The Joy Of Beer: UnBarred Brewery’s Latest Offerings

It’s not too that things make you feel cool and hip, and at my age I’ll take whatever I can get.
And so when my youngest daughter told me that Lovejoy, a band she liked had played at the UnBarred Brewery and said, “aren’t they friends of yours?” I dug out an old UnBarred sticker I had in a drawer and felt like the super cool father for about two minutes.

I’ve watched UnBarred grow and mature into a seriously good brewery and I’m always eager to see what they are up to.
They’ve made some impressively BIG and cleverly flavoured beer in the past and so, with this latest bunch, it was nice to see them brew some more “straightforward” styles amongst the beautiful monsters, because therein often lies the proof of a good brewer.

And so with no further ado, here we go.

Skelter (5.5%)
Cold IPA, it’s the new thing.
Brew an IPA and ferment it slowly with a Lager yeast.
I actually like the beer I’ve tried in this style, and this one is especially good.
The slow fermentation makes for a super soft and creamy toffee, honey and malted milk biscuit body.
It’s warm and chewy while remaining light, and over it the hops – Citra, Idaho 7 and Simcoe in this version – are big and bold and bright.
Lots of melon flesh and lemon rind, sticky pine resin, coconut water, lime leaves and sherbet fountains, all of which leads you to a deliciously dry bitter finish.

Chonka (9.2%) is an Imperial Oatmeal Stout brewed with cherries and Tonka beans, and it is every bit as brilliant as I’d expect a big beer from UnBarred to be.
You see, this Brighton based brewery headed by the lovely chap that is Jordan, don’t half know how to make a big beer.
And so Chonka has a massive smooth and creamy, white chocolate, Milky Way, honeycomb and biscuit malt body, a cappuccino coffee warmth topped with dark chocolate sprinkles and dedicated coconut, over which a deep and very sexy black cherry jam appears, adding a round fruity bitter sweetness to the beer before everything explodes in a dark rum and raisin boozy finish.
My word, UnBarred know how to create big things.

Table Beer (2.8%) is super clever.
Light as a feather alcohol wise, but packing not only a big hop punch, it also has a round chewy body that stops it, like so many other low alcohol beers, from feeing thin and flighty.
You find a runny honey, baguette crust and salty caramel malt thing going on right through this beer while the Citra and Columbus hops bring rushes of zesty grapefruit, lemonade, lime leaves and a slap of resinous redwood sap.
Terrific brewing.


Botanical Wit (5.2%) has been brewed in collaboration with Madame Jennifer Distillers, who have provided botanicals in the form of chamomile flowers, coriander and grains of paradise, all of which have been used alongside fresh and dried oranges and grapefruit.
The result is a round and chewy, creamy beer with a soft bread dough, rich sticky honey and toffee biscuit malt body, a lightly floral and zesty aroma and a finish that zaps you between the eyes with big fresh and bold flavours.
Fruits and spices, lots of pithy citrus and the woody warmth of coconut make up the moreish finish.

Apple Pie Pastry Sour (7.3%)

Baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg, flaky pastry and a warm custard, this could be the shortest review I ever write.
You see, this beer tastes exactly like my first sentence.
The apples feel gooey and unctuous, there’s the woody nutmeg and cinnamon kick, a malt body that, along with the yeast, recreates that buttery shortcrust pastry feel, and it is all wrapped up in a smooth vanilla finish.
This is very clever and absolutely delicious brewing.



Little Hazy (4.4%) is another brilliant beer from UnBarred.
With this one the brewery really shows its class, laying everything out in the most beautifully balanced manner.
The malting is light yet solid, round and soft and chewy, with toffee, biscuits and honey creating a sweet base, while the yeast brings a layer of lightly salty peach jam to the party.
The hopping is sharp and bitter, fresh as a daisy with mown lawns and herbal greenery, apricots and lemon zest, mandarins and pine resin, which makes for a sherbet zing of a finish.


Source: UnBarred Brewery

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A Dozen Reasons Why I Still Love Cloudwater

Hello everyone.
It’s been a while.
For one reason or another I’ve not been writing much, partly my health ad partly “real” life getting in the way.
But also partly because over the last few weeks there hasn’t been a lot to say about beer – I’ve had some very good new ones, but they’ve not had anything overly interesting going on that I felt was worth noting down.
But just last week I caught up with Cloudwater as I’ve not had any of their beer for a while, and other than one Stout (you’ll see), they have reminded me just how brilliant beer can be.

And so with further ado, let’s let the beer do the talking.

Twelve Yellow Legs (10%) is part of Cloudwater’s Recurring Special Series and it single handedly reminds me of why this brewery became such a favourite so immediately after it hit the beer scene.
A good Triple India Pale Ale should be a dangerous and sexy trap that lures you in with amped up flavours while hiding its boozy eye crossing strength.
And this does just that.
There’s a delightfully soft and gentle malt body.
It’s all caramel wafers, Belgian waffle and slightly salty honey.
Smooth and creamy it lays the foundation for an easy drinking experience.
The hopping – Strata and Motueka – tongue kiss you with big fresh orange juice and lime leaves, candied peel, sherbet flying saucers, gooseberry skins, white wine tannins, pencil shavings and Hubbabubba.
It’s a huge smack to the chops hopping, bright and crisp, and it’s made that big by the weight of the booze that very cleverly hides away in the background, amping everything up and onto showing its face in the clean and crisp gin soaked finish.

So Cal (4.8%) appears to have been brewed with what are now kind of classic West Coast IPA hops, I’m guessing Cascade, Chinook, that kind of thing.
The cab doesn’t specify, but all the hints are there, starting with the name and moving through the piney grapefruit aroma and down into the beer itself where you’re hit with lemon and lime rind, redwood resin, orange juice, mandarin and lots of fizzy sherbet.
The malting is soft and round, all toffee coated biscuits that sit right at the back of the drink but bring a subtly robust body and a brown sugar sweetness that counterpoints the long bitter and dry finish.

Helles (4.5%)
is dreamily creamy Lager with a big round toffee and pancake, honey and doughnut, salted pretzel malt body and an aroma packed with garden flowers and bread dough.
The hopping is fresh and green and zingy, mown lawns and nettles, herbal leaves and hazel bushes.
And then in the finish there’s just a hint of tangerines that adds another fruity layer as the beer turns crisp and dry.



Somewhere Within (6%) is described as a Juicy IPA, and that’s a pretty accurate description.
Pineapple, apricot, pear and orange juice slosh about, all fresh and zesty and looking for fun.
The aroma is a lightly spiced fruit salad, bright and juicy (there’s that word) and inviting.
In the background the malts provide a solid biscuit, honey, caramel and doughnut body, all sweet and round and chewy, but it’s the blend of hops working with the subtle stone fruit fug of the yeast that makes this a really smashing IPA.


Super Happy (5.3%) is billed as a Juicy Pale and it’s everything you might want this style of beer to be.
A soft and subtle malt body that’s rich with honey doused doughnuts, caramel and biscuits, creates a solid stage for an orange juice and lemon zest, green herbal foliage and metallic basil hop hit.
Nothing more needs to be said, really.
This is simply superb.



The art of brewing shows its hand in many different ways, and often we look towards the big bold beer to talk about the magic that is the drink we love.
But it isn’t always that way.
Take this for example.
Plush (3.5%) is a Nitro Stout that tastes and feels like a beer twice its size.
OK, so you have to pour it hard to help get the body round and smooth, but that’s what a Nitro is all about, and once you’ve poured it you find a thick creamy beer that’s rich with milk chocolate, fresh coffee, fig biscuits, honey and pancakes.
There’s a subtle waft of red and crunchy autumnal leaf litter hops swirling in the background, but this beer is all about its chocolate ice cream smoothness, its satisfying Angel Delight puddingy goodness.
Super stuff.

The Little Pump House At Kinder Reservoir (5%) is a Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale that simply sings its hops at you.
A solid toffee and walnut bread, honey and brioche malt body hides I’m the background of this beer, quietly providing a sweet round platform on which the hops can dance.
And we are not told what hops they are, but it doesn’t really matter when they taste as good as this.
Endless waves of peach and apricot, orange rind,
Sherbet fountains, freshly picked garden herbs, nettles and bracken make for a big bright and super fresh slap that has your tongue tingling as you reach for another mouthful.

Fuzzy (4.2%) is a beautifully executed Hazy Pale packed with peach and apricot, nectarine and pear.
The malting is very subtle, only just there, but just there enough to provide a sticky honey and biscuit body, while the yeast is warm and round and full of stone fruits.
And there are the hops and all their thirst quenching fruity goodness, leaving you with a sessionable beer that would happily see me through an evening in the pub with my mates.


Everyday Beer (5%)
is an “easy drinking” Stout brewed in collaboration with Rock Leopard with a percentage of the proceeds from its sale going to charity.
A noble thing to do, and in this day and age of a Government that doesn’t like the working class, it’s refreshing to have breweries making what is arguably the most working class of beer (apart from, perhaps, the most down to earth of all beers, the Best Bitter) and passing on some of the profit to help others.
But of all the beer I’ve been sent to try, this is the weakest.
It has some of the key flavours you want form a Stout, with coffee and chocolate, vanilla ice cream and toasted brown bread, but there’s not enough weight in here.
Everything is just a little too flighty, a little too polite, and this leaves a big hole where the body ought to be.
Like the whisper of a Stout, this beer shows you the flavours without anywhere enough body to back them up.

The Interior Life And The External World (5%) has changed my mind about Kveik yeast.
You see I’m not a big fan, but here it is nice and subtle.
There’s no in your face yeasty hit, instead just a gentle waft of piquant earthiness, that adds an extra level to this Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale.
The malting is sticky caramel, bread crusts, toffee and wafer goodness, and the hopping is bright and sharp, with lots of fresh lemon rind, garden herbs, lime juice and kiwi flesh.
Very nice indeed.


Happy (3.5%) is a super little Table Beer that, unlike many low ABV beers, has a great big chewy body, all honey and caramel wafers, white bread crusts and Rich Tea biscuits.
Over that the hops are sharp and bright, lashings of lemonade, flying saucers and green herbal leaves that make for an easy drinking crisp and refreshing beer.




Cloudwater’s Barley Wine (10.5%) makes me happy that the dark nights are drawing in.
This is a beer to warm you after a long walk through a dank, damp winter woodland.
Thick and rich and chewy, this is unsurprisingly all about the malting.
An enormous rich and round chewy toffee, treacle, honey stickiness drips over toasted brown bread, cashew nuts and brioche buns.
And underneath this a chest warming brandy snap booziness builds, white rum and dry peaty whisky amping up the sexy molasses that coats my lips, twizzles your tongue and has me reaching for my next mouthful as I watch the rain hit the crunchy red fallen leaves outside my window.

Source: Cloudwater Brew Co.

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Signature Brew Co. Piercing Pils (5.7%)

Brewed in collaboration with Dogfish Head and brewed with White Pear Tea and pear juice, this is one hell of a good Pilsner.
There’s a soft fruity aroma tinged with spices that drifts up to you as you pour, and taking a sip you are immediately struck by the warm, tannin dryness of the tea before the rush of soft, sweet honey biscuits, white bread crusts and toffee from the malt body that makes the beer feel round, smooth and creamy.
The hopping – Amarillo alongside the more traditional Czech Saaz – brings lots of piquant undergrowth, hedgerow greenery, nettles, hazel and lemon rind, and the pear juice pops up in the finish to add a lovely fruitiness to the long crisp end of the beer.

Source: Signature Brew Co.

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Thornbridge Brewery The Heart Desires (6.5%)

This sour Blonde Ale, aged in white burgundy barrels with gooseberries is every bit as good as it sounds.There’s a superb white grape and silage aroma, and a soft subtle cereal, toast and honey malt body.
The sourness is lip puckeringly dry, lightly acidic and intensely fresh, while a gentle damp oak woodiness grows in the background, surrounded by fresh gooseberries as you head towards the tongue tingling joy of the finish.

Source: Thornbridge Brewery

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Thornbridge Necessary Evil (13%)

This Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout won a gold award at this year’s World Beer Awards, and for good reason, even if for logistical reasons I was unable to take part in the judging.
You see, even without my amazing tastebuds, the other judges managed to award a prize to a beer that deserved it.
It can only be by luck rather than judgement.
Necessary Evil is big and round and chewy.
Acres of sticky treacle tart, black cherries, honey smothered toast and pecan pie make up the body, while dark chocolate and brandy snaps mix with a hint of crunchy red leaf litter from the hops.
A soft and dank oak floorboard woodiness raises its head as you drink, at once earthy and fresh, it tastes like a walk around a stately home smells, rich, veneered and deliciously out of reach to a mere mortal.
The finish is heavy with peat whisky and tamarind, dry and chest warming, I felt the need to read Marx and listen to The Ex if only to stop this amazing boozy wonderland from turning me bourgeoise.

Source: Thornbridge Brewery


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