Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Brewdog Abstrakt AB04

I've had this in the shed for a good six months after i bought it on ebay - and for the same price as it was originally sold for so no profiteering by the seller then.
One of the Abstrakt range, limited edition beers from Brewdog, this one was brewed as an 'Imperial Stout with coffee, cocoa, Naga chilies (the hottest in the world), and champagne yeast.' and 15% abv!

Yes its a big picture. Its a bloody big beer!!
After needing my penknife pliers to finish opening the bottle as the wire cage snapped halfway through unwinding i got the cork out. Loads of smoke from the bottle, it poured a large dark creamy brown head although that soon disappeared to leave the smallest of rings on the top.

There is certainly heat from the aroma, the chilli spice is upfront and reminds me of the strong chillies i've  planted, grown and prepared. There is also vanilla and oak, and the coffee is big too (as a non coffee drinker its so noticeable).
Colour is so black, as black as the soul of a japanese manga artist. And it has such an oily viscosity too.
Taste is also heat, coffee, chocolate, oak (again, as a person who cannot stand oak aged wines, it stood out alot) and cigars. A short but noticeable capsicum tingle.

Sipped slowly it was a little hard work getting through to the end, not to say it was not enjoyable, sometimes you see the word 'complex' over-used a lot about beers but i think in this case its very apt.

Was it worth the tenner they sell it for? Probably not but i do not feel robbed, I've payed alot less for bottles and felt hard done with what i got. It was an experience and an interesting one at that. Would i buy another one in the range if i had the opportunity? Quite possibly yes.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Beer round up no.3

Quite a few draft posts piling up in my blogger dashboard, masquerading as beer notes so a little round up of the odd beer or two over the last month.

Lets start with a good 'un. Chimay White. I bought this at the Otley pub Bunch of Grapes and drank a while ago and remember it being damn good. Strong and golden, took a lovely photo too, Sweet, yeasty, apple and brown sugar. It made me want to go back and try the red and blue ones all over again there and then.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. - Do you know, i wasn't that impressed with this, bit of a let down. Big burnt flavours, with nasty'ish grapefruit in there too. Bit cheesy, i was expecting something a bit cleaner tasting, this was so disappointing.

Conwy Brewery Welsh Pride - bought from ASDA i seem to remember. Bitter 4.0% abv. Light orangy golden colour with little head. Not great carbonation, light in the mouth and its was medium all round. Meduim bitterness, malts and interest. A little apple and grassy, just a bit ho-hum.

Schneider Weisse Unser Original - Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum. Beautiful murky red colour with fluffy white head. Banana and wheat aroma. Banana again in the flavour with nice even spices, cinnamon,  from the hops good bitterness, balanced with a deep but not overpowering caramel.

My first Alt was the Schlosser Alt.  I was not sure what to expect, something along the lines of a pilsner, but was quite surprised at what it was. Nice long malt flavours, nutty, chocolate, bready. A little dry and bitter, quite enjoyable in all.

 (there is more, but that'll do for now. )

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Brains 'The Rev. James'

If i go into a Brains pub, and they are hard to avoid if you want a pint in South Wales such is Brains's domination of the market, i'll usually go for either Dark, Black or The Rev. James.

Despite their insistence on 'smoothing' a lot of their beers, why we need smooth Dark and IPA i really dont know (well i do, its easy to drink and you thus more, more in their tills), Brains do make some pretty good cask ales, Dark being a great example.

Brains have recently announced a large refurbishment which is welcome as a lot of the pubs are shabby and tired. I had a lunch recently in the 'Merrie Harriers', very decent pub food and a nice half of 'Dark' but the interior really needs updating badly. After the success of their work on the 'City Arms' lets hope the programme rolls out swiftly.

Anyway, into my possession came a 4 pack of The Rev. James, 4.5% abv 440ml cans. A great session drink the Rev., even if slightly above the considered abv of a session beer.
Enjoyable on cask lets try this lot. I've had it in bottles but dont believe i've had cans before, perhaps i should also try a comparison another day.

A red copper bronze colour, it has biscuit malty aroma with some dark fruits. Reasonable amount of malt and toffee, good spice profile which comes along with a good dryness. Moderate bitterness, and a thin to medium body which makes it all in all a very quaff-able drink.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Batemans St. George's Glory

Purchased from Aldi the other day, £1.49 500mls bottle, 4.1% abv and 'what legends are made of' and will 'put fire in my belly' apparently.
The Aldi website lists it as being available from early last month but its the first time i've seen it on the shelves and I also do not see it listed on the Batemans website.

I really REALLY want to do this review without using the words 'typical Batemans' btw, lets see how i do.

Copper bronze colour, little foamy white head. Medium malt aroma and slightly spicy.
Medium body with reasonable strong malt backbone, again quite a predominately spicy and earthy kick, and its quite drying in the mouth, with the bitterness lingering at the side and back of my mouth.

It is a Batemans beer, no question about that when you taste it, but its one of the better ones. Not quite a 'top four' (XB, XXXB, Dark Lord, Victory), more a top ten league position really.

Monday, 23 May 2011


Look at that beautiful colour, and a damn big beer too.

Piraat, 10.5%, 330mls.
Aroma of malts, sugar, honey. It is lighter in the mouth than the alcohol suggests, tropical fruits, vanilla, typical Belgium strong beer with strong alcohol warmth. Gloriously drinkable.

Naylors Draymans Delight

This is the second Naylors beer i have had, the first being the interesting  Bradford Lad. 

Draymans Delight is a best bitter 4.8%abv 500mls and bottle conditioned.
A nice marmalade orangy colour as you see with nice white head frothing up.
Light sweet malts and citrus aroma, and it was nicely light, dry with citrus sharpness. Fruity, definitely orange, digestive type sweet malt, good and hoppy.
Very good bitter indeed.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Isle of Skye 'Black Cuillin'

From Scotland's  Isle of Skye brewery is a bottle of 'Black Cuillin'.
They describe this beer on their website as follows 
A distinctive dark ale brewed with roast barley and rolled roast Scottish oatmeal, giving an almost stout-like bitterness, smoothed through the addition of pure Scottish heather honey. It is believed that this is the only ale, as distinct from stout, which uses rolled roast oatmeal.
That certainly makes my job easier.
When they say heather honey i presume that means honey from bees that predominately use heather to obtain their pollen.
It is a 500mls bottle, and has an abv of 4.5% , although not bottle conditioned.

Colour is quite dark indeed, held up to the light shows some deep red colour. Aroma is custard creams(!), earthy and some coffee. And, um, a hint of marmite.

It has a thin to medium body, leaves a ring of just of white head down the glass.It is reasonably creamy in texture, coffee but not a strong hit of it, chocolate but again not a dark heavy one. The chocolate doesn't stay long though, and again i get something like marmite (which is fine, i love marmite, but once i start thinking about it i cannot get it out of my head that its there). 
As it warms the bitterness and coffee are becoming more evident.

It very drinkable but just not terribly exciting. Not that theres anything wrong with that, its a nice beer, but i think i'd look to try others in their range before buying this one again, they seem to know how to brew well on this first example i would say.

Sorry about the poor photo though.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sharps Special 5%

This actually is a bottle i bought last year (2010) at their brewery shop, when i put this years purchases down to the shed i brought this one back up to the house.

Its a shame there was no more bottles in the brewery shop when i visited, i would have loved to have compared last years with a new one.

It is 5% bottled conditioned beer, 500mls. A lovely red brown colour, minimal head, an aroma  of rich toffee and a deep wine fruityness.
Taste is really good, a malt sweetness that is full but not heavy or coying, well balanced hop bitterness, plum, bready, a light drying quality. Perfectly carbonated too.

Very enjoyable pint indeed, pick some up if you see some.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Thank you Cornwall.

Well our holiday to Cornwall may be over, and it was great fun again, so much that re-booking by all three families for next year is in process, but i brought home some beers to keep the memory lingering a bit longer.

The selection of most shops does seem to be limited to Sharp's, St. Austell and Skinners mostly with the occasional smaller brewer getting a beer in there, and that was the same for the pubs we visited. Some good pints of Doom Bar were sunk, some indifferent ones too, and the same to be said for St. Austell beers really, going from one good conditioned Proper Job to a flattish Tribute in the next place.
In an attempt to find a cask beer by another brewer we popped into the Wadebridge social club and found a lovely pint by Dartmoor brewery, although its name escapes me.
But fun was had by all, our livers severely pickled!! Luckly i'm on a run of night shifts now to give it a chance to recover!

We had a great morning on the beach at Rock across from Padstow, and then popped into the Sharps brewery shop. The friendly chap serving said unfortunately there was no Massive Ale or St Enodoc Double available, and teased us by showing the last bottle, not for sale, of the Honey Spiced Triple. I picked up the two Rick Stein collaboration beers which i passed up on last year, and also took a few of the new Single Brew Reserve 2010. I did try one of these last week, no notes, but hazily remember a light pleasant beer with massive foamy head, well hopped.

From another shop i picked up two bottles from the  Atlantic brewery Discovery range, another collabaration with a chef , this with Nathan Outlaw. These bottles are intended to partner food, with detailed descriptions given on the label for guidence. It'll be interesting to try these as i was not overly impressed with their 'core' range beers when i tried them last year.

The Penpont brewery Porter was the first beer i blogged about here when starting last year, and very nice it was too, so i gladly picked up 3 more of their bottles from the shelf. They are the oddly named 'An Howl', 'Roughter' and more normal 'Cornish Gold' although as you can see from the picture the last one is hand labeled, and a quick look on the website gives no information so i'll try and get some information from them via email before i blog it.

One other beer we drank was bottles of my Brubox North German Pilsner, so i'll get a post up about that soon too.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Quantock Brewery Stout

Okay so i'm offically on holiday after todays shift. Yayyyyyyyyy!!!
And what a better way to start it than an award winning tasty beer.

Somerset brewery Quantock have won SIBA double gold in 2010 with this stout, a 4.5% 500mls and bottle conditioned. 
When i poured it into the glass its black, so black, hardly any hints of light at the edge when held up to the light. The head was a light milky chocolate colour, aroma - light coffee, milky coffee even, smoke, blackberry.
This has a great smooth taste, and all the elements i like in a stout - it has a good medium body, creaminess balanced with a hop bitterness. The coffee again come through, and again berry fruits, dark roast malts, black chewy licorice. Again i say balanced very well, i would imagine a judge just ticking all the boxes when considering the style of a stout. But tasty too, very drinkable.

This was totally one of those 'moment' beers that you have. Sitting here after a long day, now in the happy knowledge that a holiday has begun, tomorrow meeting old friends, a week of relaxing with beer, company and food;
whilst i sit watching tv i'm sinking into the sofa and tickling my taste buds in the best possible way, smoothly easing my way into this break. Perfect.

I would like to thank Rob from Quantock for generously providing these beers for reviews, i honestly enjoyed them all, he has a good solid range with the Royal Stag, Stout and Quantock ale for me being their standout beers. My apprehensions about reviewing free beer have dissolved, if all could be as good as these then all reviewers would have an easy job.

You can buy Quantock beers from local farmers markets, or from myBrewerytap, or West Country Ales.
Again, thank you to Rob from Quantock.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Augustijn Donker

A third bottle from the Lidl box set  the second bottle from the Augustijn label although i'm not sure about the description it gives. On the back it says 'This authentic blond Monastic beer...'  despite the words 'Dark' and 'Brune' right above it. Now i'm no way an expert on beer styles but how is this a Blond? My photo does make it look dark than it is but it was a good medium red brown in the glass.

Augustijn Donker
7%,  330mls.
 It has a frothy off white head,  sweet caramel aroma and malty. It has an inital alcohol hit but very quickly it fades, appears like a massive heavyweight but with a glass chin.
When you swallow it has real sweet notes in your throat, vanilla, and its fizzy, well carbonated but lightly done. The sweetness is sugary not syrupy, and overall its an okay beer but not outstanding, not really memorable, a bit Belgium -by-numbers.

Cornwall holidays, and recommend a pub!

This weekend we are of on a weeks holiday to Cornwall, staying somewhere between Wadebridge and Padstow. We did this last year, same place and with our friends and their families from Bournemouth, had such a good time we re-booked immediately.

Last year we managed to sample many new breweries, Wooden Hand, Penpont, Greenroom for example, and beers more familiar and new from Sharps and St. Austell breweries.

Plus a trip to the Sharps brewery shop where i picked up a few bottles, a couple i still have in the shed.
I intend to go back and hopefully pick up some more Massive ale bottles, one to compare with last years, and i still have a Single Brew Special 2009, perhaps they have some 2010 now in, alongside the wonderful St Enodoc . Seeing as Mr Howe seems to be breaking  all manner of stupid EU work time directives by working insanely long hours perhaps we'll even catch a glimpse of him too!
Anyway enough of the Sharps love in!,

One thing planned is a boys day around the pubs of Padstow so recommendations now please.

Plus we intend to start the Saturday with a pub lunch somewhere before or after Exeter (not wanting to go into the centre at all) either just off the M5 or the A30 towards Okehampton, so if you know a good place for food, my first holiday drink, and (well behaved) kids please post below.
If i choose somewhere i'll post its name so that Mudge can plan around that pub his Saturday tipples  ; )

Monday, 2 May 2011

Leute Bokbier and Augustijn Grand Cru

Quick reviews, I've just done my third 12hr shift in 4 days and need a beer.
Two bottles from the Lidl box of 6 belgium beers (for £9.99) that i was alerted to by blogger Birkonian

First up - Leute Bokbier -   7.5% Belgium strong beer 330mls.
Notes: a gorgeous smell, invitingly warm going down, so strong with raisins and malt, i wrote malty twice in my notes! Sweet to taste, so smooth, its deep brown colour topped with a creamy head, almost like a whipped cream, and it had hints of coco powder too, so nice, really good.

2nd bottle: Augustijn Grand Cru, 9% 330mls
Immediately an aroma of pears drops, I've often read bloggers mentioned them, never come across them before but to me in this beer its really obvious. It also has an aroma and taste of nail varnish/acetone, a real acidic element but thats coupled with a syrupy sweetness thats not totally pleasant.  The sweetness reminds me of cheap runny honey. I finished it but not a great beer to my mind.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

a big bottle of Duvel.

Both the missus and i have been busy completing assignments for work courses, and this has eaten a bit into my posting time. As a nurse you'd think i've been learning about new wound dressings, medications, or care pathways but it was business improvement, root cause analysis and cost/benefit analysis all the way. Modern NHS huh!!

I did though manage to do a little beer shopping and quoff a few decent beers.

I think most beer people now about Duvel, either they've drunk it, read about it or seen it on a supermarket shelf somewhere. Certainly people are drinking it, the company recorded profits up a fifth last year, mostly exports.
I have had it before, but saw a tantilising 75cl bottle, corked top, it looked majestic. Sold to the man who should know better.

Its 8.5%, a golden strong Belgium beer, and pours with a lovely huge frothy white head. By the time I'd finished faffing around with my camera this had diminished a bit in this shot, but it still looks enticing i feel.

Quite carbonated but it fills your mouth smoothly and fully. Golden yellow in colour, its aroma is apple, yeast, and spicy. Its taste is citrus, a powerful but not overly powerful alcohol kick, pear too. It dries your mouth nicely, its so drinkable, and its one you should definitely try if you've never drunk one.