Brains Craft Beer

Craft or Micro Brew is all the rage these days with smaller scale breweries popping up all over the country brewing beers of real quality and originality. Not content to be left behind Welsh brewing juggernaut Brains launched Brains Craft Beer in May 2012 and has already produced over 50 different beers! Here’s what I thought of 3 of them;

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 16.35.07Barry Island IPA 6% US inspired IPA made in collaboration w/ Simon Martin

Pale copper on the eye producing no real head.

Nose is sour, barley sugar, lemon, leather & cantaloupe melon.

Palate is sharp, malted sugars & bread, moreish easy drinking, lemon zest & herb finish.

Not bad at all and would happily go with garlic prawns. 6.75/10

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 16.35.28Atlantic White 6%  Belgian & US mash up producing a White IPA 

Yellow gold with good frothy head.

Smelt herbaceous, golden syrup, sunflower and grapefruit pips.

Nutty, spicy herbs, rocket, lean and a bit soapy.

Decent. Went well with Haddock mustard & cheese fishcakes. 6.25/10

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 16.35.40The Shy Porter 4.5% A traditional brown porter w/ added coconut chips and raw cacao nibs

Rich thick foam head, hazy cola brown.

Sweet & raw chocolate nose.

Sweet coconut, sour, unbalanced, acidic, pina colada, not right.

Fairly disappointing and I actually chucked it down the sink. 3.5/10

So these bottled signs were decent(barring the very poor or perhaps faulty Shy Porter), but having tried a few more of their beers at GBBF(Great British Beer Festival) on cask, I must concede that I find Brains Craft Beer tastes like a big brewer trying very hard to produce “craft beer”. By that I mean it’s perfectly ok, but lacks real character and that artesian touch.

Postscript :

At the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards 2013 in December last year I tasted beers from Brains Contitental Beer Challenge, where they worked in collaboration with some highly regarded UK beer writers & professionals. The aim of which was to brew the best classic continental style, with most adding their own unique twist. I tried a number of them and found most of them to be of a universally high standard, but was especially impressed by the Challenge winner Rye Catcher by Glenn Payne, Brabo by Des De Moor and Three C’Son by Adrian Tierney-Jones.  Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.00.27Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.01.00Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.01.19

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference USA Beers

Now I have been fairly impressed with Sainos Taste the Difference wines. They essentially contract established producers in “insert region” but the packaging is all Sainsburified. Well made wines at fair prices for the most part.

So I was hopeful this foray into USA “craft” beer with Tap Room Brewing would be as successful. Thanks to Beer Googles Reviews for sussing out that Tap Room is actually contract brewed by Genesee Brewing Company out of Rochester, New York. A little misleading methinks. Not the best start…

But here are my tasting notes.

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Tap Room American Pale Ale 5.3% abv

Eye- Sugar golden brown, no real head

Nose- Rye Bread, ripe banana

Palate- Ultra dry, tart, green, no fruit, lemony finish

Verdict- Honestly wasn’t much impressed. It tasted chemical & somewhat “unnatural”.

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Tap Room IPA 6.3%abv 

Eye- Caramel

Nose- Yeast, beetroot & crystal malts

Palate- Corn, dusty leather, some peach, orange zest, toasted brazil nuts w/ a spicy dry finish

Verdict- Despite tasting more complex notes on the palate I still felt let down. Brewed by numbers & lacking soul.

Well Sainos despite the eye catching Americana labels you best go back to the drawing board on these beers. Perhaps finding another brewer to collaborate with? You could do a lot better than this.

Grain “Redwood” Red Ale

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 15.22.30I discovered Grain Brewery almost by accident in 2010 when I made my maiden voyage into learning about beer while cycling around Norfolk & Suffolk. I arrived announced but was shown around the former dairy barn by the very warm & welcoming Phil (cofounder & brewer).

Since my visit Grain has gone from strength to strength winning a string of awards including two gongs for this Redwood Red Ale 4.8% abv.

Here are my notes…

Eye- Lovely bright copper red

Nose- Sweet corn, malted caramel & lemon peel

Palate- Sharp, clean, fresh peach, pithy, creamy malt texture and a nutty orange zest finish

Verdict- Definitely worth it’s CAMRA & SIBA awards this one. A great session ale for a sunday lunch or warm autumn evening

Their beers are available at these fine shops  and online through Russell & Newnes

You can also watch me taste their Grain IPA in my very first video beer review here.

 

 

Bernard Jantarovy Lezak-Dunkel/Amber Lager

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I brought this bottle back from my recent trip to Prague. It was definitely the pick of the bunch.

Bernard make some excellent beers in Humpolec in the Czech Republic.
I popped the stopper and from the first sip I was smitten.
To the eye it’s lovely bright copper red w/ persistent fine bubbles.
Nose of caramel & chestnut
On the palate it’s clean fresh and crisp.
Hints of toasted hazelnut, marmite & cherry bark play hide and seek on your tongue.
An easy drinking but wonderfully crafted Czech Amber Lager. 4.7% abv
http://www.bernard.cz/en/beer/assortment/bottled-beer/2.shtml

Marble Brewery Organic Chocolate Stout

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Big fan of Marble’s beers and this dandy was no exception. A dense and long lasting mocha/root beer float head, nose that was deep nutty dark choc nibs whiffs of wet dog and aged oak. Palate was mocha rich & mouth coating but not overwhelmingly so. Hints of wet wool choc ganache and a long bitter choc finish. Cracking Stuff! 8/10

Available direct from Marble Beers

Canada Day Canadian Craft Beer: Lighthouse & Philips Brewing

With it being Canada Day on July 1, I thought it only fitting that I shoot a little tasting with a couple craft beers from my native land.
I bought these beauties when I was home last summer and was very proud that they were both brewed in Victoria my place of birth on Vancouver Island.
I was extremely impressed with both Lighthouse Brewing’s Deckhand Belgian style Saison & Phillips Brewing Hoperation Tripel Cross Belgian IPA.