IPA – English: Brixton Electric IPA

This week’s beer is a great chance to show off one of London’s less-known breweries and to thank Alex from The House Of Belgium for my new Indestructible Duvel Glass made from Eastman Plastic. More on his awesome shop and website soon! When I first tried a Brixton Brewery beer it had all the great flavours of a Pale Ale, but there was just a strange taste lingering. Since then, Brixton Brewery have really stepped up their Quality Control and their Beer can most definitely compete with the other Bigger London Breweries! That’s why I was excited to review this one, as at the moment it’s my favourite offering from them.

Let’s start with Brixton‘s description of the beer:

Inspired by Electric Avenue, the beating heart of Brixton and made with New World hops, our full-bodied IPA is packed with energy and attitude. Electric perfectly balances malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness, with a floral, citrus and tropical fruit hit.

I like this description, the fact that their local area has inspired their beer is always a huge positive point. Craft Beer wouldn’t be the boom that it is without the respective breweries local areas spreading the word. Although there’s suggestions on the flavour, it’s short and sweet and there’s still an element of you working it out yourself.

As this one’s an IPA, let’s start with the hops! This one has Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo making for that Classic American IPA Hop Bill. As for the Malts, I think Brixton have got a little creative with 2-Row, Munich, Crystal but with a twist of a touch of Biscuit and Pale Chocolate malts. I’m pretty sure that this one is Dry-Hopped with Amarillo due to the flavour profile I picked up. But it could be a mixture of Amarillo and Cascade. Fermented with a nice, clean yeast like Wyeast 1450.

When you pour this beer, it’s an Amber/Orange colour with a Medium White Fluffy head. The head retention on this one is great, especially for an unfiltered, unfined beer! Once it dissipates slightly, you’ll notice the sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. The head remains throughout drinking. On the nose there’s a big Citrus and Tropical fruit hit with some Pine and Caramel/Bread notes in the background. The Aroma on this one has been done really well! When you first taste this beer, you get a huge Orange Peel Citrus note, then the Grapefruit and Tropical fruit flavours come after. There’s a nice Bready malt backbone backing this one up throughout, which is always welcomed! The beer is Medium-Bodied with High Carbonation and finishes quite dry. This one is a definite for the summer, and at 6.5% it’s most probably one you can session during those sunny BBQ’s!

You can buy Electric IPA at Brixton’s Online Shop

EST. CALORIES: 195   ABV: 6.5%

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Berliner Weisse – English: Buxton Red Raspberry Rye

This Friday’s beer is another Sour, this time made in England by one of my favourite brewers – Buxton. Whilst Wednesday’s beer was a Lambic, this one’s a Berliner Weisse which is one of my favourite styles. It’s also brewed with Rye as one of the fermentables. I originally had this beer on my trip to Buxton, but I enjoyed it so much I purchased a few bottles the next day.

Let’s start with Buxton‘s Description of the beer:

Red Raspberry Rye is a tart Berliner weisse style beer brewed with whole raspberries. This sour fruit beer contains barley, wheat, rye, hops, yeast and raspberries. It contains 100g raspberries per liter. It is soured naturally in the copper for 4 days before boiling.

A very matter of fact description from Buxton, which they are known for. The first time I saw the description it made me really want to try the beer, but it didn’t tell me how it should taste and it didn’t try to “stick it to the man” in big beer. That’s why although clearly from Videos, the Buxton Staff are lively it’s clear when it comes to beer they always concentrate 100% on it.

Let’s start with the malt and mashing process first, the malt in this beer is Pilsen 2-Row malt, with Rye and White Wheat as fermentables. Once mashed in, this is cooled and stored for 4 days to sour the mash. The hops in this beer are hard to determine, but I think Hallertau have been used. Fuggles or similar could just as easily be used in this brew, as this beer is not meant to be hop forward. After this, it’s fermented with quite a clean yeast and during secondary fermentation raspberries are added for 10 days.

This beer pours a deep Red, almost Ruby colour with a quickly dissipating fizzy head leaving no lacing. Usually wheat is great for Head Retention, but in this beer, probably due to the Sugar from the Raspberries. On the nose there’s lots of Sour, almost Fruit Pastille like Raspberry, some Lacto and an underlying Rye Toastyness. This couldn’t smell any different to a Lambic with the same fruit! The taste lived up to the great nose, lots of Sour, Jam like Tart Raspberry, ending with some delicious toasty Rye notes lingering on the Palate. The beer is medium to high carbonated, quite full bodied and finishes medium sweet. I thought that was a beer that was incredibly balanced and I really do recommend it. Make these warmer Spring days that are bound to be few and far between good.

You can buy Red Raspberry Rye in the UK at:

All in stock at time of writing.

Beer Ritz

Mother Kelly’s

Beer Gonzo

EST. CALORIES: 147   ABV: 4.9%

Fruit Beer – English: Samuel Smiths Organic Cherry Fruit Beer

Samuel Smith's Organic Cherry Beer

This Friday’s beer is a little different compared to a lot of beers I’ve featured, but definitely deserves a mention! This Friday’s beer is the Organic Cherry Fruit Beer, brewed by Samuel Smiths. The Brewery was founded in 1758 in Tadcaster, near Leeds and remains independent to this day. Rare these days!

Let’s start with Samuel Smiths description of the beer:

Handcrafted at the tiny All Saints Brewery set in a time warp in Stamford using the old manually operated brewing equipment. Finest organically grown barley and wheat are used to create a  complex ale which, having undergone primary and secondary fermentation with different yeasts and extended maturation, is taken to Samuel Smith’s small, independent British brewery at Tadcaster. There it is blended with pure organic cherry fruit juices and more organic beer to create fruit beers of considerable strength and flavour. The smooth distinctive character of the matured beer serves as the perfect counterpoint to the pure organic fruit juice.

Quite a humble description really, I feel like there’s a little too much emphasis on the fact it’s a Small, Manual, Independent Brewery. Although John Smith of John Smith’s Big UK Beer fame once owned Samuel Smith’s I always either get a “who’s that” or “ah yeah Samuel Smiths! Small brewery up North!” so it’s a shame they think their reputation has to be broadcasted.

The recipe is a little tough for this one, as it’s a blended beer. I’m pretty sure the beers that are blended are near identical in recipe, however. After a little research and taste testing, my take on the brew is as follows: Malt Bill: Munich Malt, Pale Malt and Malted Wheat. Fuggles and Bodicea Hops. This is then aged on Cherries for 30 Days during secondary fermentation and blended with some of the original brew, a little like a Kriek.

When you pour this beer, it’s a deep Red with an off-Pink, almost White head. It sticks around for a little while and then fades into a ring around the glass, leaving no lacing. The fact this beer has been aged on Fruit for 30 days makes this not much of a surprise! On the nose, there’s a big Sweet and Sour Cherry aroma, with some bready yeast/malt notes and some big Sugary Cherries in the background. When you taste this beer, it’s much the same, a big Sweet and Sour Cherry hit with Red Berries, some funky Wheat notes and an almost Champagne-like Tartness. The beer is quite full bodied with medium carbonation, starts sweet and finishes tart and dry. I think this is the closest thing to a UK Kriek! Although this is a year round beer in my books, it’s always nice to have something different during the winter to break up the dark beers and I seriously recommend trying this one. The beer is also 100% Vegan, which is a nice touch when there’s so many beers that aren’t.

You can buy Samuel Smith’s Organic Cherry Wheat Beer online in the UK at:

Beers Of Europe

Fraizer’s Wine

Amazon

Beer Ritz

Beer Gonzo

Everywhere above is In Stock at the time of writing. You can also buy a case of 24 here.

EST. CALORIES: 153   ABV: 5.1%

Stout – English/American: Buxton/Arizona Wilderness Brewing Dragon Tips

This slightly late Mid-Week beer is a collaboration of one of my favorite breweries, Buxton Brewery and one of the best New Breweries – Arizona Wilderness Brewing. A Stout brewed with Maple, Bacon and Chipotle Chilli Peppers. What a mix! When I visited Buxton last year, I knew I had to get a couple of bottles.

Let’s start with the description of the beer:

A stout brewed with maple syrup and chipotle. Dry-baconed during fermentation with actual bacon.

Collaboration between Buxton Brewery and Arizona Wilderness.

Such a no nonsense description – and not much to say about it! I really love the phrase “dry-baconed” (as opposed to Dry-Hopping) and I wish it was something I could use in regular conversation, but it wouldn’t make any sense. I like how Buxton‘s descriptions never go on and let the drinker decide how the beer tastes. Always a plus in my book!

I did a bit of research into this one, as Buxton‘s Recipes for their special releases are always difficult to find. The malts in this brew are Crisp Maris Otter, 2-Row, Chocolate, Malted Wheat, Aromatic Barley Malt, Black Barley. Maple Syrup is also then added as a fermentable during the mashing process. After this, the Hops are added: Willamette, Fuggles, Millennium and Hersbrucker. After this, the Chipotle Peppers and Bacon are added during fermantation and before bottling, a little maple syrup is added to the bottle for good measure.

When you pour this beer it pours black, almost like a Porter with a very large Tan Coloured head (my thinking for the Wheat in the beer!) The head sticks around for a long while after finally dissipating, leaving a thin head and some lacing rings on the sides of the glass. On the Aroma, there’s some Roasty notes to begin with followed by a touch of Coffee, rapidly moving on to Earthy notes from the Hops used and the Chilli Peppers. There’s a little bit of Bacon smoke in the background too, just to let you know it’s there! When you taste this beer, it starts like the aroma with a kick of Roasty Notes on the palate, quickly followed by toffee and a little bit of chocolate. After this, there’s some sharp flavour from the Chilli peppers with a little bit of heat that carries through the rest of the flavour, which finishes with smoke from the Bacon and Maple Syrup. The beer is unusually thin for a Stout, but it more than makes up for it being so easy to drink and smooth. Medium Carbonation. All in all an interesting idea and a great brew.

You can buy Buxton / Arizona Wilderness Dragon Tips in the UK at:

Bottle Bank

Eebria

Both places are in stock at the time of writing.

EST. CALORIES: 249   ABV: 8.3%

Barrel Aged IPA – English: Siren Whiskey Sour

This Friday, something completely different to the beer on Wednesday.

This beer starts life as the fantastic Mikkeller, Siren Craft Brew, Hill Farmstead Brewery Limoncello IPA and is then aged in Bourbon Barrels. More on that later! This beer’s a little stronger at 10.2% and is a great brew to warm you up during those cold evening, even though it’s not a dark one!

Let’s start with Siren’s Description:

The crazy invention that is Limoncello IPA, the collaboration between Siren, Hill Farmstead & Mikkeller, has been aging in bourbon barrels.  The infusion of the oak and bourbon has added huge layers of complexity and hits the spot as a Whiskey Sour.  Slice of orange and a cherry anyone?

I quite like the description of this one. Not as in depth as a lot of other Siren Brews, and also not as nautical themed. I think it’s quite qwerky, assumes you’ve tried the Limoncello IPA and tells you about what they’ve done to it and what you should expect. Quite a good description here, to the point and not too over the top, gimmiky or arrogant!

The recipe for this beer is much the same as the Limoncello IPA, Pale Ale malt and some Malted Wheat to help the sourness of the brew. A sour mash is then added to aid the sour tartnessCitra and Sorachi-Ace. A very well informed hop choice, as Sorachi-Ace is a hop that injects tonnes of Lemon aroma and flavour into the brew, whilst Citra is a crazy fruity hop that will help with the Citric Acid tones in the brew but also add some delicate Gooseberry and Lychee smoothness to the beer. After this, a bucket full of lemon zest and juice is added for good measure. It’s then aged in Buffalo Trace Barrels to impart the bourbon flavours.

When you pour this beer, it’s not as fizzy as the original. The barrel aging has mellowed the carbonation meaning there’s no head. It pours an amber colour with bubbles resting on the bottom of the glass. It really does does look like it could be a cocktail, and it’s a similar colour to a Whiskey Sour. On the nose of this beer, you get tonnes of bitter Lemon and bitter Orange, after this there’s lotes of Bourbon notes to remind you it’s been Barrel Aged. What an inviting smelling beer, and so close to an actual Whiskey Sour! The aroma brought me back to a classy Cocktail bar in Cambridge and I couldn’t wait to take a sip. When you taste this beer, it starts with sour Lemon and a little bit of Glacé Cherry in there too, so far so good as far as it being like the cocktail! After this you get a huge hit of Bourbon and then some Bitter Orange on the finish. The mouthfeel is very smooth (like a well mixed cocktail!), crisp, clean with a dry, bitter finish. This really is a fantastic beer despite some untoward reviews and definitely something to keep you warm in the winter!

You can buy Whiskey Sour at:

Chester Beer and Wine (IN STOCK at time of writing)

For any bars/shops wanting to stock this, contact Siren Craft Brew Directly.

EST. CALORIES: 306   ABV: 10.2%

Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout – English: Magic Rock Bourbon Barrel Bearded Lady 2014

This week, a beer that is unfortunately a little harder to get. Magic Rock‘s Bearded Lady aged in Bourbon Barrels for 180 Days. The particular one I’m reviewing is the 2014 release.

Let’s start with Magic Rock‘s description of the beer:

180 day aged Bourbon Barrel version of Bearded Lady Imperial Brown Stout…. Say hello to the Bearded Lady, our uncompromisingly big and beautiful Imperial Stout. Born from our Dark Arts recipe she uses masses of magical malts to deliver deep chocolate, rich coffee and vinous berry flavours all complemented by a balanced yet subtly spicy hop profile. Powerful, robust, intriguing; yet decadently smooth and sumptuous, the lady demands respect…

A great description of this beer, as I really do think it’s something special. A bold description from Magic Rock though, and you can tell it’s something they are very passionate and confident about. There’s also a lot to expect from this beer and you expect it to be extremely decadent and complex.

As I see this stout as a serious contender with Goose Island’s Bourbon County stout, I think the recipe is similar but with some extra specialty malts added in. Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Munton’s Dark LME, Caramalt, Chocolate Malt, Black Malt, Roasted Barley, Caramel Malt and finally some Crystal Malt. As for the hops, I think Kent Goldings and Cascade hops are used to keep it spicy but also a little fruity too. This is then placed in Oak Bourbon Barrels for 180 days (10 months) to mature during secondary fermentation.

When you pour this beer, it pours completely black and no light can pass through. It has a thin Tan/Beige Head which leaves a little bit of lacing sticking to the sides of the glass, after a while this disappears and does not return. The nose is one of the things that makes this beer absolutely incredible, loads of Dark Fruits, Chocolate and loads of Bourbon Notes. It makes you wanna get on and drink this beer, but believe me it’s a slow burner and something that you’ll appreciate so much more sipping. The taste of this beer is very complex, it starts with a flavour very similar to Belgian Chocolate Truffles, moving on to Dark Fruits, Hop Spicyness, Vanilla Pods from the Oak Aging moving on to bitter Dark Chocolate and finally Bourbon. It’s not very carbonated, but I feel it adds to the great feel of the beer. This really is a beer to keep you warm on the cold evenings when the temperatures reach around 0 and something I recommend highly!

Unfortunately, the Bourbon Barrel Bearded Lady for this year has sold out, but check Magic Rock’s Website around August next year for 2015’s release! If you can’t wait until then, The Liquor Shop has the non-Bourbon Barrel aged version in Stock at time of Writing!

EST. CALORIES: 315   ABV: 10.5%

Imperial IPA – Collaboration: Danish: Mikkeller, English: Siren Craft Brew, American: Hill Farmstead Brewery: Limoncello IPA

I’m going to finish August off with this awesome collaboration brew from 3 great breweries – Siren Craft BrewMikkeller and Hill Farmstead Brewery.  This is an Imperial IPA brewed to mimic Limoncello, honestly an extremely refreshing beer and something I’d never had before until a few weeks back. After tasting it, I knew I had to put it on the blog.

Although this is definitely a summer brew, it’s something you can drink on the colder days to help keep you warm too due to the 9.1% ABV!

Let’s start with Siren’s decription of the beer:

This is a truly different beer. The concept was to develop the flavour and mouthfeel of Limoncello and fuse with the carbonation and lemony hop hit of an IPA. Using pale and wheat malts, the base beer goes through a 24 hour sour process to add to the tartness of the beer. Tons of lemon zest and juice are added to the boil along with all the citrusy lemony hops available.

A very informative, short but sweet description of the beer by Siren. So we’re expecting a nice tart flavoured beer with underlying hop tones and sweetness. Sounds incredible even from the description and very interesting indeed!

After doing a little bit of research (didn’t have to go far!) I found out that this beer uses Pale Ale malt and some Malted Wheat. Wheat usually goes well with a tart tasing beer, and will also help the head creation and retention on a brew with this much ABV! This is then made into a sour mash to aid the tartness. The hops used in this are interesting, Citra and Sorachi-Ace. A very well informed hop choice, as Sorachi-Ace is a hop that injects tonnes of Lemon aroma and flavour into the brew, whilst Citra is a crazy fruity hop that will help with the Citric Acid tones in the brew but also add some delicate Gooseberry and Lychee smoothness to the beer. After this, a bucket full of lemon zest and juice is added for good measure and some Lacto or Lactic-Acid to help with the tart flavour of this brew. I think all in all, this is a great attempt at trying to mimic Limoncello in beer form!

When you pour this beer, you’ll notice the awesome hazy-amber colour of the beer and the big white head forming. It really does take a few pours to get this all into a glass, and rightly so (after all that wheat!) The head dissipates quite quickly after sitting for a while, there is some sedimant in the beer but I think this is due to the lemon zest as it does not seem to have the typical hazy yeast appearance. When you finally get to smell the beer after it settles down, you get a big hit of Lemon Juice and fresh citrus with some citrus hop aromas and some lacto coming through. It smells a bit like freshly squeezed lemonade! Now comes the taste, if you think this is going to be similar to shandy or a lager top you will be disappointed. I was plesantly surpirsed, this beer really is something different. You get a massive hit of clean lemon flavours which then desends into a sour bite. The lemon definitely has the front seat in this beer and the sourness comes after which is a pleasent surpirse. I noticed some lychee and a little bit of freshly cut grass on the tail end. This is a truely different flavour but works out to be extremely refreshing. Obviously you can’t have too many of these due to the percentage, but this beer works well in the sun and after a hot, sweaty days work (or gym session!). It finishes quite dry and sour but with a crispness from the lemon which is second to none. 

Overall, this is a great beer and truely different and surprising compared to other IPAs that have fruit added.

You can purchase Limoncello IPA in the UK at:

Eebria

The Grumpy Goat

And at Brewdog bars and Bottledog Kings Cross.

There may well be some other places too, check google!

For any bars/shops wanting to stock this, contact Siren Craft Brew Directly

EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9.1%