Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Truly Hardcore

As a self confessed IPA junkie I love to try extreme versions of IPA's, and so I thought that Brewdog's Hardcore IPA would be a great challenge to my taste buds. At 9.2% this beer is certainly hardcore in strength terms, but does the flavour live up to the name?

The beer is not the most pleasing on the eye, it pours a cloudy, dirty orange colour. The frothy head dissipates quickly to leave a thin lace of white head. The aroma is very intense, the first thing you get is a strong orange flavour like a good old fashioned marmalade, this is followed by a sweet funky aroma, you could even say slightly spicy, certainly lots going on for the nose to translate. Medium bodied, with a nice low level of carbonation, hop oils coat your tongue and throat.

The flavour is as complex as the aroma. Orange and grapefruit are up front, caramel sweetness in the middle, followed by a nice strong level of bitterness on the end (brewdog claim that this beer has 150 IBU's, but I have to say that I have tasted beers that have a stronger bitterness than this).

Overall I have to say that this is a fantastic beer, one that I would rate alongside Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA (I have yet to try their 120 Minute IPA). One to slowly sip over an hour or so, also let it warm up a bit and you will get the full effect of all the intense aromas and flavours. Go and buy some!

For homebrewers, here are the essential facts:

ABV: 9.2%
OG: 1083
IBU’s: 150
Malts: Maris Otter, Crystal malt, Caramalt
Hops: Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe
Dry Hops: Centennial, Columbus,

Friday, January 14, 2011

A slightly angry mutt!

Raging Bitch from Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland is described as a Belgian style IPA. I have to say that I am not 100% sure what to expect from this, I am a big fan of IPA's and I like some Belgian styles, but not sure what a blended version of these two styles will produce. This beer was produced to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Flying Dog opening it's doors for business.

The beer pours a slightly orange colour with a thin creamy white head. The aroma is quite complex, a piney flavour is apparent from the hops and also a slight sourness, the sourness becoming sharper if you give the beer a good swirl. Medium bodied with a lovely smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The taste is unexpected, lots of hop bitterness is apparent and the Belgian aspects of the beer are quite assertive, courtesy of the Belgian yeast strain. This beer is quite unusual in that it is very hoppy, courtesy of the Amarillo, Columbus and Warrior hops, augmented by dry hopping with Amarillo, but the influence of the yeast is also quite strong, giving the beer a clean flavour with a very slight hint of bubblegum. The flavour starts off with citrus hops up front, you then get a nice carmel flavour in the middle followed by a nice stiff bitterness on the finish.

Good information on the Flying Dog website should you wish to brew something similar to this. The hops are as mentioned above, the speciality malt is Crystal 60, and the yeast is a Belgian strain called Diablo. The IBU's are 60 and the ABV is 8.3% (plato = 18).

As mentioned I was unsure of what this beer would deliver, but I have to say I am very impressed. Immensely drinkable despite the high ABV and IBU level, and I have to say I am very thankful of the fact that I have two more of these in the fridge to enjoy after I finish this bottle.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


To be honest I had no idea what to expect from this beer, the beer was called Kellerbier and was brewed by Schinner of Germany. The only thing I could discern from the bottle (written entirely in German), was that the beer is unfiltered. For anybody else who has not come across Kellerbier before, here is a quick wiki lesson:

"Kellerbier, also Zwickelbier, or Zoigl, is a type of German beer which is not clarified or pasteurised. Kellerbier can be either top or bottom fermented. The term Kellerbier literally translates as "cellar beer", referring to its cool lagering temperatures, and its recipe likely dates to the Middle Ages. In comparison with most of today's filtered lagers, Kellerbier contains more of its original brewing yeast, as well as vitamins, held in suspension. As a result, it is distinctly cloudy, and is described by German producers as naturtrüb (naturally cloudy)."

Now that I know roughly what I am dealing with, what about the beer? Pours a lovely dark brown colour with a slight hint of red. A large billowy tan head subsides to leave a nice thick head. The aroma is quite unusual, spicy with definite hints of cloves, there is also a very slight metallic characteristic to the aroma. The taste is similar to a pilsner (despite the colour) with a nice light hoppiness and a clean finsh. To be honest I dont really get the yeast flavour that i would have expected from an unfiltered beer. Light to medium bodied with a clean and crisp mouthfeel. As the beer warms up a bit you start to get those darker malts coming to the fore with nice hints of choclate and caramel. Nothing terribly complex about this beer, but at only 4.9% it is very sessionable and quite refreshing. Certainly worth picking up a few bottles.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

An Evening of Amber Ale

It could have been an amber ale shootout, but it was a lot calmer than that. I nice relaxing night with three amber ales lined up; Boont Amber Ale from Anderson Valley, 5 AM Saint from Brew Dog and Levity Amber Ale from ODell's. On hand was a keg of my own amber ale (Red Hopper), should the need arise.

First up was Boont Amber Ale, the beer pours a lovely amber colour with a thin but lasting off-white head. Very floral aroma with hints of pine and citrus. Quite a thin body, I would have expected something a little more chewy. The caramel and toffee flavours of this beer are quite strong, followed by a lasting strong bitterness. I have to say that this beer is nothing out of the ordinary and unfortunatley as it warms up it doesn't improve. An ok beer but I have had far nicer amber ales than this.

Next up was Brew Dog 5AM Saint. I have to admit that I had heard a lot of good things about this beer and so I was looking forward to something good. It pours a nice red colour with a thick off-white head. Aroma is dominated by citrus hops with a nice sharp quality. Medium bodied with a nice mouthfeel. I have to say I found this to be a fantastically flavoursome beer, citrus and pine up front, caramel malt in the middle, finished off with a nice strong level of bitterness. A truly great beer, however, the flavour is so heavy and intense, I am not sure if I could drink more than a couple of these! Definitely worth picking up a few bottles.

Last, but not least, was Levity Amber Ale from O'Dell's, a brewery I really like. The beer pours a light amber colour with a thick cream head. Lovely marmalade and citrus aroma. Light bodied and immensely drinkable, but a little too light for me. I am a big fan of O'Dell's but this is just a little too lightweight for me.

I think the key to brewing a good amber ale is balance, you need to balance a strong caramel and toffee malt base with a big hit of hops up front and a nice strong level of bitterness at the end. I think the beer that comes closest to this out of the three I tried was 5AM Saint. Boont Amber was ok, while Levity was very dissapointing. This is still one of my favourite styles of beer, however out of these three, probably 5AM Saint is the only one I will be buying again.

PS, I did finish out the night with a few glasses of my own Red Hopper, and while it was not as good as the Brew Dog (although more drinkable), I thought it was easily the superior of the other two!