Category Archives: BeerCasts

Blog posts relating to our podcasts

BeerCast #60 – Purity Showcase

Warwickshire’s Purity Brewing began production in December 2005, based in the attractive surroundings of Upper Spernall Farm near the village of Great Alne. Somewhat unusually these days, they only release three beers – Pure Gold, Mad Goose and Pure UBU. Apart from a one-off in 2008 to celebrate the centenary of the National Farmer’s Union, they concentrate solely on those three brands. Forgoing seasonals is quite a refreshing approach – as is their commitment to the local environment. Purity have created a series of wetlands to recycle the liquid brewing waste, which after nine processes is released into a local river as pure water. On the podcast this week – Richard, Grooben and Shovels. We also include a bonus fourth beer from London’s Kernel Brewery, their mighty Imperial Stout (12.5%). Many thanks to Kirsten at Purity for sending the beers through.

1. Pure Gold (4.3%abv)
Purity Brewing, Great Alne, Warwickshire.
500ml glass bottle

What They Say
“Pure Gold is a refreshing Golden Ale. Made with English Maris Otter Malt and East Kent and Styrian Golding Hops, creating a surprisingly smooth, easy drinking beer with subtle citrus flavours.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – Biscuity strawness with a bit of orange 8
Grooben – Better than I was expecting, it’s good
Richard – Some hop bitterness, a classic session beer 7

2. Mad Goose (4.2%abv)
Purity Brewing, Great Alne, Warwickshire.
330ml glass bottle

What They Say
“Brewed with Maris Otter, Caragold and Wheat Malt with Hallertau bittering hops and Cascade and Willamette aroma hops. Light copper in colour with a great hop character and citrus overtones.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Grooben – Sharp and quite bitter but I’d happily drink it 6
Shovels – For a Pale Ale I expect a bit more citrus 6
Richard – Hop bitterness but no sweetness to punch through

3. Pure UBU (4.5%abv)
Purity Brewing, Great Alne, Warwickshire.
500ml glass bottle

What They Say
“Pure UBU – pronounced OO-BOO – named after our faithful canine friend and protector of our secrets. UBU 4.5% ABV is a distinctive premium amber coloured beer. Made from English Maris Otter, Crystal & Black Malts with Challenger and Cascade hops, creating a balanced full flavoured beer that is a pleasure to drink.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – Malty but in a very nicely balanced way
Richard – Tastes like a Northern bitter, really good 7
Grooben – All these beers have been really quaffable

4. Kernel Imperial Stout (12.5%abv)
The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
330ml glass bottle

We finish the showcase with a bonus beer – the strongest beer on the books of London’s Kernel Brewery. Any regular BeerCast reader will know how keen we are on Evin O’Riordain’s beers – he really is brewing some of the most exciting beers in the country at the moment. We got hold of his monstrous Imperial Stout and decided to throw it into the mix – our bonus Kernel beer is becoming a bit of a theme (IPA S.C.A.NS. sneaked into BeerCast #54, and IPA Citra into BeerCast #59).

What They Say
“Simple recipe – massive taste. Dark, dark black. Oily texture. Loads of rich dried fruit and alcohol warmth, rum and raisin.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – So much going on, rich dark fruit coats the tongue 7
Grooben – Oh my, it’s making my chest hurt – too much for me 4
Shovels – Too much alcohol at the finish, it doesn’t sit right in my mouth 4

– (clockwise from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard

BeerCast panel verdict
Purity Pure Gold (22½/30)
Purity Pure UBU (21/30)
Purity Mad Goose (17½/30)
Kernel Imperial Stout (15/30)

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #60 – Purity Showcase
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our Site Feed

  • Massive thanks to Kirsten at Purity Brewing for sending the beers through. Stay tuned for our 61st BeerCast, as we assemble a crack team to tackle four Ancient Beer Styles. Big beers, old beers, and strange beers feature in our next podcast, which will be out at the end of the month…

    Purity Brewery website

    BeerCast #59 – IPA is Dead

    Last month Fraserburgh’s BrewDog released a series of four India Pale Ales to showcase the wonderful versatility of hops. Being BrewDog, they called it IPA is Dead, and bottled the four base IPA’s after having kettle and then dry hopped each of them with a single variety. Bramling Cross, Nelson Sauvin, Sorachi Ace and Citra are the hops involved – each added to a beer with the same malt content – and all brewed to 7.5% and 75IBU. We got hold of a pack, and assembled our team to discuss whether this means the end for IPA’s – or just another beginning. On the panel this time are Richard, Shovels, Grooben, and (fast becoming a regular) Stuart. We also added a bonus beer for comparison – another single hopped IPA – Kernel India Pale Ale Citra (7.2%). Stand by for big scores, big discussions, and the best way of cleaning a lion’s cage…

    1. IPA is Dead Bramling X (7.5%abv)
    BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
    330ml glass bottle

    Hailing from the hop gardens of south-east England, Bramling Cross was developed at Wye College in 1927 by a Professor Salmon. The name comes from the Golding variety Bramling being crossed with a wild Manitoban hop from Canada. Giving strong spicy blackcurrant characters, it has a relatively low alpha acid content at 5-7%, meaning more need to be added to give a bitter effect. Commonly used for cask bitters, BrewDog avoided comparisons with the beer they love to hate by upping the hop load and calling the beer Bramling X.

    What They Say
    “Good old Bramling Cross is elegant, refined, assured, (boring) and understated. Understated that is unless you hop the living daylights out of a beer with it. This is Bramling Cross re-invented and re-imagined and shows just what can be done with English hops if you use enough of them.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Grooben – Grapefruity aroma, leafy autumnal undertones 8
    Shovels – Quite an earthy hop, good but not blowing me away 7
    Richard – Fruity, then more rich berry fruit as it warms 7
    Stu – I love the fruitiness and I’d be happy with four of these 7

    2. IPA is Dead Nelson Sauvin (7.5%abv)
    BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
    330ml glass bottle

    Back in 2000, the New Zealand based Hort Research crossed two older NZ hop varieties at their base in the south island city of Nelson. Such was the grape-like flavour the new hop imparted, they called it Nelson Sauvin. White wine and crisp fruitiness are the order of the day here – BrewDog already use large amounts of Nelson Sauvin making one of their most popular core beers, 5am Saint

    What They Say
    “Nelson is a love it or hate it kinda hop. We are cool with that, if we wanted to keep everyone happy we would be brewing Fosters anyway. Sharp as a razor, this New Zealand hop slices its way through your taste buds and is brutally resinous, almost scraping the intense flavours of passion fruit along your poor tongue.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Shovels – Don’t get wine from this, but I do get lots of grapefruit 7
    Grooben – A bastard lovechild of Trashy Blonde and 5AM Saint 6
    Richard – The wineyness gives way to grapefruit, but it then gets too sweet, and grapefruity beers should be bitter
    Stu – One or two sips is Ok, but it goes a bit far for me 5

    3. IPA is Dead Sorachi Ace (7.5%abv)
    BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
    330ml glass bottle

    Sorachi Ace is the wildcard and the joker of the hop pack rolled into one. Developed for Sapporo in Japan, it first came to real prominence elsewhere during the global hop shortage of 2007, when necessity meant other alternatives had to be explored. Why is it unusual? Some of the other UK bloggers who have sampled IPA is Dead have used the following terms to try and sum it up – soap, musky caramel, creamy butter, orange peel, herbal, undrinkable nettle-flavoured cat pee (is there a drinkable nettle cat pee?)…

    What They Say
    “A hop that tastes of bubble gum? Seriously? No, we did not believe it either. But it does! This is one unique, son of a bitch of a hop. Lemony, deep, musty with a smoothness which belies its power. This hop is lemony like a lemon who was angry earlier but is now tired because of all the rage.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Richard – Tastes like lemon cheesecake, every sip is nice and then not nice, it’s fascinatingly interesting 8
    Grooben – Synthetic, perfumy, with the alcohol coming through 7
    Shovels – I’m not sure I like it but I’m not sure I don’t like it 6
    Stu – I wouldn’t sit down in front of the telly with it 4

    4. IPA is Dead Citra (7.5%abv)
    BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
    330ml glass bottle

    Finally Citra – definitely the hop du jour. Only developed three years ago – by the mighty Sierra Nevada (who know a thing or two about hops) – it was first presented at the 2008 World Brewing Congress. RateBeer has 63 beers on its rankings with the word Citra in the title (so that’s not including those that simply have it somewhere in the recipe). It has taken off in a big way – easy to see why with the pure Pacific US flavours, Citra imparts flavours of pretty much every zingy fruit you can think of.

    What They Say
    “The Pacific North West of America is home to the Citra hop. America is not just about cheer leaders, a silly version of football, elastic top jeans and cheeseburgers. They grow remarkable hops and Citra is a killer example of this, embodying all that is good about American hops and then some.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Stu – This is absolutely my style of beer, I love it 9
    Shovels – Citrusy hops are great because they are so cleansing 8
    Grooben – Limey overtones, the most full-on fruity of the four 8
    Richard – From start to finish it’s straight up tropical fruit

    5. Kernel IPA Citra (7.2%abv)
    The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
    330ml glass bottle

    Finally, we put the Kernel cat among the BrewDog pigeons by adding a bonus beer at the last minute. To compare directly with the previous beer, we sample Kernel’s single-hopped Citra IPA and note the differences. Brewing in south London, Evin O’Riordain has come up with some stunning beers over the last year and a half – see our Kernel showcase for a few of them. Will the Citra live up to the others?

    What We Say
    Richard – I think that’s the perfect IPA, it’s strong, perfectly balanced, is fantastic and I love it 10
    Stu – Some sweetness but this is just that touch more refined
    Shovels – Subtlety to it, the hops aren’t that overpowering
    Grooben – Not quite the crazy tropical fruit, tastes balanced

    – (clockwise from top left) Richard, Shovels, Stuart, Grooben

    BeerCast panel verdict
    Kernel IPA Citra (36½/40)
    BrewDog IPA is Dead Citra (32½/40)
    BrewDog IPA is Dead Bramling X (29/40)
    BrewDog IPA is Dead Sorachi Ace (25/40)
    BrewDog IPA is Dead Nelson Sauvin (23½/40)

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #59 – IPA is Dead
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our Site Feed
  • Our next BeerCast podcast is another brewery showcase, as we sample the three beers produced by Warwickshire’s Purity Brewery. Stay tuned for that, and look for Kernel IPA Citra to possibly make a run all the way to our 2011 Beer of the Year show in December.

    BeerCast #58 – The Long Americans

    BeerCast 58, and on this particular podcast we deal with some extremely lengthily-titled Americans. Shovels went on a pre-Christmas sun trip to Florida, and as we’re never off-duty brought back a selection of strong American craft beers for us to review – not to mention the receipts for a $130 round trip to get them. We open up the show with Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest 2010 (6.7%), before moving up the west coast to Oregon for Rogue Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale (5.2%) – a malty red ale to balance the pale-heavy podcast. Next beer up is Hoppin’ Frog Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA (6.8%) from Akron in Ohio, before we finish on the strongest of the night – Southern Tier UnEarthly Imperial IPA (11.0%). Will his expensive beer run have been worth it? Joining Shovels are Grooben, Richard, and MrB.

    1. Southern Hemisphere Harvest 2010
    Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, California.
    22oz US glass bottle

    On the 5th of November 1980, the Sierra Nevada brewery produced the first batch of their now-famous Pale Ale. Founded just the year before in Chico by ex-homebrewer Ken Grossman, they have gone on to become one of the largest and highest rated breweries in America. We wouldn’t be any kind of beer website not to feature plenty of SN output – we sampled their Porter in BeerCast #21 and their Estate 2009 in BeerCast #50 – the autumnal version of the beer we sample tonight. Fresh hops from New Zealand are freighted to California for a spring Harvest ale from the Southern Hemisphere.

    What They Say
    “Robust hop character presents an intriguing floral-citrus aroma leading to layers of fresh-hop spiciness. Enjoy!” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Richard – Has a vinous, winey character and I think it’s very very nice 9
    Shovels – I shouldn’t compare to the Harvest, but I just prefer that
    MrB – SN grow hops, so why ship them from NZ? Is there that striking a difference? I’m loving the beer but I’m not getting the point
    Grooben – Tough to distinguish from the other, I’m not complaining 8

    2. Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale
    Rogue Ales, Newport, Oregon.
    22oz US glass bottle

    Rogue began life in the Oregon city of Ashland in 1988. A group of college friends decided to make the familiar jump from homebrewing into something more serious – it must have helped that one of them was also an accountant. After less than a year in Ashland they relocated to larger premises in coastal Newport, and have since gone from strength to strength, having produced over sixty beers, and won countless awards. Fond of long names, we sampled their Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale in BeerCast #53, and this time we get to grips with their dry hopped red ale, St Rogue.

    What They Say
    “Reddish copper in color, a roasty malt flavor with a hoppy sprucy finish.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Grooben – It’s not strong, but has a beautiful rounded maltiness
    MrB – I wish there was a bit more sparkle to it, but it’s amazing
    Shovels – Subtle and mild, I really love the aroma
    Richard – I like that sweet maltiness that doesn’t take over

    3. Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA
    Hoppin’ Frog Brewery, Akron, Ohio.
    22oz US glass bottle

    Continuing our theme, Hoppin’ Frog were founded in 2006 by another ex-homebrewer, Fred Karm. After brewing his own back in the 90’s, he worked for Akron area microbrewpub Thirsty Dog, until they ceased production in 2005. Spotting an opportunity, Fred bought the brewing gear and set up on his own. Having been nicknamed ‘the frog’ because of his mastery of hops, he named the new venture Hoppin’ Frog. Within two years, Fred had to expand to premises three times the size to keep up with demand.

    What They Say
    “A classic, robust American IPA with a spicy, assertive citrusy American hop character balanced with a full-bodied, rich malt taste.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    MrB – Hoppy, sweet and sparkly – almost Belgian-esque
    Richard – Love that hop flavour, really effervescent on the palate
    Shovels – There’s a narrow intensity that’s really nice 8
    Grooben – Sweet with big floaty chunks, love the frog 8

    4. UnEarthly Imperial IPA
    Southern Tier Brewing Co, Lakewood, New York.
    22oz US glass bottle

    The far south-western pointy corner of New York State is known as the Southern Tier – and back in 2002 Phineas DeMink and Allen ‘Skip’ Yahn decided to bring brewing back to the tier. Their two early flagships were a pilsner and a mild, but things really took off for them with the release of an IPA. They produce a staggering array of Imperials – an imperial extra pale ale, imperial red ale, imperial black ale, imperial hefeweizen, oak-aged imperial IPA, imperial oatmeal stout, imperial pumpkin ale, imperial lager, and an imperial crème brulee milk stout. Tonight we sample their imperial IPA UnEarthly, the abv of which varies depending on the batch – ours charges in at 11%.

    What They Say
    “An Uninhibited Infusion of Hops. We continue our commitment to innovation with our most aggressive offering yet. Unearthly is a manifestation of the brewers crafts, skilfully balancing art and the forces of nature to produce a divine liquid.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    MrB – It moves slower than water – I don’t like sweet things in the slightest but the hops are just enough 8
    Richard – It’s like drinking pineapple hop treacle
    Shovels – It’s harder core than Hardcore IPA, that’s for sure 7
    Grooben – Struggling with this one, it’s just too syrupy everywhere

    – (clockwise from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard

    BeerCast panel verdict
    Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest 2010 34/40
    Rogue St Rogue Dry Hopped Red Ale 34/40
    Hoppin’ Frog Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA 33½/40
    Southern Tier UnEarthly Imperial IPA 28/40

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #58 – The Long Americans
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our Site Feed

  • Please keep those comments and emails coming in, and check back in a couple of weeks for our next podcast – a showcase special featuring Warwickshire’s Purity Brewery. Stay tuned…

    BeerCast #57 – London Calling

    The London contingent returns once again to test the beery waters with Andy, Jess, Andrew, Marc and newcomer Kath. We chose a random selection of beers which intrigued us and tried not to veer off into unrelated and surreal topics too frequently. First up, Thwaites Very Nutty Black (3.9%) from Blackburn, then we moved down to the South West and sampled Skinners Cornish Knocker (4.5%). The third beer on the podcast is from Sweden – Nils Oscar God Ale (5.3%), before we finished on a stronger note with Ringwood Old Thumper (5.6%)…

    1. Very Nutty Black (3.9%abv) 500ml glass bottle
    Daniel Thwaites Brewery, Blackburn, Lancashire

    Nutty Black is one of the core beers produced by Blackburn’s Thwaites Brewery – and is an award winning mild, having twice been named Champion Beer of Britain. At 3.3%, when the brewery decided to launch a bottle-conditioned version they upped the alcohol to 3.9% (jokingly referring to it as export strength) and christened it Very Nutty Black.

    What They Say“Normally brewed solely for the home market, Daniel Thwaites has broken all the rules with an export strength version of its award winning ale. The same great well rounded flavours and nuttiness lie within.” []

    What We Say
    Jess – Quite light, not too bitter. Some lovely fruity berry flavours 8
    Andrew – Bit fizzier than a stout. I could drink 1000 pints of it 8
    Andy – A bit bitter and acidic. Not as nice as Sam Smith’s
    Kath – It tastes like beer
    Marc – Smells like Dandelion & Burdock. Tastes like it too 6

    2. Cornish Knocker (4.5%abv) 500ml glass bottle
    Skinners Brewery, Truro, Cornwall.

    Steve Skinner cut his brewing teeth on the island of Jersey, before moving to Cornwall and going into larger scale production. That was 1998, and his beers have won plenty of plaudits since – possibly due to the local ingredients used in production – all components of their beers are sourced from within ten miles of the brewery. This local pride also extends to the names of the beers – Cornish Knocker is inspired by the elfin fairies who inhabited Cornish tin mines, said to be spirits of old miners.

    What They Say“A strong, clean tasting golden Ale, not too sweet with a fresh flowery aroma” []

    What We Say
    Andrew – It might not be nice but it has flavours at least 8
    Marc – Makes me think of the washing up bowl 7
    Jess – I’m a bit disappointed by it. It’s a bit watery 5
    Andy – Similar taste to just before you’re going to be sick 4
    Kath – Bit of a metal flavour at the back of the mouth 3

    3. God Lager (5.3%abv) 330ml glass bottle
    Nils Oscar, Nyköping, Sweden.

    Nils Oscar were founded in 1996 and named after a distant relative Nils Oscar Sunderberg, who was born in 1865 and has his picture proudly displayed on each bottle. They put out a huge and varied range of different beers, such as IPA’s, dark porters, barley wines and a festive Kalasjulöl. Back in early 2008 we featured their India Ale on our Swedish special podcast, BeerCast 28. Will our panel similarly enjoy their God Ale?

    What They Say“The end product is a hoppyaromatic all-malt brew where the special malt brings a remarkably pleasant malt character. It is fresh tasting and smooth as becomes a Dortmunder Export style beer.” []

    What We Say
    Marc – There’s definitely something milky going on
    Andrew – A touch of Whiskey-ness and citrus toilet duck
    Jess – It’s like someone chucked loads of fags in this. Tastes like gooseberries and mold 4
    Kath – Tastes like cheese and ash and dust 4
    Andy – It tastes like unpasteurised yak’s milk  3

    4. Old Thumper (5.6%abv) 500ml glass bottle
    Ringwood Brewery, Ringwood, Hampshire.

    On the edge of the New Forest between Hampshire and Dorset sits the market town of Ringwood, home to the Ringwood Brewery. They were founded in 1978 by Peter Austin – one of the pioneers of British microbrewing (see here for an article on Peter written by the legendary Beer Hunter Michael Jackson). One of Peter’s more famous sayings is “a brewery shouldn’t sell beer farther from its door than a horse can walk in a day” – Ringwood were established with this belief, and still have a major presence in the New Forest, despite having been bought out by Marston’s plc in 2007.

    What They Say“Luscious balance of grain and hop in the mouth, bitter sweet finish with delicate fruit notes [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Jess – I really like it. It tastes like crème brulée
    Marc – Couldn’t drink a lot of it 8
    Orangery, doesn’t have that soapiness Cornish Knocker had
    Lots of body, the ‘christmassiest’ 7
    Good in a different way to Nutty Black 

    Panellists – (clockwise from top left) Andy, Jess, Marc, Kath, Andrew

    BeerCast panel verdict
    Ringwood Old Thumper 37½/50
    Thwaites Very Nutty Black 35/50
    Skinner Cornish Knocker 27/50
    Nils Oscar God Ale 26/50

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #56 – Beer of the Year 2010
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our Site Feed
  • That’s it from our London panel for now. Edinburgh, it’s back over to you.

    BeerCast #56 – Beer of the Year 2010

    The first podcast of any year is always one to look forward to – as tradition dictates it’s our BeerCast Beer of the Year show. As highlighted in our recent preview, the four highest scoring beers we could find from the podcasts recorded in 2010 are re-sampled, and a winner picked. Previous winners are Anchor Christmas Ale 2006 (2007), Hop Back Summer Lightning (2008) and Stone Ruination IPA (last year), so whichever beer came out on top this time, it would be in good company. Re-tasting is always an interesting experience, as a second go often brings a different result from last time – and so it was to prove. The four beers in our BOTY show were Tryst Raj IPA (5.5%), Odell Isolation Ale (6.1%), Kernel IPA C.S.C. (7.1%), and BrewDog Abstrakt AB:01 (10.2%). On the extended panel – Shovels, MrB, Andy, Richard, Jess, Grooben and a debut for panellist Katie, all of whom were seconded to a remote location to sharpen the tastebuds…

    1. Raj IPA (5.5%abv) 500ml glass bottle
    Tryst Brewery, Larbert, Scotland.
    BeerCast#49 scored 32½/40 (81%) 3rd June 2010
    Originally tasted by Richard ; Grooben 8; Shovels 8; MrB 8

    What They Say“This India Pale Ale marks a slight change in direction of Tryst Ales, away from low alcohol session ales to rather more substantial and serious Real Ale. This IPA is hopped with three popular British hops to produce a deep lingering taste, complementing the underlying malts for a memorable pint.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Jess – It’s quite sour and strong but I really like it
    Grooben – Has a great balance of bitterness and sweetness
    MrB – A great Scottish session IPA
    Richard – Lot of bitterness from the three hop types
    Katie – It’s maybe too bitter but I’d have it again
    Shovels – I’d drop it to a 7½ but it’s still good
    Andy – Tastes like old shoes that have been left in the garage

    2. Isolation Ale (6.1%abv) 355ml glass bottle
    Odell Brewing Co, Fort Collins, Colorado.
    BeerCast#55 scored 33/40 (83%) 22nd December 2010
    Originally tasted by Shovels ; MrB ; Grooben 8; Richard 8

    What They Say“Available each winter from the first of November until it runs out, Isolation ale is amber in color, malty and strong. We consider it a traditional winter warmer, without the addition of fruits or spices.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Andy – Needs no tweaking as the balance is perfect
    Richard – Malty and fruity, with almost a caramel sweetness
    Jess – It’s almost nutty, absolutely delicious
    Grooben – Odell beers are always very well balanced
    Shovels – Their beers have that fantastic aftertaste
    Katie – I’d definitely have this again in the Autumn
    MrB – Odell just don’t make a bad beer

    3. Kernel IPA C.S.C. (7.1%abv) 330ml glass bottle
    Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
    BeerCast#52 scored 34/40 (85%) 27th October 2010
    Originally tasted by MrB 9; Richard 9; Shovels 8; Grooben 8

    What They Say“American hops meet English malt. Burnished golden colour. Aromas of tropical fruits, hints of grass. The sweetness of the malt gives them the impression of fruit salad on the palate, juicy, then followed up with a big bitterness, with some pepper and spice.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Katie – There’s a bit of floral that balances the bitterness
    Richard – Fantastic piney IPA smell, it’s outstanding
    MrB – I don’t want to drink this, I want to savour it
    Shovels – A really fantastic IPA
    Grooben – Balanced so it doesn’t taste crazy for 7%
    Jess – I prefer this to the Raj IPA
    Andy – Would be difficult to drink a lot given the strength

    4. Abstrakt AB:01 (10.2%abv) 375ml glass bottle
    BrewDog Ltd, Fraserburgh, Scotland.
    BeerCast#50 scored 32½/40 (81%) 16th July 2010
    Originally tasted by Shovels ; Richard ; MrB ; Grooben 7

    What They Say“Abstrakt will only ever brew and release a beer once. BrewDog’s Abstrakt is about exciting, progressive and conceptual beers, beers which not only push the boundaries but smash them up completely.” [Official Website]

    What We Say
    Shovels – You can taste the vanilla more, but I still like it
    Grooben – Sweetness has taken over, it’s a bit one-note now
    Richard – The flavours have definitely developed with aging
    MrB – I’m trying to work out why I gave it 8½, I don’t like it
    Jess – First taste it lovely, but it gets overpoweringly sweet
    Andy – I like sweet beers but that’s some sugary ass sh*t
    Katie – I can taste some liquorice and parma violets

    So that was the thoughts – or re-thoughts – of the panel during the tasting of the four beers that had made it through to the final. The next thing to do was go round the table and give a first and second choice for beer of the year, plus a beer each that we enjoyed over 2010 and felt deserved a special mention…

    “For me, Isolation Ale was outstanding, and then the Kernel IPA. The best beer I had this year was a Wherry’s in Norfolk, from local brewer Woodforde’s, that I really enjoyed.”

    “My two picks are Isolation Ale and then Kernel. My beer pick for 2010 was Wold Top Gold – a blonde ale on tap and in the bottle is very good.”

    “First choice is Isolation then Raj IPA. I’ve drunk more Sierra Nevada than anything else this year but also enjoyed St Lupulin and Wold Gold after a bike ride.”

    “Kernel C.S.C., it has to be – because it’s the best one. My second choice is Raj IPA. My beer of note would have to be Tripel de Garre in Bruges.”

    “It’s really really close, but Isolation number one and Kernel number two by a very small margin. I can’t think of any beers that have busted my chops – but discovering lambics has been interesting and my mind is starting to open to Belgian ales.”

    “Isolation Ale was a country mile ahead of the others, Kernel IPA second. My beer of note would have to be Shovel’s homebrew 6D.”

    “My favourite from tonight and my beer of the year was Kernel IPA – I love Evin’s approach to brewing. My second is Abstrakt because I love how it has changed character over the months. My notable beer is also Tripel de Garre – probably my favourite beer of all time.”

    The comments during the tasting made it look like a close run thing – but when it came to the judging there was a runaway winner. Five of our seven panellists went for the same first pick, making Odell’s Isolation Ale (6.1%) our 2010 BeerCast beer of the year. Congratulations to Doug and the team, their amber malty winter warmer is the fourth winner of our BOTY – and interestingly the third American beer to come out on top. Kernel IPA CSC (7.1%) came out second, with unfortunately the local entrants in third and fourth. Maybe 2011 will be the year a Scottish beer comes out on top…

    Our panel also tasted a fifth beer – a surprise bought by Richard and smuggled to the podcasting under the strictest secrecy. On the Isle of Wight, the Yates brewery have combined with a nearby garlic farm to produce a 4.1% Garlic Beer. Listen to our tasting after the BOTY voting, and check back to the website in a few days for a full review post on a beer that truly united the panel…

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #56 – Beer of the Year 2010
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  • 2010 Beer of the Year Preview

    As things wind down over Christmas we traditionally turn our attention towards the annual BeerCast Beer of the Year Show. We tally up the scores achieved by each ale podcasted over the last twelve months, and take the four highest scoring [more on this in a moment] away to a secret location for a re-sample. Which beer will follow on from Stone Ruination IPA and become our BOTY for 2010? Our BeerCasts this year featured 49 different beers, but only four can make it to the BOTY show.

    For the three previous years, we’ve been very careful (and lucky) to track down the top four for the re-tasting. Even a beer from Sweden we tried in January 2009 we managed to root out for that’s years BOTY show (Carnegie Baltic Porter – it came fourth). Sadly this time a combination of rare podcast themes and the suddenly shocking British weather conspired against us. Of our actual top four, we have only one – the others we were unable to find again. Caldera IPA (93% in BeerCast #49), Sierra Nevada Harvest 2009 (90% in our 50th BeerCast), and Kulmbacher Monchshof Schwarzbier (84% in BeerCast #53) won’t be involved.

    This is a massive shame, of course – Caldera IPA proved definitively that canned beer can be just as good as bottled, the Sierra Nevada was a peerless wet hop ale that was just down our collective streets, and the German entrant was a rich, malty discovery that none of us had heard of before. The problem is, Caldera is hard to find even outside Oregon, and when the shipments to the UK are gone, they are gone. Sierra Nevada Harvest is a seasonal release – we should really have bought more than one bottle – and I have ordered some Kulmbacher, but it never arrived having been delayed en route by the bad weather. I’m looking forward to trying it in January (hopefully).

    So the 2010 BOTY show isn’t technically the top four highest scoring beers of the year – but we still have some absolute corkers, and a decent range to boot (our exact top four contained three IPA’s). Our first entrant – the top-four member we did source again – is Kernel IPA C.S.C. (7.1%). Since I paid a visit to London’s Kernel brewery in August we’ve been falling over ourselves to sample his beers. I say his, because it’s a one-man operation – Evin O’Riordain brews strong pale ales and historic London recipes that take his fancy. Our Kernel Showcase BeerCast featured some outstanding offerings – his Centennial, Simcoe, Chinook IPA the pick of them.

    Kernel IPA C.S.C. scored an excellent 85% – the next beer to make it to our Beer of the Year show finished just behind, on 83%. Over recent months more and more Odell Brewing beers have made it over to the UK – probably as a direct result of Doug Odell’s visit here a few months ago. With probably the nicest labels in brewing, their English-inspired ales are a good fit for the British market. Odell Isolation Ale (6.1%) finished top of our recent Christmas Special, and really impressed the entire panel. We have a number of American craft beers at the top of our rankings – Isolation becomes the latest import to make it to our BOTY show.

    However, our next two finalists both fittingly hail from Scotland, and they both scored 81% in their respective podcasts. Taken in alphabetical order first we have BrewDog’s Abstrakt AB:01 (10.2%), a vanilla-bean infused Belgian quad from Aberdeenshire. It marks the second BrewDog offering to make it to a BOTY show, after Hardcore IPA (9.0%) reached our 2008 final, finishing second. No other producer has featured twice – can they go a step higher in 2010 with the first of their well-received Abstrakt series? Designed to age well, six months after BeerCast #50 the flavours should have improved even more.

    Our final BOTY finalist is Tryst Raj IPA (5.5%) – so we have two India Pale Ales in our four entrants at least. Also a one-man operation, John McGarva produces a range of classic Scottish ales from his base in Larbert, just outside Falkirk in central Scotland. Selected by MrB for BeerCast #49 (the show that unearthed Caldera IPA), the beer takes it’s name from the classical history of the India Pale Ale. You can argue we have a bias towards the hoppier offerings (all four BOTY shows have contained at least one IPA – indicating we score them highly), but when they are this well made – how can we not?

    So we can look back at another great drinking year on the BeerCast. We’ll be recording the BOTY show at New Year with a specially extended panel, and it’ll be up sometime within the first couple of weeks of January. Stay tuned for surprises, controversy, and personal highlights, and in the meantime everyone associated with the BeerCast wishes our readers and listeners a fantastic Christmas and New Year, and all the best for 2011.

    2009 Beer of the Year Show
    2008 Beer of the Year Show
    2007 Beer of the Year Show