Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Atom Beers Camomile XP

Atom Beers Camomile XP 4.2%

The guys and gal at Atom Beers like their science. You can see it on their bottle labels and hear it in their chat. For them, and many other brewers these days, the disciplines of chemistry, biology and engineering are as important to the craft of brewing as is a passion for making beautiful beers. Their brewery tours, for example, aren't an add-on to drive sales; they open themselves up to college and school visits, with a view to passing on their passion for science to the next generation. They've got plans for an educational brewery tour bus, too, something like a UPS van with a brewing kit in the back. It hits the road in 2015. Let's hope the Hull-based brewers bring it to Scotland.
Atom kicked off at the start if the year, with their range of interesting and quirky beers quickly making their way north. Although based in Hull, Scotland, they say, feels like a home market for them: co-founders Allan Rice and Sarah Thackray are veterans of Glasgow and Edinburgh universities. Allan also worked for Tempest Brewing Company in Kelso and Edinburgh's Stewart Brewing.
Atom's beers are familiar, yet different. They do a pale ale, an IPA and porter of course, but it's the oddball Camomile XP that offers a light alternative to the hop bombs and dark heavy hitters so common at Christmas. Its aroma is floral and friendly, with hints of vanilla and lager malts. Think gentle breeze across a field in late summer; as far as you be on a grim winter's day in Glasgow.
Any gentleness quickly fades when you take a drink though. It has a surprising and lip-smacking bitter hit which fades to a long vanilla and camomile aftertaste reminiscent of childhood sweeties. There are hints of grapefruit, caramel and honeyed oats, giving it a character that has a refreshing depth.
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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Local Motive session IPA by Fallen Brewery

Local Motive session IPA 3.9%

Fallen Brewery has been around for a good few years now, but they've only relatively recently started brewing at their Kippen base, following the conversion of the village's former railway station into a brewery.
Their shiny new brewkit gives much more control over the brewing and bottling process, meaning bigger flavours in bigger bottles making their way out of this beautiful Stirlingshire village.
Alongside Fallen's tried and tested staple, the brewery's been releasing a steady stream of railway-themed brews, of which Local Motive Session IPA is one of the latest. This beer has a fresh citrus and stone-fruit aroma that is light and cheerful, and it pours a slightly cloudy, dark golden to amber with a luxuriously thick, creamy head.
Local Motive is a beer that's neither heavy nor overpowering, with a gentle bitterness that is as surprising as it is welcome, and fits in with the relaxed personality of this beer. Its aroma hit comes from the dry-hopped mosaic, which pushes the nose towards fruity rather than floral. Think grapefruit, plum and tangerine.
This is an easy-drinking beer, for relaxed Saturday afternoons. At 3.9%, it packs a bit less punch than the big-hitting IPAs, but the flavours work hard all the same, and you can enjoy a few without fear of the hops knocking out your tastebuds
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fyne Ales Naughty and Nice ales

Fyne Ales Naughty and Nice ales 5.2% 

Fyne Ales Naughty and Nice
Fyne Ales Naughty and Nice
Christmas is a magical time for beer-lovers, with breweries up and down the country bringing out festive specials, from barley wines and spiced porters to heavily hopped golden ales that smell like a hillside of pine trees.

Fyne Ales, based a few hundred metres from the Loch Fyne oyster bar, have just released this year's festive perennial, Holly Daze, a pleasing hearty amber ale. However, it's their devilishly delicious twin releases that deserve a place in your fridge this Christmas. Fyne's Naughty and Nice black and white ales are pleasingly punchy, distinctively different, and give glad tidings of things to come as Fyne's £2m brewery expansion moves nearer to coming online.

Fyne Ales Naughty Black Ale has a sharp spicy and smoky aroma, and pours a luxurious deep black with a hint of bloody red. This is one for drinking with plum pudding. It starts with rich, sweet malts, then hits you with a rush of bitterness. Its sharpness pushes it towards whisky ales territory, though its spirited tartness isn't as pronounced as your typical whisky beers. Naughty is chewy and tarry, with a strong burnt flavour, with complex hints of winter berries, cherries, prunes and dried fruits.

The Nice White IPA couldn't be more different. The light citrus and pine aroma carries with it a hint of yeast, and it pours a lively, exciting light golden. A caramel malt sweetness tickles you at first but this is followed though by buttered popcorn then melon and apricot before giving way to a big hop blast and a long, lingering bitterness.

Both are brilliant, come in at 5.2%, and served in 330ml bottles.

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