Sunday, 31 October 2010

India Pale Ale (Goose Island)

Pours a delicate golden colour. The aroma is like an explosion, sweet citrus followed by a very powerful dry hop smell.

The taste is sweet to start, like a lemon sorbet with very limited maltiness. The middle is rather thin, lacking either a yeasty taste or a biscuity crunch. What comes along for the finish is amazing, powerful dry raw hops, eclectic bittering and a lingering notes of citrus and spice, like a lemon ginger tea.

8/10 A fantastic US IPA, one to turn to at any time. The ultimate "go to" US IPA.

Hallowe'en Special II : Pumpkin Ale (Smuttynose)

I received this as a gift from a friend over from New York, and what better time to try it.

Pours with a floral, almost spicy smell, with obvious pumpkin and similar sweet potato leanings.

The opening taste has almost no sweetness, and almost no bitterness, like a first half 0-0 draw. What comes out for the 2nd half is a deep pumpkin flavour, like a roasted butternut squash soup, mixing savoury with sweetness. It finishes with a landslide of bitterness which lingers on leaving a dry peppery taste.

4/10 Its a speciality beer for sure, its well made, but too soupy and savoury for me.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Hallowe'en Special: Hobgoblin (Wychwood) - 5.2%abv

The Bunker launches itself into what is probably an opportunistic gimmick by saluting this spooky time of the year. I have to confess though I do love Hallowe'en, partly due to it's ancient roots, but mainly because they don't sell cards for it at Clintons (I think..)

Hobgoblin of course offers itself up as a prime ghoulish-monickered product to review. It's a drink that'll be familiar to many, not least of all Barack Obama, who was given some by David Cameron when he visited earlier this year. Whatever your politics, real ale gifts are a top diplomatic move in my book. If only he'd recieved a six pack of Dogfish Head in return, the special relationship might have been cemented for another 100 years.

Hobgoblin pours a deep oxblood ruby. The head brewer says if he'd added any more dark malt it would have looked like Guinness. It's head is undulating but thin and fairly brief. The nose is rather toffee and somewhat roasty, happy autumn smells. Malts are prevalent, and the whole effect appealing.

It's proper tasty as well, sturdy and balanced. There's a wash of tea in the taste, but its a delicate edge rather than overpowering. Bitter hops are fairly intense at the end, but fruit swirls about to lessen the sourness and nothing unpleasant is left in the mouth once it's gone.

It's a fine drink, and one of the easiest to drink 'complex' beers readily available in supermarkets. I think this is a great ale to stock up on for any occasion. Only the most closed-minded lager devotee or real ale novice will fail to find something delightful in it's bewitching flavours.

8/10 - This ale is becoming something of a diabolical national treasure.

- The Broadside

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Manor Ale (Hobson's) - 4.2%abv

Bitter fans - this is one for you.

Of the ales I picked up at the Ludlow Festival, Hobson's has been the brewery that has impressed me most. We've had their drinks on both Bunker Summits so far, first the sweet class act that is Postman's Knock, then their strongest ale, Old Henry, a peach-edged but complex joy. In both cases the beer is well-thought out and sublimely balanced.

The label on this less alcoholic number talks of the Severn Valley railway and heart of England roots. Again, it's in their elegant mini-wine bottle and promises "bitter amber ale"

It does pour a lovely amber, with a high, sticky, sociable head. Zest, pine and hops are a major whiff in the nose and the whole effect comes across as quite delicious.

The mouthful is less carbonated than you might expect. A fleeting toffee dash is swiftly overtaken by citrus hops. They are prevalent and bitter, but again Hobson's have managed to brew beautiful dimensions into the length of it. Its properly bitter, so perhaps not for everyones taste, but I loved it.

The aftertaste is a tad dry, which stops a Bunker Grade 8 for me, but this is another top product from one of the most impressive breweries of my year.

7/10 - Fresh and for a sub-5% ale, a remarkably involving taste. Great stuff.

- The Broadside

Monday, 25 October 2010

Hardcore IPA (Brewdog)

Pours into the glass with all the colour of a port casked whiskey. The smell is like a nuclear detonation of hops. Pine resin, strong citrus, like a lime and rum cocktail.

Initial taste is warming malt sweetness, almost like liquor rather than beer. What follows nothing can prepare for, its like a kick in the balls with a jackboot of bittering hops. This is quickly once again engulfed with more warming malt and that potent ABV.

The dry hop finish hits the tongue like a fizzy cola bottle of hops, leaving an explosion of bittersweet flavours, hints of pineapple in the finish.

9/10 An awesome beer, this is 11 on Spinal Tap's amp. This beer is the Sex Pistols, but with a bit more balance and delicate class it could have been The Clash.

Thanks to Brewdog for providing, i suggest you read their blog

You might want to read our AB04 review

Oxford Gold (Brakspear) 4.6% abv

Pours a rather standard "gold" colour, biscuity notes hidden with the nose with the odd flash of zest and gentle fresh cut grass.

Initial taste is rather malty and dry, followed by light sweetness. A biscuity middle, like a digestive, leading to a rather nutty twang. The finish is mellow without and notable hopping or bitterness.

I remember buying this beer a few years ago when it was bottled conditioned, it was as crisp and fresh as a lawn mowed in summer time. Now sadly it tastes like a rather generic Marstons beer. A real shame, a fallen hero.

4/10 Nothing offensive in this beer, but sadly nothing of note.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Station Porter (Wickwar) - 6.1%abv

I've been looking forward to this one for a while. Station Porter is a highly commended beer, named CAMRA's Champion Winter Beer of Britain in their 2008 awards.

It's a typical porter in the pour, pitchy and deeply dark, with a slight ruby glint behind direct light. The head is a pale brown but lasts as long as a sneeze. The nose is mocha and chocolate with slightly burnt roast notes, although cosy and more alluring than I've made that sound.

First taste is thin, but very flavoursome. Sweet malts waltz with the porteresque chocolate, and it's a taste to endear the Broadside to this chilly October night. It's 6.1% but feels lighter, and the dryness associated with some porters isn't present here, it's quenching. Mid-taste is fruity, in a plum and sultana style rather than citrus, before the tail trails off with hints of blackberries.

Properly delicious, it's just a smidge too sweet for me to put it at parity with Fuller's London Porter, but this is still an accomplished and excellent example of this famous old ale type.

A very solid 8/10 - an excellent porter, and if seen to be popped in the basket for the approaching chill months.

- The Broadside

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bunker Summit no. 2

Bunker Summit Two was again a fine event. As well as myself and Ed, Glenn was on hand to voice his tasting judgements in a blind tasting session. We all bought four ales to try.

Home cooked food was once more provided by the master skills of Commandant Ed. This time a legendary Fuller's Porter steak and ale stew (Recipe here!) with garden vegetables provided the perfect interim energy boost.

The evening kicked off with an auspicious curtain raiser - a review session of Brewdog's AB:04, which isn't released until later this week, but was kindly sent to us for pre-launch review. You can read the full review on this site.

We then moved on to the main tasting event. The scores we gave were completely blind and are averaged below - we had no idea what the product was until the reveal.

Bright (Otter) 4.3%ABV - Summery blond with a tiny ping of spice, a bit uninteresting. (4)
Old Henry (Hobson's) 5.2% - Fireside amber, complex and peachy (7)
First Gold (Hopcloser) 4.6% - Ed's homebrew! (Full details of how that was made here) Rated very highly, sweet and tasty in the US style (7)
Banks's Bitter (Marstons) 3.8% - Short and malty, no finish, a bit budget (4)
Entire Stout (Hopback) 4.5% - Creamy but light stout. Refreshing for a black drink (6)
American IPA (Adnams) 6.8% - Very nice (Ed loves it) extremely citrussy, some tea and depth. Took the evening's Bronze Medal (8)
Organic Old Ruby Ale (Dutchy Originals) 5% - Inoffensive, probably nice with lamb (6)
Humpty's Fuddle (Kingstone) 5.8% - Floral and malty, not much hop for an IPA (7)
ESB (Fuller's) 5.9% - Delicious and the evening's Silver Medal Drink. Perfect balance (8)
Betty Stogs (Skinners) 4% - A bit unbalanced but some nice flavours (7)
Ipswich Pale Ale (St Judes) 4% - Bloody awful, "sewage in a bottle". We can only hope this one was off for the brewery's sake - our first (0)
London Porter (Fullers) 5.4% - Delicious and superbly balanced, a textbook fine porter. The evening's Gold Medal Drink (9)
Poacher's Choice (Badger) 5.7% - Loads of gamey flavours but polarised opinion, a marmite-reaction drink (4)

Vienna broadcast the goodnight national anthem very shortly after this one. Much fun.
- The Broadside

Friday, 22 October 2010

AB04 (Brewdog)

As much a crime re-enactment as a tasting session. The combined Bunker hierarchy massed to delve into this Brewdog prototype.

Initial impressions - Pours as a galaxy-dark stout with a blood red edge ring, like the telling mark round the plughole when the detectives arrive. This is a Hallowe'en haemoglobin porter. The scent is red wine tannin, laced with dark chocolate and iron.

The powerful sweet opening is swiftly followed by a potent burnt liquorice taste. After that a cooking chocolate bitterness rises, not reminiscent of hops, more of a pouch of tobacco being rolled by the old sailor in the corner who won’t take his one eye off you. The alcohol is mighty and assertive, not many will come your way of an evening without requiring a transfusion.

The finish lingers, like a sociopath re-tracing the fact, a swathe of ripe blackberries drifting mashed into a burnt oven roasted chilli. Powerful fortified wine flavours linger in the memory, no heat as such but stiff persistent echoes of chilli.

8/10 It’s a fortified, complex beer and undoubtedly Brewdog. The frontier has been pushed again with this ale, and bravo for that.

Thanks to Brewdog for providing, i suggest you read their blog and await details of AB:04's release.

Thanks St. Peter's!

A big thanks to St Peter's of Bungay, Suffolk who sent through the above for review.

The Bunker has already had the pleasure of reviewing both their Ruby Red Ale and Organic Best, so will look forward to trying out these others.

Well known as artisan brewers of East Anglia, St Peter's brew consistently good quality beers, and present them in their trademark oval shaped bottle. They can be bought from their online shop, or at your local Waitrose, Tesco and ASDA.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

London Porter (Fuller’s) 5.4% abv

A dark porter with glimpses of amber at the edges. Invigorating smells of dark chocolate and fresh espresso powder. Beautiful big bubbles sit in a creamy cappuccino foam.

Initial sweetness, hints of toffee is followed by a biscuity middle, that famous Fuller’s yeasty crunch is there. The finish is one of rich dark chocolate, like bitter cocoa, in turn followed by coffee notes, and some noticeable but gentle hop bittering.

9/10 The benchmark of porters, a superb example of full complex flavours in perfect balance.

A huge thanks to Fullers for sending this one through. The Fuller's online shop is now open, with full online beer sales coming soon. Until then check out your local Waitrose or Occado who stock the full range.

Thanks Fuller's!

Thanks to Fuller's for sending this through to review. I've never tried this before so can't wait to give it a go.

The extended Fuller's online shop is now open, with full online beer sales coming soon. Until then you can get Fuller's beers almost anywhere, or check out your local Waitrose or Occado who stock the full range.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Very Special India Pale Ale (Greene King)

Despite hailing proudly from Suffolk, I'm not the biggest fan of the standard Greene King IPA. Balanced enough and fairly smooth, for me it lacks that special something to make it a returning pump target, it's a Bunker Grade 6.

I was keen however to try this small, opulently bottled number. Only the brand makes it outwardly similar to the standard product, this is a little glinting jewel on the shelf.

In the bottle the beer is a deep bronze and is 7.5%ABV, similar to the genuine strength of the original IPAs that voyaged their hazardous way to Calcutta and Bombay. The hops used are Challenger, First Gold and Target to provide bitterness, and Styrian Goldings to lend it a citrus fruit hint.

It pours with little fuss, and has a paper-thin fleeting head, soon eradicated by the potent alcoholic tumult below. The nose is floral with a faint fruit echo akin to Calvados or pear brandy.

First taste is malty-sweet with some dusted spice, with pear quite prominent in the mouth. The alcohol is pronounced, but is a broad chassis on which the bodywork of a beautifully balanced IPA sits.

It continues with notes of toffee and fruit, but the length of it is increasingly bitter and rather complicated. One might expect a burst of hops at the finish in an IPA style, but this is more a blend of tastes, one of which certainly is bitter hops. The malt is succulent throughout, even in the aftertaste. Pear rattles around to the end and the overall effect is refreshment, surprising for such a strong ale.

This is an accomplished, complex and potent beer, to be drunk with care whilst musing on the nation's accomplished, complex and potent history.

7/10 - A fine example of an historical IPA reproduction. It's probably more consumer-friendly than the beers held in dark cargo holds that rolled their rain-lashed way to the the fringes of the empire.

- The Broadside

Bavarian Winterfest Wheat (Marks & Spencer)

Pours a lovely deep malty brown. Smells of burnt caramel, cloves and banana.

Delicious malty taste, like brown sugar with malty edges, quickly flooded by flavours of ripe banana, hints of vanilla and gentle spices, maybe nutmeg.

The finish is warming, sweet with a little bitterness. Brewed by Arcobrau for M&S, their brewing expertise for this style is clear.

8/10 A wonderful version of the standard wheat, warming, spicy, perfect for a bonfire.

5am Saint (Brewdog) 5%abv

It pours like a Tawny port, whiskey edges and a butter caramel head. The smell is so powerful, an overdose of dry hops and grassy smells, mixed with hidden cherry and summer fruit notes.

The taste gives a nano second of sweetness before unleashing a monster of full bodied bitterness. Hints of fruity but bitter cranberries are followed by a slightly sour tanginess, reminiscent of unripe fruit. Its got more hops in the finish than most IPAs dream of leaving a bitter lingering finish.

8/10 Unripe fruit, bitter, tangy and hopped to hell. To try and put this in a box would be impossible, it defines itself. Definitely one to try, you’ll never forget it.

Thanks to Brewdog for providing, i suggest you read their blog

Saturday, 16 October 2010

77 Lager (Brewdog)

Pilsner is a term everyone knows. In Europe it is used these days to denote a light coloured mostly hoppy lager. In the US, it's more frequently used to signify a premium beer, regardless of hop character.

This drink fully confirms that Scotland is in fact in Europe. This is a lager brewed on ale terms, 100% full leaf hops and malt, and the characteristic Brewdog cocksure marketing describes it as "a lager that actually tastes of something, 77 will redefine the (lager) experience forever". Those chaps know how to set expectation.

It pours a deep faintly murky amber, and jives about in the glass with a decent lagery fizz. The nose is hoppy and a little florid.

The taste is divine. The opening note is a malty crunch, and as crisp as a crisp. The body is not too long, but then it ought not to be in a lager. The finish is hoppy and refreshing, with a delicious bitter length to it.

This is a hot weather drink, and a cold weather drink to remind you of hot weather. Its a sociable beer, and a beer to drink at home to reminisce about being sociable.

I think this is best bulk bought for a party. This has crunch, bite and character, but doesn't ask the drinker to acquire a taste for it. The finish is long and bitter, but it's a crafted bitterness like the end of a well written tragedy.

8/10 - Delicious. A benchmark for UK pilsners and an export to challenge some of the best in Europe.

- The Broadside

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wheat (Meantime)

Wheat beers. Yes, I know. Different, unusual, eclectic.

I've never really been the greatest fan, yet it was the least I could do to give the Meantime product a go, that venerable brewing institution being a continually reliable supplier of all things good in the ale world.

It's in an elegant ammunition casing bottle, tapered and elongated like the best of Suffolk Cru cider. It seems dark on the shelf, yet emerges from the bottle a crisp golden murk, a wheaty emulsified bullion of a beer. It smells Belgian and it looks it. The head is fine and blanched, and persists like a benign algae, suggesting extra biological life beneath it's auburn opaque depths.

The taste is wheaty of course, and is etched with the typical clove character of an ale harvested from such fields. It's less intrusive than the assertive likes of Hoegaarden, maintaining a subtle, drinkable veneer of inviting taste.

The bottle mentions notes of banana (yes), cloves (yes again) and toffee (perhaps) within the mix. The yeast strain is "genuine Bavarian".

The ale sits at 5% ABV, and is a fine example of what a wheat beer should aspire to. Personally, I prefer barley in my mix so can only grade it on my palate. I find it pleasant yet not moreish, a sociable figgy sup of a beer beside which I'd struggle to plant a flag, yet many would.

6/10 - A Good Beer. I'd head for this if the host had a limited range, but that strong soil/banana mix is not something The Broadside will ever crave.

- The Broadside

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

American Style IPA (Adnams)

Part of Adnams new Handcrafted Ales range, head brewer Fergus has created some world famous beer styles in the heart of Suffolk.

Its bottled conditioned so pours with a gentle rumble, the aroma is immense, the US hops deliver a powerful but delicate bouquet of grass, pine and gentle floral notes, all hidden within a fantastic sweet citrus.

The malt is far more present than in say an English IPA style, less golden, more brown sugar. With the malt comes a beautiful sweetness and deep malt flavour. What follows soon after is those fantastic US hops, I’m told they are Cascade, Willamette, Centennial, Chinook and Amarillo! Its like you can taste every one of them, a hop overload to the senses. Grass, charcoal, honey, citrus zest are all hidden within the gentle bitter finish.

Strong malt, powerful hops, and a decent 6.8% ABV are all perfectly balanced within this stunning beer.

10/10 A truly fantastic American IPA, the fact it has been brewed in the UK only makes it even more impressive. Up there with the best of the US IPAs

The mind boggles at what the rest of the range is like. Suffolk today, tomorrow the world!

Buy Adnams ales here

Massive Thanks to Brewdog

A massive thanks goes out to Brewdog for sending the following through for review!

What a selection! Can't wait to get stuck in to reviewing these.

Punk IPA
5am Saint
Hardcore IPA
Isle Arran Paradox
AB:03 from the Abstrakt range
AB:04 as yet unreleased from the Abstrakt range!

I suggest you follow the Brewdog Blog here, their blog is a delight of banter, innovation and punkery

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Xingu Black Beer

The Brazilian beer Xingu (pronounced shin-goo) is quite fascinating, and unlike any other beer I've tried.

It's 4.6% ABV and sold in small bottles (12 fl oz US), and I came across it on the back of a shelf in Tesco. The label mentions the beer is inspired by brews first made by Amazonian indians from manioc root.

When they say black, they mean it - no light at all passes through this and it's akin to staring into a scrying mirror. On pouring a brown head forms which lurks around in a threatening fashion.

The nose is sweet and malty, with a handful of chocolate and a pinch of fudge.

With my UK experience of black beers limited to porters and stouts, I was expecting a heavy viscosity, but the beer is surprisingly light. It's very lowly carbonated, so the thinness never feels gassy. This is essentially a black lager.

The sweetness intensifies slightly on taste, this beer is all about the malt and I can't really detect any hops at all. The bitterness, for what it is, seems malty too. The end notes are faint plum and butter.

I checked only slightly at the start of this drink as it was so different, but I'm warming to it with each sip. If you don't mind your beer slightly sweet then I'd recommend giving this a try. It's not dessert-wine sweet, but for a light imbiber after a meal I could think of a many worse options.

This is different, but certainly not some madcap speciality blend. To the end of the glass this turns into an easy-supping but exciting drink that any beer fan ought to try at least twice.

7/10 - I may have to get another of these…

- The Broadside

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Exmoor Gold (Exmoor Ales)

Summer is reaching well into October here on the south coast so for a Sunday treat I thought I'd stick with the warm-weather ales, and it's the turn of Exmoor Gold.

Gold is brewed by Exmoor Ales from their Golden Hill brewery in Somerset.
The classily designed stag-motif label describes the drink as a "single malt" beer, something of a revolution when first brewed 24 years ago. It bucked the then trend by being the colour of a golden lager or deep chardonnay. It was initially brewed as a limited edition, but proved so popular it became a permanent fixture.

It pours with a beautiful golden hue, and the lager-like streams of bubbles can be seen in the picture. The head is snow-white, frothy and persistent. The nose is a grassy basket of hops with a rub of caramel malt. The taste is sweet and light, although at a robust 5% ABV is a little deceptive in strength.

Just one type of pale malt is used, and the hops are a mix of Fuggles, Goldings and Challenger. The centre note is freshly fruity, and the aftertaste has a weave of citrus and vanilla.

This is a rich and rewarding golden ale, beautifully made and balanced. Supping conjures images of picnics and lazy chats on the veranda, it's a sumptuous drink to unwind with.

8/10 - Excellent, rewarding gold ale,. Only a fractionally over-lengthy bitterness in the aftertaste keeps it from a chalking a Bunker Grade 9.

- The Broadside

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Parish Bitter (Wood's)

I bought a few Wood's beers back from Ludlow Food Festival, so time for a review.

Wood's brew eight staple beers, and Parish Bitter is a well known drink around Shropshire, popular in the pubs of this ale heartland.

The bottle is brown and neat, and carries a picture of the church at Wistanstow, where the drink is produced. It describes itself as "best pale", and pouring gives a beautiful golden pint, although not as pale as you might have expected, more honey-coloured.

It's 4% ABV, and the nose is toffee and biscuit. Being a lighter strength, I was anticipating a bit of a compromised drink, like TT Landlord (not keen on that in a bottle), but this is a delight.

The sup is fresh and with good length. Initial malt-caramel gives way to a cosy fruity middle. The beer is bittered with the noblest of English hops, Fuggles and Goldings. This lends the taste a touch of Shepherd Neame character to my tongue, but without the idiosyncratic Neame yeast.

Above all the drink is refreshing and moreish and I can tell why it's endured so long locally. This is probably not one to see on supermarket shelves outside Shropshire, but I'd thoroughly recommend it if you can find it. Put me down as a fan.

8/10 - if only all session beers were this good.

- The Broadside

Friday, 8 October 2010

Lucky Beer (Lucky Drink Co.)

I've not reviewed a lager on here yet, but this one looked so unusual I thought I'd have a crack at it.

Lucky Beer is available in Tesco, and brewed in China under license from an Australian company (I think).

The bottle is striking, a jade curved affair, blown to represent a cackling Bhudda holding what looks like half a revel above his head, although it could equally be a sombrero or a portion of a Cadbury's creme egg.

The beer is fizzy and it pours pale. Their website says it's a fusion of "rice, malted barley and Qingdao hops", so a Tsingtao-mastered rice taste was expected, all cleanliness and refreshment.

On the nose, it's a snatch of metallic lemon. On the tongue it's watery with a twist of citrus zest, framed against the half-noticed backdrop of some other vegetable I don't know. It's quenching, and not unpleasant, although it's ideal environment would be beside a lazy-susan stacked with take away.

Clocking in at 4.8% ABV, it's the definition of a Bunker Grade 5 for me - one to hand out at parties and not grieve too much about the stocks being depleted. The flavours skate about a bit, none of them enduring enough to give this beer any lasting character.

5/10 Interesting, but the other assembled ales in the Broadside Armoury need have no fear of being replaced.

- The Broadside

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Old Engine Oil (Harviestoun)

This one is delicious.

The label promises "viscous, roasty and chocolatey", in fact this is the only thing I've ever heard described as roasty but it does fit.

It's consistency is perhaps just shy of a true stout, more porter but it matters little. The pour is eager and creates a pleasant latte coloured head which lingers a short while. The nose is a touch of coffee and full roast notes.

The taste is initially sweet with a rub of cherry and the feel is velvet-creamy, tending to bitterness in the mouth. Slight carbonisation only helps matters, and for the taste is just right. This is the third porter Goldilocks will have tried.

The mid section is a waft of chocolate surfboarding on a riptide of malt - but whilst bold and assertive it is not overpoweringly so. Part of the pleasure of this beer for me is the well-heeled subtlety of the mix, and there's nothing here to make the drinker make their gnarly face.

It finishes with a rising quip of hops, but just for the sake of bittering and is a delicious keepsake of the sup. I love it.

9/10 - Best in it's class for me, this slim bottled thick black ale is a treasure - full credit to Harviestoun.

- The Broadside

Monday, 4 October 2010

Schiehallion (Harviestoun)

Amazing aroma of fresh hops, grass and light caramel. Colour is a beautiful sun bleached golden.

The taste is beautifully refreshing and crisp, light citrus is followed by an explosion of hops. 100 delicate flavours flood through, delicious grassy tastes are followed by grapefruit and a light caramel undertone.

Reminded me very much of Sam Adams Boston Lager, nice to see the Scots doing a classic European style so well.

8/10 A best in class Pilsner, packed with fresh hops, beautifully balanced.

UBU (Purity)

Pours a brownish amber clour, beautifully clear, a delicate smell of sweet grass hops.

Gentle sweet malt, slightly bitter, the middle leaves almost a nutty tangy. The finish is smooth, delicate bittering with a fresh taste.

7/10 A very drinkable, and very modern session bitter. Lovely Cascade hops.

You can by there ales at most good Sainsburys or Tescos or via Ocado here

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Ducks Folly (Goddard's)

Smells of toffee and fruity notes, instantly capturing the imagination as something a bit different.

Initial malt is followed by a wealth of flavours, all of which i struggle to pin down! Sweet but bitter malt, fruity notes, dates and raisins just some of those that made it to the note pad. The ABV is less well hidden with an alcoholic edge going toe to toe with the limited final bitterness.

6/10 An enigma of a beer, the hallmarks of a best bitter, but strong and full of fruity notes.

You can buy beer from the Isle of Wight here

Pure Gold (Purity)

Pours like bright liquid gold, perfect light fizz.

Sweet light caramel, followed by some fruity grapefruit and peach flavours. The finish is well balanced hints of almost bubblegum flavours coming through to a dry and very gentle bitter finish.

7/10 A lovely and rather unique golden ale, a break from the norm.

You can by their ales at most good Sainsburys or Tescos or via Ocado here

Thanks! Purity

Thanks to Purity for providing these beers to review, look forward to them.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Challenger Ale (Kingstone)

I visited Ludlow Marches Food Festival this year, a magical bustling carnival of smells, sights and tastes set within the ancient castle walls.

Chatting to five or six breweries (curiously Ludlow Brewery didn't appear to be there), all were affable and thoroughly interesting sorts. Corvedale, Hobson's, Wye Valley and Kingstone were very approachable, and I walked away with various bottles for inspection.

Kingstone Challenger is a treat on draught. It's not very strong (4%), so I feared for it in the bottle somewhat. It pours deeply copper with a brief head, and the nose is a hoppy confection of toffee and spiced fruit.

The beer is a mix of wheat and barley malts, and as the name suggested, a heavy trowel of Challenger hops are thrown in. The Challenger hop, a British brewing favourite, is apparently one of the few proper "dual purpose" hops, providing "acidity and kettle hop aroma" - and a steady backbone of bitterness.

As far as I can tell, this is the sole hop type in this beer, and so on first taste it strikes me as too bitter. It's certainly a refreshing drink (serving chilled is also suggested), with friendly bottle-conditioned carbonisation, but that tart note was initially a little disconcerting.

However, as the ale goes down the glass the drinker's tongue settles to the job, almost like the conditioning needed to enjoy a fine expresso. This is the way the beer is meant to be, and perseverance is rewarded. The ale empties the glass as a minor session classic, with excellent intermingled hops and malt.

8/10 - Initially a drink for a brave palate, this fine ale asks the right questions of the recipient. It segues from an uncompromisingly bitter first sip into a quality session drink, rewarding application to the Challenge.

- The Broadside

Friday, 1 October 2010

Hole Hearted (Oakleaf)

Oakleaf is a Gosport based brewery run by Dave Peckersgill. I'd heard a fair bit about it's beers so thought it timely to have a taste.

Hole Hearted pours bright and smells similarly, lots of flower and solely Cascade hops. This ale is on the same lines as that hopcentric uber-beer Summer Lightning. However on taste there's a patch of malt and a whole bag of fruit - mainly apples.

It's a session ale for me, very drinkable and at 4.7% ABV one to settle in on a summer evening with. The finish is bitter but comfortable.

For my palate the fruits are just a little too pronounced. I feel a little mean giving this a 7, as it would be a square 8 for most, but it's got a touch too much orchard for my tongue.

Still, this is an ale made with care by a brewery who know's their product. I'll certainlly be trying some more from Oakleaf.

7/10, a fine beer.

- The Broadside