PROPER BLACK

BREWER: St Austell, Cornwall

STYLE: Black IPA

ABV: 6%

VESSEL: 500ml bottle

TWITTER: @StAustellBrew

INSTAGRAM: st_austell_brewery

 

JYMI SAY’S…

One thing I think we can all agree on in this life is that the greatest ever demonstration of magic we have ever seen is David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear. I mean, one second it is there and then… it’s not. Totally mind blowing and there isn’t a day that ticks by where I don’t look at the pic of David sat on top of my TV and give him a little nod of approval.

Now, St Austell have come along with this Black IPA for us and on the back of the bottle they are presenting it in a kind of magical way I think?

They say, “Controversial? A contradiction in terms? Black as stout, close your eyes and taste this beer is classic IPA. Powerful hops dominate the restrained chocolate and coffee notes from carefully selected roasted malt”.

I have to say, I don’t get it. If it just tastes like an IPA anyway then surely just brew an IPA? But if there are hints of coffee and stout don’t say it’s classic IPA in flavour? Oh whatever, time to fire into her.

Well after I poured this clearly very black looking beer into my glass I closed my eyes like I was told to and took a sip not really knowing what to expect…

Na, still don’t get it. I think I was told I was going to get a hop strong IPA with coffee and chocolate notes but it’s more than that. I’m going to say it has come out almost half IPA and half stout which is certainly not magic and not really doing it for me at all. If they had pulled off some Copperfield level magic here and somehow delivered a quality stout / IPA hybrid then fair play, but they haven’t so I just don’t see the point in this beer.

St Austell, I’m a long time fan of your brewing but I have to say it, you f**~*d this one right up.

Jymi’s Rating: 50%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

Some things are not as they appear. Proper Black, looks like a stout. But it’s not. Strange, I know. But it is true.
When I come across a dark beer, I’m expecting a stout. And we all know how much I love a stout. So to get a beer that’s an IPA and looks like a stout takes some getting used to. It’s a little bit mind blowing.
The thing is, you’ve got to consider is it worth it?
Well, Proper Black is ok. It’s enjoyable on the palate and it slips down quite well. The thing is, there are better beers out there. Proper Job is a great beer, and this, sadly, lives it its shadow.
You see, I know it’s not meant to be but Proper Black is a little bit of a novelty to me. It’s less about the beer and more about the controversy. The brew is not amazing. It’s so so and that’s the best I can say about it.
Would I have another Proper Black. No thanks, I’ll stick to the Proper Job if you don’t mind!

Sammy’s Rating: 64%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 57%

 

MOB review next weekend: GRAND CRU by CASTELAIN

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DELIRIUM NOCTURNUM

BREWER: Brouwerij Huyghe, East Flanders

STYLE: Dark Beer

ABV: 8.5%

VESSEL: 330ml bottle

TWITTER: @Deliriumbrewery

INSTAGRAM: delirium_brewery

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

I like to think that I am not one to judge a book by its cover but when my wife reached for Delirium Nocturnum (DN) to put on her salad (she thought it was an upmarket French dressing) it did rather emphasise the poor packaging on this Belgian.  It’s great to see breweries trying to do things a little differently but don’t fix something that’s not broke and traditional Belgian packaging, in my humble opinion, ain’t broke.

Right, rant over.  Onto the innards of the bottle: the beer.

DN is definitely dark in appearance and to be quite frank, we’d expect nothing else from our (soon to be ex in name) European cousins across the English Channel.  However, it does have quite the exquisite nose for such a beer.  It’s sweet and caramel based both at the same time and while this may sound a bit off, it most certainly isn’t.

In the drinking, DN is bittersweet with a pleasant after taste.  It’s a little disjointed in the mouth, which makes it a bit of a chewer; definitely not one for a session.  That having been said, it’s sharpness and full bouquet upfront make it a pleasant beer for a one off.  

DN is a good beer, but it’s not one of my favourite Belgians.  I can’t help thinking that it might taste better when being drunk in a square in Brussels, while watching the world go by…Jymi, a trip across the pond is calling!

Sammy’s Rating: 71%

 

JYMI SAY’S…

As soon as you start pouring your Delirium Nocturnum into the glass you know you are dealing with a major player. The smell of the brew instantly hits you as does the look of this beer in their obscenely cool glass. Even though the colours are not the same, the look of the bottle and beer in glass somehow mirror one another. The beer itself actually looks of the highest quality and the large 2 finger head just sat there at no point looking like it was going to quit!

As you sip this Belguin beauty the head remains the same with no effort whatsoever and the thick toffee fudge nose coming off the beer intensifies as you’re drinking. The actual first sip sat me back in my seat but once I’d composed myself the true exquisite nature of this strong dark beer really began to take hold. It truly is superb. The flavour is a very intense malty one upfront, with cherry and liquorice playing a heavy supporting roll. But in saying that it does not taste 8.5%. It does feel 8.5% once you’re through the glass though! Once the malty cherry taste dissipates after a couple of seconds the beer mellows right out into an endlessly delightful aftertaste. Then right at the end a sweetness creeps in to finish it all off.

WHAT. A. BEER.

The end.

Jymi’s Rating: 91%

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 81%

 

MOB review next weekend: PROPER BLACK by ST AUSTELL

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JAIPUR

IT IS THE SECOND OUTING FOR THE MOB SQUAD!! TO SEE WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF JAIPUR CLICK HERE

BREWER: Thornbridge, Derbyshire

STYLE: IPA

ABV: 5.9%

VESSEL: 330ml tin 

TWITTER: @thornbridge

INSTAGRAM: thornbridge

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

Ok, as soon as you open the can of Jaipur, it seems that you get hit by a citrus aroma, which is dominated by orange. Alright, so the orange nose might be influenced by the orange can, but there’s definitely a hint of citrus on the nose. It might not be orange heavy but it’s citrus nonetheless.
And in the glass Jaipur does look good. It looks crisp and filtered and ready to quench one’s thirst. To a degree, that’s what it does; it quenches your thirst. It’s quite refreshing and easy to drink with a crisp freshness surrounding it.
But the thing is, this isn’t backed up by anything much. Jaipur is lacking depth. It’s over before it’s started. It’s shallow and has no depth. And to be fair, there are beers out there that do shallow much better than this. It’s lacking in class somehow; there’s no USP.
 I am sure that there is a place for this, but not in my beer cupboard.
All in all, Jaipur is not a terrible beer. It’s just not a good beer. It’s very average and for me, that means it’s staying on the shelf.

Sammy’s Rating: 65%

 

JYMI SAY’S…

It’s no secret that I have never been a fan of the packaging that Thornbridge have put forward. This was fairly evident in my review of Coco Cocoa a year ago. Even with the arrival of cans to the Thornbridge range my opinion remains the same… generally. But with the look of Jaipur’s striking orange dress my opinion for this one at least, is different. I really like the look of this can. It is clean and although complex, comes over as uncluttered and oozes class. Though I do think the designers have possibly missed a trick here. Jaipur is known as the Pink City due to the colour of the brickwork that dominates that magnificent place. A soft, almost purple pink tin instead of the orange here could have been a masterstroke and a lovely nod to the name of the beer but hey, it’s not happened so let’s move on. As it is the orange still looks fantastic.

Beer wise the first thing that struck me with Jaipur was the colour of this IPA.. it’s so light it looks like a flippin shandy!!! I should have been expecting it, as included in the abundance of info on the tin is the fact that this beer will appear straw like. I actually really like this appearance as it just makes it look so crisp and refreshing. Moving to the taste, I’m a fan, I’m a big fan in fact. Jaipur is wildly hoppy, very bitter with a cut of citrus right through the middle to break it all up. There is also a glimmer of honey knocking around. It’s not enough to bring a sweetness to the drink but just enough to balance it out. This brew does taste very strong, and probably should weighing in at 5.9%. For me though this just brings an extra dimension to this already cracking IPA.

Jymi’s Rating: 84%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 74.5%

SEE WHAT THE MOB SQUAD THOUGHT OF JAIPUR BY CLICKING HERE

 

MOB review next weekend: DELIRIUM NOCTURNUM by BROUWERIJ HUYGHE

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MOB SQUAD: JAIPUR

The MOB SQUAD say…

 

OJ: SMOOTH, GRAPEFRUIT, CITRUS, SESSION, DANGEROUS – 80%

Tom Norton: BITTER, ZINGY, FIZZ, FRESH, CONFUSING – 49%

theRealGazza: ZESTY, PINK GRAPEFRUIT, CRISP, STRONG, NICE – 82%

PanthBrew: ZINGY, PALATABLE, FRESH, ELEGANT, LASTING – 72%

Capone: PHEW, LINGERING, DANGEROUS, MOREISH, EXCELLENT – 90%

Lava: BITTER, BIG, STRAW, STRONG, PALE – 80%

VK: POWERFUL, PINE, STRONG, HOPPY, FANTASTIC – 83%

Yum Yum Scrum: TANGY, MOREISH, FRUITY, SURPRISING, ANOTHER? – 58%

LeeDub: CITRUSY, BITTER, TANGY, STRONG, HOPPY – 53%

Mrs Reebo: ZESTY, TANGY, FIZZY, BITTER, DISTINCT – 73%

Tulane: HOPPY, CLEAN, LEMON, BITTER, GOOD – 74%

cWobble: GOLDEN, CRISP, BITTER, INTENSE, TASTY – 80%

Mr Reebo: STRONG, INDIVIDUAL, MANGO, CRISP, LIGHT – 88%

Skeletor: HOPPY, PALE, ZESTY, CREAMY, POWERFUL – 63%

 

MOB SQUAD RATING: 73.22%

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT THE MOB SQUAD SAID ABOUT BIG WAVE by KONA BREWING

 

MOB SQUAD’S NEXT OUTING IS ON MARCH 13th AND WILL BE NEWCASTLE BROWN ALE by HEINEKEN

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DARK ARTS

BREWER: Magic Rock Brewing, West Yorkshire

STYLE: Stout

ABV: 6%

VESSEL: 330ml tin

TWITTER: @MagicRockBrewCo

INSTAGRAM: magicrockbrewing

 

JYMI SAY’S…

If you could please just take a look at the bottom of the tin in the picture that Muse on Booze have provided for you.

Surreal describes something that’s a bizarre mix of elements, often jarring and seemingly nonsensical.

To call your stout Dark Arts is fine with me, not that you care what I think Magic Rock, but to describe your stout as surreal is just odd, though maybe that’s the point. Certainly got the noggin whirring before I had even lifted the ring pull on this one I have to say.

If this beer was to live up to its description it would have to be as the sentence at the top says, and I’m really not sure that would be a good thing. And if this stout didn’t live up to its description of surreal then frankly the whole unnecessary inclusion of the adjective would be pretty annoying to be honest. I mean not as annoying as walking all the way to the end of one’s 200ft driveway to fetch the Aston only to realise that one had forgotten their flippin car keys, but annoying nonetheless. However, should Magic Rock manage to pull off the unthinkable and deliver a good yet surreal beer then I’d be pretty impressed. I mean not as impressed as I would be by a cool cat pulling doughnuts in a convertible white XR3i, but impressed nonetheless.

Well first things first this beer smells great. An invisible cloud of coffee and cherry heads towards your hooter as soon as the tin is cracked and that only intensifies as you pour into the glass.

From the off taste wise I was initially taken aback. I didn’t really know what had happened. Had I enjoyed it? Was it surreal? What flavour was I picking up?  Was this a decent beer? I literally had no idea. So I went in again this time concentrating a little harder. Nope still no clue. And to be honest it took me the whole beer to really get to a conclusion of events and opinion.

So it turns out this stout IS surreal AND very good BUT not necessarily to my taste hence the confusion. The body is thin but the flavour is big which is where the mind begins to get a little boggled. Regarding the taste itself, well it’s a journey on the palate. Dark Arts begins soft, creamy and smooth. It then goes into the next stage which I’m going to call the break as nothing happens but all this is doing is preparing the taste buds for the massive liquorice finale. It’s quite the thing let me tell you.

It is because of the liquorice flavour that I don’t particularly like this brew but that is just my personal taste. Taking a step back from that I believe we are dealing with a very well brewed clever beer here with a description that sums it up to a tee.

Jymi’s Rating: 79%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

Right, Dark Arts, a stout, unsurprisingly, is well named. There’s no getting away from it; it’s a good name for a stout. And the nose is what you might hope for: heady deep, dark coffee. But there’s also the hint of chocolate there in the background.

Those flavours carry through into the drinking. The interesting thing about Dark Arts is that it’s not as heavy as the nose might suggest. That’s not to say it’s not heavy, because it most certainly is first up. But not as heavy as you might expect. And the finish is actually very light and crisp. Together, this heavy first mouthfeel supported by the lighter support act is very nice.

The brew is well balanced. Dark Arts is an enjoyable stout. It’s got everything you’d expect. It’s definitely not sessionable, but it most definitely is entirely enjoyable.

Think winter. Think fire. Think stout.

Dark Arts ticks the boxes that it needs to. It’s like a nap on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. It knows where it belongs and it’s very happy there.

Happy, festive, days.

Sammy’s Rating: 81%

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 80%

 

MOB review next weekend: JAIPUR by THORNBRIDGE

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MOB SQUAD’S SECOND OUTING IS ONE WEEK AWAY AND THEY ARE TAKING A LOOK AT THAT ORANGE TINNED BEER ABOVE

STANDBY 

 

DOUBLE STOUT

BREWER: Westerham Brewery Co, Kent

STYLE: Double Stout

ABV: 5.1%

VESSEL: 500ml bottle

TWITTER: @WesterhamBrew

INSTAGRAM: westerhambrew

 

JYMI SAY’S…

Westerham used to be a place that filled me with dread as if I was passing through there it would mean that there was a problem with the South East of the infamous orbital known as the M25. But because of this brew I feel like I would like to visit this Kent  village under better circumstance. Westerham Double Stout hasn’t blown my Christmas socks off by any means but it has given me that warming feeling inside. One of tradition and times gone by. See my initial thoughts on the name made me think that this was going to be a high ABV dark beer as when it comes to the word DOUBLE in today’s world of beer lingo that is what you’re going to get. But no, Westerham’s Double Stout (though still weighing in at 5.1%) is not falling into the high ABV range. Instead this brewery have gone with the slightly older meaning of DOUBLE STOUT as the bottle explains…

The word Stout in the brewer’s lexicon means ‘strong’. In Victorian times ‘Stout Porter’ was a strong porter brewed with pale, brown and patent black malts. ‘Double Stout’ was therefore a stronger type of stout. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Black Eagle Brewery in Westerham brewed ‘Single Stout’, bottled as ‘Family Stout’, and a ‘Double Stout’, sold on draught and in bottles.

This Double Stout is brewed to the same strength as that brewed in 1938. It is brewed with pale malt, chocolate malt and roasted barley. In the copper we use the finest Kent hops and late hop with Kent Goldings. We also use the same yeast as used in Westerham Ales up until the brewery’s closure in 1965.

So although the word double here may be leading the beer drinker down a path they weren’t expecting there is good reason for Westerham Brewing Co. calling their brew by this name.

So to the inside of this most fantastic and traditional looking bottle we go…

WDS is lively in the pour and ends up with a two finger light brown head. It has a malty nose with large notes of coffee and chocolate playing a supporting role. In the sip WDS comes across as quite rich at first but with a light texture. I found this beer very dry I have to say which I was totally fine with but would probably only be able to sink a couple before it became a wrestle. There is a real malty and woody tone to Westerham’s Double Stout which is pleasant enough.

We have a very solid beer on our hands here that I’m sure would disappoint very few.

Jymi’s Rating: 70%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

There is absolutely no denying it, Double Stout is a stout. It really does look like a stout in a glass. I know I’m stating the obvious, but seriously, it’s just the way it is.
It has a strong aroma of nutty coffee. And I like it. It’s warming and hearty, deep and dark. This is definitely teeing up to be a drink for a winter’s eve. And so onto the tasting…
Well, it’s not as deep as you might think from the hints coming off of the nose. In fact, it is quite a thin taste. But this is a good thing. It’s actually quite a refreshing brew for a stout. You might expect a beverage named as Double Stout to be deep and hearty but it’s not. It’s light, refreshing and very easy to drink. There is a pleasant and warming bitter overtone with some notes of chocolate.
While this doesn’t make it a behemoth of a stout, it certainly makes it a pleasantly quaffable drink. And it’s most certainly not one just for a winter’s eve as first predicted. It would be at home any time of the year.

 

Sammy’s Rating: 80%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 75%

 

MOB review next weekend: DARK ARTS by MAGIC ROCK BREWING 

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TWO WEEKS UNTIL JAIPUR

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DARK SIDE

BREWER: Bath Ales, Gloucestershire 

STYLE: Stout

ABV: 4%

VESSEL: 500ml bottle

TWITTER: @bathales

INSTAGRAM: bathales

 

JYMI SAY’S…

I suppose all us beer lovers are ultimately looking for the beer that has everything…

That’s not to say that if we found it that would be the only drink we drank forever and ever and ever. A saison or sour in the sun would supersede a ruby red Christmas brew and of course if seasons were reversed the ruby red would probably be the beer selected. But still the quest goes on for that beer that has everything.
I suppose there are quite a few beers that we have each run into that tick all the boxes and the better they tick those boxes the better that beer is.

Well here we have the pagan and good looking Dark Side… and I’m going to say now that it isn’t necessarily the best beer in the world, but it does kinda have everything.

It looks great as a bottle and also once in the vessel you have selected to drink it from. It has a good strong burnt chocolate nose. It is a smooth and calm enough brew to enjoy a fair few of of a night down the local with some chums but also easily has enough punch to savour just one of very slowly. See, it’s got everything.

For me though the real star of the Dark Side consuming experience is what happens with the intensity of the taste journey in the gob. Up front there is this large richness to Dark Side that is of complex chocolate. But then, quite quickly, that huge flavour falls off a cliff… but in a good way. It enables the drinker to enjoy some large and heady flavours without it all getting too much too soon.

Hats off to you Bath Ales, very clever.

Jymi’s Rating: 82%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

So, here we are again with a Bath Ale brew. And I’m going to start by being honest; I didn’t like the last offering I tested from this, er, Bristol based brewery.
But this time, it’s a stout! And this time, I like it. I really like it.
The nose is light and crisp and smells exactly what you’d hope for in a stout. It’s not overbearing and ,actually, if anything is a little non-descript. That’s not a problem though. Because what it does is give you an insight into what’s on the inside.
Where Dark Side excels is in it’s lightness. It’s great on the palate and slips down really easily. There is a hint of chocolate but it’s subtle and this works with Dark Side. This is a sessionable stout and one that you could enjoy in many-a-situation.
I thoroughly recommend this brew.
Well done Bath Ales; you have improved your standing greatly in my reckoning.

 

Sammy’s Rating: 85%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 83.5%

 

MOB review next weekend: DOUBLE STOUT by WESTERHAM BREWERY CO.

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A HAPPY & HOPPY CHRISTMESS TO YOU ALL FROM SAMMY n JYMI

x x