One woman's ale journey

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

Sunday, 12 November 2017

La Trappe Dubbel

As with all trappist ales, this one burst out of the bottle and I found it quite difficult to keep the head under control whilst pouring.  The frothy beige head does settle to a more manageable tight thick layer after a while.  This dark brown ale has a beautiful ruby glow and you can buy this for around £2.69 at Beer Hawk, so it's quite a reasonable price for a trappist ale.

The caramel malt smells amazing; it oozes treacly sweetness with a slightly sour nose.  First sip is one to savour as the sweetness of the malts give way to a slightly metallic bitter aftertaste.  The overall impression is one of a succulent malt loaf sprinkled with brown sugar as I could taste dark fruits baked in a mouthwatering loaf.  Despite the evident carbonation resulting in the huge initial head, it feels very smooth and would be quite easy to drink quickly but for the high alcohol content.

It's one of those beers that results in you licking your lips long after you've finished it to make sure that you savour every last drop.  Those monks sure knew a thing or two about brewing and Ale definitely Be Seeing this one Again.  

Brewed by De Koningshoeven Brewery, Holland
7% ABV

Pint rating:

Find out more at De Koningshoeven Brewery

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Durham Brewery Bede's Chalice

I've neglected my beer blog of late, so what better way to storm back online than with a 9% Belgian Tripel from my local Durham Brewery.

This is a bottle conditioned beer so I made sure to pour it carefully and managed to get a lovely clear pint, leaving the little bit of sediment in the bottle.  It's a traditional 'beery' coloured ale, being deep golden/light amber with a thin but very very tight off-white head.  The head is so tight that it looks like you've poured a layer of milk on top of your beer - very impressive.

There is quite a complex aroma - at first it just smells of malt and hops but it seems to develop into a smell of fruity peaches with a slightly floral edge as it lies in the glass.  So let's dive in and see what it tastes like.

It tastes exactly as I would expect from an abbey ale with the distinctive sweetness of fermented fruits but with a surprisingly bitter aftertaste.  You can't disguise the high ABV as the strong alcohol content is very apparent in the taste but it doesn't overpower the other flavours, as I've found with some other strong ales.  An added hint of caramel makes it feel initially very smooth until the zingy orange citrus aftertaste tingles your tongue.

A lovely beer for a treat and one Ale Be Seeing Again but I wouldn't have too many or I'd be dancing on the tables...with an empty purse at £4.49 per bottle!

Brewed by Durham Brewery, Durham
9% ABV

Pint rating:

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Consett Ale Works Red Dust

This is one of my old favourites after being introduced to it by a real ale loving ex-boss who used to buy it by the case.  It is named after the red coloured clouds of dust that were formed during the steel making process in the famous Consett Steel Works.

Red Dust is a beautiful deep rich mahogany colour with a frothy beige proper Northern head, although the head does disappear quickly there is enough left to lace the glass.  It smells deliciously fruity on opening with a strong malty aroma which left my mouth watering in anticipation.

Despite the strong aroma, the flavour is not terribly strong but it is absolutely sublime with hints of toffee and biscuit but a definite taste of malt and bittersweet hops.  There is a slight citrus bitter aftertaste that rounds it off nicely.  It is softly carbonated to give a pleasant tickly tongue feeling.

I really like this one, it's easy to drink and not overpowering in flavour; it won't give your tastebuds a work out, it's just a damn fine ruby ale.  Of course, Ale Be Seeing You Again.

Brewed by Consett Ale Works, County Durham
4.5% ABV

My rating:

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Salute Gold Rover

Salute Brewery is a North Eastern brewery which offers job opportunities to ex-servicemen with a passion for beer.  I love their statement that they make beer brewed with military precision and the poppy logo on the label is absolutely spot on.  As a fan of ruby beers, I really wanted to try their Dragmaster ruby bitter but, when it wasn't available, I picked up Gold Rover at the North Shields Christmas Market 2016.

Gold Rover is a beautiful deep golden colour with a thin loose head that disappears very quickly.  I could smell fruit, hops, malt and some delicious sweet golden honeycomb so I couldn't wait to have a sip.  My first taste impression is one of sweet toffee and caramel but with a hint of sourness.  It's definitely not too sweet; like Goldilocks, it's just right.  Despite the appearance in the picture, it's more smooth than fizzy once the initial burst of bubbles dies down.  It does feel rather thin and watery in the mouth, though.

It's a shame the head disappeared so quickly as it's definitely a decent ale.  Perfectly balanced to be slightly more sweet than bitter, I'd really recommend you give this a try.

Say cheers with beers to those guys and gals who selflessly served our country by supporting Salute Brewery.  Ale Be Seeing it Again!

Brewed by Salute Brewery, North Shields
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Shepherd Neame Spitfire Gold

A deep gold fizzy beer with a thin white head giving it the look of a traditional beer.  It smells very strongly of hops, as I've found with all Shepherd Neame ales.  Once my nose got through the strong smell of hops, it is replaced with a fresh pine and tropical fruit aroma.

There is an initial lovey taste of sweet malts but it is quite fizzy which enhances the fruity bitterness that follows.  The aftertaste is creamy rather than bitter which makes it one of the better Shepherd Neame ales.  The head is non-existent after a few minutes which is a shame, but it's very easy to drink and not bad at all for a mass-produced beer.

Definitely one Ale be happy to See Again.

Brewed by Shepherd Neame, Kent
4.3% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Shepherd Neame

Monday, 31 July 2017

Adnams Dry Hopped Lager

A light straw yellow lager with an almost non-existent head.  It has a lovely fruity pineapple aroma and lots of hops.  It tastes so light and refreshing and it's definitely on the dry side - I almost felt as if it needed a squirt of lime to give it a bit of sweetness and some flavour.

It is different from standard lagers, although it feels quite thin and watery in consistency. It has a slightly sour and bitter taste but is so crisp that it's definitely well labelled as 'DRY'.   Despite the lava lamp appearance, it is surprisingly lightly carbonated and would be a perfect thirst quencher on a sunny day, should we ever get one in the North East of England.

Brewed by Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Adnams

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Hogs Back T.E.A.

I can't start my day without a nice cup of tea, so a beer named TEA feels like it was made just for me.  In this case TEA stands for Traditional English Ale, aka bitter.  It's even the beautiful russet/deep amber colour of a good cuppa, but I'm not a fan of cold tea so I'm hoping that's the only similarity.  There's a thin tight beige head that laces beautifully and a delicious aroma of sweet malts tinged with copper coins.

As refreshing as my morning cup of tea, Hogs Back T.E.A. is a smooth, malty, fruity bitter with hints of caramel and a dry finish.  There is no metallic aftertaste that you often get with bitters, making it very palatable indeed.  I'll definitely be looking out for more fantastic brews from Hogs Back.

As an all round bitter person 😉, Hogs Back T.E.A. is most definitely my cup of tea and Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by Hogs Back Brewery, Surrey
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Robinsons Trooper

Inspired by Iron Maiden, Trooper is a deep golden ale that looks like molten toffee with a fabulous thick, tight creamy head.  It smells deliciously hoppy and malty and I couldn't wait to have a sip.

It has quite an unusual mix of flavours leaving an extremely pleasant taste explosion on the tongue: tangy, sweet, metallic and slightly citrus, but they all work so very well together.  It has a nice sweet toffee and biscuit flavour with only a slight hint of citrus which makes it very refreshing.  It's relatively softly carbonated so feels quite smooth, helped along by the thick milky head; an impressive head that doesn't lace, it sticks to the glass.

I really liked it, it's what I would call a 'proper beer' and one Ale definitely Be Seeing Again!

Brewed by Robinsons, Stockport
4.7% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Robinsons Brewery

Friday, 30 June 2017

United Dutch Breweries Oranjeboom Premium Strong

A 7.5% lager beer with a traditional golden yellow body and a bright white head.  It pours crystal clear and has an aroma of hops and sweetness.

Now for a 7.5% ABV beer, I was expecting strong tastes to come through but it's all very subtle.  The initial taste is sour and sweet but this is replaced by a metallic aftertaste and an almost wooden whisky cask or cheap vodka flavour.  Due to the high ABV, you can actually taste the raw alcohol but I would have preferred a bit more beery taste.

I bought it half price from the local shop, so it's not bad for £1.25 but I wouldn't buy another one.

Brewed by United Dutch Breweries, Holland
7.5% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Oranjeboom

Friday, 23 June 2017

Isle of Arran Guid Ale

Although not a particularly eye-catching or attractive label, I was pleasantly surprised to see a gorgeous deep golden ale pour out of this bottle.  It has a thick frothy off-white head that does disperse after a while and there is a slight cloudiness due to a bit of sediment escaping the bottle as I struggled to squeeze out every last drop.

There is a subtle aroma of hops and bitter fruit, slightly floral and sweet but it's not overpowering at all.  So with my eyes and my nose giving the thumbs up, it's time for my tongue to do the tasting.  Again, I was really surprised at the taste explosion I experienced: it's very fruity with a slight bitter aftertaste with a mixture of floral, nutty and lightly malted flavours also coming through.  It's so lightly carbonated that it does feel a little oily in the mouth but it's not unpleasant by any means.  The frothy head lasts quite some time as it leaves lacing down the side of the glass.

At only 3.8%, it doesn't taste like a low alcohol beer: it's soft, creamy, pleasant and refreshing; a pretty 'guid ale'.  Ale be happy to See You Again!

Brewed by Isle of Arran Brewery, Strathclyde
3.8% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Isle of Arran Brewery

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

St Peter's Organic Ale

I love the shape of this bottle - you can't really tell from the picture but its circumference is an ellipse shape and it reminds me of old medicine bottles, the only thing missing is an instruction on the label to "Drink full bottle slowly with feet up."

It is a lovely deep golden ale with a copper hue and a substantial tighter than tight cream head.  The elliptical shape of the bottle did an amazing job of trapping the sediment in its broad shoulders, resulting in a crystal clear ale.  The aroma is one of hops and apples, giving it an enticing cider-like smell.

I was really impressed with the flavour, the hops and malt are superbly blended with a huge kick of bitter marmalade aftertaste.  The bitter aftertaste was a bit too harsh at first but I quickly got used to it.  The carbonation is pretty perfect, neither too harsh nor too soft and it managed to sustain the head to the very last drop.

I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, so Ale be more than happy to See You Again!

Brewed by St Peter's Brewery, Suffolk
4.5% ABV

My rating:

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Bath Ales Dark Side

Time to head over to the dark side.  As black as Darth Vader's helmet, this stout from Bath Ales has a delicious aroma of dark chocolate, treacle and liquorice on opening.  The dark beige head is quite small and loose so rather disappointingly it doesn't last long and leaves no lacing on the glass.

It has an absolutely perfect intense malty flavour that left my mouth watering, followed by a fruity burst and a coffee aftertaste.  It is very fizzy, with harsh coke-like bubbles, but is a very nice experience when the dark chocolate bitter bubbles burst all over your tongue.

All beer drinkers are going to compare every stout with Guinness and none will every match up to the perfection that is the black stuff but, drinking this without comparison, it's a very nice stout indeed.

Brewed by Bath Ales, Bristol
4.0% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Bath Ales

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Dark Star Sunburst

Sunburst by name and sunburst by nature, it's like you have captured the sun in your glass as you pour this pint of golden ale with a thick frothy white head.  More hoppy than the Easter Bunny, it smells of hops, malt, more hops, a bit of citrus and even more hops.  

This is a very crisp and refreshing ale with a thirst quenching hit of citrus followed by a dry, bitter aftertaste.  It has lovely carbonation which sees bitter bubbles bursting on your tongue and leaves fabulous lacing down the side of the glass.

One to sup under the parasol as the sun blasts down on a Summer's day.  I wouldn't mind seeing it again!

Brewed by Dark Star Brewing, West Sussex
4.8% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Dark Star Brewing

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Brutal Pistonhead

I was really surprised with this one.  I'm not usually a fan of golden yellow ales, never mind lagers, so I put off drinking this for a while; a can with a skull on the front can't be good - how wrong I was!  It's a crystal clear traditional looking lager with a bright white loose frothy head and a delicious aroma of hops followed by sweet pineapple.  

It is not at all what I expected.  I can only describe it as sweet and sour and lip-smackingly good.  It is so bubbly, like a glass of champagne but very easy to drink and so refreshing. For a lager, it is full of flavour and so very unusual.  Top marks!

Brewed by Brutal Brewing, Sweden
4.6% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Brutal Brewing

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Schwaben Bräu Das Schwarze

It's so unusual to see a beer with a bottle top these days and you get a satisfying pop like a champagne cork as you lift the bar to release the lid.  There is a lovely malty chocolate aroma as this jet black beer is poured into the glass.  It has an initial substantial frothy beige head that changes to a thin later of foam but it isn't really strong enough to cling to the glass and result in any lacing.  

The malty taste is the first thing I notice and ticks the flavour box for me.  There is a rather pleasant sweetness that lingers in the aftertaste, almost like burnt toffee, caramel and dark chocolate.  As with all pilsner style beers, it is very fizzy and leaves you with a tingly, prickly tongue.  Due to the intense carbonation, it does feel rather thin and pop-like but I can forgive the lack of body due to my appreciation of the taste.

I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy another one, but if I saw it on the shelf it might just find its way into my shopping basket.  An unusual black beer that I'd say is well worth trying.

Brewed by Schwaben Bräu, Stuttgart, Germany
4.9% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Schwaben Bräu

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Anchor Steam Beer Dry Hopped

How have I not tasted Anchor Steam Beer before now?  It's not something I would usually pick up as I tend to stick to 500ml bottled ales but I received this as a gift and I'll certainly be adding it to my shopping list in future.  Anchor Steam Beer is one mighty fine beer that ticks all the boxes and my only disappointment was that it only comes in a 330ml bottle.

It is a beautiful cloudy amber colour with a blood orange glow and a HUGE frothy cream coloured head.  It hissed and fizzed out of the bottle on opening along with subtle aromas of hops, orange citrus and tropical fruit.  It has a lovely dry bitter taste and it wasn't as fizzy as I expected.  The carbonation is very soft making it a smooth, refreshing, perfectly balanced and easy drinking beer.

This is definitely a beer Ale Be Seeing Again, and it certainly shows that good things come in small packages.

Brewed by Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, USA
4.9% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Anchor Brewing

Friday, 2 June 2017

Hardknott Infra Red

Now that is one fine looking beer!  Unsurprisingly from the name, Infra Red is a deep ruby red beer with a frothy beige head that almost attempted to spill over the glass and left such tremendous lacing that I had to get the Brillo pad out.  It gives off the most amazing orange and toffee aroma with a slight hint of something floral and fragrant.

I changed my mind so quickly about this beer as the initial burst of sweet burnt toffee and yummy malt changed to a very harsh bitter aftertaste.  It certainly gave my tastebuds a wake up call and my tongue felt like it had been stabbed by a million bubbles carrying daggers dripping in grapefruit pith.

I really wanted to love this one but it wasn't really for me; I just felt it was a little too harsh as you often get with stronger alcohol content beers.  It gets full marks for looks but not so much for taste, so unfortunately not one Ale Be Seeing Again but if you like citrus bitter tasting beers, you will love this one!

Brewed by Hardknott, Cumbria
6.2% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Hardknott

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Wylam Red Kite

So I looked at my beer notes before writing my review and they were very helpful indeed:
'Wylam yum yum yum'
Luckily, Red Kite is a beer I know and love so I can share a bit more of exactly what I meant by 'yum, yum, yum'.

Red Kite is a deep ruby red, brown coloured ale with a teeny tiny thin beige head.  It is very highly carbonated as you can see from the many bubbles clinging to the glass.  As we say in the North East, it smells 'MALTY AS OWT' with aromas of treacle, fruity malt loaf and a slight metallic hint.

The malty aroma is replicated in the taste which is delicious (hence the 'yum yum yum').  It has a perfect helping of maltiness with a balance that is more sweet than bitter.  There is a very faint metallic aftertaste, which is not unexpected from a traditional 'scotch' type ale.

Despite all the bubbles, there isn't much head but you forget about that the moment it hits your lips.  As soft bubbles caress the tongue and burst with malty fruitiness, you find yourself savouring every drop.

Another cracking local ale; perfectly balanced and deliciously malty, Ale most definitely Be Seeing Red Kite Again.

Brewed by Wylam Brewery, Tyneside
4.5% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Wylam Brewery

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Adnams Mosaic Pale Ale

This pale ale has a deep golden yellow appearance with a thick frothy white head.  A little darker than most pale ales it has stunning aromas of pineapple, mango, tropical fruit and a slight hint of grapefruit.

I'm not a great fan of fruity flavoured pale ale but this Mosaic Pale is really unusual, it is crisp and dry with a tropical fruit burst aftertaste.  There is barely any bitterness although it seemed to acquire a bit more of a citrus flavour as I was drinking it.  Softly carbonated, it's very refreshing and surprisingly nice.  A good summer ale, and I have seen mini kegs of Mosaic Pale on offer on Amazon so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for a summer barbecue or a relaxing day of reading in the sun (or shade, in my case).

Brewed by Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk
4.1% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Adnams

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Black Sheep Riggwelter

I have to say that Black Sheep Brewery always seem to deliver when it comes to good ales and I consider Black Sheep to be one of my favourite breweries.  When I first saw Riggwelter I got the impression from the label that it would be a very dark almost stout style ale, so you can imagine my delight when this mouthwatering mahogany dark ruby ale poured out of the bottle.  As we've come to expect from Black Sheep it has a thick tight beige head that doesn't budge a millimetre.

Dark fruit and malty aromas are released as you pour the Riggwelter followed by a metallic whiff of copper coins, almost like you've emptied a money bag full of 2p coins.  There is an initial metallic taste but this quickly disappears to be replaced by flavours of liquorice, fruit, sweet treacle and malt.  Each mouthful tastes different, giving a hint as to the complexity of flavours that have gone into making the Riggwelter.

It's also fizzy yet smooth and goes down far too easily for such a strong ale, with the thick creamy head leaving impressive lacing down the sides of the glass.  Oh yes Riggwelter, Ale Be Seeing You Again.

Brewed by Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, Yorkshire
5.9% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Black Sheep Brewery

Monday, 29 May 2017

Badger Golden Glory

As you can see, I didn't quite manage to get a full pint as there was a bit of sediment in the bottle, which is unusual for Badger ales but I think perhaps it had something to do with the peach.  Peach?  It's not a misprint, Golden Glory is a peachy beer!  It's an absolutely glorious colour like melted toffee with a loose, thin creamy head.

The initail hoppy aroma gives way to the most amazing peach smell.  Even if it didn't have peach on the neck label there is no mistaking this aroma.  I admit I wasn't looking forward to tasting it but I was pleasantly surprised.  The peach flavour is not overbearing at all, it's dry and slightly sweet at first with an unusual peach flavour lingering on the tongue.  Despite the small head, it's very fizzy with hard bubbles full of flavour.  Golden Glory is so very refreshing and perfect for a sunny day.

Much better than I thought, it's more likely Ale Be Seeing You Again than seeing the sun in North East England.

Brewed by Hall & Woodhouse, Dorset
4.5% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Hall & Woodhouse

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Allendale Black Grouse

This deliciously dark porter smells amazing with aromas of treacle, chocolate and coffee and a slight smokiness due to being brewed with oak chips.  The loose beige head disappears very quickly, so don't blink or you'll miss it, and it leaves you with a glass of something that resembles coke but the mouthwatering taste definitely compensates for the lack of head.

The mouthfeel is quite an experience as you start to taste treacle and liquorice whilst dark chocolate bubbles stroke and lightly tickle your tongue before bursting in a mini chocolate explosion.  It's so delicious that it goes down far too easily and would be a perfect drink on a cold winter's night sitting beside the fire with a good book.

I love the strong treacle and liquorice toffee taste, it has a bit of a fruity sweetness at first closely followed by a bitter chocolate aftertaste.  There is also a hint of flavour that reminded me of whiskies brewed in sherrywood casks, so don't be put off by the description of this ale being brewed with oak chips.  The flavours are perfectly balanced, making Black Grouse a top notch porter and Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by Allendale Brewery, Northumberland
4% ABV

My rating:

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Hadrian Border Newcastle Commercials

A different Newcastle brown ale to the famous one brewed and mass produced by S&N, this ale from Hadrian Border brewery was brewed to commemorate the centenary of World War I and some of the proceeds are going towards events planned to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the end of the great war in 2018.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

This is a deep chestnut brown ale with a small but thick frothy beige head.  It has an amazing malty, chocolate and treacle aroma that is replicated in the lovely taste.  It has a slightly bitter aftertaste once the maltiness wears off but that's easily dealt with by taking another sip, and this delicious addictive beer encourages you to do so.  

It's softly carbonated making it a very smooth drink with the thick head remaining until the end, leaving heavy lacing on the glass.  With malty sweetness, chocolate hints and a citrus burst at the end, it is indeed a fitting ale for heroes.

A very nice brown ale and, although it was a limited edition, it bears a striking similarity to Hadrian Border Brewery's Tyneside Brown so I do believe that Ale Be Seeing You Again.

Brewed by Hadrian Border Brewery, Newcastle upon Tyne
4.7% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Hadrian Border Brewery

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Bath Ales Gem

This is a fabulous deep amber, toffee coloured ale with a subtle aroma of hops and malt that almost smells like you have a glass of rich melted toffee.  There's not much head to write home about and what is there very quickly disappears leaving a flat looking ale.  Like I would never judge a book by its cover, I wouldn't judge a beer on appearance alone so let's dive in for a taste.

There isn't really a predominant taste, it's all very subtle.  It's equally sweet to start and bitter to finish with a slight spicy/floral hint throughout.  Now and again I get a hint of bread or biscuit but it's all so very subtle that no sooner have I tasted it than it has gone.  It's a very smooth ale but it just feels as if it should be more carbonated almost as if it's been open too long, making it slightly flat.  

It's a bit of a ghost of a beer so just a 3 pint rating from me, which is slightly disappointing as I was looking forward to this one.  It just needs a bit more oomph!

Brewed by Bath Ales, Warmley
4.8% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Bath Ales

Monday, 17 April 2017

Brains Welsh Golden Ale

A traditional looking beer - a lovely deep golden body with a frothy white head.  The head does disappear but it leaves just enough to remind you it is there.  There is a bit of sediment in this one, so I poured carefully to minimise the cloudiness.

It smells of citrus fruits and hops, kind of like an IPA mixed with a bitter.  The carbonation is excellent, with bubbles bursting on your tongue to leave bitter grapefruit notes.  It has a subtle hop flavour, resulting in a crisp, refreshing beer.

Brewed for Marks and Spencer by S.A. Brain & Co, Cardiff
4.6% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at S.A. Brain & Co Brewery