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Cuvée Alex Le Rouge

December 14, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.1

My final Swiss beer from my trip to Basel last month and I deliberately kept this one to last when in the city given it was such a strong imperial stout. The beer was my second from the Franches-Montagnes but unfortunately this one does not appear on the 1001 beers list, perhaps an updated version will feature it at some point though as it was an excellent beer. It follows on from the bottle of La Meule from the brewery that I had tried not long before sampling this one. Labelled as a ‘Jurassian Imperial Stout’ on the bottle, after the region it is brewed in and the bottle I picked up was a 2015 vintage that was a surprisingly hoppy beer from an imperial stout but it was also one that I really enjoyed; here’s what I though of it.

Cuvée Alex Le Rouge

Appearance (4/5): This one is pitch black with an opaque body, literally nothing is getting through this one it’s that dark. There was a one centimetre tall, bubbly head on top that was off-white in colour and slightly creamy towards the centre. There was a touch of lacing left on the sides of the glass as well and the beer wasn’t a bad-looking one, particularly given it was such a strong beer.
Aroma (7/10): This one was a surprisingly hoppy beer on the nose, there was definitely more coming through that I’d have expected for an imperial stout and could possibly be attributed to the fact the beer was still a relatively fresh one when most beer I pick up from American of this style are usually considerably older than this. There was some nice pine and grapefruit with a few touches of apricot through in as well before a few fresh and floral notes made an appearance. This was followed by the more traditional roasted malts and chocolate notes that came through around the middle and were backed up by some rich cocoa and touches of vanilla before a few sugars seen things out.
Taste (9/10): As you might have guessed from the nose, this one was one of the more hop-filled imperial stouts that I’ve tried with quite a lot of pine and grapefruit kicking things off with the taste as well. There was a nice amount of sugar early on that provided some nice sweetness and I managed to get some strong roasted malts coming through as well. The beer was lighter than expecting but very enjoyable with some nice chocolate and cocoa flavours coming through alongside a few earthy touches and a roasted bitterness right at the end before a nice alcohol kick seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a full body and quite a complex palate that came through with a strong alcohol kick towards the end but remained a relatively easy on to drink thanks to the well-balanced flavours that had plenty of fresh and hoppy flavours that gave the beer a lighter than expected feel but one that was excellent none the less.

Overall (18/20): This one was a very surprising take on the imperial stout style of beer with a lot more hops than I’d been expecting and a few floral flavours led by some excellent pine and grapefruit flavours with a few background fruits thrown in as well. These were balanced well against some nice roasted malts and a chocolate base that complimented each other well and helped the beer go down a lot easier than I was expecting for a beer coming in above the 10% abv. mark. The beer was truly an excellent one and easily one of the best beers I tried when in Switzerland, so much so that I’d love to see this one available in Scotland at some point but I’m not entirely sure how likely that would be.

Brewed In: Saignelégier, Jura, Switzerland
Brewery: BFM (Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes)
First Brewed: circa. 2007
Full Name: Cuvée Alex Le Rouge (Jurassian Imperial Stout)
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.276%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 7.50 CHF (approx. £5.04)

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Valaisanne Ämrich Weizen

December 14, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

A Swiss wheat beer now, this one will be my penultimate review of a beer from my trip to Basel last month now and is another one from the Feldschlösschen brewery; well sort of, it’s actually from the Valaisanne brewery based in Sion but that is one that is owned by Feldschlösschen now. The beer is one that I picked up on my second last day in Basel when I made yet another visit to the ‘Drinks of the World’ bottle shop and was still looking for a couple more beers, it was actually one that was recommended to me by the cashier in the shop and appears to be a new release for 2015; I’m wasn’t sure why he recommended it once I discovered it was from an industrial scale brewer but I still went in with an open mind and gave it a fair go.

Valaisanne Ämrich Weizen

Appearance (3/5): The beer poured a very cloudy apricot colour with orange touches and was topped with quite a thin, soapy looking white head that was patchy, only partially covering the surface of this one.
Aroma (6/10): Bitter oranges and some lemon notes kick off the nose, there was some pale malts and a couple of spices sneaking through as well but it definitely wasn’t the strongest on the nose sadly. I got some apricot and a little citrus around the middle before some touches of wheat and a faint banana aroma snuck through as well. The beer was a pleasant one on the nose but seemed a little subdued and as a result was a touch weak in areas.
Taste (7/10): This taste started with some banana and bubblegum flavours with plenty of spice in the mix as well, not exactly what the nose indicated but a nice start at least. There was some wheat and pale malts making themselves known with touches of yeast, coriander and a few cloves giving it quite a standard wheat beer taste. There was some orange zest and the apricot from the nose made an appearance too before some background fruits seen things out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and plenty of citrus to provide a nice tang to proceedings and some dry touches as well. The beer was lively and refreshing with nice touches of bitterness but not a lot, there was also some sweetness in there and the balance seemed good overall.

Overall (15/20): This one wasn’t a bad one really, despite the fact it’s from a brewery I’ve not had much luck with up until this point but it was an interesting and fruity take on the hefeweizen style with some nice apricot and citrus coming through with some apricot before the usual banana, wheat, bubblegum and clove flavours all started to come through. The beer had a nice balance, seeming quite lively and although it’s not one I’d rush back to, it was enjoyable and I’m glad I picked it up in the end.

Brewed In: Sion, Valais, Switzerland
Brewery: Feldschlösschen Beverages Group (Valaisanne)
First Brewed: Circa. 2015
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 3.90 CHF (approx. £2.58)

Bad Attitude Dude

December 14, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.95

Another Swiss beer now and one that I believe was the only can that I managed to sample whilst in the country last month, and it was even a craft offering to sweeten the deal. This one, with the exception of the Swiss beers in the 1001 list, was the only beer from Switzerland that I’d heard about prior to visiting Basel in the north-west of the country recently. I’d spotted a couple of reviews of this one online prior to leaving and researched which bars to find it in but after visiting a couple of the named location I was unable to get hold of it, thankfully I managed to stumble across a can in the Drinks of the World store next to the city’s train station on one of several visits to the shop though. The beer comes in at just over 7.5% abv. and falls somewhere between an American IPA and a double IPA but for the purposes of this review I’ll call it a double IPA (albeit a relatively lower strengthened one when compared to others). Brewed by the Ticinese brewery based in the south of Switzerland on the Italian border and not far from Milan, the beers label and name take influence from the Big Lebowski movie and although it’s not a white Russian inspired milk stout it was one that I’m glad I managed to try.

Bad Attitude Dude

Appearance (4/5): This one poured far darker than I was expecting, the beer was a strong, amber brown colour that had the odd red tinge and looked quite deep as well as opaque. There was a large, slightly off-white head on top that was foamy looking and held at about an inch and a half with excellent retention whilst leaving a little lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (7/10): The beer starts off with some subdued hops and a roasted coffee aroma that took me by surprise and again indicated that the beer would be a lot darker than I’d assumed going in. There was some nice spices and a touch of coriander early on before some malts and touches of sweetness started to come through. I got some pine and citrus notes around the middle with some caramel and sugars seeing things out.
Taste (8/10): As indicated by both the look and the nose, this one is darker than most IPA’s you’ll pick up and came through with a lot of roasted malts and caramel early on giving it an almost pale ale taste. I got some nice sugars which were followed by a lot of pine hops and some floral touches backed up by citrus, grapefruit and tropical fruits flavours giving it a refreshing taste before some grains and biscuit towards the end finished things off nicely.
Palate (4/5): This one featured a medium to full body that came through quite smooth and with plenty of spice. There was a slight tang from the citrus and the beer was a dry one that had a lingering bitter finish on top of quite a nicely balanced beer that went down easily, particularly after been given a little time to open up and breathe a little.

Overall (17/20): This one was a beer I was looking forward to but instantly became unsure of as I poured the can and it looked a lot darker than I’d pictured in my head given I was expecting a standard American IPA. Thankfully the beer was one that grew on me, especially by the time I got to the taste with the darker malts and roasted flavours perfectly balanced against some pine and citrus hops with a little sweetness and sugar thrown in for good measure. It was definitely an unusual take on the style but it went down a treat and was easily on of the better beers I tried on my trip to Switzerland; great stuff and one well worth looking out for.

Brewed In: Stabio, Ticino, Switzerland
Brewery: Birrificio Ticinese
First Brewed: 2012
Type: Imperial/Double IPA
Abv: 7.51%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 5.30 CHF (approx. £3.55)

Feldschlösschen Hopfenperle

December 14, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.3

My fifth beer to fall under the Feldschlösschen banner now, this one is their Hopfenperle which is another pale lager that in hindsight wasn’t all the different from their Original lager despite the word ‘hop’ being mentioned in the name; obviously somethings are lost in translation. The beer is another from the brewery that accounts for roughly 42% of the Swiss beer market so I guess they were always going to account for a few of the beers I tried while in Switzerland, I’m just thankful I got to try a couple other beers too. This one will be the penultimate from the brewery, although the the one up next was originally from the Valaisanne brewery which has since been taken over by Feldschlösschen. After that one I imagine that I’m likely to try anything else from them for some time, unless I find myself back in Switzerland anyway.

Feldschlösschen Hopfenperle

Appearance (3/5): Light and very clear amber with a thin, foamy white head on top that just about covers the surface, sitting about a quarter of a centimetre tall with okay retention.
Aroma (5/10): Semi-sweet on the nose to start with, this one had some corn and basic malts to kick things off alongside touches of bread malts, some grassy hops and the odd bit of faint hay. Some biscuit notes did appear towards the end but were fairly light and there wasn’t really a whole lot going on with this one sadly.
Taste (4/10): Light on the taste buds with quite a plain taste that featured some basic hops, an earthy bitterness and some corn. The beer seemed a little watery with some light biscuit and touches of skunk but it wasn’t one that I enjoyed the taste of at all.
Palate (2/5): Light bodied and fairly dry for the style with some sweetness coming through early on. There was some touches of skunk and the beer was a plain, fairly bland one that seemed watery and boring.

Overall (8/20): This one was another very poor Swiss pale lager that was far too similar to the same brewery’s flagship Original beer that I don’t see the point in this one being its own beer; in fact this one was even worse than their Original. There was some cheap lager malts and corn with a light body that seemed watered down, bland and boring. I struggled getting any hops other than some light, grassy ones and it had nothing to keep me interested as I worked my way down the glass; definitely one to avoid but at least it’s better than the brewery’s Bügel.

Brewed In: Rheinfelden, Aargau, Switzerland
Brewery: Feldschlösschen Beverages Group
First Brewed: Brewery since 1876
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: VIP Bar, Basel, Switzerland
Price: 6.00 CHF (approx. £3.93)

Ueli Weizen

December 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.05

My third beer from the Fischerstube brewery and another from them that falls under the Ueli banner, this one follows on from their Spezial and their Robur Dunkel offerings and is another I managed to try in Basel last month, it always tastes better when it’s local after all. The beer was actually one of Switzerland’s first wheat beers and I managed to sample a touch at the brewery’s restaurant and brewpub on my first night in Basel but never had enough of it to give it a proper review so it was one that I was looking to pick up after that since I quite enjoyed what I manged to try of it. After assuming I would be able to find the beer fairly easily in one of the city’s many bars and being left disappointed, I eventually managed to find a bottle in the Drinks of the World bottle shop not far from my hotel and quickly snapped up a bottle after sampling all the beers from the 1001 beers list they had available; it’s definitely one I was glad to find.

Ueli Weizen

Appearance (4/5): Quite a cloudy beer that is hazy orange in appearance with amber tinges and a one centimetre tall head that is a foamy white but obviously not quite as big as you’d normally expect for the style. Retention wise the beer holds up okay with the head halving in size after a minute or two and then eventually turning patchy.
Aroma (8/10): Fresh smelling with some strong banana notes coming through early on that was followed by some peaches and coriander. There was plenty of sweetness coming through initially as well, I got some nice bubblegum notes alongside background fruits, cloves before some wheat made an appearance alongside some bread malts that gave the nose a nice balance.
Taste (8/10): This one was kicked off by huge banana and clove flavours and followed up by a lot of citrus and some orange zest too. The beer was quite a sweet tasting one thanks to these fruits and some bubblegum that made its way through from the nose as well. There was touches of coriander and a faint amount of lemon before some pale malts and bread started to appear around the middle followed by some apricot and various spices towards the end.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and quite a lively beer with strong carbonation levels and plenty of sweetness from the start. There was a nice, fresh feel to a beer that had a medium body with a crisp, semi-dry finish.

Overall (17/20): Quite a fruity tasting beer that was very nice on the way down and quite lively too thanks to the amble carbonation. There was a lot of flavour to this one with bananas being the dominant one without overpowering thanks to some bubblegum and various other fruits and flavours helping to balance things out; an excellent offering and definitely the best of the three from the brewery that I’ve tried.

Brewed In: Basel, Switzerland
Brewery: Brauerei Fischerstube
First Brewed: Brewery since 1974
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Draught (500ml)
Purchased: Restaurant Fischerstube, Basel, Switzerland
Price: 4.50 CHF (approx. £2.90)

Trois Dames IPA (317 of 1001)

December 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.9

The final Swiss beer of the seven from the 1001 beers list that I managed to try while in Basel recently, this one being the first and only beer from the Trois Dames brewery that I managed to get hold of; although I believe the Drinks of the World shop where I got most of my beers did stock a few more from them, I just didn’t have enough time to pick any up. Founded in 2002, the brewery is highly regarded in Switzerland and this particular beer is one of their ‘special’ offerings, although I believe it is available year round which explains why I was able to find it in the first and only shop I attempted to buy from when in Basel. Since Swiss beers are incredibly hard to find in Scotland, I imagine this one will be the last beer brewed in Switzerland to feature on the 1001 beers list that I am likely to try for quite some time which is a bit of a shame since several of the ones I managed to try proved themselves to be quite nice drinks; with five left to try from the country I’m hoping I either find myself back in Switzerland at some point or they are able to export a couple of the beers to the UK in future but I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Trois Dames IPA

Appearance (4/5): Light caramel amber with a very cloudy body and topped with a thin, foamy white head that sits at just under a centimetre tall with some nice lacing left on the sides of the glass as well.
Aroma (7/10): Pine hops with some citrus ones too and good caramel sweetness kick things off here, there is some sugars and a touch of tropical fruits to back them up as well. The beer wasn’t overly strong on the nose but at the same time it wasn’t weak either, I got some noticeable floral notes and some pale biscuit malts giving the beer a balanced aroma but it could have benefited from being a little bit stronger.
Taste (8/10): Matching the nose well, this one again starts with some nice pine and citrus hops coming through alongside some tropical fruit flavours which seem a little stronger here than they did with the nose. I also got some nice sugars and a caramel sweetness that was backed up with a grapefruit bitterness and some oranges too. The beer definitely came through more bitter than the nose suggested, and stronger too, with some nice spices and a few light malts appearing towards the end as well.
Palate (4/5): This one was a medium bodied beer that came through on top of quite a bitter palate and had some nice sweetness as well thanks to the caramel malts and some background fruits. It was quite a dry offering with good carbonation and a lingering bitter finish that was crisp, smooth and relatively easy to drink as well thanks to the well hidden alcohol content and good balance.

Overall (16/20): This one was a nice change up from most of the other Swiss beers I’ve tried up to this point, the beer was quite a hoppy and American styled IPA that was a welcome change from the lagers and spiced beers that I’d been drinking prior to it. The beer came through with a good mix of pine and citrus hops that were backed up by some nice tropical fruits and caramel malts which imparted some nice sweetness to proceedings. Whilst it wasn’t an overly bitter beer there was some nice hops coming through and the balance was a good one which also helped to hide the alcohol content well; all in all a very nice beer and one of the better Swiss offerings I tried.

Brewed In: Sainte-Croix, Vaud, Switzerland
Brewery: Brasserie Trois Dames
First Brewed: 2005
Type: American IPA
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 5.40 CHF (approx. £3.49)

La Meule (316 of 1001)

November 28, 2015 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

My first beer from the Franches-Montagnes brewery now, usually abbreviated as BFM, this is a small brewery based in the canton of Jura which shares a border with Basel which is where I managed to grab a bottle while on vacation there recently. This one is one of the first that the brewery made way back in 1998 (although the recipe has been tweaked slightly since then) and it is a beer that takes some influence from Saison Dupont, a beer I’ve reviewed here previously. This one is another Swiss beer to feature in the 1001 beers list, my sixth such beer and the penultimate one of those I still have to add here. Founded in 1997 by Jérôme Rebetez, the BFM brewery is one that specialises in barrel-aged beers and using unusual ingredients. This particular offering, their La Meule, is labelled as a Swiss golden ale but is probably closer to a spiced or herb ale and it is one of two beers from the brewery that I managed to try whilst in Switzerland, the other being their soon to be reviewed Curvee Alex Le Rouge imperial stout.

La Meule

Appearance (4/5): This one pours a hazy orange colour with a  one centimetre, foamy white head on top that is slightly creamy looking and quite thick. Retention is pretty good with the beer with it managing to hold well for the opening couple of minutes and keep about three-quarters of its original height.
Aroma (7/10): This one opens up with quite a lot of yeast coming through, there is some nice citrus notes as well and I got a few touches of spice into the bargain. The nose featured some oranges and plenty of coriander alongside a hint of sourness. The balance seemed good with fresh and floral notes coming through alongside some herbs and a hint of bitterness right at the end.
Taste (7/10): Light, pale malts and a good helping of spice kick things off here before some coriander, cloves and some citrus flavours start to show themselves; there is a nice mix or orange and lemon flavours with some yeast not far behind. I managed to detect some biscuit malts around the middle with touches of bread before the floral flavours from the nose along with some junipers, pine and grassy touches that sneak in towards the end.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and quite a lively feel thanks to the strong carbonation levels which helped to give the beer a refreshing feel and made it an easy one to drink. The balance of the beer seemed good throughout with it featuring quite a dry and crisp palate that was sharp towards the end but very pleasing.

Overall (16/20): This one was quite a lively and spicy beer with good carbonation as well as being an easy one to drink which helped it to grow on me as I worked my way down the glass. There was some refreshing aspects to the beer and the citrus played its part in balancing out the pale malts and spice whilst adding some to the complexity of the beer making La Meule one of the better spiced beers I’ve tried; great stuff all round.

Brewed In: Saignelégier, Jura, Switzerland
Brewery: BFM (Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes)
First Brewed: 1998
Full Name: BFM La Meule
Type: Herbed/Spiced Beer
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 5.20 CHF (approx. £3.37)