A couple of weeks ago (yes, I have really postponed writing this), me and two friends gathered to drink some beer after work, and at the same time I could ‘get rid of’ / taste through some of my evergrowing beer stock to make place for more. We had nine beers on the agenda, with one of them being Lovecats, the homebrewed blonde ale, and many being beers I had tried before. The whole line-up from left to right was: Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Alesmith X, Port Brewing Shark Attack, Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier, Lovecats, Green Glash Hop Head Red, Lindemanns Faro, William Bros Kelpie and Dark Star Espresso Stout.
We began by tasting Lovecats (left in picture below), Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier (center in picture below) and Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale (right in picture below). Lovecats poured with the usual hazy orange color and quickly-collapsing white-colored head. The aroma was citrusy, grassy and also featured tones of tropical fruits, and compared to the other two beers in the lineup (and actually also compared to the hoppier beers tasted later during the evening), it became evident that Lovecats has a really strong hop aroma. The flavor began with a slight maltiness, which was joined by a grassy and citrusy hoppiness, that lingered on to a bitter and slightly tart finish. The beer had a light body and quite high carbonation. Overall, Lovecats is an okay pale ale, have brewed better though.
Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier is German Pilsener, apparently brewed with homegrown malts and hops. The beer poured with a crystal-clear golden-yellow color and a fluffy white head. The aroma was very mild, but featured sweet, malty, and perfume-like tones. The flavor was also quite sweet, with malty and bready tones dominating. There was almost no hoppiness nor bitterness present in the flavor. The beer had a light body and medium carbonation level. Overall, I didn’t really like this one. Very bland and boring.
Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale is an English-style Pale Ale, fermented in oak barrels. The beer poured with a clear copper color and a fluffy off-white head. Nice looking beer. The aroma contained some herbal and earthy hops, combined with tones of oak, caramel and the slightest fruitiness. The flavor was similar to the aroma, with a caramelly and bready maltiness dominating together with a oaky woodiness and a herbal hoppiness. The finish was dry and quite astringent. The body was smooth and medium-full, and the beer had a medium carbonation level. Overall, a strange beer, but the oakiness went together quite well with the caramel and hops.
After this we moved on to the darker and (the only) sour beer: William Bros Kelpie (left in the picture below), Lindemanns Faro (center in the picture below) and Dark Star Espresso Stout (right in the picture below). Kelpie, which I have had a small taste sample of before, is a dark traditional ale that has been brewed with fresh seaweed in the mash tun. The beer poured clear and dark brown, almost black, with a quite long-lasting cream-colored head. The aroma was dominated by toasted and roasted malts, with slight coffee tones. There is also a minimal fruitiness present in the aroma. The flavor is also dominated by the toasted and roasted malts, and these are joined by a herbal hoppiness, and a minerally and dry finish. The beer has a quite light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, I was not really fond of this beer, as the flavors were a bit strange and the beer felt a little light. I couldn’t really detect any seaweed, but there was a saltiness present.
Next up was Lindemans Faro, a beer in a style that was new to me. Faro Lambics are lambic (i.e. spontaneously fermented sour beers) blends which have been sweetened with (usually brown) sugar. Bottled versions are usually pasteurized, to prevent bottle-fermentation of the added sugar. The beer poured slightly hazy, with an amber color, and almost no head. The aroma was sweet and sour, with a combination of candy, sugar, a cherry-like tartness, and some funkiness. The flavor featured sweet caramel blended with a citrusy and cherry-like tartness and acidity. The flavor reminded me of some kind of sweet and sour candies I’ve eaten as a kid. The finish was slightly dry, while the body was a light and the beer had a medium-high carbonation level. Overall, a very strange beer, that I found surprisingly enjoyable I must admit. I’m not a fan of sour beer at all, but this was surprisingly drinkable (probably thanks to the sweetness).
Dark Star’s Espresso Stout is also a beer I’ve had before, and it is a stout brewed with ground arabica coffee. The beer pours pitch-black, portraying slight red tones when held up against the light, and a tan-colored head is formed, that leaves lacing as it collapses. The aroma is dominated by coffee, but there are some roasted malt and caramel tones present as well. You can definitely tell coffee has been used when brewing this. The flavor featured tones of roasted malt, coffee, ash, and some chocolate. The finish is quite dry and astringent, and I’m left wishing for some more body to back up the roastiness. The beer has a light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a very coffee-dominated beer that is a little light on the body. Would really benefit from some more alcohol and rest sugars.
We finished off the evening with the hoppy beers, tasting through Green Flash Hop Head Red (left in the picture below), Alesmith X (center in the picture below) and Port Brewing Shark Attack (right in the picture below). I had tried two of the beers before, but Alesmith’s X was new to me. Green Flash Hop Head Red poured with a clear dark amber-copper color and a cream-colored head, that collapsed leaving drapes of lacing along the glass. The aroma has lots of hoppiness featuring floral, citrusy, fruity, and pineapple-like tones. There are also some tones of dark fruits and candy-like sweetness present. The flavor features tones of caramel, toasted malt, and a resiny and grapefruit-like hoppiness, that ends in a semi-dry and moderately bitter finish. The beer has a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice beer, featuring some nice hoppiness (especially the aroma) and balance.
The next beer was Alesmith X, which is an American Pale Ale by the infamous San Diego-based brewers. The beer poured with a clear golden-yellow color and a white head, that collapsed leaving some slight lacing along the glass. The aroma was hoppy, featuring floral, citrusy, and grassy tones. The aroma also featured some mild caramel tones. The flavor featured a light maltiness coupled with a citrusy hoppiness, that finished in a dry and bitter finish. The beer had a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a better-than-average pale ale, but nothing very special. The hop tones were nice, but felt like the beer was lacking something.
The final beer of the evening was Port Brewing’s Shark Attack, previously tasted here. The beer had a very similar appearance to Hop Head Red, with a dark amber color and a cream-colored head. The aroma featured tones of dark fruits, raisins, red fruits, floral and citrusy hoppiness, and slight alcohol. I definitely remembered this being a lot hoppier and the last bottle I had was even much older (this one was only 3 months old). The flavor featured tones of caramel, dark fruits, malts, and a grapefruit-like hoppiness. The flavor finishes semi-dry and quite bitter. The beer featured a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice imperial red, but this was a lot maltier and less hoppy than I remembered. Still very enjoyable and a nice end to the evening.
All in all it was a good evening, with some really nice beers. The last three beers were among my favorites of the night, and something really surprising was that Lovecats had the most hoppy aroma of the lot.