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  1. #611
    Between pubs sheffield hatter's Avatar
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    Default This week at the Sheffield Hatter's Inn

    Getting stuck into this drinking at home lark - five weeks since I last saw the inside of a pub, and even then I had to have a substantial meal to keep the virus at bay. Mostly I've been drinking old favouritse, so I haven't bored you with reviews of beers I've drunk a million times before.

    But now it's time to make a start on a selection of beers that arrived in deliveries last week from Siren Craft and Buxton. These are two fairly popular breweries, I reckon, but I've never been right keen myself. I wanted to test whether I've been agin them because of the beers I've tried in pubs from time to time not being to my taste, or just because they are both so clearly up themselves.

    So, first on Monday was Siren Craft Through the Hourglass 8.2% 375ml. This is a barrel aged saison, a "beer of its time, secondary fermented in barrels and carefully blended for bottling. Aromas of stone fruits and sherbet give way to blossom honey sweetness, floral character and vibrant, complex acidity before a drying oak finish." Well, maybe I wasn't paying attention, because most of this completely passed me by. It was very much like any other saison, and I didn't even get much sense of the alcohol level claimed on the label. Speaking of which, the label is grey and copper, very hard to read, with a monochrome drawing of a sea monster clasping a barrel in its octopus legs, which is probably not the best way to undergo a secondary fermentation, but be that as it may. This little beauty cost £7, quite a large proportion of which must have gone on the customised bottle, a chunky affair in an unusual size and having an indent in the base that would normally be seen on a wine bottle. Marks for beer: 4/10. Marks for being up themselves: 9/10 (mark lost for not having a cork and a wire cage).

    Next, a 33cl can of Buxton Low Tor Peak District Bitter 3.8%, "a session version of our classic Red IPA High Tor. It shares all the malts, hops and character of its bigger cousin." Just more water, then. The can is a dark strawberry colour, with a monchrome drawing of an (I presume imaginary) rock outcrop. The effect is something like I would imagine a visit to Derbyshire in the aftermath of a nuclear attack on Manchester. On the subject of attack, this beer is incredibly bitter, totally overwhelming the malt as far as I'm concerned. There's no subtlety here, and no English hops either, I'd bet. (Neither this nor the Siren beer mention the hop varieties on the packaging or on the respective webpages.) The overwhelming flavour is orange, very bitter orange, exceedingly bitter orange. I've got another can of this at £1.59 each, and I'll be leaving the other for a special occasion - perhaps a curry night. Marks for beer: 3/10. Marks for being up themselves: 7/10 (Manchester had it coming.).

    Then last night a couple more Buxton beers. First up was one in a series that they call LupulusX "an experimental single hop program. Every beer has the same recipe, only the hop changes to deliver a distinctive flavour burst." The one I got was Motueka IPA 5.4% 44cl, a New Zealand hop bred from Saaz and two local varieties, and which is also known as Belgian Saaz. (The other hops in this series are listed here.) This is a modern IPA with the hops used more for aroma and flavour rather than bitterness. I must say this was a lot better than some IPAs and American pales I tried earlier this year, a refreshing and gluggable beer, not too gassy, quite well balanced, quite expensive too at £3.60 for a lot less than a pint (expensive hops, obv). Marks for beer: 6/10. Marks for being up themselves: 8/10 (Do they really think we're going to buy all nine of these and compare notes online? Get real, guys.)

    Final beer in this session was Buxton's Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, called Single Barrel Rain Shadow Bourbon 2020 12% 33cl, "our annual release of our straight-up Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. This year, we've developed it into three distinct expressions. This is the Bourbon variant, aged in American Bourbon Whiskey barrels in our barrel store for more than a year. We've aged it so you don't have to - ready to enjoy." I must admit I drank this while watching the telly last night, well to be honest it was a few episodes of the West Wing on DVD. I mention this only to excuse myself for not reading the blurb on the can while drinking, because I had completely forgotten that this was a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, aged in American Bourbon Whiskey barrels so you don't have to. It came across as an overwhelmingly chocolate flavoured stout, one dimensional and not particularly interesting or even very alcoholic. Now, I could continue to blame the TV series, which I've watched before several times but it's very well written, acted and directed, and a reminder of times not so long ago when Republicans, while still recognisably the enemy, were also, at the end of the day, pretty decent guys who had America's best interests at heart. Where was I? Beer? Yes, there was a beer, and it's got to take it's share of the blame. Yes, that beer. A chocolate-flavoured stout, it was in this can beside my chair, then it was in a glass and now it's gone. £7.50 for a 33cl can? (I could have bought a few DVDs for less than that.) How can a 12% BA imperial stout slip down over the course of 90 minutes or so of old TV without much more presence than a bar of chocolate? OK, there's another one in my cupboard-under-the-stairs, but it got a bit of a dent in transit so I'm giving it a couple of weeks to recover. Then I'll give it my full attention in hope of detecting some whiskey barrel reminiscences. In the meantime: Marks for beer: 4/10. Marks for being up themselves: 10/10 (As well as saying that it's been in whiskey barrels for a year - "so you don't have to" - it would be good if it actually tasted as though it's been in whiskey barrels for a year, rather than just going round and round in a chocolate fountain.)
    Come On You Hatters!

  2. #612
    Between pubs sheffield hatter's Avatar
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    Default Last night at Sheffield Hatter's Inn

    After writing reviews of those four beers last night I was in need of a drink, so this is what I had: Siren Craft Gather and Store Mixed Fermentation Blend 6.8% 375ml. This is another of their chunky bottles (like the barrel-aged saison), but this one has a grey and purple label, with the same octopus-monster-drawing; it's even harder to read than the grey-and-copper of the saison. Luckily, the blurb on the bottle (in very small print) is available on the website, and here it is: "This Autumnal blend is drawn entirely from beer aged and re-fermented in red wine barrels, showing beautiful mature grape character. Expect citrus and berry aromas, rustic sweet barley, fresh stone fruits, balancing acidity and drying oak tannins."

    I was attracted to this one after drinking something similar in the Crow Inn here in Sheffield before the pubs had to close in November. This was called American Solera Merlot Bat House 10% - the photo on Untappd was taken in the same pub. I had the keg version on several occasions - it was £12 a pint - until it ran out after three weeks on the bar. It was slightly sour, with no head, low effervescence, flavours of grape very much to the fore, but clearly still a beer for all that. The photo shows the colour being similar to a red wine, but not clear. I drank just a third of a pint on the first occasion, and took my time over it, enjoying a new sort of drinking experience. And then I went back for more.

    The bottle of Siren Craft's attempt at the same thing poured a similar colour, with a very brief yeasty head and a much more murky look to it than the American Solera; it looks a bit like a home made wine that is not yet ready to drink, and might never be. In the mouth it was smooth, with much less sourness about it, so quite easy drinking; still sour enough to shock anyone not expecting it, though! I might have enjoyed this more if I had not had the American Solera beer in my mind, because in comparison this one was sadly lacking. What I was mainly missing I suppose was the in-your-face character of Bat House, that combination of slightly tart but still pleasantly drinkable beer/wine with the alcohol a presence in the mouth while you drink. Gather and Store is much more polite, holding back on both scores. And slightly cheaper, at £7 per bottle.

    I'm looking forward to tackling my second bottle in a week or two, but not as much as I would look forward to a Merlot Bat House at the Crow Inn.
    Come On You Hatters!

  3. #613
    Between pubs sheffield hatter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheffield hatter View Post
    Buxton's Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, called Single Barrel Rain Shadow Bourbon 2020 12% 33cl, "our annual release of our straight-up Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. This year, we've developed it into three distinct expressions. This is the Bourbon variant, aged in American Bourbon Whiskey barrels in our barrel store for more than a year. We've aged it so you don't have to - ready to enjoy." I must admit I drank this while watching the telly last night, well to be honest it was a few episodes of the West Wing on DVD. I mention this only to excuse myself for not reading the blurb on the can while drinking, because I had completely forgotten that this was a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, aged in American Bourbon Whiskey barrels so you don't have to. It came across as an overwhelmingly chocolate flavoured stout, one dimensional and not particularly interesting or even very alcoholic. Now, I could continue to blame the TV series, which I've watched before several times but it's very well written, acted and directed, and a reminder of times not so long ago when Republicans, while still recognisably the enemy, were also, at the end of the day, pretty decent guys who had America's best interests at heart. Where was I? Beer? Yes, there was a beer, and it's got to take it's share of the blame. Yes, that beer. A chocolate-flavoured stout, it was in this can beside my chair, then it was in a glass and now it's gone. £7.50 for a 33cl can? (I could have bought a few DVDs for less than that.) How can a 12% BA imperial stout slip down over the course of 90 minutes or so of old TV without much more presence than a bar of chocolate? OK, there's another one in my cupboard-under-the-stairs, but it got a bit of a dent in transit so I'm giving it a couple of weeks to recover. Then I'll give it my full attention in hope of detecting some whiskey barrel reminiscences. In the meantime: Marks for beer: 4/10. Marks for being up themselves: 10/10 (As well as saying that it's been in whiskey barrels for a year - "so you don't have to" - it would be good if it actually tasted as though it's been in whiskey barrels for a year, rather than just going round and round in a chocolate fountain.)

    I haven't drunk my second can of Buxton's Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Single Barrel Rain Shadow Bourbon 2020 12% £7.50 yet, but I have tried the other expensive imperial stout I bought in the same order from that brewery in November. This one, which comes in a bottle, is called Buxton STEINITZ Barrel Aged Imperial Porter 2020 Barrel Masters 14% £9.95. They do like long names, but why the caps for Steinitz? Not a clue. And it's a porter rather than a stout. "An Imperial Porter matured on cacao nibs and chilli. Subtly warming heat from the chilli is balanced with the soft chocolate notes from the cacao." Maybe I should be swigging these beers rather than sipping them, but when I see 14% on the label I tend to slow down. A 33cl bottle of this stuff has almost the same amount of alcohol as half a bottle of wine at 13%, and you wouldn't down that in two swallows, would you. (Don't answer that.)

    There was a bit more to this one than the Rain Shadow, but once again the dominant feature was chocolate. Fairly subtle chocolate, to be fair, but I wasn't getting much else, though it was a pleasant enough drink. I've had chilli in stouts and porters before, and it's easy to put too much in and unbalance the beer, but I wasn't getting any chilli at all. (To be fair, I am a chilli fan, and do quite a lot of hot Asian pickles, so it may be that my taste buds are a bit zonked on that score.) But £9.95 for a "pleasant enough drink"? Come on. By this time I was getting a bit worried that something had happened to my sense of taste and smell, so I followed this with a beer that I am familiar with, Harveys Imperial Extra Double Stout 9%. With a sigh of relief I noted the familar profile of this excellent beer in all its glory; nothing wrong with those taste buds after all. (Cancel the Covid-19 test.)
    Come On You Hatters!

  4. #614
    Old & Bitter oldboots's Avatar
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    Lately I've been drinking beers from a Roosters beery advent calendar and a Beer Hawk advent calendar supplemented by cans from Roosters and mini-kegs from Rudgate. Nothing extra-ordinary however tonight I have something more unusual coming up from the Beer Hawk box, a German 9.8% barley wine from an outfit called Crew Republic which was behind yesterday's door and an Italian 6.2 "barrel aged grape ale" made with Sangiovese must - can't wait. Both are children's size bottles.

    I'll let you know how it goes!

    IMG_0984.JPG
    Drink drink, whoever you may be,
    we are the drunk and disorderly,
    and we’ll drink more beer wherever we may be,
    and we’ll meet you all in a pub said he.

    Dr Busker

  5. #615
    Pub researcher (unpaid) rpadam's Avatar
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    At least Harvey's have finally done the decent thing and started offering its Old Ale in 5-litre mini-kegs.

  6. #616
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheffield hatter View Post
    They do like long names, but why the caps for Steinitz?
    It hasn't won any awards and doesn't seem to 'Tastes Great With' anything.

  7. #617
    Old & Bitter oldboots's Avatar
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    I don't normally do tasting notes but I did say I would as these were a bit unusual.

    Birra Del Borgo – Biga (Barrel Aged Italian Grape Ale) Italy 6.2%
    An odd shaped 330ml bottle closed with a crown cap, there is a slight hiss on opening. The beer pours easily without fobbing, I served it at around the recommended 10º C. In the glass it is a hazy golden colour with a white head, wine is apparent in the nose, the beer is made with Sangiovese must. The beer is sedimented and I left the “lees” in the bottle. It has a sweetish spicy taste which hints at a Belgian Abbey style. In spite of the 6.2% strength there is no hint of ester flavours and the carbonation is pleasantly gentle. It is a very drinkable beer with the slight sourness coming through more as the drinking proceeds. 4/5



    Crew Republic Grenade Edition (Barley Wine) Germany 9.6% 330ml
    A slight hiss on opening the bottle followed by an easy pour although the head forms more livelier once the pouring stops, a lightly sedimented beer which remained in the bottle. It has a tawny body with an off-white head and very low aroma, carbonation is low to medium. The 9.6% strength shows in the heavy mouthfeel and the sweet, Christmas cake flavours, although it is low in esters. As the drink lingers in the glass more bitterness becomes apparent. 3/5
    Drink drink, whoever you may be,
    we are the drunk and disorderly,
    and we’ll drink more beer wherever we may be,
    and we’ll meet you all in a pub said he.

    Dr Busker

  8. #618
    Between pubs sheffield hatter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldboots View Post
    I don't normally do tasting notes but I did say I would as these were a bit unusual.

    Birra Del Borgo – Biga (Barrel Aged Italian Grape Ale) Italy 6.2%
    An odd shaped 330ml bottle closed with a crown cap, there is a slight hiss on opening. The beer pours easily without fobbing, I served it at around the recommended 10º C. In the glass it is a hazy golden colour with a white head, wine is apparent in the nose, the beer is made with Sangiovese must. The beer is sedimented and I left the “lees” in the bottle. It has a sweetish spicy taste which hints at a Belgian Abbey style. In spite of the 6.2% strength there is no hint of ester flavours and the carbonation is pleasantly gentle. It is a very drinkable beer with the slight sourness coming through more as the drinking proceeds. 4/5



    Crew Republic Grenade Edition (Barley Wine) Germany 9.6% 330ml
    A slight hiss on opening the bottle followed by an easy pour although the head forms more livelier once the pouring stops, a lightly sedimented beer which remained in the bottle. It has a tawny body with an off-white head and very low aroma, carbonation is low to medium. The 9.6% strength shows in the heavy mouthfeel and the sweet, Christmas cake flavours, although it is low in esters. As the drink lingers in the glass more bitterness becomes apparent. 3/5
    Very interesting!
    Come On You Hatters!

  9. #619
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    Decided to have a couple of pre pre Christmas drinks.First one was
    Sharps -coconut stout 5.3 nice enough stout but once again found the coconut flavour lacking.Getting disappointed with beers that say coconut.7.5/10
    Alchemy -bring out the imp.nice imperial stout that I have had before and liked .8/10

  10. #620
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    Quote Originally Posted by london calling View Post
    Decided to have a couple of pre pre Christmas drinks.First one was
    Sharps -coconut stout 5.3 nice enough stout but once again found the coconut flavour lacking.Getting disappointed with beers that say coconut.7.5/10
    Alchemy -bring out the imp.nice imperial stout that I have had before and liked .8/10
    My problem is more with beers that *do* taste of coconut!
    Come On You Hatters!

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