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Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

Brewery: Knee Deep Brewing Co.
Style: Triple India Pale Ale
ABV: 11.25%
Serving: 650ml Bottle
Price: Around £12

Every so often I like to treat myself to a beer that’s a little more expensive than I would normally go for. In August, for my birthday I treated myself to a couple of these; 8 Wired’s Hopwired IPA and Stone’s Enjoy By 08.16.14. Both were in the £10-15 price bracket. This month my treat beer was one that Rob from HopZine raved about during his recent trip to America, Knee Deep Brewing’s Simtra. This triple IPA weighing in at 11.25% ABV certainly has a lot going for it on paper, not least the inclusion of one of my top three hop varieties; Citra. When I saw a local bottle shop had this, I didn’t hesitate, even with the £12 price tag.

Simtra

I first want to talk about freshness. As we all know freshness is important to a good IPA. When Rob at HopZine had his bottle it was only a coupe of weeks old. My bottle was six months old so I was expecting there to be some loss of hop flavour and a mellowing of the bitterness. That being said, I wasn’t prepared for how good this beer was! On the nose you did get some booze but at 11.25% you’d kind of expect some. This was minor, however and was quickly dominated by a massive punch of tropical and citrus fruit! Seriously, it smells divine and just as fresh, if not fresher than the “devastatingly fresh” Enjoy By 08.16.14. Weird, huh? As well as all that fruit, you also get some grassy character and only a suggestion of that ammonia thing that comes with simcoe.

Flavour wise, again considering the age, this beer was out of this world! the flavour very much follows the aroma with buckets of tropical fruit but with the citrus notes playing a bigger role. There is also a honey/syrup sweetness that does tend to be par for the course with triple IPAs, simply because of the amount of malt used. that grassy character comes through in the flavour as well.

As the beer warmed the flavours got more intense ans more complex with some peach, mango and lychee all coming through. As you’d expect from the ABV, the body is big and meaty with that lovely mouth-coating feeling you get from really strong beers and even some spirits. One thing I will say is that the beer is dangerously drinkable. Dangerous to your sobriety as well as your bank balance. But in the words of Donna Meagle:

Treat. Yo. Self.

Verdict: 5/5

Hey guys! I hope you all had a good weekend filled with amazing brews! This weekend I payed a visit to the always-reliable Beer Central in Sheffield to pick up a bit of a haul of craft beer awesomeness. The main feature in this haul is my absolute favourite brewery of the moment; Buxton Brewery. I picked up FOUR of their beers, none of which I had tried before. I drank three of them over the weekend so here’s a mini-review of each.

Buxton Madness

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Decided to give that bitch a list. Bitches love lists. Here are my five month-end beer recommendations from September.

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In the minds of the uninitiated public, modern craft beer tends to be synonymous with lofty ABVs. I’m sure this is probably to do with all the press generated by beers like BrewDog’s Tokyo*, an 18.2% stout or even their End of History coming in at 55% (at one time the world’s strongest beer). While it’s true that the craft beer world features some really boozy delights, and indeed some of the best ones are 7% and up, there’s a lot to be said about low-ABV “session” ales that are becoming more and more popular. It seems like pretty much every craft brewery is now releasing at least one beer in the 3-5% range to fit this purpose.

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Brewery: Buxton Brewery
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 13.6%
Serving: 330ml Bottle
Price: £4-6

After trying a Buxton beer for the first time just this year (High Tor India Red Ale, in case you’re interested), they have rocketed up in my estimations and have become a contender for my favourite brewery of all. Head Brewer Colin Stronge is a hop-wrangler of the highest order and is churning out great beers with uncompromising, aggressive flavour and unrivaled quality. This time I’m drinking a bottle of Double Axe, which is a double version of their insanely good Axe Edge IPA. When I say double, I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. There is double the malt, double the hops and, craziest of all, double the ABV. This beer weighs in at a colossal 13.6% ABV, easily the strongest double IPA I’ve ever had and only 0.4% weaker than the mighty Anarchist Alchemist TIPA by BrewDog. There’s nothing about this beer that I didn’t like the sound of. As soon as they hit the online shop, I pulled the trigger.

The beer pours slightly darker than Axe Edge with a slightly hazy glowing copper colour. It looks just like you’d want a DIPA to look and just begs for you to dive right in. There was half a finger of white head which vanished almost instantly because of the high ABV. Carbonation was mid to low, again because of the high ABV this was always going to take a hit.

Double Axe

The aroma is sweet juicy tinned fruit like mandarins, peaches and pears. There’s a very ripe grapefruit note there as well. There is also some subtle pine, candied peel and dried apricot. It smells about as good as any double IPA I’ve had. The real surprise on the nose was the lack of much alcohol. It was nearly undetectable among all those sweet citrus and stone fruit notes. At most, it smelled like a 5-6% beer. You can definitely tell this is Axe Edge’s big brother. It has everything that beer has but just… riper. Like two oranges from the same tree but two weeks apart.

Flavour is again dominated by syrupy sweet tinned citrus fruits. I also picked up a very slight medicinal licorice note that wasn’t really bad but not really my cup of tea. The malt backbone is immense here. you get rich, sweet digestive biscuit and sweet pretzel. You really taste all that extra malt. The one disappointing thing in the flavour was the lack of anything sharp to fight against that sweetness leaving the over all flavour ever so slightly dull on the palette. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t as sweet as Williams Double Joker but it’s along those lines. For that reason, I think that Buxton’s Wyoming Sheep Ranch still holds the crown as the UK’s best double IPA in my opinion. As well as all that fruit, you do taste that alcohol on the palette. It’s not a shit load, though, no more than a really good red wine.

The body and mouthfeel are massive! The beer is almost viscous because of all that malt. It coats your mouth like a great single malt whiskey would and leaves a really nice citrus peel bitterness in the finish. All in all, a fantastic DIPA with all the great characteristics of Axe Edge but cranked up to 11 but falling just short of the amazing Wyoming Sheep Ranch.

EDIT: I feel I owe both the brewery and the brewer an apology. Although I did enjoy my first bottle of this beer, as you can tell from the above write-up, something seemed off. Firstly, the bottle was filled about 3cm lower than I would have thought it should be. Second, the flavour was OTT sweet and I know head brewer, Colin Stronge is definitely not a fan of overly sweet IPAs. So my buddy Marc bought me a second bottle when he hit the tap house last week. The beer blew my fucking mind! It is balanced beyond anything you could imagine of a 13.6% beer and the layers of flavour just keep developing as the beer warms. Perfect. I can only guess that something happened to my first bottle. Maybe some air got to it or it was somehow tainted. I’m not mad though. These things happen from time to time, especially when you’re hand crafting a product like this.

Verdict: 5/5

Brewery: Flying Dog (USA)
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.7%
Serving: 355ml Bottle
Price: £3-4

I’m a big fan of Flying Dog, more so than a lot of other beer writers are. I’ve had Snake Dog IPA, Underdog lager, Raging Bitch Belgian IPA, Doggie Style Pale Ale and even their Oyster Stout, Pearl Necklace and I have to say, for me, there isn’t a bad one in that selection. So when I saw that they released a session IPA, I was pretty excited to see what they did with the style. Found this in my local bottle shop and really well priced so I grabbed one.

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Brewery: Williams Brothers (Scotland)
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.3%
Serving: 330ml Bottle
Price: £3 – 4

Williams Bros. brewery is a name which you may have come across in supermarkets in recent years with their March of the Penguins stout and IPA/Lager Hybrid Caesar Augustus. This is just the tip of the iceberg. A visit to their website reveals the true size of their range and also some of the really inventive things they’re doing with their beer. I picked up a bottle of their Scottish Style Double IPA, Double Joker on a trip to my local bottle shop. I’ve tasted this before, on keg at a BrewDog bar and remember really enjoying it so I couldn’t not review a bottle.

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Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 4.4%
Serving: 355ml Bottle

I’m pretty stoked that we are starting to see availability of a lot more Stone beers in the UK. Bottle shops now regularly stock a pretty healthy range and BrewDog even managed to get a shipment of their ridiculously fresh Enjoy BY 08.16.14 to sell in their bars. Up until now, my only experience of the brewery has been of their sensational IPAs (Stone IPA, Ruination and the Enjoy By) so on a recent trip to my local bottle shop, Hopology, I picked up a couple of their other styles to try out. First up, their session amber ale; Levitation.

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Brewery: Stone Brewing Co. (USA) / Magic Rock Brewing (England) / BrewDog (Scotland)
Style: Saison – Pale Ale Hybrid
ABV: 5%
Serving: Pint – Keg

I’ve had some fantastic collab beers during the course of my craft beer journey so far. I’ve also had some rubbish ones. More often than not though, I find them to be simply mediocre. Often these mediocre brews are simply two beers from different breweries mixed together and, more often than not they aren’t as good as either of the component beers on their own. Prefect example is the BrewDog/Mikkeller collab I Hardcore You which is a mixture of BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA and Mikkeller’s I Beat yoU. Both of those beers are better on their own. When breweries come together and brew something unique, however, that’s when things get interesting. One of the best beers I’ve ever had is the BrewDog/8Wired collab DogWired which is a hoppy imperial pilsner that just rocked! When I heard about Magic Stone Dog; a menage a trois of awesome between three of my all time favourite breweries, I had to get some of that action so on Saturday I stopped in my local BrewDog bar and had a pint.

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I should start this by saying I don’t normally review restaurants. In fact, this will be my first attempt so sorry if it’s not great, I’m just trying something new. Since opening a few weeks back, there have been mixed reviews of Derby’s new gourmet burger restaurant The Forge. Opened by seasoned (pun intended) restaurateur Brad Worley, The Forge promises great artisan burgers made from locally sourced, top quality ingredients served in a non-formal, relaxed atmosphere. Well that sounded just my cup of tea so I had to check it out.

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