Monday, 31 January 2011

The Kings Shipment (Compass) 6%Abv

Cracks with the slightest pop, a very limited head on the pour. Pale golden, aromas of orange light pine and a bit of toffee sweetness.

Gentle sweet malt to start is quickly followed by a fresh blast of oak, this seems to amplify the sweetness and caramel taste. Following that is a very fresh piney punch of hop bittering that lingers along with he caramel to the end.

7/10 A cracking oaked beer that gives a nice twist to the standard IPA.

Thanks to Compass Brewery for providing, you can find out more about their beers here.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Thanks Compass Brewery

A big thanks to the Compass brewery who have sent these beers to be reviewed for the bunker.

Based in Oxford they have three core beers Baltic Night Stout, The King’s Shipment IPA, and Isis Pale Ale. All sound fantastic and we can't wait to review.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Arrogant Bastard (Stone)

Pours a darker than expected malty brown, with perfect fizz and head. The aroma is delicious but again surprising, gentle pine and caramel malt but that's all. No huge blast of nuclear dry hopping.

The initial malt, where do you start, it's one of the most unique thinks I've tasted. It gives an instant roasted bitterness, followed by a deep malt taste, leading to some beautiful caramel sweetness. Its almost like caramel centred choclates, the flavours building as released, coating the mouth.
The finish follows in perfect balance, a flash and a bang of hops deliver razor sharp bittering, followed by some delicate pineapple fresh fruit notes that join the lingering malt caramel perfectly.

I had big expectations for this beer, it has an aura that crosses continents. I was expecting a nuclear dry hopped strong pale ale. It's far more classy than that. Critically, it's the malt that's the star of the show not the hops, it's very unique, balances dry bitterness and sweet caramel perfectly.

10/10 Bold, unique and balanced. A tour de force for your beery tastebuds

For those interested here is my attempt to Homebrew a clone of this beer

Monday, 24 January 2011

Maple Moon (Joseph Holt)

Here's something different.

Joseph Holt of Manchester is a family brewery, that has stayed in the same lineage for four generations. They brew three bottled beers, and Maple Moon is a 2005 IBA silver medal winner which has started appearing in Tesco and Sainsbury's of late.

It's 4.8%abv and pours a nice clean amber colour. No caramel is used in the brewing process, but it is flavoured with a touch of maple syrup, which can be caught underscoring the malty scent.

The first taste is firm and beery, solid malt sweetness. I approached this with a degree of apprehension as I'm not overly keen on extra ingredients being wriggled into my pint, which often come to nought (all the "brewed with honey" clones I'm talking about you..), yet maple seems to fit the bill perfectly.

The length is substantial and offers enough hops to qualify as beer, yet the ticklish maple upturn at the end of the sup is a pure delight. It comes as a small puff of sweetness, which is neither cloying nor rough, and suggests the pint would be a fine accompaniment to spicy dishes without lazering out the food taste with anaesthetising bitterness.

What's more, its moreish to the end of the glass, which for me shows they've hit the balance bullseye. The drink doesn't outstay its welcome, nor grow old in the glass (see Nutz).

I'd hesitate to call it a session beer, but for a delicious and satisfying draft of something different, I can thoroughly recommend this ale.

8/10 - Quenching, grippy and tasty, this is how speciality ale should be brewed.

- The Broadside

Sunday, 23 January 2011

90 minute Imperial IPA (Dogfish) 9%Abv

Pours a rather unassuming caramel brown, unleashes a beautifully sweet smell, liked treacle and melted muscovado sugar.

It hits the tongue like a car crash, a speeding muscle car of sweet malt, big caramel, and an almost lemon sharpness. Like an explosion it then engulfs every corner of the mouth, like a rich barleywine, it's clear this beer is potent. Like Rum soaked sweet raisins this beer is rich and warming.

The finished is not a hell hopped IPA (they boast about dry hopping through out), no big dry hop smells or pine notes. It's sutbly bitter, but not enough to even attempt to compete with the rich boozey malt.

9/10 A rich, boozey malt epic. Potent, yet dangerously drinkable,

Celebration (Sierra Nevada) 6.8%Abv

Made with the fresh hop harvest, an IPA for the holiday season.

Pours with beautiful snow drift foam, a gorgeous toffee brown. The aroma is not big dry hops, but a lovely fresh spiciness, think candy apples.

The malt is sweet and welcoming, no tanginess or dry bitterness, flooding into a tidalwave of caramel and toffee, coating the sides of the mouth. The finish is a mix of gentle bittering, mixed with some beautiful spice notes, cinnamon, nutmeg, before leading to a balanced but noticeable dry hop bitterness, it's not Torpedo, but it's close.

8/10 A winter treat, sweet warming malt with lovely gentle spiciness. It's their Torpedo relaxed in a Christmas jumper.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

60 minute IPA (Dogfish) 6%Abv

Hand delivered by a friend from the US, this is a beer of some repute. Continually hopped over a 60minute period to create a "session IPA"

Pops open with a gentle fizz, pours beautifully clear a golden Amber. The aroma is not overwhelming, but clear notes of sweet oranges and piney hop stand out.

The malt is rather light, a clean sweet taste that doesn't dominate. It leads to a surprising biscuity middle, rather reminiscent of some English ales, Wadworth etc. The finish is a full blown hop blast, but with as much diversity as depth, grassy notes, hints of oak, more biscuit, and a bitterness that resonates to a wonderful dry finish. The brewery compare it to a Chardonnay, and in a strange way I am really compelled to agree with them.

7/10 A very drinkable session IPA, biscuity, balanced with some lovely diverse flavours.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Thanks Woodforde's!

A fine package arrived in the post this morning from our friends at Woodforde's in Norfolk.

Woodforde's has gained profile in the past few years, culminating in "Wherry" being named Regional Cask Ale of the Year at the Great British Pub Suppliers Awards in 2010.

You can find Woodforde's beers in many supermarkets, off-licenses, or from their online shop.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Henry's IPA (Wadworth)

Here's the lowish strength standard IPA offering from Wadworth, HQ brewery of favourite Bunker Station 2 local The Goat and Tricycle.

The prospect is quite interesting, as mostly IPAs arrive in the 4%+ and upwards strength, but this is a modest 3.6%. Can it cut the India-bound odyssey mustard?

It pours cleanly with a pale gold colour and a tempting wooshy hint of flowery hops in the scent.

First sip is a touch sour, a vaguely biscuity malt opening gambit tending to bitter but not overly so. Wadworth are well known for their biscuity pints, 6x being almost a liquid hob nob, but here it's an echo.

The mid note is thin and it drifts pretty hurriedly to a sort of sourish fug that isn't really very appealing in contrast to some of the awesome IPAs on the market.

The IPA marque has become quite synonymous with rich, varied hoppy taste and power, and with Henry's Wadworth doesn't appear to have stepped forward into that clique, much like Greene King.

I think perhaps this would be a reasonably marketed pale or best, but with IPA on the label the punter will expect more, something along the lines of St Austell's classic Proper Job, Brewdog's formidable Hardcore or the flawless Meantime IPA . IPA in 2011 is about a hop wonder experience, with so much choice available to the buyer.

That said, this is a decent draft session beer which I've ordered in the pub a few times, but unfortunately nothing special in the bottle.

4/10 - Fairly two dimensional, neither powerful nor appealing enough for today's bottled IPA market.

- The Broadside

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Chimera Dark Delight (Downton)

After drinking the superb Chimera IPA from Downton Brewery I was looking forward to this Dark Delight.
Pours with an immense amount of fizz, a dark brown, lighter than expected. The nose is light coffee, but more intriguingly a plummy fruitiness.

The roasted malt dominates, giving a rather sharp taste that cuts through the palate, gentle hints of caramel. Fruity berry notes are noticeable but not overpowering, leaving a finish that is rather tangy.

5/10 A rather disappointing ale that lacks any clear character, too sharp and tangy.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Guinness Original (Guinness)

The Bunker takes on one of the leviathan products of the century. I grew up (well, from my teens) with guinness on draught - although don't touch it these days. So how does this 4.2%abv classic shape up?

It pours a deep, dark brown rather than pitch black. The nose is a little odd for a stout, a sort of metallic hobnob aroma. It's not unpleasant and the coffee coloured head foams away for a bit.

The texture is thin and prickly rather than fizzy, rather watery compared with some of the other fine stouts on these pages. First taste is a clatter of smoky aluminium, with a not displeasing soil over-note. The sup tends to veer to dry in the tail, with mild hop bittering and a little acidity.

It's not unpleasant and I found myself galloping through it quite briskly. The problem is it's lacking depth, and for me a stout should be rich and, well, stout in character, which this doesn't achieve.

Between this and mainstream lagers I'd go for this. Between this and most other offerings in these pages I'd opt for the heartier stuff.

6/10 - Beats it's draught brother easily but too thin and unexciting for the stout class.

- The Broadside

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Guardsman (Windsor & Eton) 4.2%Abv

Cracks open with perfect carbonation, a beautiful foamy head. A wondrous aroma of oak mingled with toffee sweetness.

The initial malt is beautifully distinctive, fresh and creamy, Maris Otter at it's best. Blended with this is the lovely oaky flavours, perfectly matched to the malt, avoiding some of the Inns and Gunn bold desert sweetness. The finish is rather tangy, pronounced bittering but rather unique, dodging the fruit and zest cliches.

8/10 A delicious oaky and unique best bitter. The best oaked beer I've had to date.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Porter (Sierra Nevada)

Pours as close to black as you can get, only narrowest waves of light pass through. The aroma is shy and unassuming, hints of toffee and roasted malt, but no big coffee or hop aromas.

The initial taste is dominated by a big malt, roasted to the edge of stout, delivering bitterness without sharpness and gentle sweet undertones. A rather smooth middle leads to a finish that refuses to assert a dominant claim on the beer, mellow hop bittering mixed with the slightest of toffee sweetness.

5/10 A capable balanced porter, but lacks anything to distinguish it from even the most average rivals.