STOUT – BIG DROP BREWING CO.

DESIGNATED DRIVER DECEMBER 

A brief December midweek look at some of the non-alcoholic options out there.

Stay safe – Don’t Drink & Drive x 

Sammy say’s…

I was nervous about trying a non-alcoholic stout.  But I need not have been.  Stout, aptly named, is a viable replacement for those that want an alcohol free hit of this dark beer.  It’s a worthwhile drink.

Credible alternative? YES

 

Jymi say’s…

If I had tried this 5 years ago I think I would have turned my nose up. My take on Stout back then was that it was a full and robust style of beer. However, some Stouts nowadays are light as a feather but still oozing flavour. This Stout from Big Drop tastes exactly like one of those. Light in texture with elements of smoke, coffee and cherry knocking around in the taste. Non-alcoholic or not, it’s tasty.

Credible alternative? YES

 

MUSE ON BOOZE

APPROVED

NOGNE O IMPERIAL STOUT

BREWER: Nøgne Ø, Agder, Norway

STYLE: Imperial Stout

ABV: 9%

VESSEL: 0.33L brown bottle

TWITTER: @nogneo

INSTAGRAM: nogneo

DATE OF POST: 20th December 2020

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

For me, stout’s are the epitome of the winter ale. I love them. And I cannot wait to try a new one. It’s something I look forward to with immense anticipation. I can’t put into the words the disappointment then, when I come across a bad one. No matter how I try, or which way I look at it, I can’t find a place where Imperial Stout works for me.

The flavour is heavy up front with a very poor and shallow finish. There’s a rush of the hallowed land of coffee overtones and dark chocolate. But it’s short lived and soon disappears into the ether. And this does not make for a pleasant drinking experience.

It’s very rare that I mention the strength of a beer. ABV should not matter. It’s the taste that counts. But with Imperial Stouts, I can’t get away from the strength of it. It’s impossible to. 9% is not necessary. It’s not an indulgence any of us need.

There are many great stouts out there. This is not one of them. My advice to you is to steer clear of this. Go for something that’s a pleasure to drink, not a battle to chew down.

Sammy’s Rating: 37%

 

JYMI SAY’S…

Sometimes a beer works its way into contention if there is a doubt of its quality early on. The first few sips sometimes can be a bit of a challenge as there are so many styles and variants of those styles out there nowadays. Sometimes it takes a while to understand a beer and let it settle down on your palate.

However, with this monster it was the other way around. I really loved this brew at first but the more involved I got the more the love began to subside. See, at first I almost imagined myself sat in a -35c Red Square talking to a man with a strong jaw and a lady with blond hair and a stern look whilst sipping my Imperial Stout. It felt right, it felt warming, and the strength of the thing numbed the pain of the cold. But as I quite slowly made my way though my drink it began to dawn on me that I was sat in a warm enough suburban English garage on my own. It also began to dawn on me that this drink was becoming sweeter and sweeter by the sip. By the time I had finished it was almost a relief. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy most if not all of this beer. It just switched into something that isn’t quite for me and certainly wouldn’t have me going back for another.

That said, next time it’s -35c West of London then I’ll deffo be off for an Impy S by Nøgne Ø.

Jymi’s Rating: 67%

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 52%

MOB review next weekend: PLUM PORTER by TITANIC BREWERY

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SOLO PEACH PALE – WEST BERKSHIRE BREWERY

DESIGNATED DRIVER DECEMBER

A brief midweek look at some non-alcoholic options that are out there.

Stay Safe – Do Not Drink and Drive x

 

Sammy say’s…

So, this Peach Pale is ok.  But it lacks substance.  It lacks bite.  And without the bite, there’s just no point in it for me.  There’s nothing to carry the flavour through and after the initial disappointment, you’re left with, well, watery after notes.  Not a viable one for me I’m afraid!

Credible alternative? NO

 

Jymi say’s…

This does taste like Peach. This does not taste like Pale Ale. Or even an Ale to be frank. It’s very nice to drink but almost resembles peach flavoured water rather than a peach Pale. Assuming there would be a large difference in price between Peach Pale and Peach Water I would probably just opt for the H2O. But if there wasn’t, I would happily opt for this.

Credible alternative? YES

MUSE ON BOOZE NOT APPROVED 

 

MOOR STOUT

BREWER: Moor Beer Company, Bristol, England

STYLE: Stout

ABV: 5%

VESSEL: 330ml tin

TWITTER: @drinkmoorbeer

INSTAGRAM: drinkmoorbeer

DATE OF POST: 12th December 2020

 

JYMI SAY’S…

When this can landed in my hands, without anything to instantly pull me in or intrigue me, I kind of just… put it in the MOB test cupboard and forgot about it.

But when test day eventually arrived things were suddenly a little different to those initial thoughts. The packaging was way better than I had initially given it credit for. It’s subtle yet complex, not striking but understated and classy.

And I have to say this theme rolls on into the beer too. There is no fuss. No fanfare. No snazzy flavour bursts or trying too hard to be different and be noticed. Nope, none of that, just a flippin good stout. There is a soft and light texture to this beer but the flavour is not compromised because of this. As a negative I think I want a bit more punch from the aftertaste to really underline the quality of this beer. Do not get me wrong, the aftertaste is good, just needs to be a little bigger – so to speak.

A very decent offering from Moor Beer Company and one I would love to get stuck into by a fire in a cosy west country pub.

Jymi’s Rating: 79%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

Simply named this beer might be. But simple in design, it ain’t.

Let’s begin with the name: Stout. It says it as it is. Job done. No messing around. Name it as it is and get on with the real business of designing and brewing a beer.

So, the design: Stout is naturally carbonated. It’s a live beer. Store it upright for the best results.

It’s clear to see that the Moor Beer Company are putting all their eggs into one basket. And that basket is clearly the taste one. How does Stout stack up?

Well, the nose is heavy in burnt coffee. It’s dark and tempting and has all the hallmarks of a stout.

Stout is most definitely complex. It’s well brewed and has depth of flavour. Rich oats come through with the dark taste of coffee. And this is good. However, Stout’s strength is somehow it’s weakness too. The live nature of this beer adds so much to the flavour but it also makes it one for the odd occasion, not for an everyday beer. Still, this is a good stout. It’s just one you might reach for on the rare occasion or one to show off to your friends.

Sammy’s Rating: 80%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 79.5% 

MOB review next weekend: IMPERIAL STOUT by NØGNE Ø

@museonbooze on Twitter

STELLA ARTOIS ALCOHOL FREE

THE FIRST MUSE ON BOOZE DESIGNATED DRIVER DECEMBER IS HERE – Just a brief midweek December look at some of the Non-alcoholic offerings out there and whether they pass muster or not.

Happy Christmas season to you all – Stay safe – Do not drink and drive x

STELLA ARTOIS ALCOHOL FREE

Sammy say’s…

Alcohol free Stella Artois tastes surprisingly like good old full throttle Stella. Ok. It doesn’t taste exactly the same but you can definitely tell it’s a Stella. And while it lacks a little punch, it’s definitely a viable candidate for the designated driver. This is a suitable replacement for a beer should you ever find yourself in a place where you can’t have the real thing!

Credible alternative? YES

Jymi say’s…

The nose as soon as you have lifted the lid is the same as regulation Stella from a bottle. The taste whilst sipping is very very close too. Taste once swallowed kinda falls off a cliff but does improve as you work your way through the drink.

Credible alternative? YES

MUSE ON BOOZE APPROVED 

EXPORT INDIA PORTER

BREWER: The Kernel Brewery, South East London, England

STYLE: Porter

ABV: 6.1%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle

TWITTER: @kernelbrewery

INSTAGRAM: thekernelbrewery

DATE OF POST: 4th December 2020

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

I’m one for drinking any sort of beer any time of the year. It’s the way it should be. Seasonal changes shouldn’t affect the type of brew you want to enjoy in any given moment. It’s a little like having a red wine only in winter and a nice chilled white on a warm summer’s day. However, that being said, one of the best treats of a short cold wintery day, is knowing that there’s a porter or stout waiting on chill for you at home. And so, here we are, our first aforementioned beer of the season is upon us!

Export India Porter, starts off well. It’s as dark and tempting as you might hope in the glass and the aroma, well, let’s just say deep, dark coffee. Then, when you come to sip EIP, you’re met with a surprisingly light porter. It’s got the slight hint of an IPA in the background. I mean, do not get me wrong, I’m not talking full on craft IPA tropicalness. It’s the smallest of hints. But it’s enough to make EIP different and interesting. Clearly, this is well brewed and much thought has gone into it.

However, it’s quite light. There’s not much body with EIP and you can’t help but feel a little short changed when you’re drinking this porter. Once it’s washed across your palate, it disappears without leaving too much of a trace. Not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that it’s a little bit lack lustre. Given it’s weighty appearance and promise of dark trepidation, I can’t help but feel I need a little more from this porter.

Let’s be clear, EIP is good. It’s just not elevated anywhere near to greatness. And that poses a slight problem. It’s in a market where there are some incredible stouts and porters readily available. To my mind, this is rubbing too close to being something that’s not a porter. It needs to be bolder and develop more of a personality.

Would I turn one down? Most definitely not. Would it be near to the top of my porter/stout list? Not a chance.

Sammy’s Rating: 65%

 

JYMI SAY’S…

I’m pretty sure it was a crisp and bright Friday that Sammy handed me Export India Porter with a Regis to Akabusi like authority and said, “here is one to put on the test list”.

I was instantly excited, not as excited as Kriss, but excited nonetheless. Even though I’ve recently become more accustomed to having a stout or porter any time of the year, there really is something about having a darker beer when the temperatures outside are low. I was also excited as the brewery involved were the Kernel, an East London based setup that had never let me down.

Roll on a couple of weeks and the time had come to pop the top and get involved. Test day had arrived.

When pulling out of the cupboard to have a gander at what was said about the beer on the label it suddenly dawned on me… this was a 500ml bottle and not the 330ml I thought it was.

EXCITEMENT WAS NOW AT AN ALL TIME HIGH!

Unfortunately, even though this is not a bad beer, this is where the excitement ceased. I suppose the words export and India proceeding Porter in the name should have flagged that something may have been up here. However, if you’re mentioning the word Porter then you really are expecting something smooth and light. However, even though the mouthfeel of EIP is exceptional the spiky taste and texture that follows pull it a world away from what a Porter should be. Because of the early mouthfeel I really felt like this spike was then going to settle down, which could have been lovely, but no… the spike and it’s harshness remained.

All in all I think that it’s the confused style that has ultimately let this brew down. It’s not that Export India Pale is horrible, because it’s not. I just don’t know what it actually is.

Jymi’s Rating: 66%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 65.5% 

MOB review next weekend: MOOR’S STOUT by MOOR BEER COMPANY

ON WEDNESDAY WE ARE STARTING DESIGNATED DRIVER DECEMBER

RUNNING THROUGH DECEMBER WE WILL BE TAKING A MIDWEEK LOOK AT SOME NON ALCOHOLIC BEERS AND WHETHER THEY ARE A WORTHY SUBSTITUTE OR NOT  

 

 

 

HOOKY GOLD

BREWER: Hook Norton Brewery, Oxfordshire, England

STYLE: Pale Ale

ABV: 4.1%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle

TWITTER: @HookyBrewery

INSTAGRAM: hook_norton_brewery 

DATE OF POST: 29th November 2020

 

JYMI SAY’S…

With a brewery that kicked off back in 1849 I’d like to think Hooky Gold didn’t start life under this name. I’m sure under its original guise it could have been called Hook Norton Ale, maybe. Local drinkers would have then begun to colloquially dismantle the name over the next century and a half plus.

Pint’a Hook?

Glass of Norts?

Some of that golden Hooky please.

You get the idea.

So we arrive today with a name that has been forged over some time I’m sure and a beer that tastes like it has been too. See, it is utterly fantastic.

In a world of New England IPAs, Milkshake Pales and Peanut butter stouts it is sometimes easy to forget just how good a decent classic British beer can be. And let me tell you, this is a star.

There is a hint of lemon and possibly even smoke in the taste. There is also just the most amazingly balanced level of bitterness throughout the whole drinking experience. It is a level of bitterness that is VERY much there but not prominent. Without it, the beer would fail, but more than there is, then the flavour would not pronounce as it does.

It’s a beer for any occasion for sure but a very long afternoon in a country pub with friends and family is where our Hooky Gold would excel.

Just brilliant.

Jymi’s Rating: 87%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

The team at Hook Norton Brewery have been at this brewing game for quite sometime. Since 1849 in fact. Of course, it’s not the original team because if it were, well, it would make them the oldest folk alive. Anyway, it’s an old brewery, not one of these new upstarts. So, with all the collective experience and knowledge, the crew from HNB should be able to pack a punch when it comes to making a beer.

The first impression of Hooky Gold, once out of the bottle (which itself is a little nondescript), is of a golden beer: exactly what we’d hoped for, given all that was promised on the bottle. And the nose, is exactly as it says on the tin: zesty.

Then comes the highlight, the drinking. Hooky Gold is sublime. It’s fruity and well balanced. Zest dances around the palate. And here’s the thing, the more you drink HG, the better it gets. It’s a joy to have in your glass. To add to it’s sensational drinking experience, it’s also a beer you could have anytime, anywhere.

It’s more than fair to say that the years of brewing experience at HNB have most certainly paid off. I think Hooky Gold will tick the box for many a beer drinker, including, dare I say it, those that rarely, if ever, break away from their lager standard.

Go get your hands on one, you won’t be disappointed.

Sammy’s Rating: 93%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 90% 

 

MOB review next weekend: EXPORT INDIA PORTER by THE KERNEL BREWERY

MUSEONBOOZE.COM 

 

 

 

AGAINST THE GRAIN

BREWER: Wold Top Brewery, East Yorkshire, England

STYLE: Gluten Free Beer

ABV: 4.5%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle

TWITTER: @woldtopbrewery

INSTAGRAM: woldtopbrew

DATE OF POST: 20th November 2020

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

This is a first for us tasters here at Muse On Booze: a gluten free beer. I know, there’s no stopping us in our quest to be all inclusive. However, there’s just one slight issue. It isn’t actually our first gluten free beer. What! I can here the unified intake of breath. You see, some of the beers we have tested previously have been brewed without gluten in their ingredients. What Against The Grain actually is, is the first beer with standard brewing ingredients that’s gluten free. And it’s the first beer we’ve tested to promote it’s free from gluten state.

So, what is ATG? Well, it’s a lager. And it looks like a lager and it smells like a lager. But then, you might not expect it’s freeness from gluten to have any impact so early in the testing phase.

And then you come to drinking the thing…

To be fair, ATG is very quaffable. It’s light and pulls slightly on your tastebuds, which is interesting considering it’s a lager. But let’s move away from it’s gluten freeness for just a moment. Let’s consider if it’s a good beer when it’s stacked up against all other beers. And that has to be the test. The answer is, resoundingly, yes; this is a good beer. Would I reach for it again, even when other lagers were available? Yes I would. I would because it’s a very good beer. Okay, it’s not the most complex lager I’ve ever had but that does not stop it from being good.

Regardless of ATG being gluten free, this is a good beer. It’s worth a try. And I’m willing to bet that many of you will be reaching for it again.

Sammy’s Rating: 76%

 

JYMI SAY’S…

Well done to Wold Top for producing this gluten free and  vegan friendly beer. At the end of the day it’s easier to just NOT produce a gluten free and vegan  friendly beer but they have taken it on and for that my cap is doffed.

Moving on, I literally hate everything about this beer. The packaging is poor, the name is quite clever on the surface but seems like one of those world changing ideas you have when you can’t sleep. The nose is a complete non event and I don’t even know what I’m going to be getting as a style of drink.

However the taste, which let’s be honest is by far and away the most important thing, is very good.

Going from the info on the label what we have with ATG is an ale (which is quite loosely mentioned I have to add) brewed with lager malts. However what they have produced is a lager. And it’s a good lager. In fact it is a really good lager. The reason being it finishes with a bitter hoppy ale tone that takes away all the bad things about a lager. See what happens is you get the initial refreshing moreish hit that a cold crisp lager brings but then where a normal lager goes down the path of gacky shabby aftertaste, ATG brings in the hop rockets to totally alleviate that situation.

A very pleasant beer indeed I have to say, just wish I hadn’t used the handled glass for the picture.

Jymi’s Rating: 78%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 77% 

MOB review next weekend: HOOKY GOLD by HOOK NORTON BREWERY

 

http://www.museonbooze.com

 

 

 

ABINGDON BRIDGE

BREWER: Loose Cannon Brewery, Oxfordshire, England

STYLE: unspecified

ABV: 4.1%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle

TWITTER: @LooseCannonBeer

INSTAGRAM: loosecannonbeer

DATE OF POST: 13th November 2020

 

JYMI SAY’S…

It’s probably just me being picky, but if you’re going with the name Loose Cannon for a brewery (which is a great name for a brewery by the way) then I for one would expect them to be rolling out some pretty off the wall packaging. As it stands we have a smart enough but fairly underwhelming looking bottle with the brewery name sticking out like a sore thumb.

Luckily though, we have a very good beer on our hands here…

Loose Cannon don’t actually tell us what the beer style of Abingdon Bridge is on the packaging which is slightly odd, so I really had no clue what was going to come out of the bottle. The look of what did was this most fantastic deep cherry red ale. So dark in appearance and oozing class. The nose was nothing to get excited about but as soon as that first sip was sipped it was instantly obvious that this was a better than good beer. Sitting somewhere between a Bitter and a British Pale Ale AB has an initial bite in the mouthfeel that smooths out to a lovely buttery texture in the swallow. With soft but quality caramel notes and subtle hop turns what is not to like here really. That fact it’s crazy sessionable just rounds off what is a very good brew indeed from Loose Cannon.

Jymi’s Rating: 76%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

Abingdon Bridge has a nice ring to it. It sounds very Oxfordshire like, which is lucky really, because Abingdon is in Oxfordshire as is Loose Cannon (the brewers of this offering). So, we have a quaintly named beer. And I like it’s name. It’s very Sunday afternoon. A little like an episode of Morse (again, Oxfordshire based).

Once you get into AB, you can’t help but notice how lush the copper colour is. It really is striking and just how you’d hope a good old English ale might be.

I am even more pleased to report that AB is a lovely drinking journey. It takes you right to that aforementioned Sunday afternoon and wraps you up in your warmest of snuggly jumpers. It’s not too complex but it’s homely and reassuring. Think old English pub and you’re getting close to the AB experience. There is nothing striking about this beer; it’s just that it’s an all rounder. Well balanced on the palate and smooth in the mouth.

AB may well not set the world on fire. It might not be the next viral sensation. But what it does so well is to fly the flag for a traditional English ale.

Anyway, I’m off to watch Morse in my warmest of jumpers with an AB in hand…

Sammy’s Rating: 80%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 78% 

MOB review next weekend: AGAINST THE GRAIN by WOLD TOP BREWERY

follow us on Twitter – @museonbooze

CITRA SEA

BREWER: Gosnells, South-East London, England

STYLE: Mead

ABV: 4%

VESSEL: 330ml tin

TWITTER: @GosnellsMead

INSTAGRAM: gosnellsmead

DATE OF POST: 8th November 2020

 

JYMI SAY’S…

When I think of mead I think of a Henry VIII (he was a shit) type character and his cronies having a right ol’ knees up. There he would be sat at the head of an oversized banquet table with a whole loaf of bread in one hand and a huge over flowing vessel of mead in the other. In front of him would be an apple plugged wild boar’s head and all folk around the table would have their eye on a night of total debauchery and getting utterly pewter tankard.

Citra Sea is a world away from this mead mise en scene. The packaging alone fast forwards to today and makes it very obvious what Gosnells have set out to do – modernise mead. A great alternate angle in today’s competitive beer market but not an easy task…  but my oh my have they nailed it!

This mead pours a very light gold with a massive amount of bubbles running through it. From the look I expected this brew to be light and delicate in texture but I could not have been more wrong. It’s thick and heavy in the mouth with a very large presence of honey and lemon in the taste and somehow it is very good indeed! Now this is saying something as I’m not really a fan of honey to be honest and if this drink had been described to me I would have said that it wouldn’t be one that I would enjoy… but I did.

Now, for me there are two reasons for this. The quality in this brew is clear. So the result is a lovely refreshing and quaffable drink. But what really helps this beer out for me personally is the faint hint of salt at the end. It completely balances out the honey and turns a drink that I probably wouldn’t like into a drink that I enjoyed for sure.

On a side note there is one link that takes this mead back to big boy Henry’s time. See, Citra Sea would go very well with white meat I have no doubt.

Put the boar on… or maybe just a nice piece of pork tenderloin.

TRUST ME

Jymi’s Rating: 80%

 

SAMMY SAY’S…

The English language is a wonderful, if a little complicated, thing. There’s so much we can do with it, so many nuances and plays with words. However, naming a beer (mead in this case) Citra Sea instead of citrusy (get it?) feels a little off point to me. So, needless to say, I ain’t a fan of the name. That said, the packaging on CS is fantastic. Ergo, even before I open this number up, I’ve a lot to say about it. And that’s not even including this is our first mead we’ve tested. Yes, I know, a mead I hear you all cry. Honey train, here we come… perhaps… given the name, possibly citrus too.

Now, I’m sure we all imagine mead to be sloshed around at a medieval banquet. Chicken (large ones at that) drumsticks hanging from bearded mouths only add to the way mead should be consumed. But CS is dainty in appearance, light and pale. And the nose is, well, it’s light and floral.

Once you let CS line your mouth, you know there’s honey here. It’s sweet, lightly citrusy (not in abundance) with a slightly salty finish. Sound odd. It is. But it’s incredibly well balanced and feels good in the mouth. And CS is very easy to drink – like it’s nose and appearance, it’s light and crisp.

What CS offers, is a great alternative to a heavy beer. I would definitely wash a larger chicken drumstick down with one of these, and I’d enjoy it. Sure, it’s different. But different in this case is good. It’s very good.

Perhaps not one for the purists, Citra Sea will be the talk of the banquet table…

Sammy’s Rating: 84%

 

MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 82% 

MOB review next weekend: ABINGDON BRIDGE by LOOSE CANNON BREWERY

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