One woman's ale journey

A beery boozy journey with delightful snacks along the way and a book in my hand.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Three Kings Silver Darling

I absolutely love the funky brown paper bag packaging of Silver Darling from local Tyneside brewery Three Kings; it's so fresh and unusual but, as with most things, it's what's inside that counts.

As I couldn't see inside the bottle, I poured this bottle conditioned pale ale slowly just in case there was any sediment and it came out surprisingly crystal clear.  It's a lovely deep golden yellow colour with a bright white frothy head that doesn't budge due to the lava lamp style bubbles constantly rushing to the surface.  The head is very robust and doesn't so much lace as clump because it's so thick; it lasts right to the very last drop and beyond, as evidenced by the clump of foam that was left in the bottom of my glass when I finished.

It's a pale ale so there's an unsurprising aroma of citrus but I could also smell sweet biscuit and some delicious malt.  I braced myself for a citrus explosion as I took my first sip but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there's just the right amount of hops to take the edge off the citrus flavour.  It has a strong bitter aftertaste of grapefruit mixed with sweet fruit and the abundance of harshly carbonated bubbles felt like they were doing the tango on my tongue.

Refreshing and strong, I really enjoyed Silver Darling; drinking it reminded me of sitting on the banks of the Tyne in the sunshine and I have no doubt that Ale Be Seeing You again.

Brewed by Three Kings Brewery, North Shields
5.6% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Three Kings Brewery

Monday, 30 March 2020

Otter Bitter

Otter Bitter is a beautiful light amber traditional looking bitter with a small, loose off-white head.  I was a bit disappointed that the head disappeared so quickly giving the beer a flat appearance but what it lacks in appearance, it certainly makes up in the aroma and flavour.

There's a mouth-watering aroma of malt and fruit, particularly juicy ripe apples, with a slight metallic tang as you would expect from a bitter.  It's quite light at 3.6% so I wasn't surprised to find that the initial flavour is not overly strong, but I tasted toffee and biscuit followed by a slight bitter aftertaste.  Although the taste is quite subtle at first it seems to develop with every mouthful and the delicious bitterness really takes over.

It's a beautifully smooth bitter; medium bodied with soft carbonation which somehow manages to produce a sherbet-like fizz on the tongue.  I found myself enjoying it more and more and was quite disappointed to drink the final drop, especially when I'd only bought the one bottle.

Otter Bitter is a very pleasant traditional English bitter and Ale Be Seeing You again!

Brewed by Otter Brewery, Devon
3.6% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Otter Brewery

Monday, 23 March 2020

Brains Spill the Beans

Time to visit the dark side with a coffee porter brewed for Aldi by Welsh brewery, Brains.  Now this definitely gets full marks for appearance.  What a thing of beauty!  Dark and delicious this a dark brown ale with a thick, tight beige coloured head.

The first thing I noticed about the aroma was the distinct lack of coffee smell; instead I got hints of lovely sweet malt, treacle and chocolate.  I do sometimes find coffee aroma rather off-putting in a beer so this got a big thumbs up for me, although I was slightly concerned that Spill the Beans wasn't going to live up to its name.

I needn't have worried and I should've known that the fabulous guys and gals at Brains would come up trumps!  The first sip results in a delightful mix of dark malt and sweet chocolate exploding in the mouth followed by the most amazing aftertaste of coffee.  Now this is really difficult to get right as we all know that coffee and chocolate can be very bitter, especially when they appear together.  Somehow, this isn't bitter at all; it's sweet rather than bitter but there's no doubt that the coffee flavour is there.

Softly carbonated and very full bodied, Spill the Beans in much nicer than I imagined.  I bought it as a bit of a gimmick and also I was swayed by a bargain as it was less than £1, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  The coffee taste is simultaneously subtle enough to not be overpowering but strong enough to remind you that it is there.  It's an outstanding porter and one Ale Be Seeing Again.

Brewed by Brains, Cardiff
4.4% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Brains Brewery

Monday, 16 March 2020

Adnams Triple Knot

Having tried quite a few Adnams ales, I was really looking forward to trying this one.  Just look at the beautiful bottle with the old fashioned bottle stopper; full marks to Adnams for presentation.  Unfortunately, that's the only full marks I was able to give them.

The beautiful golden colour is slightly let down by the very thin white head that disappears in the blink of an eye.  Now I know that beauty isn't only skin deep so I moved in for a sniff and oh my goodness, it smelled like I had poured a fruit liqueur over some fermented fruit.  I was almost afraid to taste it, but needs must!

No no no, this isn't beer is it?  With flavours of fruit and honey it reminded me of the sweet wines you taste when you go on the excursions to vineyards in Spain.  Sickly sweet, intensely fruity and extremely low in carbonation, it tasted more like a Madeira wine than a beer to me.

Far too odd for my taste and unfortunately one Ale NOT Be Seeing Again.  Adnams have got so much right with their core ales like Broadside, Southwold and Ghost Ship but they got so much wrong with this Triple Knot.  Of course, it wasn't completely undrinkable and I've never left a beer unfinished yet, but it's a bit of a Marmite beer and I'm not in the 'Love It' camp.

Brewed by Adnams, Suffolk
10% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Adnams Brewery

Monday, 9 March 2020

Madness Absolutely

I didn't realise when I bought it that like Iron Maiden, the group Madness have put their name to a selection of beers brewed initially by Portobello Brewery but now produced by The Great Yorkshire Brewery.  I actually picked this one up as the label caught my eye and I like to lighten my drinking of dark and ruby ales with a pale ale now and again.

This pours a beautiful clear golden yellow colour with a tight off-white head that doesn't budge even a millimetre.  Along with a whiff of hops, it has a very citrus and tropical aroma that made me think of pineapples and lemons.

Rather thin bodied and softly carbonated, the initial flavour of straw, biscuit and hops gives way to a bitter citrus aftertaste.  It all makes for a very crisp, dry and refreshing beer with just the right amount of citrus for me.

Very easy to drink, it leaves amazing lacing on the glass and it's rare for me to say it about a pale ale but I would be happy to have it again.

Brewed by The Great Yorkshire Brewery, North Yorkshire
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at The Great Yorkshire Brewery

Monday, 2 March 2020

Michelob Ultra

Although I rarely drink it, sometimes it's nice to have a lager; especially if the sun is shining and you want something thirst-quenching and quaffable.  I think it's really good that some breweries are promoting health and wellbeing by producing a range of low carb, low calorie, gluten-free, low alcohol and alcohol free beers.

Michelob Ultra is billed as a superior light beer and targeted at people who want to keep fit but still want to enjoy a beer, without feeling guilty about the number of calories they are consuming.  I'm not sure about the keep fit thing for me but limiting my calories is something I'm keen to do, however, I love beer so much that I really don't want to compromise on taste.

So very pale it appears anaemic, Michelob Ultra looks a bit sorry for itself in the glass.  It's a very very very pale yellow with a rapidly disappearing loose white head.  I had to take the photo as quickly as possible as it gets a very headless flat appearance within a few seconds of pouring.

The aroma is equally uninspiring, but then again you don't expect much from a lager.  It has a very weak smell of hops and maybe a hint of sweet honey.  Unfortunately, the taste test continued the disappointing theme.  It really just tastes like beer flavoured fizzy water, although it is clean and refreshing to drink. 

I have to give them full marks for creating and marketing Michelob Ultra but it's a very uninspiring tasteless experience; I'd rather forego the 3.5% ABV and have an alcohol free Becks Blue or a glass of fizzy water.

Brewed by AB Inbev (Anheuser-Busch), USA
3.5% ABV

My rating:

Monday, 24 February 2020

La Trappe Quadrupel

Now this is what a lovely ale looks like!  After a careful pour, as there's quite a bit of sediment, La Trappe Quadrupel is a delicious ruby amber colour with a beige frothy head that disappears quickly to leave a thin foam layer.  The aroma of malt, treacle, liquorice and dark fruits is positively mouthwatering and I couldn't wait to have a sip.

What an amazing taste!  It's like treacle toffee melted and drizzled onto a fruity malt loaf.  The complex taste lingers and changes in your mouth to reveal hints of burnt toffee, liquorice and banana dipped in brown sugar.  It's quite harshly carbonated and very fizzy but at 10% ABV it's not a beer that you want to drink quickly.  

I can't rate it highly enough and I'm definitely adding it to my favourites list.  It's an amazing taste experience with dark treacle oozing out of each mouthful, making me want to equally guzzle it and savour it.  It's probably just as well it came in a 330ml bottle as it's so very moreish that I'd easily get sozzled on this one!

La Trappe Quadrupel is as near to perfect as you'll ever get, so it's no surprise that Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by De Koningshoeven Brewery, Holland
10% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at De Koningshoeven Brewery