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Fugli

July 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

My tenth Oskar Blues beer nwo and my first new one of 2017, the last from the brewery that I reviewed here being their Mama’s Little Yella Pils that I sampled back in October of last year when I tried it on-tap at a local Brewdog bar. This one is a fairly new beer from the brewery, having been first launched in early May this year so I’m surprised that it has made it to the UK whilst still relatively fresh. The beer is a summer seasonal from Oskar Blues that uses yuzu and ugli fruits in the brewing process, both fruits that I’d never heard of before picking this one up. Yuzu is apparently a Japanese citrus fruit that is quite similar to a lemon whereas ugli is a Jamaican fruit that was created by crossing an orange, tangerine and grapefruit with the result fitting the name well. Being so new when I picked this beer up meant it wasn’t a beer that I was familiar with but I always like to pick up new beers from the brewery when I get a chance and I’ve since noticed a couple more of their beers making it the UK lately so beer number eleven from the brewery might not be too far behind this one.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber in colour and fairly clear looking, the beer is topped with an excellent looking head that sits about three centimetres tall initially before losing a little of its height. The texture of the head is a foamy looking one with a few bubbles showing, there is some visible carbonation rising through the body of the beer too and eventually the head settles about half a centimetre tall after thirty or forty seconds.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh on the nose with some subtle pine and citrus hops coming through alongside some grassy ones in the early going but it’s definitely not as strong as I’d been expecting for an American style IPA, especially an Oskar Blues brewed one. there was some lighter malts near the middle of the nose but for the most part there citrus dominated, mainly orange and grapefruit but there was also a little mango or apricot too. Nearer the end I managed to detect some sweetness coming off the back of the malts with a few touches of bread sneaking in as well to help keep the beer balanced down the stretch.
Taste (7/10): The taste here was a strange one that opened with a combination of grassy hops and pine ones, naturally there was a lot of citrus flavours backing these up though but the malts from the nose featured a lot earlier than I’d expected and were quite strong this time around too. The beer was still a fresh one with the grapefruit and orange coming through the most pronounced but they were definitely more subdued than they were with the nose. Towards the end some faint caramel malts and a couple of bread ones featured before a further tropical burst of fruits seen things out, although these weren’t overly strong this time around; the beer was a nice one at this stage though.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and quite tangy with a lot of citrus throughout which also made the beer seem quite crisp and sharp. Carbonation levels were good with this one and it seemed lively too but remained balanced thanks to the lighter malts and touches of sweetness that followed them. An easy beer to drink and one that stayed interesting until the end without being a standout offering.

Overall (15/20): Another enjoyable Oskar Blues offering that was dominated by the tangy hops and citrus flavours, particularly in the early going and with the nose but there was some balance to the beer thanks to the lighter malts and touches of sweetness that featured from the middle on. The beer was fresh and quite lively too, thanks mainly to the good carbonation levels also the citrus touches again too. It’s an interesting beer and probably the first I’ve tried with either yuzu or ugli fruits in it and both seemed to work well and impart a little flavour on the beer along the way too; decent stuff and well worth trying too.

Brewed In: Longmont, Colorado, United States of America
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
First Brewed: 2009
Type: American IPA
Abv: 5.8%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £3.10

Drake’s IPA (354 of 1001)

July 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

The first beer from Drake’s Brewing that I’ll have tried here and another American beer from the 1001 beers list that I can check off as well, bring my total to 354 beers tried from the list. This one isn’t the first Drake’s beer that I’ve seen available in the UK but usually their beers are only available in bombers and priced quite high so when I spotted this one for a more reasonable price recently I decided to finally grab a bottle from them. The beer itself was originally brewed in 2002 as a reworking of an earlier beer brewed by the Lind Brewing Company, the name Drake’s went by before the original owner was bought out. An instant hit, the beer was probably considered quite bitter and hoppy when first brewed and it managed to win a gold medal at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival as well as countless other awards in the years since. I picked this bottle up from my local bottle shop in Glasgow and I’m interested to see how the beer holds up today when compared to modern American IPA’s and it’s one I’m looking forward to cracking open.

Appearance (4/5): Golden amber with a slightly orange hue to it, the beer is quite still looking and topped with a very nice, half centimetre head that is foamy and holds well in the early going.
Aroma (7/10): Definitely more malty and sweet than is the norm for an American IPA, there is a good amount of caramel and some sweet malts in the early part but some juicy notes and a few floral hops feature as well. It’s a strong nose that hits you as soon as the bottle is opened and I enjoyed the burst of pine towards the middle. It’s not as got as many hops showing as expected but I enjoyed this one and it was a nice change of pace with some pineapple and citrus at the end too.
Taste (7/10): Quite a sweet tasting beer as you’d expect given how strong the caramel and the sweet malts were with the nose, it is toned down a little by the taste though but some caramel is definitely still present along with some good floral touches and a bit of citrus too. There was a touch of oily pine around the middle with some grapefruit in there too, the pineapple from the nose then shows itself a little earlier this time along with some juicy fruits; towards the end some grassy hops and a further burst of sweetness see things out.
Palate (4/5): Definitely a sweet beer with more of that showing than there was hops for the most part, there was some subtle bitter touches coming through though and the beer had quite a nice balance throughout thanks to the variety of flavours on offer. Today I’d place this one closer to an American pale ale than an IPA but it was still as nice beer on the palate with light-medium carbonation but quite a dry feel throughout, save for some oily pine touches around the middle.It was an easy beer to drink despite the 7% abv. since the sweetness managed to mask most of the alcohol content but there was still a subtle kick to it, especially nearer the end of the beer.

Overall (16/20): Very nice stuff from Drake’s here and an unexpected taste from the beer given I was expected a tonne of hops before cracking the bottle open. The beer was definitely closer to an American pale ale of today than it was an IPA but it was first brewed 15 years ago and a lot has changed since then, still the beer was excellent with a lot of caramel flavours and a strong, malty taste in the early going. The nose in particular was a sweet one with only a few pine hops and floral notes backing them up, the balance was still maintained though and the beer went down very easily indeed; good stuff and one I wouldn’t mind cracking open again at some point.

Brewed In: San Leandro, California, United States of America
Brewery: Drake’s Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2002
Type: American IPA
Abv: 7.0%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.80

Brooklyn Scorcher IPA

June 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.15

Beer number twelve from Brooklyn for me now and only my first new offering from them since I was somewhat disappointed by their Blast! double IPA when I tried it back in February 2015; I’m amazed it has been so long between trying a new one of their beers for me. This one is a beer that I noticed my local Morrison’s supermarket has started stocking recently and since it was an American brewery IPA from a fairly well known brewery it was an easy decision to pick up a bottle and try it at home. The beer is not one I recognised from the brewery before grabbing it but I was pleased to see more of their beers making it to supermarkets of late and I’m hoping this turns out to be a good one from the brewery. Marketed as a session IPA since it comes in at 4.5%, I’m also hoping the beer proves a little better than some of the disappointing session IPA’s I’ve reviewed over the years and this will be my first of the style from Brooklyn so I’d like to think they’ve learnt from other brewery’s mistakes but I guess there is only one way to find out.

Appearance (3/5): Quite a light, almost watered down looking amber colour with a white, bubbly head that lasts just under a minute before fading to quite a patchy lacing dotted about the surface of the beer. The body is incredibly clear with this one and it looks quite still too.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly lighter on the nose than expected and there wasn’t as many hops either, this one opened with some subtle citrus notes and touches of floral hops. The beer came through with some oranges nearer the middle with touches of bread and faint caramel following on behind. There is a nice balance to the nose with touches of hay and grassy hops in there as well but it definitely wasn’t as strong as I’d been expecting.
Taste (7/10): Opening with quite a floral taste that comes through with quite a few hops, there is touches of citrus and hints of perfume in the early going as well. The beer was somewhat stronger than the nose without being overly so, I got touches of spice nearer the middle before some bread malts and the odd bit of sweetness too.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and quite crisp, the beer has a few floral touches with the citrus adding a subtle tang to proceedings nearer the middle. It was fairly well-balanced that made the beer relatively easy to drink with the odd touches of sweetness nearer the end. Overall it’s quite a dry and oily beer with some nice bitterness at the end but there wasn’t as much as I’d expected really.

Overall (13/20): Quite a fresh and crisp beer but one that was a little lighter than expected and with less hops too, there was some towards the end of proceedings but there wasn’t many showing before that. The taste mainly consisted of some pleasant citrus and floral flavours that were well-balanced but nothing overly special in truth; touches of bread and light sweetness featured too towards the end. It’s probably not a beer that I’d go back to given it’s quite an ordinary session IPA but it’s always worth picking up a new beer, just don’t go out of your way to pick this one up I guess.

Brewed In: Brooklyn, New York, United States of America
Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Session IPA
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Morrisons (Glasgow)
Price: £1.75

Victory Headwaters Ale

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.05

A beer I picked up from an Asda supermarket just over a month ago after seeing it on a previous visit to one of their stores, this one will be my sixth from Victory but is surprisingly only my first since October 2014 when I tried their Golden Monkey tripel offering and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve had quite a few great beer from this brewery so I was excited when I first say this was available in the UK, it was probably the sole reason for me picking the beer up but it turned out to be quite a disappointing beer in the end; the best before on this one wasn’t until early 2018 but that was something that I had to double check after trying the beer and finding it a particularly weak and bland offering. I’ve noticed a few other new Victory beers seem to be available in the UK now but after this one I’m not too sure I’ll be rushing out to grab anymore for a while sadly.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber but pouring with a surprisingly clear and light body that is topped with a large, three or four centimetre tall head. The head texture is quite bubbly and it sits a white colour in the glass and looks relatively thick, just about halving in size over the opening couple minutes and leaving light lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a hop-filled nose in the early going with some grassy notes and the odd tropical fruit but the aroma seems to fade far to quickly and after a couple seconds the beer seems more like a pale lager with some pine and citrus coming through which was somewhat disappointing. There was touches of bread malt in there and the odd touch of bitterness too that’s got a few earthy hops in there too; it’s pleasant enough on the nose but could definitely have been stronger and a little more varied in truth.
Taste (5/10): Quite a lot like the taste sadly, this one starts well with some solid pine and citrus nose before some tropical fruits come through but they all disappear in an instant to leave a basic grassy hop taste that wasn’t unlike more pale lagers out there, albeit a fresh one. Towards the middle there was a slight tang while the bread flavours and earthy bitterness from the nose made an appearance but there wasn’t a whole lot to the beer and it seemed quite weak. The odd floral flavour and hints biscuit make a fleeting appearance but there definitely wasn’t enough variety to this one; very disappointing.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and quite light, perhaps even bordering on thin with an initial burst of flavour that soon passed to leave quite a basic and weak beer with very little going for it. I’d been expecting a lot more from this one but the beer seemed quite bland although it was fairly well carbonated. I managed to detect a light bitterness nearer the end and some earthy touches too but it was a massive let down for me and not at all what I expect from Victory.

Overall (11/20): Disappointing stuff here from Victory, the beer opened well with nice tropical fruits and a lot of pine with some citrus in there as well but in both the nose and the taste these all passed quickly and left little more than a bland, basic beer that was more lager than pale ale. There was the odd touch of earthy bitterness, a faint hint of floral and some biscuit malts but none of these was overly pronounced and the beer just seemed boring and weak throughout; I’d expected much better.

Brewed In: Downingtown, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2011
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Bottle (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £1.82

Anchor Go West! IPA

April 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.0

Lucky number thirteen from Anchor now, this one will be my first new offering from the California based brewery since I picked up a bottle of their California Lager back in December of 2014 and I can’t believe it’s been so long, especially considering this is usually one of my go-to American breweries; I guess not that many of their beers that I’ve not already tried are making it to the UK in any great numbers. Despite being my first new beer from the brewery in well over a year, this one pushes Anchor into my top ten most tried brewery’s now and is one that I’m quite looking forward to trying. I actually spotted the beer for the first time in an Asda supermarket a few weeks ago now but opted instead to pick up a can Lagunitas’ 12th of Never Ale over this one; hopefully this one turns out to be a better beer though.

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber coloured and slightly brighter than expected, this one pours with a fairly cloudy body and is topped with an impressive, centimetre and a half tall head that is bubbly and very slightly off-white in colour but manages to hold relatively well for the style over the opening minute or so.
Aroma (6/10): Fresh on the nose initially but far from as hoppy or bitter as I’d expected going in, the beer was more of a hybrid-lager type nose with some grassy hops and citrus in the early going. There was the odd floral touch with some basic malts making an appearance too. After a minute or so the nose starts to fade a little and begins to become difficult to detect, I got some light bitterness and a hint of sweetness from the malts but beyond that there wasn’t too much coming through sadly.
Taste (6/10): Ever so slightly more bitter than the nose, there was some earthy flavours coming through in the early going of the taste and a few basic malts again backed them up. I got a combination of hay and grassy flavours with a light citrus feel nearer the middle but the beer definitely struck me as quite a basic tasting one. Towards the end some faint yeast and floral touches came through but like the nose it was quite a disappointing one.
Palate (2/5): Sitting somewhere around light-medium bodied, the beer wasn’t as fresh or lively as I’d anticipated but there was a strong tang to proceedings despite the fact the citrus flavours and yeast weren’t particularly strong. There was an odd, almost off-taste to the beer at times with the bitterness not coming through too nicely and the balance could have been improved as well. I got hints of sweetness in the early going, mainly with the nose in truth but I felt the beer was a poor one and more difficult to drink than it should have been.

Overall (12/20): Quite a poor offering from Anchor in truth, I’d been expecting a lot more from a brewery those beers I’ve quite enjoyed over the last couple of years but this one is easily one of the worst from the California based brewery that I’ve tried. Things didn’t start particularly well with the nose being far too weak, particularly after it was given time to settle a little, and the taste was disappointing too; the balance was terrible too. It’s probably not quite as bad as the bottle of the brewery’s Summer Beer that I tried back in September of 2014 but it’s not much better either and it’s not one I’d have again.

Brewed In: San Francisco, California, United States of America
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American IPA
Abv: 3.7%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £2.02

12th Of Never Ale

March 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

My seventh Lagunitas beer now and one that I hadn’t spotted in the UK before when I stumbled across a can in a local supermarket over the weekend, the beer in question being a 2016 release from the brewery and one that I quickly picked up based on the quality of some of the Lagunitas beers that I’ve reviewed here in the past. This one is an American pale ale from the California brewery and it will be the first beer of theirs introduced since their takeover by Heineken that I will have tried, I’m hoping it will still be a good one though.

Appearance (4/5): The beer pours a lot lighter than I had been expecting, it settles as a light yellow to amber colour with a fairly clear body, only a slightly touch of haze comes through. The head was a half centimetre one that was quite bubbly looking and white in colour with the surface well covered initially. Eventually it starts to break up a little and turn slightly patchy in the middle but it’s not a bad effort really.
Aroma (7/10): The beer opens with a lot of floral hops that give it a fresh nose, there was some citrus bursts in the early going as well. Some tropical notes started to make themselves known nearer the middle of the beer with a combination of mango and pineapple being the most notable but some resinous pine featured as well. Towards the end the beer seemed quite oily with some malts starting to appear and add to the sweetness.
Taste (6/10): The taste was kicked off with a good combination of citrus and pine flavours but the floral hops weren’t too far behind. There was a freshness to the beer that carried on from the nose and a few lighter malts showed themselves nearer the middle. To be honest, the beer wasn’t really anything special and turned out to be far from the best that I’ve tried from the brewery but some lemon and zesty flavours alongside a few biscuit malts rounded things off.
Palate (3/5): Quite a light offering really, this one maybe just manages to sneak in as a light-medium bodied beer that carried a subtle citrus tang with it. The beer was fairly dry with a moderate bitterness and some pleasant enough floral touches from the hops. It was fresh to a point but the balance could have been a little better and there was a slight bitterness showing at the end too.

Overall (14/20): A fairly average offering from Lagunitas and as I’ve already said, this one was far from the best that the brewery has to offer; perhaps the Heineken takeover is starting to have a negative effect on the quality of beer after all. The beer did manage to start well thanks to some citrus and pine flavours in the early going but it was perhaps a touch thinner than I’d have liked, the appearance being somewhat lighter than expected too. It wasn’t a bland or boring beer thankfully, the tropical flavours doing their part to prevent this but I’d have liked to see more malts showing other than the faint biscuit flavours right at the end; it’s an okay beer but definitely not as good as I’d expected.

Brewed In: Petaluma, California, United States of America
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (355ml)
Purchased: Asda (Glasgow)
Price: £2.02

Speedway Stout (338 of 1001)

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.55

Another very special beer now, a bottle of AleSmith’s classic Speedway Stout and a beer that I’ve been on the lookout for since spotting it on Brewdog’s online shop a couple of years ago only to discover it was completely sold out. This has happened a few times now so when I spotted it was available in mid-October of last year I decided to quickly order some before they were gone. The beer will be my fourth in total from AleSmith, the second of which that also features on the 1001 beers list and amazingly it will also be my second Speedway Stout offering; I managed to find myself in a Brewdog bar in Glasgow in February and the Vietnamese Coffee version of Speedway Stout was on-tap that day so naturally I ordered myself a glass and it only made me want to try the original version all the more. This one will be my first bottled AleSmith beer since trying and thoroughly enjoying their excellent Horny Devil around Christmas 2014 (although I took a while uploading the review here as I recall). I’ve also been lucky enough to try a bottle of their AleSmith IPA in the past (also featured on the 1001 beers list) and that was another that I loved so I’m sure Speedway Stout will continue the trend and be another excellent AleSmith beer; here’s hoping anyway. The beer is probably the one of those I have cellaring that I’ve been most looking forward to trying and I was actually in two minds about opening it up, with part of me considering keeping it for another year or two before trying but temptation got the better of me. In addition to aging well, the beer is another highly rated one online with it currently ranked as the 8th best imperial stout and the 11th best beer overall on RateBeer whilst BeerAdvocate has it as the 97th best American double stout as well as naming it as their 225th best beer overall.

alesmith-speedway-stout

Appearance (5/5): Jet black with an opaque body and quite a creamy looking head that was part foamy, sitting a medium brown colour. Retention was a lot better than might have been expected for a 12% abv. beer with it starting about a centimetre tall before halving in size over the opening minute then eventually turning slightly patchy without breaking up completely; a very impressive looking beer overall.
Aroma (9/10): Quite a strong beer on the nose as expected, this one opened with some solid coffee notes and plenty of darker malts coming through alongside some roasted one and a few hints of roasted bitterness too. It’s not quite an overpowering aroma but it doesn’t let up either, there is some strong chocolate smells around the middle with brown sugars in there to add a little sweetness as well. Further on I got some background vanilla notes with touches of cocoa and the odd darker, almost ripe fruit showing itself too; most notably some raisins and dates. Right at the death some of the alcohol starts to show as well but it’s hidden better than I’d been expected.
Taste (9/10): Matching the nose well, this one opens with plenty of coffee alongside a solid malts bitterness and roasted flavours.  There was the cocoa from the nose with some earthy malts backing it up before some of the vanilla started to show itself nearer the middle and worked well alongside the sugars to add some sweetness to proceedings. Touches of butterscotch also made an appearance with the taste, coupled with some oak and light, smoky flavours before a bit of the alcohol started to show nearer the end but it definitely didn’t dominate. The taste was rounded off by some darker fruits, the raisins and dates again present alongside some figs and plum this time too; excellent stuff.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied, this one had quite a rich, thick feel to it and it was slightly sweeter than anticipated without it becoming sickly. There was a lot of darker malts that added to the roasted bitterness of the beer and there was a lot of depth and complexity to this one too. The mouthfeel was quite a crisp, semi-dry one that had fine carbonation and went down very well, the alcohol content being well masked until right at the end.

Overall (19/20): Great stuff from AleSmith again here and a beer that was every bit as good as I’d hope for going in; it was definitely worth the wait in cracking this bottle open. The beer was kicked off by a lot of darker, roasted malts and coffee flavours but it was also a touch sweeter than expected thanks to the sugars and chocolate, but also the darker fruits and vanilla that featured too. The beer was quite rich and complex with good carbonation and only a little of the 12% abv. showing nearer the end of the nose and taste, something that helped the beer down very easily. The beer was very much a moreish offering with some dry touches nearer the end and some subtle darker fruits coming through to keep things interesting at times.; I really enjoyed drinking this one and it seemed to go down slightly better than the Vietnamese Coffee edition that I tried on-tap last year; an excellent beer that you definitely need to try, it’s one that I’ll be on the hunt for again now.

Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.0%
Serving: Bottle (750ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £15.25