One woman's ale journey

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

Thursday 31 December 2015

Allendale Christmas Ale

Wow!  How fabulous does this look?  This has to be the perfect colour for a Christmas ale - deep ruby red with a slightly off-white glorious head.  It actually smells of Thornton's chocolate smothered toffee and I couldn't wait to dive in to have a taste.

As expected, at 7% ABV, it has a strong taste along the lines of dark chocolate.  It is slightly bitter with a lingering treacle/liquorice aftertaste and is absolutely delicious.  It's an ale that cannot be followed as it leaves such a strong taste in the mouth.  I did feel like I needed to clean my teeth (and my tongue) after it, it was so strong and full of body.

Ale be seeing you again next year, Allendale Christmas Ale!

Brewed by Allendale, Northumberland
7% ABV

Thwaites Yule Love It

Lovely golden. White head. Smell hops and slightly citrus. Slightly spicy taste.

A lovely deep golden/light amber coloured ale with a bright white head.  It smells hoppy with a citrus kick on pouring.  It has a nice malty and caramel taste with a bitter copper-coin aftertaste.  I expected something with a bit of spice, as it is a Christmas ale, but it just tastes like a regular bitter.

Brewed by Thwaites, Blackburn
4% ABV 

Champigneulles Continental Lager

Smells very hoppy and slightly sour on opening.  Pours a nice golden colour with an impressive white head, although the head is not long lasting.  It has a definite sweet taste to it and is quite crisp.  It reminds me of golden cornflakes but is a little too sweet for me.

For £1 from Asda, it's not bad but there are a lot better out there.  As ever, you get what you pay for.

Brewed by Champigneulles, France
5.5% ABV

Saturday 5 December 2015

Zeunerts Höga Kusten

This is a lovely dark golden, almost molten light amber colour.  It smells of tropical fruit, particularly pineapples and has a slightly sweet taste.  It's not as fizzy as it looks - but like Goldilocks, is just right.  It has a perfect amount of head leaving amazing lacing as it is consumed.  It has a lovely subtle taste and reminds me of a refreshing continental lager and I couldn't put it better than the statement on the label - it is 'the bridge between ale and lager'. 

Brewed by Zeunerts, Sweden
5.3% ABV

Find out more at Zeunerts - don't forget to hit 'translate this page'

Wentworth Snowman's Revenge

I admit I didn't really expect much from this as it was only 99p but as the season of goodwill is approaching I thought it time to sample Snowman's Revenge.  It's a lovely dark amber colour but pours with only a little head.  It may have been my imagination, but I think this smells of Christmas cake, particularly mixed spice and brandy.

It has quite a weird taste that I can only describe as slightly sludgy and thin.  It has almost a dark chocolate bitter slightly spicy aftertaste.  I suppose it is like Christmas pudding, you either like it or you don't.

The head disappears quite quickly and the ale looks quite flat, although it does have a bit of fizz on the tongue.  I didn't dislike it, but unfortunately Ale not be seeing it again.

Brewed by Wentworth Brewery, Rotherham
4.1% ABV

Saturday 28 November 2015

Atlantic Red

This quite literally burst out of the bottle as if I had been shaking it. There is a lot of sediment in this one and I couldn't have poured it any more carefully as it was in such a fizzy hurry to get out of the bottle.  I can forgive the spillage, however, as it is such an amazing gorgeous red colour with a thick creamy head. There is an absolutely divine smell of red berries and it has a slightly sweet fruity taste. 

I didn't pick up the blood orange or marmalade taste but it definitely tasted fruity, although I couldn't have isolated a fruit to describe it.

Oh Atlantic Red, Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by Atlantic Brewery, Cornwall
5% ABV

Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale

This is such a funky can that I wasn't surprised when the ale burst out full of fizz and tropical fruit smells.  It has an abundant bright white head and the ale is a slightly cloudy golden colour.  It tastes intensely fruity with hints of grapefruit, pineapple and mango due to the Citra and Calypso hops - it sounds like I am describing a can of Lilt but it couldn't be more different.  

It's well named Gamma Ray as zingy citrus bubbles burst on my tongue and I felt like I had been (pleasantly) zapped with a beery taser gun.

Brewed by Beavertown, London
5.4% ABV

Sambrook's Wandle

Despite its slightly cloudy appearance and lack of head this is an enticing golden amber ale.  It smells like a good old fashioned bitter but with a slight hint of citrus.  My first sip left me with the aftertaste of copper coins but that quickly disappears and further gulps resulted in a lovely creamy finish.

What little head there is does tend to cling to the glass but it doesn't lace.  The lack of head doesn't spoil my enjoyment at all as this is such a nice bitter and I was not surprised to find out that Wandle won the World's Best Pale Ale under 5% in the 2012 World Beer Awards.

Definitely one I would recommend for bitter drinkers and I hope Ale Be Seeing You Again, Wandle.

Brewed by Sambrook's Brewery, London
4.2% ABV

Sunday 15 November 2015

Batemans Black Pepper Ale

Gold Medal Winner at the 2014 World Beer Awards

No, your eyes do not deceive you - this is a black pepper ale!  It even comes complete with a little sachet of pepper and serving instructions.  I had my nose in this bottle before I had even completely removed the lid and yes there was indeed a definite, yet subtle, aroma of black pepper on opening.  As per the instructions, I added some of the little pepper sachet to glass, poured the beer and swirled - be careful that it doesn't erupt like Mount Vesuvius if you are as vigorous a swirler as me!   Followed with a dash of the remaining pepper to the head, it was ready to be experienced.

I was excited by the colour of this ale - it is a lovely deep amber/ruby ale and there is a very subtle hint of pepper when you first taste it.  It is as smooth as a John Smiths with a thick creamy head and robust lacing right down to the last drop.  It's an absolute delight to drink and I would be inclined to add a bit more pepper to my next one - so you've guessed it, Bateman's Black Pepper Ale - Ale be seeing you again!

Brewed by Batemans, Lincolnshire
5.1% ABV

Sadler's Peaky Blinder

It's time for a drop of the unusual: a black IPA.  Black and pale - isn't that an oxymoron? This is a dark, almost black ale with a small beige head.  If I closed my eyes and sniffed it, I would expect to be about to taste a dark golden ale due to the hoppy aroma but with a massive burst of liquorice flavours on tasting there's no mistaking it as a black beer.

It does have quite a complex taste due to no less than 5 different hops used as part of the brewing process, namely Amarillo, Cascade, Citra, Chinook and Nelson Sauvin.  It leaves a lovely creamy liquorice taste on the tongue after the black bubbles burst in your mouth.  I don't think I have tasted anything quite like it - it's dark and strong, yet refreshing and easy drinking.

Brewed by Sadler's, Stourbridge, West Midlands
4.6% ABV

Friday 6 November 2015

Roosters Baby Faced Assassin

This burst out of the can giving me a citrus fragranced beery shower.  It has strong aromas of citrus fruit, is a delicious deep golden/light amber colour and has a very robust head.  To me it tastes predominately of grapefruit with a hint of orange.  The head lasts right to the very end, leaving amazing lacing down the side of the glass. It's not overly fizzy and is very refreshing so it would be perfect for a sunny day in the garden.  At 6.1% it is not for the faint-hearted and if I closed my eyes I would not guess it was an IPA - this gives it versatility as a refreshing winter ale or a revitalising summer ale.

Brewed by Roosters, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
6.1% ABV

Saturday 3 October 2015

Orbit Beers Nico

This lager is slightly cloudy and there's quite a bit of sediment in the bottle so I heeded the warning to pour carefully.  It is a light golden yellow colour and is quite crisp and refreshing. It smells like a proper german beer and has a slightly bitter and lemony aftertaste.  There is a very tiny head but it does last.

Brewed by Orbit Beers, London
4.8% ABV

Redwell Steam Lager

This was gorgeous and was not at all what I expected.  It is a lovely amber colour and slightly cloudy like a wheat beer with a hint of orange smell and taste.  It was better than a wheat beer as it wasn't as gassy.  Although it has just a little head, what was there remained until the last drop and left amazing lacing down the side of the glass.  

It has a strong but not at all unpleasant taste and I would put it as a cross between a lager and a wheat beer - I really liked it.  Ale definitely be seeing you again and, as my Uncle David went to Redwell School in South Shields, this would make a good gift for any member of my family!

Brewed by The Craft Brewing Co, Norwich
4.6% ABV

The Park Brewery Gallows Gold

With a head that Mr Whippy would be proud of, this practically explodes out of the bottle on opening.  I was hit with amazing pineapple and tropical fruit aromas and more fizz than a bottle of champagne.  There's quite a bit of sediment in the bottle so I poured this slowly and carefully and, with that spectacular head, wouldn't have got a drop more in the glass anyway.

Surprisingly, with the abundance of bubbles, this is not a gassy beer.  It's actually crisp rather than fizzy and has a delicious golden citrus flavour; it's more grapefruit than lemon, giving it a lovely bitter aftertaste.  The colour is very rich - a deep golden/light amber that lets you know that this is a complex beer and not simply an American Pale Ale.

The thick creamy head lasts to the very last drop and clings to the glass.  Ale be seeing you again, Gallows Gold.

Brewed by The Park Brewery, Kingston upon Thames
5% ABV

Saturday 5 September 2015

Sambrooks Brewery Junction

This is a lovely light ruby / dark amber colour with a small but rich and creamy head that lasts. I was struck by a mouthwatering fruity malty smell as it was being poured.

It does indeed have a very nice taste, perfectly malty and mellow.  I got a distinct taste of dark fruit, perhaps black cherries and an unusual, but pleasant, aftertaste of dark chocolate. 

This would be a lovely winter warmer ale and as I live in the North East, Ale be seeing you again!

Brewed by Sambrooks Brewery, London
4.5% ABV

Brains The Rev. James

From the second I opened this bottle I knew I was going to love this beer!  It has an amazing malty smell and I could hardly control my excitement as the amber goodness flowed out of the bottle.  It has such a lovely ruby hint to the amber colouring.  There is a nice thick head which remains throughout, leaving substantial lacing down the side of the glass.  Following the malty aromas, I was delighted to experience an absolutely beautiful malty taste.  This leaves a lovely malty aftertaste on your tongue and overall it's a lovely smooth mellow beer.

Without doubt, Ale be seeing you again!

Brewed by Brains, Cardiff
4.5% ABV

Five Points Brewing Co Five Points Pale

Wow this was so full of grapefruit aromas I could almost imagine drinking it for breakfast. As soon as I popped the cap, I was immediately hit with a strong grapefruit smell that was replicated in the taste.  This makes a really refreshing change from the lemon squeezy washing up liquid taste of so many pale ales.  It's a lovely clear, crisp and fizzy blonde ale with a bright white head that doesn't disappear - there doesn't look much of it but this is definitely a quality over quantity head.  It's so refreshing and zesty; I was completely amazed and charmed by this delightful ale - I absolutely loved it!

Ale be seeing you again and I'll definitely be looking out for more of the Five Points Brewing Company's beers.

Brewed by Five Points Brewing Co, London
4.4% ABV

Saturday 22 August 2015

Discworld Invalid's Restorative

Flat beer day continues with a deep golden ale from Discworld.  A beautiful gold colour but with a disappointing head, consisting of just a few stray bubbles.

This has a bit of a Jägermeister smell to it and certainly has a medicinal aftertaste.  It smells, but doesn't taste, of a slight hint of citrus.  I don't get any of the vanilla notes it claims to have, but perhaps the vanilla plus the ageing in whiskey barrels gives it the Jägermeister smell and taste.

An interesting craft beer, but I don't think Ale be seeing you again.

Brewed by Brecon Brewing, Powys, Wales
6.5% ABV

Rebel Brewing Company Bal Maiden

This had no head at all and was very flat on pouring, with only a hint of carbonation despite some live yeast sediment.

It is a lovely toffee colour with toffee notes replicated in the taste. It smells fruity and malty and I really liked the mellow malty taste but it desperately misses even just a millimetre of foam.

Unfortunately, Ale not be seeing you again.

Brewed by The Rebel Brewing Co, Cornwall
4% ABV

Sunday 16 August 2015

Innis & Gunn Rum Finish Oak Aged Beer

A colour that's reminiscent of molten toffee and this certainly has toffee aromas a-plenty to match.  There is no head to write about but it had such a lovely mellow taste that I can overlook that.

The flavour is mainly toffee and malt but you can definitely tell that it's been aged in a rum infused barrel and probably accounts for the lack of head and virtually non-existent carbonation, which isn't a necessarily bad thing, it just makes it different.

I do like an Innis & Gunn but in my opinion it's more like a spirit than a beer, and is well suited to a cold evening in front of the fire (or a summer's day in the North of England).

Brewed by Innis & Gunn, Edinburgh
6.8% ABV

Saturday 15 August 2015

Guinness West Indies Porter

A lovely head as you would expect from Guinness and apart from the ever so slight ruby hint, this looks like an original Guinness.

There is very strong licquorice/treacle taste which has quite a pleasant aftertaste and there is an aroma of dark fruits.  The carbonation is just right and creates some lovely lacing down the side of the glass.  Stronger flavoured than a Guinness, and at a swashbuckling 6% it's not for the faint-hearted.

Brewed by Guinness, Dublin as part of the Guinness Brewers Project
6% ABV

Saturday 1 August 2015

Butcombe Brewery Bitter

A beautiful dark amber coloured ale with a typical bitter style thick creamy head.  It has a lovely hoppy aroma on pouring and I can actually smell the pepper that it mentions on the label.  It does have a lovely crisp taste with a malty kick in the aftertaste.  The carbonation is perfect making it a nice smooth pint and exactly what you would expect in a traditional bitter.  The head is quite a revelation as it doesn't just lace, it actually sticks to the side of the glass.  I'll need a brillo pad to get it off - both the glass and my upper lip!

A very nice bitter that leaves little bursts of flavour on my tongue between every sip.

Brewed by Butcombe Brewery, Bristol
4.5% ABV

Sunday 26 July 2015

Black Sheep Brewery All Creatures

This has an amazing head as it bursts out of the bottle - I didn't think it was all going to fit in the pint glass!  Full marks to the frothy white head that clings to the glass with substantial lacing.  It's a lovely crystal clear light golden colour and smells so fresh, like a summer beer garden ale.  Unfortunately it was a typical Northern summer day - cold and cloudy so I drank this in front of the TV watching the Hungarian GP qualifying!

I did have a little chuckle when I tasted this.  It's not for the faint-hearted or regular IPA drinkers - this is Pale Ale Yorkshire style!  It has a massive hoppy aftertaste that is a bit metallic at first but is unnoticeable after a few sips.  I thought there was a very very slight suggestion of citrus which takes the edge off the bitterness of the hops.  The aroma is stated as blackcurrant but unfortunately I didn't get any hint of that.

Brewed by Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, Yorkshire
4.0% ABV

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Guinness Golden Ale

Head: perfect
Colour: perfect
Smell: perfect
Taste: perfect

This was quite a revelation!  As you would expect from Guinness it has a thick creamy white head that lasts to the end leaving lacing down the side of the glass.  The colour is a delightful deep amber thanks to the amber malts it is brewed with.  It has a fruity aroma to the overall maltiness and I just knew it would taste as good as it smells.  It's fruity yet malty with a light and fizzy feel to it - it wouldn't be out of place in a summer beer garden or on a winter's evening.

A successful experiment by the Guinness Brewer's Project - 10 out of 10 to Guinness for this one.  Ale be seeing you again!

Brewed by Guinness, Dublin
4.5% ABV

Saturday 18 July 2015

Black Sheep Brewery Monty Python's Holy Grail

This was first brewed in 1999 to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Monty Python.  It's a lovely golden colour with the perfect amount of carbonation and a creamy head as I have come to expect from Black Sheep - there's still some left right to the very end.

It certainly smells hoppy but with none of the metallic aftertaste due to the addition of just a hint of citrus and I can definitely taste delicious malty biscuity flavours in every drop.

A quality ale just as you'd expect from Black Sheep Brewery.  It does feel like a perfect lunchtime ale but after a few of these at 4.7% you'll be clip clopping home with coconut shells like a knight who says Ni.

Brewed by Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, Yorkshire
4.7% ABV

Dead Crow Bourbon Beer

Just like the Rum Beer from last week, it's in the same beautiful bottle embossed with a map of the world.  This one doesn't smell as strong as the rum one and I think it has a better taste.  I probably couldn't tell you it was bourbon, although I am a bit of a whiskey drinker in my spare time.  Unlike the rum one though, I could probably have a few more of these for as long as the sun keeps shining - in the North East, I'd better drink quickly!

Brewed by SHS drinks, Gloucester
5.5% ABV

Sunday 12 July 2015

Wooden Hand Brewery Pirate's Gold

Another excellent beer from Wooden Hand Brewery.  A delicious light amber ale with a very fruity hoppy smell.  Not much of a head but what is there pretty much stays there so it gets a big tick from me!  It is very smooth with the just the right amount of carbonation and so easy to drink - it's a bit like drinking a malt loaf!  Fruity and malty perfection - Ale be seeing you again, Pirate's Gold!

Loved by me, not just by pirates.

Brewed by Wooden Hand Brewery, Truro, Cornwall
4.0% ABV

Dead Crow Rum Beer

The bottle is beautiful as it is embossed with a map of the world, and just begs to be drunk out of and admired - so who am I to resist?  It has a very strong rum smell on opening so you know without checking the label that it's a strong one.  It tastes nice as a one off drink for a sunny weekend but I couldn't drink too many of them as rum does have a slightly sickly scent after a while.

Brewed by SHS drinks, Gloucester
5.5% ABV

Wooden Hand Brewery Cornish Gribben

I got a bit overexcited when I saw the bubble bath head on this one - it's so thick and long lasting that the glass needs to be scraped at the end.  It's a lovely golden colour and smells so hoppy - like a proper beer!  It tastes ever so slightly zesty like grapefruit and is very pleasant indeed. I have to give a special mention to the label, and I never judge an ale by its label, but I really like the look of the Wooden Hand labels.  Perhaps it's the red and white of the tower (gribben) on this one that really stands out against the sepia of the label. Cornish Gribben - Ale be seeing you again!

Brewed by Wooden Hand Brewery, Truro, Cornwall
4.1% ABV

Saturday 11 July 2015

Black Sheep Brewery Golden Sheep

Everybody knows I love Black Sheep ales so it was no surprise to find this Golden Sheep on my beer shelf.  I couldn't contain my excitement as I opened it and saw the mouthwatering pale amber colour.  It has a delicious slightly malted aroma and a reasonable head which doesn't fully disappear.   It really is very tasty and so smooth that it went down far too easily.  It's almost like a lighter summer version of its big brother Black Sheep Ale.

Brewed by Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, Yorkshire
4.7% ABV

Wells Bombardier Burning Gold

This is a lovely deep golden colour with a good British head!  It is crisp, zesty and very refreshing, with just the right hint of citrus. It's so smooth that I felt like I was drinking molten gold itself. It has lovely carbonation with a constant stream of bursting bubbles and a head that lasts half way down.

Brewed by Wells & Young, Bedford
4.7% ABV

Find out more about Bombardier Burning Gold

Saturday 4 July 2015

Abashiri Okhotsk Blue Draft

I originally bought this as a gimmick but its actually really nice.  It's the most amazing turquoise colour that makes me think of summer holidays by the sea.  It's very refreshing with almost a slight cream soda aftertaste, but that could be my brain not recognising this as beer. It has next to no head but it tastes so fresh, crisp and clean that I almost felt like I was drinking a waterfall.

Brewed in Hokkaido, Japan
5% ABV

Sunday 28 June 2015

Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted

As you can see from the size and texture of the bubbles, the head didn't last a minute! This ale was a lovely golden colour and perfect for a Saturday afternoon after returning bitter and twisted from work (I work Monday-Friday, hence my bitterness).  It was quite unusual as it has a bitter aftertaste to it, so I think if you closed your eyes you would expect to have been drinking an amber bitter.  It has a lovely grapefruit aroma and almost a hint of spice that I couldn't put my finger on - having visited the Harviestoun website I have since found out it was pepper!

An unusual ale, perfect for summertime drinking. 

Brewed by Harviestoun, Alva, Scotland
4.2% ABV

Marston's Help for Heroes Blonde Ale

To celebrate British Armed Forces Day I thought it was the perfect time to have a pint of Help for Heroes blonde ale.  Help for Heroes is an amazing charity who do so much work for our armed forces, men and women with scars both inside and out.

This is a very blonde ale, like a little ray of sunshine!  It smells slightly fruity but the teeny tiny head doesn't last very long.  It is a very refreshing ale, not overly fizzy with not even a hint of a nasty aftertaste.  It has a hint of citrus taste to it without being too overpowering and would be a perfect ale for a sunny day in a beer garden.

No better way to do your bit than with a pint of Help for Heroes Golden Ale!

Brewed by Marstons, Burton upon Trent
4.2% ABV

Thursday 25 June 2015

Brakspear Bitter

This pours out a nice dark amber colour and smells quite malty. The head disappears very quickly and there's not really a lot of taste to it, possibly due to the low alcohol content. It almost feels a bit thin and lacking in body. It does have a slight toffee aroma but a bitter aftertaste, almost like a grapefruit.

Brewed by Brakspear, Oxford
3.4% ABV

Badger Daring Diver

I almost didn't buy this one but I am so glad that I did!  It has an abundant foamy head with bubbles a-plenty. It is a beautiful deep golden / light copper colour and it smells fruity, like a distant aroma of freshly squeezed oranges.

It tastes so creamy with a delicious malt biscuit taste and has a very slight aftertaste of lemons.  Although there is a lot of carbonation it is not too gassy. The head is amazing and lasts right to the end, even leaving a delightful lacy pattern on side of glass.

Brewed by Hall & Woodhouse, Dorset 
4.7% ABV

Saturday 20 June 2015

Courage Director's

This is a beautiful amber colour and it smells fruity as soon as it is poured. It has definite hints of spice but my first taste is of toffee. It has quite a small head that doesn't last. It's not gassy but the bubbles have a harshness about them as their spicy bitter flavour bursts on my tongue. It leaves a bit of a weird aftertaste, almost like a very very weak Fernet Branca.

Brewed by Wells & Youngs, Bedford
4.8% ABV