Monday, 28 July 2014

Hey Blondie...

So it’s undoubtedly BBQ season, and actually having space to BBQ in has meant I’ve taken advantage of it a fair bit this year. With friends round I feel a bit self-conscious whipping out the note book and sticking my nose into a glass of beer and prattling on about honey and citrus and rum, or whatever… So I’ve sampled a few recently and not taken notes.

Of these I did enjoy Short’s Brewery Huma Lupa Licious (again donated by a kindly friend who brought it back from the states) which from memory was fresh as a daisy, grassy with citrus and pine, but not overdone. Of the rest, not much stands out (Delirium Red was decent, Trouble Brewing Sabotage drinkable if not overly exciting, etc).

However, even with friends there, I did take notes of the beers from the list:

224. La Trappe Blonde
Style: Belgian Blonde. ABV: 6.5%. From:
Description: First off I love these big bottles with a cork and cage top. The beer poured a light golden colour with a lively white head. Big funky yeast aroma, along with wheat, spice, and some banana esters. There is something slightly German wheat beer about this, and the banana and wheat carry over into the flavour – but there is more funky yeast here than in the Germanic version. Quite light bodied and easy drinking for 6.5%.
Thoughts: It wasn’t the first beer I’d tasted that night so it might not have been the fairest test, but the beer was decent without ever really being exciting. Not something I’d rush to but if offered I certainly wouldn’t refuse. The dubble was better for me.
Score: 7

225. Oud Beersel Oude Geuze
Style: Lambic - Guese. ABV: 6%. From:
Description: This one poured quite a strong yellow; it was cloudy with a big fluffy white head. A lemon blast kicks off the aroma, with the wild yeast doing its funky sour thing, and finally there’s a hint of something herbal at the end. Taste again starts out lemon, with a whack of lemon rind. There’s a hint of fizzy sweet sherbet, but it doesn’t overcome the overall tartness. Light bodied yet the fizz lends a creamy texture.
Thoughts: Ah now this was good, not as tart and sour as some but it remained refreshing but drinkable though-out. Lovely.
Score: 8

Right, I'm off to another BBQ!


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Woody's Round-up

Having covered 3 new beers from the list in the last blog, I thought I’d take this opportunity to run quickly through a few other things I’ve sampled over the last few weeks.

First we have Duvel Triple Hop 2014 (Belgian Strong Ale, 9.5%, from @lighthousewines) which poured a cloudy but vibrant yellow, accompanied by a fluffy white head. Belgian yeast is the first smell to hit, but there a definite grassy/piny hop aroma. That spicy Belgian yeast plays a fair part in the taste too, but there’s more lemon here than in the original and more of the fresh cut grass from the aroma. Light bodied for the ABV. It was nice but I think I prefer the original. Score: 6.5.

 113 IPA from Slyfox (IPA, 7%, from @lighthousewines) provided more craft in a can. This one is amber, clear and comes with a small white head. Aroma is biscuit and caramel, with a hint of citrus in the background. Taste is quite malt forward for an IPA - caramel, biscuit malt, with a light pithy bitterness. Resin like mouthfeel. This was ok, I don’t mind a fair bit of malt in an IPA but this one was a little too sweet for me. Score: 5.5.

Anchor IPA (IPA, 6.5%, from @lighthousewines) also poured an amber colour, this time touching on red. Clear with an off-white head. Surprising fruit aroma – lots of berries and passionfruit. The berries carry across into the flavour, with some plums and prunes, it actually tastes quite boozy for 6.5% but not in a particularly bad way. Fizzy number this but quite creamy with it. I think all anchor beers have an identity – there something in the yeast or water that means you’d know it was brewed by Anchor no matter the style. This was solid, and a little different, without being great. Worth picking up though. Score: 7.

Sticking with berries, next was Founders Rübæus (Fruit beer, 5.7% from @lighthousewines). Red, clear, and no head. Tart raspberry aroma. Taste wise this reminds me a bit of red creamola foam! Raspberries, sherbet, and a little sourness to stop it being too sweet. Light but a little sticky. Decent though I’ve had better versions. Score: 6.5.

Pistonhead (Lager, 4.6%, from Tesco) was picked up to round out a deal in Tesco. Straw coloured with an off-white head. Grainy lager aroma. Flavour is grassy, with some grain and something slightly corn-like. Light and fizzy. Wouldn’t buy again. Score 4.5. Charles Wells /
Dogfishhead DNA (IPA, 4.6%, from Tesco) was part of the same deal. Copper coloured with an off-white head. Malt leads an aroma that’s pretty reminiscent of an old school English Bitter. Flavour again is malt led, some caramel too, and a decent bitterness. Mid bodied. This apparently has a reduction of Dogfishhead 60 Minute in it (thus the DNA of the title), and while the 60 minute has more of a malt profile than you might expect, I'm assuming the reduction here is at homoeopathic levels as it really doesn't come through. Don’t bother. Score: 4.

Last, but by no means least, was Stone Pale Ale (APA, 5.6%, from A nice amber colour, clear, with a good off-white head. The aroma is quite malt forward, the plenty of toffee but there a grapefruit citrus here too. Taste again is quite malt forward, plenty of bitterness, astringent, green hops, grass, and grapefruit. It opened up and improved a lot as it warmed. Fizzy and resinous body. I’ve had the IPA before which I thought was better than this, but this was an enjoyable especially as it warmed up. Score: 7.


Friday, 11 July 2014

Samichlaus is coming to town...

So I missed the @beerclubbelfast beer dinner on Wednesday and the @lighthousewines beer tasting on Thursday. Judging by Twitter both events seem to have gone well; it would be great if someone could comment or blog about either event to let me know what I missed! I hope to be able to go to both next time around.

To overcome my disappointment at missing out I decided to make a bit more progress through “1001 Beers...”:

221. Samichlaus
Style: Dopplebock. ABV: 14%(!). From:
Description: Poured a colour I could only describe as “Maine Man” brown lemonade (that’ll confuse anyone reading this outside these shores!). There was no head at all, not even a fleeting one, though there was lots of obvious carbonisation. Big dark fruit aroma (plums, figs, etc.), along with sweetness and something vaguely lactic and diacetyl in the background. Flavour starts off with those dark fruits again; then it’s nutty, spicy and slightly malty with a whack of rum; and finally there's some toffee and caramel malt. The taste follows a sweet-bitter-sweet profile, with a vague hint of sourness at the very end. This is sticky and leaves a decent coating in the mouth – but remains fairly light with it despite the ABV.
Thoughts: Lovely stuff, I could see this going down a belter on an autumnal night. High alcohol, and plenty of booze in the taste, yet it’s still deceptively strong so one to watch out for. Certainly worth trying.
Score: 8.5

222. St Austell Proper Job
Style: IPA. ABV: 5.5%. From:
Description: Poured a very light amber, perfectly clear with a small white head. I didn’t get much on the aroma at all but that might have been hayfever related. There’s plenty of flavour though – this packs a fruit punch, pineapple, mango, some grapefruit. There’s also some pale malt and a light graininess. Pretty light bodied and easy drinking.
Thoughts: Another good beer, and this one’s more of a summer drinker. A lot of “traditional” English IPAs tend to be on the malty and bitter side – this one went all out on tropical fruit and was not harmed by it at all. Would buy again if easier to get hold of.
Score: 7.5

223. Schneider & Brooklyner Mein Hopfen-Weisse
Style: Weizen Bock. ABV: 8.2%. From: The Vineyard
Description: Poured a cloudy mango colour with a big white wheat-beer head. Aroma of wheat but a hint of pithy orange and pineapple is there too – not much of the banana/clove esters wheat beers can do but there’s a little in the background. Taste again starts off with the wheat but quickly gives way to hoppy fruit – orange, maybe some mango. Creamy and quite full mouth feel. Hides the ABV very too well.
Thoughts: I have had this before a few times but didn't realise it was in the book. This is probably my favourite Schneider beer; it has a lovely wheat beer quality that’s really enhanced by the hoppy fruit. The Aventinus (though very different) is also a great beer but this wins for me on being more quaffable – but at 8.2% don’t quaff many!
Score: 8.5

Three crackers there - you shouldn't be disappointed by any of them. Right football and BBQs are calling.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

De ranked in the top 220

Two beers away from another round number in my journey though "1001 Beers..." was enough encouragement to open a couple of bottles at the weekend:

219. De Ranke XX Bitter
Style: Belgian Ale (according to ratebeer) / Belgian IPA (beer advocate). ABV: 6.2% From:
Description: Mid-golden in colour, white head, and a slight haze. Floral hops lead the aroma, followed by Belgian yeast, bread, and something rustic and earthy. Taste kicks off sweet before giving way to some breadiness, floral hops, grapefruit, and some funky fruity yeast esters. Light-to-mid bodied, fizzy but creamy with it. 
Thoughts: Not quite what I was expecting (I try not to read about these before trying to as not to influence what I think it tastes like) but in a good way. Drinkable stuff this and certainly worth trying. 

Score: 7.5

220. De Ranke Guldenberg
Style: Belgian Strong Ale (RB) / Tripel (BA). ABV: 8.5% From:
Description: Poured a mango colour, hazy, with a tiny white head. Aroma starts with some funky Belgian yeast, but then its all soft stone fruit. Again the taste is surprisingly fruit led, peach, tangerine, nectarine, passion-fruit but a nice earthy malt/grain backbone. Hides the booze scarily well - I'd reckon this stuff is dangerous! Mouthfeel is light with good carbonisation.
Thoughts: Again this wasn't what I was expecting but again I was more than pleasantly surprised. This is really fruity, but not overly sweet - full on quaffable on a hot summer's day but with that ABV so well hidden this could get you in trouble. Great stuff.

Score: 8

I have tweaked the last post slightly, and still not sure it gets across quite what I was trying to say (this is why I do this for fun and nothing more - I'm crap at blogging!). Though I had a recent trip to Dublin that I think points to the future. I had about an hour in the city and got excellent beer and service at both The Norseman and Brew Dock - if you're in the city I can fully recommend both. 

I had a very tasty pint of 8 Degree's Amber Ella which was even better, fresher and more unctuous on draft than it was in the bottle. I'm a fan. Next was a quick sample of Rascal's Ginger Porter, I said previously I'm not a big fan of ginger in beer - this could bring me round quick smart. Coffee and chocolate flavours, with a nice soft body, finishing nicely with a full on whack of ginger spicyness. Would love to try this again and take proper notes. Finally (and about time too) I got a taste of Galway Bay's Of Foam and Fury. Holy shite this is how you make a double IPA - mango, passionfruit, and pineapple balanced with a great, balanced, bitterness and lovely malt. While there's booze here you'd never peg it at 8.5%. Beer of the year so far? I might need a proper bottle to put it to the test but it's right up there.

With this quality available so close by the local guys may need to up their game. If they could replicate any of these I'd be in a beery heaven.

For those who want to see / taste more of these Irish Beers, Brewbot/BelfastBeerClub's Tour takes in both Galway Bay and Rascals. If there are in spaces left your in for a treat!