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Black Eyed King Imp (Vietnamese Coffee Edition)

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.15

At the time I purchased this one last August it was the strongest canned beer in the world (apparently) but it’s taken me over a year to finally open it. Brewed as a one-off from Brewdog in 2015, this was a beer that I almost didn’t bother picking up given the price but eventually changed my mind last year when placing another online order with the brewery. This one is the Vietnamese coffee edition of the beer and one that I finally cracked open early last month so I was interested to see how the beer had held up in the year since I’d bought it; as it turns out it had aged pretty well.

Appearance (4/5): Oil black and opaque with quick a thick looking pour, the head is a medium, tan brown colour that is about half a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, covering the centre and some of the edges of the surface.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong opening but not one that overpowered, there was some strong coffee and vanilla notes to open things up alongside some dark, roasted malts and plenty of chocolate. I managed to get some sweetness in the early going with some touches of oak and subtle fruits that seemed to work well together towards the end; dates and plums featured strongest but there was also some dates in there as well.
Taste (8/10): Opening with a lot of chocolate and a solid sweetness off the back of this, the beer also had some subtle vanilla flavours and sugars coming through in the early going. Further on some oak and dark, roasted malts from the nose started to come through alongside a few creamy touches and more coffee. Towards the end there was a few dark fruits with plum and raisin seeming the most pronounced and continuing what the nose had earlier started.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and full-bodied with soft carbonation levels and quite a dark, rich feel to proceedings. There was a lot of complexity to the beer and the balance was quite good too, it was a lot easier to drink that I’d expected from such a strong beer.

Overall (17/20): Excellent stuff from Brewdog and definitely one of their better beers, this one seemed to hold up well in the year plus since I bought the can. Opening with plenty of coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavours and some nice roasted malts too, this one was a complex but very well-balanced beer that went down quite easily considering the strength. It’s rich but softly carbonated with some darker fruits near the end although things did fade a touch nearer the end too but I guess that’s understandable given how long I took enjoying it; it was a great beer throughout.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.7%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £9.50

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Northern Monk Faith

September 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

This one is my fifth Northern Monk beer and one that seems to be a new offering for 2017. The beer is one that I picked up from my local bottle shop last month and sampled right at the beginning of September since I wanted to try it fresh. Following on from their Mocha Porter that I tried and wasn’t overly impressed with back in January, this one is my first pale ale from the brewery and it was one that I was quite looking forward to given the brewery’s love of hop-filled, bitter beers. Thankfully the beer was a little better than the last offering from the brewery that I tried but it wasn’t a great one in truth, here’s what I thought of it when I drank it either this month.

Appearance (4/5): Fairly light looking with a light amber to golden body that is slightly cloudy and topped with a two and a half centimetre tall head that is white and holds well initially. There is a little lacing left on the sides of the beer and the head holds for the first couple minutes too; a nice start.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly fresh on the nose with some hoppy touches and a citrus aroma that is complimented by some pale malts. It’s a little basic overall but some grassy notes and lemon come through alongside a faint caramel smell; it could definitely have been a little stronger though.
Taste (6/10): Opening with a citrus and lemon combination, the beer is fresh with some earthy hops and biscuit. It’s a clean and fresh with touches of biscuit and cereal coming through nearer the middle and a faint bitterness to see things out; again it’s a relatively basic offering.
Palate (4/5): Clean and quite crisp, the beer is light-medium bodied and quite fresh too. It’s an easy to drink offering that came through with a nice balance and some floral touches later on.

Overall (13/20): This one was an okay pale ale from Northern Monk, it was a little basic at times and it wasn’t as bitter or hopppy as I’d expected either. It was a drinkable offering with some citrus and touches of sweetness but it’s not one I’d have again I’m afraid and it was a little bit of a disappointment to boot.

Brewed In: Leeds, Yorkshire, England
Brewery: Northern Monk Brew Co.
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Can (440ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.20

InishMacSaint Pure Foundered

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.35

A fourth beer from Fermanagh based InishMacSaint here and my first from them since trying their Muck Savage wheat ale on Christmas Day back in 2015. The first beer from the brewery that I ever tried, their self-titled InishMacSaint proved to be quite an enjoyable offering but the Muck Savage as well as their Lough Erne Porter that I have tried since never really excited me much; both were drinkable but nothing special sadly. I picked this one up when I spotted it at a local bottle shop in Fermanagh last month with the hope that it would be an improvement on the last couple from the brewery; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it a couple of weeks ago.

Appearance (3/5): Bright golden to yellow in cloudy with a cloudy body but a head that disappeared quiet quickly, even after an aggressive pour from the bottle. It more of a thin and bubbly white lacing that formed above a few fine bubbles that were rising to the surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Quite light on the nose with some citrus and floral touches opening things up alongside a faint hint of orange and some cloves towards the middle. There was an almost witbier like aroma to this one at times with some background fruits helping to keep things fresh but it was far from the strongest beer out there.
Taste (7/10): Quite fruity and opening with a nice combination of citrus and orange flavours before the cloves from the nose started to come through. There was a little wheat this time around too which lent weight to the beer seeming like a witbier at times as well. There was some floral bursts around the middle with the odd pale malts and some grassy flavours sneaking in too but again it wasn’t an overly pronounced offering from the brewery.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied but perhaps a little lighter than I’d have liked to see, the beer was quite fresh and lively though with above average carbonation and some good floral bursts too. There was a dry and crisp feel to this one that seemed to have a nice balance as well; decent stuff from InnishMacSaint.

Overall (13/20): This one was a slightly better than expected offering from the brewery, I’d not been overly optimistic about this one after the last couple from them weren’t overly enjoyable but this one turned out okay without ever really exciting or hitting the heights of their original InishMacSaint beer. The beer started relatively poorly thanks to its lack of head and weaker than expected aroma but things definitely picked up a little with the nose and some nice citrus flavours started to appear alongside basic fruits. At times the beer was much closer to a witbier than a Belgian pale ale with wheat, cloves and the odd spice all featuring but it proved an easy one to drink whilst staying fresh throughout.

Brewed In: Drumskimly, Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Inishmacsaint Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

McGrath’s Irish Stout

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.7

My third beer to fall under the McGrath’s banner and my second in relatively quick succession, this one follows on from the Clanconnel  brewery’s McGrath’s Irish Blonde that I tried only a couple of years ago; the other beer from the brewery that I have tried was their McGrath’s Irish Red Ale that I tried just over two years ago in the summer of 2015. This particular beer is actually one that was recommended by a friend and I was on the lookout for it on my recent trip to Ireland, luckily I found it in a local Tesco supermarket without too much searching and was able to give it a try. I’ve also noticed that the odd one of this brewery’s beers are starting to make appearances in Scotland from time to time, hopefully that means I’ll be able to try a couple more from them without searching for them when I’m next in Ireland.

Appearance (4/5): Opaque black in colour and quite thick looking too, this one is a very dark beer with a large head that sits about three centimetres tall in the glass. It’s a tan brown coloured head with a foamy texture and it seems relatively thick too, as well as hold steady it also leaves touches of lacing on the sides of the glass and looks good.
Aroma (7/10): Quite dark on the nose with a lot of roasted notes coming through in the early going with touches of sugar and coffee not too far behind; it’s a relatively strong nose initially. I detected a few earthy malts and faint touches of chocolate towards the middle as well but it was definitely the coffee that seemed strongest without overpowering; nice stuff.
Taste (7/10): Roasted malts and quite a bit of coffee kick things off here, there was some sugars and a touch of sweetness as a result too. There beer was faintly spiced around the middle with some earthy malts and dark flavours in there as well. Towards the end I got some toasted flavours that came through a little stronger than the coffee and chocolate ones with some nice liquorice to round things off with.
Palate (4/5): Sitting around medium bodied and quite lively for the style, this one had above average carbonation levels and a semi-sweet feel to it, thanks mainly to the chocolate and sugars in the early going. There was a roasted feel to the beer from the middle on and I managed to detect the odd grain towards the end of what was quite a dry finish; the balance of the beer was a good one too.

Overall (14/20): This one was a very nice stout from Clanconnel, definitely much better than either of the two beers that I had from the brewery previously and one that I’ll likely find myself drinking again at some point in the near future. The beer p[opened with some great roasted flavours along with subtle touches of sugar and chocolate to add a little sweetness; there was some pleasant coffee flavours too which helped impact just a touch of bitterness. It was relatively complex, especially when compared to previous offerings from the brewery and it went down very easily as well; great stuff.

Brewed In: Craigavon, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Clanconnel Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Full Name: Clanconnel #6 McGrath’s Irish Black Stout
Type: Irish Dry Stout
Abv: 4.3%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.80

Hilden Irish Stout

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.2

My fourth beer from the Hilden Brewing Company now and my first since last July when I tried their Headless Dog English pale ale. Prior to that offering I tried their Belfast Blonde and their Twisted Hop golden ale in 2014 and 2015 respectively so it would appear that I manage to try one new beer of theirs each year but as yet I’ve not really been impressed with anything the brewery has had to offer. This one is a beer that I stumbled across in a Tesco supermarket while over in Ireland late last month and although I recognised the brewery, this wasn’t a beer of theirs that I’d spotted before so I decided to give it a try despite the fact that the last few from Hilden have been relatively poor; my thinking was that hopefully this one would turn things around.

Appearance (4/5): A very dark brown coloured beer that was opaque and just about bordered on black. There was some bubbles rising to the surface of the beer and the head was a thin, half centimetre one that was an off-white colour and managed to hold slightly better than anticipated before eventually turning patchy and leaving some lacing on the sides.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a nutty and dark beer on the nose with some fainter chocolate and dark malts coming through in the early going. There was a nice helping of coffee to back things up and I managed to detect some roasted malts too. It wasn’t an overly strong beer on the nose really but some sugars and earthy notes do come through around the middle before some faint sweetness featured but the nutty, roasted malts seemed to come through strongest with this one.
Taste (6/10): The taste opens with more of the same nuttiness from the nose, there was some roasted malts and an earthy bitterness in there again too; this time both were a little stronger as well which was nice to see. There was a few of the coffee flavours the nose hinted at as well but less sugars this time round which impacted the sweetness a little too but not overly so. Towards the end some caramel flavours featured alongside a subtle bitterness but overall it was quite a basic tasting stout.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and perhaps a little thin for the style, the beer was balanced but a little bland and unexciting with some watery touches coming through as well. There was quite a lot of carbonation showing with this one though which was surprising and a slight disappointment but the beer was still a drinkable one.

Overall (12/20): A fairly average Irish stout from the start here,t his one opened with plenty of roasted flavours and a nuttiness about it that was quite enjoyable too; these coupled with some subtle sweetness got the beer off to a good start but things faded a little after that. The beer seemed quite basic and ordinary with little else beyond what featured in the early going to keep you interested sadly. It remained a drinkable offering throughout but definitely seemed uninspiring and it’s not likely that I’ll pick another bottle up again either.

Brewed In: Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Hilden Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Irish Dry Stout
Abv: 4.3%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Tesco (Enniskillen)
Price: £1.89

Knockout Middleweight IPA

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.4

My second beer from my recent trip to Ireland now and also my second from Belfast based Knockout Brewing, this one following on from their Hefeweizen Max that I reviewed here previously. Their Middleweight IPA is another that I picked up from a local bottle shop, mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t a beer that I’d seen before and it came from a brewery that I’d never heard of either. An English IPA by style, I was hoping this offering would prove itself to be a little better than the last from the brewery that I tried and here’s what I thought of it when I tried it late last month.

Appearance (5/5): Quite a fizzy and active beer, this one wasn’t as foamy as the previous from the brewery but it managed to form a two and a half centimetre head that was dome shaped and quite foamy looking. There was a thick and cloudy look to the body of the beer and head retention was good too, there was almost no movement at all over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (6/10): Citrus notes and some faint pine opening things up here, I got a little orange and some lemon with the odd biscuit note not too far behind. Some subtle background fruits and juicy aromas feature around the middle of the beer, I managed to detect some grapefruit too but it could definitely have been a touch stronger at times as well; towards the end some earthy malts and bitterness seen things out nicely though.
Taste (6/10): Following on well from the nose, the beer starts with citrus and orange flavours that were backed up by a few pine hops and touches of grapefruit but neither were particularly strong initially. There was some biscuit and earthy malts around the middle before some hints of sweetness made a brief appearance too; towards the end there was a nice bitterness to round things off.
Palate (3/5): Quite crisp and fresh with lively carbonation and a nice tang to proceedings, the beer was semi-sweet and had a nice floral touch at points thanks to the background fruits and hops. There was a faint bitterness from the middle on and although it could have been stronger, the balance of the beer was a good one and I enjoyed it more than expected.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a nice IPA from Knockout, it was definitely an English style IPA but had leanings towards an American version at points too, particularly when the pine and grapefruit bitterness started to come through but it was just a touch weaker than I’d have liked. The citrus and orange flavours were well received and the beer was an easy one to drink throughout.

Brewed In: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Knockout Brewing
First Brewed: 2015
Type: English IPA
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

Knockout Hefeweizen Max

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.6

This one is the first of roughly ten new beers that I managed to try towards the end of last month when I was visiting the north of Ireland again. My first beer from Belfast based Knockout Brewing, this one was a beer that I picked up alongside their Middleweight IPA when I spotted the pair in a local bottle shop. Not a brewery that I’d been aware before my recent trip, this one is a rare Irish brewed hefeweizen and one that I was looking forward to when I picked it up.

Appearance (3/5): A cloudy golden colour that is quite bright and looked active in the glass but was topped with a ridiculously large head that sat about five inches tall when I initially poured the beer; this being despite giving it the slowest pour I could manage. After leaving it for quite some time it eventually settled to leave a thick looking head that left plenty of lacing on the sides of the glass as I worked my way down the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Strong citrus notes with a lot of wheat and some fresh touches in the early going, there was a few grassy notes and a little spice coming through. The beer did seem a little one-dimensional as I got closer to the middle, there was a few hints of clove and background fruits coming through but nothing concrete other than a touch of sweetness and some banana right at the end.
Taste (5/10): Fresh with a lot of citrus and grassy flavours to open things up, there was some slightly off-flavours too though and hints of what felt like a metallic taste at points too. The middle featured some wheat but was more like a toned down version of the nose with some spice and hints of clove along with some lemon touches. Towards the end the banana from the nose also featured and was a little stronger this time too but it’s not a standard hefeweizen taste nor a particularly good one sadly.
Palate (2/5): Strongly carbonated with a lively feel but it was probably overdone in my opinion and still didn’t seem as crisp as I’d have liked. There was a one-dimensional feel to the beer with only a slight tang featuring and the balance seemed a little off too; poor stuff throughout sadly.

Overall (10/20): This one was definitely an average to poor hefeweizen and not at all like the better German version of the style that I’ve tried previously. The beer featured some basic wheat and citrus flavours in the early going with a little banana that seemed too light on the nose but wasn’t too bad come the taste. It wasn’t really an offering that I enjoyed much either, I’m just hoping the next beer from the brewery that I try is a little better.

Brewed In: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Knockout Brewing
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Hefeweizen
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49