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Bede’s Chalice

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

My first new tripel in quite some time and my first beer from the Durham Brewery as well, this one is another that I picked up from the Fenwick’s department store in Newcastle when I visited over the summer months, grabbing it alongside a couple of beers from the Newcastle based Wylam brewery and another from Durham, the next from them I’ll be review will be an imperial stout which should make for a good winter beer. Seemingly first released around ten years ago, this one isn’t a beer that I heard of before and it’s also a rarity in that it’s a fairly high alcohol content beer but it comes in a 500ml bottle which is a nice bonus; it also seems to be an offering that is highly rated online and it’s definitely one that I’m looking to cracking open now.

Appearance (4/5): Slightly bright amber but very clear looking with a thin, half centimetre head on top that was foamy and white but faded to a thin lacing on the surface after thirty seconds or so; it breaks up slightly around the edges but it’s not a bad looking beer given the strength.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a sweet nose and one that opens up with a lot of sugars and a candy-like aroma in the early going with touches of yeast and spice in there as well. This is followed up by some nice fruits that includes some orange, pear and even some pineapple with a hint of coriander and some grapes in there too. It’s a fresh beer on the nose and has a little alcohol showing at times but for the most part the 9% abv. is relatively well hidden. Further on I got some nice touches of bread malt, caramel and some herbal notes too but it was definitely a sweet one on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Not quite as sweet as the nose, the beer starts with some strong alcohol grains that were better hidden with the nose but there is still some caramel and bread malts coming through alongside a few earthy touches. Around the middle the grapes, pears and some apples start to show on the taste with a hint of citrus and orange too before some spice and Belgian yeast featured towards the end.
Palate (4/5): Opening with plenty sweetness on the nose but more of a warming alcohol feel with the taste, this one was definitely a strong beer and the balance could have been better as the alcohol content was quite apparent when it came to drinking the beer; it wasn’t as noticeable with the aroma though thanks to the abundance of sweetness coming through. It was a well carbonated offering that came through with a light-medium body and had a solid kick to it thanks to the high alcohol content but it was still a fairly easy beer to drink.

Overall (15/20): Quite an interesting beer, this one opened with a huge amount of sweetness and fruits on the nose with some caramel malts towards the end but come the taste these characteristics took more of a backseat as the alcohol content of the beer made itself known alongside, although there was still some fruits and sweetness at this point too. It was a strong beer with a light body, still easy to drink but one with a definite kick towards the end too.

Brewed In: Glasgow, Scotland
Brewery: West Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2007
Type: Tripel
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Fenwick’s (Newcastle)
Price: £3.99

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Slot Machine

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.9

A second new Brewdog beer from 2017 in quick succession now, this one a American IPA styled rye beer from the brewery that follows on from the recent review of their Make Earth Great Again limited release. This one from the brewery is a seasonal that was introduced something around September and thankfully I was able to grab a bottle a month or so later when I spotted a few in my local Morrison’s supermarket. Opting for a 660ml bomber of the beer, this is one that I’m looking forward to since Brewdog are most definitely at home when brewery American style IPA’s and the rye twist on this one should prove interesting. As the last seasonal for 2017 from Brewdog, this one takes more of a winter feel and is more malty that their last two seasonal beers that preceded this one, their Hop Fiction and Electric India offerings and it should be interesting to see if this one makes a return or is replaced in next years lineup.

Appearance (4/5): Pour a dark copper colour that was edging towards mahogany brown and a lot darker than anticipated, sitting with a large head that was between four and five centimetres tall with a foamy texture. The head looked surprisingly thick and creamy with very good retention as well before slowly losing some of its initial height after a minute or so.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a hop-filled aroma kicks things off here with nice pine and orange hops coming through in the early going before some grapefruit and the odd tropical notes showed themselves further on, the combination of mango, citrus and peach seeming the most pronounced of the fruits. It was definitely a fresh and lively beer with a little caramel coming through as well as some toffee and subtle spices that seen things out.
Taste (8/10): Slightly darker than with the nose, the beer opens with some caramel malts and the odd earthy malt too; both of these featuring much earlier than they had with the nose. There was some hop bitterness towards the middle with the citrus and pine from the nose alongside some rye spices, mango and peach before being rounded off with some grapefruit and finally some caramel sweetness at the end.
Palate (4/5): Medium-bodied and quite well carbonated with a fresh and lively feel to the beer, this one was tangy from the start with nice hop bitterness and a few spices coming through as well. The beer had a nice balance throughout and seemed resinous at points thanks to the pine and grapefruit but despite being relatively complex for the style it was still an easy on to drink.

Overall (16/20): This one was quite a nice American IPA that was definitely darker than expected and the rye aspect of the beer was a pleasant one as well. Initially there was some nice citrus and pine hops that kept things fresh and lively before some caramel malts and earthy flavours started to sneak in with the taste. There was a nice balance to the beer and it was well-carbonated too which helped it go down easily; a nice seasonal offering from Brewdog and one that I’d like to see again next year.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American IPA/Rye Beer
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (660ml)
Purchased: Morrisons (Glasgow)
Price: £2.50

Heidi-Weisse

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

A new beer for 2017 from West, this one seemingly introduced earlier in the year to replace the since retired West Hefeweizen that I’ve tried on a number of occasions over the years and usually enjoyed. This is a rarity among West beers in that it is widely available in bottles around Scotland with their St. Mungo being the only other in that regard but it’s also a beer that I’ve tried previously on-tap at the brewery and thought it was a decent enough beer so it’ll be good to give it a proper review this time. This one will be my seventh review of a beer from the brewery and despite it being so close to me, this one will be my first new review of a West beer since trying their West Berlin for the first time back in July 2014 making this one long overdue.

Appearance (4/5): Cloudy and quite dark with the body an almost murky golden colour that is topped with a three-centimetre tall, foamy head that is white and holds well initially with a few bubbles rising to the surface as well.
Aroma (7/10): Light on the nose with some wheat and cloves in the early going, there was some nice banana notes too. Around the middle some coriander started to make itself known with a little citrus and some bread malts in there as well.
Taste (7/10): Wheat and some cloves kick things off with the taste, there was some lemon and faint spice a little further on before the bread malts from the nose made an appearance, coming through a lot earlier this time around. Towards the end the beer was a relatively sweet one with some background fruits and nice banana flavours seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Quiet a lively beer with a sharp feel that was well carbonated and quite crisp as well. It was a fresh, easy beer to drink and the balance wasn’t too bad either with no one flavour overpowering.

Overall (15/20): Pleasant stuff from West, this one was quite a fresh and lively beer that seemed balanced and easy-going with some nice banana and wheat flavours throughout. Definitely a beer that I can see myself having again, it’s not a classic wheat beer but it was still a slight improvement on the West Hefeweizen that it seems to have replaced and that can only be a good thing.

Brewed In: Glasgow, Scotland
Brewery: West Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Aldi (Scotland)
Price: Gift

Make Earth Great Again

December 7, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.6

Possibly another marketing gimmick beer from Brewdog, this one is a protest against global warming and the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement, with all proceeds are donated the 10:10 Climate Action group as a result. Launched on the night I tried it in a Glasgow Brewdog bar last month, the beer adopts a popular Donald Trump campaign slogan and comes through as a 7.5% abv. farmhouse ale which I ordinarily wouldn’t have went for but it was launch night and I was in the bar so I thought I might as well give it a try. Since this one is only available as a limited release from the brewery, I can’t imagine this is one that I’ll get another chance to try but it turned out to be quite an interesting beer and one worth trying while you still can, particularly if you’re a saison fan.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a clear bodied beer,t his one was a light amber colour with a thin and foamy head on top that had a little more lacing on the sides of the glass but wasn’t too bad a start.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly funky with some lemon and faint tart coming through, the beer was fresh with a few good citrus notes towards the middle but nothing too strong really. Further on I detected some subtle coriander and spices with a few background hops as well.
Taste (7/10): Lemon and tart kick things off here, there was some fresh flavours to the beer as well as some funk and the odd pale malt nearer the middle. Again it wasn’t an overly strong offering but some nice spices and hops made an appearance towards the end to round things off.
Palate (4/5): Medium to light-medium bodied and well carbonated, the beer was relatively fresh and easy-going with some subtle funk and tart throughout. Overall it was quite lively on the palate with some sourness further on and a subtle kick from the alcohol that was enjoyable as well.

Overall (14/20): This one was a decent sour saison that was quite crisp and lively with a subtle hit of funk and tart but one that remained balanced and easy to drink. To be honest, the beer really isn’t anything special despite it being drinkable and easy-going but thankfully it’s a limited release from Brewdog and one that will probably not be around for too long.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Abv: 7.5%
Serving: Keg (Schooner)
Purchased: Brewdog DogHouse, Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £4.50

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 Leave a 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

Fallen Grapevine

December 6, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 4.15

M y first ever beer from Stirling based Fallen Brewing, this being despite the fact that it’s a fairly local brewery and their beers are regularly available in my area but for some reason I’ve never tried anything from them before. This one is an American pale ale that I found on-tap at the Schilling Brewing Co. bar in Glasgow recently and enjoyed the sample that I had of it so opted to give it a proper try. Launched around the same time the brewery opened back in 2012, this one is apparently one of the brewery’s core offerings and as good a beer as any for my first one from them; although a further review of an imperial stout from Fallen should follow shortly after this review.

Appearance (5/5): Bright and cloudy looking, the beer is an orange to caramel amber colour that has a centimetre tall, foamy white head with good retention sitting on top. The head holds well over the opening minutes and looks quite thick with some bubbles around the sides as well; an excellent start indeed.
Aroma (7/10): Not a huge nose to this one really, there was some nice pine and grapefruit notes kicking things off with a slight hint of perfume further on. There was a few citrus notes and some biscuit malts towards the middle alongside subtle floral hops. Towards the end I got a nice sweetness with some caramel in there too and a few background fruits rounded things off; most notably some peach and apricot.
Taste (8/10): Following on well from the nose and opening with some grapefruit alongside a pleasant caramel sweetness, the beer definitely wasn’t as bitter and didn’t have as many hops showing as the nose but it still seemed fresh with some pine and subtle fruits coming through; the peach and apricot from the nose both featuring along with some orange and lemon flavours too. Further on and some stone fruits and a floral bitterness made themselves known with touches of mango to see things out at the end.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and very fresh with a consistently bitter feel throughout, this one was lively with some solid floral hops and a nice citrus tang in there as well. The beer seemed quite balanced as well with the caramel providing a nice sweetness that worked well with the hop bitterness and tropical fruits. It wasn’t the strongest beer in the world but there was nice varied and everything seemed to work well together too.

Overall (17/20): This one was a surprisingly good first beer from Fallen for me and one that was a lot more varied and bitter than I’d anticipated when I ordered it. The beer opened with some good grapefruit and pine bitterness with a few floral hops not too far behind and some nice caramel that helped keep the balance of the beer and prevent the hops from overpowering further on. Falling somewhere between a pale ale and an IPA given the hops that featured, the beer was an easy on to drink and I’d happily have it again.

Brewed In: Kippen, Stirling, Scotland
Brewery: Fallen Brewing
First Brewed: 2012
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Keg (Pint)
Purchased: Schilling Brewing Co., Glasgow, Scotland
Price: £4.80 (approx.)