@adnams – Jack Brand Innovation IPA


You may have noticed that the beer reviews have slowed down a bit…  I used to review pretty much every beer that I came across; but now there’s so much beer about the place that I’m having a hard job keeping up – and to be quite honest I hate reviewing mediocre beer and having to say “well, it’s sort of OK” and then trying to spin that out for about 300 words or so.

So: new year, new rules.

I will review beers that I think are great, novel or just damn tasty.  I will also pour extra effort into articles about brewing and even a bit about bread-making – plus a few exciting fermentation-based side projects.  Looking at the site statistics, it seems that brewing articles are the most well-received…so there’ll definitely be more of those…

Anyway, here’s a beer that I do think is great: Adnams Jack Brand Innovation IPA

Pouring a very lovely amber colour, with a fine head that rapidly drops to a wispy covering – this looks like a proper “craft” IPA.

At 6.7% you know that it’s going to be big and worth having, so lets get on with it.

The aroma is very special: dank – but not oppressively so – with a great big breakfast grapefruit, pines and peppery top layer that, with further sniffing, reveals a firm underscore of freshly-cut blood oranges and a final lovely and lasting burnt bitter-orange note.  It’s big, it’s bold but it isn’t brash; alluringly hopped, that’s my term for it.

Upon tasting there’s big mouth-filling malts, a very welcome alcoholic warmth and a silky-smooth body that showcases a whirl of taste sensations – all vying for your attention: sharp citrus and grapefruit pithiness, dark demerera sugar, lemons ‘n’ limes, pines and deep meaningful dankness; spiciness abounds and runs up against more deep dankness to leave you – quite frankly – all post-coital glowy and lolling about.

Then of course the beer whispers “shall we do it again?” and before you know it you’re rolling about the floor, in IPA heaven again…

God, I need to take a shower now.

Buy some today.  Not just because it’s good, but because it’s good and attractively priced, being available from the Adnams online shop for £18.99 for 12.  That’s about £1.50 a bottle – contrast that with offerings from other brewers that are on a par, taste-wise, with Innovation IPA…

I know Adnams have scale on their side, but they are producing excellent beer…at scale.


All Hail the Old Ale: @adnams – Old ale

OldAleChristmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
But not as fat as your fat mother

(George Dawes – Shooting Stars sometime in the mid-to-late Nineties)

Christmas is coming everyone, so look suitably afraid.  Clutch dear your wallet, sanity and sense of perspective – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Fortunately Adnams are here as ever with their seasonal range of salves and balms for our frayed nerves.

Full disclosure: I tried Adnams Old Ale back at the start of October, but it’s still on tap now and the weather is absolute dog-muck so get stuck into the Old Ale whenever you can find it.

Not available in bottles*, Old Ale is indeed a lovely find when you come across it.

Arriving a lovely dark mahogany brown with a tan head that lends an antiquey-vintage sort of air to it, it certainly looks like an “old” ale.

The nose is solidly yeast-fruity, suitably sizeable and jam-packed with singed raisins, dark chocolate, leather and oaken wood.  This is a big aroma and gets your brain in tune for the massive great big taste that’s about to give your mouth a damn good seeing to…

Thud, a 25Kg sack of maltiness drops into your mouth and fills it admirably; fruit, wood and dry complexity washes in after – all happily rolled over and over by a stout and business-like carbonation.

At the swallow the fruitiness and wood linger for ages whilst a workman-like bitterness starts working your on saliva glands and taste-buds in preparation for the next big gulp (don’t sip this beer – it’s for lovely big mouthfuls and not delicate pecky-sipping)

The after-taste of Old Ale seems to go on forever and just makes you want to drink it in quantity – which you can at 4.1%…hooray!

Old Ale goes so well with hearty roasted food…it really is just the perfect winter pint.

If I’ve done my job your mouth should now be watering like mad; it’s now up to you to sniff yourself out a couple of three pints of it…it’s one of my recommended ways of getting through Christmas…


(*Glory be, you can order Old Ale in mini casks, ploypins or whatever they call them these days.  From the Adnams shop and maybe online.  Have a look, I would if I were you…)

What a lovely way to make a beer: @Adnams – Wild Hop Amber Beer

20141014_121037I find my self continually impressed by Adnams approach to brewing and their ability to connect with their public.  No wonder they do so well…

I’ve had the very good fortune to watch the development of the Wild Hop from it’s embryonic idea: http://adnams.co.uk/about/news/beer-news/hop-to-it-adnams-needs-you/ through to the finished article out of the cask.  If I was Fergus and the crew, I’d declare this one a winner and put it on my schedule of seasonal beers every year!

Rather selfishly (and also because I live a good 150-odd miles away) I kept all of my cascade hop harvest to myself and put the lot in my Fresh Hop Cascade Pale Ale – which I’ll review soon.

Next year, when I hope to have a ton more hops, I might well contribute too…

Anyway.  I had the singular good fortune to be in Southwold when Wild Hop was available on the pumps.  I had a pint of it in the Sole Bay Inn with a lovely lunch – a lunch in which my children behaved like angels, too.  (they normally do, to be fair.  Just rather noisily…)

Wild Hop arrived in a nice hoppily-hazy style, with a good lasting head and an orangey-copper sort of colour about it.  The nose wasn’t wildly hoppy (if you’ll excuse the pun) but I wouldn’t have expected anything else…god knows it’s difficult enough to get a reliable hefty hop aroma into a cask beer when using named “C” varieties.  But the aroma was hoppily enticing enough to get me all excited, stop taking notes and just drink the pint.

The taste was typically Adnams – a lovely fruity note from the malt and the Adnams house yeast (I might buy a polypin of their bitter one day, just to try and harvest enough yeast to brew a cheeky Adnams clone myself!) and then the hops came marching in:

Wow.  What a whirl of hops – multiple different hop notes vying for attention and each delivering on their own level…this is what a really good multi-hop brew tastes like.  The bitterness was just about bang-on for my taste and was satisfying and refreshing.

I would (and have) drunk Wild Hop again since and it’s always been marvellous…and now I see that it was available in bottles!  Blast.  I think I’ve missed the boat there a bit.  I have hopes of securing a bottle for comparison somehow, but fear that I might be out of luck.

Wild hop is testament to Adnams skill as a brewer in engaging their loyal fans and getting them to contribute all those hops, and taking those contributions and turning them into something interesting, rewarding and enjoyable…


Too rye, too rye, too rye-aye – over the hills with: Jack Brand – Rye IPA


I know, I know.  It doesn’t scan does it?  But it made me laugh, and in the words of Father Fintan Stack: “…that’s all that matters…”


Next out of the box of Adnams delights came the Jack Brand Rye IPA.  I like a rye beer and I like an IPA -oh yes I do- so I was definitely looking forward to this one.

In a glass it’s dark autumnal reddish brown, with a head that bears up for a while and then falls away to leave a smattering of foamy islands.

The aroma is enormously inviting, being all fat malts and rye with an underscore of hop character.  The whole sensation reminding me of rain-wetted granite and the peated Scottish hills for some reason – maybe it’s the earnest freshness in the aroma and the lilting hoppy herbailty that it brings forth.

After the refreshing carbonation, I got a very nicely judged bitterness that really highlighted the rye and malts in this beer – and that’s all before the hoppiness flooded in and brought back those same lovely herbal hop notes.

In the mouth Rye IPA is chewily delicious and satisfying – this is a beer that deserves to be drunk longer than the 330ml bottle allows, if you find it on tap – stay, don’t stray and ensure you drink your fill.

I’ve not brewed with rye, but I can feel an order to The Malt Miller (http://www.themaltmiller.co.uk/) coming on.  Maybe it’s time to start investigating a wider range of grains in my brews, too?