Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust, 6.4% abv.

Indiana’s Three Floyd’s have a rep. If you’re reading this y’all prob’ly won’t need tellin’, but on the off chance y’r new to craft beer it goes something like this; they make good stuff. The single brew of theirs that has best captured the imagination of craft beer’s geeky collective conscience is non other than Zombie Dust.

It is of course more than mere reputation and the exclusivity that comes from unavailability, as a showcase for the mighty Citra hop it’s reckoned to be as good as it gets. Then there’s that name. Taken from the aeons old custom of zombie dusting, a dangerous process whereby some brave individual will gather the unique culture of yeasts that form on a zombies clothing. Usually they use a dustpan and brush. Traditionally this is then used to make a type of scone that’s supposed to be fatal to most forms of undead if you hit ‘em with a headshot, but those cheeky chappies at Three Floyds just use it to ferment their beer. 

'Kay, so what's it like then? I dunno! I should probably try it. That spectacularly colourful cap pops with a whispered “dude, enjoy!”, and I swear I hear music as the marmalade orange liquid tumbles into my glass. Big aromas of lemon zest spiked orange and grapefruit erupt in mini explosions inside my nose holes, and as you all know, mini nose hole explosions are the second best kind of explosions!

A sip. It’s like being locked in the stocks in the village square, again, while the haggard locals hurl fruit at me. Oranges, grapefruit, peaches, and wait, pineapple!?! You can fuc… *ouch* Whutthehell? Soothing biscuity malts give me a brief respite before more fruit comes at my face. The juicy, fruity, onslaught fades with a hugely bitter and dry finish, those citrus and tropical fruits linger for a while but they’re manageable. 

I feel I should admit that I’m a Citra addict, and Zombie Dust is, as far as I’m concerned, up there with the very finest expressions of what this wonder hop is all about. Huge tropical fruit flavours meets citrus juiciness. If it all sounds a little full on for an APA then you’d be right, it’s an IPA in all but name. One of the things that interested me the most was the lack of any real dankness, this stuff is hella bright and breezy and actually reminds me of the UK craft brewed IPA’s from the likes of the Kernel. It certainly stands shoulder to shoulder with that brewery’s incredible IPA Citra.

So yeah I’m a big fan of this and can absolutely see its reputation justified. If I lived near the brewery it’d be my go-to, no doubt about it. Thanks once again to the awesome bevans82 (follow his blog ‘kay) for the beer trade, I’m hugely grateful you parted with one of these! And as if a super tasty brew wasn’t enough, it seems I now have the ability to sense the presence of the undead from a distance of um, about fifty paces. Awesome. 

It’s my Birthday!!!  Well not quite but nearly!!!

'Twas in the chill, dwindling light of last autumn that I started posting pictures and writey bits on this here Tumblr, and as it turns out that makes it more or less a year ago. The journey really has been awesome, and that's all 'cause of you lot, as motley a collection of creative geniuses, swaggering vagabonds, and poetic pissheads as a directionless soul could ever hope to stumble across.

As it turns out I’ve come into the possession of a few rather interesting brews, some limited releases, others merely elusive in the bumbling, rambling, countryside of South Staffordshire, and over the next month I’ll be doin’ my best to drink as many of these as I can and post about them (in)appropriately as a sort of birthday celebration type thing. A special shout out has to go to the awesome bevans82 for the Zombie Dust, you sir are a gentleman and a scholar. Give his blog a visit y’all!

If time permits I may also revisit some of my earliest posts, try the beers again, furtle around with the words a bit and repost ‘em.

The first of this little lot above to be consumed were the two Three Floyd’s beers and they’ll make up my next couple of posts, Zombie Dust is on the way.

-Cheers!

Whatup. Thought I’d say hello to all my new Tumblr chums (and the old ones!), quite why you’re all clicking the follow button for this place of wonky pictures and far to many words baffles me but while you’re here you’re most welcome :)

You’ll find that I post my tasting notes / not really reviews / stuff once a week at the moment, usually Mondays, with occasional pic dumps of beer mail or from my Instagram whenever. Ooh, like those above, what a coincidence! Brief notes are in the captions if you’re so inclined, and yes I do mean brief. Like not at all rambling, off topic, don’t know when to shut up type notes. Hmm, maybe I should start doing supplementary mini posts. 

Anyhoo, thanks for taking the time to look at my page, I’m ever so flattered. Hope your weekend has been full of beery wonderment and I’ll have something new for y’all tomorrow.

Cheers!

Buxton White Wine Saison, 7.0% abv.
The Peak District is a beautiful place yet also deadly for the unwary. The rolling moors, secluded dales, babbling brooks, enchanted springs, and dark caverns are strewn with the bones and hiking boots of unprepared adventurers. If only they’d started their doomed quests in the pretty town of Buxton they may still be with us, because amidst the stone buildings (for better protection from dragon fire) lies the Buxton Brewery. It’s here you’ll find the best defence available from the ghouls, goblins, imps, and trolls (they steal your socks, but only the left ones…) that threaten our civilization, that is to say, beer. The intoxicating elixirs on offer at the Buxton Tap House not only add bonus points to your constitution, but the bottles also serve as great makeshift weapons. 
The farmland of south Staffordshire where I abide is a very different place to the Peaks just an hours drive north, there are less goblins for sure, though a magical elixir is always welcome when there’s the constant threat of roving bandits. This particular potion was a long time in the making. For ten months it stood in oak barrels that had previously held chardonnay, absorbing mysterious new flavours and powers. As today’s weather report was “sunny spells with a 70% chance of bandit raids"  I decided to see what this had to offer. 
Shining molten orange gold poured forth, heady aromas of citrus fruits, wood, and white wine vinegar tantalise my correctly presented nose holes. I take a sip. It’s tart and moderately sweet up front with orange juice, mixed citrus zest, and hints of peach cobbler. A yeasty funk with a slightly spicy woodiness follows bringing an unmistakable white wine element with it that lingers dry in the mouth through the long finish. 
As far as magical potions go, this is a great one. The fruity, yeasty saison base is all there but with added winey goodness. It’s smooth in the mouth thanks to the medium carbonation and body but also hugely refreshing with the tart fruitiness, and as a bonus I now have the ability to breath lightning. Kudos to Buxton for yet another great brew, these guys are without doubt part of the elite tier of UK breweries. Oh, and if you are thinking of adventuring in the Peaks remember; “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this”.

Buxton White Wine Saison, 7.0% abv.

The Peak District is a beautiful place yet also deadly for the unwary. The rolling moors, secluded dales, babbling brooks, enchanted springs, and dark caverns are strewn with the bones and hiking boots of unprepared adventurers. If only they’d started their doomed quests in the pretty town of Buxton they may still be with us, because amidst the stone buildings (for better protection from dragon fire) lies the Buxton Brewery. It’s here you’ll find the best defence available from the ghouls, goblins, imps, and trolls (they steal your socks, but only the left ones…) that threaten our civilization, that is to say, beer. The intoxicating elixirs on offer at the Buxton Tap House not only add bonus points to your constitution, but the bottles also serve as great makeshift weapons. 

The farmland of south Staffordshire where I abide is a very different place to the Peaks just an hours drive north, there are less goblins for sure, though a magical elixir is always welcome when there’s the constant threat of roving bandits. This particular potion was a long time in the making. For ten months it stood in oak barrels that had previously held chardonnay, absorbing mysterious new flavours and powers. As today’s weather report was “sunny spells with a 70% chance of bandit raids"  I decided to see what this had to offer. 

Shining molten orange gold poured forth, heady aromas of citrus fruits, wood, and white wine vinegar tantalise my correctly presented nose holes. I take a sip. It’s tart and moderately sweet up front with orange juice, mixed citrus zest, and hints of peach cobbler. A yeasty funk with a slightly spicy woodiness follows bringing an unmistakable white wine element with it that lingers dry in the mouth through the long finish. 

As far as magical potions go, this is a great one. The fruity, yeasty saison base is all there but with added winey goodness. It’s smooth in the mouth thanks to the medium carbonation and body but also hugely refreshing with the tart fruitiness, and as a bonus I now have the ability to breath lightning. Kudos to Buxton for yet another great brew, these guys are without doubt part of the elite tier of UK breweries. Oh, and if you are thinking of adventuring in the Peaks remember; “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this”.

Wild Beer / Good George / Burning Sky Shnoodlepip, 6.5% abv. 
There are good breweries and there are good breweries. Some will cause an involuntary nod of respect as they produce quality beer after quality beer, consistently nailing established styles, “go-to" kinda breweries. There’s also the nut jobs. The wild haired mad scientists never satisfied with established styles when there’s so many possibilities out there. The "am I feelin’ lucky" breweries. The Wild Beer Co. are one of these. Nestled in a hay strewn barn in deepest Somerset, they tease and charm their motley collection of ingredients into some of the most progressive, exciting beers seen on this crumpet loving island. And they have allies. 
Shnoodlepip is a collaboration of three brewers of three nationalities from three breweries. Kelly Ryan from Good George in New Zealand, Brett Ellis (from the US) of the Wild Beer Co, and Englishman, Mark Tranter, from Burning Sky. An exercise in experimentation, they came up with a beer brewed with local Sharpham Park Spelt, with pink peppercorns, saison and brettanomyces yeast strains, aged in French red wine barrels, and infused with passion fruit and hibiscus flowers. They then put it in a pink labeled bottle. There are nowhere near enough pink beer labels. There was no way I was missing this. 
I waited for the sun to come out before cracking this one open, it seemed only right. The colour is a lovely pink tinged orange, almost like the beer’s blushing. The fluffy white head does a grand job of covering its modesty. The nose is spectacular. I inhale again and again, trying to wrap my head around its bewildering bouquet. Flowery perfume, champagne, a hint of vinegar, spice, caramel drizzled biscuits, and definite passion fruit. I gotta admit, I’m struggling to isolate the aromas, I may not be up to this.
Only one way to find out. A sip. FUCKSTICKS!!! I may be in love. There’s a sweetness at first, but gentle, a mere caress. A summer picnic erupts into existence on my tongue. There’s a mountain of berries, wooden platters of dripping passion fruit, lychee, and papaya, candied wild flower petals, lemon drizzle cake, and bottles of scrumpy cider. All trampled underfoot by a gang of playful rabbits having a fight with white wine vinegar filled filled water balloons. A peppery spice and lingering dry tartness wrap up this smooth, medium bodied beer. That was fairly epic, I wanna go again!
So yeah, it’s fair to say I’m a fan of Shnoodlepip. A tart, crisp, refreshing, stunningly complex yet flawlessly balanced and dazzlingly characterful brew. it’s like drinking a funky kaleidoscope. My utmost respect goes out to these three dashing international beer heroes, and while I have no doubt there’ll be plenty of people who simply won’t like or “get” this beer, I adore it. Cheers!

Wild Beer / Good George / Burning Sky Shnoodlepip, 6.5% abv. 

There are good breweries and there are good breweries. Some will cause an involuntary nod of respect as they produce quality beer after quality beer, consistently nailing established styles, “go-to" kinda breweries. There’s also the nut jobs. The wild haired mad scientists never satisfied with established styles when there’s so many possibilities out there. The "am I feelin’ lucky" breweries. The Wild Beer Co. are one of these. Nestled in a hay strewn barn in deepest Somerset, they tease and charm their motley collection of ingredients into some of the most progressive, exciting beers seen on this crumpet loving island. And they have allies. 

Shnoodlepip is a collaboration of three brewers of three nationalities from three breweries. Kelly Ryan from Good George in New Zealand, Brett Ellis (from the US) of the Wild Beer Co, and Englishman, Mark Tranter, from Burning Sky. An exercise in experimentation, they came up with a beer brewed with local Sharpham Park Spelt, with pink peppercorns, saison and brettanomyces yeast strains, aged in French red wine barrels, and infused with passion fruit and hibiscus flowers. They then put it in a pink labeled bottle. There are nowhere near enough pink beer labels. There was no way I was missing this. 

I waited for the sun to come out before cracking this one open, it seemed only right. The colour is a lovely pink tinged orange, almost like the beer’s blushing. The fluffy white head does a grand job of covering its modesty. The nose is spectacular. I inhale again and again, trying to wrap my head around its bewildering bouquet. Flowery perfume, champagne, a hint of vinegar, spice, caramel drizzled biscuits, and definite passion fruit. I gotta admit, I’m struggling to isolate the aromas, I may not be up to this.

Only one way to find out. A sip. FUCKSTICKS!!! I may be in love. There’s a sweetness at first, but gentle, a mere caress. A summer picnic erupts into existence on my tongue. There’s a mountain of berries, wooden platters of dripping passion fruit, lychee, and papaya, candied wild flower petals, lemon drizzle cake, and bottles of scrumpy cider. All trampled underfoot by a gang of playful rabbits having a fight with white wine vinegar filled filled water balloons. A peppery spice and lingering dry tartness wrap up this smooth, medium bodied beer. That was fairly epic, I wanna go again!

So yeah, it’s fair to say I’m a fan of Shnoodlepip. A tart, crisp, refreshing, stunningly complex yet flawlessly balanced and dazzlingly characterful brew. it’s like drinking a funky kaleidoscope. My utmost respect goes out to these three dashing international beer heroes, and while I have no doubt there’ll be plenty of people who simply won’t like or “get” this beer, I adore it. Cheers!

Siren / Evil Twin BA Even more Jesus VIII, 12.4% abv bourbon barrel aged imperial stout.

Siren’s head brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew is a bit of a beery badass. Born and raised in North Carolina he started his career at NC’s Duck Rabbit brewery before moving to Denmark where, when working at Fanø, he set up the non-profit craft brewery Grassroots with Sean Hill from Vermont’s fabled Hill Farmstead and Claus Winther, the manager at Fanø. It’s here he worked with some of the biggest names in the gypsy brewing movement including Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales, and brothers Mikkel and Jeppe of Mikkeller and Evil Twin respectively.  

Things changed again for Ryan a couple of years back when Darren Anley decided to start up a small US style craft brewery in the UK to produce progressive and experimental beers and needed a top tier head brewer. Ryan’s desire to avoid traditional styles met Darren’s vision perfectly, and so he set sail for merry old England and the soon to be hallowed halls of Siren Craft Brew. 

And so to this particular beer. Ryan and Jeppe had worked together on the early batches of Even More Jesus and a return collaboration was destined. Featuring muscovado sugar and liquorice root, the very limited release Even More Jesus VIII was a stunner. Some of it even made it into bourbon barrels for aging where Siren continued to play about by chucking a whole lotta coffee beans in with it. The result is what you see above. Half a litre of wax sealed liquid temptation. Time to see what it’s all about.

The wax seal puts up a fight, loath to give up it’s stewardship of the darkness inside. I go to work with a knife. I am merciless. The wax defeated I pour the sump oil like liquid into my glass, take a whiff, vanilla, liquorice, cocoa, and heavily roasted coffee. Mmmmm. 

I raise the glass to my quivering lips. Imagine dry rubbing a whole lotta dark stone fruits in ground coffee then stewing it all in vanilla pod infused molasses. You then take the fruit out and drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top and garnish with shaved liquorice and burned caramel shards before eating it with spoons carved from oak and charred black.

This is everything I wanted it to be and more. It’s mouth coatingly think and smooth as my oiled tush. There’s plenty of medium sweet, fruity notes here working with the deeply roasty malts before a dose of bitter hops arrive to finish things off. That bourbon is potent throughout but doesn’t overpower the other flavours the way it does in some barrel aged stouts, rather it adds more layers to the already intricate brew. It’s rich, intense, boozy, complex, and downright luxurious. Buy it if you see it. Cheers Ryan, Jeppe, and everyone at Siren, you lot are awesome.

Adventures in (tasting other peoples) homebrew: Part 3

Beer’s awesome. I love beer. And if you’re reading this there’s a small chance that you probably have a fondness for the stuff as well. pidgemckinney certainly does, enough to brew it herself, and being the totally awesome person she is send some via transatlantic carrier geese all the way from the States to the leafy backroads of Staffordshire, England. Where I live. In case I lost you. Or you stopped caring. S’all good. 

As it turns out Holly sent me two of her beers, a milk stout and an IPA. First up was the stout which featured “lactose sugar for milkiness, cacao for chocolateyness, and 2 vanilla beans soaked in Jura single malt Scotch for extra yuminess”. And boy was it yummy! A grin split my face the moment I popped the cap and got a face full of those malts. The brew itself was super smooth and had plenty of roasty, malty goodness leading, a rounded sweetness, and vanilla, cocoa, and espresso notes all working together before the the slightly bitter, mildly earthy, herbaceous finish. A real treat!

Onto the IPA, we get "Jade for bittering, Galaxy and Cascade at finish (aromatic), and Amarillo & Cascade for dry hopping", sounds great. I pop the cap, pour, inhale. Damn. It’s like snorting a tropical fruit punch through a straw. Can it possibly taste as good? Well yeah it can, there’s just so much juicy, fruity, fun goin’ on here. Mango, peach, tangerine, mixed citrus, hints of evergreen, there’s a nice biscuitiness from the malts as the beer warmed in the Sunday afternoon sun, and the lacing leaves lovely little archipelagos on the the side of the glass. It finishes dry and not too bitter, it’s medium bodied, and has an almost creamy mouthfeel. An intoxicating, addictive brew that I just didn’t want to end. Wonderful stuff!

And sadly the beer is no more, but with the last tantalising traces of hoppy, fruity deliciousness teasing my taste buds I reminisce on the good times we shared and I’m content. Thanks again to Holly the beer-Jedi for sending me these two brews, they were stunners! Cheers all.

Canned Beavers

Hello there you fuzzy bundles of sexyfullness! It’s been a busy few months for the young London craft brewery, Beavertown. Aside from all the dam building they’ve managed an expansion with loadsa new kit, a rebranding thanks to artistic director Nick Dwyer, and wonderful new cans for their core range. To celebrate their increased presence in beer land I paid a visit to my favourite ale emporium and returned with these beauties. And a very large grin. 

Gamma Ray APA, 5.4% abv. It’d been a while since I last had this, happily it was every bit as great as I remember. Resinous up front with plenty of tangerine and mango from the hops, subdued caramel covered biscuit malts, and more evergreen at the finish. Then there’s the +100 Awesome Points they get for that can design. 

Neck Oil session IPA, 4.3% abv. My first one of these. There’s lemon and lime zest, dry pine needles, papaya, biscuit and grass salad, a moderately bitter and dry finish. This stuff is so full of American hop goodness you completely forget about the low booze level. A fine daytime drinker.

Black Betty black IPA, 7.4% abv. This was one of the first black IPA’s I tried and my return to it is long overdue. Grapefruit and tangerine lead into roasty cocoa, coffee, and liquorice. The hop / malt balance spot on and makes for a wonderfully complex brew. Delicious.

8 Ball rye IPA, 6.2% abv. One of Beavertown’s early recipes and the first beer they ever sold gets its name from the pool balls they used to hold down the hop sack during dry hopping. It opens with a moderate resinous quality before citrus, tropical fruits, mild spice, and evergreen do their thing. A real nice, easy drinkin’ American style IPA. 

Smog Rocket smoked porter, 5.4% abv. Another new one to me and I really dunno how I’ve missed this ‘til now. A mildly smoky start and finish, roasty coffee and chocolate malts in between. Medium body and carbonation. This thing has a great balance, the smoke working with the other flavours in the malts rather than dominating. But while I enjoyed it, it was just a little too restrained to really make an impression. 

So there it is, Beavertown’s core range. I’ll certainly be picking up Gamma Ray, Neck Oil, and Black Betty with far more frequency from now on, with Neck Oil in particular standing out for it’s packed in hoppiness that puts a good few full strength IPA’s to shame. Smog Rocket on the other hand is something I probably won’t revisit for a while, I’m not saying it’s a bad beer or anything, it just didn’t work for me as well as the others did. But overall, a fine selection. And can I just mention how fudging awesome it is that those fantastic can designs match the colour of the beer inside so well! That’s next level stuff right there. Cheers!

Beavertown Longmorn 1992 Barrel Aged Heavy Water, 10% abv imperial stout

This, my dear Tumblroo’s, is a rather special bottle of beer. ‘Twas London craft brewery Beavertown’s first experiment with barrel aging, and what a barrel it was. Home to Longmorn single malt Scotch for the last twenty years, it hitched a lift to the Big Smoke and ended up with some of the lovely Heavy Water imperial stout taking up residence for a few months. 700 odd bottles were filled with the curious concoction this marriage resulted in, they were then wrapped up in that wonderful Nick Dwyer label and signed and numbered by Mr Logan Plant himself, Beavertown’s founder, owner, and head brewer. A beer like this deserves to be saved for a special occasion and yesterday was just such an occasion. It was Sunday. 

The beer pours a depthless black and is topped by a wafer thin peanut butter coloured head. I assume the correct sniffing posture, passed down to me by the elders of my village after completing a series of grueling tasks, flexed my hooter in preparation and took a grand ol’ whiff. Dark, roasty malts invade my nose holes with unrelenting aggression, whisky and charred wood follow at an entirely more leisurely pace. Very nice, time for a taste.

Imagine stewing up prunes, dates, figs, and wood chips in vanilla infused molasses, adding a dash of liquid smoke, garnishing it with shaved chocolate and liquorice, and serving with an Irish coffee to wash it all down. It’s sorta like that. Kinda.

I gotta say, I’m impressed. It’s a sweet brew, those rich fruits start things off, the roasty malts building with just a touch of bitterness before the whisky and wood finish things off. The booze is nicely warming but not overpowering, it’s soft, smooth, creamy, and full. Unlike some other barrel aged impy stouts I’ve had the whisky isn’t as dominant in this, it’s a defining aspect certainly, but the balance is relatively easy on the palate making it a superb easy drinker. Given the staggeringly high price I don’t think I’d buy it again even if I was lucky enough to see it anywhere, but I’m really glad I got to try it. A cracking brew indeed, cheers!

Knee Deep Fall Over Juice Simtra, 11.25% abv Triple IPA
The sun is playing a particularly mischievous game of hide and seek with the help of a handful of cheeky clouds when I settled down to open this rather bland lookin’ bottle from a Californian brewery rarely seen on these shores. The name “Simtra” held a world of promise though. Simcoe and Citra. Hop elite (don’t tell the other hops I said that). The indicated figures then drew forth a crooked smile, the right side of 11% boozy bits by volume and 131 whole bitter points! If it really wanted to it could probl’y send off a coupon and claim a toaster or somethin’. 
I popped the cap and poured the gorgeous marshmallow topped rusty marmelade coloured liquid into my glass and took a great nose full. If you took a few oranges, a grapefruit, a whole pine bough, a carton of tropical fruit juice, and a splash of rum then blended it all together and snorted it through a straw (srsly good fun btw, y’all should try it) it may be similar to this. 
From the aroma (and the sometimes slightly confusing “Triple IPA” tag) I was expecting a bit of a hop bomb and it really didn’t disappoint. Imagine sticking your face over the business end of one of those comical gramophone barreled blunderbusses you see in old English period comedy flicks just as it goes off, thing is it’d been loaded with all kindsa lovely stuff instead of ball bearings and nails and fox poo. There’s orange flavoured toffee, peach and mango cobbler, candied citrus zest, and pine needles all blasting you in the face and it’s bloody marvelous! 
Some beers grouped as triple IPA’s come very close to American barley wine territory, but not this one, this is most definitely an IPA. The malt’s there don’t get me wrong, it’s caramel covered biscuit goodness offers support where it’s needed with depth and balance in the middle, but it’s those intense and oh so sexy hops that are the stars. They infuse a mouth coating, intensely fruity and resinous quality and leave their mark long after the beer’s gone down with a palate crushing bitterness. It’s full, chewy, and dry and dangerously easy to drink with that booze feeling far less than stated, at least ‘til you try to stand up after the first glass or attempt to post a pic of it to Instagram and realise your fingers have turned to rubber. I’m a big fan though I’ll readily admit it ain’t for everyone. If, however, you dream of hops and get all jittery without a regular lupulin fix, get some of this down your neck. Cheers!

Knee Deep Fall Over Juice Simtra, 11.25% abv Triple IPA

The sun is playing a particularly mischievous game of hide and seek with the help of a handful of cheeky clouds when I settled down to open this rather bland lookin’ bottle from a Californian brewery rarely seen on these shores. The name “Simtra” held a world of promise though. Simcoe and Citra. Hop elite (don’t tell the other hops I said that). The indicated figures then drew forth a crooked smile, the right side of 11% boozy bits by volume and 131 whole bitter points! If it really wanted to it could probl’y send off a coupon and claim a toaster or somethin’. 

I popped the cap and poured the gorgeous marshmallow topped rusty marmelade coloured liquid into my glass and took a great nose full. If you took a few oranges, a grapefruit, a whole pine bough, a carton of tropical fruit juice, and a splash of rum then blended it all together and snorted it through a straw (srsly good fun btw, y’all should try it) it may be similar to this. 

From the aroma (and the sometimes slightly confusing “Triple IPA” tag) I was expecting a bit of a hop bomb and it really didn’t disappoint. Imagine sticking your face over the business end of one of those comical gramophone barreled blunderbusses you see in old English period comedy flicks just as it goes off, thing is it’d been loaded with all kindsa lovely stuff instead of ball bearings and nails and fox poo. There’s orange flavoured toffee, peach and mango cobbler, candied citrus zest, and pine needles all blasting you in the face and it’s bloody marvelous! 

Some beers grouped as triple IPA’s come very close to American barley wine territory, but not this one, this is most definitely an IPA. The malt’s there don’t get me wrong, it’s caramel covered biscuit goodness offers support where it’s needed with depth and balance in the middle, but it’s those intense and oh so sexy hops that are the stars. They infuse a mouth coating, intensely fruity and resinous quality and leave their mark long after the beer’s gone down with a palate crushing bitterness. It’s full, chewy, and dry and dangerously easy to drink with that booze feeling far less than stated, at least ‘til you try to stand up after the first glass or attempt to post a pic of it to Instagram and realise your fingers have turned to rubber. I’m a big fan though I’ll readily admit it ain’t for everyone. If, however, you dream of hops and get all jittery without a regular lupulin fix, get some of this down your neck. Cheers!

Salopian IPA's

Salop. Ye olde name for the pretty county of Shropshire, home to rolling hills and meadows, quaint medieval market towns, and a key player in the Industrial Revolution with the innovative iron works on the river Severn. The straw chewing, wellie wearing yokels that inhabit this charming place also make some pretty damned good beer. Founded in 1995 at The Old Dairy on the outskirts of Shrewsbury (or Shrows-bree if you’re posh), which is a mere half hour drive from my humble abode, Salopian Brewery chuck out some 80 odd barrels a week. Most of this is ”real ale” or traditional English cask ale (and festooned with awards so it is!), but they also knock up a few US inspired craft beers from time to time with their white label range. And I’ve got some, woohoo!

First up is Automaton (7% abv IPA). Hopped with Saaz and Citra and brewed with a small percentage of wheat alongside the barley, this whipped cream topped murky orange brew is bursting with tropical fruit punch aromas which follow through wonderfully into the beer. Obscenely juicy and fruity, with mango, peach, passion fruit, and tangerine in the lead, followed by evergreen and a slight herbal quality. The malt offers up caramel covered biscuits, but it’s subdued. A long way from a typical English IPA. It’s dry and bitter at the end, and quite lovely. A new addition to my top tier of UK brewed US style craft IPA’s. 

Next up is a collaborative brew between Salopian and Celt Experience from across the border in Wales. Sentinel (8.4% abv Double IPA) pours a deep, dark amber and has the same epic marshmallowy head as it’s predecessor. The aroma’s a delight, marmelade, mango, spruce, and maybe a little strawberry. Maybe. The fields surrounding the village I live in are laden with strawberries at the moment and the very air smells of them when the wind picks up. A sip. Yeah, this is another good ‘un. Sweet and fruity up front with tropical fruits, orange marmalade, breezy pine, and yes, strawberries! There’s a decent whack of chewy toffee malt and a big, bold bitter end. Very nicely done. 

Lastly, Black Ops (7.4% abv Black IPA). Once again there’s wheat malt in the brew, and packed with an intriguing international blend of Sorachi Ace, Brewers Gold, and Amarillo hops, I’m hoping for something a little different. This stuff pours black, even with the sun shining to hold the glass against there’s barely any light getting through. The head is just as impressive as the others, big and fluffy and mocha coloured. There’s more mocha in the aroma, with bitter citrus fruits, hints of wildflowers, and a earthy, spiciness. Fantastic. Time to take a sip. Strong tangerine and lemon citrus lead, there’s dried flowers, blackberries, and a building wave of cocoa and espresso ( I didn’t wanna write mocha thrice in a paragraph. ‘Cept I just did. Damn.) from those dark roast malts. An earthy, spiciness creeps in towards the finish, like chewing on random undergrowth, bringing a long and lasting bitterness with it. Damn, this is good. 

And so I reach the end of my Salopian adventure. These three UK craft beers from a brewery better known for it’s more balanced, traditional brews are all fine example of their respective style. Automaton for the American IPA’s that are the face of the young but quickly growing UK craft beer scene (as they are everywhere I s’pose), Sentinel for the lesser seen Double IPA, And Black Ops represents Black IPA’s in a way too few do over here. This, and the stunning complexity offered not just by the hop / malt marriage but by the early hop assault alone, puts it firmly amongst the very best examples of the style I’ve had yet, irrespective to where it came from. It also means Black Ops makes the biggest impression on me of the three. Does that mean it’d be the one I’d recommend? Hell no, get ‘em all. Cheers!

Siren Odyssey 001, 12.4% abv

Long suffering followers of this blog (seriously, <3) will know I have something of a crush on a little craft brewery tucked away in the county of Berkshire, which is sorta “just over there a bit” from London. In their short history Siren have seriously impressed with their core range and dazzled with their limited releases. Odyssey is the second in their blended barrel aged series after their first anniversary barleywine, Maiden, and started life as an imperial stout brewed with liquorice and muscovado sugar which was then split between bourbon, brandy, and banyuls (a French fortified wine) barrels for aging before being blended together with some of their fresh Liquid Mistress red IPA. If that doesn’t soundunderwear creamingly good to you then I just dunno which way’s up anymore. 

That purple wax looks pretty damned sexy it has to be said, but it’s also a pain to open. Luckily my laser beam belt buckle is fully charged and a surreptitious fiddle soon has the beer free. The pour is as dark and smouldering as my gaze, the head as brown and quickly receding as my hairline. The delectable aroma has vanilla pods and plum jam, dark roast malts and red berries, there’s far more going on but I’m growing impatient so I raise the glass and take a sip.

I’m met with something rather special. A tsunami of intense flavours swamp my taste buds with merciless resolution. Sweet bourbon with stewed prunes and figs hit first and hit hard. I try to grab a breath only to be once again overwhelmed, this time it’s logs of liquorice driftwood battering my floundering form whilst dark roast coffee and cocoa wash over me. A brief respite is all I get before a long lasting wave of bitter dark chocolate, charred wood, faint spices, burned caramel, powerful cold brew coffee, and dizzying alcohol drag me under for the last time. I am hopelessly lost. And I’m loving it.

This beautifully crafted brew is, like it’s blended barrel aged predecessor, Maiden, complex to the point that my palate is found unworthy. It’s rich, full, boozy, utterly seductive and all consuming, for the hour or so I was under its spell nothing else seemed to matter. It seems my crush on Siren, which began with their fine core range, has developed into heart wrenching devotion with their barrel aged blends. If you’re lucky enough to find one of these, buy it. Then totally send it to me, ‘kay?