One woman's ale journey

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

Monday 28 December 2020

Black Sheep My Generation


A bright golden yellow, slightly hazy session pale ale, My Generation is a collaborative brew between Black Sheep and My Generation Beer Co.  As we have come to expect from Black Sheep, it has an amazing thick tight frothy head that leaves excellent lacing.

The aroma is very fruity with underlying hoppiness and a little malt.  It's definitely a citrus fragrance but seems a little sweeter more like pineapple.  The hops gives it a slightly sour aroma too.

The taste of tangy hops and citrus blended with sweet malt give a lovely fresh, bitter finish.  The bitterness is slightly metallic at first but transforms to more palatable citrus as you drink.  Although you can see bubbles, which maintain the head beautifully, it is quite softly carbonated and medium bodied.

With just the right level of citrus for me, this is an easy drinking pale ale and I'd have one again; it's a lovely refreshing beer to drink during the day in Spring/Summer.  Yet again, award winning brewers Black Sheep can do no wrong in my eyes.  Ale Be Seeing You again!

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

My rating:

My Untappd score: 4/5

Friday 25 December 2020

Mordue Howay in a Manger

A beauty to behold, Howay in a Manger is a nutty brown colour with a HUGE frothy Mr Whippy style head.  It was quite excitable on opening and came whooshing out of the bottle but I was ready for it and didn't spill a drop.  As Yoda would say, 'Lively one, this is'. 

The aroma is deliciously malty with a hint of sweet caramel, spice, fruity orange and hops.  The smell seems to evolve as it smells of sweet malt and caramel at first, followed by a whiff of slight citrus bitterness and then another hit of malt.  I couldn't wait to dive in for a sip.

Wow!  My eyes closed in ecstasy when I took my first sip and it felt like there was a Christmas party in my mouth as flavours of malt, sweet spice, toffee and dark fruit combine to create a taste explosion.  It's quite fizzy with a decent body and has a lovely creamy mouthfeel.  This really is an amazing winter ale, and just like Wizzard, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day so I could have a pint of this delicious ale.

More malty than a bag of Maltesers, this is an outstanding winter ale with a huge malty kick and I hope Santa puts a bottle of Howay in a Manger in my stocking this Christmas.  Although, just like a puppy, Howay in a Manger isn't just for Christmas and I could happily drink this all year round.  Ale Be Seeing you Again!

Brewed by Mordue Brewery, North Shields
4.3% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 4.75/5

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Leffe Biere de Noël/Kerstbier


Leffe Biere de Noël is a stunning beer; it's a mid-brown colour with a lovely amber hue and a bubbly cream coloured head.  The head is quite loose so it's not surprising to see it disappear but it does retain a thin foam layer. 

The aroma is so malty with a huge hit of spicy mixed fruit and a hint of smooth, sweet toffee.  It's not a terribly strong smell but it is so appealing and I knew I was in for a real treat as I leaned in for my first sip.  The taste is HEAVENLY; tangy toffee, sticky treacle, sweet malt and a slight hint of cinnamon - this is a dark ale lover's dream.

It's medium bodied and well carbonated which gives the feel of champagne bubbles bursting on the tongue, however, I would have preferred the bubbles to be a little less harsh.  It's a shame it's so fizzy as it was looking like it would score full marks across the board.

An absolutely delicious malty ale with sweet toffee notes and a pinch of festive spice, I'd be more than happy to drink a Biere de Noël again so Ale Be Seeing You!

Brewed by Leffe, Belgium
6.6% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 4.5/5

Monday 21 December 2020

Uiltje F*ck The Christmas Tree Is On Fire


Dutch brewers, Uiltje have given their festive stout such a brilliant name I just had to grab a bottle from the fabulous online beer shop, BeerWulf.  F*ck The Christmas Tree Is On Fire is an orange and coffee oatmeal stout with a stonking 10% ABV.  Just as well it's only in a 330ml bottle or I'd have been Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.

It's a stout so it's no surprise that it's a very dark brown, almost black coloured ale but the head is so disappointing.  There's almost no head at all, just a tiny bit of froth around the circumference of the beer.

The aroma is exactly what it says on the label: coffee and orange but there's also a hint of spice and a sprinkling of chocolate.  The orange smell is beautiful, it's more like freshly squeezed sweet orange juice than zesty bitter orange peel.

It's a lovely flavoured stout, predominantly coffee and chocolate but the added orange gives a hint of sweetness that balances the bitterness perfectly.  The bitterness comes full circle with a slightly bitter chocolate/coffee finish.  There is also no mistaking the 10% ABV with a hint of raw alcohol in the aftertaste.

With no head from the start, it's has a surprisingly fizzy mouthfeel and it gave my tongue a good tingling.  It has a medium to full body and the oatmeal gives it a creaminess that makes it a little too easy to drink (remember that high ABV!).

It's a very unusual stout; I loved the addition of orange which takes a lot of the bitterness off the coffee and the oatmeal smoothly blends the different flavours.  It's a shame there was no head as the appearance is quite off-putting and although I wouldn't have one again, I'd definitely give it a try if you're a stout lover.

Brewed by Uiltje Brewing Co, Haarlem, the Netherlands
10% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 3.75/5

Saturday 19 December 2020

Black Sheep Blitzen


I LOVE Black Sheep beers and ruby is my favourite ale so I was over the moon to get my hands on a bottle of Blitzen, a ruby Christmas ale from my favourite North Yorkshire brewery.

It's a dark ruby coloured ale with the thick, tight beige head that we know and love from Black Sheep.  The aroma is AMAZING, it's very fruitcake-like with treacle, dark fruit and malts combining to create a mouth-watering smell.

My first sip took me to beer heaven.  It is so malty with a hint of sweet treacle at first then there was a layer of liquorice and caramel followed by a dark chocolate and zesty bitter orange finish.  It is exactly like biting into a Christmas cake as each layer of flavour hits your taste buds.

With a medium body, it's so very smooth to drink and I would have guessed it was a Black Sheep ale if I'd drank it with my eyes closed.  The trademark Black Sheep head was even more robust than usual as it clung to my lip and left me with a frothy moustache.

Blitzen is a lovely ruby ale that you could drink all year round as it's not a spicy Christmas ale, it's just a lovely fruity ruby.  I loved it and I can most definitely say Ale Be Seeing You again, Blitzen.

Brewed by Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire
4% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 4.25/5

Thursday 17 December 2020

Greene King Festive Pudding Ale


Festive Pudding Ale from Greene King comes in a clear bottle so you can see the amazing ruby coloured ale inside and it was colour that sold it to me immediately.  It has to be the most perfect ruby coloured ale, although the head is very disappointing; only briefly forming a thin loose layer before rapidly disappearing and leaving a flat headless pint.

The aroma isn't strong but it's malty and fruity; it's not looking bad at all up to this point so I had reasonably high hopes for the taste test.  First sip isn't bad with a sweet malty flavour and a slight hint of treacle but then it has the weirdest aftertaste: Is it biscuit? Perhaps grapefruit? Possibly cardboard?  Maybe even dirty water?  Certainly no taste at all reminiscent of Christmas, never mind Christmas pudding.

The mouthfeel is just as weird; it's thin-medium bodied with decent carbonation but the bubbles are so harsh that my tongue felt like it had been rubbed with wire wool.  My tongue was tingling for ages after drinking it.  Supposedly 6% ABV, it doesn't feel anything like that strong and I would have put it more at around half that.

Apart from the name, there's nothing festive about Greene King's Festive Pudding Ale and other than the perfect ruby colour, it doesn't have much going for it.  I still drank it all, of course!  

I wouldn't recommend this one so Ale not Be Seeing You again, Festive Pudding Ale.

Brewed by Greene King, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
6% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 3/5

Tuesday 15 December 2020

BrewDog Santa Paws


Way back in 2016, I was delighted to find a deliciously dark ruby tinged ale inside the bottle of Santa Paws, BrewDog's Christmas Scotch ale.  It has a large frothy beige head that is quite loose but does leave a thin foam layer when it disperses.

The aroma has a lovely cinnamon spiciness to it that reminded me of Coca Cola and it's a lovely blend of malt, dark fruit and caramel with a hint of winter spice.  The aroma transfers to the flavour and it's a delicious blend of chocolate, malt and coffee with a treacle or slightly burnt toffee aftertaste, perhaps from the heather honey that is included in the brew.  

Well carbonated, it gives my tongue a good tingling but the body is rather thin.  It's only 4.5% and it feels quite light to drink so it goes down very nicely indeed.

I do like a scotch ale now and again as a lighter alternative to stout or porter, and Santa Paws is a lovely subtle, easy drinking scotch ale.  If it's brewed again, Ale Be Seeing You!

Brewed by BrewDog Brewery, Ellon, Aberdeenshire
4.5% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 4.25/5

Sunday 13 December 2020

Wychwood Brewdolph

Looking more like a traditional beer than a Christmas beer, Wychwood's Brewdolph is a deep golden colour with a huge frothy off-white head.  The head is quite robust, lasting for a while before dispersing to a patchy foam and leaving some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is distinctly hoppy with a hint of caramel and some sweet fruit; it's quite a basic, traditional aroma and it doesn't remind me at all of Christmas.  To tick the Christmas box, there is supposed to be an aroma of pine but I couldn't detect any at all.

On to the taste which is very hoppy with notes of caramel, biscuit and perhaps a tiny hint of citrus fruit.  It has a lovely dry finish as well as a slight citrus bitterness in the aftertaste but it's very thin bodied, to the point of being almost watery.  There's absolutely nothing in the taste that can be described as Christmassy.

Brewdolph falls short as a Christmas ale, but it's a real thirst quencher with a lovely dry finish so would do better rebranded as an everyday beer.  Not one Ale Be Seeing again, unless it is brought out under a different guise.

Brewed by Wychwood Brewery, Oxfordshire
4% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 3.5/5

Friday 11 December 2020

Otter Brewery Otter Claus

I love the otter wearing a Santa hat on the label of Otter Claus, a winter ale from Otter Brewery in Devon; as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to grab a couple of bottles.  Of course, it's what's inside the bottle that counts and this ale is a beautiful deep ruby colour with a very loose, rapidly vanishing cream coloured head.  This definitely looks like my kind of beer!

The aroma is malt, dark fruits, biscuit and toffee with a hint of spiciness and a slight metallic bitterness.  Flavour is malt, toffee, dark fruits and hops followed by a warming spice and a slight bitter finish that builds up as you drink.  As the flavour develops, it's like a liquid Christmas cake as the taste of raisins and warming spice become more noticeable.

It's medium bodied with soft carbonation that gives it a rather flat appearance when the head vanishes, however, it feels very smooth in the mouth and is so easy to drink that it goes down far too quickly.

A lovely winter ale and an absolute steal at a current price of only £2.63 per 500ml bottle direct from Otter Brewery's Online Shop.  I'd be more than happy to drink Otter Claus all year round and Ale definitely Be Seeing You again.

Brewed by Otter Brewery, Devon
5% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 4/5

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Grimbergen Brassin de Noël


This is a little beauty, with only 250ml in the bottle it pours a mid-mahogany brown with a beige frothy head that only disperses a little to leave a good layer of tight creamy foam.

Wow the aroma is Christmas cake in a glass: malt, dark fruits, caramel, a sprinkling of sugar and a hint of spice.  Grimbergen should recreate this smell in a scented candle as it really is a delicious Christmas brew (which is the translation of Brassin de Noël).  I could sniff this for hours but I couldn't wait to find out what it tasted like.

Oh hallelujah!  This is perfection in a glass: dark fruits, sweet malts, a hint of liquorice and spice are combined perfectly to produce an outstanding, intensely malty ale.  It has quite a complex aftertaste, what starts as slightly sour and hoppy evolves into more of a spicy and mixed peel bitterness.  It is perfectly carbonated and full bodied and appears to lovingly caress the tongue with every mouthful.

What a little gem!  It might be in a small bottle but it's definitely a case of quality over quantity as Grimbergen Brassin de Noël scored full marks in every category: appearance, aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and overall.  It's far too nice to keep just for Christmas so Ale Be Seeing You whenever I can get my hands on you, Brassin de Noël, and I'll definitely be looking out for the 330ml and the heavenly 750ml bottles.

Brewed by Grimbergen Abbey Brewery, Belgium
6.5% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 5/5

Monday 7 December 2020

Three Brothers Gingerbread

Now that December is upon us, I'm reviewing all of the Christmas beers I have in my review queue and I'll be posting every other day up to and including Christmas Day.  So keep popping by to check out some great (and not so great) festive brews. 

For me, the smell of Christmas is sweet mince pies and gingerbread so first up is a Gingerbread milk stout from North East brewers, Three Brothers Brewing Co that I bought from the North Tyneside Christmas market in 2018.

It pours a lovely black colour with a ruby tinge and a small, loose beige head that disappears quickly to a thin foam layer.  I have to say that the aroma is AMAZING with mouthwatering notes of treacle, malt, dark chocolate and a definite whiff of ginger spice (the actual ground spice not the Spice Girl, thankfully).

The ginger in the flavour is quite subtle with malt and chocolate flavours being more dominant.  It does have a hint of ginger but before I'd fully experienced it I was hit with a slightly bitter, chocolate aftertaste.  It's quite lightly carbonated and a little on the thin side for a stout, but this gives it a lovely smooth mouthfeel.

Overall, it's a lovely malty stout with a hint of warming ginger spice but I would have preferred a bit more ginger.

Brewed by Three Brothers Brewing Company, Teesside
4.5% ABV

My rating:

My Untappd score: 4/5