Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Beer review: Vagabond Pale Ale by BrewDog

Vagabond pale ale by BrewDog
Vagabond pale ale by BrewDog
A couple of pals of mine are or know someone who has gluten intolerance or coeliac disease, which means they really have to watch what they eat and drink. So I did a bit of digging and found this gluten-free beer by BrewDog, as well as a few others, reviews of which will follow over the next couple of weeks ...

Too much good beer can be a bad thing, but only being able to drink bad beer is not good at all. And not being able to drink any beer at all, good or bad, must be murder. About 1% of the population have coeliac disease, which means their bodies can't cope with a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley - used to make malt for beer - and ingesting it can cause a range of symptoms such as headaches, diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue, and in the most extreme cases, anaphylactic shock. Consequences far worse than even the most punishing hangover then.
Since the explosion in good beers, gluten intolerants and sufferers of coeliac disease have increasingly found their tastes and needs catered to. And so, due to popular demand, over the next few weeks this column will seek out, review and recommend a few good gluten-free beers, ones worth drinking even if gluten doesn't leave you in a curled up ball of pain.
First off is BrewDog's new beer, Vagabond, a 4.5% Pale Ale that was released as a prototype last year but which has now just joined the brewer's Headliners range. It's in some pretty solid company, and stands alongside mighty beers such as Punk IPA, Dead Pony Pale Ale, Five AM Red Ale, This.Is.Lager. and Brixton Porter.
First off, the aroma is a big blast of grapefruit and pineapple. Maybe some peach in there too. The Centennial and Amarillo hops smell delicious and inviting - pretty much what you'd expect a pale ale from the brewing behemoths at BrewDog.
It pours a lively deep, clear gold with a healthy froth. It looks and smells delicious, and your first sensation on taking a drink is a pleasing hop rush with heaps of bittering - tangerine, grapefruit, resin - that comes in fighting but quickly fades to leave a light-bodied finish with just enough of caramel malt character to satisfy a beer hunger. Towards the end, you're left with a savoury sensation, and a soft dose of grapefuit lingering in the sides of your mouth.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beer Review: Peat Smoked Ale by Loch Lomond Brewery

It's been a while since the last review on this site, although they've been appearing weekly on The Herald newspaper's website.

Loch Lomond Brewery have gone from strength to strength since launching with just three beers in 2011. Now they've a range of about a dozen beers, as well as a glut of plaudits to hang on the walls of their Alexandria brewery. Their Southern Summit golden ale and Bravehop Amber IPA are particular favourites.
Their newest bottled beer is a special edition release of their perennial Meg's Tail, a moody, broody peaty ale available on cask every January for Burn's night.

With the name Peat Smoked Ale, there's no prizes for guessing the dominant aroma in Loch Lomond's latest beer. The peat is tarry, the smoke black, but you don't have to hunt far to find a balancing honeyed sweetness there too. It pours a clear, medium amber, while the texture is lively and cleansing.
This 5.4% beer takes you on a bit of a journey. Despite the phenolic aroma, it kicks off fairly mild with a malt base of sweet caramel biscuit. You then experience a brief sour rush before being slapped with a big peaty hit. This soon settles into a soft, dry lingering finish that maintains those medicinal notes reminiscent of an Islay malt, leaving you with a long-lasting smokey bitterness at the back of your mouth, like the reek of your clothes the morning after a night round the campfire on Machir Bay.