Craft beer advent calendar 24: St Nicks Blizzard Brew

Well, here is the last one – the final craft beer. I’m pleased that it’s not plum pudding flavoured, or brewed in a santa hat (do I sound jaded?) but it looks like a solid performer with a Christmas theme.

Pouring it into the glass, it’s apparent that it’s not a beer with a head. But I won’t let that colour my review, because ultimately it’s more about the taste. I do wonder what causes that, though.

On the nose the beer is rather anonymous without really much to say for itself. In fact, this continues into the tasting – its rich colour does not translate into a rich flavour. It’s by no means bad, and (maybe I’m stretching things a bit here) there is just a hint of a snowflake or two in the taste. It is a bit frosty.

It’s supposed to be full-bodied with a distinctive nutty, roasted aroma with a floral nose balanced by a gentle bitterness with a hint of sweetness. All of those flavours aren’t especially apparent but the beer is still pretty good. There is definitely a hint of something roasted (perhaps on an open fire?), but it’s certainly not full bodied – a fizzle rather than a bang. It’s pretty good, though and deserves a solid 7.5.

I may write a reflection or two in the new year nuzzling something interesting from the supermarket. But in the meantime, for anyone reading this, a very merry Christmas to you all!

Edit: At the end of the bottle and the glass, there was some unpleasant-looking sediment (see picture below). Not great, but as it’s Christmas I’ll not dock any points for this.

Craft beer advent caledar 23: Another Blooming Craft Ale

Well, we’re nearly at the end of this 24-day journey and I’m pleased to say that today’s beer looks pretty good. Another Blooming Craft Ale is the actual name of the beer and it’s a 3.8% ale with a rich amber look to it. The picture on the front looks like hops but I don’t really know that for sure.

The aroma is the honey note which I am getting used to with these hoppy beers. This one definitely has an edge to it, though, and that hoppy dryness is definitely there when tasting. It’s beautifully balanced and very drinkable. It leaves just enough weight on the palate to have a longish finish.

Really like this ale – I’m going to go so far as to give it an 8, the highest of the batch so far with only one to go.

Kat’s thoughts

It has a different smell. It actually tastes quite generic. From the smell I thought it was going to have a distinct taste – the smell is almost appley.

Craft beer advent calendar 22: Well’s Banana Bread Beer



Why make it? And why, if someone has to make it, do they have to put it in the craft beer advent calendar?

And why, if you have to put it in, does it need to be on day 22?

I have been looking forward to the advent calendar building up to something special. I am now slightly worried that day 24 will be “Christmas Turkey beer” or something similar. I am sure there are enough beers that they didn’t need to resort to this kind of gimmickry.

Apparently it’s made with real bananas. And you can smell them, as well. It’s not a good thing, when your beer smells of bananas, unless you’re expecting them and looking forward to it. If someone had bought me this pint without telling me what it was, I wouldn’t have tried it. But because I’m writing a blog, I at least have to try it.

It doesn’t taste good either. It’s got a banana taste to it. If you like banana bread or like that sort of thing, then maybe you’ll enjoy it – but I’d recommend you just go and eat a banana loaf. Me, I’m not going to have any more of this beer, and will get something else better to drink out of the fridge. 4/10.

Craft beer advent calendar 20: Andwell Gold Muddler

So this is a blonde ale, which sounds to me like one of those beers which is continental, like Leffe. These are often quite fruity, and might even have a yeasty flavour (even if they’re not white beers). Anyway, the beer is very pale, and doesn’t have that slight opacity that I might have imagined there would be. Maybe I’m misremembering what a blonde beer should be like.

It does have an elderflower-like aroma, and there is certainly a hint of fruit in there. On tasting, it’s mostly what I would describe as ‘fresh’, but again rather too sweet for my liking. There is a taste of golden syrup about it which is unappealing. Maybe I’m getting too picky, but these last few beers have been a bit too much down one flavour path, eschewing balance for something a bit gimmicky.

I was really hoping I’d be able to build up to a crescendo of high scores towards the end of the advent calendar, but I’m a bit disappointed and have to leave this one with a 6.5. I feel like the scores are very crowded.

Craft beer advent calendar 19: Fraoch Heather Ale

So I’m a bit annoyed at how this craft beer advent calendar is getting more and more weird as time goes on. I didn’t give Meantime much of a score but looking at the recent offerings such as the Sticky Toffee Pudding ale recently I long for a simpler time.

Or do I?

Tonight’s ale is a Heather Ale. I don’t really know what that means but it’s a 5% amber ale from Scotland. Apparently it’s brewed to a 16th century recipe; it smells a bit sweet, but with a savoury edge. It actually reminds me of baked beans; not sure why – in fact, in Japan, you can get these sweetened beans, which come to mind as I raise this to my nose.

All of that disappears on the first taste. It’s something spicy, very familiar…I can’t quite put my finger on it and now it’s annoying me. I think it’s a sauce that it’s reminding me of, but I’m not sure.

I can’t drink this for very long, though, as the spiciness is just too overwhelming; so, 16th century recipe or not, this is getting just a 5.5.

It’s mustard! The beer tastes of mustard – and yellow mustard at that, not the wholegrain stuff. That’s very weird. It has a very distinct savoury mustard taste, which I am not too keen on.

Craft beer advent calendar 18: Well’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale

I have to admit that I’m not really looking forward to this one. I’m not a big eater of sweets in any circumstance, but here the brewer has succumbed to the tedious fad of making something taste like something it shouldn’t. I had been hoping that the later beers in this advent calendar would be more interesting but it seems that they are getting more weird.

The colour is really dark (well, like toffee I suppose), and on the nose it’s a really strong, syrupy aroma. And yes, on the palate it is exactly as you expect. Fizzy, slightly alcoholic toffee pudding. Thankfully it doesn’t overwhelm (at 5%), and I can see how some people might like this. At the very least they seem to have got a sensible balance of sticky toffee pudding and ale to produce a reasonably drinkable ale. I’ll give it a 5, but I imagine many would give it higher.

Craft beer advent calendar 17: Holden’s Golden Pale Ale

Another day where I’m doing two in one night to catch up, and another offering from Holden’s today, and this one is a pale ale. Immediately it looks as it should, being rather pale in the glass. In fact, it’s so pale that I wonder whether it will taste of much – it has not much body to it. And the aroma is very, very faint – there really doesn’t seem to be anything to this beer (it’s 3.9%).

On tasting it has something really unusual that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s…caramel? It has a sugary feel to it that you get from sweets. But there really isn’t much to this beer. It would be fine for an opener at a pub, but I wouldn’t want to have more than one. 6 out of 10.

Craft beer advent calendar 16: Belhaven craft pilsner

Second up tonight is Belhaven’s craft pilsner. Now a pilsner is probably my go to for beer, and I’ve had many a good pilsner in my time. Having said that, in my mind a pilsner is not associated with notable flavours; usually in my pilsner I look for something that is clean and crisp, and I feel that more than other beers the benefit comes from water. In fact, I can tell when a lager is brewed in the UK as opposed to its home country (Germany, for example) and I will avoid the UK-brewed versions of these beers.

I’m slightly worried that this beer will be overwhelmed by the stout I had earlier, but there was no need to worry too much. Although it’s certainly nowhere near as strong, it does hold up with a bit of flavour. It is possibly a bit sweeter than I would like, but it is fairly clean to drink and goes down a treat. This 4.8% lager gets itself a 7 as well. I could definitely see myself drinking this of an evening or looking for it if I had the option (which I’m not sure I do, but I’ll look out for it next time I’m in Edinburgh.

Craft beer advent calendar 15: Young’s double chocolate

Levelling with you, tonight I’m going to be doing two at once. But so as not to mess with the numbering system I’m recording them in separate posts.

First up is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, which also weighs in at 5.2%. It’s a tricky one to start with because the next one looks a little lighter, but here we go. It’s very dark, as you’d expect from a stout and does have a slight chocolateyness to it on the nose. I’m not actually a huge fan of chocolate in general, but this is on the darker side anyway so it’s pretty acceptable.

Taste wise it has a toasty, nutty and possibly a bit of a coffee flavour. Carrying on with the beer, though, it’s not that strongly flavoured. I can see this as an advantage as it doesn’t leave a heavy feeling in the stomach like some of the more famous stouts, but it could do with being a little more robust. On the whole, though, it gets a decent 7.

Craft beer advent calendar 14: Holden’s Black Country Mild

Okay, so I’m a few days behind at this point. For my own health reasons I didn’t like the idea of not giving myself a rest from alcohol so there have been a few days where I must confess I’ve done more than one beer and posted it the next day, and at this point I have had a couple of days off – and in fact having opened two doors I am now no longer even sure if this is 14 or 15…

Today’s (two days ago’s) is Holden’s Black Country Mild, a brewery and a beer that I’ve never heard of before. Pouring it out it looks dark and the whole thing has rather a traditional feel to it. On the nose there is a slightly metallic note to it; that’s not there in the taste but it is robust and rather bitter. It really fills the mouth with the flavour but I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan, so this 3.7% beer gets a 6.