Orkney Brewery Skull Splitter Scotch Ale at 8.5% ABV
Pours a clear medium to deep amber with a short beige head diminishing to a thin cap, spotty lacing. Nose is toffee malt, dark dried fruit, and molasses – almost rum-like, with a slight hint of alcohol. Taste is medium sweet and mild bitter. Medium to full bodied, medium to low carbonation, and a sweet finish with mild alcohol warming.
Not a big fan of wee heavy/scotch ales, so it’s hard for me to be even-handed rating this one. There’s a near-complete absence of hop character, and I can easily see something similar to this having been bittered with gruit in the past – but at least it’s not peaty. Realistically, it integrates the high ABV pretty well, and the fruit/vinoous notes work fairly well. Pretty drinkable for a high ABV scotch ale.
My 111th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 105th by the 2013 Edition, and 114th overall.
7/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Microbrasserie Les Trois Mousquetaires Oktoberfest Oktoberfest/Märzen at 6% ABV
Pours a clear medium coppery amber with one fingers of loose beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. Nose is caramel malt, honey, herbal and floral hops. Taste is caramel and bready malt, with a little spice and a slight nuttiness. Light to medium body, somewhat slick, sustained prickly carbonation, and a mildly bitter (20 IBU) finish.
Decently drinkable but for it being quite sweet and malty – it’s almost a honey brown. (I don’t think I could handle more than one of these.) Not bad, certainly, and very appropriate for cooler weather – but I have to admit I’m continuing to consistently rank lagers toward the lower end of my personal preference. In this case, I think I’d be happier with a little more robustness and spice, and a little less caramel malt.
6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Crabbie's Spiced Orange Alcoholic Ginger Beer Ginger Beer at 4% ABV
Pours a clear straw with two fingers of dense white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. Nose is dominated by spicy ginger, with just a hint of orange. Taste is similar, with slightly more orange noticeable and a lingering spicy finish. Light body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry-ish finish.
I want to say this is a touch less sweet than the original Crabbie’s, but perhaps the orange is helping that perception. I also poured this one over ice as recommended on the bottle, so the watering down might also be tempering the sweetness. Doesn’t seem any less spicy, though, and the orange works nicely. As far as score goes, note that I’m not suggesting this is less desirable than the original, but rather I’m applying my new scoring criteria – the original should probably be scored similarly or slightly lower.
7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Thornbridge Brewery Halcyon Imperial IPA at 7.4% ABV
Pours a slightly hazy pale gold (on the first glass, undisturbed straight from the cellar – the second glass had more fines, and was more of a cloudy deep gold) with two fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. Nose is pine and tropical fruit, grapefruit and lemon, light sweet malt, faint floral. Taste is similar, starting sweet but rapidly overtaken by moderate bitter, perhaps a little more floral presence as the pint progresses. Medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry-ish finish.
Decently balanced English-style IIPA – which is to say, bitter without being a palate-wrecking hop bomb. Nice hop presence that isn’t overwhelming, and a very well-integrated ABV that never intrudes. There’s definite citrus, but not to the extent one typically finds in A/IIPA’s, and there’s a floral component that lightens the impact, too. Worth trying, and I’d have another should the opportunity present.
7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Octoberfest Märzen / Oktoberfest at 5.3% ABV
Pours a clear deep amber with a short finger of white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose is toffee and bread toasted malt with just a very little nuttiness and spice. Taste is similar, starting sweet and finishing mild bitter. Medium to full body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry-ish finish.
Nothing too thrilling. Good for a mass-market beer, not bad for a Märzen, and certainly not a terrible lager – but ultimately a lager. At the end of the day, there’s not a lot here to challenge or excite.
6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Harvest Pumpkin Ale Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 5.7% ABV
Pours a clear medium-to-deep amber with a short finger of white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose is pumpkin and spice, brown sugar. Taste is sweet and spicy pumpkin, brown sugar, mild bitter. Medium to full body, moderate to high sustained carbonation, and a somewhat sticky finish.
Well, I’ll be: a pumpkin ale that isn’t terrible – will wonders never cease? This just might be the best pumpkin ale I’ve ever tried! (Not that that bar was set all that high, mind you, but still…) Decently spicy, with a fairly good pumpkin flavour. It’s a bit too sweet, and that adversely affects the finish, but not bad at all. Ultimately, I wouldn’t say no to another – and I think that’s the first time I’ve said that about a pumpkin ale.
7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Harvest Saison Saison at 6.0% ABV
Pours a cloudy pale amber with a short finger of white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate patchy lacing. Nose is banana, light malt, yeast and spice. Taste is mildly spicy pepper, banana, bready yeast, ending mildly bitter. Medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a semi-dry finish.
Well, it ain’t no Hennepin – but it’s a darn sight better than I was expecting it to be. Surprisingly good for a fairly large-market beer. I’d like it a bit more peppery, but all things considered, it’s probably the best Sam Adams I’ve ever had.
7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Royal Unibrew A/S Faxe Red American Amber/Red Lager at 5.0% ABV
Pours clear ruby red with a short pinkish head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. Nose is adjunct lager, sweet, thin, grainy, minimal hops. Taste is sweet malt and a somewhat artificial red berry flavour with a slightly metallic aftertaste. Light body, moderate sustained carbonation, and an abrupt dry finish.
Well, it’s not as horrible as I feared. In some ways it’s slightly superior to your basic adjunct lager, and in others less so. Call it a wash, and put it in the “cold and wet” category.
4/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Omnipollo Nebuchadnezzar Imperial/Double IPA at 8.5% ABV
Pours slightly hazy pale to deep gold with three fingers of loose, foamy white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, spotty lacing. Nose is grapefruit, mango, caramel malt, slight floral. Taste is mild to moderate sweet rapidly overtaken by intense pine resin bitter. Relatively light body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry bitter finish.
Really good IIPA – almost splits the difference between English and American hops as flavour goes, but the intensity is everything you’d expect from a 100 IBU brew. The high ABV is completely integrated and very, very sneaky. Definitely more-ish.
8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Meantime Brewing Company Limited London Porter English Porter at 6.5% ABV
Pours deep ruby brown with hints of amber brown around the margins, two fluffy fingers of loose tan head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, spotty lacing. Nose is roast malts, toffee, chocolate, coffee. Taste is sweet toffee malt and chocolate giving way to bitter coffee, faint smoky molasses. Medium body and a creamy mouth feel, with a long bitter finish.
Definitely not to be drunk cold – the flavour opens up considerably as it warms to room temperature. A much-better-than-average porter. This one was well past its best-by date of February 2014, but I wouldn’t expect that to be an issue at all for this style, particularly given the moderately high ABV. I detected no adverse signs of age, and if anything would expect some cellaring time to be beneficial. I keep waffling back and forth on my overall opinion of porters and stouts, and this one is definitely one in the “pro” column.
My 110th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 104th by the 2013 Edition, and 113th overall.
7.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com