I've had some more of my favourite beer come through the post: that's right, the free stuff. This lot was from Imperial Beer Club, a company dedicated to stronger beers.
When I'm down the pub I stick to cask beer of modest strength, but in the safety of my own home I'm quite partial to the stronger stuff so I was looking forward to this box.
The contents weren't quite what I was expecting though, but I'm probably just showing my age. The strong beers that generally grace my beer cupboards are Imperial Russian Stouts, Belgian Ales, and Barley Wines. The beers in the box however all had some quirk to mark them out as crafty compared to the more historic styles I usually drank. I was also surprised to see that a few of them had added lactose. I guess it's now part of the craft brewers' tool box to correct over attenuation.
I started with Pressure Drop's Syd Strong Cascadian Dark Rye Ale, which was perhaps not my best idea as I'm not fond of mixing dark malts and American hops. Sure enough, there was an unpleasant mix of roasted malt and citrus flavours, but the citrus soon faded leaving something drinkable enough.
Tempest had a Brave New World IPA certainly has the bitter, American hop flavour I was expecting. A bit sweet though.
By The Horns Bastard Brag Black IPA again had a harsh roast flavour over a thin body. Do people really like this sort of thing? Probably. The harshness does mellow but I didn't really get much hops. This beer style is just not for me.
Their Hercules Hold Strong Scotch Ale was more up my street. I was barrel aged, which no doubt is where the slight sourness came from. There was quite a thick body to it, help by the addition of lactose. It was kind of like a chewy Goudenband, so not much like a Scotch Ale if you ask me, but a nice drop all the same.
Tempest's Mexicake Imperial stout had had various flavourings added to it. It was a good full bodied stout but the added vanilla was overdone a tad and the slight hint of chilli was discordant to me, it would be better off without it.
From Siren there was Blacklight Banana Imperial Stout. It was brewed as part of the Rainbow Project, which causes a minor flutter amongst beer geeks online every year but is not something I've ever paid much attention to. The beer represented the colour violet because bananas are violet under UV or something. Anyway, it was slightly smoky, full bodied imperial stout. I didn't really notice much banana thought, but I can't say that concerned me.
Mad Hatter's Return to Madness Imperial IPA. Was as brisk as a volcano on pouring. It was surprisingly dark, with a very fruity smell, thought I didn't get much phenolic flavour as I would have expected due to them using a Belgian yeast. It was way too sweet too, which makes me wonder if it fermented out properly. The claimed ABV is 11% but I wonder if it really got there.
Mad Hatter Schwartzwalder Kirschetorte was named after the German for Black Forest Gateau. It had lots of ingredients, including lactose, thought it was a bit thinner than I expected, and I didn't get the cherries at all. It tasted like a good stout though, and was nicely balanced.
Siren's Pompelmocello IPA also had added with lactose, which I must admit was a surprise in an IPA. Particularly as the body was very thin, thought its sharp taste might have accentuated that. I wonder how thinner it would have been without the lactose? It was big on the citrus taste but i prefer things with more body.
To confirm I was getting the full craft experience there was also a small can from Northern Monk: Smokin' Bees Imperial Whisky Honey Smoked Porter. It was a big boozy beer. I didn't get any honey, but then that's a delicate flavour and this beer was full on. It was slightly smoky but it worked well and I enjoyed this one.