Saturday, 21 April 2012

Beer Review #24: Fuller's London Pride

Finally, the last bottle in the 4 for €10 offer I availed of recently. Admittedly, it was a conservative choice that I made - Spitfire, Bombardier and London Pride were all reputable ales that I had not yet tried and the wild card was Crabbie's Ginger Beer (which I won't be having again). However, as I've said, the three ales are all popular, well known and well liked ales and I'd recommend them all, at least for a try. This one, London Pride, is my first ale from Fuller's, a brewery based in London that has a pretty good reputation for their ales. As such, it's one that has me very excited. The fact that James May appeared in an ad campaign was a bonus I learned of afterward. Anyway, dig in shall we?

English Pale Ale at 4.7% ABV

L: Pours a nice ruby-toned amber with a foamy two-finger head. Carbonation is fairly inactive and the there's a decent amount of lacing. Looks like a proper English ale. 8/10

S: Toffee and bread maltiness, slightly nutty(?) smells. There's a bit of metallic sharpness, but not too much. Behind all the malty smells there is a quiet hop presence, with grassy smells coming through, as well as a hint of dark fruits. Really nice. 8/10

T: Delicious stuff here! At the very front, toffee and caramel malt take control, and overall the front and middle of the sip is dominated by strong malty tastes. In the finish though, there's a definite hoppiness, and there's a very light bitterness too. Dark fruits make an appearance at the end too, and there's a delicious biscuity aftertaste. 9/10

M: Great mouthfeel too, medium to full bodied, very very smooth and drinkable, with a gentle fizz on the tongue. 9/10

The verdict: This is a brilliant ale. I've only really tried the more 'mainstream' English ales on the market, and but this is certainly the best of the bunch. I could enjoy this in my Duvel tulip at room temperature as much as I did chilled in my pint glass. Sip or quaff, you'll probably thoroughly enjoy this beer. That being said, you'll probably want to use your pint glass for those nice deep gulps. Brilliant stuff. 9/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 86/100

Beer Review #23: Sierra Nevada Tumbler

This one is the Sierra Nevada autumn seasonal beer, a brown ale. I'm promised a maltier experience than the other Sierra Nevada offerings, and as I'm a fan of malty beers, I'm pretty curious, and more than a little excited. So far, I've been a fan of everything I've tasted from this brewery, so that too gives me high hopes. My only worry is that as we're now in April, this could very well be over six months old, and apparently with this type of beer, the fresher the better. We shall see.

Brown Ale at 5.5% ABV

L: Pours a dark amber brown colour with a three finger off-white head, retaining a film throughout and leaving good lacing. 8/10

S: Strong malt presence, toffee and caramel malt I would say, yet it still retains some of the hops you'd expect from a Sierra Nevada ale. Pine, citrus peel and citrus fruits are all hinted at in the aroma. 7/10

T: Malty, more bready than sweet, quite nice. Slight bitterness somewhere in the middle. To be completely honest, there's just not much going on - it's a bit one-dimensional. The start is full of hints of toffee and caramel and the finish is pine, citrus and peel. 6/10

M: Medium bodied and moderately carbonated, smooth and very easy to drink. 7/10

The verdict: Not bad, but not at all great. Probably the least impressive of the beers I've tried from this brewery. However, I'll definitely be trying it again in the Autumn, as fresh I can get it. Also, I'll be picking up the Summerfest lager soon. 7/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 70/100

Beer Review #22: Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

This is the Sierra Nevada season beer for Spring, which became available in March, and which I picked up along with the Autumn seasonal Tumbler recently. I thoroughly enjoyed the two Sierra Nevada beers I've tried before - the Pale Ale and the Torpedo - so I've got high hopes for this one. Also, with the presence of rye, it should at least be something different.

American IPA at 6.6%

L: This one pours a nice coppery-amber tone with a generous two and a half finger off-white head. It leaves a good amount of lacing, and the carbonation is medium, despite the pillar or bubbles being generated by the etched base of the Duvel glass. The beer retains a film throughout. It looks good overall, a lot darker than the other Sierra Nevadas. 7/10

S: Like the other S.N. beers, it's quite hoppy. Those floral and pine scents are always there, which does give the beer a nice springtime or summertime quality. As well as that though, there really is a gorgeous light peppery smell, along with the smell of other spices, which comes from the rye. Fruit is there too, with hints of citrus and a strong presence of grapefruit. Finally, the beer has slight malty notes hidden around the hops. Very nice, quite complex. 8/10

T: Very well balanced, malty right at the front, and nice and hoppy at the back. There's a nice subtle breadiness throughout, as well as the citrus and floral flavours. Pine is in the middle towards the back and there's a strage peppery taste to finish off. The aftertaste is all hops. 8/10

M: The mouthfeel is smooth and drinkable, big enough to carry all those flavours but small enough so as not to be too overpowering. 8/10

The verdict: Very nice beer, really enjoyable. It certainly competes with the Pale Ale and the Torpedo, both of which were very impressive. Really well balanced and worth a try. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 78/100

Friday, 20 April 2012

Beer Review #21: Erdinger Urweisse

Let's be frank: Erdinger is a bit shit. I want to like it, but I just can't justify buying a pint or a bottle when there are such better weissbiers out there for cheaper. I don't really view Erdinger with the same kind of snobbery that I would say, Coors or something, but it really is the least appealing and least geniune of the most popular weissbiers. Or at least that's just how I feel about their flagship hefe. On the other hand, their dunkles-weissbier is supposedly very impressive and this particular brew, the Urweisse, also comes with a certain amount of acclaim. It is apparently a return to their older weissbier recipe, and is a big step up from their normal hefe. I wonder is it really any good?

Hefeweizen at 4.9%

L: Pours a hazy orange/amber colour, with a massive off-white head and tons of carbonation racing up the side of the glass. Looks good, I always prefer a hefe that's more orange than yellow. 8/10

S: Lots of banana, most obvious of any weissebier in my memory in fact. Citrus fruits are strongly represented too, peach is there, and there are definitely notes of spice or clove. Smells really refreshing, very summery. 8/10

T: Very fruity with the citrus and banana again. Not getting any peach though, like in the nose. Spice and clove again, a nice bready maltiness that's just suggested, and a slightly floral finish. Strangely, I think I get a light hint of caramel right at the front... Good, tasty and refreshing, but nothing special. 7/10

M: Very light and drinkable, goes down really well with moderate carbonation. Good session beer. 7/10

The verdict: Well, it really is better than the original Erdinger, by far. But for me, it's not going to blow anyone away. This is well above average and I think deserves a 7/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 74/100

Beer Review #20: Trappistes Rochefort 10

Ah here we go. This is the first time I'm tasting this beer so I am pretty excited. Rochefort 10 is one of those beers often compared to (and supposedly rivaling) the legendary Westvleteren 12, so it should be very good. It's also the first Trappist I'm having that isn't a Chimay or La Trappe, and don't get me wrong, those are both magnificent ranges, but they are the most commercialized and readily available of the seven Trappist brewers. That alone is enough to get me ridiculously excited about trying Rochefort 10. It's brewed by the monks of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy in Rochefort, Belgium. At 11.3% ABV this is the perfect light beer to swig from the bottle on a hot summer's day, or drink ice cold watching the match at home.

No, please don't do that.

Quadrupel at 11.3% ABV

L: Pours a very dark murky brown, with an initial two finger off-white head the bubbles away to a film, leaving a good amount of lacing. It looks thick and rich, not exactly attractive, but it looks like a good quad should. Also, I accidentally poured a bit of the yeast sediment into the glass about half-way through, but it didn't make a noticeable difference. 9/10

S: Wow. Malty sweetness is the backbone of the beer, rich dark fruits are there, hints of chocolate and bubblegum. Very deep and rich smelling, with a wonderful complexity. There is a definite yeasty aroma, even before I poured the sediment in. Truly magnificent. 9/10

T: By The Nine. At the front I get chocolatey sweetness, definite fruitiness of dark fruits, cherries and raisins in the middle, slight hints of that malt I picked up on the nose, definite caramel presence. It's beautifully complex. Also, it's worth noting that there is a noticeable alcohol heat with the taste, but there's no real taste of alcohol. Some people like to complain that it has a vodka-like alcoholic taste, but there's literally nothing like that in this bottle. 10/10

M: Incredibly smooth, very rich and intense, full bodied (obviously), almost creamy. There's a light fizz on the tongue, and the warming sensation of the alcohol really contributes to the beer. Brilliant. 10/10

The verdict: I think this the best beer - or at least my favourite - that I've ever tasted, just edging out the Chimay Blue. I know it seems like a cop-out, giving the Trappist beers the best marks, but those two really have been stellar. Fear not though, I recently tasted a ridiculously delicious Belgian Golden Ale... anyway, this one gets 9/10.

The Drunken Destrier score: 94/100

Beer Review #19: Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne Carriag Dubh

Brilliant stuff
This is one I've been really looking forward to. It's brewed in the Tig Bhric brewpub in Ballyferriter, County Kerry, by a brewer trading as Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne. There were 3 key factors that led to my inevitable purchase of this beer. In order of importance they are; the fact that the beer is from my favourite place on Earth, the fact that the label is partially written in old Irish text, and the fact that the cool logo mimics the landscape of the area. The fact that it's a porter was neither here nor there at the beginning, but as it sat in my cupboard for weeks waiting to be cracked open, I started to get very excited indeed. Beer from the Dingle Peninsula, what more could you want?? Well actually, they also produce two other beers that I had never heard of, so you could in fact want more. Anyway...

Porter at 6.0% ABV

L: Pours a thick opaque black, with 2 fingers of creamy tan head. The carbonation is virtually impossible to see in the pint glass but it doesn't look very active. Good. 7/10

S: Nice strong smelling beer here. Roasted malt smells, chocolate and toffee definitely in there, coffee notes, and hints of both liquorice and fruit. Quite complex, really appealing. 8/10

T: Coffee and 'roast' flavours come to the very front. There's a great sweetness in the finish, with chocolate being suggested there, and in the middle but pushing to the back there's just a slight hint of dark fruits. Really tasty beer! 9/10

M: Very smooth and rich, medium to full bodied. Goes down very nice. Satisfying mouthfeel for this type of brew. 9/10

The verdict: This is good stuff. As I've said before, porter and stouts are not my thing, but I really appreciate a good one. This is up there with Old Engine Oil as a porter/stout that I've really enjoyed. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 82/100

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Beer Review #18: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Another ale from Sierra Nevada, and I'm starting to love these guys. Ever since I was drawn in by both the fantastic packaging and the hefty reputation, it's been a success. This release is their Extra India Pale Ale, and it really is just Extra. In every aspect it's quite like the Pale Ale, except it has more, for better or for worse. The smells are stronger, the tastes are stronger and the alcohol is stronger. Let's dig in then, I'm going to put this in the Duvel tulip.

India Pale Ale at 7.2% ABV

L: Pours a nice clear amber with a two finger bubbly head with good retention. Carbonation is fairly slow. Looks good, nothing special. 7/10

S: Fruity and citrusy, with citrus peel being one of the stronger notes. Pine is as potent as you'd expect (very), and the general summery floral quality given by the hops is there too, and is much like the Pale Ale. Like I said though, it just smells stronger here. 8/10

T: Pine and citrus fruits dominate, with peel coming into the picture too. There's a measure of hoppy bitterness to the beer that, while the fruit and floral character lingers into the aftertaste. Actually, the taste here is a bit one-dimensional and doesn't really match up to the complexity of the smell. 7/10

M: Medium to full bodied, not too fizzy, quite drinkable and overall enjoyable. Good. 8/10

The verdict: This beer is stronger than the Pale Ale in most arenas but I'm not quite sure if it's better or not. I think I'd just pick up a Pale Ale if I had the choice. Regardless, it's still a really tasty beer, and another solid Sierra Nevada. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 76/100

Beer Review #17: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Apparently, this is the oldest brewery in the world. Not bad. I first came across this on my quest for Hefeweizens that was started by my discovery of Paulaner. Little did I know back then that both of those beers can be considered giants in their field. Had this in my weizen glass.

Hefeweizen at 5.4% ABV

L: Pours a cloudy gold, with a darker orange hue in parts. A 3 finger foamy head leaves decent lacing, and the carbonation is good. 8/10

S: Fruity, straight away. Citrus fruits strong here. Hints of that banana smell too. Spice and clove are there, as is the nice grassy smell you commonly get from these. Finally, there's a hint of that bubblegum smell that I just love to get in beer. 8/10

T: Once again, fruity. It's got sweet, almost acidic citrus on the front, with a nice banana finish. Clove is hinted at too, and all the way through there's a great bready quality that you get from the wheat. It's delicious and refreshing. 9/10

M: Light bodied, but not watery. It's ridiculously drinkable, extremely refreshing and very enjoyable. 8/10

The verdict: Overall this is a great Hefeweizen. I'll be trying it again, many times I suspect, so I'll keep reviewing it, but at the moment I'm not sure it's the best, as I've often heard. It's a matter of taste of course, and I can certainly understand why this is held in such high regard, but at €2.50 a bottle I have to ask am I going to go for this or a Duvel? Or a London Pride? Or a Piraat? Once again, all a question of taste. Anyway, great beer. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 82/100

Sierra Nevada Seasonals

These are two seasonal beers by Sierra Nevada that I picked up recently. Tumbler is their Autumn Ale, as labelled, and promises a much maltier experience than the other Sierra Nevada offerings. I'm pretty excited for that one, because as much as I love everything Sierra Nevada has done so far, I do prefer a maltier beer, and that's something that there wasn't a lot of in the Pale Ale or the Torpedo. I thought I was a bit lucky to get the it, seeing as it's now April, a good few months after it was debuted, but on the other hand that means I've not got the freshest bottle. No harm done, I'll drink that one up soon.
Ruthless Rye is the brewery's Springtime seasonal, and it's an IPA brewed with rye to give it a supposed spicy, peppery taste. It sounds good, and I don't think I've ever had a beer where rye features prominently so I'm looking forward to giving it a go. The shop also had Summerfest, the summer seasonal. As far as I know that's a lager, and I'll be trying that one too. I just thought that seeing as these two are likely to be gone in a few weeks I should get them while I can. 

Dem labels...

Beer Review #16: Chimay Blue

My first Trappist ale was the La Trappe Dubbel. I bought a bottle of it in Amsterdam, and then had the Tripel on tap. When I bought the bottle, I did so purely on the merits of it's label as I knew nothing about craft beer and less about Trappist ales. So when I drank it that night, my uncle explained to me what it was, and I was intrigued. In retrospect, I regret not stocking up on the stuff, as it was readily available and very affordable, even in the small supermarket located in the centre of the completely residential suburb we stayed in. It is also with regret that I look back on the sepia-toned days of, well, one year ago, when my local Tesco sold Duvel, Chimay Premiere and Chimay Grand Réserve. In those days, I barely noticed the Trappists or the magnificent Belgian Ale as I scoured the shelves for more German Hefeweizen which, in my defence, was a noble cause. Today though, I know the value of a Trappist ale, and this was my first of the Quadrupel variety. It was brewed by the lads in the Notre-Dame de Scourmont abbey, in Chimay, Belgium. I had already tried the Premiere and the Cinq Cents before this, but had taken no notes, so I'll be having those again. As if I wouldn't have been having them again anyway... This was had my little Chimay chalice.

Quadrupel at 9.0% ABV

L: Pours a strange burnt red colour, ruby when held to the light. A one finger creamy off-white head leaves little or no lacing. A film is retained throughout. Carbonation was fairly active. Looks very good in it's proper glass. 9/10

S: Oh yes, rich fruity malty smells, dark fruits and berries, bread and yeasty smells. It's complex and it's thick, deep and inviting.. 9/10

T: It's actually quite sweet. The fruity, malty bread flavours dominate, it tastes rich, hint of toffee malt in the very front, with a very fruity finish. Towards the end, after a swirl, I got a strong and definite taste of apple. Wonderful stuff in here. 10/10

M: It's very smooth, full bodied as you'd expect, slightly dry and very satisfying. Lively enough on the tongue, and really warming with that 9% alcohol. Brilliant. 9/10

The verdict: I want more of these. I want lots and lots and lots of this to drink now, as I please, and I want just as much to cellar for the next decade or more. This is really good beer. I wish I hadn't waited so long to try it. 9/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 92/100

Beer Review #15: Oceanbryggeriet Goteborgsporter

One of the things I love about this journey through beer (or rather, the Abbot's Ale House and Bradley's) is that moment when you see a beer you don't recognize, never heard of, and didn't even want before you came in, but you buy it anyway. This is the process that led to me acquiring Ocean Goteborsporter, from the Oceanbryggeriet in Gothenburg, Sweden, and it was one that went against my usual beer drinking M.O. I usually research any beer I find in the shop, comparing it to others of the style, taking the price into consideration, and maybe putting it on my vague 'to buy' list. However, when a bottle looks good, and the price looks better, I'm willing to throw caution (and cash) to the wind. This, even though I'm not the biggest fan of porters or stouts. I had the 500ml bottle in a Duvel tulip glass.

This is the kind of label that gets unknown
beers bought.
English Porter at 5.0% ABV

L: Pitch black in colour, with a creamy 3 finger head initially, off white in colour. Decent lacing too. Solid looking porter. 7/10

S: Smell's flippin amazing. Very chocolatey and sweet, with hints of coffee and liquorice. Nice and smoky too, slightly medicinal scents, and a strong backbone of dark chocolate. Good stuff. 9/10

T: As with the smell, smoke and chocolate is here in force too. It's got a great malty sweetness, with virtually no hops. It's not as complex as the smell, maybe even a bit one-dimensional, but it isn't exactly bad. 6/10

M: Smooth with slight carbonation, and a very light body. Thin, even. Like the taste, there's just not much to it. 5/10

The verdict: The smell is great. I mean, I can't think of many beers where I've enjoyed the smell this much, but apart from that the beer remains sitting happily just above average. 6/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 66/100

Brasserie d'Achouffe

2 for €8 in Abbot's, sure where could ya go wrong? Tried and adored both of these in Amsterdam last summer, my first experience of a real Belgian Ale, as far as I can remember. Dying to try them again. Review won't be too long coming.

Beer Review #14: Black Sheep Ale

This one's been on my wish list for quite a while. Like the Old Peculier, I bought it in Tesco, for just under €3. As such, also like the Old Peculier, it's slightly more expensive than I'd expect this kind of beer to be. Still though, it's a respected ale and it's got a nice drawing of black sheep on the label. I'm simple like that. Anyway, this one's from Yorkshire too, and at 4.4% it's gonna be nice and light.

English Pale Ale/Bitter at 4.4% ABV

L: Pours a nice bronzed amber with moderate carbonation and a two-finger off-white head. Leaves decent lacing too. Looks good. 8/10

S: Really sweet smells here - chocolate and toffee/caramel, definite hint of bubblegum or candy. Some nice biscuity bready notes, quite malty, and with hints of fruit. Overall complex and inviting. 9/10

T: Sweet at first with toffee and malty tastes coming to the fore, slight hoppiness (?) in the middle, and long bread or nutty aftertaste. Not quite matching the complexity of the aroma but very tasty nonetheless. 8/10

M: Light bodied with a bit of fizz, smooth and very drinkable. 7/10

The verdict: This is a good beer that I probably would recommend. I'd like to try this one again too, as well as sample the other beers from Black Sheep. Chief among those (for me) is Monty Python's Holy Ail [sic]. I don't think I need to explain why this appeals to me. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 80/100

Beer Review #13: Theakston Old Peculier

The Legend. Apparently. Then again, I'd call my beer 'The Legend' if I was a brewer. Or maybe 'The Saviour'. In fairness though, this one actually has a bit of a legendary reputation. It's brewed by T & R Theakston in Yorkshire, England, and it's one of the handful of ales sold by Tesco in Ireland (or at least in Cork), so it was easy to get a hold of. Should be good.

Old Ale at 5.7% ABV

L: Pours a dark red tinted brown. It's got a thin one finger head than dissipates to a film. Leaves a decent amount of lacing too. Looks nice. 7/10

S: This is good - chocolate and toffee malt, some toasted bread smells, hints of dark fruits. Smells nice and deep, and overall pretty malty. 8/10

T: Toffee and dark fruits on the tongue, slightly hoppy, but really malty, very bread-like finish. Sweet tasting in the middle. 8/10

M: Slightly fizzy, medium to full bodied. Carries the flavours comfortably. Very smooth and drinkable. 8/10

The verdict: Good ale. Very good ale, actually. It's a tad expensive though, when you consider the cheaper, and perhaps better, options for ales out there. I like this though, and I'd like to try it again, maybe on tap. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 78/100

Beer Review #12: San Miguel Especial

Really, I don't know why. I could tell by looking into the bottle that I was staring disappointment in it's piss coloured face. At €1 per bottle, it was just one to tick off the list. This is a Spanish beer, for what it's worth. There's a Spanish company and a Filipino company both making beer called San Miguel, I'm almost positive this is the former... Maybe it's the same thing. Who knows? Moreover, who cares? Drank this one from the bottle, but I smelled and tasted it from a tumbler first.

Lager at 5.4%

L: Pours a clear pale straw colour. Like piss, but then again that's not really derogatory because a lot of good beer looks like piss. Thin film of head, with no lacing. The first exactly average mark I think I've given. 5/10

S: Hints of malt on the nose, strong metallic smell. It's slightly hoppy, and there's a definite smell of vegetables. Like corn or something... 5/10

T: Light malt and hints of hoppiness, but really overpowered by that vegetable taste. Just like the smell really. Slightly malty finish. I'll give this a bit of a mark up because ice cold on a hot day, it does hit the spot. Or at least it gently pokes at the spot. 6.5/10

M: Thin and watery, all the way. That makes it go down easy and makes it perfect for ice cold beer on hot days. I think I'd enjoy this more in Spain. 6/10

The verdict: Meh. Not much to say about this beer. I'll give it one thing though, I'd pick this over Carling or Carlsberg any day. 6/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 57/100

Beer Review #11: Svyturys Baltas

This is a Bavarian-style wheat beer from Lithuania's Svyturys. I was surprised they even brewed this type of beer, but then again a Hefeweizen really is the go-to brew for a brewer desperately trying to broaden their range. Anyway, it was cheap, and I love wheat beer, so I picked one up. Savage bottle too.

Hefeweizen at 5.2% ABV

L: Pours a hazy pale yellow into the weizen glass. Much lighter in colour than I'd expect - and probably hope for - in a Hefeweizen. Very carbonated, with a big three-finger soapy head. Leaves decent lacing. Not bad, not amazing. 7/10

S: It's got more hops in the aroma than I was expecting. It's got a nice refreshing grassy, floral scent. Citrus fruits are there too, along with hints of both banana and bubblegum. It's a nice smell, but it's not very potent. Everything is only half represented. 7/10

T: On the front you've got fruit and clove on the tonge. Citrus and banana follow it up, and there's a definite bubblegum finish. The aftertaste is actually slightly malty, with a bready/nutty quality. Good. 8/10

M: Medium fizz, light body and very drinkable. Actually, too drinkable. You could easily down a few of these in a sitting, which some might consider a good thing, but the reason you can do that is because it feels like half beer, half water. The flavours just aren't strong enough. 6/10

The verdict: It's refreshing, it's drinkable, it's a solid weizen. It just won't inspire you to buy more once your supply has gone. 6/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 68/100

Beer Review #10: Maisel's Weisse Dunkel

Finally, my first Dunkelweizen. I've been a dedicated Hefeweizen drinker ever since I had my first Paulaner, so I'm surprised I haven't explored this style earlier. This comes from Brauerei Gebruder Maisel in Bayreuth, Germany. It's a dark version of the brewery's popular Maisel's Weisse Original. Typically, these dunkelweizens are maltier than their bright-coloured counterparts, so this should be good. I'll have this in my weizen glass, and drink like a Bavarian. Prost!

Dunkles Hefeweizen at 5.2% ABV

L: Pours a mad looking murky, cloudy brown colour. Good carbonation as expected, and a big foamy off-white head. Leaves a decent lace too. Looks interesting, I don't think I've seen a beer of this colour so cloudy... 7/10

S: Typical Hefe smells all here, banana and other fruits, but with a much maltier character - there's even a hint of chocolate in there. It's balanced well with grassy, citrus and floral scents coming from the hops though. Verrrry interesting.... 7/10

T: Good stuff - banana, citrus, floral notes, very malty on the tongue, with malt staying up all the way through the finish, and a slight suggestion of toffee or caramel. Very pleasantly surprised. 8/10

M: Ah blast. Once again, the mouthfeel here is a bit of a let down. For me, this was weaker than the Franziskaner Hefe, which is a real shame because it had so much going for it. Still, it's not like the beer is ruined. Slight fizz on the tongue, light bodied. 6/10

The verdict: A solid introduction into the style for me. I know I probably go on too much about the mouthfeel but to me it really is the backbone of any beer. It's a question of personal taste I guess. Regardless, this was still a good beer. I don't know if I'd go out of my way to try this one again, but it's certainly got me interested in trying more beers of the style. 7/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 70/100

Beer Review #9: Well's Bombardier

The third beer from the 4 for €10 deal also had a hefty reputation, as far as I gathered. Brewed by Wells and Young's in Bedford, England, this is the brewery's flagship beer I think, and it's billed as the 'drink or England'. That's a pretty hefty billing.

Bitter at 5.2% ABV

L: Pours a crystal clear copper colour with decent carbonation and an off-white one finger head. Looks like a standard bitter, and I mean that in a good way. Proper British ale this. 7/10

S: I got a grass-toned hoppiness, with a bit of spice and subtle notes of toffee. There is certainly a rich chocolatey character to the aroma. 7/10

T: Ahhhh yes, toffee and chocolate malt right at the front with a slight fruitiness following up. Spice notes alto present, and there's a lovely malty, bready finish. 8/10

M: Light-bodied and thin, like the Spitfire. It's got medium carbonation and fair drinkability, but it's just not great on the mouth. Definitely the low point of the beer for me. 5/10

The verdict: Not a bad beer at all, but not at all remarkable either. That said, I don't remove marks for things that aren't there, rather I award marks for things that are there, and this beer has some great qualities. The mouthfeel was too watery and thin for me but I think that might just be my own personal preference. Maybe people like that kind of thin mouthfeel, I don't know. Let me know what you thought cause I'm still interested in this beer. 6/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 66/100

Beer Review #8: Shepherd Neame Spitfire

This is another I picked up as part of a 4 for €10 offer in Abbot's Ale House. It has a good reputation, and I'm expecting a pretty good ale! It'll have to be good to beat Hobgobin... Anyway, this brewery is based in Kent, in England, and also carries a good reputation. I know it's held in high regard by realaleguide on YouTube. Let's dig in then...

English Pale Ale at 4.5% ABV

L: Pours a ruby-tinted amber, very clear, with moderate carbonation. Produced a one finger off-white head that left decent lacing. 7/10

S: Malty, grassy or floral hoppy notes, fruit, and toffee and caramel. Unfortunately, I got a rather potent metallic tinge to the aroma too, which took a lot from the smell. I don't think this was a bad bottle or skunked beer though (despite the clear bottle). 6/10

T: Fruits and toffee here in force too, with a bit of hoppy bitterness, and a definite metallic twang at the finish and aftertaste. It even lingers in the burp. 5/10

M: Light-bodied and quite thin. Not too much carbonation, but it's smooth and still has good drinkability. 6/10

The verdict: I'm really surprised and disappointed by this beer, and I am now beginning to suspect light-strike. Either way, I expected better, especially after trying Bishop's Finger. If you're curious, check out the review by realaleguide at For me, 6/10.

The Drunken Destrier score: 60/100

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Beer Review #7: Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin

Ah, Hobgoblin. This is a bloody good'un. The most popular beer from the Wychwood Brewery in Oxfordshire, England, and the Unofficial Beer of Halloween, they'll have you know. Class marketing aside, this is a great beer, and I've been looking forward to reviewing it. I'll have this in my Guinness pint glass.

Ruby Ale at 5.2% ABV

Halloween, anyone?
L: Pours a brilliant ruby red that glows in the light. It's extremely clear. Fair amount of carbonation. An off-white two and a half finger head leaves good lacing. Looks gorgeous. 10/10

S: Great toffee, chocolate aromas here, dark fruits too. Really malty, with sweetness too. It's complex and damned inviting. 9/10

T: Toffee and dark fruit just as in the smell. Slightly sweet on the tongue, with a lightly bitter finish. There's a lingering fruit note in the aftertaste. I think this is more complex than I'm making it out to be, but bear with me. The toffee and caramel malt is there for sure, and the dark fruits too. I think I'm getting the hops too. Very very tasty! 9/10

M: This has got a fuller body than I would have expected to be honest, which I love. Good carbonation too, so it's quite lively on the tongue. It's smooth though, and goes down easy. Hits the spot. 9/10

The verdict: Looks amazing, smells awesome, tastes delicious, drinks great. I don't know what else you'd want. 9/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 92/100

Beer Review #6: Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

I've got to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of stouts or porters, but it's a style I want to explore. And with a name like Old Engine Oil and a picture of a cool vintage car on the front, was there any chance that I wouldn't buy it??

I mean, come on??

English Porter at 6% ABV

L: Pours a lovely pitch black. As the bottle promises, it was a nice thick viscous pour. A two finger tan head dissipates to a film, and there appears to be a little bit of carbonation. Looking good so far! 9/10

S: Chocolate and liquorice just jump out at me. Really rich and thick and deep smelling. There's also some nice malty notes, and hints of coffee. 8/10

T: On the tongue I got chocolate and dark fruit right away. It's nice and sweet, with a great finish of coffee and malt flavours. There is a certain hoppy bitterness to it as well, so it also lives up to the label's promise of being bitterweet. 9/10

M: BOOM, the mouthfeel is a perfect score. Really thick, full bodied for sure, slight fizziness on the tongue, goes down incredibly smooth. A joy. 10/10

The verdict: Beautifully complex, extremely tasty, and ridiculously smooth on the mouth, this is an amazing beer. Definitely recommend this, it exceeded my expectations x10. 9/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 90/100

Beer Review #5: La Trappe Bockbier

This is a strange one. It's brewed by one of the seven official Trappist breweries, Brouwerij De Koningshoeven in the Netherlands. As far as I know, it's the only Trappist beer that isn't an ale. This one's a bock, as you can tell, and it comes in at 7.0% ABV, so a tad stronger than your average. I bought this because I love Trappist ales and naturally, this got me very curious. Drank this one chilled in my Duvel tulip.

Bockbier at 7.0% ABV.

L: Pours a dark, ruby-tinted brown colour. 3-4 finger soapy head with good retention and clingy lacing. Not much carbonation no show in the glass. Looks really enticing. 8/10

S: Dark fruits on the nose, nice malty character to the beer, but balanced with a tough of hops. Spice notes and a biscuity smell there too. Slight hint of alcohol, or some metallic bite, but I think that's the cold. I don't think I'd have this so cold in future. Smells great otherwise though, really deep. 7/10

T: Malty, biscuity flavours on the tongue at the front, lovely caramel follow-through and a slightly bitter finish. It's also got moments of sweetness throughout with dark fruits in there too. Nice. 7/10

M: Lightly carbonated this one, light/medium bodied, slightly watery. Drinkability is good for 7.0% ABV. 6/10

The verdict: I wish I didn't chill this too much, I think it would have been better room temperature, or else just chilled for an hour or so. It was good, above average, but not going to blow anyone's socks off. 6/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 68/100

Beer Review #4: Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer

I picked this up as part of a 4 for €10 deal in the Abbot's Ale House. I had seen it advertised loads and always wondered what it tasted like, because I love non-alcoholic ginger beer. This is brewed by Crabbie's of Leith (I think), in Scotland. I took a gamble, getting this instead of one of the many great ales in the shop, so let's see how it went.

Alcoholic Ginger Beer at 4% ABV. Good, light summer drink.

L: This poured a golden amber with a bubbly 2-finger head that dissipates to a film in no time. It's quite carbonated - like a soft drink - and leaves very little lacing. It's crystal clear. Looks more like a soft drink than a beer, but that's to be expected so it won't lose marks for that. 6.5/10

S: Need I say, ginger? Very strong, with an accompanying medicinal smell that probably comes from the ginger too. It's quite spicy, it's got a hint of nutiness and a generous fruity bouquet. Smells sweet and to be honest, quite good! Definitely one for the garden so far. 7/10

T: Once again, ginger dominates the front. Spicy somewhere in the middle too. Really it's very difficult to pull the flavours apart because there is an overpowering sweetness, brought by the fruit. It kind of reminds me of the Strawberry and Lime Kopparberg cider, in that the taste isn't terrible, but it's so sickly sweet it's impossible to finish. Disappointing. 4/10

M: Very very fizzy on the tongue, medium bodied? Maybe? It's like a soft drink. Take from that what you will. 6/10

The verdict: Probably an ok (or even better) ginger beer, but this wasn't at all my thing. I had it ice cold, but without ice or a slice of fruit. For this reason I'll try it again in the summer, ice cold and with cubes of ice, but I can't abide by the slice of lemon. 5/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 57/100

Beer Review #3: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

I've been looking forward to this one for a while! This is an American Pale Ale from Chico, California. It comes in a gorgeous bottle, like all Sierra Nevada's stuff, and it's one of the most popular American craft beers out there. I chilled this one for around an hour, so it wasn't too cold. That's how I like most of my ales. Drank it from my Duvel tulip.

American Pale Ale at 5.6% ABV

L: Pours a slightly hazy orangey amber, with an off-white head that goes from 3 fingers to 1. It's got little lacing, not much carbonation. Attractive looking beer. 8/10

Look at that label eh...
S: Right away I'm getting citrus peel and other fruity scents, I'm getting pine and grassiness from the hops. Really nice smelling beer, it's a strong smell but not overpowering - it stays in the glass. 9/10

T: Strong hoppiness - pine and citrus peel, with a long lingering aftertaste of the former. In the middle, there are some sweeter fruit notes, citrus fruits and floral flavours making an appearance. Delicious! 8/10

M: More carbonated than it appeared in the glass (even though the Duvel tulip is etched to activate carbonation). It's medium bodied, but it carries the flavours very well. Slightly dry and very drinkable. 8/10

The verdict: Very flavoursome beer, complex while still remaining laid-back and modest. It's extremely drinkable, and the smell is just great. I'd love to have a cold one of these in the garden this summer. Will have to try more Sierra Nevada. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 82/100

Beer Review #2: Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier

This is good (from what I remember) unfiltered wheat beer (or Hefeweizen/Hefeweissbier) from The Spaten-Franziskaner Brau brewery in Munich, Germany. This is a typically Bavarian style that usually presents a nice cloudy beer, due to a large proportion of malted wheat used instead of barley. This is then left unfiltered, so there's a good tasty yeast sediment in the beer that you'll want to stir up and pour right into the glass to top it off. This brewery also produces the popular Spaten Munchner Hell Lager.

German Hefe-Weizen at 5.0% ABV

Even serious aul monks like a bit of craic with the lads
L: Pours a good cloudy golden/yellow colour with a snow white 3-finger creamy head. This dissipates to a film after a short while. It's quite carbonated - the bubbles race up the side of the weizen glass - and it leaves a decent amount of lace. 7/10

S: Very citrusy this one. Grassy floral scents too, with a slight hint of that almost expected banana smell. Not too strong on the clove though, as I'd expect of the style. 8/10

T: Ah, there's the clove. It's strongly represented here at the front, and the finish is fruity with citrus fruits and banana both present. Not too complex, but it's a good refreshing taste. Also, the banana is really strong in the burrrrp. 7/10

M: I guess I'd say this is medium bodied, but that might be a stretch. It is *slightly* watery to finish. It does fizz on the tongue though, and overall it goes down very easy. Really drinkable but not satisfying for me. 6/10

The verdict: This is a solid wheat beer. It tastes good, it's refreshing, especially on a rare hot day, and it's usually a very good price. That being said, it probably won't blow you away. Then again, maybe I am too biased towards my beloved Paulaner... Anyways, give it a try if you're exploring wheat beers. It's better and cheaper than Erdinger. 7/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 70/100

Beer Review #1: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Just an overview of how I'm going to review these beers, I'm going to follow a pretty standard format for this. First I'll talk about the look of the beer (L), the smell of it (S), the taste of it (T) and then the mouthfeel (M). So nothing revolutionary, but it's quite familiar. I'll then give the beer a mark out of ten for each of these categories, as well as an overall mark. Finally, I'll double the score to get a simple /100 score. Also, please not that the first few reviews will be done from my extensive notes, while eventually I will be doing the reviews 'live'. Cheers!

This beer is a Vienna Lager, brewed by the Boston Beer Company in Boston, MA.

It's got 4.9% ABV, so it's gonna be nice and light. I've always seen this around in the supermarkets, but a sixpack costs around €11 so I bought this guy on his own!

I drank it from the bottle, but the notes were taken with a pour into a small tumbler.

L: Pours a deep amber with orange hues, an okay one finger head that quickly dissipate, we're talking a minute or two, light carbonation in the glass and little or no lacing. Not bad. 7/10

S: In the nose I'm getting toffee straight away, a nice malty smell. It's also got some berries and fruitiness to it that quite surprised me. Overall, there's a really good almost 'grainy' type smell, with a good malty backbone. This smells good, what a lager should smell like to me. 8/10

T: That woody, graininess is coming back to me here - nice bready biscuity malt flavours on the front with a great sweet finish of caramel or toffee, and a slight hint of fruit in the middle. Great, much more complex than I was expecting, but once again this is a nice malty beer. 8/10

M: Medium carbonation, medium bodied - not watery, which I can't stand in a beer. Slightly fizzy on the tongue. Very drinkable and enjoyable though. 8/10

The verdict: Really great lager. This is probably what I'll head for the next time I have 3 or 4 beers watching a game or having a barbeque are something, and I don't mean to say that this is a 'lawnmower beer'. It's just really enjoyable, tasty and goes down so easy that in any situation where I'd drink a few beers in a night, I think I'd like this to be it. 8/10

The Drunken Destrier score: 78/100

On The Drunken Destrier...

On The Drunken Destrier.

This blog was started as a feeble effort by me, Killian from Cork, to share with anyone who will read my efforts to discover and share the best beer around, and promote it to the masses (or at least Cork people...).

I will be reviewing and talking about all sorts or beers, from new craft beers from down the road, to established favourites of the craft beer world, and everything in between.

I know there are a lot of beer blogs and beer reviews on YouTube already in existence, and I don't deny that I've been inspired to do this by other people, but one of the main reasons I've started my own blog is just to have a bit of craic. Beer is a hobby for me now, and I'd encourage anyone and everyone to join in and drink craft beer!

So please enjoy the read, have a good beer and join me in my search for the true nectar of the Gods.