At relatively short notice, my partner’s dad was coming to visit us! Following this impromptu news, there were two obligatory chores:
- Help with the routine domestic tidying
- Buy beers and get them chilled
Not long after I first decided to find new craft brews and track my favourites, I introduced the concept to my partner’s father. He’s always enjoyed a clean, crisp Italian lager, but since introducing him to ‘Untappd’, he has been as keen as me to sample varieties from far and wide. As a matter of fact, he has recently bought a new beer toy… I’m going to be testing it out next month, so I won’t give anything away just yet – keep an eye out for future posts!
I really enjoy “tasting sessions” in which you get together with other people and split each beer between you to compare a larger variety at once. It’s great to have an evening with so many diverse brews and there is something special about sharing a beer between everyone and hearing the different opinions.
Having completed the airport run and returning back home, it was time to open the beer fridge.
- Brewery: Eden Mill
- Brewery Location: St Andrews, Scotland
- Type of Beer: IPA
- ABV: 6.2%
- Brewery Fact: Situated at the home of golf, St Andrews, the independent drinks maker is on a site owned by the University of St Andrews. It is also Scotland’s first combined brewery and distillery – making craft beer, gin and whisky!
- Colour: A deep amber beer, with little-to-no head.
- Scent: Typical IPA scents, with a touch of bitterness and slight tropical notes
- Tasting Comments: The scents came through in tasting too. It had a nice sweetness to it from tropical fruits, which then gave way to a mellowed bitterness. Not overtly bold in any feature though.
- Rating: 3.25/5. Shipwreck IPA is a nice all-round beer containing sweetness, bitterness and a smooth feel. A great beer to start the night and it went down well across the table!
- Brewery: St Austell Brewery
- Brewery Location: Cornwall, England
- Type of Beer: IPA
- ABV: 5.5%
- Brewery Fact: Having been founded in 1851, with over 150 years of history, there is a counter on their site ever increasing with each and every pint produced!
- Colour: Pale amber.
- Scent: Floral aromas arise from the thin layer of white head settled around the outer aspect of the glass.
- Tasting Comments: Orange peel comes through and compliments the strong floral flavour, but not in a perfume-manner. It finishes with a dry bitterness that clears the palate, making you ready for the next mouthful. As it comes in a 500ml bottle, we all got a nice portion.
- Rating: 3.0/5. A consistent rating across the board and if I saw it on draught when in a pub, I’d have it again. A further IPA to add to my collection. Interestingly the cask version is slightly weaker at 4.5% ABV.
- Brewery: Innis & Gunn
- Brewery Location: Perthshire, Scotland
- Type of Beer: Ale
- ABV: 6.6%
- Brewery Fact: This beer came around as an accident! Initially, when producing bourbon, they first filled the barrels with beer in order to provide malty flavours and a sweetness from the sugars to the bourbon. Once used, the beer was going to be discarded so that the vessels could then be used for aging spirits; however, the beer was sampled and was found to be pretty damn good!
- Colour: Deep oak brown, not too dissimilar from the bottle.
- Scent: Despite looking at what should smell like a bitter beer, a surprising sweetness arose from the 1 cm white head.
- Tasting Comments: I have previously avoided bourbon-barrel beer. With connotations of whisky (of which I am not a fan), I’ve steered away and remained faithful to my IPAs and pale ale varieties. This brew completely took me by surprise – with a sweetness from toffee and vanilla contrasting with the bitterness, to create a deep and warming beer with a nice, strong finish.
- Rating: 3.5/5. I’m going to be keeping my eye out for more of this style – a great flavour that satisfied my sweet-tooth.
Guinness Rye Pale Ale
- Brewery: Guinness
- Brewery Location: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
- Type of Beer: Rye pale ale
- ABV: 5%
- Brewery Fact: A name as big as it gets in the beer industry, with the characteristic design of the harp standing so proud on their iconic stout. I absolutely love the advert of the company “In 1759 (on December 31st) a 9000-year lease was signed. We have a lot more beer to make”. This beer was created as a holiday gift for staff members – it went down so well that it became a beer added to Guinness’ regular line-up!
- Colour: A deep ale, just a touch lighter than the bottle, topped with the largest foam top of the night.
- Scent: Bitterness and a touch of rye.
- Tasting Comments: I’ve started to become fond of rye in beer. It gives a slightly spicier note to the beer – when paired with sweetness from grapefruit and citrus from some of my current favourite cascade hops, this creates a lovely, well-balanced beer.
- Rating: 3.25/5, 9000 year lease? I’m not going to be here for all of it, but I’m going to enjoy as many of the varieties as I can!
That wasn’t a bad haul for one night and collectively, there had been very positive thoughts on all the beers across the board.
More beers to try; the main difference about this evening was that we started earlier!
- Brewery: BrewDog
- Brewery Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
- Type of Beer: Red Rye IPA
- ABV: 5.2%
- Brewery Fact: Ever wondered why it was called BrewDog? The reason behind their name is that the two founders, who were only 24 at the time, had a pet called ‘Bracken’ (the original “Brew-Dog”). He was with them throughout the first 5 years as BrewDog grew from strength to strength.
- Colour: Deep red, with little head that quickly dissipated to the wall of the glass.
- Scent: Toffee primarily.
- Tasting Comments: Rye has been very successful this week! Initially it is very sweet, with toffee and caramel hitting you first. This paves way to a very complex, deep and mysterious bitter flavour that I can’t put into words.
- Rating: 3.5/5. A great seasonal beer that you need to pick up on your next shop – or if you’re in one of their bars, get a pint!
Crossing The Rubicon
- Brewery: Drygate Brewing
- Brewery Location: Glasgow, Scotland
- Type of Beer: IPA
- ABV: 6.9%
- Brewery Fact: The only microbrewery operating in the heart of Glasgow.
- Colour: Light amber, with a bold 1cm white foam head.
- Scent: Caramel dominates.
- Tasting Comments: Before you even get the caramel on the nose, you can’t help but stare at the bright and buzzing design of the can. It certainly jumps off the supermarket shelf. This west coast IPA brings tropical notes in cautiously, much less than previous west coast pale ales I’ve tried. Bitterness comes through at the end, as is so typical with a pale ale.
- Rating: 2.25/5. A nice beer, but I’ve had better from Drygate, so I’ll be sticking to some of their other beers.
Lawless Village IPA
- Brewery: The Bellfield Brewery
- Brewery Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
- Type of Beer: IPA (gluten free)
- ABV: 4.5%
- Fact about the Brewery: This is the only brewery in the UK that only produces gluten free beer!
- Colour: Copper.
- Scent: Limited scents coming off the beer.
- Tasting Comments: It’s a nice IPA, with a pleasant sweetness to it that others often lack. No overwhelming or predominant flavours though. Nonetheless, when compared to other gluten free beers that I’ve tried, this is one of the best I’ve had.
- Rating: 2.75/5. Really good for a gluten-free IPA, but I think I’ll keep sampling gluten-containing beers… For the purposes of you followers only, of course!
Hitachino Nest White Ale
- Brewery: Kiuchi Brewery
- Brewery Location: Naka-shi Ibaraki, Japan
- Type of Beer: White ale
- ABV: 5.5%
- Brewery Fact: Kiuchi was founded in 1823 and the remaining rice stocks from the land on which it formed were used in the brewing process. This beer has gained popularity over recent years and is now sold in over 30 countries worldwide!
- Colour: Pale, pearly lemon.
- Scent: Lots of spice with nutmeg and orange coming from it.
- Tasting Comments: A very nice white ale. Whilst taking my first sip, I hear the rain bashing on the windows. This beer felt comforting, with a warming spice to it, giving it almost a festive-feel. I really enjoyed the contrasting heat from the nutmeg against the otherwise cool liquid, with a good hit of orange taking this to the next level. Inspired by Belgian beers, which are arguably some of the best in the world, I can see correlations within this and would definitely have it again – primarily in the winter months though.
- Rating: 3.5/5. A nice warming beer on a dreary night, with a satisfying mix of bitterness and spice.
Brooklyn East IPA
- Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
- Brewery Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
- Type of beer: IPA
- Brewery Fact: Located in Brooklyn, famous for its artistic culture, the founder (Steve Hindy) decided to stray away from typical beer promoting… He went to local theatres, museums and art displays and donated beer for the following reasons;
- To introduce the beer to new audiences
- To give a special touch to local events and reward people for their hard work!
- Colour: Bright amber, not too dissimilar from the can! A nice thin even white foam head layered across the top of the beer.
- Scent: Bright and vibrant, with some pine.
- Tasting Comments: An absolutely wonderful mix of flavours. A good hit of bitterness that is typical from an IPA, sweetness from stone fruits and lots of hops. I’ve grown accustomed to west coast IPAs recently, so I was excited about trying a beer from the other side of the States. Having had Brooklyn lager before, I was expecting good things from Brooklyn Brewery and I’m pleased to say they delivered. It is a well-balanced, bold, strong-flavoured beer.
- Rating: 3.75/5. A wonderfully well-rounded beer that mixes bitterness and sweetness well. I have another couple of Brooklyn beers in my fridge and I am already looking forward to my next one!
Stone Go To IPA
- Brewery: Stone Brewing
- Brewery Location: Escondido, California
- Type of Beer: IPA
- ABV: 4.5%
- Brewery Fact: Stone Brewing is the 10th largest craft brewer in the US, formed by two people with life paths that just kept crossing! Take a look at their history here. Stone have been incredibly generous and have raised over $3million for charitable causes since opening, including donating over $650,000 worth of beer in 2013 alone.
- Colour: Light amber, with a strong 2cm white head foam, dipping slightly in the centre.
- Scent: A multitude of tropical notes.
- Tasting Comments: It is very similar to some of Stone’s other IPAs I’ve been lucky enough to have. I really enjoyed this – following an initial burst of tropical flavours, the bitterness comes through and cleanses the mouth.
- Rating: 3.75/5. Very similar to Brooklyn East IPA and a worthy regular in any beer-lovers fridge. Despite my positivity, I still have a preference of Stone IPA beer playoffs (scroll to round 6) (6.9% ABV), which is very similar in flavour, but has the added benefit of “yeah! You’re drinking some great, strong beer!”
So there we have it. A great line up of beers that were an overall success. Not bad for a midweek session! If you want to sample a lot of beers over a short period of time, create your own ‘session’; get some fellow beer-lovers, each buy a few cans/bottles and have a lot of glasses ready…
Let me know what your next beers are! I’m always on the lookout for some new and wonderful brews.