Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Each of the three hops featured in this beer on its own makes for a fantastic IPA; indeed, Kernel has made a world-class single-hop IPA using each, with the IPA Citra being arguably the brewery's best known beer. Put these three hops together, though, and the outcome is all but guaranteed to be good.
This beer pours hazy, rich orange-gold with a frothy, white head that settles into a cream. The nose is rife with dank, citrusy hops, piss, orange and grapefruit; this is vintage Kernel right here. Medium sweet flavor with sturdy pale malt structure that allows the hops to really come out and play. This guy is loaded with juicy citrus, sappy pine, overripe melon and papaya, tangerine, some lightly pithy grapefruit and dry pine needles. It's medium bodied with fine carbonation. Good and resinous to finish with outrageous citrus juice and ripe tropical fruits. Moderately bitter with notes of toasted grass and pine. Glorious stuff. This definitely takes me back to the early days of the Kernel, when they first started splashing on to the scene with their brand of clean yet still super dank IPAs. Ah, lovely. (Score: 4.1/5.0)
Saturday, 5 July 2014
Beavertown recently put out another dark, hoppy beer. They call this one an 'India Stout', suggesting that it straddles the line between IPA and stout. I'm not sure why they wouldn't simply call it a black IPA, but I suppose that at 5.6% it's slightly below what could be considered IPA-strength territory. Nevertheless, this beer carries on the proud Beavertown tradition of making absolutely stonking roasty, well-hopped beers.
I can remember the first time I tried Black Betty - Beavertown's flagship black IPA - shortly after it came out back in November 2012 and being absolutely blown away by it. Beavertown hadn't really made a name for themselves at that point, so to have something that I considered world-class from a relatively unknown London brewery came as something of a surprise - albeit a very welcome one. Indeed, in the ensuing two years, the beer has made quite a name for itself and currently ranks, in a tie with two other beers, as the 8th highest-rated black IPA in the world, according to RateBeer. And at the same time, Beavertown has made quite a name for itself, rocketing into the craft beer collective conscious as one of the UK's top breweries.
The Holy Cowbell takes its place as Black Betty's slightly milder younger sibling, but by no means is it tame. It pours deep, black-brown with a thick, lasting beige foam head - it looks fantastic. There are heavily roasted malts in the nose, some burnt popcorn, cocoa, earth. The flavour is light-medium sweet with further hefty roasted malt character, some tar, burnt molasses, raisins, baking cocoa, burnt toast, rich earth and burnt pine. Medium bodied with fine, massaging carbonation and a chewy mouthfeel. It's well balanced to finish and it has dynamic dark, roasted malt character, plenty of bittersweet cocoa, some oily chocolate notes, scorched earth, burnt wood, some ripe and leathery dark fruits, and more resinous and burnt pine. This is an excellent beer, and there's loads of depth for being sub-6%. The mouthfeel, in particular, is truly exceptional. Basically, what you've got here is another superlative hoppy dark beer from Beavertown. Well done. (Score: 4.1/5.0)
Be sure to pop by Beavertown's new taproom, which has its grand opening today, 5 July. See our Events page for further information.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Recently I tried another of Partizan's pale ales; this one uses mosaic (aka HBC369, and the son of USA's simcoe) and kazbek (of Czech extraction, derived from saaz).
The beer starts rising out of the bottle once it’s cracked - a bit heavy on the carbonation, this one. It pours cloudy, orange-gold with a large, ever-expanding white froth head. There's great aroma here, with lots of fresh, juicy hops, grapefruit, tangerine stuff, pretty much what you might expect from the expressive mosaic. The flavor is moderately sweet with a bit of lightly tangy tangerine, slight rindy bitterness, orange juice, faint minerals and pine needles, mango, a bit of earth. Light bodied with lively, mouth-filling carbonation. Nicely balanced on the finish, with pleasant juicy hop character, lightly dried orange and tangerine, lemon peel, faint dry pale bread, some dried pine needles. Pretty clean overall. Shame about the carbonation, which distracts a bit. Otherwise, it's solid. (Score: 3.7/4.0)
Tuesday, 1 July 2014
In their never-ending expansion into new styles, Weird Beard has brought us Dark Hopfler, a beer that really doesn't fall neatly into any existing style category (not that it matters). This is a fantastic beer, with a depth of character that belies its impressively low ABV. Weird Beard calls it a 'dark milk ale', which doesn't necessarily do the beer justice. I'd say it's part milk stout (the sweetness and the roast), part black IPA (the hoppy edge), part mild (the low ABV). What would you call it?
The beer pours deep, black-brown with a large, thick, lasting beige cream head. It has a great aroma, with lots of burnt pine, dark chocolate, pleasant roasted malts. Light sweet is the flavor with nice overriding dark roast character, some burnt sugars, a bit of piney bitterness, subtle milk chocolate. Light bodied with fine, massaging carbonation. Finishes with moderate sweetness, earthy and burnt pine bitterness, cocoa, grapefruit. Extremely solid. There's a kit going on in here, and it smacks of beer much stronger than it is. This is like a black IPA-lite - a session black IPA, if you will. Whatever you want to call it, it's well executed and very tasty. (Score: 4.0/5.0)