One woman's ale journey

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

Saturday 29 December 2018

Brakspear Hoppy Holidays

What a vision of coppery loveliness!  This is a beautiful molten toffee copper coloured ale with a very robust, tight cream head.  The head appears so smooth, very much like a Guinness.

It's well named 'Hoppy Holidays' as the initial aroma of hops and sweet malts gives way to delicious Christmassy smells of red berries and a touch of cinnamon spiciness.  The taste is surprisingly bitter with a hint of lemon coming through after the first burst of toffee and malt biscuits.  I noticed the bitter citrus less as I drank it and the smooth malty flavours intensified.  It's softly carbonated giving a smooth but slightly thin feel and that oh so impressive head clings on for dear life right until the very last drop.

I have to say that I do love the honey bee caps on Brakspear ales, so I had to take a photo to share with you if you haven't seen one.

Smooth and malty, I wouldn't call it a Christmas ale but I'd definitely have another one if I was looking for a light bitter.

Brewed by Brakspear, Oxfordshire
4% ABV

My rating:

Sunday 18 November 2018

Magic Rock Dark Arts

I love the crazy Pac-Man style images on the can of this stout by Magic Rock Brewing and the stout looks pretty amazing too.  It's dark and almost black, apart from a ruby tinge when you hold it up to the light, and it has a tight dark beige head as you would expect from a classic stout.

The aroma is out of this world; predominately chocolate and malt with a slight whiff of freshly brewed coffee.  The taste, however, is even better as you experience a huge dose of liquorice and malt followed by bitter chocolate and sweet bramble fruits.  Lightly carbonated, it has a very smooth feel and slips down far too easily for its strong ABV of 6.0%.  Despite the head being small, it leaves good lacing on the glass.

Dark Arts gives Guinness a run for its money in the stout stakes.  It's lighter and fizzier than Guinness but much tastier.  I loved the intense maltiness and Ale Be Seeing You Again, Dark Arts!

Brewed by Magic Rock Brewing, Huddersfield
6.0% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Magic Rock Brewing

Saturday 11 August 2018

Wychwood King Goblin

I do think that you are always guaranteed a good beer from Wychwood and King Goblin is no exception.  I love the look of this one: a warm amber, ruby tinged colour topped off with a loose beige head, however, the head does disappear quite quickly, leaving a thin foamy layer.

There isn't a strong aroma, although what I could smell reminded me of dark red fruits, sweet malts and warm spices.  It's quite fizzy to start with but it has a lovely treacle taste and a liquorice aftertaste.  The taste of sweet black treacle lingers on the tongue until your next mouthful...and in my case, I didn't have long to wait.

It's a shame the head didn't last very long at all as it gives it a flat appearance which belies the yummy taste you're about to experience.  For me, King Goblin was absolutely divine and Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by Wychwood, Oxfordshire
6.6% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Wychwood Brewery

Sunday 29 July 2018

Wadworth 6X

Just my kind of colour!  A beautiful dark copper coloured amber ale with a thick frothy cream head that, despite first appearances, disappears to a thin layer.  It has a mouthwatering aroma of fruit and sweet malts with a slight hint of hops so I couldn't wait to dive in.

I was certainly not disappointed as the sublime malty flavour exploded on my tongue.  The bitterness of the hops is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the malts, which left a very pleasant sweet aftertaste.  The carbonation is perfect for an amber ale with gentle bubbles giving a very smooth feel as it slips down far too easily.

Wadworth 6X really surprised me; I think I was perhaps a little guilty of judging a book by its cover as the label did nothing to entice me.  6X can be perfectly described by 2 idioms (is it just me that thinks of the 2 silly bulls moment in Blackadder whenever I think of grammatical nouns?).  Anyway, the two very apt idioms I was thinking of are: appearances can be deceptive and it's what's inside that counts.

Ale be delighted to see Wadworth 6X again!

Brewed by Wadworth Brewery, Wiltshire
4.3% ABV

My rating:

Sunday 24 June 2018

Hadrian Border Brewery Tyneside Blonde

A pale golden ale with very energetic bubbles that rush to the surface to maintain the little white head right to the end.  It doesn't have a strong aroma but there's a definite whiff of hops and sweet malts with a hint of banana.

There is a subtle mix of flavours as the tangy hops mix with the sweet malt.  It doesn't have a strong taste as it's only a 3.9% ABV ale but it does have a nice bitter aftertaste.  The bitterness has a lovely dry finish with no hint of citrus as the tongue tingling bubbles burst on your tongue.  It is quite fizzy and relatively thin and would get a rating of 'canny' (not bad) here in the North East as opposed to 'belter' (top notch) for a five star ale.

Brewed by Hadrian Border Brewery, Newcastle upon Tyne
3.9% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Hadrian Border Brewery

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Wainwright The Golden Beer

As you would expect from a golden beer, this is a perfect light molten gold colour with a thin loose white head that disperses to a thin film.  On opening, there is a very strong smell of hops but also a hint of sweet fruit that made me think of pineapple.  I also got a strange whiff of dirty water like you often get with Shepherd Neame ales.

I was really surprised by the depth of flavour: an initial smooth, sweet taste mixed with fresh cut grass and straw is followed by a strong hoppy aftertaste with a hint of liquorice.  The aftertaste reminded me of strong hoppy beers like Stones.

It's so softly carbonated that it tickles the tongue and the beer itself has good body and isn't too thin.  I loved the beery taste but the dirty water smell put me off a bit and knocked one pint off what would have been a five pint rating.

Brewed by Marstons, Wolverhampton
4.1% ABV

My rating:

Saturday 12 May 2018

Brewdog Dead Pony Club

A stunning crystal clear light amber ale with a substantial frothy beige head that laces down the glass.  It has an absolutely mouthwatering aroma of oranges with a hint of grapefruit; I could quite easily close my eyes and imagine that I was walking through an orange grove...with a grapefruit or a can of Lilt.

I was pleasantly surprised with my first sip; I expected a huge citrus burst but instead the citrus flavour is quite subtle in the form of a tropical fruit burst after the initial sublime malty taste.  The carbonation is slightly on the harsh side and, coupled with the fruitiness and a hint of floral spiciness, it results in a pleasant tongue tingling.  Although quite thin in body, it wakes up my taste buds without feeling as if they've been tasered.

Dead Pony Club is a perfect sunny day beer as the fruitiness is so refreshing and the ABV is quite low at 3.8%.  I really enjoyed it and although I'm not usually a pale ale fan, Ale Be Seeing You Again Dead Pony Club.

Brewed by Brewdog, Ellon, Aberdeenshire
3.8% ABV

My rating:

Saturday 14 April 2018

Samuel Adams Rebel IPA

There was quite a lot of sediment in the bottle so it was a slow and careful pour in order to retain the clarity of the beer.  It's a traditional looking golden yellow ale with a tight and frothy off-white head.  There is a strong citrus aroma but rather than it being too acidic, the edge is taken off with an underlying buttery hoppiness.

Soft and feather-like on the tongue, there is an initial sweetness followed by a lovely bitterness that isn't overpowered by citrus.  I was really surprised by the taste as I expected a full citrus blast but it's the complex mix of hops that results in an initial crisp and refreshing taste that lingers into the aftertaste to counteract the citrus bitterness.

So easy to drink with a head that lasts to the end leaving impressive lacing, I would definitely have it again despite IPA not being my preferred ale.

Ale happily Be Seeing You Again, Rebel IPA.

Brewed by Samuel Adams, Boston and imported by Shepherd Neame, Kent
6.5% ABV

My rating:

Monday 2 April 2018

Wickwar Bob

A beer called, Bob!  I saw this in B&M Bargains and had to have it as my mouth was watering once I'd seen the beautiful molten toffee amber colour.  It is crystal clear with a small loose beige head and has an aroma of traditional old-fashioned beer: hops, metallic bitter and slightly sweet.  It actually reminded me of the smell of Stones.

What a surprising taste!  It is not metallic at all but is more dry and refreshing with flavours of malt biscuit and sweet toffee.  Despite the rapid loss of the head, it is surprisingly well carbonated.

I really liked Bob, it is a very moreish beer with a pleasant sweet aftertaste that counteracts the initial bitterness.  Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by Wickwar Wessex Brewing Company, Gloucestershire
4.0% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Wickwar Brewing

Sunday 1 April 2018

Allendale Double IPA

If tropical fruit is your thing then this beer is for you!  I think you can tell it is a citrus fruity beer from the cloudy golden yellow appearance and it has quite an impressive tight off-white head that lasts and laces.

It smells strongly of tropical fruit and is actually quite refreshing as the aromas of pineapples and lemons make me think of distant shores.  The taste, however, isn't totally tropical but is more grapefruit overload for me.  It is very very VERY bitter and the grapefruit flavour takes over to the point where that's all I could taste.

Very fizzy and very bitter, it wasn't my kind of beer and Ale not be Seeing You Again.

Brewed by Allendale Brewery, Northumberland
7.4% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Allendale Brewery

Saturday 31 March 2018

Otter Brewery Otter Head

This would look like a perfect pint for me if it had a bit more of a head, perhaps it should be called Otter Headless (sorry).  It's a beautiful mahogany red/brown ale with an AMAZING aroma of fruit cake, malt and sweet baked apples.

Oh my word, I can describe the taste in one word and that word is DELICIOUS!  The maltiness is perfection itself with hints of sweet treacle and a slightly bitter aftertaste.  It is so full of flavour that it actually tastes as if it has been home-brewed.  Full-bodied, smooth and quite strong at 5.8% it's a good contender to give me beer goggles to watch the match.

I bought this from Help for Heroes with the glass and, despite its headlessness, Ale definitely Be Seeing Otter Head Again if I come across it when beer shopping.

Brewed by Otter Brewery, Devon
5.8% ABV

My rating:

Friday 30 March 2018

Durham Brewery Black Bishop

Despite being midday, it's cold, wet and dark outside so it made sense to have something cold, wet and dark inside: Black Bishop stout brewed by Durham Brewery, one of my local breweries.

It's bottle conditioned and the label warns of sediment, so I poured carefully but left a good 2cm in the bottom of the bottle as I could see the dusty sediment approaching the bottle neck.  Black Bishop is jet black with only a hint of russet brown when held to the light at a certain angle.  The head is reasonably tight and dark beige coloured and shows no sign of dispersing, leaving thick lacing as you would expect from a good stout.

Delicious aromas of dark chocolate and roasted coffee make this a stout that I couldn't wait to experience.  Hurrah - I was certainly not disappointed.  The bitter mix of chocolate and coffee has an added smokiness that made this stout stand out from the rest.  I think smoky flavours are difficult to judge: too much and it tastes like an ash tray and too little might as well not be there at all.  Durham Brewery have got it just right like Goldilocks.

The perfect amount of carbonation results in a full bodied stout that, although lighter and fizzier than its most famous cousin, makes me happily declare that Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by The Durham Brewery, County Durham
4.1% ABV

My rating:

Sunday 4 March 2018

Greene King IPA

I loved the colour of this one but unfortunately that's all I loved.  It's a beautiful copper toffee colour but it has a very loose head that disappeared in a matter of seconds.  It also has a very strange aroma: at first it is hoppy and metallic but then it reminded me of smelly stagnant water, like I often experience with Shepherd Neame ales.

It tastes a little bit malty, quite fresh and with a bitter aftertaste.  I was surprised that there was no hint of citrus as you would normally expect with an IPA, making me think that this should be labelled as a bitter rather than an IPA.  Despite its flat appearance the carbonation is quite harsh and it was an overall disappointing experience.

Brewed by Greene King, Bury St Edmunds
3.6% ABV

My rating:

Sunday 18 February 2018

Adnams Broadside

Adnams Broadside is the first beer listed in World Bottled Beers by Adrian Tierney-Jones, and you can find out more about this bottle-shaped book here in my beer books section.

This ale is my kind of colour: a deep ruby red with a reasonably tight beige head.  It smells mouthwateringly malty along with the kind of aroma you get when you first open a dark fruit cake.  I didn't smell it for long as I couldn't wait to take a sip!

The taste is predominantly fruity and bitter chocolate but more flavours are apparent as you drink it.  It's quite fizzy and I could taste some spiciness and liquorice, which is very reminiscent of dandelion and burdock, followed by a metallic copper coin bitter aftertaste.  It's a strong one at 6.3% so just aswell the metallic taste is there so you don't mistake it for dandelion and burdock pop.

It definitely tingled my tastebuds and I can see why it is such a popular beer.  I think it would have been a 5 pint rating for me if the metallic taste had been toned down a notch or two; I'm not averse to metallic bitterness but I don't want to feel like I am licking all the copper coins in my purse.

I wouldn't mind another pint of Broadside, perhaps on a chilly winter's evening beside the fire to accompany a slice of fruit cake.

Brewed by Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk
6.3% ABV

My rating:

Saturday 10 February 2018

Portobello Star

I bought a mixed real ale pack from Laithwaites and found THE HOLY GRAIL OF BEERS.  As I was drinking it I could hear Obi Wan Kenobi saying: 'This is the beer you are looking for.'  Just look at it!  It's a perfect crystal clear amber colour with a thick, tight cream coloured head.

Mouthwatering aromas are released on pouring: sweet malts and fruity hops combined with a hint of floral spice and nutty bread.  I just couldn't wait to dive in and I was not disappointed.

This really is delicious!  It is sweet and bitter with an ever so slight metallic bitter aftertaste at first.  It is perfectly smooth with extra soft bubbles that caress your tongue as you partake in the amazing experience of Portobello Star.  The head remains right to the last drop whilst lacing the glass and I loved every second of this.  Talking of seconds...I wish I could have had seconds but there was only one in the pack.  

If you follow my book blog, The Book Magnet, you will know that I often refer to Disney's Cinderella to identify something extra special.  When I was a very young child, my parents took me to the cinema to see Cinderella.  As we came out of the cinema I was in floods of tears and my Dad asked me why I was crying.  My answer was: 'Because I didn't want it to finish.'  That's exactly how I felt about Portobello Star.  As much as I was loving it and could have greedily gulped it down, I savoured every mouthful as I didn't want it to finish.  I have found my Cinderella beer, although it is proving as elusive to find as the owner of the famous glass slipper who Prince Charming was searching for.  I will wear out my F5 button soon, Laithwaites!

Ale DEFINITELY Be Seeing Portobello Star again and like Prince Charming, I will never give up searching for my Cinderella beer.  

Brewed by Portobello Brewing, London
4.3% ABV

My rating:

Friday 2 February 2018

Shepherd Neame Bishop's Finger

This is my kind of colour: chestnut brown with a frothy, reasonably tight beige head.  As you'd expect from the appearance, it smells so fruity and malty with just a hint of the trademark Shepherd Neame sour hops smell that can sometimes be a bit unappealing.  I was definitely not put off by the aroma in this case as the experience so far invited me to dive right in.

This tastes deliciously malty with a fruity tanginess, sour hops and a hint of liquorice toffee, followed by a bitter chocolate aftertaste.  It is quite fizzy but not too harsh and each bubble leaves a fruity burst of flavour in your mouth.

Bishops Finger is one of the better Shepherd Neame ales and you can often pick it up quite cheap.  It's one I have drank many times so I can definitely say that Ale Be Seeing it Again.

Brewed by Shepherd Neame, Kent
5.4% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Shepherd Neame

Saturday 6 January 2018

Ringwood Red Boar

Just look at this beauty!  Red Boar is Ringwood's first red ale, it is a delicious mahogany red with a loose beige head that disappeared to a thin foam.  There isn't much of an aroma, nothing I could really identify except perhaps faintly malty and nutty.

First taste was a bit disappointing; it feels very thin without much flavour and it's quite watery with medium carbonation.  After a couple more sips I found it had a very nutty taste and it leaves a surprising bitter aftertaste.  I was disappointed that I didn't really get any hint of the 'subtle roasted malt undertones'; I like my reds more malty than this, but it's only 3.9% ABV so it's more of a light 'day beer'.

It's interesting that Red Boar isn't listed on Ringwood's website but I have had some brilliant ales from them in the past including Boon Doggle and my favourite, Old Thumper.  Red Boar isn't bad for a first red ale, but I'm hoping that version 2.0 is more to my liking.

Brewed by Ringwood Brewery, Hampshire
3.9% ABV

My rating: