BREWER: Lion, Greater Auckland Region, New Zealand

STYLE: Lager

ABV: 4%

VESSEL: 330ml tin 



DATE OF POST: 17th July 2022



It was 29th October 2004, a beautiful late autumn London sunset was underway after a huge storm the night before. It was a Friday evening and Sammy and I were set to test Victoria Bitter, the 71st beer of our ‘Book on Beers’ that we constructed all those years ago that eventually lead us to Muse on Booze as you know it today.

Now the reason I go back to then is that I really like the packaging of our brew this week, but it does bear a striking resemblance to VB’s brand. The odd thing is that I don’t like the VB packaging much, so I had to reach for my ‘Book on Beers’ just to see what I had scored it. 4.5/10 apparently, pretty fair I’d say. But now turning to our Waikato Draught tin, what was it that I liked so much?? And in true Muse on Booze expert analysis style, I literally have no idea!! I just really like it!!

Anyway, let’s pop this sucker and see where we’re at…

A strange aroma filled the air surrounding the testing desk in my garage. Was it a neighbour cooking something odd on the BBQ? Had a diesel car just accelerated hard outside of my house? Or was it just my beer? Surely not my beer? I sniffed the tin, that the beer was still in. Shit, it was the beer, and the smell was VERY strange indeed! Not totally horrific, just altogether weird.

Moving past this I poured and I sipped… this is not a good beer at all I’m afraid. After the initial excitement of the tin and the assumption of a NZ brewed beer using NZ grown hops (though our tin doesn’t tell us this) I was left very disappointed. This brew doesn’t really taste of anything. Once swallowed, whatever iota of flavour there may have been totally disappears when the aftertaste should be turning up. Then (now this is the really bad part) a squeaky texture covers your teeth, much like drinking a very metallic water. Really poor.

Other than the squeaky teeth thing Waikato Draught isn’t disgusting, it’s just, well, nothing!

It’s a miss I’m afraid Lion Brewery.

Jymi’s Rating: 30%



Waikato beer is best described as average. I can’t say much else about it. 

It smells like a beer. It tastes like a beer (without doing anything spectacular at all!!!). There’s no USP. There’s nothing that sets it aside. 

Would I have it again? Sure I would. Would I rush out to buy it again? I sure would not. 

Sammy’s Rating: 51%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

Instagram: muse.on.booze





BREWER: Gweilo Beer, South London, England


ABV: 4.5%

VESSEL: 440ml tin

TWITTER: @gweilobeeruk

INSTAGRAM: gweilobeeruk

DATE OF POST: 10th July 2022



The day had been hot, very hot and the week had been long, very long, but it was Friday and I knew that once I had booted open the saloon doors that I’ve had installed on the front of my house, to replace the front door, it would be time to settle into Gweilo’s Rainbow Sherbet Sour.

I just had the small matter of the drive home without any air-con to help me out and the day had been hot, very hot. Not sure if I mentioned that.

I was seriously looking forward to this brew as I do enjoy a sour, especially when the weather is being kind, however there was a little apprehension in the air because, well it was a SHERBET sour that was waiting for me. Really?

Van parked, saloon doors kicked open, family nodded to, it was time…


NOSTALGICALLY REDEFINING– what the F does that even mean?! I mean, I know what it means if you know what I mean but… it is a ridiculous tag note!

Ok, this is not the best beer I have to be honest but there is a reasonable amount going for it if you go searching. There is certainly raspberry on the nose as you sip which is pleasant. There is for sure some lemon as well as raspberry in the taste which is also pleasant. However, it is fairly sweet and could do with being more sour near the end to balance it out.

The real downside is that the latter texture and aftertaste is very watery and pretty disappointing. However, I found that if you took big gulps as opposed to gentle sips this did almost get nullified. But you should be able to sip a brew to get the true story and when only sipping this sour wasn’t really doing much.

But it does have to be said, with the gulping method and the faint to non-existent aftertaste, as well as a medium ABV this beer could quite easily be a sensational summer sessioner. You can’t often say that of a sour… make of that what you will I suppose.

On a side note, I wanted to include something about the meaning of the brewery name. I’ve got some feelings about it but don’t know enough about the history of the word or the story behind giving that name to the brewery. And frankly I can’t be arsed doing a deep dive as it’s been a hot, long day…

 Jymi’s Rating: 65%



Ok, so there’s clearly a strong idea behind Rainbow Sherbet Sour: rainbow fizzy laces. And I have to say, just like I love a sour beer, I love a sour sweets. So, I find this concept intriguing and exciting…

Now, RSS definitely delivers on its promise of nostalgia. The beer does have a definite hint of rainbow fizzy sweets. And to achieve that in a beer has to be commended. It’s subtle, not overpowering in the slightest, but that just makes this beer so light and easy to drink. 

To make RSS off the charts, it needs to be sourer for my palate. I recognise that’s personal taste but that’s where I am with this beer. 

Imagine a watered-down squash that really quenches your thirst. Well, that’s how refreshing RSS is. 

There’s no doubting this is a good beer.

Sammy’s Rating: 80%



MOB review next weekend: WAIKATO DRAUGHT by LION

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

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BREWER: Fiftytwo North (Woodforde’s Brewery), Norfolk, England


ABV: 4.5%

VESSEL: 330ml tin

TWITTER: @WoodfordesBeer

INSTAGRAM: woodfordesbeer

DATE OF POST: 1st July 2022



See, from an idle glance I thought this tin was quite cool, but it’s not. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and the electricity burst down at the bottom of the tin to go along with our name, VOLTAGE, is frankly laughable it is so dated. I’m going to move onto the nose and taste shortly, but I just wanted to put over a tiny bit of positivity first. Voltage as a beer name is cracking, really good, but I am afraid the beer quality does not follow in line. Not even close.

The nose is metallic, forced and artificial. The taste is metallic, forced and artificial. This is a poor beer and feels like a bit of a stocking / Beer 52* box filler to me. That’s it. Bye.



*this brew was not purchased via Beer 52. That was just a blatant dig at their predominantly poor offerings.



Bye again.






Jymi’s Rating: 28%



So, with a name like Voltage, should we be prepared to be shocked? Sorry, I could not resist. 

Anyway, Voltage is a craft IPA. I’m not going to launch into my usual muttering about the crowded market in which it sits (ok, I just did via the side door). 

Straight up, there are two distinct differences to what you might ordinarily expect. Firstly, the colour is not hazy or light. It’s more amber almost like a golden ale.  The second point is that the nose is not tropical or fruity; it’s more malty.  Now, Woodforde’s Brewery describe the nose as floral and pine (along with the usual suspects for a modern IPA). I have to say that I didn’t get that at all. If it’s there, it must be very subtle. 

Let’s sup in to find out what’s going on…

Voltage is different. It has a well-balanced hoppy flavour that is not too overpowering. In the background some light fruitiness does come through and all in all it makes for a pleasant drink. The length of the taste is good. 

Although the shocks weren’t too severe, I’d happily have another Voltage. 

Sammy’s Rating: 74%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

Instagram: muse.on.booze



BREWER: Small Beer Brew Co., South-East London, England 

STYLE: Lager 

ABV: 2.1%

VESSEL: 350ml brown bottle 

TWITTER: @origsmallbeer

INSTAGRAM: originalsmallbeer

DATE OF POST: 26th June 2022



A 2.1% Lager you say?

Errr, ok then…

Here goes…

Lid lifted and I have to say a smile was put on my face instantly. The aroma of old skool French stubbies hoofed it up me hooter before the beer had even left the rather quirky 350ml bottle. This immediately took me back to my early teenaged years when one first starts to get into beer, apparently.

What a positive start to a beer that I have to admit I was not holding out much hope for.

Once poured the nose was still there and kicking and the brew looked pretty decent in the glass.

First sip was a large one as I wanted to give this beer a chance and I have to say my eyes lit up once more. A note in CAPITALS went into my tasting book…


And it could be. Hats off to the Small Brewing Company for pulling off not only what they intended but also what I did not think was possible! A decent tasting lager at a very low ABV.

I then had to calm myself down a little as needed to score this sucker.

Whether a beer is 2% or 12% you have to score it as you taste it and even though this offering today is FANTASTIC for a 2.1% Lager it only makes it into the good bracket over all. However, that is no mean feat with such a low percentage so once again a huge hats off to this brewery for daring to be different, finding a brewery USP and nailing it.

Jymi’s Rating: 61%



The concept: beers brewed with a very low ABV. This one from the Small Beer Company is a lager and its alcohol percentage is 2.1%. I know, it’s only 2.1%. 

The question has to be asked: how much beeriness is compromised (if any at all) in their quest to fulfil their mission of low alcohol beers?

Well, first up, it smells like a lager, which is a good start. And then the first sip is promising; that well known lager flavour washes over the tongue bringing hope of greatness. But then it all fades away into watery nothingingness. 

The thing is this isn’t a bad beer. It’s good. It achieves what it sets out to do. And I would definitely be reaching for more of these in the right situation.  It absolutely delivers on its USP. It’s just when you rate it on its beer credibility, it will come out lower that it’s counterparts because there is not enough alcohol to carry those notes. 

Still, I recommend giving one of Small Beer’s offerings a go. They’ll be a talking point that’s for sure. 

Sammy’s Rating: 61%


MOB review next weekend: VOLTAGE by FIFTYTWO NORTH

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

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BREWER: Alfa, Egaleo, Greece

STYLE: Weiss Beer 

ABV: 5%

VESSEL: 0.5l tin



DATE OF POST: 19th June 2022



Confusion was running riot in Jymi’s noodle the second Sammy handed me this beer to put under our MOB reviewing noses.

The first thing that set the brain scramble in motion was the fact the tin is upside down. What? Now, there is a nice little intertwined arrow image on the tin art that suggests that this is not just a canning error. It is intentional. The fact all our tin facts are in Greek also clearly added to the confusion but that is my own fault. What really hit me hard in the ‘brain compartment’ was which way up to store this crafty little pup. Even once researched and Sammy confirming how to store, I still had a double take every time I saw Alpha stashed in the beer fridge…

Is it supposed to be upside down? Should I call Sam AGAIN to make sure? What the f is going on? were the daily thoughts and I have to be honest I’m not even sure now. But we are where we are.

Anyway, can cracked and I’m sure you’ll be able to see from the pic, this beer looks AWESOME in the glass!! Plus, the instant almost spicy apricot nose that hit’s you is just a joy.

Swig wise the flavours are great, it slips down very easily and I don’t think this brew would become too much or too heavy so many points awarded here.

HOWEVER: The body ends up being thin very quickly and the aftertaste is so light it is practically non existent if I’m being honest.

There were plenty of marks handed out here but ultimately Alpha has been let down from the severe lack of body. With a few tweaks just to liven it up I honestly think this beer could be a worldy. However, sadly it’s not, it’s good but just lacking pizazz.

Jymi’s Rating: 65%



I’m going to call this beer A for the simple reason I do not have a Greek keyboard to type its actual name. 

So, for starters, the can is printed upside down. Now, not only do I not have a Greek keyboard, I don’t speak Greek either. However, from what I can infer, I think this is a deliberate move so that once turned upside down, or the right way up, depending on how you look at it, some magic happens inside the can to liven up the beer. 

A has the nose you’d expect from a Weiss beer: wheaty.  And whilst it’s not striking in any form, it’s not terrible either. 

Again, in the glass A looks like a wheat beer: golden hazy. 

Now, unsurprisingly, A tastes like a wheat beer.  You may or may not remember that they’re not my favourite brew.  BUT, as wheat beers go A is quite nice. It’s well brew and balanced nicely, not lingering too long on the palate, which in my view can be the downfall of many a wheat beer. 

Very often, I wouldn’t revisit a Weiss beer once tested. It’s a testament to A, then, that I would happily have another one of these if I somehow stumbled across it. I accept it’s unlikely that this will happen. 

Sammy’s Rating: 73%



MOB review next weekend: SMALL BEER LAGER by SMALL BEER BREW CO.

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

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BREWER: Hedgedog Brewing, Surrey, England

STYLE: Pale Ale

ABV: 4.8%

VESSEL: 440ml tin

TWITTER: @HedgedogBrewing

INSTAGRAM: hedgedogbrewing

DATE OF POST: 12th June 2022



I’ve gone on and on about the crowed craft IPA market in many a review before. And very often my point is the the beer being tested at that moment in time, while usually not bad, drifts into obscurity due to the saturated market in which it exists. 

Well, I’m please to tell y’all that Lighthouse is different. It’s a very good effort. And ok, it’s still sitting in a tough market and it’s not a world heart, but it is a decent drop. 

The nose is packed with tropical sweetness which sounds standard for a craft pale but it does actually stand out from the crowd.  That tells you it must be a decent nose. 

The brew is crisp and bouncy and well balanced. This in itself nudges Lighthouse into very good level for a pale ale. It’s crisp, uncomplicated but very very refreshing which is aided by the development of a tropical lime flavour the further down the glass you get. 

All round Lighthouse is a good package.

Sammy’s Rating: 79%



I’ve always been a riverman. My wife and daughters can testify to that. I mean, they have never seen me actually be a man of the river but they have heard endless tales of how I was ‘born by the bank’.

The whole thing is actually a load of shit but please, don’t tell them, it’s gone too far now… the fact is I flippin hate water but I if I had to choose between being a man of the river or sea, I would 100% choose the prior. See, I’m a riverman.

However, if I was a seafarer (and to be fair the way my beard is going of late this could be on the cards you know) I would want a better looking Lighthouse than is portrayed here to guide me to safety. But luckily this is just beer tin art, and what great beer tin art it is! I can’t get over the fact that it looks like a face (intentional?) but either or, the tin looks DECENT! Proper crackers. Love it.

Beer wise we have a real goodun on our hands here. Though very fizzy in the glass the first thing that struck me with Lighthouse was it’s lovely thick texture, it is sooooo full in the mouth. The next thing that struck me (which doesn’t necessarily corroborate with the texture statement just made) is how refreshing this brew is. Thick AND refreshing?? Not sure how that’s possible but Hedgedog have pulled it off. Lighthouse is an uncomplex beer but potentially all the better for it. Pine and grassy notes support a delicate spice which makes the drinking a no nonsense yet lovely affair. In a massively crowded market this Pale Ale has a subtle point of difference and I applaud this Surrey brewer for that.

If you can find one, buy one.

It won’t blow your mind but it will make you think, man that is a decent ass brew.

Jymi’s Rating: 80%



MOB review next weekend: ALPHA by ALPHA BREWERY

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

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BREWER: Phantom Brewing Co., Berkshire, England


ABV: 8.7%

VESSEL: 440ml tin

TWITTER: @PhantomBrewCo

INSTAGRAM: phantombrewco

DATE OF POST: 5th June 2022



What the F is a Mermaid Sour?

Time to hit the google machine…

Ah of course, Mermaid is a cocktail that includes pineapple and coconut in it’s line up of ingredients. Our Mermaid Sour, Coral, also contains pineapple and coconut. However it is actually the blue raspberries used that takes centre stage in our beer here. Pineapple is present for sure but playing more of a supporting role. And as for the coconut, well the flavour didn’t come through for me unless I pursed my lips, which was quite odd but in some way quite cool too as gave a little added extra as you moved through the drink. However it’s the texture of the brew that is helped out from the coconut.  Because of the coconut Coral is so creamy and smooth as you drink it down.

For me when it comes to the world of sours I prefer them to be SOUR, like eye twitching sour, but that is just personal taste. Coral is not eye twitchingly sour but that certainly does not make it a bad brew…

It’s complex as hell, comes in a frankly awesome tin and errrr, pours a striking green!!!

Jymi’s Rating: 70%



Coral, the beer, that is, is a mermaid sour. What the hecky decky is a mermaid sour? I hear you ask. The truth is, I have no bleedin’ idea. 

Of note, is the colour of Coral. It’s almost fluorescent green. And yes, I agree, something that’s described as fluorescent of any colour does not sound in the slightest appealing, especially when it comes to a beer. 

With Coral, don’t let the colour put you off. This beer is different. And in a good way. There’s sweet raspberry upfront, which is quickly followed by a brief, not overpowering, sour finish. While it’s by no means the sourest of beers, there’s enough there to class it as one.

I concede that Coral will not tick everyone’s beer drinking box. But what the team at Phantom have done is create something that is most definitely unique. You go on a journey as you drink and arguably, that’s what you want when trying out their beer. 

Whatever a mermaid sour is, I would have another one thank you very much. 


Sammy’s Rating: 71%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

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BREWER: Heineken, Midlothian, Scotland

STYLE: Lager

ABV: 5.9%

VESSEL: 330ml tin

TWITTER: @desperadosbeer

INSTAGRAM: desperados

DATE OF POST: 29th May 2022



A desperado, as many of you well know, can be described as a desperate person who is usually associated with criminality. And to add that definition, desperados are most widely associated with the Wild West of America. 

Now, Desperados the beer, clearly has a USP – it has tequila in it. And I assume that the beer is named so as tequila is from Mexico, which is also associated with the Wild West and desperados. 

Bit of a gimmicky approach if you ask me. And the only time I have had a Desperados before is at a BBQ having previously consumed some much more prestigious beers.  So, this is my first venture into drinking it cold (as in I have not consumed a beer before testing, as is always the case). 

I don’t mind telling you, I was anxious before trying. Anxious because the very thought of Desperados churns my beer tummy. And churning a beer tummy, as we know, is not a good idea…

As a side note, I am listening to Desperado by the Eagles while I test, just to add to the atmosphere. Hopefully this will help. 

Turns out, listening to a song with the same name (minus one ‘s’) really doesn’t work.

Desperados is poor. Trying to mask a beer with tequila might be a novelty that works for some but not for me.  It’s nasty to drink and, while it has a USP, it’s not one to add the BBQ shopping list. 

One thing is right – the name. It’s definitely a desperate beer. As for those in the Wild West – best stick to drinking whiskey. 

Sammy’s Rating: 32%



Ok, I’ll be honest, I’ve taken Desperados on board a few times but not many. When it has happened it’s always been under similar circumstances… either a house party or an outside house party (AKA, a BBQ). Desperados has never been my brew of choice and I’ve certainly never bought nor brought for or to a do. So, when consuming I’ve always already had a few beers and have never really considered what Despo is actually like as beer, the only thing that has really crossed my mind is the fact it is a lager with a tickle of Tequila in it…

However consider now I will, but not until after this short interlude…

When I was about 16 my than girlfriend went on holiday to Australia for a month with her folks. Four weeks feels like four decades in teenaged relationship land so it felt right for me and my buddy (Sammy btw) to hit the boozer to wash away my sorrow. Now, at this time we had just discovered that a pint of Guinness with a shot of Tia Maria in it was utterly divine (it genuinely is)! Sammy ordered up one of those but this was a hot summers evening and I wanted a lager. Not wishing to miss out however I ordered a LARGE TEQULIA to go in my beer. Utterly divine it was not. Blimey.

Anyway, Desperados, a lager that is 99.4% beer and 0.6% tequila. I think that is probably a better ratio than mine all those years ago but even so, beer and tequila in the same glass? What?? However, even though the tequila element doesn’t taste of tequila it does sweeten the drink and almost makes it taste like a shandy. Which, at 5.9% is a VERY dangerous thing!!

All in all this is just bad beer but actually quite drinkable to be fair to it. I would never purchase but if handed one nowadays I would still accept and not turn my now very snobby beer nose up at it.

 Jymi’s Rating: 41%



Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

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BREWER: Valmiermuiza, Valmiera Parish, Latvia

STYLE: Lager

ABV: 5.2%

VESSEL: 0.5l brown bottle

TWITTER: @valmiermuiza

INSTAGRAM: valmiermuizas_alus

DATE OF POST: 22nd May 2022



So, I’m gonna come clean. I struggled to write this review. You see this Amber Lager has no point of difference. There’s nothing that stands out about it to make it great or ghastly. It’s just an average Joe. A Steady Eddie. 

Would I have one again? Sure I would. Would I rush out to buy another one? I sure wouldn’t. 

Amber Lager – it does exactly what it says. And there’s not much else to say about it…

Sammy’s Rating: 61%



Well, the first thing that needs to be mentioned here is the absolutely stunning packaging!!! So grand, yet kinda simple. LOVE IT.

Beer wise, look, this tastes like a classic European lager, main reason is, it is one. Is there a point of difference? Well yeah probably, but you would have to be a beer sommelier to find it and am I one? No, I am not.

I can only comment on what is in front of me and what is in front of me is good, not great, but defo good.

Val’s offering here is soft and delicate in flavour and as smooth as it gets for a lager. The brewer has certainly worked some magic here too as it does not taste close to 5.2%.

I have a feeling that right place, right time, right amount of sun on your back and this brew could actually be situationally incredible.

However, when I tested Val’s Amber Lager it was a snowy British spring day… make of that what you will.

Jymi’s Rating: 67%



MOB review next weekend: DESPERADOS by HEINEKEN

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

Instagram: muse.on.booze




BREWER: Grolsche Bierbrouwerj, Gelderland, Netherlands

STYLE: Pilsner

ABV: 4%

VESSEL: 450ml green bottle 

TWITTER: @Grolsch

INSTAGRAM: grolsch_global

DATE OF POST: 15th May 2022



I used to quite enjoy Grolsch as a lad, it tasted pretty good and that bottle, more importantly, that lid was just soooooooo flippin cool. I didn’t go as far as putting the lid on my shoes like the Goss Bros. but certainly had the odd one hanging off a rucksack or two. The lid is just so iconic, never challenged, never rivalled.

However, other than the top of the bot, everything else seems to have changed, only slightly but enough to make a fairly large difference.

Let’s start with the bottle as a whole, still decent but seems smaller and the current label seems cheap. The old sticker absolutely let the lid and bottle do the talking but this current iteration seems, well as I said, cheap. Oh and I’ve just checked the back of the label and it’s 450ml, so no wonder it looks smaller! Grolsch has also dropped to a fairly worrying 4% abv. If this percentage drop was from a smaller hands on brewery I wouldn’t be too worried but a mass produced lager going from 5 to 4% cannot possibly work out well…

But to be fair, the taste is still the same. Look, it’s not great but is perfectly drinkable. However, the percentage drop has definitely affected the body of the beer. It is now very thin and only just held together by an ok flavour.

Drinkable – yes.

Iconic – other than the lid, no, not anymore.

Buy again – I wouldn’t bother actually. Grolsch has lost whatever magic it once possessed.

Jymi’s Rating: 49%



Picture yourself in Amsterdam. It’s a hot day. The bartender is serving you a Grolsch. And in that serving, he or she scapes off the excess froth with a beer scraper. Sounds great. And in that scenario, Grolsch would be great. There’s no doubt. It would be in its element. But take away that romanticism and your faced with drinking Grolsch for what it is.  Sadly, it’s not a great beer. 

On the plus side, the sample we are testing here has the iconic beer top. Much better than having a Grolsch with your standard bottle top. Infinitely better in fact. The bottle itself is also clean and crisp. 

But, in the drinking Grolsch is watery. It’s a long way from being a good pilsner. You’d be hard pushed to identify it as one in a blind test. And then there’s the ever reducing alcohol content. Yes folks, Grolsch is now a sobering 4%. And while the percentage itself doesn’t matter, the diminishing flavour over time does. 

This is an unremarkable beer. 

Sammy’s Rating: 49%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze weekly since 2017

Twitter: @museonbooze

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