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Posts Tagged ‘traditional ale’

Founders Backwoods Bastard

January 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.7

A twelfth beer for me now from the Michigan based Founders brewery and a special release from them that is only available for one month each year, usually November. This one will be my first new offering from the brewery since I tried their Dark Penance imperial black IPA back in June, another beer from the brewery that I really enjoyed. This particular offering falls under the Scotch Ale (or Wee Heavy) style of beer and is one that I picked up at either the end of 2014 or the very start of 2015, I forget which, but have been holding off trying until the winter months rolled round again. A wee heavy that is “cave aged in oak bourbon barrels”, this is an incredibly well rated beer online with it currently listed as the 3rd best Scotch ale on RateBeer as well as being the 5th best of the style on BeerAdvocate so I’m expecting big things from this one.

Founders Backwoods Bastard

Appearance (5/5): Pouring a dark and deep mahogany brown colour, this one has some red tinges coming through and was completed by a foamy, beige head that started about a centimetre tall before starting to fade in the centre after a minute or so but the height seemed to hold around the edges.
Aroma (9/10): Definitely a strong one here, the beer was kicked off with some heavy bourbon and whisky notes that were backed up by quite a bit of sweetness thanks to the oak and vanilla notes. There was some rich chocolate and dark fruits that started to appear around the middle with the beer holding a good balance on the nose. I got some sugars and touches of caramel with a nice of coffee also sneaking through before a smoked bitterness seen things out at the end.
Taste (9/10): Matching the nose closely, the taste of this was kicked off with some dark malts and roasted flavours alongside the vanilla and oak sweetness mentioned earlier. There was a good amount of alcohol and grains coming through before the rich chocolate and malts plus some caramel started to come through and level things out. There was some figs and dates plus some raisins making themselves known as well as some plum; excellent stuff all round.
Palate (5/5): Quite a smooth and creamy beer with a full body and a lot of sweetness coming through on top of fine carbonation levels. The alcohol seemed to give the beer a warming, slightly boozy feel but it stops short of being overdone thankfully and the beer is definitely a complex one.

Overall (18/20): Yet another excellent beer from Founders, this one comes through with tonnes of flavour and complexity and goes down a treat despite the strength. There was a lot of rich malts and dark fruits showing from early on with this one and the nose in particular came through with plenty of bourbon notes and sweetness but the balance remained good and the beer is easily on of the best from the brewery that I’ve tried so far; excellent stuff and one I’ll definitely try to pick up again.

Brewed In: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States of America
Brewery: Founders Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2007
Type: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
Abv: 10.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £4.80

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Old Chub Scotch Ale

September 1, 2015 1 comment

Rating: 4.1

Old Chub will be my fifth beer from the Oskar Blues Brewery based in Longmont, Colorado and I’m especially looking forward to this can given that I’ve enjoyed the previous four I’ve tried from the brewery. This one is a can that I ordered from the Brewdog online shop recently having spotted it on a number of occasions in the past (along with the Nitro version) but I’ve always been reluctant to pick it up as the price is usually quite high but I finally relented though and added one to my cart when ordering. Hopefully the beer will live up to the previous offerings from Oskar Blues despite the fact I’m not the biggest fan of Scotch ales in the world and it’s not a style of beer I try as often as I really should; maybe this one will change that going forward.

Old Chub Scotch Ale

Appearance (5/5): Pouring a dark, opaque brown with a few red tinges in the middle, this one has a thumb sized head that is quite creamy looking and holds particularly well given the strength of the beer. There is some good lacing left on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a creamy beer on the nose with some strong malts coming through early on alongside plenty of caramel sweetness and some sugars as well. There is a surprisingly good hop presence to this one with a few raisins and touches of vanilla in there as well before some smoky patches and a slightly nutty aroma see things out; and overall the balance is quite a good one.
Taste (7/10): Strong malts and some caramel kick things off here before some toffee starts to come through soon after and I could detect quite a lot of sweetness from the beer as a result. There was some vanilla and bread mixed in with some darker, ripe fruits such as prunes and raisins as well as some roasted flavours. The hop presence from the nose is also apparent here with some touches of floral hops and a bit of bitterness too.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and full bodied, this one is definitely a creamy beer with a nice bitterness throughout and slightly more hops that expected. There is a lot of sweetness throughout and carbonation levels are quite soft but the balance is an excellent one.

Overall (16/20): This one was another excellent beer from Oskar Blues, it was definitely a lot more hoppy than I had been expecting and there was a huge amount of sweetness in there too but the two seemed to work well together and the balance was a good one. Overall it was an easy beer to drink despite the 8% abv. and the texture was a smooth, creamy one with surprisingly little of the alcohol showing.

Brewed In: Longmont, Colorado, United States of America
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
First Brewed: circa. 2003
Previously Known As: Oskar Blues HYA
Type: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £4.00

Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale (286 of 1001)

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.9

My first beer from New Zealand in quite a while now, this one is yet another that features on the 1001 beers list and is from a brewery start by two brother-in-laws from California in 2005. Last year was also the brewery’s best with them winning ‘Champion International Brewery’ at the Australian International Beer Awards as well as being named ‘New Zealand Champion Brewery’ as well in the same year. This beer, their Stonecutter Scotch Ale is one of the first beers the brewery produced and is known as the ‘red wine’ of their range, a 7% beer whose class is complimented by the elegant label design on the bottle. I spotted this bottle in my local bottle shop, Good Spirits Co. in the run up to Christmas and was almost put off by the price but changed my mind at the last minute since the bottle looked so good and as I’ve said already, it’s not often I get to try a new beer from New Zealand with this one being only my fifth from the country and my first since reviewing Steinglager Classic back in May last year. Hopefully this one, a beer that follows on from Epic Mayhem as only my second New Zealand beer from the 1001 beers list, will prove to have been worth the wait and the price I paid for the bottle; lets find out if it was.

Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale

Appearance (4/5): Pouring a very nice, deep copper colour with a touch of mahogany, the beer is topped with a two centimetre tall, bubbly white head that holds better than I expected judging by it’s look just as I poured it. It slowly fades over the course of the opening thirty seconds to leave a fine surface lacing with more build up around the edges before eventually turning patchy a minute or so lager.
Aroma (9/10): Sweet on the nose and very rich, this one has a lot of ripe fruits coming through early one with some caramel malts and toffee backing them up. There is a slightly nutty smell to the beer at times but the sweetness is what dominates, some figs, plums, raisins and berries coming through with various of dark fruits sitting at the back and a peaty, malt like aroma seeing things out.
Taste (7/10): Quite sweet initially but not quite as in your face as the nose, there is some caramel malts and sugar with a little toffee in there as well before the darker fruits come to the front. Like the nose there is some raisin and figs with a little plum too, some touches of alcohol appear to be present as well. Peaty malt flavours follow along with further sweetness and alcohol see things out.
Palate (4/5): Very sweet on the palate, the body is about medium with quite a complex array of flavours. There is a little more alcohol coming through than I would have expected, perhaps the sweetness is showing it up more than would otherwise have been the case. The beers carbonation levels were about average, maybe a little lower than I was expecting and beer feels quite soft with a slightly dry finish.

Overall (14/20): Quite a nice first beer from Renaissance Brewing for me, I’m never quite sure about Scotch Ales going in due to the fact that most of the mass-produced Scotch Ales out there are quite poor and loaded with alcohol, at least in my experience anyway but this one was a pleasant beer to sip away at. There was a lot going on, particularly with the smell but the beer had a good balance that stopped it from seeming overly sweet or sickening; good stuff but probably not one I’d be likely to pick up again.

Brewed In: Blenheim, New Zealand
Brewery: Renaissance Brewing
First Brewed: 2005
Type: Scotch Ale
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £5.80

Stronzo MacLovin

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.15

Back to Denmark now for what will be my nineteenth beer from the country and my first from the Stronzo Brewing Company based in Gørløse, around forty kilometres north of Copenhagen. This was one of several beers from the brewery that the Brewdog online shop started to offer earlier this year and also happens to be the only one of theirs that I opted to grab a bottle of. The beer came highly recommended (from Brewdog anyway) and was featured in their pick of guest beers back in March so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype. The word ‘Stronzo’ is Italian and roughly translates as ‘asshole’ so I imagine that’s at least part of the reason for Brewdog suddenly stocking their beers, well that and their love for all Scandinavian breweries; hopefully that love is well placed.

Stronzo MacLovin

Appearance (4/5): Pours a very dark, opaque brown colour with a thin, quarter centimetre lacing on top that looks quite foamy and shows little initial movement, managing to completely cover the surface. Surprisingly even after a few minutes the head hasn’t moved any and if anything it even looks slightly more creamy and a little taller as well.
Aroma (9/10): A definite malt filled aroma upfront with some earthy and peat like notes before some alcohol starts to come through. This was quickly followed by some sweetness and more caramel than I was expecting, some vanilla manages to make itself known as well. The nose was quite a complex one with some darker fruits and sugars coming through from the middle on wards but the beer maintains a good balance throughout with figs and dates plus a slightly nutty smell right at the end; excellent stuff.
Taste (8/10): Like the nose, this one starts fairly malty and definitely quite dry with more alcohol coming through than with the nose but without overpowering. This is cut of with the sugar and sweetness from the darker fruits that featured in the nose, some spice making an appearance too. There was big hits of caramel and toffee around the middle, again matching the aroma before the roasted flavours and woody bitterness start to close things out.
Palate (4/5): Quite a smooth but dry tasting beer with some solid alcohol coming through without overdoing it. The beer is big of flavour and fairly complex but strikes a good balance and goes down quite easily despite the strength. The body was about medium, as were the carbonation levels, maybe just shy of medium in fact but the beer was great on the palate nonetheless.

Overall (17/20): Another very good Danish beer, it’s not often I pick up a bad one from the country (excluding the usual mass produced crap anyway). This one proved to be very drinkable despite its strength and went down easier than I was expecting, especially considering I’m not exactly a huge fan of the Scotch Ale style of beer; maybe if they all tasted like this one then I might be. Very enjoyable from start to finish, Brewdog sure do know their stuff when it comes to importing Scandinavian beers it seems.

Brewed In: Gørløse, Denmark
Brewery: Stronzo Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Scotch Ale
Abv: 8.7%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £5.00

Innis & Gunn Rum Finish

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

I spotted this one in Asda the other night and wasn’t going to pick it up at first, but after quickly checking to see if I’d tried it before I assumed I hadn’t as the name was new to me and the alcohol content was lower than the closest named beer to it that I had already tried, Innis & Gunn Rum Cask. As you have probably already guess, the two beers are most probably one and the same with this one being a minor tweak on the last bottle of it I tried back in 2011, once I actually drink it I’ll know for sure but I definitely have my suspicions already. I’ll mark this one as a new beer regardless though since the name, and more importantly the abv. of this particular bottle are different from the last at least.

Innis & Gunn Rum Finish

Appearance (4/5): Initially sits with a thumb-sized, foamy head after a somewhat aggressive pour before slowly reducing in size to sit at about a centimetre tall. The head is a light beige to creamy white colour and there is touches of lacing left on the sides of the glass as I move the beer about in the glass.
Aroma (7/10): Starting with some dark malts and a lot of sweetness, there is quite a lot of vanilla and butterscotch notes coming through, seemingly a constant with most Innis & Gunn beers I have tried. There is some oak notes as well and some sugar too with some alcohol and spice rounding things off. The smell is a relatively strong one but I’m looking forward to tasting it.
Taste (7/10): Like the aroma, this one starts quite sweet with the oak and malts from the nose coming through alongside plenty of sugar, vanilla and background fruits. I could detect a slight bit of grain and alcohol with hints of caramel and toffee in there too; not a bad tasting beer and while it didn’t quite match the heights of the smell it didn’t fall far short.
Palate (4/5): Smooth for the most part with a slightly warming feel from the alcohol and a very sweet mouthfeel throughout. Carbonation levels are about medium for this one, maybe slightly stronger and the body is a slightly creamy one with a good, balanced finish to the beer.

Overall (13/20): The more I drank of this one the more it reminded me of the breweries Rum Cask and everything in the beer leads me to believe that this one is merely a reworking of that offering, albeit with a slightly weaker alcohol content. I did seem to enjoy the beer more this time around, perhaps it was just a little fresher but in truth there wasn’t too much of a difference between the two and had the abv. of this one been the same then I’d probably not have bothered reviewing this one.

Brewed In:  Edinburgh, Scotland
Brewery: Innis & Gunn Brewing Company
First Brewed: circa. 2014
Type: Scottish Ale
Abv: 6.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Asda
Price: £1.66

Bourbon Baby

September 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

Now for a beer that I picked up when it was released back in March this year, Bourbon Baby from Brewdog. This beer was brewed as part of a collaboration with London based Honest Burgers for something known on Twitter as ‘#BrewBurger’ whereby Brewdog came up with this barrel aged Scotch Ale and the guys at Honest Burgers made the burger to accompany the beer. It was available for a limited time at the burger chains stores as well as from through Brewdog and the burger also toured several of the brewery’s UK bars although I never managed to try it. Since it’s claimed to be a perfect beer to accompany a burger I thought I’d hold back on drinking this one until I could try it alongside some burgers and give my own verdict, and finally that day has arrived so here goes.

Bourbon Baby

Appearance (3/5): Dark brown in body with a slightly murky appearance and the odd ruby tinge around the edges. The beer has a slightly bubbly looking lacing on top that fails to cover the surface entirely and gets more patchy as time goes on.
Aroma (8/10): This one was really quite sweet on the nose with more coming through than I had been expecting, there is some oak and plenty of vanilla upfront with some faint bourbon and wood like aromas backing them up. The beer is excellent on the nose with some grain and a solid chocolate aroma that also features some darker fruits and sugar giving the beer a complex but well balanced aroma throughout.
Taste (8/10): This one starts with a good helping of butterscotch, some sugar and more of the vanilla from the nose. Again the beer is sweeter than I anticipated with plenty of chocolate backing these flavours up, there is even some oak and darker fruits in there too. I started to notice a slightly bitter flavouring towards the end of this one with pleasant roasted malts coming through as well, a great tasting beer from the get go and not entirely what I had been expecting.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and a strong sweetness throughout, definitely coming through stronger than I expected with the vanilla playing more of a part than I reckoned for. There was some bitterness dotted throughout with light carbonation and a great balance.

Overall (16/20): Another highly enjoyable Brewdog offering, this one definitely goes some way to covering for the disappointment I had after trying their Magic Stone Dog collaboration with Magic Rock and Stone. Despite the fact it probably wouldn’t be my first choice of beer to pair with a burger I can see why people would enjoy the two together, it was smooth and not too light with plenty going for it; definitely one worth trying.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Scotch Ale
Abv: 5.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £4.20

Traquair Bear Ale

June 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.15

Another beer picked up as part of the Aldi summer beer festival now, this one from the Traquair House brewery in Peebleshire that I was pleased to stumble across on my last visit to Aldi. I wasn’t aware that Traquair did any more beer other than the two I have previously reviewed here, their Jacobite and House ales that both feature in the 1001 beers list. The name comes from the Bear Gates situated on the ground of Traquair House, a set that has been closed 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charles was supposedly the last person to walk through them. I’ve only ever seen those two for sale in Scotland and even they are quite rare unless you’re actually on the look out for them so to find another of their beers in a supermarket was surprising. Described as somewhere between a traditional Scottish ale and an Old Ale, this is one that I’m looking forward to trying more down to how good the other two I’ve tried from the brewery were than down to how good I think this one will be on its own; hopefully it tastes as good as the other two, although I’m sceptical to say the least.

Traquair Bear Ale

Appearance (3/5): Dark caramel brown in colour with a clear body and a thin, patchy lacing on top of the beer builds up a little around the circumference but leaves a lot of bare patches in the centre.
Aroma (4/10): Definitely a malty aroma with a lot of earthy notes coming through and plenty of bitterness as well. Roasted notes appear around the middle and some subdued fruits as well but the earthy smells and strong malts dominate from the off with a strong nutty aroma backing this up. There is some spice but some off-notes seemed to appear throughout as well and I wasn’t particularly impressed with this one.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully this one picks up a little in the taste department and doesn’t seem to have the same seemingly off notes that the nose featured. There was a strong and quite malty flavour coming through with a nutty taste too and some lighter fruits as well. There was a nice bitterness to this one with some caramel as well but this is fairly light.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied with low carbonation and a very smooth feel with a soft and slightly bitter and dry mouthfeel.

Overall (13/20): This one got off to a shaky start with the aroma seeming quite poor with a little too much spice and some notes that seemed a little off in places. Thankfully the taste was a lot better with a lot of malts and some light fruits offset with a solid bitterness throughout and the beer proved an easy one to drink and turned out a lot better than I thought it would after the nose.

Brewed In: Innerleithen, Peebleshire, Scotland
Brewery: Traquair House Brewery
First Brewed: 1996
Type: Old Ale/Scottish Ale
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Aldi (Wishaw)
Price: £1.99