Bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor.
Pours a deep red colour with some cloud to it. Head is pale beige, very generous but a lovely density to it and sticking around too, especially on top. Looks a real treat. Powerful but still very English and refined.
Smells sweet and boozey. Big cherry and brandy character with some dark glacé fruit as well; maraschino with currants, raisins and molasses. Touch of oak and slightly vinous as a result. Pleasant, but a bit pungent and whiffy as well.
Taste is very oaky, it starts sweet and gets more woody as it goes on. Bit of brandy upfront, mildly sharp, then gets a short note of intense dark fruit towards the mid, with cherry and sultanas mostly that linger at the back. Oak is woody and spicy late-mid with a slight herbal hop note coming through too. Finishes quite dry and spicy, and I expected more in the way of sweetness. Almost seems to lose its way a bit midway. Despite the lack of coherence maybe, still very palatable.
Decent body but a bit too much texture; booze rears its head quite firmly here.
Decent strong ale, but it seems a bit dry and simple where it should be darker and more complex as suggested by the early flavours.
75 / 100
Pours a lovely clear and bright orange-amber colour, with a full and thick head of off-white bubbles. Lots of fervent carbonation which strives to the top quickly. Lacing is excellent, leaving tiny tentacles of foam on its descent. Looks very nice indeed.
Nose is moderately fresh, but with a slight cidery overtone like peeled green apples. A bit of spice and a hint of turned earth, but certainly nothing of the tannic tea leaf or heavy dark organics I expect from English hop varieties, but not bad, nonetheless.
Taste is pleasant, with a very restrained bitterness sitting over some thoroughly pleasant caramel English malts. A little tannin character comes through here, but the palate is really nicely balanced between the leafy hop notes and the malty backbone. Feel is soft and smooth, with just a little bite from the hops and a slight tingle from the carbonation.
A very nice beer all up, and probably one of the best English IPAs I've had the opportunity to try. Missing a bit on the nose, but otherwise the package is solid.
45 / 100
Pours a pale champagne colour with mild cloudy haze. Nice white head when poured, sinks to a film that is quite decently thick, but disappointingly lacking in lace. Slow but steady carbonation keeps the head alive. Pretty good.
Smell is very grainy, and a little too sweet. Lots of corn notes with an over-sweet vanilla aroma and an odd cough syrup note at the back. Slight bready notes as well - just full of those insipid grain lager notes I despise. Too strong, too sweet.
Taste is better. The same sweet notes abound though, but they're less offensive and strong. Starts well, proper grainy notes with barley and sourdough characters, gets overly sweet on the mid, with a processed, floury character and touches of vanilla as well. Not a lot of hop flavour on the back, but a mild phenolic bitterness at the back cleans up the sweetness...adequately, if not really well. It's a light, airy beer and I'm far more an earthy, sinful beer kind of guy. I don't really care if it's organic as long as it tastes good.
Mouthfeel is quite thick on the front and gets a harsh carbonation sizzle on the back; not great.
Yeah, could really take or leave this beer.
84 / 100
Pours a very pleasant deep amber orange colour, tending towards brown, with a fine and reasonably full head of crusty white foam. Clear body that seems quite fluid, although the bubbles of carbonation seem to have a tough time making their way through it. Looks very decent, and extremely robust for an English Ale.
Nose is potent. There's no getting around it. Big whiffy booze characters, giving off esters of vanilla and cherry. Slightly coconutty oak characters come through as well, with a slightly medicinal phenolic note to it. Whew, this is a strong flavoured beer. No getting around it. I love the raw potency of it.
Palate is quite astonishingly more gentle, with a subtle sweetness like molasses wending its way through the deeper and more striking characters of oak and light phenols. Incredibly smooth mouthfeel, and so little harshness it's hard to imagine where that 8% ABV is hiding in this subtle English ale. Just a light whiff of liquor soaked cherries at the end give you any hint of it.
This is a lovely beer. One of Samuel Smith's best, and that's saying something. It has all the big flavoursome characteristics you expect in a strong ale, but done with all the subtlety and self-effacing nature that an English ale provides. Gorgeous.
61 / 100
Pours a dark mahogany colour, clear in the body and letting some light through. Head is nicely beige, quite dense and creamy with trails of pleasant lace that clings like my ex-girlfriend. Looks like a nice dark ale.
Smell is quite malty and spicey. Fair amount of dark booziness with a tart dark berry note, hints of vanilla pods and lots of banana. Some mild licorice notes on there as well. Nice banana bready notes with sweet caramel as well, pretty nice.
Taste is a bit plain. Sweet on the front with mild caramel notes that then gets watery and slightly dark with a very slight roasty character. Yeah, really rather thin on the palate overall, some of that banana coming through clearly on the back, but it would be nicer if matched with more spice or more roasty bitterness. Very English, but that kind of becomes synonymous with bland in my book, unfortunately.
Very drinkable, though - let's not forget that the milder something is the more one can just chug it down.
Very lovely dark golden colour with lots of small-bubbled streaming carbonation. Head is a fine white film of tiny, almost creamy bubbles. Lacing is very good. Overall, it looks like a very tasty lager.
A lot of grain sweetness on the nose, very European, in fact, quite like the classic German lagers. A little seltzer water funk, some coppery metallic character. It's possibly the hops, but otherwise they're absent. Nice.
Very carbonated body - that's what I notice first. It's so crazy with tiny sparkling bubbles. And it adds an unusual acidity to it. Other than that, it has a reasonably pleasant grain character. And despite this, it's not overly sweet, the cleansing metallic character is pleasant. Mouthfeel's a bit much, but it's quite interesting.
A very decent lager, very smooth and cleansing. The carbonation is slightly too extreme, but otherwise I found it perfectly drinkable and enjoyable. Nice.
59 / 100
Pours a burnished amber colour, with a full thick head of off-white bubbles. Good lacing, lots of streaming carbonation. Overall, it looks a very pleasant English ale.
Sprightly green hopped nose, lots of cut grass and fresh English styled hoppiness. Some funk is also present, a light sulphurous note. Little sweetness, which I'm surprised about. Overall, it's a little weak, and a little odd. Can't say I'm a big fan.
Smooth entry, with a mild bitterness crescendoing mid palate. Some faint sweetness on the back, before it dries out to a rather tame and generic English pale-ale style finish. The bitterness is a true English character, quite gritty and crisp. Overall, there's little complexity to the palate, and the dryness becomes quite tiresome after a while. Mouthfeel is crisp, lacks a little roundness.
Overall, a confusing beer. I can't say I'm a huge fan - it comes across as very little more than a rather tame English pale or brown ale. Of course, stylistically, it's pretty smooth and drinkable, but overall, I was expecting something richer and more complex from a winter ale.
Samuel Smith's can do better.
88 / 100
Pours a lovely burnished brown-black, with hints of ruby through the body. Head is a great crust of oatmeal-coloured bubbles, which leaves some wonderful curtains of lacing down the glass. Looks really lovely.
Sweet, dark and rich, like a chocolate mud cake. But to save it from being sickly, it has a very pleasant light smoke, anise and a baked bread character, which makes the palate seem more mature, more subtle, and more well rounded. Extremely good.
Creamy on the palate, again with a truly lovely semi-sweet chocolate and grain flavour, which melds with hints of vanilla and currants, before being cleansed with a very pleasant dry dusty character, absolutely lovely. Mouthfeel is full around the edges, as though framing the sweet, mellow and thoroughly enjoyable flavours.
An absolutely delightful beer. Almost without question the best porter I've ever sampled. It now sets the bar for all others, although I'd be more than happy to just drink this one from now on.
Very dark black-brown, with hints of ruby blood-red when held to the light. Thickish head of surprisingly light white foam. Some lacing. Pancake bubbles across the surface. Nice.
Dry chocolate notes on the nose, with a light vinous character, a little vinegary even. Some grassy, green lucerne and grain characters, not terribly dark, a small amount of sugar syrup. Can't say I'm a huge fan to be honest. Pretty weak.
Taste is a little better, a little syrupy sugar, but a dark malt character at the back to cleanse with a little bitterness. Mouthfeel quite thin, and there is that lingering sour character that's just out of place. The slight sugar syrup character lingers a little too much on the back too. Again. it's got some nice characters, but I'm not a big fan.
No, it doesn't do it for me overall. It's just too light and a little to sickly. It needs some depth and body behind it. There are some decent characters, but there are also some odd notes that put me off.
Pours a dark burgundy colour, quite dark but a lot of colour in it, especially when held up to the light. The head is thin, very thin actually, beige colour. Leaves some deliciously sticky cascades of lacing around the edge. Pretty good indeed.
Nose is sweet and sticky, slightly roasty with a light cocoa character, hints of brown sugar, maybe some spice as well, nutmeg I think. A light citrus character at the back, orange and maybe lemon as well. A lot of nuance, but a bit subdued with nothing explosively aromatic.
Roasted character throughout the palate, slightly bitter without overdoing it into ashy territory. Hints of cocoa and a fair amount of cereal grain. Has a port character towards the back with a good sweetness that again doesn't overdo it by venturing into sickly-town or syrup-ville. Feel is smooth and velvety. Reasonably full but gliding, like indigestion cream.
This is extremely drinkable stuff, with smooth pleasant flavours. It does venture into sweet territory at the back, but it's balanced enough for the most part to make it quaffable.
Pours a vaguely pink, vaguely cloudy orange, with a big crackling head of yellow-tinged foam. Some good lacing, and lots of vigorous carbonation. Pretty nice looking.
Strong strawberry characters on the nose, with a noticeable carbonic sour note, possibly from the wheat used in the brew. Certainly something acidic in there, and I doubt it's from the strawberries.
Sweet entry, lots of strawberry fruit - lots of residual sugar, so I imagine the fruit is added post-fermentation. Back palate dries out quite quickly leaving a strong copper metallic character - it's quite refreshing really, and doesn't leave the heavy sugars on the tongue, which is nice. Mouthfeel is surprisingly slick and smooth, considering the carbonation. It glides nicely without being too thick.
Not a bad fruit beer. Balanced, enjoyable and drinkable.
Pours a golden brown colour with an ecru head, lightly dispersed and hanging around reasonably well. Some very nice lacing effects, but slightly thin. No carbs, clear body. Looks tasty.
Nose has some nicely balanced malt and hop characters. A strong, almost syrupy pale malt character blends with a slight grassy hint of hops. Actually, on second thoughts I think the malt dominates and it's slightly sweet, kind of mediciney but not bad.
First taste is a bitter one, especially compared with the smell. A quite strong malty mid-palate is fenced in by a spicy front and a slightly herbal and also sour, earthy finish. Quite an interesting palate although there is still that slight medicinal flavour lingering at the back which gives it a bit of a downer. Mouthfeel is quite stimulating - the beer looks smooth but comes alive with a bit of a tingling, sparkling effect over the tongue.
This is a good ale, well-balanced and interesting. Too polite and British to offend or excite me.
86 / 100
Lovely cascade out of the bottle, a very dark black-blood-red hue, just giving a glimmer of ruby when held to light. Head is a creamy crest of beige bubbles. Good lacing. Just delicious looking.
Dark chocolate-sweet notes on the nose. Not huge but tasty and sweet. Hints of something slightly tannic as well, like tea leaves or red wine cork. Nice.
Very solid, roasted and smoky characters on the palate. Dark and bitter - everything implies fire and charcoal, except that it has this wonderful airy sweetness that never drags it right down. Back palate is quite ashy, but in a pleasant drinkable dryness. Mouthfeel is creamy and thick, but with a pleasant levity. Very nice.
Extremely drinkable, despite the darkness. Just creamy, rich, sweet, and slick. A superbly balanced and extremely well made brew. This beer cements Samuel Smith's reputation for me.
60 / 100
Great head when poured, thin film now. Very, very solid cradle of lacing. Copper-tinged black colour. This is truly, madly, deeply a great-looking beer.
Unusual nose. Pear (Yes, pear) is a big aspect of the smell, with a spiced, cinnamon edge. Nothing really dark or burned here, which deserves kudos. It's an extraordinary smell for a dark beer but that doesn't necessarily equal extraordinarily good. It's good, just not extraordinarily.
Slightly more dark on the flavour with a cocoa kind of undercurrent and a sout, cabernet kind of finish, but not really cabernet-flavoured. A slightly simple drop, with flavours that are nice but subdued. Mouthfeel is excellent. This seems to have a healing power - my mouth is in pain when this beer isn't gushing through it.
Overall this is a nice, drinkable drop, but it doesn't command too much of my respect.
76 / 100