Saturday, 26 February 2011

Ceilidh (Williams Bros) 4.7%Abv

A craft lager matured for 90 days.

Pours crystal clear light gold, almost unnervingly like commercial fizz lager. Lovely biscuity aroma, an almost oaky depth.

The malts only trace is light sweetness, building to an almost toffee warmth. The beer snaps to a finish, crisp hops, light citrus, and a finale of lingering bicuity malt.

8/10 A cracking lager, mature flavours, very drinkable. The world would be a better place if this was the drink of the masses.

Thanks goes out to Williams Brothers for providing this to review.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Hop Devil IPA (Victory)

Snaps open and pours darker than expected, a deep golden amber. The aroma is sensational, amazing zingy grassiness, big dry hops, a lovely toffee sweetness.

With the deep malt you expect sweetness, not so, it's presumably all been converted to alcohol leaving a very dry malty start. The finish is a hop crescendo, big loud crashes of bitterness, crisp, dry and tangy. The dryness continues long into the finish like chewing dry hops.

Truly amazing aroma, a huge lingering hop finish, but in my view needs a bit more malt sweetness to bring balance. Too dry and bitter to saviour.

7/10 Top marks for hops, but falls short with the malt. A rather one sided beer.

Joker IPA (Williams Brothers)

Pours with a smooth well practiced fizz, perfect head and carbonation. A golden amber with a deliciously citrusy aroma, lemon grassy freshness in a bottle.

The malt is superb, well bodied in it's depth, balanced with a great initial sweetness. A clean clear middle is followed by a hop finale of bitter hops, a second wave of more fruity malt and a delightfully subtle lingering hop bittering leaving you craving more with each sip.

8/10 A superb celebration of Malt and Hops. Similar in style to some great US pale ales, with a tad more hops.

You can buy Joker IPA here, and at the amazing price of £16.30 for 12 I strongly recomend you do!
Thanks goes out to Williams Brothers for providing this to review.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Thanks Williams Bros

A massive thanks goes out to Williams Brothers for providing such a generous selection of their beers for review! This has to go down as the biggest haul of review samples to date, with 18 different beers!! Its certainly going to keep us busy for a while.

There are quite frankly too many to list here so i suggest you all check out their range of:
Contemporary ales featuring the Joker IPA, their Scotish 80/ and their Midnight Sun Porter

Historic ales featuring a Seaweed ale, their award winning Heather Ale and an Elderberry ale

Thanks again Williams Brothers

Southwold Winter IPA (Marks & Spencer) 6.7%Abv

Pours crystal clear and beautifully golden, the aroma is delightful, a bountiful mix of grapefruit, citrus zest, and spicy hops. Its brewed by Adnams (usually under the title of Innovation) using a heady mix of US Columbus, UK Goldings, and European Boadicea hops.

The first taste is sweet and quite malty, this quickly gives way to a big punch of wheat malt flavours, clearly present and adding a different freshness. Bold bitterness follows through with a diverse depth of tone and sharpness. The finish is very spicy, with some lovely black pepper notes poking through to combine with the lingering wheat malt twang.

Not sure where to place this one, somewhere between a Duvel and Summer Lighting.

7/10 Very original, a strangely continental IPA, one to try if you like wheat beers and IPA’s.
Apologies for the picture, you reviewer was so busy "reviewing" he forgot to take a picture until it was nearly all drunk!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Thanks Brewdog!

We are big fans of Brewdog and their mega micro brewery here at the bunker, their epic beers have earned some great reviews.

We also love a bold IPA, so are naturally very excited by Brewdog's IPA is Dead. Thankfully this isn't some kind of Orwellian vision of a beerless future, just Brewdog's unique showcase of killer hops of the world.

Nelson Sauvin - A New Zealand epic with gooseberry notes
Sorachi Ace - Unique lemony aroma, developed in Japan
Citra - A new high alpha American hop
Bramling X - An English hop with distinctive aroma

Thanks to Brewdog for providing these to review.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Riptide (Brewdog) 8%Abv

Pours as black peat, with an exceptional head of coffee foam. Smells of ripe summer fruits, mixed berries and blackcurrants.

The initial taste is dominated by an exceptionally powerful and unexpected lingering sweetness. It's only on the second sip one can delve deeper into this dark delight. It's a whirlwind of coffee, hints of chocolate, but finishing with an asserted ripe fruity sweetness that leaves a taste buds twanging like a banjo string.

The hops are the final lingering presence of this beer, a flash of herbal bitterness. A wiser tweeter than me said of a review of Riptide "Riptide review in the style of @thebeerbunker: When you took the back off your Ferguson cassette recorder and it never worked again? That." Quite.

I kind of like the riptide analogy, like being dragged backwards out to sea past a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds to be met by a sweet mermaid who smiles and pushes you back to shore for another sip of stout.

7/10 An epic fruity and kaleidoscopic stout.

Trade Winds (Cairngorm) 4.3%Abv

Pours as clear as stream water, clear gold. The aroma is of a fresh spring meadow, light grass with a beautifully delicate Elderflower clearly present.

Clean sweet malt wafts over the tongue, on the initial sip, little room for dryness. Some biscuit crunch in the middle, fading towards caramel sweetness. The finish is light grassy citrus bittering, and a final gentle linger of elderflower.

8/10 A deliciously fresh golden ale, beautifuly balanced with that elderflower twist.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

London Bitter - BruBox Home Brew Kit

I am a homebrewer myself and enjoy making my own beer using the raw all grain method, but i stated out on kits. I recently helped a friend work through his first kit a BruBox. Its around £24 for a 10litre starter kit, with refills around £10 there after.

Its a rather impressive kit, extremely simple in its design and instructions, described perfectly here. A month later my mate popped round with a bottle of the result....I thought its only fair i review it!

London Bitter 4.0%
Pours an amber brown, with a nice gentle aroma, caramel, slight orange and fresh hop pine notes.

The sweetness of the malt is quite quickly over powered with some relatively big dryness that powers through. This leads on to quite pronounced bittering, you can certainly tell real hops were used in this kit. The finished is a lingering gentle hop bittering along with a slightly burnt caramel dryness.

7/10 A very drinkable well hopped session bitter, not a million miles from a Fuller's London Pride, but with the dry malitness of a Shepard Neame Bishops Finger.

With refill kits at about £10 each you can enjoy San Fransisco Steam beer to Belgian Tripel's at 50p a pint!

If you want to have a go at homebrewing but are nervous about the process, you wont find a more simple entry method than this, and most importantly the end result is very enjoyable!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

All Beer Experience + Taster Case (Ales By Mail)

The noble enterprise Ales By Mail sent the All Beer Experience kit through the supply lines for a Bunker review session, and we were glad to oblige.

Retailing at £51.99, it's a veritable treasure trove of all things beery, with malt and hops sample kits, a very well presented book on the subject, a gift bag and fourteen rarely-seen ales, in lambic, ale and lager varieties.

Armed with the promise of a sausage and mash dinner interval, a few guitar tunes on the Station One ghetto blaster and the red-hot @thebeerbunker twitter wire, we set to work on the beers.

Here are the twit-friendly assessments from a thoroughly enjoyable evening, complete with Bunker Grading according to our subjective taste:

Meantime Pilsner 4.7%abv – Light floral smell, sweetcorn, wheaty. Nice light sweet grain in the finish, almost bready. Very dry bitter finish. 7/10

Freedom Organic Lager 4.8%abv – Lightly caramel lager, Ed judges some rich malt, Paul veers to slightly less depth. Lacks a bit of snap but finishes very tidily. 6/10

At this point we tucked into a couple of malt sachets which were generously supplied along with the ales. Crystal malt was first, beautiful agricultural bready sweetness. The chocolate malt followed, and visited upon the tongue a shotgun pellet scattering of bitterness. Barley grains next – “inedible” proffered Ed, I had to agree - but what a wonderful grain.

Pitfields N1 Wheat Beer 5%abv – Cor, bold experimental beer. Bags of orange and coriander . Just too acidic, it’s a bit like licking a battery. Not for us 4/10

Hopdaemon Green Daemon Helles 5% - Grassy nose, lovely bready sup – perfectly balanced , Greek democracy in a beer – 7/10

*** Evening Winner *** Dark Star Sunburst 4.8% - Wow! Smell that! Caramel paradise, sublime taste. Gorgeous, toffee and a twist of lemon - sublime 9/10

Kelham Island Pale Rider 5.2% - Toffee in spades, creamy and over-tipped in favour of malt, but a capable dry bitterness that does much to veer away from being over-sweet – 7/10

Samuel Adams Boston Lager 4.8% - No nose, chilled malty wonder on the tongue, class leading depth for an amber lager – 6/10

Westerham Scotney Best Bitter 4.3% - National Trust produced beer, Minimal fruity nose, big sweet malts, faintly spicy length. Nice example of standard best – 6/10

Exe Valley Devon Glory 4.7% - Rough and acidic, poor ale. Zero nose, Mulchy mid-section, tart honky finish – 3/10

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA 7.1% - Piney desert-dry hop nose, bulky malt sweetness quarterback-sacked by monumental hop bitter - 8/10

Hopshackle Historic Porter 4.8%abv – Fresh and indeed hoppy in the nose, but mellow choc and coffee tastes on the sup stride through like sentries – 6/10

Orkney Brewery Dragonhead 4% - Sumptuous coffee-choc nose. Smart texture, creamy easy-drinking stout, dark beery fun 7/10

Chimay Blue 9% - Magnificent pepper raisin nose, malty & potent. Sup is fizzy & earthy with a soily oily cosh of alcohol – 6/10

It has to be reported that at that point the wheels came off the session somewhat, so we didn't quite get to the "Mort Subite Kriek" lambic beer, but we will make amends by giving it a full Bunker review shortly!

Thanks to Neil Rimmer, The Ormskirk Baron, Alex Barlow, Andy Mogg, myBrewerytap, James Bird, Paul Tuffnell, Gregg Irwin, Newcastle's Free Trade Inn and the mighty Dark Star brewery for keeping us company on the wires during the evening.

Final assessment is that this is probably the most interesting and varied ale tasting kit we've seen. Ales By Mail offer real quality in return for your dollars, an excellent service for gift-senders and enthusiasts alike. Follow them on Twitter here.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Indian Brown Ale (Dogfish Head)

Pours far darker than expected, less like the Newcastle Brown I was expecting and more like a dark porter. The smell is divine, like melted chocolate and a sweet but potent after dinner liquor.

Slightly dry malt to start, that very quickly builds into perpetual sweetness. Powerful chocolate notes assert their dominance in the malt, melting into the tongue like a rich pudding. Slight hints of coffee poke through without taking anything away from the big brown sugar sweetness. This rich boozey pudding of a beer slides to the finish where fine hops twine themselves into the flavours, adding fresh depth to the beer, but without too much in the way of sharp bittering, just mellow lingering dry hopping.

Reminds me very much of Flying Dog Gonzo Porter

8/10 Like a rich boozey Tiramisu of a beer, chocolate, coffee, divine.

Knight of the Garter (Windsor & Eton) 3.8%Abv

The Bunker has already enjoyed the superb Conqueror Black IPA (8/10) and the unique Guardsman Oaked Best Bitter (8/10) from Windsor and Eton, so how does their Golden Ale compare?

Pours a bright and crystal clear golden. Big powerful hop aroma, spicy, floral and very fresh.

The taste is instantly hoppy, exploding into a fresh crisp bitterness leaving only small traces of sweet malt behind. As the beer lingers on the palate the hop bittering amplifies greatly, a diverse array of sharp citrus bittering.

It's quite rare (but very pleasing) to find a weak session beer that is so powerfully and beautifully hopped, it certainly reminded me of Darkstar Hophead.

8/10 A fantastically hopped session ale.

Thanks to Windsor and Eton for providing, I suggest you check out their beers here.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Breaker (Bays) 4.7%Abv

Good carbonation pops the bottle open, it pours with a lovely head, a beautifully clear golden brown. Aroma of gentle grassy hops, and light caramel.

Delicious malt overloads the senses with the first hit, swamping every corner of the mouth with caramel sweetness. The malt leads on to a more subtle dryness, hints of light charcoal, even coffee in the middle, a diverse array of sublte flavours. The finish is light and clean, letting the malt linger on, growing slightly more fruity. No big hops, but for once that's no disappointment, the malt more than covers.

8/10 A deliciously malty ale, a beautiful depth of flavours to enjoy.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Sleighed Again (Centurion - Homebrew)

Cracks and pours with perfect carbonation, the head on this is unlike anything I've seen since my last draught Guinness, it just won't die! Powerful spices in the aroma, with cloves dominating heavily.

Beautiful roasted malt initially, sweetness and roast bittering in perfect balance. The middle is lovely and light, like a meringue it keeps the sweetness going to the finish when the bittering arrives, it's Cascade so gives a nice depth rather than a blunt snap. The spices linger on the tongue beautifully, nutmeg and most noticeably cinnamon.

Only criticism is the cloves are slightly too powerful for my palate.

7/10 A fine Christmas spiced beer, better than many this site has reviewed, similar to this, but with more spice. Would not be disappointed if I was served this in a pub.

A bottle of homebrew provided by Rimski, have a go yourself with the recipe here.


A huge thanks goes out to online beer merchant Ales by mail, we've had a soft spot for them since they gave us a free tshirt at GBBF but now its special.

They have grouped up with Alex at All Beer to create the ultimate beer tasting selection.

The case features a walk through of all the main beer syles, from Lambic to Lager, from Pilsner to Porter. Combined with the All Beer Experiance Pack of hop and malt tasting samples.

Plenty of detail and experiance here for newbies or those who already know their beer.

Can't wait to review, i think only a whole evening of appreciation for both Bunker members will do.

Keep your eyes peeled for the review and live tasting on twitter next week!

Nelsons Revenge (Woodfordes) 4.5%Abv

Pops and pours with perfect bc carbonation, a lovely copper colour. The smell is delicious, like fresh wet hops, powerful citrus.

The first taste is fantastic malty sweetness, a really clean flavour that echos into caramel. Gentle hints of smokiness in the middle are quickly met by a powerful bittering. Big clear hops in action here, depth and diversity of bittering is mixed back in with that malty caramel from earlier.

8/10 An unexpected delight, fantastic sweet malt and crisp hops. Lovely.

Thanks to Woodforde's for providing, you can buy their beers here, you can even have a go at homebrewing this beer with one of their kits!