Friday, 22 May 2015

Treason West Coast IPA 5.8% (Uprising Brewery)

The first beer from the Uprising brewery, part of the Windsor and Eton family it seems, standing on it's own feet but guided by their experience.

The aroma to this beer is truly outstanding, like a can of Lilt it's huge on tropical fruity notes, and fresh as a daisy.

The open malt is sutble and understated, like the support act ahead of it's famous paymaster. The gentle sweetness quickly gives way to the hops, but not with the expected stamp of IPA bitterness, instead it unleashes a tropical fruit utopia.  Mango and lycées give huge flavours of soft ripe fruit, lingering on the palette. An amazingly mellow and balanced IPA, it's managed to capture huge tropical hop flavours without any of the rougher edges of bitterness.

9/10 Smooth, balanced and full of huge tropical fruit. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Old Hoppy Hen 4.2% (Greene King)

When even Greene King are following the trend of hoppy pale ales you know it's gone mainstream.

Any hope of a big hop explosion is quickly destroyed, the nose is lightly floral at best, the merest whisper of grapefruit all I could detect along with a slight buttery toffee whiff.

The opening taste is very agreeable, light malt, hints of caramel, not too dry. It's quickly followed by a very balanced bitterness with no big hop punch but a very slight fruity tingle on the tongue. The final finish hangs with a slight hop cloyiness to the tongue.

They say once Punk went mainstream it's soul was already dead, it was nothing more than a faded replica of it's former glory.

6/10 Hoppy Pale Ale for the novice, inoffensive, but unable to leave a mark for even the least demanding hophead.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Einstök Icelandic White Ale (Einstök Ölgerð)

Here's a fresh little wonder. Brewed in (to me) an unintelligible location in Iceland using "the purest water on earth", this sharp and snappy anaemic wonder is brewed in the Belgian 'witbier' (white beer) style.

Paler than a recently frightened vampire, I can only think of Sadler's refreshing Thin Ice and Skinner's River Cottage EPA as being equally light in colour.

Slightly chilled, it pours unfussily with no lasting head. The nose is stiffly orange, with some background spicing.

Carbonation is tiny and piquant, needly little spikes that encourage rather than detract from flavour. The flavour is fuller than the colour might suggest, orange and coriander tones with an agreeable mineral backdrop. The aftertaste is slightly chalky with a mild swing of grapefruit, but the bittering fades without much fuss and another sup is invited.

It's a pleasing 5.2% ABV beer for those after something refreshing and slightly leftfield. I can't imagine it'll be widely available but worth sniffing out if you get the chance.

8/10 - Icelandic pearl, white and tasty with sophisticated slew of successful flavours.

- The Broadside

Bunker Summit no. 8

The riders and runners

Ah, summer waved her comely tresses and shook gentle sunshine on Dorset this week. Time for a summit!

The usual format applied, three participants (Ed, Glenn, me) bringing four mystery ales apiece, which are divided into thirds and consumed with much pondering, not a little musing and occasionally some note taking.

The first round was held in Bunker Station One's fortified garden, a fine stretch of establish grass and flora, which houses the radar station and long-neglected anti aircraft battery, before the descending temperature and waning light drove the party to amble indoors.

Here's how the candidates went down:

1. Deuchars IPA (Caledonian) 4.4%
Fairly solid starting gambit for the night. We 'can't fault the malt', and there's a little whoosh of hops but it's more a standard bitter than an IPA. Sticky mouthfeel, with a slight electrolysis carbonation tingle. 6/10 

2. Marks & Spencer Single Variety Hop Citra IPA (Oakham) 4.9% 
Absolutely delicious, a single hopped high-class wonder from M&S. Classic grapefruit Citra nose, a slightly oily mouthfeel but a drink purpose-built for summer evenings. The usually uncannily accurate Ed had this as a Galaxy hopped Partizan Saison, but he's banked so many exact tasting identifications he's still in credit. Easily an 8/10 

3. Twin Lakes Greenville Pale Ale (Twin Lakes Brewing Company) 5.2% 
 Wow! Heart-stoppingly lovely. A grand orange hop character, fresh and zingy. This is as good as a standard pale ale can be. Delivered in a can, recieved in adulation. The evening's gold medal winner by a trot. 9/10

4. Avalanche (Fyne Ales) 4.5%
A soapy and rarely seen little golden number. Offers a little bit of malt, hops and bitterness. A biscuity backdrop gives this one a gentle landscape of taste without being overly exciting. Ed described it as the "opening batsman" of the ale world, you'd sink one easily before moving onto other big-hitting event beers. 7/10 

5. Black Rocks (Buxton) 6.0% 
And so the inevitable evening ABV increase. This is a fine black IPA, blackcurrant aroma, softly carbonated with a slightly oily mouthfeel. Smooth with a big hop signature, it's stiff alcohol content is delivered gently and across the length. 7/10 

6. Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Unser Aventinus (Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn) 8.2% 
Ed dangerously raises stakes in the ABV hot war by unleashing this +8% Weizen Bock (dark wheat beer). Appreciated by other drinkers, it wasn't for us - wheaty and idiosyncratic but a little meh in profile, without any particularly exciting dimensions. 6/10  

7. Blacksmiths Ale (Coniston) 5.0%
Glenn reintroduces some sanity to proceedings with a fine wintery 5% ale. A textbook bold bitter, not very sessiony but as English as Bullseye repeats or wondering about the weather at the weekend. 7/10

 Food! Homebrew boiled ham, cheeses, chutneys and homemade bread

8. Scarlet Fever (Wild Beer Co.) 4.8% 
A new wave beer by the inventive Wild Beer chaps. I'm looking forward to trying the Put it in Your Pipe porter, but this effort didn't really impress us. Blunt in taste, a mulchy malt blink is followed by a watery length and gripey bitter finish, sour berries and grubby jam.  4/10 

9. Leffe 9° (InBev Belgium) 9.0% 
Ed continues to try and smash our heads in with a 9% top-fermented monster from Belgium. A fleetingly agreeable sweet big Belgian yeast hit is followed by a tailpipe of unfettered alcohol aggression, seemingly without any covering flavours to rein it in. A small-sipping ale, it's too primal to engage the drinker and unenjoyable in this company. For some reason it reminded Ed of 'having the norovirus', the reason for which we never got to the bottom of. 3/10  

10. Organic Porter (Black Isle) 4.8% 
Glenn whips out his final offering of the night, a tidy sweet and malty porter. Standard porter coffee notes on the exit, its rather agreeable and you'd certainly not turn it down over a game of chess in a high backed leather chair of a night. 7/10

11. Redwillow Smokeless (Redwillow) 5.7% 
My final gambit of the night, and a black beauty of a smoked porter. Velvety and gentle despite a moderately high ABV, this porter is furnished with chipotle chillis to add an agreeable and risque suggestion of heat. Chocolate and dark fruit weavings draw this ale together very nicely.  8/10 

12. XXXX Porter (Ringwood) 4.7% 
The final ale is inevitably a porter again, and its the Bunker local brewery Ringwood's XXXX. Who knows what the four Xs stand for, perhaps the head brewer was particularly sweary the day he created it. Stable berry notes jive along with the standard roast and coffee porter threads, a quality product despite this bottle being noted as three years past best before date on the reveal. 7/10 

- Twin Lakes Greenville Pale Ale (Twin Lakes Brewing Company)

Silver Medal - two way tie! 
- Redwillow Smokeless (Redwillow)
- Marks & Spencer Single Variety Hop Citra IPA (Oakham)

Bronze Medal - three way tie!
- Black Rocks (Buxton) 
- XXXX Porter (Ringwood)
- Blacksmiths Ale (Coniston)

- The Broadside

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Chimay - Red (Bieres de Chimay)

Off to Belgium we go.

Chimay Red (or Premiere as it is sometimes known) is a Trappist beer in the dubbel style - Belgian heavy bodied strong brown ale.

The brewery is worthy and characterful - not only do they also make cheeses but the proceeds of sales are solely for monastery support and the good of community projects and local charities in the area. If you fancy a cheese/beer collision experience then I suggest trying to get hold of their "Chimay With Beer" which has a rind soaked in ale. Those monks know how to make a strong brew - the red weighs in at 7%abv, whilst it's senior blue brother a hefty 9%.

It pours a murky pool-hall brown with a high persistent head. The nose is fruity and figgy with a touch of cloves.

In the mouth the beer is ably fizzy and alive, yet full bodied and creamy too, lots of physics to go on. The sup is quite yeasty without being grungy, and has a mild stickiness.

Minimal fruit sweetness yields to a nice nutty mid section, and the tail note is a vibrant fusion of maltiness and bitter hops.

Extremely pleasant and drinkable, this is a Belgian treasure for those in search of full-bodied session ale.

8/10 Characterful and potent Trappist ale.

- The Broadside