Alhambra Mezquita – The Review

mezI was bought this as a birthday present from a mate of mine who has visited Lunya in Manchester. Apparently it’s a restaurant and bar, but, more importantly for me, it also has a shop, so foodies and ‘drinkies’ alike can take home a small slice/drop of Spain.

I was lucky enough to be given a few bottles, all of which I’ll probably review them at some point, but today I’ll start with this abbey-style offering [yes, it’s not just Belgium that has abbeys!]. It is described as “Ideal for high quality beer lovers” – so let’s test that!

Vital Stats:

  • 7.2% ABV
  • Brewed in Cordoba, Spain
  • Superior red ale style
  • Comes in 330ml bottles

Look Darker than I expected. A bright, chestnut colour. Glassy and clear with a loose head. Looks delicious enough! 7/10

Aroma Well it practically jumped out the bottle; oaky dryness and dried wheat mix with subtle fruits and a hint of hops. Didn’t distinguish itself as terribly exciting, but it certainly had power. 7/10

Taste Very much led by the malts. You get the dry huskiness mingling with nutty flavours, which makes me think it was oak aged, but I can’t find any info to back this up… Anyway, there’s a light caramel note, leading into a bit of raisin and a touch of spice. There’s also a buttered toast element going on, so plenty to appreciate. Despite its refreshing, fizzy mouthfeel, there’s no mistaking its high alcohol content with the brandy-like warmth of it. Very long finish, which is groovy. 8/10

Value It was a present for me, so should get 10/10, but I’ve seen it online for £2.09. Especially for a beer of this strength, that’s not bloody bad. For the experience, too, it’s pretty good. 8/10

Session Obviously it was never really brewed to be a session ale, in fact they recommend it to be drunk in winter, or, if in summer, as a long drink. I couldn’t manage more than one of these in succession. It’s a heavy taste, which, when combined with the very long finish, makes it one to savour toward the end of the night. The high alcohol took its toll quickly too! 4/10

In summary, this is well worth a go for those that like barrel-aged beers, or big, higher-alcohol beverages, but not one with mass appeal ‘to try at all costs’. It has a lot more depth than some I’ve had, although there’s plenty of comparable bottles [some Innis and Gunn beers, McEwan’s Export to name a couple] if you can’t find this one.

Final score: 70/100

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McGargles’ ‘Granny Mary’s Red Ale’ – The Review

DSCN1216When we got McGargles in The Wineyard, we got three of ’em: ‘Granny Mary’s Red Ale’, ‘Gravy Maevey’s Pilsner’ and ‘Knock Knock Ned’s IPA’. While they present themselves as a family brewery, erring on the traditional side of the craft brewing industry, I was curious to try these new additions. Probably because of the personalities they portray on their labels which, in turn, make you think of the brewery as a personality in its own right.

The Pilsner and the IPA were both really nice. At a good price, they could both be session beers [though you’d want to watch yourself on the IPA’s greater alcoholic strength, of course], and I’ve supped these in comfortable surroundings, as well as on the way to the next party. But how much of a good time beer is the red ale?

Vital Stats:

Look Busy, immature bottle that’s a bit of a spectacle.

In the glass – you can sort of see in the pic – it’s a moody brown, and when held up to the light it shows burning red hues. 8/10

Aroma Mmm, a nice, inviting malty nose with plenty of fruit. I find it hard to distinguish individual aromas because a fresh yeast and malt aroma sort of masks things. I think it’s raisiny, but there’s a vanilla hint, too, and some dry nuttiness. 7/10

Taste It’s a really deep flavour for something so light in alcohol and body. There’s a slight spicy maltiness to it, but very fruity – dried fruits like raisins and prunes. Interesting mouthfeel. Their Pilsner and IPA are both characterised by this buttery flavour and feel, but this one not so much. It’s nutmeggy, which I like, and though there’s a noticeable bitterness, it’s not a great tongue tingle texture. Yeah, it’s nice, it just loses marks for strength of flavour and audacity. 8/10

Value At less than two quid a bottle, I’m happy. They certainly don’t want for flavour! 8/10

Session The flavours develop nicely as the session goes on, and it can go on a long while at 4.4% before you should pack it in. It’s quite a typical ‘Autumn beer’ [in the sense of what pubs normally serve, not what I’m telling you should drink – you go for what you want!] and will liven up a decent sesh as those fabul0usly fiery leaves fall from tired trees. 8/10

A good score for a very solid beer [not literally…]. The only average score was the aroma, but everything else was above that, so I’ve got no hesitation in saying you should give this one a go. You might not go all evangelical about it, but I’m confident you’ll enjoy it once or, like me, many times.

Final score: 78/100

Five Points Brewing Company ‘Hook Island Red’ – The Review

Hullo there folks [and happy birthday Elvis]! DSCN1254Hope you’ve had a jolly festive few weeks, not to mention seeing in the new year with a fine selection of beverages. Start as you mean to go on, and all that! Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been having a relaxed time catching up with friends and family, even taking some locally-brewed Cross Bay ales down to Bolton to share with some old uni mates. Anyway, I’m reviewing something completely different today, but delicious nonetheless.

This ‘Hook Island Red’ is something I’ve kept hold of for a while. I bought it at The Wineyard and Deli a while back, along with the Five Points Pale. The pale was lovely, somehow surprisingly so, but I review a lot of those types of beer on here, so saved the red for you folks out there! There’s no better time of year to review darker beers, and this one was unexpected, I must say.

Vital Stats:

  • ABV: 6%
  • Brewed in London, England [Hackney, no less]
  • Comes in 330ml bottles
  • Grains: Malted barley and Rye
  • Hops: Chinook, Columbus and Simcoe

Look As you can see from the picture, it’s a strikingly simple bottle.

In the glass it has a loose head that dissipates quickly. It’s a hazy reddy-brown, like a young chestnut, but quite translucent when held up to the light. 5/10

Aroma It has a sweet, fruity nose of raisins and maybe dried apricots. As soon as I opened it I got this big aromatic whiff – very attractive! I get a light grassiness, too, and wet, milky malt smells. Not overly powerful, but intriguing and pleasant enough. 6/10

Taste Very yummy indeed – quite intensely fruity with grapes, raisins and apricots, along with vanilla and toasty caramel flavours. The sweetness is expertly tempered by a delicious tickle of grassy, almost nettle-y hops. Chocolatey malts are present, and a refreshing, yet warming effect. Plenty going on here, yet all restrained and working well together – great! 8/10

Value At £2.55 a bottle, this was pretty cheap. When I consider how much I enjoyed it, I’d definitely get more at this price – that’s a ringing endorsement! 8/10

Session This is a good session beer on a number of counts. I love it when flavours develop that you didn’t get on your first taste – and I found banoffee as I drank a little more. With it being so well-balanced, the ‘darker’ flavours never weigh you down, and the beer continues to refresh. So, light enough to quaff, but could catch up with you at 6% ABV! 8/10

Unusually for a red ale, there’s a disappointing score for the look, but that factors in the bottle too, which is only eye-catching when not next to other simple designs. I loved the taste of it, and only wish that the aroma was more of a punch than a tickle – but we can’t have everything. I certainly recommend you give this one a go if you can.

Final score: 70/100