BREWER: Guinness, Leinster, Ireland

STYLE: Porter

ABV: 6%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle

TWITTER: @GuinnessIreland

INSTAGRAM: guinness

DATE OF POST: 30th May 2021



Well after last week’s predictable greatness I have to say I was more than excited to get stuck into the iteration that was sent west from Dublin. Similar to an IPA leaving English shores set for India in the days for the British Raj the Guinness leaving St James’ Gate on its way to the Caribbean was brewed stronger so the beer could withstand the long journey across the Atlantic.

With it’s origins in an 1801 entry in Guinness’ brewers diaries this West Indies Porter was inspired by the first brew purposely brewed at St. James’s Gate to retain freshness ready for its long journey ahead.

Upon tasting I really think my one word notes in my book pretty much told the story of what was going on with this brew… well other than the last word. Crickey.






A prominent chocolate nose gives way to a lovely smooth yet strong tasting Porter. This smoothness does lead you down the ‘I could sink a few of these path’ but the strength in taste does keep reminding you that you probably shouldn’t!

I like this drink a lot. It is very different to its home bird brother in Guinness Original, but you can still tell it has come out of St. James’s gate.

Jymi’s Rating: 79%



Here we are; week 2 of our first linked review. This week, it’s  Guinness’s West Indies Porter’s (WIP) turn to come under the microscope.

Straight up, the packaging is a hit. I love the retro front label. It sets it aside from Guinness Original (GO), but there’s most definitely the same brand feeling going on.

And the nose, well there’s no mistaking it’s Porter original and this stands in contrast to GO.  It’s mellow but still earthy. Not being at all overpowering or complex, the coffee notes are unmistakable.  This mellowness continues through to the drinking. It’s slightly sharp and bitter up front, giving way to toffee mellowness.  All through, the hint of hops treads lightly on the tongue.

This is definitely different to GO. It’s more mellow and slips away easy. But the thing is, they’re both good mass produced beers.

If you want something a little more punchy, then GO is your go to (get it). For mellow notes, stick to WIP. But you won’t go wrong with either.

Sammy’s Rating: 85%



MOB review next weekend: NADA by POLLYS

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017



BREWER: Guinness, Leinster, Ireland

STYLE: Stout

ABV: 4.2%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle

TWITTER: @GuinnessIreland

INSTAGRAM: guinness

DATE OF POST: 23rd May 2021



Ok, so over the next two weeks, we are doing a linked review. We will be testing Guinness Original this week, then onto West Indies Export next week. The aim will be to do more of these in the future. The idea is that GO will provide the benchmark to compare the export with.

There’s no escaping the domination that Guinness has on the stout market. It has to be said it’s clear to see why. Whether it be an original or a draught, there’s something so earthy and hearty about Guinness, it has defined the stout taste. Others have come and gone but they have fallen in the wake of the giant. While there are now many small scale breweries doing astonishing stouts, there is only one name in the macro business.

GO is a nostalgic beer for me. When my parents first permitted me to have the odd beer, this was one of the mainstays. And for that reason I find I have a soft spot for it. Whether that distorts my perception of it or not, I cannot say. What I can say, is that GO is an earthy and warming stout. It’s fairly light bodied, not complicated on the palate and easy to drink. It conjures up memories of festive seasons by the fire. Or rugby matches endured in the cold.

GO’s roasted malted barley really does make it a fantastic mouthful. It packs flavour and reassures the soul.

I know there’ll be many a critic. I know there’s better, more considered brewed stouts out there. But there’s something just so, Guinness about it. And for me, it pulls on the heart strings.

Sammy’s Rating: 85%



I used to be pretty slick as a teenager…

Now I’m not talking leather jacket and toothpick slick, no no.

I’m not even talking getting insured on your Mum’s Gold VW Passat GT for a day so you could drive to a party slick.

I’m talking wearing chunky fluorescent yellow ski socks to school kinda slick. There were all the do as you’re told kids in their grey numbers, walking in grids with no expression. Whilst Jymi would be meandering free between them in his bright yet warm socks.

On one particular day there was an event after school, literally no clue what it was I’m afraid. However this event involved parents and guardians coming along and drink was available. Now judging by the photos I’m fairly sure me and my two chums (Sammy being one of them) were drinking openly, so I’m assuming it was allowed but anything is possible I guess. What is also apparent from the pictures is that I was drinking Guinness Original out of a bottle whilst my mates were on lager. And I remember why… it was because I was so fu**ing cool. The fact it was warm and nothing like the chilled draught stuff I had tried before didn’t matter. I was cool. I was different. I had very bright socks on. All was well.

It tasted like totally s**t that night but I’m sure that was just me because what I’m drinking here now is nothing short of lovely. Nowadays I’m definitely still more versed on Draught Guinness but this has a touch more elegance and refinement about it for me. The nose, sip and mouthfeel are just divine and unmistakably Guinness. There is something about it that makes you want another which is also unmistakably, Guinness.

All in all this is just a champion brew with an unrivalled name and you can see why.

Seriously looking forward to the West Indies porter next week… the one that got sent overseas all the way back when.

Jymi’s Rating: 81%



MOB review next weekend: WEST INDIES PORTER by GUINNESS

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017


BREWER: Budweiser Budvar, South Bohemia, Czech Republic

STYLE: Lager

ABV: 5%

VESSEL: 500ml green bottle


INSTAGRAM: budvaruk

DATE OF POST: 16th May 2021



It’s very easy to predict what may be coming your way when it comes to a readily available popular continental European beer sold in the UK.

It’s very easy to pre-empt it will be:-





The reason for this is that most in this bracket of beer do fall into, well, this bracket – Good drinkable beer but not AMAZING.

However, I think Budvar is a little different to this.

NICE ENOUGH?   It’s better than that.

CRISP?   Yes, but there is way more body going on here to give it that classic crisp tag.

REFRESHING?   Yes again, but not in the obvious sense.

but DOESN’T SHOOT THE LIGHTS OUT?   Well, no it doesn’t, however because there is a lot more personality than your aforementioned regularly available beers it gets a lot closer to those bulbs.

This is a crazily mass produced yet iconic drop, and there is something about it.

Great… no.

Close to great… yes.

Jymi’s Rating: 75%



Budvar is known the world over. Well, in The Americas it’s known as Czechvar. The less said about that, the better.

Budvar has iconic branding and is synonymous with Czech Pilsners. There’s something so reassuring about it. It’s luring.

It’s colour is medium to dark and the nose, although not complicated, is all bread. We can thank those malts for that.

Look, Budvar is mass produced. It’s not micro; it’s macro. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Through the years, it has not been gimmicky or flitted in and out of fashion. Nope, Budvar’s mass success is down to its brew. It’s just a good lager. It borders on the bitter with a short flavour length dominated by malts. There’s no getting away from the obvious heaviness of it when compared with other lagers. Still, it’s how Budvar should be. It’s almost earthy.

This beer has a place of affection in my heart. And I don’t mind admitting it. It’s one I keep coming back to for a little lager pick me up from time to time.

Sammy’s Rating: 77%



MOB review next weekend: GUINNESS ORIGINAL by GUINNESS

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017


BREWER: Cloudwater Brew Co., Greater Manchester, England


ABV: 4.5%

VESSEL: 440ml tin

TWITTER: @cloudwaterbrew

INSTAGRAM: cloudwaterbrew

DATE OF POST: 9th May 2021



As soon as the news broke that Cloudwater were going to be landing in Tesco Sammy & I said we have to move on this while it was still topical so interrupt the testing timetable we did.

Ok, we have slightly missed topical I know but whatever, there is still much to say…

We have only reviewed one Cloudwater over the years, no reason for that, just the way the it’s worked out. However, outside of beer reviewing I have had a few CW brews over the years and they have been nothing short of magnificent. A cask best bitter in Dorset springs to mind… Yeah, I know.

As soon as I found out CW were hitting Tesco I have to say a fair few thoughts hit me.

First reaction was, sell out.

Then I thought well actually, there are loads of good breweries in Tesco nowadays. Buxton, Vocation and Thornbridge to name but a few.

But Cloudwater going supermarket just seemed different.

Thoughts then drifted to this being yet another kick in the dick for the small brewers and retailers. But I have to be honest, thoughts also drifted to this raising the profile of craft beer. If enjoying, eyes would open and intrigue to what else is out there you would like to think would ensue.

Ultimately though I hate what’s going on here.

I suppose I should write about the actual beer now.

OK, well, I think I actually predicted what’s going on here before even tasting pretty accurately. This was going to be an average/good beer. Enjoyable yes but that’s as far as it goes.

And Cloudwater have nailed it once again! But, unfortunately this time only in predictability.

It is enjoyable, it fine, it’s a nice enough beer but with a CW stamp on it, it should be better. Sorry, it just should be.

Session IPA (great name btw) starts off in serious style from this Manchester brewer to be fair. The look in glass superb and a sublime nose. It then took a dip and never recovered.

For a session IPA it starts off too bitter for me and then falls into quite a thin taste and then to an almost nothing finish. The bitterness up front does soften over further sips but is way too prominent throughout for this to make an actual sessioner cry ANOTHER ROUND FOR ALL PLEASE LANDLORD.

The drop in body and lack of aftertaste however is where this brew falls down.

It needs more and to be brutally honest from a brewer of this magnitude, I did indeed want… more. Supermarket or not.

Jymi’s Rating: 66%



Ok, in the beer world, Cloudwater selling through Tesco would see them selling out. Also, the Tesco range of Cloudwater is being brewed at Brewdog’s factory. And we all know about the latter’s direction of travel.

But let us not focus on the politics. Let us not be guided or swayed by the significance of this shift for Cloudwater. Let’s just judge the beer before us…

Put simply, this Session IPA is good, if not at all great.

It all started promisingly with a sweet nose, which is driven by our friends mango and pineapple, who are, of course no strangers to the IPA world. And on sight, there’s definitely the anticipated hazy appearance in the glass.

The first sip of Session IPA brings bitter grapefruit up front, which becomes sharp afterwards with a slight hint of sweetness. It’s almost finished off with a hint grassiness. So, it seems to be a good beer which is light with great mouthfeel. However, this lightness gives way to flavour somewhat. And that’s the downfall of this session IPA. Clearly, it would be easy to slip one down after the other but it’s just not punching a whole bag of flavour.

To be fair, it’s exactly what you might expect from a session ipa. It’s defining of its genre, but by no means trailblazing. Would I be happy to have this again? Why, yes I would but it’s certainly not top of the pile by any stretch of the imagination. I see it as being a little showy with no sustenance. Perhaps this is no surprise.

One for a scorching summers day, perhaps. But other than that, seek out something that has a little more to it…

Sammy’s Rating: 68%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017



BREWER: Menabrea, Piedmont, Italy

STYLE: Lager

ABV: 4.8%

VESSEL: 660ml green bottle

TWITTER: @BirraMenabrea

INSTAGRAM: birramenabreaofficial

DATE OF POST: 2nd May 2021



Menabrea is as you might expect.   It’s an Italian lager, which on the whole are very drinkable.

The nose is unremarkable but not unpleasant.  It’s light in the mouth and is very easy to quaff.  Where Menabrea would be at home, is, unsurprisingly, in an Italian bar nestled in an Italian square.  In such a scenario, then the scoring for this lager could very easily go through the roof.   Okay, you could argue this is the case for any beer, and that would be true, but there are some ales that transgress the situational scoring.

While Menabrea will not be setting the world on fire, it may make many an Italian holiday.

It’s worth a try – perhaps wait until the perfect opportunity arises…

Sammy’s Rating: 50%



When you think Italian lager your mind nowadays heads to one, maybe two obvious beers if you’re a UK based sipper.

When thinking Italian lager I’m fairly certain your mind should also wander towards clean, crisp and refreshing drinking. However when peering at my very large bottle of Menabrea Birra Bionda I was not thinking that at all. I was thinking, ‘that looks pretty cool, but is this really an Italian lager’?

However normal service resumed once popped, sniffed and sipped. This was quite clearly a southern European lager as it was clean, it was crisp and it was refreshing. Now in the right setting this can just be fantastic. Warm and lazy BBQ or a balmy Milanese afternoon al fresco. This doesn’t necessarily mean this is a great beer, because it’s not, it’s just very enjoyable. What it does mean is that in the right situation because of it’s crisp and refreshing nature it can be elevated from a nice enough beer to a very enjoyable brew indeed.

The weather was set fair though not particularly warm when I tested this a few days ago.

Did I enjoy it? Yes I did.

Did it blow my light weight embroidered cotton spring socks off? No it did not.

 Jymi’s Rating: 62%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017



BREWER: Double-Barrelled, Berkshire, England


ABV: 6.5%

VESSEL: 440ml tin


INSTAGRAM: doubledbarrelledbrewery

DATE OF POST: 25th April 2021



What a beer Keith On Banjo is!

In the glass, it looks like liquid butterscotch.  And for a beer, believe me when I tell you it’s a good look.  It’s temptation waiting to strike.

Then the nose hits you with it’s exotic pineappliness. It’s heady, enticing and downright unbelievable that a beer could pack such a fantastic aroma.

But for the main event, that’s where KOB excels.  It’s crisp as you like.  The lightly carbonated liquid washes over the palate beautifully, which leaves a crisp refreshing wake behind it.  For those of you who have tried the Refresher sweets, KOB is a little like that in beer form.

What I love about KOB, is the fact it is different to anything else I have ever tried.  So many other beers have comparisons.  But this is somehow unique.  Fine, it could do with a little more punch in the flavour department.  But I forgive it that for all that I have mentioned before.

I love the thinking behind KOB – it makes for a unique beer.

Sammy’s Rating: 90%



Keith Leon Potger, the Ceylon born co-founder of the Seekers. An Australian Folk-Pop ensemble who hit their heights in the UK during those there 60s. Keith hit up the mighty twelve-string guitar, sang some ditties and also took to the Banjo on occasion.

Now, I’ve often been a cynic of these crazy off the wall names in the past. They sometimes seem to have no meaning, but to call your beer KEITH ON BANJO after this great man for me is simply sensational. And other beers in the Double-Barrelled range / archives have been named after other members of the Seekers and their chosen instrument too. Inspired stuff!

Staying on the external for a bit longer (blimey, I can feel myself waffling on here) the colours, lines and overall design of this tin are tidy and meticulous – as, it would seem, is the just the way it is for this Reading based brewery.

Brew wise the good news just kept on coming to be honest. The pineapple on the nose began proceedings, not strong but just there hovering in its invisible tropical cloud. Things continued into the first sip which brought me herbs and pine but also melon. Now I’m not a fan of melon (I think I mentioned this in a review a few years ago set in a Spanish restaurant, if you know, YOU KNOW) but this beer’s delivery of it got me onside immediately. Melon early, which moves straight to a cheek salivating bitterness, utterly delightful hence diving straight back in. And things did not let up. As the drink progressed a melon aftertaste began to develop and just hung around for what seemed like hours…

Keith on Banjo is so thick and juicy, so crushable and… amazing.

Jymi’s Rating: 92%



Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017



BREWER: Greene King, Suffolk, England

STYLE: Ale ?

ABV: 5%

VESSEL: 500ml clear bottle

TWITTER: @greeneking

INSTAGRAM: greeneking_official 

DATE OF POST: 18th April 2021



I honestly thought that I would be able to write this review without even drinking this beer… I was fairly convinced I was going to write something along the lines of this mass produced ale is perfectly drinkable but not particularly nice.

However I was wrong.

It’s not particularly drinkable and definitely isn’t very nice. It’s a brew that isn’t very good from the first sip and progressively gets worse as you chew your way through. I did manage to finish it but really wished I hadn’t once I had. One particular low point was the beyond acrid aftertaste.

The packaging is a disaster too… as you can see from the picture at the top of this page. I mean, a picture of wax seal really is taking the piss isn’t it?

It is frankly amazing how this sells so well in the UK.

I’m out.

Jymi’s Rating: 28%



Abbot Ale from the outset is a let down.  Let’s not mince our words.  It has shocking packaging: fake wax seal and a clear bottle.  It seems to be aiming for the old world meets new look but it is missing the mark by a long way.  In fact, it’s not even registering anywhere on the scoreboard.  This is all topped by the terribly out of place purple rim around the top of the bottle.

I can hear many of you crying that a beer should not be judged by looks alone.  And that be true.  However, with Abbot Ale, it all ties in together.  You see, not only is it terrible looking, when drunk it has an awful acrid aftertaste that lingers for a while.  As you move through the beverage this gets worse and instigates the gag reflex. Abbot Ale really yanks on the old saliva glands.

The one positive I can find is the very initial taste of the very first mouthful has the slightest hint of crispness about it.  That’s it through.  It ends there.  All downhill after the first hit.

If Greene King got the marketing around this a bit sharper, I feel that AA would be a much more appealing proposition and would fit into the market more astutely.  But it doesn’t.  There are many more beers out there, small batch and mass produced, that would put AA to the sword.

It’s nearly enough to turn you off drinking.

But not quite…

Sammy’s Rating: 35%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017



BREWER: Buxton Brewery, Derbyshire, England


ABV: 7.4%

VESSEL: 440ml tin

TWITTER: @BuxtonBrewery

INSTAGRAM: buxtonbrewery

DATE OF POST: 11th April 2021



Sorry for the outrageous pun I’m going to begin with, but this beer really did take me on a journey!

It all began with the fantastic packaging, name and concept of this beer. The colours and tone of the label are superb and the little passport stamps of Adelaide, Buxton and L.A. are a stroke of genius. The name is just phenomenal too. It sounds like a beer name but has loads of meaning behind it. Clever. Clever clever.

Now the journey of positivity then hit a spot of turbulence. This is a three way collab between Buxton Brewery ENGLAND, Wheaty Brewing Corp AUSTRALIA and Three Weavers USA. Our label tells us this beer is brewed in these three different countries. But that is all it tells us. Surely there is more to this story? Does each brewery sell their version in their country? Or did they just get involved in the brewing for Buxton Brewery? It is a cool concept but I really want to know more!

The journey then moved to the ring pull and delving into the 7.4% big boy…

The taste at first is FULL ON and VERY DRY. Which I suppose is to be expected from a Brut IPA of this strength. The taste was wonderful but I was thinking it was all a bit too much for me to get through the 440ml of it. However as I progressed through the drink all positivity began to return to my journey as the whole thing settled right down. The dryness remained and the flavour was still there a plenty, but suddenly it was a bit softer and easier to drink.

With its bitter orange tones and eventual softness in mouth feel Buxton and chums have produced a great beer here, they really have.

Jymi’s Rating: 86%



Right, let’s begin with a couple of things before venturing to the contents of Intercontinental. Firstly, you might guess that this is not too carbonated because the can has a lot of give in it. No judgements made yet, just an observation. Secondly, the name for this beer is apt: it’s brewed in three locations around the world. And that, my friends, is what’s known in the marketing world as a cracking concept (not a technical term!).

Ok, preamble over. Onto the main event. The first surprise is that Intercontinental opens with a head, leading one to believe that there is some fizz after all. This soon dissipates though, leaving a very lightly bubbled beer behind. The next surprise is that, given its weighty alcohol content, Intercontinental is quite a light beer. That being said, it’s by no means a lightweight of a beer. It’s well brewed with a very long bitter aftertaste that lingers for a long time. Upfront, there’s a short sweetness which isn’t too much at all. Once it’s passed across your palate, you’re left in no doubt that you’ve drunk it.  The bitterness gives way to a dryness that’s very pleasant indeed. You really are taken on a journey when drinking Intercontinental.

Dare I say it, this is one of the best lightly carbonated beers I’ve tried. Usually, lack of bubbles leads to the flavour not being carried. With intercontinental that’s not the case at all. In fact, I think it’s very cleverly done. More bubbles might make this beer a little too much. As it is, it’s perfectly balanced and well brewed.

Intercontinental is worthy of being brewed on three different continents. It’s clear lots of thought has gone into it and it works well. Great concept, even better beer!

Sammy’s Rating: 92%



MOB review next weekend: ABBOT ALE by GREENE KING

Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017


BREWER: Oxford Craft Beer Co., Oxfordshire, England

STYLE: English IPA

ABV: 5%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle 

TWITTER: @OxfordCraftBeer

DATE OF POST: 2nd April 2021



From the off with this small batch offering I was not particularly impressed. See the one label on the bottle approach I get. A small brewery trying to save a few pennies here and there makes total sense. It can sometimes be the difference between a business working or not. But if you are going to go down this road you need to try and make the one label look a bit better, you really do.

From a beer point of view, well I am sorry to say things didn’t really begin to get any better. There was a glimmer of hope, as whilst sipping Matilda’s Tears (it doesn’t taste salty by the way, you can probably guess what I think of the name) as whilst in the mouth there is a certain enjoyable light malty flavour but once swallowed the taste pretty much vanishes. Even if you tried to make a case for this IPA being sessionable, because of the lack of flavour I genuinely think you would just get bored after 3 or 4. I’m also not really sure you can call this an IPA. It is not hoppy at all and needs to taste stronger.

I don’t want to bash these guys up too much (even though I just totally have) as they are clearly a small brewer trying to get on. But I’m afraid it is back to the drawing board with this one.

Jymi’s Rating: 47%



Before evening considering opening Matilda’s Tears, two things are striking about this IPA: it has an incredible name; it has really poor packaging. Not that either of these things matter in the long run. They’re just worth noting. And now that they’re noted, let’s move on to the real deal.

While MT might not be a beer to get you all worked up about, it is a decent enough drop. It’s almost sharp upfront with quite a long tail of aftertaste. And it’s this aftertaste, which drops into a metallic realm towards the end, that is the one element holding back the beer in its overall balance. Other than that, MT is great in the mouth. It’s initial taste is crisp and bright and holds the beer in good stead.

The more you drink MT, the more interesting it gets. It’s never going to compete with some other IPAs out there but it’s still worthy of gracing any beer collection. Definitely worth a go – it’ll appeal to a wide range of drinkers.

Sammy’s Rating: 71%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017




BREWER: Silverstone Brewery, Northamptonshire, England

STYLE: Pale Ale

ABV: 3.6%

VESSEL: 500ml brown bottle

TWITTER: @silverstonebeer

INSTAGRAM: silverstonebeer

DATE OF POST: 28th March 2021



Haha, right, I am going to start with the fact that I did actually enjoy drinking this beer. That, is the most important thing by far when it comes to drinking a beer, actually enjoying it.

However, I’m not sure if Ignition caught me on a bad day but the whole visual of the bottle and motor racing related writing on the label got me… well, laughing if I’m honest! It’s just ridiculous. Silverstone Brewery, yes fine you have an obvious branding angle but don’t over egg that at every turn! (have I just fallen into the pun trap?? You’ll see that Sammy has. What the f**k is going on!)

Engineers of Beer.  Pace setting pale ale. Supercharged with hops.

Honestly, leave it alone already.

But all that left aside what do we have?

Well, for me it reminded me a bit of an old school type pale you would get in an old school type boozer. The type of beer that doesn’t taste bad necessarily but certainly isn’t a good brew. A brew that is actually very drinkable but not really all that. A brew that when it comes to reviewing is actually a flippin nightmare!

Ignition is a beer that’s packaging and branding made me laugh (not in good way). A beer that made me think that more care and attention could and should have been paid to the brew.

But, somehow, a beer I did enjoy…

Over to you Sammy boy, don’t do it… oh, you did.

Jymi’s Rating: 60%



Let’s get things started with Ignition!

It kicks off with some weighty carbonation.  You won’t be short of a head with Ignition, that’s for sure.  And it looks very light in the glass, as promised.  The nose is like a summer’s day in a flower garden, with hints of different arrangements singing through.    It might sound a little over the top but it’s actually very pleasant.  It takes you straight to the aforementioned scene, rather than the pit lane of Silverstone…

In the mouth Ignition is a little light and may be lacklustre for some.  However, it’s well balanced and it’s slight bitter finish leaves you wanting more.  Then, when you delve back in, light floral flavours welcome you back to the taste ride again.

All in all, Ignition is an excellent beer.  Light, well-balanced and crisp in the mouth, this is a great beer for the spring/summer seasons.  Where it’s lacking in the brew, it makes up for amply in the mouthfeel and overall balance.

Great job!

Sammy’s Rating: 87%




Sammy & Jymi – Musing on Booze since 2017