One woman's ale journey

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

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

Monday, 17 February 2020

Timothy Taylor Landlord

Timothy Taylor's award winning Landlord is often referred to as the drinkers' favourite and having now tried it for myself it's easy to see why.  

This deep golden ale pours crystal clear with a loose frothy cream coloured head that slowly disappears but clings on for as long as it can.  It has a mouthwatering aroma of caramel, malt and hops with a hint of floral herbals.  The taste is absolutely unbelievable; nothing like citrussy pale ales I'm used to but a more rounded caramel malty version.  Imagine toast dripping with butter, a malted milk biscuit followed by a segment of orange to add a bit of bitterness, and it's something like what I tasted in Landlord.

It's full bodied and very nicely carbonated to tickle the tongue as if you've had an orange sherbet sweet.  Perfectly blended to be dry and sweet with a lovely bitter aftertaste, this is pale ale Yorkshire style and it's a huge thumbs up from me.

Landlord feels like a cross between a pale ale and a bitter which puts it on my drink again list and is one Ale Be Seeing Again.

Brewed by Timothy Taylor, West Yorkshire
4.1% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Timothy Taylor

Monday, 10 February 2020

Allendale Golden Plover

You're always guaranteed a good ale from Allendale Brewery and Golden Plover is no exception, in fact it's an award winning golden ale and it's easy to see why when you experience it.

It's like summer in a glass with a golden straw coloured ale and excitable bubbles giving a lava lamp appearance.  The loose frothy white head is disappointingly small and disappears to a thin foam but it leaves surprising lacing on the glass,

There is no mistaking the citrus aroma from this one!  The bitter citrus is mixed with sour hops and something rather herby and floral to give an unusual aroma that is very appealing.  All of these wonderful aromas transfer into the taste and are perfectly blended to leave an explosion in the mouth of citrus, floral, hops and malt flavours.  There is a subtle bitter aftertaste to round off the perfect experience.  Softly carbonated, it has a moderate to thin body which, after all, is not unexpected in a golden ale.  

Surprisingly delicious, I expected an overpowering taste of citrus but I was very pleasantly surprised with the blend of flavours.  Golden Plover is a very crisp and dry ale that is so pleasant and moreish that Ale Be Seeing it Again.

Brewed by Allendale Brewery, Northumberland
4% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Allendale Brewery

Monday, 3 February 2020

Maxim Idaho 7

I'm a fan of local breweries and decided to try Idaho 7 from Houghton le Spring brewery Maxim whilst in The Marine, in South Shields.  I wouldn't usually go for a pale ale but I'd already tried everything else that was on sale!

Idaho 7 looks like a yellow Guinness; although it's slightly cloudy in this photo, it settles to a clear, deep golden yellow colour with a smooth tight milky white head.  It has a lovely aroma of citrus and hops, as well as a hint of buttered bread to balance out the citrus.

It's no surprise that the flavour is predominantly citrus, but there's also a hint of tropical fruits like pineapple and mango to take the edge off the citrus.  I think the citrus is more orange than lemon too which gets a thumbs up from me and it is just the right amount of flavour to not be overpowering but enough to deliver a bitter kick in the aftertaste.

Overall, it's crisp, dry and refreshing which makes it more palatable to me than a standard IPA.  It went down quicker than the head which left amazing lacing and was clinging to the glass as if its life depended on it.

Brewed by Maxim Brewery, County Durham
4.5% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Maxim Brewery

Monday, 27 January 2020

Belhaven Scottish Ale

When I poured Belhaven's Scottish Ale I hoped that it tasted as good as it looked and I'm delighted to say that it far exceeded my expectations.  It's such a beautiful chestnut brown colour, slightly hazy, with a thick frothy beige coloured head.

It has such a mouthwatering aroma of sweet malt and nutty biscuits with both flavours being replicated in the taste, along with notes of caramel and buttered bread.  The creamy buttery nutty taste melts on the tongue and is followed by a slightly quirky bitter aftertaste that I can only describe as licking stamps, which I rather strangely enjoy.  It's a full bodied ale with a decent amount of carbonation to give a little tongue tickle with each mouthful.

I really wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did and there's only one negative thing I about it: it was only in a 330ml bottle and like Oliver Twist, I wanted more!  It's a good quality ale that scores near to top marks on my palate.  I love a strong malty flavour so this hits the spot for me and Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by Belhaven, Dunbar, Scotland
5.2% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Belhaven Brewery

Monday, 20 January 2020

Wadworth Treacle Treat

Wadworth's Treacle Treat looks like my kind of beer!  It's a deep mahogany red/brown colour with a tight but small beige head.

It scores full marks for aroma with mouthwatering smells of treacle (naturally), burnt caramel, sweet molasses, dark fruit and malt.  I couldn't wait to dive in but unfortunately the mouthwatering aromas weren't replicated in the taste.  It has a flavour of caramel, burnt toffee and slight citrus bitterness but I couldn't detect any treacle at all.  It was so disappointing that it didn't quite live up to, not only my expectation, but its very name.  

Watery and thin-bodied, it has average carbonation and the bitterness even tasted kind of soapy.  Although by no means a bad beer, it was very disappointing based on what I expected it to be.  It's definitely a Halloween beer and I think I've been tricked as I definitely wasn't treated to any treacle 😢.

Brewed by Wadworth, Wiltshire 
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Wadworth Brewery

Monday, 13 January 2020

Birra del Borgo KeTo

KeTo is a porter from my Birra del Borgo variety pack of ales.  KeTo is a very dark brown almost black colour with a frothy light brown head that disperses rapidly, leaving a thin layer.  

Oh what a mouthwatering aroma!  It's VERY malty with hints of liquorice, chocolate and coffee; it's almost like you get a different aroma with every sniff.  Just like I was surprised with the taste from Cortigiana, KeTo also had a big surprise up its sleeve, namely a distinct smoky flavour.  Now usually this would make me retch as nobody likes to experience what I can only describe as licking an ashtray, but with KeTo it mixes surprisingly well with the sweet malt and hint of bitter chocolate.  The tobacco flavour is definitely there but it's not overpowering and works well with the complex flavours.  I also detected a slight spiciness that reminded me of cola.

It's very smooth and full bodied, as you would expect from a porter and it's so softly carbonated that each mouthful gives your tongue a little tickle.  Although it feels like quite a light porter, it packs a surprising punch at 6.5% ABV.  With the adventurous mix of flavours, it's something quite different and one I'd definitely recommend trying.

Brewed by Birra del Borgo, Italy
6.5% ABV

My rating:

Monday, 6 January 2020

Great Newsome Frothingham Best

Now this is just the kind of colour I like my ale: a deep amber reminiscent of molten toffee.  It's a shame it has so little head to complete the perfect picture; the head that is there is very small. consisting of a few beige bubbles that disappear rapidly, leaving just a whisper of foam.

The aroma of malt and sweet caramel gets a big thumbs up for me and there is a slight whiff of sour hops to follow.  The malt aroma transfers on into the taste but the maltiness is very subtle and not as strong as I expected.  The strength of bitterness caught me by surprise with a huge kick of citrus and a metallic tang that lingers far longer than anything I have tasted before.  With such a watery appearance, it's unsurprising a rather thin bodied ale and with little carbonation, feels quite smooth on the palate.

Overall it's a pretty decent English bitter, but it's such a shame that it appears flat and headless.  The lingering bitterness both surprised and delighted me, especially as I'm not a fan of citrus flavours but in this bitter it just seems to work.  Although it's not a beer I'd keep in stock, I'd certainly have another pint if I saw it on draught.

Brewed by Great Newsome, Yorkshire
4.3% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Great Newsome Brewery

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Tyne Bank Down Drury Lane

I recently downloaded the Real Ale Finder app and spotted that one of my favourite local breweries had released a gingerbread stout.  I absolutely love ginger spices and it's not just for Christmas in my house!  The very next day I made my way down to The Steamboat in South Shields to try Tyne Bank's Down Drury Lane for myself.

It's a lovely dark chocolate brown colour but very opaque, more milky than cloudy due to the use of oat milk in the brewing process.  The light brown head is amazingly tight and it's one that Guinness would be proud of.  I was almost quivering with anticipation to get my first mouthwatering whiff of ginger, but sadly couldn't detect anything remotely ginger-like in the aroma.  The smell is hard to describe, it's perhaps most reminiscent of sweet raisins and bitter chocolate.

Ok, so no ginger in the smell...on to the taste.  The first thing I noticed is that there is NO GINGER!  Oh no, I could have cried.  My only concern before tasting it was whether it would be gingery enough; I didn't expect it to not be gingery at all.  The taste is very odd indeed, tangy, sour and bitter but no spiciness.  If I had to describe it, I'd say it was a chocolate milkshake that had been made with sour milk and had a dash of coffee added to it then mixed into a stout.  Rather thin-bodied but very smooth, as a funky stout experiment it's not bad by any means but it was just not what I expected.

Not one I'd recommend or Ale Be Seeing Again, unfortunately.  I desperately wanted to detect some ginger but I don't think even Sherlock Holmes could have detected it.

Brewed by Tyne Bank Brewery, Newcastle
5.4% ABV

My rating: