Brews by Country

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Clown Shoes Galactica DIPA (8%) - Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA, USA

As it says on Clown Shoes Beer website, the brewery's motto is to produce beer without pretension while being free and a little crazy. I think we can all agree that's an decent philosophy which also goes some way to explaining the totally bonkers themes of their beers. I pulled this one out of my fridge and up, up and away I went with the courageous hop staff-wielding woman on the front of the can on her quest to promote good beer...

The style of this particular brew is a first to feature here: the Double IPA, or DIPA. This is a style big on hops and big on booze, which left me big on hope of what was to come.

Galactica Double IPA pours a hazy dark amber with a healthy surge of off-white head, making for a very inviting glass of beer. 

Massachusetts within the USA
As you'd expect from a beer dry-hopped with three different hop varieties (one of which being the very apt Australian GALAXY hop), you're greeted on the nose with a big hoppy whiff of tropical peach and mango, a trail of a spirity note from the 8% ABV following closely behind.

Like a space shuttle navigating through a meteor shower, my mouth was bombarded with everything at once (except in my case, of course, that was a good thing): A rich malty base is complimented by juicy pine notes and contrasted with a huge dose of citrus hops, which leave a strong, bitter aftertaste. It's thick and juicy with a semi-dry finish, and a lingering, alcoholic warmth.

Galactica's punchy flavours mean nothing is lost when it's cold but there's plenty of complexity to delve into when it's not. What had started off as a tasty, refreshing brew when it emerged cool from my fridge, ended up a rich, warming beverage when it finally reached room temperature, and both brought me enjoyment of cosmic proportions.


The brewery
Website here 
Facebook page here

Where to buy
£3.80 from Left Field Beer

Monday, 1 April 2019

Breakfast Club (6.9%) - Vocation Brewery & Yeastie Boys collaboration

In a world where it's normally frowned upon to reach for a beer before midday (except at airports, you might have noticed) the so-called "breakfast stout", which also ironically never tends to be particularly low in alcohol, has to be one of the naughtier styles out there. Feeling naughty, I grabbed a can of this Pommie-Kiwi collab brew and decided to dive in.

The first thing I noticed before anything else wasn't the design on the can, but the size of it. At 440ml it bucks the trend of small-batch indulgences being presented in smaller measures, which is just as well, because if it's going to replace my morning coffee then there needs to be enough to fill a mug. As for the picture on the front of the can that shows a golden, jam-bedrizzled waffle, it certainly raised my expectations but not nearly as much as the amount of saliva in my mouth.

West Yorkshire within England

The smooth, jet-black liquid that gushed into my glass produced, quite possibly, the most perfect head I've ever seen: soft, fluffy and compact, it could almost be a marshmallow bobbing about on top. 

Wellington state within New Zealand
With such promising appearances come the hopes of an aroma to match, and I'm pleased to say that it delivered on the goodies. Rich, indulgent doughy aromas topped with hints of sweet but slightly tangy berries sprinkled with spicy cinnamon wafted up from the glass, and at this point if the flavour was anything but totally luscious it would have led to complete devastation.

Why do I only have one can of this? is the first thing that sprang to mind after taking a lengthy swig. WOW. A punchy, fruity drizzle of blueberries and blackberries cut through the grainy, dark roasted malts as they mingled and melted together on the tongue, peppered with a spicy, aromatic hint of cinnamon. In a stroke of sheer genius, this beer manages to be extremely quaffable while being rich and decadent. And best of all, unlike many other beers of the sort, there's nothing remotely synthetic or fake-tasting about it. Nope, just delicious. 

So much was going on as I made my way down the glass that I was oblivious to the 6.9% alcohol content that's noticeable only in the form of a gentle warmth, just like that of your breakfast waffle. 

I've never been much of a breakfast person, but if this is what I've been missing then sign me up to the club.


The brewery
Website here (Vocation) and here (Yeastie Boys) 
Facebook page here (Vocation) and here (Yeastie Boys) 

Where to buy
£3.00 from Tesco

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Wild Gravity IPA (5.2%) - BAD Co, North Yorkshire, England

Another can into my oh-heck-I'm-one-year-older batch and what I pulled out of my special beer place struck me for two reasons. Firstly, the brewery's name on the can featuring so boldly beside a relaxed Britannia, trident in one hand, brew in the other, would prove to be either extremely self-deprecating or deeply ironic, and I fortunately discovered it to be the latter. Secondly, sitting on top of the can was no ordinary tab.  

For so long, 360° cans were something I only saw Americans drinking from on Instagram, but now thanks to BAD Co, who were one of the first breweries to introduce these to the UK, I was 
in for a whole new type of exbeerience.

Being so unversed in the working of these, the almighty hiss as I pulled the top off gave me a startle - but once the full force of its fruity and floral aroma smacked me round the nose I was well and truly put at ease. My can now completely topless, it felt almost as if I was peering into something forbidden.

North Yorkshire within England
Unlike traditional cans which conceal the beer's aroma, these make for decent drinking receptacles in their own right. But I wanted to see the full package, and after transferring it to the glass it was destined for, the bubbling hazy amber liquid was fully revealed, crowned with a cushion of white head. 

Going in for a proper whiff, sweet tropical aromas of mangoes and peaches with a few tangerine segments and their zesty peel - along with a bready backing as the brew warmed up - oozed up my nostrils.  

A smooth and juicy mouthful brought delicate, floral hops with a dash of herbs, rounded off with a dry, bitter lime finish.

Described as aggressive and bold on the can, for me in an era of tongue-shreddingly hop-heavy IPAs, it came across more as mercifully laid-back and easy-drinking. Although, as beer-swigging Britannia reminds us on the can, this is a British brew yielding a more understated character. But let's not get bogged down in labels and just enjoy this beer for the delightful experience it is, from a brewery that's anything but BAD. 


The brewery
Website here
Facebook page here

Where to buy
£1.75 from Morrisons

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Pride & Joy (5.3%) - Vocation Brewery, West Yorkshire, England

My beer collection had been looking worryingly thin for a brief while until my turning of age brought with it a generous regaling of exciting new craft brews. The first one I picked out was this, and it's sure to have the other beers quivering in their cans. 

Kindly leaving the beer unpasteurised and unfiltered - just the way Mother Nature intended - with the noble aim of preserving the best of its flavours, what pours is a hazy pale golden colour with a white cushion of head sitting happily on top. 

Juicy tropical fruits along with some citrus hints erupt out of the can as soon as you pop the tab, sweet pine and mangoes and a handful of tangerine segments imparting an enticing aroma that's enjoyable in its own right but which is too irresistible to hold you off from diving in for too long.

West Yorkshire within England
A good swig brings with it a deep, full-bodied mouthful of tropical fruits along with a lively bitter citrus hit that gets your chops salivating if they weren't already.

A lengthy, toasted malt-backed palate is peppered with fresh herbal and grassy notes rounding off nicely into a crisp, dry finish.

Encompassing everything you could possibly want from an American-style pale ale - being easy-drinking yet jam-packed with New World flavours - I just can't fault this in any way. Enjoy it all year round, all day long, and let it bring the brewery pride, and the drinker much joy.

Rating 🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊

The brewery
Website here
Facebook page here

Where to buy
£1.80 from Tesco

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Old Empire IPA (5.7%) - Marston's Brewery, Staffordshire, England

After a spree of brews this year that have been either Californian or Spanish, I felt it was about time I reconnected with my beery roots - and it doesn't get much more traditional than an English IPA brewed in Burton-Upon-Trent, where once a quarter of all British beer was produced and the local water is known to enhance the flavour of the hops.

Wanting to see the full 500ml in the glass with its magnificent creamy head (and being without a pint glass, believe it or not) I went for a weizen glass that showed off every inch of the the golden amber liquid bubbling away inside. 

Anything with the letters IPA on it nowadays brings the expectation of being smacked round the nose by a hop overload that may or may not make your eyes water, but this traditional style IPA goes back to its 19th-century origins, producing the delicate but distinctive, earthy, herbal and sweet floral aromas created by Fuggles and Goldings hops - though Marston's have added a touch of American Cascade for an extra citrus freshness and, I suspect, a nod to the 21st century. 

Staffordshire within England
One swig of this beauty brings a rush of fruity woodland berries, spicy pepper and a touch of grapefruit bitterness, balanced perfectly with bready, toasted biscuit malts and the slightest hint of treacle. 

Thick and smooth with a crisp, dry finish, I enjoyed this brew at room temperature to make the most of its rich and full-bodied character, along with the gorgeous warming sensation from the 5.7% ABV.

A rebrand in 2016 saw the label (along with the rest of Marston's range) undergo a transformation from a much more understated design to the more contemporary look we see here, in a bid to attract younger drinkers in the face of new drinking trends. While it can't be denied that its appearance has been rejuvenated, I do wonder whether this will lead to misunderstandings about the nature of the IPA in the bottle, which the craft-drinking youth of today might not be so well-versed in.

After spending a long time being swept up by the lairier New World IPA's that have come to dominate the style, this was a delicious reminder that there's a whole other side to the IPA family that deserves to be visited every now and again. And again, and again, and again...

Rating ✰✩

The brewery
Website here
Facebook page here

Where to buy
£1.65 from Morrisons

Monday, 28 May 2018

Peanut Butter Milk Stout (5.3%) - Belching Beaver Brewery, California, USA

With all the light beers I've been on recently it was time for a change, and to call this brew something a bit different would be a whopping understatement. 

It poured totally jet black with a substantial dark brown head that fizzled down by the time I could snap it, so awe-struck was I by the beauty of it.

The aroma was unlike anything I've known before from a beer. Rich chocolate and nutty aromas are belched out of the can in abundance with no room for ambiguity: chocolate fudge cake, brownie and peanut butter cups may as well be the indulgences lying at the bottom of your glass.

The flavour is everything the aromas promise to deliver: full-bodied, rich and packed with sweet, smooth, creamy chocolate and dark roasted peanuts which linger on for you to enjoy after every swig.

While it's not your typical stout (not that it aims to be), it's no less drinkable for its novel ingredients and character. In fact, despite its unabashedly in-your-face flavours, it's skilfully rounded and very easy-drinking. It must be, having won seven awards in the last four years. 

Thick and sweet, this is an indulgent dessert of a beer that will please those with a sweet tooth, fans of beavers, fans of dark beers, and fans of beer. It can easily be summed up in two words: dam good. 

Rating ★★★

The brewery
Website here
Facebook page here

Where to buy
£4.15 on The Beer Hawk

Something similar
Bateman's Hazelnut Brownie

Monday, 23 April 2018

Palpita (5.8%) - Cervezas Yakka, Murcia, Spain

In a country where the mention of beer normally calls to mind the mass-produced lager of that region, a quiet rebellion is taking place. As beer guzzlers nationwide develop a growing curiosity for brews with depth and flavour, craft brewers drawing their inspiration from further afield are springing up and catering for ever-inquisitive palates.

Palpita, a name which refers to the beat of a heart, pours an inviting, slightly hazy golden straw colour with an active carbonation that sees bubbles rising quickly to the surface.
Murcia within Spain

While the aroma was subtle on the nose at first, as my brew neared room temperature those classic blonde ale aromas of sweet bready malts and subtle light fruits came to the fore.

The flavour certainly didn't hold back though, gushing forth with a sweet, bready malt backing underpinning spicy clove, fruity hints and a touch of hop bitterness, creating a pleasantly intense and complex character that got my ticker fluttering like a Murcian flag in the breeze.

Full-bodied, thick and juicy, this is a brew that's easy to get your chops around, rounded off with a crisp, medium-dry toasted finish and a pleasing lingering warmth from the 5.8% ABV to warm the cockles of your heart. 

This Belgian-inspired Murcian blonde ale is modest yet packed with character, and can be enjoyed as a chilled, refreshing quencher or savoured as a slow-sipper to your palpitating heart's content. 

Appearance 4/5
Aroma 3/5
Flavour 4/5
Mouthfeel 4/5
Overall 7.5/10

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Palpita on TV:

Palpita online:
Website here
Facebook page here

Where to buy:
1,70€ on Cervezas Diferentes