About Me

My Photo
United Kingdom
Tyson is an underpaid writer, beer anarchist and cheese addict living in the North West of England.
If the people are buying tears, I'll be rich someday, Ma

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Sierra Nevada Narwhal

It’s across the pond once more, dear readers, as we take a trip to the dark side. The dark, heavy side to be precise. Yes it’s those heavyweights of brewing, Sierra Nevada with a heavyweight of a Stout.

“Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.”

Sounds good, but how will it fare in the ring?

Round 1: It’s a 12oz bottle and comes in at a not-to-be trifled with 10.2%. It was very lively and poured jet black with a large tan head. Pungent on the nose, it had cocoa, brown sugar, roasted barley; all in all a lot of malt. Also in there was ripe cherries and a slight smokiness.

Round 2: Quite sweet and thick on the palate. There’s plenty of roast malt but also a heavy dose of dark chocolate. The hops do come through on the second gulp to lend some balancing bitterness but the treacle-like; almost honeyed dark fruit sweetness comes through strongest. Slight tobacco and leather undertones as well.

Round 3: The finish is syrupy sweet with a little creamy coffee underlay.

Tyson says: Although initially promising, it proved too sweet overall for my palate. That and the alcohol that comes through about half way down means that it wouldn’t be my first choice off the beer shelf. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog U-Boat

TGIF, eh? And that means only one thing. Yes, it’s transatlantic Porter day. Well it is now as that’s what’s on the tasting menu for today. What is a transatlantic Porter, you may ask. It’s a collaboration between Brewdog and the US brewer Victory and naturally they’ve come up with something wacky, erm, I mean contemporary and funky. Brewed with a number of specialty malts, the twist comes in the form of fermentation with lager yeast. Right now I’ve got your attention, let’s begin.
It’s a 330ml bottle and is a heavyweight 8.4%. It poured jet-black with good carbonation and a one-finger tan head. The aroma was powerful: medium smokiness with caramel, cocoa, dark berries and just a hint, if I’m not imagining it, of lager. Taste wise, this was a rich beer. Viscous and creamy with a chewy edge that reminds you of its strength but in a good way. There is a peat smokiness but also caramel, coffee, raisins and some dark fruit: maybe plums? Certainly a well concocted beer that retains its complex balancing act through to the bitter-sweet red fruit and currant finish.

Tyson says: A bastard son of a Milk Chocolate Stout and a lager; despite my initial scepticism, it works really well. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Tesco Single Hopped Kentish Ale

After yesterday’s diversion into exotic beer country, today we crash land on terra firma with what can only be described as an old-school brew. The success of New World hops, which have come to dominate the new wave of craft beers, has been something of a double-edged sword for UK hop growers. Whilst focusing drinker’s attention on the merits of hops, it has left traditional varieties struggling to compete. Now there are many fine varieties of British hops and the British Hop Association has a strategy to try and publicise the merits of each regional variety. Step forward Tesco.
This beer is brewed by Shepherd Neame who are, if that’s the correct term, the champions of East Kent Goldings. Some people say they’re the champions of producing twig beer, but I’d never repeat that here. The beer is 4.5% and comes in a 500ml bottle which, rather surprisingly, is clear. That’s really a no-no, so points deducted for that. It poured light copper with little carbonation and a thin off-white head that quickly died off. Aroma was soft caramel and toffee with a slight spicy undertone. Taste was a little bit earthy: slight floral and gently spiced malt. Typical Shepherd Neame, really.

Tyson says: Although there are many fine varieties of British hops, East Kent Goldings aren’t one of them. Not on this showing anyway. A rather insipid beer that might be a good present for your Uncle George, but is unlikely to win over many people who are looking to explore and understand just what hops do for a beer. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Mikkeller Chill Pils (Orange Juice)

What have we got this morning for Wednesday’s little treat?  You know how in summer, a man’s fancy turns to just one thing? Yes, that’s right: Pilsner. Well today we celebrate summer by trying a Pilsner. But as it’s those crazy Danish guys at Mikkeller, it’s no ordinary Pilsner. No, this is a Pilsner made with genuine orange juice. Yeah you heard me correctly, this is an orange Pilsner. I’m pretty sure that’s not in the style book, but before we all book flights to Prague to cleanse our thoughts, let’s give it a try.
It’s a 330ml bottle and is spot on for strength, coming in at 4.7%. It poured, perhaps with zero surprise, a pale, hazy orange colour with a 2-finger white head. Carbonation was reasonable, if not particularly strong. The aroma is heavily dominated by orange with just a subtle hint of light malt. It’s smooth on the palate with the taste coming across as a very fresh glass of orange juice. You wouldn’t think it was a Pilsner at all. But wait for it…The bitter hop-led citrus finish is complemented by an underlying dry, slight mineral edge.

Tyson says: Mikkeller have pulled it off again. Just. It may only really reveal its Pilsner roots at the very end but it’s still a very refreshing summer beer nonetheless. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Citra Centennial IPA

It’s breakfast time but before we can tuck into all that healthy muesli, we need to refresh the palate for the day. It may be happenchance or destiny that Kernel was picked out of the cupboard, but there’s been a lot of chatter about Kernel recently amongst the chattering beer classes. They’re withdrawing from the Bermondsey Beer Mile circus as they’re becoming swamped with amateur pissheads. Think Blackpool but picture wannabe hipsters and johhny-come-latelies. So what better way to remind ourselves of what all the fuss is about?
It’s the standard Kernel minimal design bottle and comes in at 6.9%. Now Kernel more or less patented London Murky-another thing guaranteed to get the chattering beer classes chattering-so no surprise to find it poured a murky golden orange with a thin off-white head. But it wasn’t actually that murky; I was expecting a real stodge of a beer, but I’ve seen worse. Aroma was a straightforward blast of citrus: grapefruit, orange and a little tinned pineapple. Mouthfeel was good with lots of rich notes of orange, lemon, grapefruit and a touch of grassiness. Drinks well for the strength and builds to a clean, bitter citric fruit aftertaste.

Tyson says: May look murky but tastes a lot better than it looks. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Mikkeller The American Dream

Ah, hot summer days that just cry out for a cold lager. What do you mean, it’s Manchester and it’s wet and cold? Everyone knows it’s always sunny inside a Mancunian heart. Anyway, it’s lager time whatever the weather. But this is no ordinary lager-you won’t find me reviewing Stella here: drinking it at the bus shelter, yes but reviewing it, no-this is craft lager. Specifically a lager from those kings of craft, Mikkeller.  
It’s a 330ml bottle and tips the scales at 4.6%. It poured golden-brown with a thin off-white head that quickly dissipated. The aroma was summery and pleasant. There were hints of apricots, breaded malt, lemon and grapefruit. The body was what you would expect, light/medium mouthfeel with the malt just lying comfortably in the background. And it was crisp like a good lager should be. So far, so normal. However, the grassy hop tones and lemon and citrus bite give the game away. These build to a clean, citru-led bitter aftertaste that refreshes the parts normal lagers can’t.

Tyson says: Excellent. Do say: “A well-crafted lager”. Don’t say: “Wassup”.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Cloudwater IPA

This morning’s aperitif comes from that new(ish) kid on the Manchester craft beer block: Cloudwater. Since their official launch in March they’ve been taking not only the local scene by storm, but causing a few national ripples as well. Now there’s a lot you could talk about with Cloudwater; their seasonal approach to beer or their label design, for example. But what has struck me is the quality of their product. I’ve tried more or less all of their output, through various styles that I’m more or less keen on, but the quality has been top-notch throughout. Something which I wish I could say about some other so-called ‘craft’ brewers.
This is a 330ml bottle and comes in at 7.2%. Handily there’s lot of info on the back:

Yeast: US05
Malt: Best Ale, Clear Choice, Wheat Malt, Caramalt, Dark Crystal
Hops: Green Bullet, Perle, Citra, Summit, Galaxy, Centennial

It poured a solid orange-some might say proper IPA colour-with about half a finger’s worth of off-white foam. It’s slightly hazy but there’s no London Murky funny business here. The aroma was pungent and, to my schnozzle at least, very pleasant. There’s lot of fresh pine, melon, grapefruit and pineapple balanced out by a sweet fruit/sherbet underlay.

Unsurprisingly after that introduction, the taste didn’t disappoint. Basically it’s more of the same but with a little twist or two.  Quite firm bodied, the malt backbone does an outstanding job of underpinning the bold flavours without dominating the profile. This does not drink like a 7.2% at all. Plenty of bold pine and citrus notes with mango and mandarin orange/marmalade there in the mix as well. It’s all about the hops shining through rather than being an out and out bitter fest, but the sticky grapefruit bitter finish really does reset the taste buds and demands another gulp.

Tyson says: A superbly crafted IPA that could well prove to be the benchmark for the British take on this style.