Beer: Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2013

Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2013

Let’s get this out upfront, the Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2013 is an insanely good beer. It’s rich, it’s boozy it’s fruity, it’s just amazing.

I watched one of the Craft Beer Boys latest videos and Jonny reviewed this Heritage 2013 beers. I knew I’d got a bottle of this and the video inspired me to crack it open and give it a try. (You should click here to watch the video)

This limited edition 11% quadruple is aged for one year in oak barrels. I picked up a bottle of the 2013 edition back in December 2014 on a visit to Bruges. It was for sale for around 12€ in a Karrifour store near to the Halve Mann Brewery.

Once the cork is popped off the bottle a lovely boozy cognac and oak smell hits you in the face. Theres also a lovely dark berry aroma.

This pours a lovely dark red/plum purple colour. It’s a little thick, but very smooth. a small tan head gathers at the top.

The taste of this beer is super smooth. A lovely boozy taste hits you at first with the oak aged taste really hitting the spot nicely. I picked up a lot of dark fruits, raisins and prunes. Plus, there was a taste of red wine mixed in there too, There is a lot of sweetness in the after taste, It doesn’t linger and ends quite dry. This is a very complex beer and I only see it getting better and better with age.

This is a beer that needs to be sipped slowly and enjoyed. Each mouthful was wonderful and I’m glad I was lucky enough to try a bottle.

Source: Carrefour, Bruges.

Score: 5/5

Belgian Beer Drinking 1

A couple of weeks ago I spent a Friday evening trying a few beers that I’d picked up while in Bruges in December last year.

Photo 20-02-2015 13 31 27Kasteel Hoppy (6.5%)

This beer by Kasteel is brewed using only hops from Belgium. I was very interested to try it. It pours a clear dark amber colour with a nice big frothy head. The aroma was quite spicy, and a little bitter. Not much hoppyness that I was expecting. The taste was pretty sweet, with some citrus flavours. From a beer thats’s called Hoppy, it was no where near as hoppy as I’d imagined. The aftertaste was fairly bitter too. Overall, a little disappointing.

Score: 2.5/5

Photo 20-02-2015 13 33 21Corsendonk Dubbel (6.5%)

The first thing you notice with this beer is the bottle is ridiculously heavy. It’s a normal 330ml bottle, but the glass seems very thick and heavy. This dubbel poured a real red-ish/brown colour with a nice light frothy head. The aroma was sweet berrys and lots of liquorice. The taste was fantastically smooth, with a lovely dark fruity taste. Very enjoyable and easy to drink.

Score: 3/5

Photo 20-02-2015 22 20 57Tongerlo Prior Tripel (9%)

Pours a dark golden yellow with a frothy white head. This beer was very carbonated. There is a lovely sweet and spicy aroma. The taste was especially boozy and sweet with a fair amount of spicyness. Good example of a Beligian tripel in my opinion.

Beer: Beavertown Holy Cowbell India Stout

Holy CowbellThe Beavertown Holy Cowbell India Stout (5.6% ABV) was an interesting little beer to me. Firstly, it’s called an India Stout which a new term to me and secondly it was a beer from Beavertown I hadn’t tried before.

Out of the can, it pours a nice thick dark black colour, with a light tan head. The aroma I got was quite fruity and hoppy, with a little hint of coffee and malt. On first taste I got a lot of hoppy bitterness upfront, this followed up with a really nice roasted malt backbone. There was also a fair amount of light smokyness on the taste.

As I think many people have said, this beer should probably be categorised as a Black IPA rather than a stout (I guess they do too, that’s why they call it an India Stout). It’s got a fantastic hop profile up front and lovely roasty backbone. It’s good, but then Beavertown themselves brew in my opinion an even better BIPA in Black Betty.

Overall, a really nice session-able beer that has a nice mix of hoppy goodness and roasted malts.

Source: The Bottle Shop, Bermondsey

Score: 3.5 / 5

Beer: Wild Beer Co Millionaire

Photo 13-02-2015 14 22 14I had high hopes for this beer. I’m a big fan of Millionaire cake slices and hoped this beer would be a liquid boozy version of one of those. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a little too salty and sweet for my tastes.

The Wild Beer Co Millionaire is a 4.7% ABV Milk Stout. The beer is brewed with sea salt, lactose, caramel and Valrhona cocoa nibs to give it a sweet salty chocolatey flavouring.

This beer pours a dark black colour. The aroma is a real milky chocolate aroma, almost chocolate milkshake in texture and aroma. Very nice, but I would have liked more caramel on the nose.

On tasting, I found this beer to be very sweet, perhaps even too sweet. The initial sweetness of the chocolate and salt was maybe a bit too much up front for my tastes, although the strong milk stout backbone that kicks in was very nice.

If you like milk stouts or generally sweet beers this will appeal to you, for me it was a little too sweet to be fully enjoyable.

Source: Cellar Door Drinks, Sutton Coldfield

Score: 3.5/5

Green Duck Brewery Co Visit

On Saturday 21st February, I didn’t have any plans for the day, the weather was a bit meh, so I decided to hop on a train over to the Green Duck Brewery Co in Stourbridge. I’d tried a couple of nice beers from these guys at the Birmingham Beer Festival 2014 (The coconut porter was one of the top beers of the festival) and saw them on Twitter talking about their bar so thought I’d take the opportunity to check them out and sink a few beers.

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The Badelynge Bar is roughly about a 10minute walk from Stourbridge Junction train station. It wasn’t too difficult to find at all. (I hopped on a London Midland train, they depart every half hour to/from Birmingham Snow Hill on Saturdays). The bar entrance is on the main road on the side of the industrial estate.

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Entering through the green solid steel door off the main street you enter into a large industrial unit space. Quite a few rows of benches and tables were setup for seating, along with a small lounge area on the right hand side with two comfy looking sofas to relax on. The bar was also on this right hand side. At the end, blocked off by a clear wall was the brewing area. Visitors are welcome to sit back and watch the brewing action up close. There was a rather large selection of board games available for people and a TV was also available.

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The beer board on the wall next to the bar offered up a great selection of Green Duck beers. There were 5 cask offering, a keg IPA and a cider. The bar also offered an assortment of spirits and soft drinks, plus snacks like cobs and pork pies. Green Duck work on a token system. £10 buys 4 drink tokens, these don’t have to be used in one visit and can be shared between people.

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The place had just opened when I arrived so was fairly quiet. It soon started to fill up with couples and groups, people with dogs arrived, people with children and babies. Everyone felt welcome and all seemed to be having a good time.Chatting to the guy working at the bar/brewery he was very friendly, chatty and fabulous at describing and recommending their beers to me. He made me feel very welcome.

Apparently the night before they held a music night event which had gone down a storm and they’d been really busy. Hopefully these events are something they continue with, I’d love to attend one.

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The first beer I tried was a Duck Blonde, a 4.2% ABV pale ale (Picture at top). This was a very smooth light golden beer. It had a fantastic sweet fruity hoppy citrus aroma. The taste was lovely, very floral and tropical fruits with a lovely bitterness about it. A real easy drinking beer that I would have been happy drinking all day long. This is apparently their most popular beer and I can see why people enjoy it.

Next I tried the Dandelion and Burduck Stout (5.5%). A beer brewed with dandelion and burdock, this pours really lively but settles quickly to be a nice dark black colour. The aroma is very dandelion and burdock-esque. On tasting, you get a nice roast malt taste and then the D&B flavour really kicks in to give a lovely aftertaste. This was very smooth and easy to drink. It maybe needed a little more body to make it excellent, but it was still nice. To me, this felt more like a porter than a stout.

The final beer I tried was a Sitting Duck (4.5% ABV), another light pale ale similar to the Duck Blonde. This is a lovely floral citrus beer brewed with Amarillo hops. It poured a nice golden yellow that had a thick white head that stayed prominently. A  lovely floral sweet aroma with a nice bitterness to it. Very nice beer.

Overall, I enjoyed my short visit to Green Duck Brewery. They’ve got a nice setup there offering great beer. There’s certainly a nice consistency to their beers and all the drinks I’ve tried from these guys have been good. If I lived a little closer I’d certainly pop in more often. The music nights and showing sports events certainly seems to be working for them and I wish them the best of luck.

I’ve still got unused drinks tokens so I’ll be looking forward to returning next month for their beer festival :-)

Beer: Brew By Numbers 08|03 Chocolate & Orange Stout

BBNo 0803I messed up when I visited the Brew By Numbers brewery earlier this month. I meant to try this beer fresh on draft but I misread the beer board and thought they only had the 08|01 Export Stout available so instead I ordered the 15|01 Black IPA (Which was still a fantastic beer). I didn’t have time to stay for another so I grabbed a bottle to take away.

The BBNo 08|03 is a chocolate and orange stout. Coming in with an ABV of 6.4% this beer is brewed with lactose, cocoa nibs and Seville orange zest. Pouring a thick inky black colour. The smell was pure milk chocolate loveliness. As expected the taste was a smooth rich chocolate and deep roasted malt flavour followed by a lovely light zingy orange bitterness. Personally, I would have preferred the orange to be a little stronger but it still worked really well.

Overall, a really nice smooth drinkable stout. Very enjoyable.

Score: 4/5

Source: Bottle from Brew By Numbers Brewery

Beer: Beavertown Gamma Ray

Gamma RayWOWZA! How had I never tried this beer before. It’s bloody fabulous.

The Beavertown Gamma Ray is a 5.4% ABV American Pale Ale. It poured out of the can a lovely clear golden amber colour. The sweet hoppy citrus aroma that hits you is amazing, already you can tell this isn’t a beer that’s going to hold anything back. On tasting, there was a great smack in the face from the juicy hops. Loads of tropical fruit, mango, resin flavours came through. It was also quite sweet and very fresh. This is a beer that has such a lingering sweet bitter after taste your taste buds are just begging for another drop.

I’ve been a fan of the Beavertown beers for a while now, but I’d never managed to get my hands on Gamma Ray before. Neck Oil and 8-Ball are two of my favourite go-to beers, but now I have a third to add to that collection.

Gamma Ray is a big bold aggressive beer. It wants to hit you with strong fresh juicy flavours and it succeeds. As an admitted hop head this beer is right up my street. This will go down as one of my top beers and my top pale ale.

I need to grab some more cans ASAP.

Score: 5/5

Source: The Bottle Shop, Bermondsey

Beer: Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland

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I really enjoy a good chocolate beer, but before I try a new one there’s always a fear that it will be too gloopy or too sickly. Thankfully, this Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland is neither. Coming in at a fairly strong 6.8% this Chocolate Porter has been brewed in Collaboration with Cocoa Wonderland in Sheffield to celebrate their 10th birthday (Read about how this beer was conceived here).

This beer pours a lovely deep dark black colour and produces a nice large frothy head. There’s a fabulous aroma of chocolate. On tasting, as you’d expect there is a lovely big hit of milky chocolate. This beer tastes superb, very rich and chocolatey, but also very smooth, and surprising light bodied. There is a fair bit of bitterness in the after taste that I liked.

I’d certainly recommend sitting back and enjoying this slowly, the range of flavours really build as it warms up. Very enjoyable as an after dinner treat or on a cold evening.

Score: 4/5

Sourced from: Cellar Door Drinks, Four Oaks

Beer: Thornbridge Jaipur X

IMG_7997Thornbridge Jaipur X is a 10% Imperial IPA, brewed to celebrate the 10 year anniversary since Jaipur was first brewed. As far as I can remember I’d never actually tried Jaipur until a little over two years ago (Obviously I was late to the party), and it was the first Thornbridge beer I’d actually tried. I knew of its reputation, and how highly regarded it was but I’d never actually grabbed a bottle or caught it on draught until that point. I remember being very impressed (Rated it 5 stars on Untappd). I’ve had it several times since then and always enjoyed it.

After seeing the wonderful Cellar Door Drinks by my work tweet that they had some bottles in, I shot round there after work and grabbed one.

This strong Imperial IPA pours a lovely light golden colour, almost oil like in colour and texture. A small frothy head quickly dissipated.The aroma was fresh and hoppy. It was a lovely beer to taste, very smooth and silky with a lovely strong bitter alcohol backbite that tasted beautiful. Certainly very deceptive for it’s strength but it tasted so good. I’d easily grab another.

Score: 4/5

Sourced from: Cellar Door Drinks, Four Oaks

Bermondsey Beer Mile – Feb 2015

We visited Bermondsey on 7th Feb 2015 to visit some of the breweries on the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

First stop was the fantastic The Kernal Brewery. It was fairly early so the place was a little quiet. I started with a superb glass of Pale Ale Nelson Sauvin Centennial Apollo (This was probably my beer of the day), a hoppy masterpiece. This was followed up with an IPA Centennial Rakau Ella Apollo Mosaic, a lovely strong fresh juicy IPA.

I purchased a bottle of the IPA to takeaway, as well as a London Sour Cherry and an Export Stout London 1890.
Kernal Brewery

Next we took the short walk up to Enid Street to visit Brew By Numbers. I’m always impressed with the quality beers these guys keep producing, and on this occasion the 15|01 Black IPA did not disappoint. A very lively beer with a thick tan head it soon settled to a great tasting BIPA.

Brew By Numbers

I purchased a bottle of 08|03 Chocolate and Orange Stout that I’m excited to try soon.

Next stop was The Bottle Shop. As always a good selection of UK and international beers for sale here. They also have draught beers for sale. Luckily, on this day Weird Beard Brew Co were there with a tap takeover on the mezzanine floor. They had 5/6 different beers available. I tried a superbly fresh glass of Mariana Trench. The fruity hops smack you in the face on first taste and I could have sat drinking that all day. Alas, it was time to move on again. I purchased a couple of cans of Beavertown Gamma Ray and Holy Cowbell India Stout before we left.

The final stop was a few steps up the road to Anspach & Hobday. Here I enjoyed The Stout Porter. A really interesting dark roasty beer. It was incredibly drinkable and I wish I’d seen it for sale in bottles to bring home but it didn’t seem available that day.

Anspach & Hobday

After this is was on away from the railway arches, and on to get some food (The glorious Byron Burger), and then off to watch Book of Mormon. Great day.