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Posts Tagged ‘stout’

Semi-Skimmed Occultist

July 10, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.9

A new limited release, small batch beer from Brewdog that was launched in March this year and will be my 134th different beer from the brewery so far. This one follows on from the bottle of their re-released Hop Rocker offering that I reviewed here at the end of May and is one of countless Brewdog beers that I have in my cellar, still awaiting a review. This is actually a beer that I’ve been looking forward to since first hearing about it in one the brewery’s newsletters towards the end of last year (or possibly at the every start of this one) and I was quick to pick up a can at their Glasgow shop soon after its initial release, just in case it disappeared quickly. Brewed as an 8% abv. sweet stout that could almost be considered an imperial stout, the beers seems to have attracted fairly positive reviews online and I’ quite excited to crack this one open now.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a nice looking beer when I initially poured it, this one sits a dark and opaque looking brown to ruby-black colour that is also very still looking. The beer is topped with a beautiful, foamy head that is tan coloured and dome-shaped, holding incredibly well over the opening few minutes which is doubly impressive given it is such a strong beer. It quite thick and creamy looking once the head eventually starts to subside slightly but it doesn’t lose very much of its head at all and looks excellent throughout, holding steady as I work my way down the glass and leaving plenty of lacing along the way too; a perfect start.
Aroma (6/10): Perhaps not quite as strong a beer on the nose as I’d anticipated for an 8% stout but it wasn’t exactly a weak one either and some solid roasted malts opened the show alongside touches of coffee and some early hints of sweetness. There was a nice amount of cocoa and chocolate notes showing in the early going too with a bit of caramel thrown in for good measure. Nearer the middle some of the milky aromas and lactose started to come through, adding a little to the sweetness along the way but definitely not stealing the limelight any. There was a little vanilla nearer the end with some further roasted malt bitterness and faint touches of smoke to see things out but it’s definitely one that could have been just a touch stronger; the alcohol was very well hidden throughout though.
Taste (7/10): Opening much like the nose before it did, this one kicks off with a lot of roasted malts but it’s thankfully a little stronger this time around with some hints of alcohol grain managing to sneak in there as well. There was a lot of sweetness early one from the chocolate, caramel and touches of chocolate malt too, a faint taste of vanilla wasn’t too far behind either. It wasn’t an overpowering taste by any means and it was definitely closer to what I’d expected going in that the nose was, there was a lot of oats and some earthy bitterness around the middle with a bit of coffee to back it up as well. Towards the end the sweetness really began to take hold with some milky touches and further bitter malts seeing things out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied, perhaps just a touch lighter than expected for an 8% stout but it was far from thin and there was a lot going on anyway. The beer opened with a plenty of roasted malts and a solid helping of sweetness from the caramel and chocolate backing it up, some vanilla to help out as well. The beer was surprisingly easy to drink throughout and the balance was a good one, some faint alcohol showed at the start of the taste but was masked completely with the nose and it only started to seem like an 8% offering nearer the end of proceedings. Overall it was an incredibly smooth but quite sweet offering that went down a treat.

Overall (16/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog here, the beer got off to a perfect start after I poured it where it looked fantastic sitting in the glass; the nose however was a very slight let down given that it wasn’t quite as strong as I’d been expecting but it was still a pleasant enough beer aroma-wise. Things were turned around completely with the taste and the beer started to come into its own with an early roasted bitterness that quickly lead to an abundance of sweetness that really made the beer; a combination of chocolate malts, lactose and vanilla with some caramel thrown in for good measure all worked well together. The beer was smooth and balanced with a subtle kick thanks to the alcohol as well; it’s just a shame that it’s a limited release from the brewery otherwise I could see this being one I’d go back to at some point in the future.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Sweet/Milk Stout
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse (Glasgow)
Price: £3.56

Lemke Imperial Stout

May 12, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 4.25

Very likely the penultimate Lemke beer that I’ll be reviewing on this site for quite some time now, this one is the fourth of five beers from the brewery that I managed to sample when visiting Berlin last month and stopping by two of the brewery’s brewpubs in the Mitte area of the city. This one is by far the strongest of the five beers that I managed to try and it follows on from the review of their Hopfen Weisse, Original and 030 Berlin Pale Ale beers that I added here previously. This offering an imperial stout from the brewery that comes in at 11% abv. and is one I managed to grab a bottle of when leaving the bar on my first visit with a view of sampling it at my hotel at some point over the weekend, I also wanted to grab a bottle of their double IPA by never quite got the chance; maybe next time though.

Appearance (5/5): Really dark brown looking, bordering on black with an opaque body that is topped with quite a thin, half centimetre tall head that covers the surface well. The texture is a foamy one that also looks thick with no break up in the opening few minutes which is quite impressive given the strength of the beer; it looks quite still in the glass too.
Aroma (8/10): Quiet a strong and dark beer as expected, there was a good combination of caramel and darker malts to open things up with some touches of alcohol not too far behind but thankfully nothing too strong. Towards the middle some dark fruit notes started to emerge, I could detect some cherries and prunes with some plum and raisin in there too, all of which added some nice sweetness to the beer. It was a relatively complex offering from the brewery with oak and some hints of vanilla down the stretch; a good start.
Taste (8/10): Again opening quite sweet like the nose, there was a lot of dark fruits in the early going here with the prunes, plums and raisins from the nose all featuring and coming out strongest initially. These flavours were followed by some cherries before a chocolate aroma featured near the middle with some coffee and roasted malts backing it up. It was again a complex offering with some light alcohol and caramel flavours coming through at the end to see things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied but quite a strong and smooth offering, this one opened with a lot of warming alcohol but thankfully feel short of overpowering the beer. It seemed relatively complex with more sweetness showing than expected thanks to the combination of dark fruits showing throughout. The beer also had a pretty good balance and proved quite easy to drink with moderate carbonation coming through as well; it’s a difficult beer to fault really.

Overall (17/20): This one was another pretty nice beer from Lemke, it opened as quite a complex offering with a solid combination of darker fruits and malts coming through that were backed up with a subtle alcohol taste but thankfully not a lot. There was some caramel sweetness and touches of vanilla in there too, some oak not far behind which all worked well together and gave the beer a nice balance. It was a pleasant one to sip away at with the smooth body and variety of flavours helping this considerably; great stuff.

Brewed In: Berlin, Germany
Brewery: Brauerei Lemke
First Brewed: circa. 2013
Type: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brauhaus Lemke am Alex (Berlin)
Price: €5.00 (£4.20 approx.)

Nepomucen Plum

April 12, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.25

This one is the first of two Nepomucen beers that I managed to try last month when visiting Warsaw, the other which a review of isn’t too far away was their Milo hefeweizen. This particular offering was the second beer that I sampled at Brewdog’s Warsaw bar on my trip, having been persuaded to stick around for a second beer in the bar and sadly this one turned out to not be worth it for me; the nose being such a let down that it ruined what was otherwise a fairly decent stout. Nepomucen isn’t a brewery that I was familiar with prior to visiting Poland, it appears to be a fairly new brewery that is based in the town of Jutrosin, roughly half way between Poznan and Wroclaw but as you can imagine, not too many of their beers make it out of the country so this was a rare chance to try a few. Here’s what I thought of their Plum stout when I tried it.

Appearance (4/5): Black in colour and opaque with a thin head on top that is about a quarter of a centimetre tall and sits as more of a lacing on the surface of the beer; it does manage to cover it well though and there is an extra bit of build up around the sides too.
Aroma (4/10): The beer was quite a weird one on the nose with a very smoky aroma that was like putting your nose to a used ash tray; it was very unpleasant and off-putting with a lot of cigarette smoke in the early going. Once the beer opened up then there was some darker malts that started to come through alongside faint oak but the early smoke overpowers most things sadly and it’s a poor one.
Taste (6/10): Thankfully the taste was a huge improvement on the nose and the smoky notes faded considerably with only a few showing at various points. The beer was loaded with dark malts and some of the oak from the nose showed here too, although it was more noticeable this time round. There was some vanilla sweetness and the odd roasted flavour to see things out; much better than the nose and almost like a different beer.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and very smoky, particularly with the nose and especially in the early going. There was a nice balance to the beer come the taste though and the smoke subsided some too, there was touches of sweetness coming through on top of subtle carbonation; definitely not a good start but it improved a lot after that.

Overall (13/20): Quite a strange one here and almost like night and day when you compare how bad the nose was in the early going to the rest of the beer; there was far too much smoke that gave the beer the smell of an ash tray but once it had settled and been given a bit of time to open up then it started to improve. There was some faint oak and sweetness at times, I also enjoyed the darker, roasted malts nearer the end but it’s not one I’d go back to given how bad it started.

Brewed In: Jutrosin, Rawicz County, Poland
Brewery: Browar Nepomucen
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Stout
Abv: 5.1%
Serving: Keg (Pint)
Purchased: Brewdog, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 16PLN (appox. £3.20)

Categories: Stout Tags: , , , , ,

Brewdog Tropic Thunder

April 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.25

New for 2017 from Brewdog, this one was the winner of the brewery’s ‘HomeBrewDog’ competition and the highest rated of the 307 beers that entered the contest. Created by Tom Doyle, the beer is a tropical style stout that features cocoa powder, chocolate and some orange beer for good measure. I first seen this one available on the Brewdog online shop towards the end of January but since I didn’t want enough beers to justify an order I was hoping I’d find a bottle in one of their bars but on the several occasions this year I’ve failed to spot it and had almost given up hope of trying it. Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, I managed to find a bottle in a Tesco supermarket recently and quickly grabbed myself a bottle (it was even cheaper than what Brewdog list it for on their website which was an added bonus). The beer should be a nice twist on the stout style of beer and is one that I’m quite looking forward to trying now that I’ve managed to get my hands on a bottle; hopefully it doesn’t disappoint.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a dark beer, this one was pretty much black in appearance with an opaque body and quite a thick looking head on top that was foamy and beige in colour. Starting about an inch and a half tall, the head had good retention with very little initial movement or reduction in size, whilst it also left some nice lacing on the sides as I worked my way down the glass; excellent stuff.
Aroma (8/10): Fairly malty and dark on the nose with some strong chocolate notes and a helping of early sweetness. There was some lingering smoky aromas nearer the centre of the beer and a few coffee notes backed them up. Towards the end there was some faint fruits making an appearance, I’d assume this was the orange but it was too subtle to really tell; either way it was still a nice beer and one that was very easy on the nose into the bargain.
Taste (8/10): The taste opens much like the nose did with a good combination of dark malts and roasted flavours alongside some strong chocolate as well. There was some smoke coming through soon after but there appeared to be slightly less here than there was with the nose, the sweetness instead being the more pronounced this time around. There was some lighter fruits nearer the end and this time I was able to detect some subtle orange flavours with a nice, mellow bitterness seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied with a strong roasted feel to the beer, it was definitely a dark offering with some nice bitterness in there too. The orange and various other fruits added a subtle sweetness that sat on top of the moderately carbonated body. Overall the beer was quite sweet and creamy with a lingering bitter aftertaste; very nice stuff.

Overall (17/20): Excellent stuff here from Brewdog, well sort of since it was a homebrew winner after all. The beer is a very pleasant one with a good amount of dark malts and chocolate flavours working well with the light fruits and zesty flavours from the orange and imparted a subtle sweetness in the process. There is nice complexity to the beer and it proved quite an easy one to drink, the malts doing there part to completely mask the alcohol content of this one and a moderate bitterness seen things out nicely as well; a very enjoyable beer and one that I wouldn’t mind having again at some point.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Foreign Stout
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Glasgow)
Price: £2.19

Dirty Stop Out

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.95

Amazingly only my third ever review of a Welsh beer now and what will be my first since sampling a bottle of Barry Island IPA back in January of 2014; the other being the bottle of Brains SA Gold that I picked up in Newcastle way back in September of 2012. It’s odd to think that despite being so close, very few Welsh beers seem to make it to Scotland but this particular offering is thankfully one that does; Tiny Rebel’s Dirty Stop Out smoked oatmeal stout. The beer is one that actually features in the updated version of the 1001 beers list, although not the version I’m working from but it’s always nice to try to pick up anything I know to be in the next edition when I get a chance. The bottle is one that I picked up on a recent visit to Whole Foods Market in Giffnock recently and is one that intrigued me given it is labelled as a smoked oat stout. Brewed in Newport since 2012, the beer will be the first from Tiny Rebel that I’ll have reviewed here but I do recall trying their Urban IPA a few years ago and from what I can recall, I found it to be quite a decent offering so hopefully this one is more of the same.

dirty-stop-out

Appearance (4/5): Quite a deep, almost murky brown that has an opaque body and a foamy head that looks slightly creamy on the surface. The head is a tan brown colour and holds very well in the early going, there isn’t much movement really and touches of lace are left on the sides of the glass too. 4.25
Aroma (7/10): Opening with some roasted malts and toasted notes, some subtle oats and a milky aroma come through in the early going too. There was some coffee nearer the middle with a faint sweetness off of the malts as well before some earthy bitterness and faint chocolate smells start to appear. Towards the end there is some of the promised smoky notes and a little oak comes through alongside it that is reminiscent of a rauchbier at times, albeit not nearly as strong or overpowering.
Taste (8/10): Opening with some toasted malts and touches of toffee, the smoky flavours in this one comes through a little earlier this time around but again falls short of overpowering which I definitely appreciated. There as some oak and light chocolate sweetness with hints of coffee and oats. A couple of sugars sneak in around the middle and I got some earthy bitterness alongside hints of cocoa and roasted flavours nearer the end.
Palate (4/5): This one was quite a creamy, medium to full-bodied beer that was smoother than expected and had some nice smoky touches that were more pronounced with the taste but thankfully weren’t overdone. There was a few hints of sweetness from some toffee and chocolate as well as the couple of sugars making themselves known which definitely helped the balance of the beer and it was a pleasure to drink. Carbonation wise the beer sat about moderate to fine and there was quite a sharp, crisp feel to it nearer the end; great stuff.

Overall (17/20): Surprisingly good stuff from Tiny Rebel here, this one was a lot smoother and definitely more balanced than I’d anticipated when pouring the beer; I was fearful of the mention of it being ‘smoked’ on the label but it certainly wasn’t overdone. There was a few nice toasted malts opening things with touches of sugar and sweetness too, some toffee even featured before the smoky flavours started to show but they were subdued enough to make it an enjoyable beer throughout; great stuff and one that I’d have again.

Brewed In: Newport, Gwent Wales
Brewery: Tiny Rebel Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Oatmeal Stout
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Whole Foods Market (Giffnock)
Price: £2.39

O’Hara’s 20th Anniversary Imperial Stout

February 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

My eleventh beer from the Carlow Brewing Company now and what I believe will be my ninth under their O’Hara’s banner. The beer is a limited release that has been available since around March of 2016 as a 20th Anniversary Imperial Stout to celebrate twenty years since the original brewery was founded back in 1996. I stumbled across this beer while I was visiting Armagh in the north of Ireland last month and quickly picked up two bottles, trying one the next evening while keeping a second to age and see how it tastes at a later date. Labelled as a complex brew with rich coffee and chocolate notes, the brewery mentions that the taste should continue to develop for years and I’m hopeful it will prove to be a good decision in picking up two bottles. This one will be my first imperial stout from the brewery but I have tried two other stouts from them previously, their O’Hara’s Leann Folláin dry stout which I reviewed here back in July 2015 as well as trying their excellent, flagship O’Hara’s Irish Stout numerous times over the years so this was definitely one I was looking forward to going in; here’s what I thought of it.

oharas-20th-anniversary-imperial-stout

Appearance (5/5): Quite a thick, dark beer that is black in colour and comes with an opaque body. There was a one and a half centimetre head on top that was foamy looking with the odd bubble near the centre. Head retention was quite good, particularly for the strength of the beer and there wasn’t much movement or reduction in size over the opening minutes really. Eventually losing about a third of its initial size, the head manages to leave some nice touches of lacing on the sides of the glass as I started to drink the beer.
Aroma (7/10): Slightly fruity on the nose initially, there was a sweet-smelling beer that opened with some cherries and a hint of plum coming through alongside an excellent helping of chocolate and plenty of darker malts. There was some coffee notes nearer the middle of the beer and I got some touches of spice too but further sweetness was added thanks to some vanilla and oak notes. Despite being a beer with quite a high abv., this one didn’t have an overly strong nose but there was some burnt sugars and roasted notes that brought things to quite a nice close.
Taste (7/10): Opening with quite a lot of milky notes and some lactose, there was a definite milk chocolate taste to this one in the early going with some touches of liquorice in there too. I found this one to be quite a creamy tasting beer that featured some pleasant coffee flavours towards the middle, although they seemed a little subdued when compared to those from the nose. There was again a hint of spice and some darker fruits coming through towards the end, hints of plum and cherries featuring alongside some raisin and figs before the vanilla from the nose seen things out. It’s quite a nice tasting beer but I’d have liked it to come through just a little bit stronger really.
Palate (3/5): Quite a creamy beer that came through quite balanced and smooth with a medium body that could perhaps have been a little fuller. There was touches of spice nearer the end of the beer and it also turned out to be slightly boozy at that point too, something not unexpected for a 10% abv. beer. There wasn’t quite as much complexity to this one as I’d have liked in truth but the balance was nice enough and carbonation wise the beer sat somewhere around moderate; the sweetness being the most memorable things about this one in truth and something that got stronger as things went on.

Overall (14/20): Quite a nice beer overall without being a standout, although to be honest I was probably expecting more from this considering it’s a 20th anniversary beer from the brewery. It opened with some nice sweetness thanks to the sugars as well as some dark fruits then later on some vanilla but it definitely wasn’t the strongest tasting beer, something I wasn’t expecting to say about one coming in at 10% really. It had quite a smooth, creamy feel with milky chocolate dominating the taste but it could have been darker and more complex. It’s one that I’m still glad to have picked up and tried but I’m hoping the bottle I’m ageing turns out to be better than this one.

Brewed In: Muine Bheag, County Carlow, Ireland
Brewery: Carlow Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (375ml)
Purchased: The Wine Store (Armagh)
Price: £3.99

Hel & Verdoemenis Bourbon B.A.

February 3, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

My eleventh beer from the De Molen brewery, this one hot on the heels of their Hemel & Aarde offering from the 1001 beers list that I reviewed recently and another that I bought at the end of 2013. This particular beer is a bourbon barrel aged edition of the brewery’s Hel & Verdoemenis imperial stout and was initially released in 2013, although the original Hel & Verdoemenis dated back to 2008. The bottle that I’ll be reviewing here was bottled in November 2013 and has been aged since then since they brewery mentions on the bottle that the beer should safely keep for twenty-five years. Aged in bourbon barrels, this is one of a number of variants of Hel & Verdoemenis available and it’s one that I cracked open just after New Year when visiting Ireland; it’s also the last De Molen beer I had of those I’d been ageing but hopefully I’ll pick up another few in the near future.

hel-verdoemenis-bourbon-b-a

Appearance (4/5): Obviously quite a dark beer one but not overly thick as it was poured, it’s a very dark mahogany that is almost black. There wasn’t much of a head to the beer, even after an aggressive pour with only a tiny bit of foam lacing around the circumference and nothing in the middle of the beer; I guess that’s to be expected for an 11%, 3-year-old beer though.
Aroma (7/10): This one kicked off with quite a strong nose initially, lots of oak and smoky notes come through in the early going alongside a dominant bourbon aroma. There’s a definite alcohol presence from the start with touches roasted malt and to a lesser extent some chocolate with most of the sweetness coming from the darker malts & sugars but some vanilla sneaks in as well around the middle. Towards the end there is some toasted bitterness and a few darker fruits but the bourbon definitely comes thru strongest.
Taste (7/10): Plenty of bourbon opens things up but it’s a touch lighter than with the nose, probably thanks to the darker malts and chocolate being slightly more pronounced here. There was a lot of roasted malts around the middle that impart an earthy bitterness on the taste. Following this, I got some peat and the odd vanilla flavours that added to the strength of this one. Towards the end some alcohol grains appear but it was at least a touch lighter than the nose with dark fruits, mainly cherries and a touch of spice seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): A very strong, full-bodied beer with moderate carbonation and a lot of alcohol showing thanks to the bourbon barrel ageing process. There is a light sweetness running through the beer that helps with the balance some with some sugar, darker fruits and vanilla but it was still difficult to drink at times. Nearer the end things start to subdue a little and become more mellow once the beer opened up more but I’d definitely have enjoyed it more had it been lighter.

Overall (13/20): Definitely a strong one from De Molen, overly so in my opinion and quite a hard one to get through as a result of the overpowering alcohol taste from the bourbon. There was a lot of peat and dark malts featuring through with the odd grain thrown in for good measure but the balance definitely wasn’t as good as I’d have liked. Some dark fruits featured at times but I found them more subdued than expected and there was no sign of any hops, although the fact that the beer was three years old wouldn’t have helped that any. The aftertaste was a lingering one with some coffee and an earthy bitterness rounding things off and while it was an okay beer, it’s not one that I’ll find myself going back to again; perhaps I’d have enjoyed it more if I was into whisky but sadly this wasn’t a beer for me.

Brewed In: Bodegraven, South Holland, Netherlands
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
English Name: De Molen Hell & Damnation Bourbon Barrel Aged
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £7.50