Ilkley The Mayan, 6.5% abv

Chilli chocolate stouts are pretty much my ultimate weakness. I mean, chilli is awesome, chocolate is awesome, and stout is pretty damn awesome. So when I saw this fine liveried example from Yorkshire’s Ilkley brewery I let out a war cry and hurled m’self at it, scattering less committed shoppers like bowling pins. So why the name “The Mayan” ? Well I’ve no doubt you world-wise folk have already figured it out, yup that’s right, human sacrifice. Y’see, before every batch of this stuff is brewed the people of Ilkley round up all the hitchhikers they can and cut out their hearts in a charming local festival that’s fun for the whole family. Once that’s done they can safely prepare the combination of chipotles and real chocolate (inspired by the way Mayans added chillies to their cocoa… Hey, what a coincidence!) for addition to the beer. I can’t wait any longer, time to get stuck in!

Noooo, it’s another gusher! In my blind panic I may have trod on my phone and ran face first into the door. I’ll never admit to that though. Once it was under control I poured the beer into my glass. Proper black it is, the head so perfectly beige I instantly ignore it and soon forget it even exists. The aroma is loaded with cheap, over-sweet milk chocolate, so loaded in fact that I don’t get much else. 

I brave the sickly smell and get my gob around the glass. It really is like dunking a bar of chocolate in a glass of stout then splashing a few drops of hot sauce on top before eating it. There’s a deep and rich maltiness with roasty cocoa and coffee notes, the sweet milk chocolate then builds before a wonderful throat warming heat from the chipotles brings a smile to my face. As the heat fades there’s some well judged and lingering hop bitterness to balance the sweet chocolate and a delicate but unmistakable smokiness. The body is a little thinner than I was expecting but still has a decent heft to it, and the slight zing to the carbonation actually works well with the spicy chilli. 

This is a really nice example of a chilli chocolate stout (people died for it, afterall). Yeah the aroma isn’t all that, but it’s a rich and complex flavour bomb that packs a serious amount of heat. It also comes in a lovely 500ml bottle which, while completely normal for traditional English “real ales”, isn’t that common in craft beers, and with a beer this good those extra few mouthfuls were greatly appreciated. More of this please. Cheers!

Wild Beer / Beavertown Rubus Maximus, 5.7% abv

Somerset’s a funny old place. Turns out that beer lives wild there, and the straw chewing farmer boys at Wild Beer spend their days chasing the tricky little bottles of joy around the fields and meadows, catching what they can with nets and doin’ all sorta weird and perverted things with ‘em ‘till they’re happy enough to slap a label on and sell ‘em. The pretty bottle you see before you is a particularly twisted experiment, a wild beer / beaver mutation created with the help of London’s rodent bothering, Beavertown brewery.

It’s actually a fruit beer brewed with nine different grains, packed with raspberries and a good whack of long pepper, and fermented with wild yeast. These guys also chucked a barrel full of sour beer into the mix, jus’ fer fun. I have to say I’m a little reluctant to break into that lovely wax seal, but after a whole couple of seconds I’m good. 

A gorgeous ruby red floods from the bottle like a hundred thousand raspberries sacrificed themselves in an orgy of juice letting. Aromas of tart raspberry coulis, sweet vanilla, and earthy wood tease and tickle my hooter. I take a sip. It’s like raspberry jam on toast sprinkled with raspberry sherbert and black pepper and dunked in a glass of red wine vinegar. There’s a sumptuous juiciness developing into a crisp, light and dry feel, the finish is lingering and pleasantly tart. 

I’m impressed, this is a tasty a wild mutant beaver as I’ve had… There’s a nice balance of restrained sweet and sour with plenty of fruit and faint hints of spice, it’s delicious and quite wonderfully refreshing. A fine drink for a warm and sunny evening and I’m sorry to see it go. If you like fruit beers, if you like sours, and if you can find it, give it a try. Cheers!

Got some beer 

Happy Monday y’all. Alongside the Barrel aged Beavers I showed you last night I also had these things arrive over the last week or so. Once again my lurvely Instagram followers will have seen a few of these gettin’ drunked already, and some of ‘em ‘ll even get a write up! Woohoo!!! So yeah. Cheers!

Whisk(e)y, beer and Beavers

London’s Beavertown craft brewery have been hard at work lately with a host of new projects and relocation to a larger premises. Of the special release barrel aged beers they’ve been working on, two in particular caught my eye. Seeing as it could be some time before I open these, I thought I’d share some pictures of them with you guys.

Barrel Aged Heavy Water: Longmorn 1992 is Beavertown’s Heavy Water imperial stout left to rest in a couple of rather special barrels. Y’see, these previously held Longmorn 1992, a Speyside Scotch whisky that (in this case) was aged for twenty years before bottling in 2012. The beautiful packaging and label was designed by the brilliant Nick Dwyer and signed and numbered (in this case number 634 out of 700) by the brewery owner and brewmaster, Logan Plant. 

Next up is Ger’onimo another imperial stout, but this time aged in Jameson 18 year old Irish whiskey barrels. Once again Nick Dwyer lavishes pure concentrated awesomeness on the label and box, but this one isn’t quite as restricted (or expensive) a release as the Barrel Aged Heavy Water, with some 3000 bottles being produced.

As I said I’m saving these for a special occasion, I just don’t know what yet. Hopefully they’ll survive the constant stroking and gentle nuzzling ‘til I actually open ‘em. Right now, I’m just happy to have them. Cheers.

Beavertown Bloody ‘Ell, Blood Orange IPA, 7.2% abv 

Pwoar! Lookathat label, “330ml of handmade beer”, ‘scuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard. This concoction of American hopped India pale ale with the juice and zest of blood oranges is brought to us by London’s Beavertown brewery (named after the area of the capitol that’s home to a rather large beaver population, including a good proportion of the brewery staff. Lovely they are, always offering a cheery “watcha, me ol’ cock sparra" and playful flap of the tail), yet another of the new wave of progressive, experimental, and really rather excellent US inspired craft breweries springing up all over this pot hole ridden, queue-obsessed island. 

Lets have some. I open the bottle and pour, then gaze upon the murky, swamp water by campfire-light looking liquid with a raised eyebrow of disappointment. I did the only thing I could think of. I took it outside where the sun promptly backlit the brew and gave it an entirely artificial look of hazy orange loveliness. Awesome. The head was entirely impressive though, big, fluffy, and lasting, like a Mr Whippy ice cream cone was hiding in my glass. I stuck my face in the stuff and took a whiff. No swamp water here but lots of mixed citrus and tropical fruit punch with a little pine and a hint of something else. Something old, musty, and forgotten. 

I take a gobful. Bitter grapefruit and old, dead pine needles hit first. Sounds like the name of an art rock band. More flavours start to reveal themselves, dried flowers, lemon zest, guava, passion fruit, and that sweet orange. Some mild caramel makes itself known towards the end before the grapefruit and pine bitterness returns for the lingering finish. The carbonation is actually rather soft and the whole thing goes down nice and smooth. 

Yeah, this was a good ‘un. More the bitter side of bittersweet with dominant citrusy, piney, tropical hops and subdued malts. And while I could taste the orange, it’s so well integrated into the flavour profile you’d (or, I’d) never know it had come from added juice and zest, but rather assume it was all from the hops. Good work furry wood chewing dudes. 

Siren Maiden 2013, 11.1% abv

There are certain breweries that get under your skin. Breweries that, no matter how unbiased you try to be (I couldn’t keep a straight face whilst writing that), you just can’t escape that bouncy, puppy dog like enthusiasm when you get hold of one of their special releases. Berkshire’s Siren Craft Brew are one of those breweries for me. The lovely, wax sealed bottle I have here is actually the first beer Siren made. A hoppy, American style barley wine that was brewed in February of 2013 and has been aged in a combination of Bourbon, Tequila, Armagnac, Madeira and Rum barrels before blending at the end of January this year. The resulting beer was released as Sirens first anniversary brew. Sounds good right?

I break through the wax seal and pop the cap, it pours a hazy and deep amber with a thin but stubborn cream head. The nose is citrusy, earthy, mouldy, spicy, woody, kinda like sniffing the bar at a high end pub at the end of a night.

I take a sip and, wow. I do like to think I’ve got a half decent palate but sweet lord of fuck this is one complex beer! I gotta say I’m a little overwhelmed. There’s loads of rich, sweet fruits. Figs, dates, raisins, and prunes. There’s caramel, there’s vanilla, there’s muscovado sugar, there’s musty old oak, there’s a silly amount of hard liquor here with rum and bourbon leading the way. I’m getting hints of orange, or orange liqueur, moss, and some spice that I just can’t place. The soft carbonation works a treat, the alcohol is nicely warming without being overpowering and the finish is long with a subtle bitterness. 

This is entirely worthy to be Siren’s first anniversary beer, and is probably my favourite barley wine to date. The depth and complexity is epic, a rogue wave that’s washed up a whole bar’s worth of boozy flavours, stained bar top included, and dumped ‘em in my mouth. It’s nothing short of stunning. And pricey. And I love it.

The chaps at Siren really have come a long way in such a short time. From barrel aging their very first brew and a host of others, to a rock solid core range as good as any of their contemporaries, to collaborations with the likes of Hill Farmstead / Grassroots, Cigar City, Mikkeller and Omnipollo. Everything this progressive, experimental brewery have turned their hands to is worth seeking out. I sincerely wish everyone at Siren all the best for the future and I can’t wait to try next year’s interpretation of the Maiden. Cheers!

So I went to the local market…

Well, sort of. It was a farmers/local produce/craft market type thing, and amongst all the hedgehog liver pâté and turnips carved into the shape of Bruce Willis I came across a stall selling beer and cider. The beer is made about twenty minutes away from me in my parents home town of Essington in South Staffordshire (famous for having not one but two whole pools!) and the guy who runs the Morton microbrewery also has his own micropub called Hail to the Ale which he and his wife run. This place is a tiny-tiny converted shop unit serving cask ales, cider, and fruit wines, they’re also dog friendly and give out free dog biscuits! And er, yeah the beer… well I’ve only opened the ruby ale and very nice it was too. Nutty on the nose and packed with biscuity malt flavours. Looking forward to the rest.

Ahh cider, sweet, crisp, refreshing, apply goodness! It turns out that the guy running the market stall was also one half of the husband and wife cider making team, and that their Hurst View cider shed is located in the hamlet of Ivetsey Bank (famous for having a farm or somethin’) about half a mile down the road from where I live! Thought I recognised him from the village store. Anyhoo, the blackberry infused cider I tried this afternoon was a juicy, fruity, easy drinking delight. I shall be buying a lot more of this stuff. 

Thanks for letting me indulge in some long winded local shout-outs, normal rambling will commence tomorrow, cheers!

Foothills Hoppyum IPA, 6.3% abv
I’m afraid that this is the end, my dear Tumblr chums… The end of the beer that Pidge McKinney sent me! A tragic day indeed. The brew responsible for such terrible news is Foothills Hoppyum, an East Coast example of the India Pale Ale style that I am eager to try despite myself.
With a heavy heart I pick up my trusty bottle opener and get to work, the cap pops with a sympathetic sigh, I nod my head in acknowledgement. The hazy orange liquid and fluffy, bubblegum white head brighten my mood somewhat, as does the piney, citrusy, and somewhat caramelly aroma.
Not yet ready to forgo my entirely false self pity I raise my hand to my forehead in a dramatic portrayal of purest woe, and take a sip. Sprightly carbonation tingles, and sexy citrusy, piney, slightly spicy hop flavours flutter their eyelashes and attempt to lure me away. I’m ready to surrender but a strong and sensual toasty, biscuity, maltiness holds me back, “mind if I join in?” Um, no… Magic is worked and a delicious balance is reached with plentiful hops, a decent level of bitterness, and a malty goodness more dominant than I’m used to in American IPA’s, but that’s fine by me. I’m no longer even pretending to be all gloomy and miserable.
Another good ‘un from the Foothills guys. The classic West Coast hop flavours I love are there but the strong malt backbone is more akin to an old school English style IPA. Now I know this may be off putting to some but it made a nice change of pace for me and I really can’t fault a thing about it. If I was able to get hold of this in the UK I’ve no doubt it’d become a regular. A proper comfort beer. Cheers Holly, and cheers to all you lovely readers!

Foothills Hoppyum IPA, 6.3% abv

I’m afraid that this is the end, my dear Tumblr chums… The end of the beer that Pidge McKinney sent me! A tragic day indeed. The brew responsible for such terrible news is Foothills Hoppyum, an East Coast example of the India Pale Ale style that I am eager to try despite myself.

With a heavy heart I pick up my trusty bottle opener and get to work, the cap pops with a sympathetic sigh, I nod my head in acknowledgement. The hazy orange liquid and fluffy, bubblegum white head brighten my mood somewhat, as does the piney, citrusy, and somewhat caramelly aroma.

Not yet ready to forgo my entirely false self pity I raise my hand to my forehead in a dramatic portrayal of purest woe, and take a sip. Sprightly carbonation tingles, and sexy citrusy, piney, slightly spicy hop flavours flutter their eyelashes and attempt to lure me away. I’m ready to surrender but a strong and sensual toasty, biscuity, maltiness holds me back, “mind if I join in?” Um, no… Magic is worked and a delicious balance is reached with plentiful hops, a decent level of bitterness, and a malty goodness more dominant than I’m used to in American IPA’s, but that’s fine by me. I’m no longer even pretending to be all gloomy and miserable.

Another good ‘un from the Foothills guys. The classic West Coast hop flavours I love are there but the strong malt backbone is more akin to an old school English style IPA. Now I know this may be off putting to some but it made a nice change of pace for me and I really can’t fault a thing about it. If I was able to get hold of this in the UK I’ve no doubt it’d become a regular. A proper comfort beer. Cheers Holly, and cheers to all you lovely readers!

Olde Hickory The Event Horizon, 8.5% abv
From the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina all the way to the undulating woodland scattered fields of the South Staffordshire countryside courtesy of Pidge McKinney comes, BEER! WOOHOO! Not just any beer though, this annually released imperial stout is brewed with honey and aged in oak barrels from a number of bourbon varieties before being blended and unleashed on the public. Sounds like just my kinda thing.
I reach for my trusty bottle opener and flip out the folding knife blade ready to do battle with the wax seal. After many hours of hacking and slashing I’m through! I fold away the knife, looking immensely pleased with myself, and pop the cap.
The aroma hits me instantly. It’s like sticking my face into a bourbon soaked fruit cake. Wonderful. I pour half the bottle into my glass, the liquid is pitch black, the quickly fading head a perfect match for that brown suede waistcoat your creepy uncle always seems to wear to family get togethers. 
I raise the glass and pout perfectly, the blackness hits my tongue and I let out a little squeak of pleasure. The sweet, vanilla bourbon runs rampant around my mouth, dark roast malts, candied fruits and licorice twirls join the fun before a woody, slightly smoky and bittersweet finish that lingers seductively. the voluptuous body and soft, pillowy mouthfeel lull me into a state of pure relaxation that could only be improved by my sinking my feet into my Totoro slippers… yep, that’ll do it.
This is one rich, complex and delicious beer, offering layers of intense and complimentary flavours. It is, unsurprisingly for these kinda beers, very sweet but the alcohol hit is really quite subdued. So for those of you who enjoy the flavours of bourbon barrel imperial stouts but don’t necessarily want the levels of boozyness that tends to come with them, or if you just want an easy drinking barrel aged impy, give this a go if you can find it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Once again, many thanks to Holly for sending me this, ‘tis a blinder, cheers!  

Olde Hickory The Event Horizon, 8.5% abv

From the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina all the way to the undulating woodland scattered fields of the South Staffordshire countryside courtesy of Pidge McKinney comes, BEER! WOOHOO! Not just any beer though, this annually released imperial stout is brewed with honey and aged in oak barrels from a number of bourbon varieties before being blended and unleashed on the public. Sounds like just my kinda thing.

I reach for my trusty bottle opener and flip out the folding knife blade ready to do battle with the wax seal. After many hours of hacking and slashing I’m through! I fold away the knife, looking immensely pleased with myself, and pop the cap.

The aroma hits me instantly. It’s like sticking my face into a bourbon soaked fruit cake. Wonderful. I pour half the bottle into my glass, the liquid is pitch black, the quickly fading head a perfect match for that brown suede waistcoat your creepy uncle always seems to wear to family get togethers. 

I raise the glass and pout perfectly, the blackness hits my tongue and I let out a little squeak of pleasure. The sweet, vanilla bourbon runs rampant around my mouth, dark roast malts, candied fruits and licorice twirls join the fun before a woody, slightly smoky and bittersweet finish that lingers seductively. the voluptuous body and soft, pillowy mouthfeel lull me into a state of pure relaxation that could only be improved by my sinking my feet into my Totoro slippers… yep, that’ll do it.

This is one rich, complex and delicious beer, offering layers of intense and complimentary flavours. It is, unsurprisingly for these kinda beers, very sweet but the alcohol hit is really quite subdued. So for those of you who enjoy the flavours of bourbon barrel imperial stouts but don’t necessarily want the levels of boozyness that tends to come with them, or if you just want an easy drinking barrel aged impy, give this a go if you can find it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Once again, many thanks to Holly for sending me this, ‘tis a blinder, cheers!  

Another beery catch up

Haven’t done one of these in a while, but those awesomeneers that follow my Instagram will know I drink a lot more beer than I ever get round to writing about on here so I thought I’d share some of them with you, alongside a couple of recurring favourites of course. As usual the pictures are captioned for super fun times woohoo! ‘Til tomorrow, cheers.