IPA – English: Hawkeshead IPA

This weeks Beer is brewed in Cumbria, more notably the Lake District. Hawkshead are an independent brewery in the Lake District and today I’m writing about their great IPA. I first discovered this beer on a trip to Keswick, which is a fantastic place that I recommend. The beer market is actually pretty booming in Cumbria, with a lot of traditional and craft breweries making amazing beer.

Let’s start with Hawkshead‘s description of the brew:

A modern IPA, amber in colour, with huge, complex hop flavours from a blend of American and New Zealand hops, including Cascade, Columbus and Motueka, and balanced by sweet malt. India Pale Ale is a classic British beer style, traditionally brewed strong and well-hopped to survive the voyage to India. This IPA takes well-hopped to a new level by using some of the finest, most flavoursome New World hops now available.

This description gives a lot away about the Hops, which I really like as it appeals to the Beer Geek in me but if someone was picking this up as their first beer they wouldn’t know what to expect. What an interesting Hop concoction though! It made me really look forward to this beer when I read it. After this, the usual India Pale Ale story that we all know. The IPA’s that passed through the sea to India were much different though, but that’s a conversation for another time!

As the Hops have been revealed in the description, let’s start with the Malt! I think the Malts in this beer are Crisp Maris Otter, Caramel Malt, 2-Row Carapils and a touch of Biscuit Malt. A very English IPA base, but the Hop bill makes you think differently – Cascade, Columbus and Motueka, what a fruity mix!

This beer pours an Orange/Amber colour with a thin white head which sticks around for most of the time drinking, it leaves some nice dotty, sticky lacing on the glass which is very welcome. On the nose, wow! Those Hops really come out, lashings of Citrus, Tropical Fruit and Orange Peel, it’s like a New Zealand summer in a glass. The palate brings out a nice, sweet Malt backbone with a touch of biscuity, bready flavours that carry through the entire time. On top of this you get the choice of Hops working their magic, lots of Tropical Fruit and Citrus to start, a touch of Pine and then on the finish you get a delicious Summer Fruit flavour lingering in the back of your tongue. The beer is well-bodied and has medium carbonation. It finishes Medium-Sweet. I really recommend this beer as the weather gets better, although I had my first one in a Rainy, November Lake District I can tell that this is going to be one of those quintessential Summer garden brews – even at 7% which is quite undetectable whilst drinking.

You can buy Hawkshead IPA in the UK at:

Hawkshead Shop (Out of Stock, 6 Bottles Minimum)

Amazon (In Stock at time of writing!)

Hippo Beers (In Stock at time of writing!)

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

New Years Post – Imperial Amber/Red Ale – Scottish: Brewdog Mashtag #2014

My first Blog post of 2015, but I’m starting off with a great beer from last year – Brewdog‘s Mashtag 2014. Mashtag is a Beer that Brewdog ask the public to nominate ingredients for. They did one in 2013, and 2014 so I’m hoping it happens again this year! I’ll let you know a little more about the recipe later on but I really do think this is a great idea. I’m surprised the combination in this one came out so well!

Let’s start with Brewdog‘s description of the Beer:

#Mashtag 2014 – a beer for the people, by the people.
The #Mashtag concept is simple. We invited the public to vote on each aspect of the brew, from hops to malt to the special twist and even the label design, and from the thousands of possibilities this presented, the result is an imperial red ale, brewed with copious speciality malts, a global blend of hops, and blood orange, lemon peel and orange peel.
On the nose, there’s a riot of citrus, in many forms, from orange pith to lemon zest, via lime juice and even lemongrass. Fresh, bright resinous notes blend with light toasty malt aromas.
The palate is intense with toffee, with tiny hints of tobacco smoke coming through in little bursts, but the star attraction is an all-out bitter orange avalanche. A slightly psychotic, orange-that-thinks-it’s-a-grapefruit character builds upon and intensifies the hop bitterness, squaring up against the rich sweet malt base. The result is a huge red ale with a drinkable quality you’d expect in a beer half this strength.

I quite like this description, it’s not like a lot of the Brewdog’s other (now banned) bottles. It makes me sad in a way, but on the other hand I think it’s an apt description for a beer voted for by people around the world. It has a little back story on how the Public voted for ingredients and then a little insight on the flavours which really do sound incredible!

The Malts used in this beer are Extra Pale, Cara, Crystal, Dark Crystal and Black Malt – A different mix for a Red Ale, but it contributes to the appearance and flavour a lot. Next up, the Hops! Amarillo, Motueka and Mittelfrüh. Definitely a Citrus bomb with the hops, given the other ingredients; a large helping of Blood Orange, Orange Peel and various other Citrus fruits. After this, it’s Fermented with Brewdog’s usual yeast, which is a Dry English Yeast strain.

When you pour this beer, it is a dark Ruby colour with a thin off-white head. It dissipates pretty quickly leaving dotty lacing on the glass, which is a nice touch. On the nose, absolutely loads of Blood Orange, some Honey, Pine and Citrus notes follow. After smelling this beer you want to drink the entire thing straight away, but this is definitely not to be taken lightly as it’s just shy of 10%. The first thing you get when you taste this brew, is yet more Blood Orange, it really dominates this brew but it’s not a bad thing! After this, some Citrus Notes with a little bit of Grapefruit until the Caramel, Honey with a touch of Smoke comes through from the malts. The flavour in this beer sounds completely extreme, but it’s so balanced and that’s not an easy feat! The carbonation isn’t as high as you’d expect in a beer like this, finishing Medium/Dry with some Bitter Orange Peel notes.

This is a beer I’d definitely recommend seeking out before it goes completely! There’s nothing wrong with drinking a beer from last year this year! Let’s look forward to this years Mashtag!

You can still buy Mashtag #2014 at:

Ales By Mail

Beer Gonzo

Beers of Europe

All three of these places are still In Stock at time of writing, and the beer has a pretty long date so don’t worry about that.

For any Bars/Shops looking to stock this beer you can Contact the Brewdog rep in your area for more info.

EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%

Brown Ale – American: Port Brewing Board Meeting

Now winter is in full swing, there’s nothing like a Brown Ale to go with a dessert after a hearty Roast Dinner. That’s why I picked Port Brewing‘s Board Meeting for this Friday’s beer. An Imperial Brown Ale with Coffee and Cocoa Nibs added. I picked this beer, as I’ve only really posted IPA’s from California. This beer is proof that as well as IPA’s, you can get some great beers of any style from this state.

Let’s start with Port Brewing‘s description of the beer:

Brewed for the early risers, who sacrifice sleep and warmth for a the first meeting of the day aboard a wave to shore.
Added in 2013 to the Port Brewing year-round lineup, Board Meeting is an amplified Brown Ale, brewed with liberal additions of coffee from local San Diego roasters, Ryan Brothers and cocoa nibs sourced from famed San Francisco chocolate maker TCHO. Deep coffee flavor gives way to layers of bitter dark chocolate and a creamy vanilla body.

There’s a longer, story filled description on the actual bottle but I won’t ruin it for people that buy the beer! What I like about this description is the fact they aren’t scared to admit where they get their Coffee and Cocoa nibs from. It’s always nice to know that breweries aren’t sourcing their ingredients from Costco and actually thinking about what goes into the beer.

As this is an Imperial Brown Ale, I’d imagine it’s brewed with a lot of specialty Malt, but also there’s a Stout feel to this beer. With this in mind, I think the Malts in this beer are Biscuit Malt, Roasted Dark Malt, Special B, Chocolate Malt, a bit of Toasted malt and the English Pale and Crystal Malt base. The hops in this brew, although they don’t make up a lot of the flavour in my opinion are Magnum and Challenger, a good choice to let the Malts, Coffee and Cocoa shine through and a great choice for any Brown Ale!

When you pour this Beer, it pours very dark brown, almost black with a thick tan coloured head. It retains extremely well leaving rings of lacing around the glass. Maybe there’s Wheat in the brew too? Who knows, but for an 8.5% Beer, the head retains very well indeed. On the nose you get some Hazelnut Creame, Vanilla, Chocolate, Roasty Coffee and some Dark Fruit. It smells like a cross between Brown Ale and Stout, whilst drinking it in a local Coffee House! It’s so inviting and makes you want to dive in straight away. When you taste this beer, initially you get a kick of Bitter Coffee, making way for Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut, Dark Fruits and some Bready notes. On the finish you get a little kick of Citrus, reminding you it’s definitely a Californian beer. It finishes bittersweet, full bodied with Medium to High carbonation. I really like this beer, and it’s something I will definitely seek to buy again. I recommend you do the same!

You can buy Board Meeting in the UK at:

Beers Of Europe (IN STOCK at time of Writing)

Amazon (IN STOCK at time of Writing)

For any Bars/Shops interested, unfortunately Port’s beers aren’t widely distributed but you can try contacting Beers Of Europe!

EST. CALORIES: 255   ABV: 8.5%

Black IPA – Scottish/Swedish: Brewdog/Cap Brewing CapDog

This Friday’s beer is a Black IPA, a collaboration between Brewdog and CAP Brewing. Although we’ve had a few Coffee beers over the last week, this is the last one for a little while! I think the reason being is that I haven’t been sleeping much lately and have been working double time on this and my day job, so Coffee is well and truly on my mind! CapDog is a Black IPA infused with Cascara – the fruit of the Coffee plant making for a brew I was very interested in.

Let’s start with the description of the beer –

CAPDOG is a warped smoky black IPA brewed to imperial strength, infused with cascara – the fruit of the coffee plant.

Subtly sweet, with big resin and chocolate notes, balanced by spicy and smoky flavours, CAPDOG is a curious collaboration between CAP and BrewDog.

A good description of the beer – we’re expecting spicy, smokey flavours with some resinous hops, chocolate and some sweetness. Not a balls-to-the-wall description I’ve come to expect from Brewdog, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change! Also, it’s good for them to work with a Brewery unheard of in the UK until a little while ago.

Capdog is brewed with Extra Pale, Crystal, Rye and Carafa malts. I like this mix of malts for a Black IPA, if anyone tries it without the infusion of Cascara, let me know! The malt bill seems like it’s intended for a clean, yet Chocolatey and Roasty flavour. Only one lot of Hops in this brew, the famous Centennial. I think this is a great hop for the beer, as the Lemon and Citrus flavours from this hop will compliment the Cascara nicely. I can imagine either the Cascara is put into the boil, or is made into a “Cascara Tea” and added to fermentation.

This beer pours a thick Black with a Mocha coloured head, there’s a tiny bit of sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. The head dissipates quickly, which is expected for a 9% brew leaving a tan coloured cap on the beer. What a great looking beer! It really looks like a Winter Brew. On the nose there’s lots of Citrus, Dark Fruits and a little bit of Coffee and Pine. It’s quite an inviting smelling brew, especially if you like Citrus Forward beers. When you taste this beer, you get lots of Roasty and Chocolate notes, followed by some Clean Coffee tones, Dark Fruits finishing with a strange Coca Cola/Kola Nut flavour and some pine. The mouthfeel is thinner than I was expecting for a dark beer, but this is an IPA afterall! Medium carbonation and finishes quite dry, despite some of the sweet flavours. If you can get your hands on this beer, I really recommend it. Perfect tucked up next to the fire on a cold Evening when you don’t fancy something more heavy like a Stout.

You can purchase CapDog in the UK (be quick!) at:

Ales By Mail (IN STOCK at time of writing)

Unfortunately, Capdog was a limited brew, but for any Bars/Shops wanting to stock Brewdog’s Collaborations and more Limited Releases I’d really recommend signing up to their Mailing List.

EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%

Barleywine – Collaboration: Scottish/American: BrewDog / Oskar Blues Shipwrecker Circus

This week’s beer is a Collaboration beer from Brewdog and Oskar Blues. This beer is a Barley Wine, the first on this site. I chose this beer because it’s a mix of an English style Barley Wine and an American Style one. There are some subtle differences, English Barley Wines are usually more malt-forward, whilst American Barley Wines are much more Hop Orientated. Brewdog (Scotland, UK) and Oskar Blues (Longmont, Colorado) are two breweries that are extremely passionate about what they do, and this is no exception.

Let’s start with the online description of the beer:

In collaboration with the awesome Oskar Blues from Colorado, we’ve created this big, twisted 10.5% American style barley wine. With big boozy aromas that’ll swirl round your nostrils and a sweet viscosity that’ll cover your tongue from top to tip, this is a beer for people who enjoy nonsense and walking on tightropes. Even when the Circus packs up and leaves, you’re left with a lingering warmth and bitterness playing in your mouth.

I say this is the online description, because this beer is bottled by Brewdog and their descriptions are always full of Bravado and strange metaphors. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, and it’s what I have come to expect from Brewdog (Has anyone seen Brew Dogs on TV?!) I picked the online description, as I feel that it represents both breweries well and gives you a bit of a description of the beer, although it’s still full of some great metaphors. From the description, we’re expecting something something boozy with lots of complex flavours, which sounds like exactly what we need with the first cold snap attacking the UK!

Although Brewdog are always very open about what they use to brew, the brew-sheet for this beer has been offline for quite a while as this Barley Wine was released this time last year. The reason I’ve kept it until now is that Barley Wines tend to mellow out over time and the flavours get more complex as it sits in the bottle. The malts in this beer are what I’d expect from an English Barley Wine, Extra Pale, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate. The hop bill is where it gets interesting, and gives it the American twist. Chinook, Cascade, Citra are used giving some piney, resinous and fruity flavours. Citra definitely was an interesting addition, and when I learned this I was very interested to see how it faired in a Barley Wine.

When you pour this beer, it comes out with a Copper/Ruby colour and looks a bit like a Red/Amber Ale to start with. As more beer goes into the glass, it starts getting thicker and darker and develops a Tan coloured head. The smell of alcohol is the first thing you notice after pouring, but after a while the other aromas come through. Loads of Marshmallow, Stone Fruits, Toffee, Caramel with hints of Pineapple and Dried Apricot (Citra?!). This is definitely a sipping beer, at 10.5% and a smell like this you can tell it’s going to be a true Winter brew. After taking your first sip, you get hit by Roasted Marshmallow, Some dark, Sweet Roasty Malts, Dates, Plumb and Fig. After this fades, the hops take control and you get hints of Lime, Pineapple and a little bit of some other Citrus and Tropical fruits along with some Brown Sugar. This beer is sticky on your lips, is medium carbonated and finishes quite sweet. All in all, this is a great brew and something you can still buy even though the release was last year! Winter is coming, and this is definitely one that will see you through with some warmth from the Roasty flavours and Alcohol.

You can purchase Shipwrecker Circus in the UK at:

Beer Ritz (IN STOCK at time of writing!)

As this is a limited beer, you may need to do quite a bit of Google-ing, but it’s definitely out there!

For any Bars/Shops looking to stock this beer you can Contact the Brewdog rep in your area for more info. I hear Brewdog also import Oskar Blues to the UK, but this will have to be something you can tell them you’ve heard on the grapevine!

EST. CALORIES: 315   ABV: 10.5%

Special Edition – Festival: London Craft Beer Festival

Last weekend I went to the ever-growing London Craft Beer Festival. Located in the Oval Space at Cambridge Heath, it’s very close to a lot of the up and coming Craft Breweries in London.

I decided to go to the afternoon session on the Saturday, as some of the festival is outside and it’s been a little unpredictable on the weather front lately, especially at night! We arrived just before the event started at 11:40am, lucky we did as I quickly found out that the Afternoon session was sold out and the queue quickly formed behind us.

Once we got into the festival and received our free branded tasting glass, 5 tokens for our 1/3rds of a pint and our festival programme (more on that in a second!) we made our way up to the terrace before going into the space and was greeted by a great view of industrial East London.

Even from the first initial glimpses, you can tell that this is no ordinary CAMRA Real Ale fest. This a proper, balls to the wall, anything goes Craft Beer and food festival. Instead of paying on the door, paying for your glass and then paying for every beer you try at this festival everything is included in the ticket price.

We walked through the terrace ignoring the hunger coming in slowly as our breakfast wore off, as the main thing we were here for was the amazing beer!

Once we got into the hall, all the breweries were lined up and ready to go, the music had started and the beer was already flowing. I’m not sure who the DJ’s were at this particular session, but the blend of music and remixes was spot on and so were the people. Such a diverse crowd enjoying the amazing craft beers on offer.

We headed straight to the Thornbridge Brewing Stand to try some of their Parma Porter, a Porter brewed normally and then Parma Violets are crushed up and added during fermentation.

As there were 24 breweries and I tried at least 1 of each breweries beer, I’m going to keep the reviews short but sweet and want to write a little more about the event. However, there was not a single bad beer tried! The Parma Porter had a big hit of Parma Violets on the nose along with some roasty notes on the nose and was black with a tan head. When you taste this beer, you get another big initial hit of sweet parma violets and malts, which then tapers off to some roasty notes with burnt sugar undertones. The beer surprisingly finishes quite dry, but it’s a smooth brew and something I’d definitely drink in the summer.

After this, I wanted to check out what one of my favourite brewers, Founders Brewing had to offer. We walked over and I recommended All Day IPA to the friend I was with. The only beer they had which I hadn’t tried was the Porter. There’s always a lot of hype about the porter, and as usual with Founders it lived up to it’s name. A very dark, black on appearance that has a tan coloured head which dissipates quite quickly. When you smell it, you can smell the nice roasty sweet malt notes and a touch of brown sugar. On the taste you get the initial roasty, burnt sugar notes but then it finishes so crisp and clean. For me, it’s often unheard of in a porter but this one was seriously a stand out for me even though it’s such a classic style.

Next up, I had to go over to Camden Town Brewery‘s stand to check out the Australian Stone & Wood beer that was on offer – Pacific Ale. I’ve tried some Australian Craft Beer before (Little Creatures Pale Ale) and this beer from S&W meets the standards I’ve come to expect. A pale orange colour with a thick head that fades slowly leaving rings around the glass. This really is a pretty looking brew. On the nose, some grapefruit and tropical fruits. Taste is very fruity indeed but unfortunately very carbonated. Something I would definitely try again to get a full opinion on. Finish is almost crisp like a lager.

After this beer, we were going to go over to Sierra Nevada to finally try some of their Hoptimum… before this (as it’s 10%) we decided it would be a good time to go across the road to the Flanders Festival (also included in the ticket price!) to grab some food there. Although there was some great food on offer at the main part of the festival, we wanted to pop across the road to see what it was about. It was a quaint little festival with a few Belgian beers on offer as well as cooking lessons and the Flemish Kitchen Rebels. I grabbed some Belgian Frites and a freshly made and cooked Chorizo scotch egg. This was much needed at this point and went down well. I also tried a few beers over this side whilst I was there, the Westmalle Tripel which is apparently the first Tripel ever brewed, I tried the coriander and cardomon Vedett by Duvel which was very interesting. I then tried “BIIR” which was meant to be “Barcelona Craft Beer.” It was a little confusing, as it’s brewed in Belgium and I didn’t see it anywhere in Barcelona when I was there. It wasn’t the best so I went onto one of the famous Belgian Fruit beers – Liefmans Fruitesse as I sipped on it the sun came out and it was one of the most refreshing brews of the Festival with tonnes of fruit flavours and some tartness. Great example of a Belgian Fruit Beer.

After the breif tasting of Belgian beers and applying to win a case of Craft Beer (Pick us!!) we went back into the Oval Space we went straight for the Sierra Nevada stand for some of their famous Hoptimum. The beer appeared golden with not much head, as it was served from a cask. On the nose, loads of sweet malts, tonnes of pine, citrus and some grass notes. Much the same on the taste, a thick brown sugar followed by huge hits of pine and citrus undertones. Truely a tasty brew and one of the best imperial IPA‘s I’ve had to date. It finishes sweet. We then walked over to Buxton and I had one of my old favorites – Far Skyline, whilst my friend sampled their Saison. Interestingly, they told me that they are currently fermenting a new batch of Far Skyline which is even more sour and has some Brett yeast added. I’m not sure how this will come out, as Far Skyline is one of my favourite craft beers, but I’m definitely going to give it a try! I sipped on a bit of their Saison whilst chatting away and it really was a great representation of the style with all the spices and funky yeast notes. It was almost like it was from Belgium!

Next, we went across the room to check out Pressure Drop and had some of their Strictly Roots Porter. Strictly Roots is a Porter with Dandelion and Burdock added to it that has been harvested from the nearby Hackney Marshes. This one looks like a normal porter, medium body, black with a tan head. The Aroma of this beer is where it really takes it into it’s own and was one of my favourites from the day. A big bit of roasty smells and chocolate on the nose with the signature Dandelion and Burdock smell but without the sugary notes. When you try this beer, it’s a bit like dropping a shot of fruity espresso into a can of D&B and getting it to ferment somehow. Quite subtle, but you can tell it’s there and adds a really interesting taste to the beer.

After this, we popped over to Magic Rock Brewing and I had my favourite beer of the entire festival. Bearded Lady aged in Bourbon Barrels. An Imperial Stout that has been in Bourbon Barrels for 180 days. It has the consistency of motor oil and arrives thick black with a slight hint of a tan head. The smell of this one is complex. Burnt caramel, dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans. When you taste this beer, the bourbon and oak flavours hit you straight away leaving behind some great roasty caramel and brown sugar notes. It’s such a smooth beer for 10.5% and goes down very well and it’s like drinking something that has the consitancy of cough syup. I really think this beer can rival Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout. Light carbonation and believe it or not, finishes sweet. A truely fantastic effort from Magic Rock and definitely my favourite of the day.

After a quick break and some socialising with some fellow beer lovers, we moved along to Beavertown Brewery. Beavertown now have a soft spot in my heart as they’ve recently moved to my hometown in Tottenham and are helping an area become regenerated that desperately needs it. I’ve moved away from the area but as with any hometown it has a place in my heart! Back to the beer: I picked up their Lemon Phantom, a Berlinner Weiss with Lemon Zest and juice added. This beer was great and a nice deflection from the darker beers I’d just had. It arrived almost see through, unfiltered but not overly fizzy. It still had great body for such a pale beer. It reminded me of cloudy lemonade on the nose, the taste was a big hit of lacto and sour lemon, ending on a slightly sweet and sour wheat note. A lot of the Berlinner Weissbiers are so concentrated on the lacto and sourness but you could tell that the complexity of this beer was not accidental. Definitely one I need to revisit and I’m hoping I can arrange a trip to the new Bevertown Brewery as soon as possible. Hopefully it’ll still be on the tap list and I’ll be able to enjoy a pint of it!

After this, time was running out and I started rating my beers, so I’m going to be a little more brief for the rest. Plus I don’t want to bore you with endless beer ratings! Ratings are out of 5…

Green Flash West Coast IPA – Imperial IPA – 4.35 – Pine, Citrus, Golden. Dry finish.

Sierra Nevada Equinox Harvest – Wet Hop IPA – 4.5 – Bubblebum, Subtle citrus, golden colour. Crisp.

Signature Brew Candela Gold – Passionfruit Golden Ale – 4 Loads of Passionfruit, Great Lacing, Citrus. Sweet.

Brewdog / Victory Brewing U-Boat – Imperial Stout – 3.75 Chocolate, Roasty flavours, Coffee. Very dark. Dry finish.

Burning Sky Plateau – Pale Ale – 3.25 – Not my favourite of the festival, Citrus and Grapefruit. Standard American Style Pale Ale.

The Kernel Table Beer (Simcoe, Mosaic) – Table Beer – 4.35 – Complex, Bubblegum well balenced with Citrus, finishes sweet.

Redchurch Brewery Broadway Black – Black IPA – 4 – Liquorice, Citrus, Pine. Black, dry finish.

Howling Hops Rye Gose – Gose – 3.5 – White Wine, Lacto, Very dry.

Weird Beard Sadako – Imperial Russian Stout – 4.5 – Coffee, Very roasty but very sweet finish. Fantastic.

Brew By Numbers 14 | 01 Tripel – Tripel – 4.25 – Belgian Tripel with London hoppy Edge, Bubblegum from the Mosaic hops and loads of sweet malt flavours woven in. Want to try again.

After this I chilled out with a few Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and had a chat to various brewers. The atmosphere at this festival really is second to none, Amazing food, amazing friendly diverse people and last but not least Amazing beer! I also managed to grab a small haul from The Bottle Shop.

I’ll be posting about these beers where I can fit them in! I’m particularly looking forward to Green Flash – Le Freak which is a Belgian IPA.

The festival really was a great day out and I’ll be attending in the future every year, roll on the next!