Beer 52 Beer Box Review

Posted: 3rd November 2014 by santobugtio in Writing

I’ll start this piece with a declaration, the beers covered in this article were supplied compliments of www.beer52.com for review on their request.  My aim is to be honest about the beers sent.  First lets detail the eight beers that were sent

  1. Freigest Abra-x-as – a smoked tart wheat beer from Main, Germany
  2. Belhaven Scottish Oat Stout – a Greene King owned company, not expecting much
  3. Cerdos Voladores – an honest made beer produced in Barcelona (I’m not any wiser either)
  4. Panda Frog Project Ascendancy – Belgian Double IPA Weizen Hybrid – should be interesting
  5. Einstok Icelandic Toasted Porter – I’ve had this before and its a decent ale, a good friend also really liked it
  6. Medus Blonde – a french beer, my french is poor but apparently it is in the spirit of beers of Belgium and Northern France
  7. Redwillow Wreckless Pale Ale – I’ve had Redwillow beers before and not been disappointed, I may have had this before, but can’t remember
  8. Oppigards Golden Ale – a Swedish beer, my swedish is even worse than by French, I’ve picked up a few words from Wallander and the Bridge, but it extends to cheers and swearing, so I can’t add anything past the name.

A decent mixed box from the initial unpacking with some I know and most I don’t. at £24 per box of 8 beers its about par for the course if they come up to expectations.  So now onto each beer in detail, I’m no expert in individual taste components in beer, but I know what I like or don’t like in a beer, so that is what you’ll get.

Belhaven Scottish Oat Stout

I don’t like to prejudge beers, but this is is a Greene King owned brand with a poor reputation when it comes to opposition to new pub groups entering a town where they have a dominant position (see Pubpaper 704).  But lets move onto the beer.  Initial smell from the bottle is pretty uninspiring.  The beer does not improve once poured frankly, a slightly “burnt” taste which disappears to nothing quickly, head reduced to nothing in next to no time.  In the glass it doesn’t smell of anything at all.  As it settles its taste mellows to something fairly neutral, but never gets to the point where you’d want to try another one. It is a 7% beer on the bottle, but I’ve had pints of 4% stout which tasted stronger.  Greene King all over, I expected no more than I got from this beer.

Score 3/10

Cerdos Voladores

Again initial nothing in the bottle, but once opened it develops a decent head and retains it for a good time unlike the last beer.  The producers state on the bottle “This is our rowdiest beer made with the finest hops”.  The hops certainly come through and the taste matches its 6% strength.  However the hops are slightly unbalanced in this beer, it needs more citrus / sweeter notes to temper the heavy bitterness of the hops used.  I love heavily hopped beers, give me one of Brewdogs high strength heavily hopped beers and I am a happy bunny.  That is to say this is not a bad beer, it is actually a decent drink which could do with some refinement.  The beer leaves a not unpleasant after taste of hop bitterness on the tongue, and is certainly a vast improvement on the Belhaven travesty.

Score 6.5/10

Redwillow Wreckless Pale Ale

With by far the best aroma out of the bottle so far, Wreckless is the first beer out of this box that I really looked forward to pouring into a glass.  It has a nice maltiness on the nose, with hint of hops.  When poured, it looks, smells and tastes like a classic pale ale (this one at 4.8%) should do.  The hop bitterness balanced with more citrus notes from a good balanced blend of the crop.  The beer has nice pleasant aftertaste which lingers just long enough and encourages repeat drinking, something the previous two did not.  After a while the flavours settle and the citrus notes rise in taste balance, giving a slightly different, but equally good experience.  Redwillow have kept their usual standards up with this beer.

Score 8/10

Panda Frog Project Ascendancy

The aroma out of the bottle is citrus notes, and is rather pleasant,   This continues when poured and the initial taste just re-enforces the notes.   This is the opposite of the last beer, where bitterness gave way to citrus, but is none the worse for it.   This beer however develops the bitter hop taste you expect from its 7.4% whilst keeping a grapefruity taste in the background.  It does remind me in taste of some of the mid strength (6-8%) Brewdog products.  A red colour in the glass, this is a nice beer in its strength range when compared to other beers, maybe lacking a little refinement, but the second beer in a row I’d happily repeat is a good sign.  The aftertaste starts the beer as it finishes with a citrus grapefruity flavour, and I’m not tiring of it.  I’ve not had a Panda Frog project beer before, but is a brand I’ll keep an eye out from now on.

Score 7.5/10

Oppigards Golden Ale

A fairly neutral nose on this golden ale (5.2%) which remains the same in the glass.  The taste is lightly hopped with not a great deal of depth of flavour, maybe a little bit of citrus coming through over time.  After taste is fairly non existant and quickly disappears.  However as a beer it causes no offence and would happily drink this in preference to mainstream ales.   The problem for me is that although it may be craft beer by origin and relative lack of distribution, It could be any other brewery making this beer, there is nothing to differentiate it from the crowd.

Score 6.5/10

Freigest Abra-x-as

And as a total antithesis to the last beer this one hits tongue with a bucket full of tartness, but in a pleasant way.  Nothing on the nose in the bottle, it opens up in the glass.  The beer is a Lichtenhainer Weisse at 6%, a tart wheat beer from the home of such beers Germany.   I really did quite enjoy this beer, the initial impact of a grapefruit being squeezed into your mouth subsides and the hop bitterness starts to balance things off slightly, but tart always wins the battle in this beer.  The flavour coats your tongue for a nice period after you have drank it and is not a taste you want to wash away.  It certainly is not a beer you could drink all night due to its strong flavours, but one or two would add to a good nights drinking,  If you don’t like lemons and grapefruit in the rest of your life, this won’t be the beer for you, but if not, its definitely worth a try.

Score 7/10

Einstok Icelandic Toasted Porter

A decent porter, which I have tasted before from Booths.  The aroma is light at first, but develops in the glass to a nice malty smell with some sweetness.  The body is light and the taste is what you would expect from a beer of its style, slightly crisp as well.   The roasted malt flavours come through in the flavour, but left me wishing they’d break through a little bit more.  The aftertaste is pleasantly bitter, but disappears just a bit too quickly for me.   It is certainly a beer I would drink again however, and I know friends like this one as well.  You don’t get many Icelandic beers coming over here, but this doesn’t do the country’s reputation any harm at all.

Score 7/10

Medus Blonde

A nice nose out of the bottle with a well balanced flavour, slightly on the citrus side.  A really easy drinking beer with some nice tastes on the tongue as it settles.  The aftertaste is similiar with slightly bitter citrus tang with a head which lasts nicely. This is one beer I could drink a lot more of.  There is not a lot more I can say about this beer, its not overly complicated, not pushing any boundaries, but it simply works really well as a drink. This beer ranks equal top with Redwillow Wreckless in the batch I received.

Score 8/10

Beer 52 Concept and the Box

Looking at the scores we have scores of 3.5, 6.5, 8, 7.5, 6.5, 7, 7 and 8 out of 10.  After a poor start, we get a decent run of good beers, but 3 beers below 7/10 shows some improvement is needed in the beer selection, dumping Belhaven into a very deep hole for a start.

Overall I think this idea is a good one, although for £3 per bottle inc delivery (£24 in total) it is a tad overpriced if you get a couple of beers which are not up to scratch or you don’t like.   Also it is a bit of pot luck what you get judging by other beer bloggers who have reviewed this package.  Sure I could get better value for craft ale by ordering direct from producers and probably your local specialist, especially when you consider they are mostly 330ml bottles, not 500ml bottles, but if you want to try different beers and brands on a monthly basis then this could suit you.  I’m all for innovation in the beer industry and whilst not everything will appeal to me, it doesn’t mean it won’t suit others down to the ground.

If this is for you then you can get £10 off your first order using this link www.beer52.com and using promotional code NORTHERN10.