I have a soft spot for beers that have a) an attractive, modern, cartoony label and b) an interesting back-story. A sucker for marketing, I know, but there was no way I could leave Pure Ubu on the shelf for both of these reasons.
Ubu, according to the label, is the brewery’s dog, who is “a maverick, brim full of character and the unofficial keeper of [Purity's] secrets”. There’s even a cute little drawing of him crowning the front label.
However, I must become a hard-nosed beer reviewer once again, decant the dark amber liquid into a glass, and cast the bottle away from view as to not influence my judgement on the key element of this package.
The nose is malty and warm, with an extra-sweet sensation of caramel and toffee coming through strongly. Once in the mouth, the light carbonisation barely disguises the rather thin, slightly watery mouthfeel. A little warm flavour does manage to make its way through, however, and the slightly nutty taste soon gives way warm, dry aftertaste; an unexpected sensation considering the lightness of the body.
Further down the glass, the beer becomes rather refreshing and fairly enjoyable. Initial disappointment at the lack of impact in the mouth soon gives way to a rather satisfying ending. This, surprisingly considering the darkness of tone, would make a great summer session ale, with the 4.5% abv being relatively none threatening if enjoyed over a period of time.
In the same way that image of little Ubu frolicking happily across the label, this beer wins its way into your heart. Like owning a dog, at first it can seem hard work, but perseverance will bring its rewards with this ale.Tags: amber, bottle design, pure ubu, purity, refreshing
The 15 finalists in the Sainsbury’s Beer Competition included no less than 7 beers from Scotland. The remaining 8 from England included beers from Devon (2), Shropshire, Yorkshire, Somerset (Bath) and Suffolk. The east of England is actually quite well represented with these two entries from the Wolf Brewery in Norfolk as well as Greene King’s Bretwalda.
I’ve come across Wolf before, last year (although not this year as I didn’t get to the local section) at Norwich Beer Festival. The festival, held in the St. Andrew’s & Blackfriars’ Halls slap bang in the centre of the ancient city, not only has the usual set up of lots of UK real ale ales, but also a room each dedicated to world beers and local beers.
It’s in the local beers room, a rowdy rabbble of beer, cider and tombola, that Wolf features at Nowich Beer Festival. Along with St Peters (from Suffolk) and a handful of smaller breweries East Anglia’s beer is proudly poured for the red nosed punters amidst a loud din of jovialness.
And I think that’s the way these beers are meant to be drunk, because served up in a bottle in front of me I don’t get the same excitement of buzz as I did at the festival.
Wolf Whistle is the paler of the two ales, although it is still a vibrant Fantastic Mr Fox red, bold and amber in complexion. There is a sweetness and gentle hop aroma on the nose, and this is washed down by the easy to drink liquid that leaves a malty aftertaste. The hops add a subtle aroma and later a bitterness that, without, would leave this beer uninteresting.
No doubt this is a session beer rather than an occasion beer and I can see it being better from the cask. It’s clean and light and makes you want another sip, but that’s more to do with the pleasant malt bitterness than a bursting taste you can’t wait to get back to.
Woild Moild is a much darker affair, with a rich nose and a smoky dark mild body and a gentle carbonisation that adds (a slight) bite on the tongue. What sets this apart from similar dark beers is Woild Moild’s fruitiness, which, as with Wolf Whistle’s hops, it would be uninteresting without. For me this beer is held back because I can’t find the chocolate malt the label promised. Without that it’s a simple, fruity dark beer but isn’t as interesting as I was expecting.
These beers are well worth a look though, not least for Wolf’s attitude as a brewery and local business. Wolf are very much focused on their local heritage, placing emphasis on sustainability - they draw water from their own well, recycle waste products and source barley malt from just across the Suffolk border.
Wolf Brewery have certainly done very well to get in the 15 finalists, and the beers are good and highly drinkable – in my opinion they’re just not great. These are session beers, and good pub beers – tasty, fruity and easy to drink – but a little more spark would be needed to be competition winners.
Tags: chocolate, dark, Fruity, malt, mild, norfolk, norwich, red, ruby, whistle, woild moild, wolf
Thanks to Duncan at Wolf Brewery who came to my rescue with a bottle of Wolf Whistle, the only one of the 15 finalists I wasn’t able to get at my local Sainsbury’s.
Tremendously excited about a beer named after a band I’ve held on a pedestal for over 50% of my life, I jumped on the chance to grab a couple of these when I picked up a few beers for a Soccer Saturday marathon and catch up with mates from my uni days. Trying to conduct a beer review in front of Jeff Stelling and co is never easy, especially when it isn’t the easiest review to write.
How To Disappear Completely is something else. To say its heavy on the hops is an understatement! The aroma and the first sip are larger than life, a complete juxtaposition with the Radiohead song it’s named after. This is, as the bottle suggests, is imperially hopped. That’s something I can be pretty keen on, but of course with beers super charged with hops, balance is inevitably lost. My first reaction is that for the piney-hoppy-dark-malt fest that this beer is right from the start, this isn’t alcoholically strong, begging the question where does this taste come from (or where does the alcohol go?!).
BrewDog’s beers are generally very drinkable, especially considering that they are usually above average strength, and How To Disappear Completely is deceptively light. And considering the immense bitterness this beer exudes, it is sort of drinkable…relatively speaking. But if I’m honest I just didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as Punk IPA or Chaos Theory.
It’s not a bad beer by any means, there’s a depth of flavour that I found quite overpowering and perhaps a bit OTT, something I find with Stone Ruination IPA – a beer of such character that it can barely get into it before it’s tripped me up and spat my back out. How To Disappear is similarly hopped, I’ve no doubt the ascerbic power of this beer will take you by surprise and the off-the-scale theoretical IBU count of 358 (or something) will have your taste buds screaming for mercy and jumping ship like lemmings.
It feels like a seasonal beer, something suitable for the autumn and winter, not one of the last hot and sunny days of summer, watching the football results with accumulator in hand. The flavours are astonishing – I’m sure that cocoa, cigars, grass, fruit and leaves all hit me at different points when I wasn’t stunned by the bitterness. The malt manages to make brief, fleeting appearances and adds a smoky, roasted flavour …but blink and it’ll disappear. The flavours of the beer do disappear and intertwine like the do in the same way, just in a much cruder way.
My friends Jimmy and Jay were not at all impressed, this being too far flung from the safe arms of Birri Moretti and Erdinger, about the fanciest they get. Their first reactions were knee jerk – this was just way, way too much to handle.
And I’d agree to a certain extent. For me I like the idea and I like it that a milder beer (ABV wise) can be amazingly complex. But How To Disappear Completely didn’t strike me as interestingly intricate, I found it difficult. For me its balance is lost and the hop/malt struggle within this beer isn’t a tug of war of the taste buds but more of an uncoordinated rabble that peters out leaving an uncomfortable aftertaste. The stormy brew doesn’t ebb and flow, the flavours crash and erode, leaving your senses a little worse for wear. That’s if you’re able to get through the bitterness and find those flavours!
Let’s put aside the hyperbole and verbose descriptions for a second. When it all boils down, How To Disappear is a beer I’ll try again. Maybe my taste buds will become attuned to it, maybe I’ll find something else in it, but it’s not one I could drink regularly, and certainly not something I could convert friends to easily. Like the song, which wasn’t my favourite on Kid A to start with, it really took a lot of effort to get under the skin of it, and I still don’t fully get it. But I love the song now, so maybe the beer is a grower?
If I had to choose, if I could have only this beer or the song of the same name, then I’d have to take the song every time.
But being an optimist, I’d definitely take the song and the beer if that was an option, even if I’m never able to quite enjoy it or get it.Tags: BrewDog, fake fix ipa, hops, imperial, india pale ale, IPA, mild, wow