Jan 2, 2017

Espresso Stout - Hitachino Nest

Espresso Stout
Hitachino Nest

IBU 36
Hops: Chinook, Kent Golding
Malt: Pale, Crystal, Black, Chocolate
Yeast: Ale

I like my chocolate stout.... alas I dislike coffee mixed with anything else than ... well, coffee. But as I did like the last Hitachino Nest I sampled, I decided to give this one a chance when I saw it in the shop.

With 7% it is a bit over what I usually like nowadays... I am getting old and the higher alcoholic content beers end with me feeling woozy... yeah I know, I'm a wussy. 

The label on small brown bottle depicts the red Hitachino Nest owl surrounded by very psychedelic brown and yellow swirls and a Hippyesque font saying ESPRESSO STOUT. The upper label shows what I guess to be the brewery and has Japanese writing on it, while the back label holds the ingredients. Sadly I had to dig up the Hops, Malts, and Yeasts used on their homepage as the bottle didn't mention them.

They say that it is brewed with real coffee beans... we will see whether that influences the aroma and/or the taste after all.

Ratebeer values this very highly. 

I had the bottle in the fridge with 7 degrees, alas their page says that the drinking temperature should be around 15 degrees... which is somehow hard to reach for me as I do no have a basement and it is freezing outside... So the bottle is now out of the fridge trying to get a bit warmer.

I'll use my fancy, standard tasting glass again. 

It pours easy and deep black with caramel colored head that is nice, full and persisting. Nice mix of big and small bubbles.

The aroma is indeed a mix of fine coffee scents mixed with soft, roasted caramel in a floral environment. Cola is present and soft acidic tones. It reminds me of how I imagine cold coffee mixed with cola might smell. The dark coffee scent mixes nicely with the other aspects although it evokes negative thoughts of stale, cold coffee after a while.

Let's taste...

The carbonation is OK if a bit on the strong side. The coffee bitterness coupled with a slight acidity is pretty strong at first, mellows down to a more pleasant chocolaty bitterness in the aftertaste. The bitterness sticks to one's palate for quite a while after having a sip.

Sadly the coffee bitter tones cover most of the other aspects and I am not sure whether the bitter tones stem from the roasted beans or from the hops. 
I am a bit undecided about this one. It falls into the 'this is super interesting to try once but I doubt I'll order it again' category. I never was a fan of cold coffee or coffee chocolate and this is basically both. 
The Umami tone is present and makes one yearn for more, only to be put off by the bitterness. 

If you do like coffee (even cold) and like your brews bitter then this is something for you! 



Dec 31, 2016

Stella Lager

Stella Lager
Al Ahram Beverages Company (Heineken)


My friend Ramses managed to bring me this exotic baby from Egypt. From what I understand he had to do secret handshakes in back alleys to procure something alcoholic in that country. Ramses: Thank you!

It's also gonna be my last entry this terrible year... I can only hope that 2017 will be better. Whether this brew is a matching beer for the end of the year remains to be seen. 
Ratebeer gives this an overall score of 3.... which is possibly the lowest I have seen in a while. But hey... I drink almost everything for you, dear readers!

So this beautiful can is golden and blue and depicts a white-blue star on blue background. 
To match the festivity of new years eve I chose my stylish tasting glass. 

It pours with at first not much carbonation but then evolves to forming a nice head. It is of golden color and seems not fully filtered as it is not totally crystal clear.

The aroma is surprisingly floral and fruity with hints of raspberry and peppery spices... nice aroma so far. Let's see whether the taste holds what the aroma promises.

After a nice floral start, it turns into a surprisingly mellow but spicy yet pretty bland experience taste wise. The alcohol is recognizable in the aftertaste which is something I am not too fond of. Now there are some promises with this brew but in the end the attempt to appeal to the mass is -like so often- its downfall.

Still something I'd drink in a pub... which is something I wouldn't say about just every brew.

Thanks Ramses!




Dec 6, 2016

Golden Monk

Golden Monk
Brewed at Browar Gościszewo


So this beauty has been given to me as a present by my friend Marek Starosta whom I met at my first Larp and who proved a grand help! Thank you Marek!

Now the description of the brew is all in Polish and sadly my Polish isn't especially grand. I stole the following description from Ratebeer:

Although it’s not proper for a monk to admit – the power of magic numbers does work on me. That’s why, together with my brothers, we made an double effort with our 10th beer. We brew it with care and we made a strong, aromatic saison IPA…
 malt – pale ale, wheat, Abbey, melanoidin, Acidulated; 
hop– Citra, Palisade, Willamette, Centennial; 
yeast Safbrew T-58; 
Candy Sugar Dark; 

Ratebeer seems to like it and I am sure so will I. It does have 7,2% and I have a meeting later on about WoD Berlin but hey... I'm a big boy, right.. I mean... RIGHT?

Now I am not sure whether this description means that there is dark candy sugar added... something I would not be a big fan of, or if it simply means that the color of the brew is of dark candy...
Judging from the homepage I fear it means there is sugar added. I will be surprised to see how sugar goes along with an IPA.

Marek chose this because of my love for IPA and because I played a monk at the larp.... technically a friar but close!

I really love it when my friends bring me beers to write about! 

The bottle looks nice and has a fancy label, depicting a monk... or friar ;), holding a golden St. Andrew's cross. It is called a Saison IPA and the back holds a list of the ingredients... I ehm think as it is in Polish. 

The site calls for it to be drunk from a tulip so I cleaned my old Radeberger tulip... it wasn't used in a while.

Awwww the cap shows a ripped off hand with thumbs up.. so cute! Even the lil bone can be seen!

It pours without any foam and even with all kinds of tricks, I couldn't manage to get any head to develop. 

The color is darkish... a brown yellow - like cola mixed with orange juice. It isn't filtered.

The aroma is VERY nice. Floral tones with yeasty goodness intertwined, Fresh hay with soft nutmeg spice tones and a hint of pepper and candy.
Now let's see what the monk can offer...

It starts surprisingly sour, mixes with nice grapefruit and soft yeast notes and ends crisp with a very pleasant dark hoppish aftertaste (the one all IPAs should have).

I can see now why they added sugar to take the edge of the sour tones, alas the sourness still is the predominant factor. The alcohol content can't be tasted which is a huge plus.

All in all this really surprised me. I ended expecting something overly sweet but got something grapefruity sour-bitter.
The mix of the tart notes with the hoppish bitterness is something I can't recall to ever have tasted in this way and that is something that truly makes this brew special. I could go with a bit higher carbonation and maybe some foam but hey, that's the German in me. 

I wonder what this would have been like without the sugar....




Nov 11, 2016

Hook Norton Flagship

Hook Norton


Winter is sorta here and I survived my first LARP and got totally hooked. So no wonder that I asked one of my fellow Larpers to choose the brew from my current selection that I will write about today. Otso, this one is for you!

I chose this when it was still hot outside and I wanted an IPA.
I must admit that I never heard of the brewery but it is English so it must be decent.
I am not entirely sure whether the page of Ratebeer has the right beer in their database but it was the closest I could find.

The brew cites "Maris Otter, Pale Ale and Enzymic" as its malts and "Fuggles, Goldings and Admiral" as its hops... I am undecided whether I find a malt with the name Enzymic pleasing or not but hey...

Beeradvocate shows the bottle I have but they do not have as cool ratings as Ratebeer... though I still don't understand their rating either.

So the bottle is brown with a sky blue label on the front with a brown golden frame. Apparently originally brewed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, Otso told me it is supposed to be good so I know where he lives if it isn't. (OK It's a lie, I do not know where he lives)

I actually cleaned my whole action figure and glass cupboard today as I am missing 3 distinct glassed from my collection... and they seem to be gone with the wind. So I instead chose a rather plain not exactly fitting one ... just because I can and because it can go into the dishwasher.. I know, I know I am losing my touch.

The brew pours with little foam of rather big pored bubbles and is not entirely filtered and gold brown of color.

The aroma is very sweet, freshly cut grass, fruits, faint honey and yeast. Heavy zesty tones couple with faint floral ones. I SO want to try this now.

It is surprisingly bitter on the first taste but the sweetness of zest and honey mix in instantly, painting a very nice painting of tastes.  It could use some more carbonation but that's English for you. The fruity tones tickle the front of the tongue while it then rolls off the whole tongue only to end in pleasant bitterness. I absolutely like the fruity, floral tones in it, especially when coupled with the hops.

I really, really, really think you should try this one!



Oct 19, 2016

Chimay Blanche

Chimay Blanche
Bières de Chimay


As I realized I have had the blue Chimay but never the other ones. The Blanche appears to be the most hopped and driest of the three. I have learned to evade Triples recently as the alcohol usually knocks me down and gets me tired but this is in the name of science, right? I mean.... right?!

The bottle is a standard small brown bottle with the name of te Abbey cast into it. Though a nice move, I heard that it isn't too grand on recycling because this way only the special bottles can go back to the matching brewery.

Trappist beer is brewed in Trappist Monasteries so the only ones that can call themselves to be Trappist brews are Achel, Chimay,Gregorius, La Trappe, Orval, Spencer, Rochefort, Tre Fontane, Westmalle, Westvleteren, and Zundert.

Obviously this bottle has a white label and a white cap. There are discussions on whether one mixes in the yeast of which there is plenty or not. I usually try it once without yeast and then mix in the rest. 
For trying this I chose my traditional Trappist beer glass by Westmalle. 

It pours deep orange yellow with a super fine head od long persisting bubbles.. just how I love it. 

RateBeer goes high for the brew, not as high as for the Bleue but still high. 

The aroma is really nice. We can find honey mixed with fresh flowers and the smell of hay as well as herbs and fine citrus notes all ending in a very nice bouquet of pepper aspects.
The without yeast:
Very sweet start, mixing with fine hoppish tones that then take over pleasantly but allow the citrus tones to linger. Berries dipped in alcohol only to then be submerged into dark chocolate come to mind.

Yeast added:
The fruity tones are higher now and it generally tastes a lot sweeter, alas this dampens the crisp hoppish tones we had before although it adds a certain mellowness to it while chiseling out the overall composition.

I would say I prefer the without yeast added version a TAD bit more because of the confronting clash of sweet and bitter but that might be just imagination. 

Definitely still amongst the best beers around.



Oct 18, 2016




Well friends, Winter is coming, it is getting colder and thus the time for cheery sitting on the terrace with a brew in the sun is over... luckily as I hate the sun... :D
So today I bring you something special.... though I'd guess that it isn't special where it comes from...
My esteemed friend and Y Chromosome donor of my Godson Axel has brought me a brew back from his trip to Baku so that I can give you a (the?) beer from Azerbaijan. Wikipedia tells me that the Xirdalan is indeed the most common beer there (It even has a nifty customs/tax sticker thingy). The can informs me that the brewery is part of Carlsberg... seems one can't escape them.

The can is white and blue and reminded me of some Finnish designs... mainly because of the color pattern. I actually like the design.

For the glass, I chose an old handmade round stein that I found on a flea market together with its twin which has gone missing for now.

Do I dare to check RateBeer?  Well I did and the rating is rather low... who would have guessed...

It pours really light and made me wonder whether it's not water after all, alas, once in the glass it was surprising gold with nice foam that didn't dissipate too fast. It is nice and golden and filtered.

The aroma is surprisingly fruity but with some side tones of ash and alcohol. Slight honey and amber scents mix with something weird that I can best describe as cough candy dipped in cheap honey. It isn't unpleasant, just very weird and unexpected. Once in the glass for a while the aroma dissipates and there is not much left.

Wish me luck!

It does start honey-cough candy-ish, then blends into a rather okish lager taste. The alcohol can be found in the taste which isn't hyping me but this is far from bad. There are faint apple tones and next to none bitterness. The taste is definitely better than the aroma. The grainy taste is a bit weird but it grows on me. Not the worst thing I ever sampled!

Thanks, Akseli!



Sep 11, 2016

Viking - Schlossbrauerei Fürstlich Drehna

Viking - Schlossbrauerei Fürstlich Drehna


It's too hot and this is a high percentage beer... not a good combo but we shall see. I have never heard of the brewery (German only) though when looking at their page I realize that I did have their Odin at some point and I remember not liking it.

Ratebeer is low in their ranking like so often.

Viking is advertised as a Schwarzbier a typical German kind I usually like. I have never seen one with this high alcohol content, though.

Funnily enough I cannot find the beer on the homepage of the brewery... I wonder whether that's a good or a bad thing.

The bottle itself is brown and unremarkable with one label depicting a grim looking Viking in yellow and black with the Text "Viking Craft Bier" and an added Stark / Schwarz / Magisch (Strong / Black / Magical). Sadly no information about what Malts etc.. a bit surprising for a beer that calls itself Craft. Some advertising promises to AWAKE THE VIKING IN ME.... I doubt...

The cap depicts Mr. grim Viking again. This time in silver and black.

Untappd lists it as a Doppelbock... I see that they get that from the percentage but that's just wrong.

Standard tasting glass as I wasn't sure what else to chose.

The brew pours nice, very black and with mediocre amount of foam which vanishes super fast.

The aroma is meaty, tones of honey and umami faint pepper and clove aroma. All in all not a very strong aroma.

Carbonation is perfect, taste starts surprisingly strong and sweet with faint liquorice and pepper tones. I actually had to double check that there is no added sugar in it.
Decent chocolate tones with a hint of honey.
Aftertaste very nice and full with spicy aspects. Faint bitterness but very pleasing.

Maybe a TAD too syrupy sweet for me, but all in all a really good brew! I wonder why ratebeer goes so low on it as I do enjoy it a lot. The higher alcohol content can't be tasted which in my eyes always is a HUGE bonus.

Happy I found that brew!