Tag Archives: Beer review

Arbor Hoptical Delusion II

3 Mar

Hoptical Delusion II

Sorry I’ve been away for so long, I’ve been busy working, but not so busy I haven’t been drinking! Let’s get on with this thing then. This is an interesting beer, a pale ale that’s been bottled straight from the fermentation vessels. No filtering or finings to make it clear, just pure, fresh, and unadulterated beer. It certainly looks it, as it pours a very cloudy looking orangey copper colour, with a decent white head. It doesn’t smell as hoppy as I expected, but it is very fresh and grassy. The hops come through more in the taste, being fruity, grassy, fresh and slightly citrusy, balanced with some soft and wholesome bready malts. These, with the unfiltered aspect of the beer, work together to create a really lovely texture, with is really thirst-quenching yet tasty. All with a great sessionable abv, making it a truly great example of a pale ale. Another good show from Arbor, an original, interesting and  quality beer from an original, interesting and quality brewery.


Deschutes Obsidian Stout

19 Jan

Obsidian Stout

This is a pretty special beer for me, as I’ve always read about Deschutes and their amazing stouts and porters. The main trouble being they didn’t export outside of the US. Well now I have one! The Obsidian Stout. Kindly brought back to the UK by an American friend for me. It pours black with a lively tan head, and has an interestingly original aroma. More coffee than I’d expect from a non-imperial stout but still those familiar dark, burnt malts. The taste is very nicely balanced between a dark malty sweetness, reminiscent of dark fruits like cooked plums, and a dry bitterness, from those hops and the burnt, coffee-like aspect of the malts. The beer has quite a wholesome yet drinkable mouthfeel, the dryness leaving you craving more.

I love this beer, and I love Deschutes.

Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

17 Jan


Schlenkerla are a famous Bamberg brewery, specialising in smoked beers (rauchbiers). This particular rauchbier is a take on the marzen style, a fairly strong lager with it’s origins in Bavaria. The difference this beer has is that the brewers have used smoked malts rather than pale ones, to give it a darker, heavier and smokier feel and flavour. You can definitely see that as it pours a lovely dark brown colour, with a great aroma reminiscent of German smoked cheese. The smoke is a constant, in the background as you drink, complimenting the dark, nutty, and malty-sweet flavour of the beer. I could definitely go for a few more of these.

Poppyland “On the Edge” Dry Hopped Saisons

3 Jan

Poppyland is a new brewery in Cromer, Norfolk, which started up in the summer of 2012. Though still quite a small establishment, the brewer, a Geologist (or should I say former Geologist now he’s brewing?) named Martin, has produced some excellent looking beers. Luckily for me I have been able to get my mits on two of them! They are both of the saison style, a popular Belgian type of beer usually made from pale malts and fruity yet dry hops, brought together with earthy and tart yeast. One of my favourite styles as they are normally thirst-quenching served cold, so perfect for the summer months. A superb example of the style is Saison Dupont, available all over the place. Now, let’s get drinking!

Beer #1 – “On the Edge” Dry-hopped with Cascade and Hallertau-Hersbrucker
On the Edge #1
This beer is quite unusual for a saison, being dry-hopped at the end of the brewing process. The two different hops used are Cascade, perhaps the most famous American hop, and Hallertau-Hersbrucker. Cascade is a variety from Western America, which should give it a nice and big hop punch, akin to that of American IPAs, while Hallertau-Hersbrucker hops are from Bavaria in Germany. These should be slightly more subtle, adding to the bitterness while developing a less aggresive fresh and floral aspect. Now, onto the good part: the tasting!

Pours a light amber colour, with an excellent head and great lacing. Smells very fresh and grassy, with maybe a hint of sweetness, possibly honey. Tastes quite light, fresh and flowery at first, with the hops building up in bitterness and coming through quite intensely at the end, along with a hit of booze, also increasing the texture of the beer, making it feel a bit fuller. Fairly dry though not unpleasantly. Lovely stuff.

Beer #2 – “On the Edge” Dry-hopped with Bobek

Again, this one is dry-hopped, this time with Bobek, a Slovenian varity of hop. Bobek hops are apparantly “mild, excellent, coupelet (sic) with moderate bitterness”, so I’m expecting quite a reduced hop presence, principally due to the absence of the Cascade in this one.

The pour is pretty much the same as before in colour, with a significantly reduced head, though still retaining good lacing. Smells quite sweet and fresh, with a hint of nuttiness. The sweetness is almost fruity. The taste is more subtle and subdued than before, with much less bitterness on the finish, as well as lacking the thicker mouthfeel and some of the dryness. There is still a lingering, pleasant bittersweet taste on the palette after the swallow. This beer also has a bit more of a malt presence, with a subtle caramel sweetness coming through. Finally, worth a mention is how this beer has an insane level of drinkability. It’s thirst quenching yet flavourful and balanced. I hope it’s still for sale when it gets warmer!

Poppylands beers can be purchased from beautifulbeers.co.uk. Whilst fairly pricey, it’s definitely worth a go. Read more about the Poppylands Brewery at their website, as well as the brewers own blog.

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

15 Dec

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, an excellent example of a lesser known style of beer. Samuel Smith is a famous brewery from Tadcaster in Yorkshire, quite near York itself. They brew excellent English ales, including some amazing stouts and porters, of which their Oatmeal Stout is a prime example. Oatmeal Stout is in itself one of my favourite styles of beer, it’s dark and smooth, and if done well, packed full of flavour too. The oats used in the brewing process give it a great wholesome feel, as well as a slight sweetness. The dark malted barley used gives it a roasted flavour too, and both aspects combined lead to a really great taste.

Brewing beer in traditional Yorkshire squares - fermenting vessels constructed from slabs of slate

Oats in the beer is something that makes an oatmeal stout unique. It is a hark back to the past when hops were not used, and instead people used pretty much what they had available in order to make a drink that could sustain them. They were also brewed more recently in the 19th and early 20th centuries, along with milk/sweet stouts, due to the popular belief in the health benefits of foods such as oats and milk (ironically milk stouts actually contain no milk, but that is a story for another day). These beers however, would have been vastly different to today’s oatmeal stouts, due to different brewing processes and ingredients. If you like though, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout can be considered the original oatmeal stout as we know them today, as they were commissioned to brew a version of the dead style in the ’70s. The interpretation they came out with is this, described by the brewery as “fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ to create an almost opaque, wonderfully silky and smooth textured ale with a complex medium dry palate and bittersweet finish”. Now, let’s take a look at it.

As you can see, it’s a lovely looking beer. It pours a black colour with a creamy off white head, and it seems to be quite thick and wholesome in texture. It has a great smell too, quite strong for a beer, you can really sense those dark malts that have been used, from the dark and roasted, almost burnt aromas coming off it. Drinking a few gulps, you really get the effect of those oats on the drink. You can taste the sweetness, which combined with the malts is almost chocolatey. It also has a very smooth texture, which can be described most accurately as wholesome. The malts themselves provide a rich and dark element to it, making it not overbearingly sweet. Hops come in towards the end to add a dry bitterness to it, and balance out the beer overall. This is a great beer, you could easily drink pint after pint of it and not get bored. It does, however, lack the impact that many other stouts do have. Whilst the flavour is good, it isn’t very strong, though it is impressive considering it is only 5% abv (most stronger, harder hitting stouts can be 10% abv or more). It is very much a quaffing ale, rather than a beer crafted for it’s depth of flavour. This is why I like it in a way. Too many ales designed to be consumed in great quantities lack real taste, other than a generic “bitter” flavour. In fact too many also lack taste at all, especially when cellared badly in pubs. It would make a nice change from bitters and golden ales to see more beers like this being served widely in pubs around the UK (and it would be a nice step towards good craft beer being more widely available too).

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout can be found in many good beer shops around the UK, but if you can’t find anywhere, it can be ordered from Beers of Europe, here.

Tune in next time, for my Christmassy beer exploits, including Ayinger beer from Germany, Maui beer from the USA and homebrewed English ales. Thank you for reading.