Hercules Double IPA lives up to it’s name from the first overloaded sniff. To paraphrase The Boss (and a bit of Bob too) the hops hit you like a freight train running through the middle of your mouth; this beer was definitely born in the USA.
Hercules is bursting at the seams with tangy grapefruit bitterness, and he ram raids my tongue and the back of my throat. Pow. He’s strong too and thumps me in the head with a 10% alcohol punch. Kaboom.
Balance isn’t Hercules’ strong point. But it’s not supposed to be. This is not a session beer, at least not in the English sense. This beer is a drinking challenge, like the multi-meat vindaloo hiding at the bottom of the menu with a caption ‘invented by our favourite regular, Lucifer’.
And it’s well named. A brute force hop monster dominated by bruising bitterness, seeping resin and slowly bleeding booze; a hedonistic but messy mix of crazed pine cones and hyperactive barley.
Hell if hops could spontaneously combust this beer would be on fire.Tags: great divide, hops
We hit Knaresborough under the cover of darkness not knowing what to expect, knowing only that Roosters Brewery are relaunching their famous Outlaw series.
For as long as we’ve lived in Leeds the beer on tap at the Cross Keys has been Roosters, week in week out. At North Bar, Wild Mule was virtually omnipresent and rarely defeated in having the fewest beer miles, which are chalked up next to each guest beer behind the bar.
So we arrive at The Mitre excited but confused as to why we’d swapped a typical Monday evening (ASDA, pizza, telly) for the drive into North Yorkshire. It was soon worth it.
The Mitre sits in the well of a steep lane, squeezed just opposite Knaresborough’s cute train station and a car park where there’s just enough room to turn a car, Austin Powers style. We’re greeted with a smart dining hall, a well turned out bar, and of course, Roosters on hand pull (a cheeky 284ml of Londinium please, with all it’s vibrant start and coffee finish. Yum yum but the lingering after taste means no kissing says the other half).
Before we’ve had a chance to waffle down a starter selection of lamb kebab, battered prawns and the most delicious bread and dips this side of a Greek Island, the pub is packed with people, all vying for a pint of Roosters Buckeye to kick start the evening.
Then we’re all bustling down the stairs to the underground brasserie where commercial manager and Roosters brother number one Tom Fozard explains why we’re here.
And as expected we are here to relaunch Outlaw Brewing Co, an offshoot set up by Roosters founder Sean Franklin to create innovative and challenging beers outside the brewery’s normal beer production.
It’s a concept that Ol Fozard, brother number two and head brewer (and apparently head brother too according his siblings introductory slip up) has embraced wholeheartedly, as the first new Outlaw brew is no less ambitious than a tea beer.
Yep, a beer made with tea, tea supplied by local tea empire Taylor”s of Harrogate. A family brewer and a family tea producer combining to make, well, a really decent brew!
Technically the beer served up at The Mitre is a prototype, and beer writer Melissa Cole is on hand to explain why she’ll be digging deep into Ol’s hop cupboard the next day when she mashes in with Ol.
And Melissa’s contribution has already been critical to direction of the final product. The beer – appropriately named Mad Hatter – is not just a tea beer but under Melissa’s guidance it’s a Jasmine Green Tea IPA.
It’s an artistic manoeuvre in adjunct flavours and the brewing traditions of tea and beer (we don’t quite get the IPA style but we can’t argue against the logic behind a green tea beer being designed as an India pale ale). Mad Hatter is flavoured with English bittering hops plus US Cascade and Australian Galaxy to maintain the colonial theme.
And then there’s the teabagging. Finest jasmine creates a blossoming floral nose and delicate sweetness, set against an easy drinking backbone with just a fleeting bitterness to reference to the catty dry palate of green tea.
Bittering hops and green tea naturally leaves our palette gasping for another pint…
But it’s a school night and we head back to West Yorkshire in anticipation. Not just of the official batch of what we believe to be the UK’s first jasmine green tea beer, but of what beery concoction the mad hatters of Roosters will come up with next for the green shoots of Outlaw Brewing Co.Tags: green tea, jasmine, knaresborough, Mitre, outlaw, roosters
Tuesday night, two bottled bitters sunk and the quenches for thirst and flavour continue to itch away unabated.
Cue Lakeland IPA, a beer that for one moment in time justifies the beatification of hops single-handedly.
The perfect hiss released as metal hits glass and twists plastic; an aroma eager to reach a nose and knock on the door of the senses.
Soft-fleshed fruit says hello – mangoes might not be typical of Cumbria unless visiting a certain kitchenware store for a peeling device that the kitchen drawer doesn’t really need, but here they add sweetness and a vibrancy missing from the evenings other contenders.
Wisps of unidentifiable flowers blend without any disharmony and it’s all finished with a perfect bitterness to leave behind a craving for just a little bit more.
Tags: cumbria, IPA, lakeland, mango
Perhaps this was served a bit colder than Marston’s would like, but forgive me, it’s been a rough day at the coalface if you can pardon me that expression. In fact, I’ve just pulled this bottle straight from the freezer after a short blast amongst the frozen peas and chicken wings, such was my need for ice cool beer refreshment.
Perhaps why that’s why this India Pale Ale doesn’t burst forward with the verve and charisma of the ‘modern wave’ of British IPA’s. It has a more prominent hop character than the average beer and it doesn’t lack in the bitterness stakes either, but the wisps of delicate citrus and almost unnoticeable spicy pine needles are hidden under what seems to be a layer of damp, decaying hops. Over chilled maybe?
Read the rest of this entry » Tags: india pale ale, IPA, marstons, old empire
This not, I repeat NOT, an IPA.
Punchy, citrus hops? Nil.
Alcohol? Deep, stewed and sweet beyond believe.
Apple skins & fruit pudding? Yes, yes, YES!
None of which gives Moor JJJ IPA much credence as an IPA. But then again this isn’t an IPA nor a double IPA. It’s only a bleedin’ triple IPA(!!!). This couldn’t be further from Green King’s bland and monotonous flagship brand of ale and is similar in nothing but colour.
By their own admission Moor didn’t brew this to style, in fact they encourage drinkers to ‘forget everything [they] know’ and not ‘”get too wrapped up in style pedantics”.
Peach brandy, trifle, aniseed and a touch of ill-placed butter could all be found in this swirling, mesmerising malt syrup, which places it nearer to a barley wine than anything that could accurately be described as pale. A wet, sticky, booze-and-currant-infused pudding of a beer, where fruit has been soaked in alcohol and doused in decadence.
So not quite the tropical nose or caramel body expected then?!
I’d hazard a guess that my bottle had matured a little and the immense hop content that’s put into JJJ had imploded under it’s own weight, much like a supernova descending into the dense afterlife of a neutron star. As a result JJJ was heavy, cloying and almost sickly. The bitterness was massive and overpowering, the thick, resinous nose almost belittling the subsequent attack on my tongue. Half a pint at the National Winter Ales festival was similarly rich and uncompromising on the palette, if a little more fresh and grassy on the nose, and lighter in the mouth.
If come across this at a bar, it’s repetitive Corona ball ‘n’ curves in bright lucid red jumping out at your eyes, then take your wallet from your pocket and sign it over to the Moor Beer Company and the pub who’ve been bold enough to put this on the bar.
We can’t promise you’ll like it but it’s one hell of a ride all the same. Neither does it promise to be easy, and that’s the only promise it lives up to.Read the rest of this entry » Tags: Barley wine, IPA, JJJ IPA, Moor
The Fuller’s Brewery probably stands a litle too far West of the City of London to claim it can hear the bells of St Clements (regardless if you favour the claims of the churches in Westminster or Candlewick).
As London beer goes though, this is the only one I’d associate with a certain nursery rhyme , for no reason other than Bengal Lancer is orange and lemons through and through.
A citrus nose, voluptuous marmalade rind body and a cheap grapefruit juice finish exert plenty of flavour over a temperate backbone of peppery-toffee.
This hops and malt in all their IPA glory without been obtrusive or over zealous.
In a bottle, Bengal Lancer has fast become a favourite from the supermarket (Sainsbury’s and Waitrose both stock it). On cask – if you’re lucky enough to find it during it’s all too short stint in London pubs – it’s equally tempting and subsequently rewarding.
Whether or not it would have found favour in colonial India, who knows. But it sure packs enough of a punch to stand out whilst being tantalising undecided about it’s ability to quench or leave you desperate for more.Read the rest of this entry » Tags: bengal lancer, Fuller's, india pale ale, IPA, London
There’s Belgian style IPAs (whatever that is) and then there’s Belgian Style IPAs (whatever they are).
This is the latter.
It’s sweet beyond belief, with a wispy wheat-led aroma that places a strong sense of doubt on it’s IPA credentials. But treat it like a lady and there’s a distinct hop bitterness to it that belies it’s Belgian façade.
To say this is a mix of styles is an understatement. To say it doesn’t work would be…wrong. It’s a fascinating beer. At various sips and gulps it showcases flavours of ice cream, bitterness, lemon and a hint of vanilla smoothie – all the product of Euro/US hops and Belgian malt blended into a very light sandy golden beer of mammoth taste and enviable sweetness.
All that and I don’t think I gave it a fair crack of the Roman whip, as I shared it on a train home from London with a stranger who may have become an acquaintance had I not lost their business card later on in the pub.
This is one for the beer hunters and I’m wasting no time in tracking down again.
Tags: belgian, belgica, great divide, india pale ale, IPA
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Style: Belgian Style India Pale Ale
Terrible beer, great name.
Of course not, it’s the other way round. Disclaimer starts here: I love this beer.
I first sampled The Bitch at the Flying Dog UK tasting in Leeds. This 20th anniversary beer jumped out of its take-home tetra pak like a bat out of hell. Its nose blasted my clean out of my seat and before the night was out it was on its way to being a beer phenomenon.
Raging Bitch’s Belgian influence is the first thing that strikes me: it’s fruity esters and yeasty sweetness that only Belgian beers can pull off. Until now.
Massive grapefruit pith and outrageous sour fruit intertwine with a sweet malt finish and a bitter attack from an armada of late hops. The nose is huge thanks to a dry hopping assault by Amarillo hops. You pluck out the names of most of Sainsbury’s exotic fruit aisle if you close your eyes; for me the grapefruit ebbs and flows against tangerine and apricot. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: belgian, flying dog, grapefruit, IPA, raging bitch, tangerine
Let me start by saying I’m not sure I gave this beer a fair run (which is an inadvertent pun!). I’ve just run 8 miles, never a good time for beer tasting. I doubt it was my fastest run ever but it did entail an hour and a half of running up the hills of Morley (of which their are seven, just like Rome, and Sheffield), over the Huddersfield-Leeds train line, across muddy fields, all the way along Churwell Hill, across to Dewsbury and back over the M62. In the rain. You know that rain. The rain that soaks you reet through.
On my return, after 2 x hamstring stretch + 2 x abductor stretch + 2 x hip flexor, but before my super hot sauna style shower, I popped open a beer whilst I liquidised the soup that had been simmering in the slow cooker.
This was part of a haul from the Beer Emporium in Sandbach, one of the first I picked up because I can’t help but be drawn to anything that says IPA on the label/pump clip. It poured very well for a bottle conditioned IPA, very clear, with a copper gradient and deep amber colour. Its nose and taste belied its appearance: I would expect it to be much more yellow and thinner because it tasted pale and gaunt, despite some upfront hop flavours and a little bit of biscuit. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: ber emporium, cheshire, dunham massey, IPA, manchester, Morley, parsnip, running, sandbach, soup
After a hectic day out on Saturday in the bustling streets of York complete with Christmas Market, I needed to relax with good food and beer when I got home. I’d been eyeing up three Harvey’s beers in my cupboard for a week or so and had been planning to drink them all together. Saturday night seemed perfect, with the promise of a hot curry and Christmassy afters.
Harvey’s Blue label
The first of three Harvey’s beers, I was hoping this would nicely wash down a Thai green chicken curry. It’s a coppery pale ale and poured with next to no head. I was expecting something lively from this diminutive bottle, but it was generally flat and a bit watery. Having heard lots about Harvey’s beers my first impressions were a little underwhelming.
It had a really nice, subtle aroma of lemons and limes, and there was a limey tang in the taste. It was super drinkable being soft on the palate with a smooth mouth feel. It wasn’t very bitter (the bottle says a ‘delicate bitterness’ which is an understatement) as you might expect from a beer weighing in at just 3.6% ABV. There was a sweet maltiness in the finish. I believe this beer is dry hopped which may explain some of its character
This did actually live up the bill, kind of accidentally, as it did wash down the green curry well in taste and texture, but I’m not sure this could become a favourite, and I’m not sure I’ve had the best bottle of it. One to give another go… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Ale, Barley wine, blue label, Elizabethan, harveys, india pale ale, IPA, pale, sussex