Wild Beer Co are one of the UK’s most experimental brewers. I really enjoy a lot of their beers: they take risks and combine unusual flavours, but the results are often compelling rather than just weird. This is a good one, and a bit of a bargain at £8 for a 75 cl bottle.
Wild Beer Co Ninkasi Saison
This is quite an unusual beer. It’s a Belgian-style Saison with copious quantities of New Zealand hops, plus some apple juice, all fermented with wild yeast. Then, once bottled, there’s a second fermentation with Champagne yeast, and this particular bottle is 750 ml, sealed with a crown cap, with wax on top. It’s quite striking. There’s so much richness and complexity, with spices, herbs, a touch of cheese, some saltiness, bitter hoppy notes, and some sweetness from the alcohol. There’s a lot of personality, with some apple notes and also some spicy, phenolic brett character. Tangy, bright and intense with a lot of everything. Perfect with soft and semi-hard cheeses, I reckon. 8.5/10
If The Kernel were a winery, they’d be a first growth. In a very competitive craft beer market, they are still making astonishingly good stand-out beers. This is another great example.
The Kernel India Pale Ale 5NZ
Fresh but rounded and smooth with nice concentration and harmony. There’s nice hoppy, spicy, passionfruit and grapefruit character, sitting beautifully in the midst of a smooth but not intrusive malt base. The alcohol adds a bit of depth and smoothness, too. Such a lovely beer. 8.5/10
Stone are a famous craft brewery. They began life in San Diego back in 1996, and from relatively humble beginnings they are now the eighth largest craft brewery in the USA. They have also opened a brewery in Berlin, and this beer is made there.
Stone Go To IPA
Brewed in Berlin, this is an extremely hoppy but sessionable IPA. Pale in colour, it’s quite dry and tart with some herbal, slightly earthy hoppy characters and relatively restrained tropical/pine notes on the nose. It’s bright, focused and has some bite on the palate. Quite savoury in character, it’s nice without being stunning. Lacks a bit of harmony, but there’s definitely plenty of bite here. 7.5/10
And here’s another note from a few months ago:
Stone Go To IPA
Brewed in Berlin. A session IPA with plenty of hops. This has a lovely aroma of herbs, spices and some tropical fruit, with just a hint of pine. There’s freshness on the palate: really hoppy with nice bitter bite, but also some sweetness and a lovely fruity balance. Finishes dry but not drying. Exotic and appealing, and very nicely balanced. 8/10
The Garage Project is one of New Zealand’s top craft breweries. I’ve mentioned them here before. This is a lighter-style beer that really works.
Garage Project Fugazi
Simcoe and Sauvin hops. This low-strength beer has a light body and tastes very fresh and linear, but there’s lovely aromatic complexity with notes of passionfruit, earth and herbs, as well as a citrus drive on the palate, with some refreshing herb and bitter hop notes. Light and bright, with lovely drinkability and flavour. 8/10
The Yeastie Boys are a leading Kiwi craft brewery. The ‘boys’ are Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie, and they’ve been making beer since the late noughties from their base in Wellington (though the beers are actually commercially brewed down at the tip of South Island in Invercargill). These beers are now seen in the UK also, although these are UK-brewed (by Brewdog). They taste just as good. This beer was purchased and drunk in New Zealand.
Yeastie Boys Digital IPA
Focused and citrussy with orange peel, grapefruit and spice. Clean malt character provides a neutral background for the vital, hoppy spicy notes to play. Very refreshing and complex. Finishes quite dry. This is a really nicely balanced, complex, flavoursome and refreshing IPA. 8.5/10
Twin Sails is a brewery based in Port Moody, in Canada’s British Colombia province, run by twin brothers Cody and Clay Allmin. They have established a really strong reputation for their beers. I got hold of a can of this, their Slam Dank Double IPA, in a shop in Penticton, BC, and I really liked it. They describe it as their first trip to the dank side of hops, and they double dry hopped it with large amounts of Mosaic, Columbus and Apollo.
Twin Sails Brewing Slam Dank Double IPA
Made with Mosaic, Columbus & Apollo hops, this is smooth, complex and very refined with subtle tropical fruit, some grapefruit, fine herby hoppy notes, a broad textural mouthfeel and some spicy bite. Brilliant stuff. It’s supposed to be super-dank and very hoppy, but I find it just delicious. 9/10
Based in Wellington, New Zealand, the Garage Project is one of the very best brewers in the country, with a broad, imaginative range, based on sound brewing and good flavours. This Pernicious Weed is a celebration of hops, but despite the alcohol level it’s amazingly drinkable, and not overblown.
Garage Project Pernicious Weed Double IPA, New Zealand
Nelson Sauvin and Rakau hops. Golden/orange colour. Powerful but beautifully balanced with lively, sweet passionfruit and nectarine flavours with some grapefruit freshness. Aromatic and enticing with a lovely rich mouthfeel with some sweet fruity notes and a nice bitter hoppiness, although this never sticks out. The high alcohol adds warmth and brings together all the complex flavours. This is a really exciting, well balanced beer with plenty of impact but also real harmony. 9/10
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
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
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
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
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
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