Category Archives: Reviews

Goose Island Summer Time Kölsch

goose island summer time kolsch

This is a nice seasonal gem from Goose Island. Kölsch is the name for a pilsner-style top-fermented beer from the town of Kiln (Cologne) in Germany. It’s a bit obscure, but has become popular with US craft brewers of late.

Goose Island Summer Time Kölsch 
5.1% alcohol
Gold in colour, this is a deliciously open, full flavoured Kolsch with a strong sweet malty background. It’s very fruity, too, with some ripe apple and pear notes, as well as a bit of orange peel. There are notes of honey and summer meadows, and a bit of dry straw character. The hops sit in the background. Overall, a very drinkable, friendly full-flavoured lager style with a hint of seriousness. 7.5/10

 

 

Letra d Cerveja Artesanal Minhota Red Ale, Portugal

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Portuguese beer used to be all about just two beers: Sagres and Super Bock, both perfectly adequate but slightly dull lagers. But as with other countries, there’s a craft beer movement afoot, although it’s very early days. This is the second craft Portuguese beer I’ve come across, and it’s an attractive red ale from Cerveja Letra, based in the Minho in the north of the country.

Cerveja Artesanal Minhota Letra ‘d’ Red Ale, Portugal
6% alcohol
Brewed with American hops, this is a full red/brown colour. It has flavours of rich malt, some spice, a bit of citrus peel (tangerine?) and some dried herbs. Quite rich in style with nice texture, but finishing fresh and tangy. Lots of flavour here with some sweetness to the texture. This is really well balanced and quite delicious: it has elements of IPA but also some elements of a stout, with a herby, slightly metallic finish from the subtly burned malt. 7.5/10

A brilliant Canadian Blood Orange DIPA from Twin Sails and Boombox

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This is really smart: a double IPA with blood orange that really works. It’s a collaborative effort from two BC (Canada) breweries: Twin Sails and Boombox. They added 500 lbs of blood orange puree and 2 lbs of orange zest onto a really hoppy DIPA, and the results are amazing.

Twin Sails Brewing and Boombox Brewing Tone Def Double IPA With Blood Orange
8% alcohol
Brewed by Boombox in Vancouver, Canada, in collaboration with Twin Sails, this is a remarkable beer. A cloudy yellow/orange colour, it has concentrated flavours that combine bright tangerine and orange with some creaminess and a generous fruity personality. So vivid and bright with some sweetness from the alcohol. Richly textured and multidimensional, this is quite thrilling. 9/10

Bomber Brewing East Van Smash Fresh Hop Simcoe, Vancouver, Canada

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Bomber Brewing is a relatively new brewery, formed in 2014, by three friends with a love for hockey and beer, based in Vancouver, Canada. This is their fresh hop beer, and it’s a thoughtful, complex, delicious drop.

Bomber Brewing East Van Smash Fresh Hop Simcoe, Vancouver, Canada
4.5% alcohol. Pale in colour, this is a lovely fresh beer, with bright, sappy, piney notes from fresh Simcoe hops. Subtle malt characters here, with an almost pilsner-style maltiness, and it’s really nicely integrated with the sappy, green-tinged hoppy notes. It’s a detailed, complex, bright style of beer with lots of interest. There’s some grapefruit pith on the finish, and it’s appropriately bitter, but balanced. 8/10

Hearthstone Brewery India Pale Ale, Vancouver, Canada

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This is nice. It’s from Hearthstone, a new brewery from Vancouver’s north shore. It’s simply packaged, in a tall can, and it manages to carry off the west coast, hoppy IPA thing really well.

Hearthstone Brewery India Pale Ale, Vancouver, Canada
6.5% alcohol
95 IBU. Amarillo and El Dorado hops. This has beautiful floral aromatics of green tea, passionfruit, pine needles and fine herbs, with just a touch of malty sweetness. It’s certainly in the fresher spectrum of IPAs. The palate has some sweetness, too, from the alcohol, and it meshes together nicely, with lovely detail and complexity, and attractive resiny/pine-like bitterness keeping the palate focused. A good example of a more hoppy IPA that also shows great balance. 8.5/10

Brewdog Born to Die Terminally Hoppy IPA

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This is an interesting beer from Brewdog. ‘Born to Die’ is a fresh, hoppy IPA, with a date on it. It’s a heavily whirlpool and dry-hopped beer, and the idea is that it should be drunk fresh. The inspiration for this came from San Diego brewer Stone, with their ‘Enjoy By…’ series of beers. They are released as special batches with the idea being that they should be consumed within the month. This is a really lovely beer.

Brewdog Born to Die Terminally Hoppy IPA 04.11.2016
8.5% alcohol
I missed the drink by date by 2 days, but this is still a lovely beer. It’s a gold colour, and has beautiful aromas of spice, grapefruit, cut grass and passionfruit. The palate has sweet tropical notes hemmed in by lovely spicy citrus notes, with orange peel and herbs and a lovely tangy bitterness. There’s some richness, but not as much as you’d expect from the alcohol level. This has real complexity and delightful, balanced hoppy bitterness, and it’s more restrained than you’d expect, and better for it. So fresh. 9/10

Sovina IPA Cerveja Artesanal, Portugal

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I’m currently sitting in The Yeatman, looking over the river to Porto, and drinking a craft beer from the city. This is delicious and a bit different. Cervejas Sovina is the first Portuguese craft brewery I’ve come across, and this is a delicious beer that’s a sort of English/American hybrid in style.

Sovina IPA Cerveja Artesanal, Portugal
6% alcohol
Golden bronze in colour, with nice grippy, spicy hoppy notes complementing a rich malt core. There’s a savoury, earthy, herby edge to the palate which shows some bitter hoppy character but also a trace of more exotic fruity notes, too. Tangy, spicy finish is really refreshing. I’d say this is more English in its flavour profile but more American in its intensity and richness. 8/10

Camden Hells Lager

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Camden Town Brewery is a small craft brewery that by all accounts was fixing to be friendly with a big brewery, and ended up selling to AB InBev last year (one of the globes biggest brewers) for 70 odd million quid. There have been a spate of craft breweries selling to large brewers: the large brewers are terrified by declining sales of their key brands and see buying much hipper craft beer brands, which they can then scale up, as being the way forward. The flip side of this is suddenly there’s more beer and better availability, and the consumer wins – but only if the quality is maintained. Beer is recipe-driven and a brand can be scaled up, as long as no compromise is made with the ingredients. But some of these ingredients are expensive, and big breweries just love to cut back on costs, so there’s real peril. This Camden Hells is pretty good.

Camden Hells Lager
4.6% alcohol
Half way between a pilsner and a helles in style, using bavarian lager yeast and pilsner malts, with perle and hallertauer hops. This is a bright, fresh, yet flavourful lager with zippy citrus notes, a nice bitterness, and juicy lemony fruitiness. I really like it: it’s not the most complex beer, but it is very fresh and has plenty of flavour. 7/10

Aldi’s Oktoberfest beers: five from Schwaben Bräu, Germany

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To celebrate Oktoberfest, Aldi are launching five new beers in store from German brewery Schwaben Bräu. They are each priced at a very reasonable £1.79 for 500 ml, and they will be available from September 15th. It’s a large brewery based in Stuttgart (website is here).

Schwaben Bräu Volkfestbier
5.5% alcohol
Yellow/gold in colour. Malty and broady with herbs and toast and toffee notes. Has a hint of sweetness and nice smooth, broad flavours with a bit of tanginess. Finishes a bit spicy. Like a full flavoured lager. 6.5/100

Schwabern Bräu Das Naturtrübe
5% alcohol
Unfiltered Pilsner. Fresh, complex and tangy with a sweet herbal edge to the lively citrus, pear and pith on the palate. This is concentrated, spicy, lively and refreshing with an attractive spiciness. 7/10

Schwaben Bräu Helle
5% alcohol
Lively, tangy, bright and citrussy with a refreshing, zippy sort of personality. Lovely hoppy bitterness counters the fruity notes. Nice weight and focus here with good balance. 7.5/10

Schwaben Bräu Das Weizen Here Hell
5% alcohol
Bright and textured with herbs, coriander and spices. This has a lovely density to it: it’s mouthfilling, with a lovely spicy yeastiness adding extra dimensions to the flavour. Finishes with a tangy, citrussy bite. So delicious, well balanced and complex. 8/10

Schwaben Bräu Schwarze 
4.9% alcohol
Brown colour. Herby, tangy and tarry, with some treacle notes and a bit of spiciness. Malty and tangy with a very spicy citrus peel edge to it. 6/10

 

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This is delicious. I’m sitting in The Lighterman, Granary Square, Kings Cross. It’s a scorching August day, sweaty and heat-summery, and I’m waiting for a friend for a spot of late lunch. So time for some beer. This Saison is made by Windsor-based Savour Beer. Founded in 2013, they specialise in farmhouse beers. I like this: it tastes human, authentic, complex and real.

Savour Beer Saison, Windsor, England
5% alcohol
A golden colour, this is a deliciously full flavoured saison, with a spicy, tangy, bitter-hoppy twist to the herb and malt base. There’s a lovely depth to this: it’s rich and multilayered, with some floral aromatics from the hops and lovely spicy complexity from the yeasts. It’s mouth filling, has a sense of sweetness, but it’s also really fresh as well. 8/10