Category Archives: Flavoured

A beer or ale with an added flavour

Dark Star Espresso

2013-05-25 19.12.59

I’ve been waiting for the right time to try this bottle of Dark Star’s Espresso for quite some time and this is it!  The beer was the SIBA National Champion speciality beer in 2009, so my expectations were pretty high, and so far, have been exceeded.  The colour of the beer is deep, dark, and almost black.  It has a thin tan coloured head that rapidly dissipates, and the aroma is of coffee grounds, and almost nothing else.  The coffee beans that are added to the brew are also responsible for the flavour, in which roasted malt is married perfectly with the espresso from the coffee.  It’s a dry, grown up taste, to be savoured.  I wouldn’t drink with food, and while I’d be tempted to replace a real espresso with this beer, it’s too big a flavour to follow most meals.  Nor is it a session beer (not unless you’ve got a coffee addiction).  I’d recommend drinking this beer on a cold, probably winter’s, evening, ideally in front of a blazing fire.  And while it’s not really relevant, the ABV is 4.2%.

This beer features in World’s Best Beers: 1000 Unmissable Brews from Portland to Prague by Ben McFarland and Adam Tierney-Jones’ 1001 Beers: You Must Try Before You Die.

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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Black, Coffee


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Rudgate York Chocolate Stout

2013-03-02 18.45.39

So this is Rudgate’s York Chocolate Stout!  It has been sitting waiting to be opened since I spotted it in Evil Eye in Stonegate on a trip to York a few weeks ago and this seemed like the right time.  It’s a beer that should suit me down to the ground:  it’s a stout, brewed in the City of York which is famous for its chocolate factory and where I was a student, with added chocolate from the terrific York Cocoa House, so what’s not to like?!  This 5.0% ABV beer looks like liquid chocolate as I pour it into the glass, and the frothy, chocolate coloured head soon dissipates.  The aroma is quite spicy before the chocolatey notes kick in, and the taste is rich, warming and not surprisingly, the dominant flavour is the added chocolate essence.  It’s a beer that would work well with strong flavoured meats like venison, game and beef, especially if in a pie or casserole.

York Cocoa House is a fantastic place to go for a hot chocolate or coffee, with a great choice of cakes;  it’s small and friendly and much easier to get a table than a certain well-known tea shop nearby.  Evil Eye is not far from York Cocoa House, and even closer to the fabulous House of Trembling Madness, which also sells Rudgate beers.  They are all worth visiting next time you’re in York.


Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Chocolate, Flavoured, Stout/porter


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York Brewery Stocking Filler

2013-02-21 18.36.05

When the weather is as cold and miserable as it has been of late, I wonder why beers like York Brewery’s Stocking Filler are promoted as Christmas ales.  I found this one knocked down to £1 a bottle at the York Brewery on a visit there last weekend and thought that it had to be worth trying, and I’m so glad that I did.  The bottle describes its contents as a 4.8% ABV dark premium bitter, and elsewhere as a ruby ale:  my experience is that the colour is just on the brown side of red, and the taste isn’t really what I think of as a bitter either!  So my only criticism is of the description on the label!  There’s a beautifully creamy head that lasts quite well, and the aroma is rich and spicy (as advertised) – mainly cinnamon.  The taste is equally rich, with strong chocolate and malt flavour and spicy notes (exactly as it says on the bottle).  The snow has been threatening to start falling all day but this ale will keep me warm, so all I need is the sound of sleigh bells and a hearty ‘ho, ho, ho’ to get me in the mood for Christmas!!!


Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Bitter, Flavoured, Ruby, Spice, Winter/Christmas


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Sharp’s Winter Berry Ale

2013-02-13 17.38.27

Sharp’s Winter Berry Ale was on sale at a pub close to my office, and I thought that it would be rude not to try it.  This cask ale is a beautiful  deep red colour with a head that disappears almost immediately, with the beer thereafter resembling a glass of slightly flat cola.  The aroma is mainly cherries, which is the berry that gives the ale its name, and it hints at something that is sweet and not unlike some of the Belgian cherry beers.  The surprise therefore is that it’s nowhere near as sweet as its continental counterparts, which for me means that it’s a beer that I could enjoy all evening.  One criticism:  once you get past the taste of the cherries, there’s not a lot else:  the flavour is quite one-dimensional and I  would probably have enjoyed something with a bit more malt.  Enjoyable for a social drink on a cold winter’s day, nonetheless.  For the recod, the ABV is 4.8%.

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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Cask, Cherry, Flavoured, Ruby, Seasonal, Winter/Christmas


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Wychwood Bah Humbug

2012-12-23 18.31.08

Bah Humbug comes in a bottle with the kind of design that I’ve come to expect from Wychwood Brewery:  a slightly sinister looking Scrooge occupying the majority of the label.  This beer is a great start to Christmas:   a beautiful amber colour with a head that dissipates quickly and a nose that has more than a little of the mince pie about it!  That sense of a liquid mince pie is carried through onto the tongue where the initial fruitiness of raisins and sultanas quickly gives way to spiciness from the added cinnamon.  For the record, the beer is 5.0% ABV.  Highly recommended.

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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Cinnamon, Flavoured, Seasonal, Winter/Christmas


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Brentwood Chockwork Orange

2012-11-17 18.32.40

Chockwork Orange is the second of Brentwood Brewing Company’s products that I’ve tried. It’s a sturdy 6.5% ABV, the colour is as the name suggests a deep chocolatey brown, and the head disappears quite quickly. The smell is difficult to place, but it’s the kind of aroma that brings back memories of times past in a familiar and comforting way. The flavour has deep complex chocolate and coffee notes from the chocolate malt, with only a subtle fruitiness from the added oranges, and nothing like the swagger that comes with the previously review ‘A Bitter This’. It’s a little like drinking a malted fruit loaf. All in all this is a beer to be savoured, but one that will stand up to a range of rich a strong flavoured foods. Highly recommended.

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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Flavoured, Orange, Strong


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Nethergate Umbel Ale

2012-11-11 18.27.59

Nethergate’s Umbel Ale is the first beer that I’ve reviewed from the Brewery of the Year 2012. It is a light golden ale with a good head weighing in at just 3.8% ABV. It has a floral, hoppy smell, though I wasn’t able to detect the ‘festival’ of aroma that the Nethergate website warns me comes from the added toasted coriander seeds. The flavour too is much more subtle than the spicy overtones which I’m led to expect, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The coriander comes through in the aftertaste, following the quite hoppy first impressions, and then it lingers, for quite some time after the glass is empty. Very pleasant!

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Posted by on November 11, 2012 in Coriander, Flavoured, Golden Ale


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