Newcastle Bombshell

Newcastle-BombshellEnglish Pale Ale, The Caledonian Brewery Company Limited, UK, 4.40% ABV

The ‘makers’ of Newcastle Brown Ale have introduced a summer ale… For the life of me I cannot find any official information, online, from the brewery. Hmm…

Pours: Clear light golden with a lot of carbonation.

Aroma: earthy, fruity hops. Toffee notes present. Good.

Taste: ooh. Sharp and crisp upfront; toasted malts in the form of biscuit, bread and toffee soften things up. Citrus notes throughout. Some apple. Little spice and herb in the finish.

A quick search on the internet reveals that beer isn’t highly rated amongst beer lovers. However, I rather like it. A very pleasing, tasty beer: some nice bitterness from the hops and a decent amount of yummy toasted malts. An easy going summer ale.

Score: 8/10

Widmer Brothers Alchemy Ale

Widmer-Alchemy-AleAmerican Pale Ale, Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, OR, USA, 5.80% ABV

A relatively new pale ale from Widmer Brothers Brewery (it looks as if they have dropped Drifter Pale Ale). From Widmer: “The Alchemy hop blend was developed by a local hop merchant and Widmer Brothers brewers in 2006, and has become a key ingredient in every Widmer Brothers beer. Since its development, the brewing team has experimented with a variety of recipes designed to showcase the unique characteristics of the super high alpha Alchemy hop blend. After exploring several recipes, hop additions and styles, the recipe for Alchemy Ale emerged as a favorite among Widmer Brothers brewers.”

Pours: Copper with a tiny bit of haze. Thin head.

Aroma: oh, interesting, not what I was expecting at all. A very malty, earthy aroma. There’s a fruity / berry hint. Some lemongrass.

Taste: very smooth, very creamy body. The hops here are all about flavour here and not the bitterness; earthy, floral, berries, herbal, a little spice and some mineral characteristics. The toasted bread from the malt compliment very nicely. The whole thing finishes slightly dry with a little spice, some fruity notes and some delicious caramel.

Hats off to Widmer Brothers for creating an American Pale Ale that doesn’t follow suit. Delicious.

Score: 9/10

Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted

harvieGolden Ale / Blonde Beer / English IPA, Harviestoun Brewery Ltd., UK, 4.20% ABV

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t ‘reviewed’ this beer yet as it’s one of my favourites.

A beer brewed in Scotland and a CAMRA winner from a few years back (Supreme Champion Beer of Britain), it’s an ale I’ve had many, many times and, remarkably good fortune for me, one not that hard to find in the USA.

Appearance: dark straw with a tiny bit of haziness. Thin head.

Aroma: Citrus zest, pale malts, a little floral, orange blossom and hint of tropical fruit.

Taste: smooth mouthfeel, lemon and orange zest immediately hit the tastebuds, some pear and apple also in the mix. The pale, biscuit and cracker type malts combine well with the earthy and floral hops – some grassy notes with some spice. The finish has a tiny bite with a little grain and lingers, a little dry.

Just an unbelievably good beer, super tasty and super complex – hard to believe the ABV is so low. It doesn’t get much better than this in the beer world. Go and get one.

Score: 9.9999/10

Shipyard American Pale Ale

Shipyard-American-Pale-AleAmerican Pale Ale, Shipyard Brewing Co., ME, USA, 4.50% ABV

My first beer from this brewery and, as it it turns out, it’s is a relatively new beer: “Shipyard American Pale Ale was first released in 2013 in the United Kingdom through a unique partnership between Shipyard Brewing Company and Marston’s in the UK.  It turns out, beer drinkers across the pond love American beer (or “new world” beer as they call it) as much as we do.  Hundreds of draft lines of Shipyard American Pale Ale are flowing in the UK.

Now, in 2014, Shipyard American Pale Ale is available in the US on draft and in bottles from sea to shining sea.” So there you go. An American beer first made for the UK market.

Pours: light amber with decent head.

Aroma: citrus and pine from the hops, doughy malt, a little lemongrass.

Taste: There’s plenty of hops in here and these are first to hit the palate in the form of grapefruit, citrus, a little passion fruit and pine. The English malt then pops in with a quick hello and recedes; brief but good. The finish is dry, prolonged and rather spicy. But again, it’s good.

This is an excellent, refreshing,  session American Pale Ale and, in my opinion, offers a much more quaffable brew than session IPA’s that have been hitting the market recently. The finish may be a bit too spicy for some but I’d quite happily purchase a 6 pack.

Score: 8.5/10

Greene King Abbot Ale

greenekingabbotaleEnglish Pale Ale, Greene King Brewery, UK, 5.00% ABV

An ale from the homeland that I’ve had a couple of times before – but many years ago.

Pours: bright orange with a thin head.

Aroma: ooh, an English ale alright; fruit aroma – apple, pear raisins, some floral hops and some caramel.

Taste: sweet caramel up front, followed by some fruit; apple, plum, raisins, dark fruit. Strong tea like flavours start to dominate with the hops bringing earthy and floral notes. A semi dry finish with hints of grain and dough. There’s a lot going on here with no dominant characteristics but the hops always keep coming through – they’re strong but soft at the same time. However, I can’t quite put my finger on it but something is missing, something’s amiss – a problem I have with a few beers from the Greene King brewery.

I wasn’t a fan of this in the UK and, truth be told, it’s not doing much for me now. It’s decent but far from being a great beer.

Score 6/10

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

sculpinipaAmerican IPA, Ballast Point Brewing Company, CA, USA, 7.00% ABV

Pours: beautiful golden colour with a sticky massive head.

Aroma: woah. Tropical fruit overload here; mango, pineapple, passion fruit then some grapefruit, tangerine, slight pine and then a little tobacco. Unbelievably aromatic. Terrific stuff. Hard to believe a beer could smell this good.

Taste: wow. *another mouthful* Where to start with this one? Loads of tropical fruit upfront that almost overwhelm the palette, with some honey sweetness also thrown in. The earthy, woody tobacco complexities of the hops start to battle through and raise their heads above the tropical parapets. The (pale) malts have no chance in this brew but can be detected lurking in the background desperately trying to keep everything in order. And it works. Very much so. In fact the malts shine in the finish with a little biscuit / grain that combine well with the fruity notes that, after they’ve blitzed my taste buds, are starting to wane.

This is an absolute monster of an IPA. One of the very best I’ve had.

9.5/10

Full Sail IPA

fullsailipaAmerican IPA, Full Sail Brewing Company, OR, USA, 6.00% ABV

A beer I’ve had on numerous occasions and from the makers of the wonderful Amber Ale.

Pours: clear light golden with a massive head.

Aroma: floral, grainy, little citrus and a little nutty. Not an overly strong aroma but good.

Taste: smooth, and refreshing. The taste very much mimics the aroma. The hop bitterness is there but not as powerful a pull as the usual American IPA. Slightly earthy, slightly floral and a little bitterness. The malt lurks in the background throwing bready and cracker flavours to the mix. It’s a very restrained IPA that has complexities and many layers.  A grainy finish with a little butter (diacetyl?).

This is very much an old school American IPA, maybe closer to an English IPA but still a fabulous beer.

Score: 8.5/10