewdog and Beavertown here, this one is a huge beer that initially opened with a lot of chocolate and coffee but was quickly followed by a tonne of alcohol alongside some wood and oak flavours; there was also quite a strong whiskey taste with peat malts and further alcohol showing towards the end. It was a difficult beer to drink, particularly with the wood and smoked flavours nearer the end and the fact that the beer didn’t have the best balance, something that I felt held this one back and prevented me from enjoying it as much as I have other imperial stout I’ve tried recently. It was quite a complex offering though with some rich touches and darker fruits towards the end but I felt the alcohol dominated too much and I doubt it’s one that I’d have again.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog/Beavertown (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.1%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog BottleDog (Glasgow)
Price: £9.64

Buxton/Stillwater Subliminal

January 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

My sixth beer from Buxton now, this one a collaborative offering from them and the Baltimore based Stillwater Artisinal that I picked up from the Brewdog online shop back in April when it was heavily discounted. The beer is a one-off from the brewer that was released in late 2016 and is one that I’ve been saving for the Christmas period since it’s a relatively strong 10% abv. offering. The beer follows on from their Axe Edge as the first beer from Buxton that I’ll have reviewed here since June of this year, that one being a beer that I actually picked up alongside this one earlier in the year; the only other Stillwater offering I’ve tried was their collaboration with William Brothers for their Stravaigin Croft Saison that I tried way back in June 2013 which was an enjoyable offering so it should be interesting to see how they do with an imperial stout.

Appearance (4/5): Very thick and dark looking as it poured, the beer is pitch black and opaque with a centimetre tall head that’s medium brown in colour and foamy before it starts to break up slightly at one side after about twenty seconds or so but it’s a good start considering the strength of the beer.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with some roasted malts and a coffee aroma, the beer has touches of chocolate through it in the early going and is very dark with some alcohol notes coming through as well. It’s a semi-sweet offering that has some caramel malts and a little sugar sitting in the background with touches of smoke towards the end as well; a pleasant beer but slightly more alcohol showed than I’d have liked.
Taste (7/10): The taste was kicked off with some chocolate and roasted malts alongside a strong alcohol kick that carried on from the nose, there was some liquorice and sugars in there as well though. Towards the middle I got some of the smoke and wood flavours that were hinted at with the nose and there was a coffee bitterness further on that rounded things off nicely.
Palate (4/5): Quite a boozy, full-bodied beer that was thick and came through with a lot of alcohol showing, something that I’d have liked to have been better hidden but the beer was still a drinkable offering. It was quite a warming drink towards the end with a subtle bitterness from the roasted malts and coffee flavours as well as a caramel sweetness backed up by some sugars. It was moderately carbonated and the balance was okay, although as I’ve said there was perhaps a little too much alcohol at times.

Overall (15/20): Strong and boozy with a lot of alcohol showing but this one was also quite a complex offering that opened with some dark malts and chocolate alongside a caramel sweetness which gave it quite a rich, warming feel. I’d have liked a better balance with less alcohol showing but the beer was still a drinkable one with a few roasted malts that turned smoky with some wood flavours towards the end; definitely one worth trying, especially for the price I paid for it but there are better imperial stouts out there too.

Brewed In: Buxton, Derbyshire, England
Brewery: Buxton Brewery/Stillwater Artisinal (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £3.57

Big Black Berry Chew Chew

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

A second Fallen beer in quick succession and one that follows on from their Grapevine pale ale that I reviewed here recently, this one however is a slightly stronger beer that comes in and 10% abv. and is labelled as a “salted caramel, blackberry and blackcurrant milk stout” which certainly isn’t a style of beer that you see very often. I spotted this one in a local bottle shop alongside the brewery’s raspberry version of the beer and was tempted to pick that one up as well but opted to see how this one goes before grabbing that one as well, so hopefully this one turns out to be as good as the last beer from the brewery that I tried.

Appearance (4/5): Dark ruby with an almost purple hue in places and topped with a quarter-inch foamy head that took a fairly aggressive pour to form and is a light brown colour with purple hues through that as well. It is patchy towards the centre but I don’t have too many complaints given the strength of the beer.
Aroma (8/10): Surprisingly fruity to begin with, there is obviously a lot of the blackcurrant and blackberries coming through in the early going with a subtle hint of cherry too. The beer seems fresher than I’m used to for an imperial stout with some good sweetness and tart notes in the early going as well. There are followed up by the salted caramel advertised on the can as well as some lighter fruits that give the beer a juicy aroma to it. There’s some milky notes further on with some darker malts and roasted notes seeing things out but it’s a lighter smell than expected from such a strong beer with the fruits dominating for the most part and it is certainly something different too.
Taste (7/10): Slightly darker than the nose with lactose and milk flavours coming more to the front alongside the berries from the nose and the blackcurrant too. It’s again sweet and fresh, very juicy too with and little caramel towards the middle that only added to the sweetness before some of the tart from the nose started to come through and eventually eclipsed what was showing on the nose. Again it was an unusual beer for an imperial stout and definitely something different to what I’m used to, it was enjoyable as well which was nice but I’m not totally convinced by it in truth.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and definitely a little lighter than you would expect from a 10% abv. beer but at least it wasn’t a thin offering. The beer was fruity with some nice sweetness and tart showing in both the nose and the taste plus there was good variety to the beer whilst the balance wasn’t too bad either; it was perhaps a little too sweet at times but it remained drinkable throughout anyway. Despite coming through at 10% abv. and being labelled as an imperial stout, the beer was surprisingly light on alcohol flavours and grain, the rest of the fruits seemingly masking the alcohol content completely.

Overall (14/20): Quite an unusual beer here, this one is labelled as an imperial stout but at times seemed closer to a sour or fruit beer with plenty of blackcurrant and berries coming through in the early going, accompanied by some caramel and milk flavours but both of these definitely seemed to take a back seat to the fruits. The alcohol content of the beer in particular was well hidden and it was surprisingly easy to drink, although the sweetness did seem a little overdone at times sadly. It was a varied beer with a lot going on and it was unlike anything I’d tried before but I’m not convinced that it would be a beer that I’d rush back to again I’m afraid since there is already a lot of better imperial stouts out there waiting to be tried.

Brewed In: Kippen, Stirling, Scotland
Brewery: Fallen Brewing
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £4.80

Club of Slaughters

December 7, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.25

A fourth Wylam beer now and one that comes after a five-year gap with the last beer from the brewery I tried being their Bohemia pilnser that I sampled back in December 2012. The other two beers from the brewery that I’ve sampled, their Angel and Rocket bitters, were both pretty standard fair but the Newcastle based brewery seems to have upped their game of late and I’ve started to see a few more adventurous offerings from them available. I picked this one up when visiting the city over the summer and also grabbed another couple from them on the same visit that I’ve yet to try. I then spotted yet another imperial stout from Wylam in a Glasgow bottle shop last weekend, a beer that I quickly picked up. This particular offering from the brewery, despite the name suggesting otherwise, is apparently a vegan friendly beer that was first introduced in late 2015 and as yet is not one that I’ve seen available in Scotland but perhaps that is something that will change going forward since last weekend was the first time that I’d spotted any Wylam beers north of the border.

Appearance (4/5): Opaque black and almost oil-like with a foamy brown head that is just under a centimetre tall but holds surprisingly well for a fairly strong beer. The head does slowly fade to leave a thin surface lacing in the middle with a little more build up around the sides but it doesn’t look too bad at all.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a strong beer on the nose with a lot of alcohol showing in the early going as well as a lot of peated malts that gave the beer a type of whiskey aroma. It was slightly sweet towards the middle with some rich and dark fruits coming through alongside some mint that was unusual but enjoyable before the beer was rounded off with some liquorice and alcohol grains.
Taste (6/10): Opening with the same peated malts that featured heavily with the nose, the beer wasn’t quite as strong this time around but there was some strong alcohol grains and smoky flavours present that threatened to overpower at points. I got some roasted flavours around the middle of the beer with touches of mint further on with some more malts seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): A very strong beer with plenty dark and roasted touches that were quite smoky too that’s to the peated malts. The beer was loaded with alcohol and seemed stronger than the 8.8% abv. on the bottle, the balance in particular being a poor one that made it a slow one to get through; not a great one of the style at all and one I’d avoid in future.

Overall (13/20): This one was a very strong beer from the outset and one that was loaded with peated malts, smoky flavours and some wood which all gave the beer a whiskey feel to it in the early going. The alcohol that came through seemed overdone and made the beer seem a lot stronger than the 8.8% advertised on the bottle, it was also a bit of a struggle to finish too, although the surprising addition of some mint to the nose and taste was quite enjoyable but other than that the beer seemed poorly balanced and was a relatively poor imperial stout sadly.

Brewed In: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Brewery: Wylam Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 8.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Fenwicks (Newcastle)
Price: £3.49

Fitzbräu Hop Chocolate

December 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.1

Following on from the last homebrew offering that I reviewed here, this one is my second attempt at making a dark beer and my first ever stout; well second, I also tried making an imperial stout recently too. I brewed this one a couple of months ago and am down to my last few bottles now but as yet haven’t properly reviewed it here, hopefully it’s still fresh enough and I can gauge how it compares to the El Gran Jefe Porter that preceded it. Brewed with sorachi ace, amarillo and magnum hops and American influenced, this is one that I’ had been wanting to brew for a while but ended up delaying it whilst I had a stab at an Imperial Stout that I will likely review soon after this one.

Appearance (3/5): A very dark ruby to black colour that is opaque and topped with quite a disappointingly small head that is well under half a centimetre tall and fades to leave a thin bit of lace around the circumference after twenty seconds or so; likely since this one was bottled a good couple of months ago but I was still hoping for better.
Aroma (6/10): Quite dark with some nice caramel and chocolate flavours in the early going as well as some background hops that hint at some bitterness. There’s a few spiced showing but nothing overly strong before being drowned out by cocoa and an earthy bitterness. It could have been fresher and a little stronger but it wasn’t a bad one on the nose really.
Taste (7/10): Opening with some chocolate and caramel flavours that provided some nice sweetness too, the beer seemed fresher than it smelled with some subtle citrus hops coming through but I’d have liked them to be a little stronger, something I’ll consider if I decide to make a variation of this one again. There was some cocoa and milk like flavours further on with the odd spice sneaking through as well towards the end.
Palate (3/5):
Somewhere around medium bodied and very smooth, the beer was softly carbonated and quite easy going although it could have been a little fresher and more lively, the lack of hop bitterness was also an issue at times for me but it was still a drinkable beer that seemed sweet and creamy at times too.

Overall (12/20): Definitely not as good as some of my previous efforts, partially due to the fact that it was a couple months past its best when I finally got around the reviewing it but I was still hoping for a little better from this one. The beer was smooth and creamy with some nice chocolate malts and caramel at times with a few hints of lactose too but there wasn’t enough hop bitterness other than a subtle touch of citrus featuring around the middle of the taste. It remained a drinkable beer and one that I finished quite easily but it wasn’t as good as I hoped and it will need some tinkering with before I decide to make this one again.

Brewed In: Wishaw, Lanarkshire Scotland
Brewery: Fitzbräu
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American Stout
Abv: 5.38%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Homebrew
Price: N/A

Minoh Stout

October 31, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

My penultimate Minoh beer now and the only ‘dark beer’ from the brewery that I managed to try sadly, I had been particularly keen to try their Imperial Stout but only found out after my trip that the beer is usually only available early in the year, around January and February, so that one will have to wait. One of the higher rated Minoh beers online and was awarded World’s Best Stout (Japan) at the 2016 World Beer Awards and had a nice sticker on the bottle to tell me this so it was definitely one that I was looking forward to cracking open, doubly so since the last four beers from the brewery were also fairly enjoyable ones.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a dark looking brown colour that bordered on black and had an opaque body that was topped with a light brown coloured head sitting about three or four millimeters tall and looking more like a thin surface lacing than anything else, before breaking up slightly towards the middle soon after.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with darker malts and a few roasted notes, the beer was a standard stout on the nose initially with a nutty aroma that was backed up by a little chocolate sweetness. Further on and some caramel started to come through alongside a faint liquorice note and then some vanilla following on behind.
Taste (7/10): Kicking off with the darker malts from the nose, the beer is a little more earthy and bitter this time around thanks to the coffee and nutty flavours coming through. A pleasant sweetness sat in the background with some chocolate and sugars as well as the vanilla that featured in the nose. Towards the end I detected a little caramel and some smoked flavours with a combination of roasted barley, spices and a further earthy bitterness seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Quite a thick beer that bordered on being full-bodied at times whilst staying smooth throughout. It’s a moderately carbonated offering that was quite earthy and nutty with a solid bitterness throughout. The balance of the beer was a good one with some sweetness showing further on thanks to the sugars and chocolate malts; this one was a very nice and easy to drink beer.

Overall (16/20): Great stuff again from Minoh and another beer from the brewery that I’d happily have again, it was especially good when compared to other darker Japanese beers that I’ve tried. The beer opened with some excellent roasted malts and an earthy bitterness that was coupled with some sweetness and vanilla flavouring further on; definitely a beer that I’d have again if it was available outside of Japan.

Brewed In: Osaka, Japan
Brewery: Minoh Beer
First Brewed: Brewery since 1997
Type: English Stout
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Yamaya Nagahoribashi (Osaka)
Price: ¥410 (£2.72 approx.)