214. Siren’s Calypso Berliner Weisse

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When they say this is dry hopped – they aren’t kidding. Calypso is an entirely appropriate name for this pale German style beer, as it is literally bursting with tropical fruit flavour. There’s tonnes of fizz, so it comes flying out the bottle in great frothy torrents if you aren’t careful.

The actual taste is to begin with rather interesting – acidic, almost astringent, it has a powerful lemony-grapefruit flavour and a little of the dryer hop bitterness round the edges. As it starts to mellow and flatten, the acid fruit becomes overbearing, and it takes on the quality of an alcoholic cloudy lemonade. Not quite undrinkable but certainly nor particularly beery. You can almost feel it rotting your teeth as you drink.

To be fair, the Berliner Weisse style, made with wheat and plenty of hops, is meant to be sour, but in this particular case it’s just a tad too much. If this is your thing, perhaps you’ll enjoy, but it wasn’t for me.

I didn’t realise (or had forgotten) that Calypso was a Greek Goddess, famed for her sharp tongue as well as a name for a certain style of Caribbean music – so doubly appropriate! She was also a temptress – which fits with the brewers chosen name. They are clever clogs when it comes to naming.

1 star

213. Lymestone Brewery’s Ein Stein

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A cleverly named beer has me nervous nowadays. This number, from just up the road in Staffordshire, is certainly an interesting drop.

The start is a fairly strong hit of marshmallows and fatty butterscotch, almost popcorn when you take on the slight grainy flavour. The finish is fairly potent hops as well, and the contrast is certainly different.

I can’t quite make my mind up as to whether I like the flavour combination. It mellows a bit with time, but I’m not convinced I could drink load of these.

Three stars – because it’s different

three star

211. Skinner’s Heligan Honey

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A lovely Cornish number this one, hoppy and mellow, with a good hint of honey sweetness underneath. Very soft and drinkable, and at 4% not overly potent either.

It’s brewed family owned brewer Skinner’s, who are based in Truro, and are clearly a fun bunch. You can probably tell from the cartoonish label and so much of their excellent little website.

This brew has one speciality beer awards and I can’t say I’m surprised. Very pleasant.

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210. Titanic Stout

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I’ve been eyeing this particular beer since spotting it on a lunch run to Tesco Express, and finally bought myself a bottle this evening while picking up some orange juice. I think it’s quite exciting that such a variety of beers even in somewhere as small and as mass-market, and I’ve had a couple of nice surprises while picking up a diet coke or my sixth pack of scotch pancakes this week…

Titanic Stout is brewed by Stoke (Burslem) based Titanic Brewery, which has been going since 1985 and has a pretty wide selection of beers on offer (expect to see another one soon). It’s an award winner two – getting two gold medals from CAMRA for Champion Bottled Beer of Britain. The brewery is named after Edward Smith, the ill-fated Captain of the Titanic, who was born in nearby Etruria.

The stout is actually quite fizzy and fruity to begin with, although it does lose a bit of this on pouring. There’s a fairly sharp sweetness and relatively little of the usual smoky/burnt flavour, although there is a little dark chocolate bitterness which comes pretty close. A surprisingly light and refreshing stout, well worth a try. 

three star

 

208 & 209 Saltaire/Dark Star’s Le IPA and Bristol Beer Factory’s Sunrise

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A sojourn to the South West to visit friends in Bristol gave me an excellent excuse to sample a few more new beers, the first being a joint effort from Brighton brewer Dark Star and Shipley’s Saltaire;  “Le IPA”. It has been brewed to celebrate the start of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.

This is a darkish IPA, heavy on the hops. Having sampled Dark Star’s efforts before and been unimpressed (Beer 25 – Art of Darkness), this was an improvement but still not something I’d get very excited about. Fairly green in flavour with a little more maltiness than you might expect, it has a fairly murky colour and plenty of hop bitterness. Rather like some of the over-hopped American pale ales, quite one dimensional.

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My second pint was perhaps better suited to a warm afternoon on the Quayside. Local brewers the Bristol Beer Factory (straight to the point with that one) have produced a fruity and fairly dry golden ale, fairly hoppy and biscuit in the middle following a slightly tart lemony start.

Decent stuff.

Le IPA:  two star

Sunrise: three star

206 & 207 Ridgeway’s Bad King John and Fyne’s Highlander

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As the Scottish people ponder the rapidly approaching independence vote, it seems very apt that I am sampling a very English and very Scottish ale at the same time. Whether you can read much into my opinion on the beers, I really don’t know.

First up is Bad King John, described as “A very English Black Ale”. It’s made in Oxfordshire, in the quaint village of South Stoke. The brewers are called Ridgeway, named for a nearby path that runs along the banks of the local river. There’s a pub called the Perch and Pike. There’s a little church. You can’t get more English. 

The beer itself is smoky affair, with dark fruit sweetness, a little molasses or toffee and what tasted like a slightly peppery finish. Very dark and quite strong, not a session ale but actually lighter than you would expect. A decent drop. 

 

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Highlander is by comparison a paragon of Scottishness. Brewed on the banks of Loch Fyne at Achadunan near Cairndow in Argyll, it was first created on St Andrews Day, to celebrate the arrival of the first Highland cattle on the farm where it is brewed. (I’m not making this up)

A mucky looking traditional Scottish ale, it has a bready flavour, but a more reminisent of sour-dough with a definite tang and a fresh, green hoppiness. It mixes traditional malts with a little wheat which gives it a little more lightness. Tasty enough.

My opinion – two very different drinks, both with their strengths and weakness. Both three star

 

Guest post – Phil Embury: Wibbler’s Essex Blonde

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What better person to review an Essex Blonde than my own dad – Basildon born and bred…

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Having been invited to contribute to number-one-son’s beer reviews some time ago I’ve finally got round to it, so here goes.

Not being an ale drinker as such (plays havoc with my digestive system) I will stick to my favourite tipple – Lager (or similar ‘blonde’ beers). This one hails from my home county of Essex and is from a small brewery on the Dengie peninsular; I will resist the temptation to reminisce about other Essex blondes whose company I have enjoyed ;-).

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This particular blonde is a rich golden colour and is matured for 6 weeks after brewing to give the distinctive lager taste. It has a sweet aroma and is light on the tongue at the first sip, with the initial flavour continuing the confectionery theme. I quite liked the bubble-gum after-taste which reminded me of a Belgian wheat beer (whose name I can’t recall) I drank rather too much of a number of years ago.

The European flavour is probably down to the Czech hops used in brewing. It is of a similar strength to most premium lagers at 5% and I could see myself enjoying a pint or two of this particular tipple outside my favourite village pub on a warm summers evening.

Worth seeking out.

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205. Tiny Rebel’s Dirty Stop Out

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This little beer has a lot going for it. A clever rhyming name, funky-cute bottle design and a gold “Champion Beer of Wales” award in 2013. Its made by Tiny Rebel, a two man team of former home brewers who now own one of Cardiff’s first craft beer pubs. It also happens to taste rather good.

A oat stout, it has a surprisingly subtle flavour, almost creamy to start, light on the tongue as the middle brings a coffee-flapjack flavour, mixing a little sweetness with oaty, grainy bitterness and a whiff of smoke in the finish. Not overpowering, but with plenty of flavour. 

Really nice. 

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