Scotland

From Over There to Over Here

If you read my recent Golden Pints 2021 blogpost, you’d have noticed my GB Beer of the Year came from Glasgow’s Overtone brewery. I’ve only recently realised I’ve never reviewed any Overtone beers on the blog so this’ll change that.

The brewery’s still very young – it started in the summer of 2018 – so for anyone living in Northern Ireland, it’s understandable if you haven’t heard of them. They don’t have a distributor on this side of the North Channel and many beer emporia in Northern Ireland don’t sell their wares. KWM in Kilkeel is the only one I know of that has a limited stock – hopefully this plea may change things.

I procured a raft of cans from the excellent online shop at Left Field Beer, based in Solihull near Birmingham. Glasgow-Solihull-County Antrim is a fair wee round trip for the beers to travel but hey ho, needs must and all that.

Let’s begin as I did, with Wee Westie, a West Coast IPA. Columbus, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops provide the fun to create an initial great whiff of resin and pine cone. Interestingly the citrus comes straight in first on tasting, sweet tangerine bursting in for a grand entrance before slowing down a bit and allowing the resinous pine bitterness to catch up.

At 5.5% ABV it’s perhaps a bit on the light side for a west coaster and a touch hazier than you’d expect but if you were to taste blind, you’d appreciate the beautiful balance of bitterness and sweetness. Fans of West Coasters should be happy with this.

Let’s head into big bangin’ double digit territory next with the 12.5% ABV Scotch whisky barrel aged stout Twisted Sense. It poured fantastically well – slick with a frothy, creamy looking head – and makes you want to gulp the whole thing down until you remember those double digits.

Aging in Scotch whisky barrels (albeit we’re not told which one here) should give the beer a smoky, peaty essence and to be fair it did, but I wanted more. It’s very well suppressed under the combination of mostly milky chocolate with a dash of bitter dark. One of the reasons I love Scotch whisky is because of the smack of peat on the taste buds and although I really did enjoy Twisted Sense I would have loved an extra smack of whisky oomph.

Staying with the dark side, Ray Zen is branded as a 6% ABV cinnamon raisin stout and boy do you smell the raisin purée when you crack open the can. It dances around your nostrils, a prelude of things to come. It pours a murky dark brown and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a hot chocolate. My small brain was playing tricks on me. The purée brings a warm and comforting dark fruit sweetness to the stout but that’s immediately counteracted by the dark chocolate’s slight bitterness .

The sweetness improves as the stout warms and the cinnamon is minimal but as I’m drinking I can’t get away from wondering how much better it could be if it was in the same double digit bracket as Twisted Sense. I’m not saying Overtone should do it simply for the sake of doing it, but I think Ray Zen would benefit greatly if it was done.

Now, a warning that the anti-lactose and anti-NEIPA brigade should just finish reading right here. Be off with you. Go on, toddle off. Byeeee.

If you’re still reading, this blog quartet of Overtones concludes with Yaldi, a 6.6% ABV New England IPA. If you don’t know, yaldi is a Scottish slang term of excitement. Here in Northern Ireland, the beer would be called something like Yeeooww or Get It Right Up Ye. You get the picture.

If you’ve been following my blog or social media inane ramblings, you’ll know that Sabro hops are my bag right now. Yaldi is a Sabro hopped beer so you’ve a fair idea where this review is going. Sharp blood orange and lemon aromas waft from the glass and visually it oozes creaminess. It’s a tasty beggar too. Sabro hops usually create a pineapple and coconut flavour and yes there are elements of those here but surprisingly it’s passion fruit that dominates and there’s also a hint of mint behind the citrus. Yaldi indeed.

I enjoyed this raft of Overtone beers. The brewery has come on leaps and bounds in only three and a half years and best wishes to them for 2022.

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