The Craft Capital Of Catalonia
Barcelona is one of the coolest cities in the world. It is also home to some incredibly cool beer spots. I recently spent a few days there with my wife, and along with seeing the sites we visited a few of these bars.
The first stop of the beer tour was La Rovira, a modest looking bar that you would be forgiven for thinking it is more of a wine bar from the outside. Inside, the decor is all old school, with a old jukebox, record players and artwork on the walls.
They had around 15 different beers on tap, ranging from local breweries to huge international big hitters; so there was quite a selection to choose from. There was also a fairly decent selection of well known cans and bottles in their fridge.
There was a great atmosphere inside La Rovira, and I think it's definitely worth a visit should you find yourself in the area.
If you are reading this blog post, then you will have most likely heard of Danish giants Mikkeller. Knowing they had a bar in Barcelona, paying it a visit was a no-brainer.
Inside, the decoration was very minimalist and stylish - what else would you expect of a Scandinavian bar? It was very quiet at this time of day, so we had our choice of seats. The bar offered around 25 different beers on tap, with a large selection of cans and bottles also available from the fridge. I opted for a DIPA collaboration between local brewery Edge, and American brewery Boneyard; the resulting beer was excellent!
If you are a lover of craft beer, then the chances are a visit to Mikkeller will be high on your list of things to do should you visit Barcelona, and I would highly recommend it.
Right next door to Mikkeller was a little spot called Chivuo's, which from the window promised craft beer and street food; two of my favourite things. As you can see by the photos, Chivuo's had an extremely distinct and funky style of decor.
They offered up 6 different craft beers that were all local, which made for a nice touch. The beers we ordered were great, and along with the top quality street food (BBQ pulled pork sandwich!), Chivuo's was definitely a worthwhile stop.
Following the disappointment of Brewdog not being open, the next bar was fortunately just a stone’s throw away.
BierCaB is a modern looking bar that I’d researched on Instagram beforehand. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the huge digital tap list which was a cool touch, it wasn’t too busy so we managed to get decent seats. They had a HUGE selection of beers with 30 (yes 30) different beers on tap! I tried a couple in there, but my absolute favourite, and quite possibly my favourite beer from my time in Barcelona, was Hazy Days; an American pale ale from Norwegian giants Lervig. The food menu also looked to have some great offerings and we were actually a little disappointed that we ate prior to getting here as it was more of a mixture of traditional food combined with bar food.
BierCaB for me is a must visit for any beer lover on a trip to Barcelona.
Most of the bars we visited were in the same area, except the first one we visited; La Rovia. So this made it fairly easy to make our was round them. Unfortunately when we made our way to Brewdog, it was closed and wasn't due to open for another couple of hours. It was a fair bit away from our hotel and with limited time available to us, we didn't bother venturing back later.
So while I highly recommend checking out Barcelona purely from a tourist point of view, there is also plenty to take in if you are a craft beer lover. And well, beer makes everything better doesn't it?! 🍻
For my latest review, I am going to review two of the latest beers by Wylam Brewery from Newcastle, England. The beers in question are Open To Persuasion; a 8% ABV DIPA collaboration with Track Brewing & Attracting Humans; a 5.5% ABV DDH Pale.
I'd seen & heard a lot about Wylam Brewery lately without ever having tried any of their beers. So when Westhill Service Station got these two in last week...I grabbed them both.
Here's what Wylam have to say about both beers;
"DIPA... Using the art of force and persuasion we provided ourselves with a valuable short cut through the complicated nature of modern existence to furnish you with a TDH DIPA displaying the manipulative power of Cascade, Loral, Ekuanot, Citra and Mosaic. 'Like always I persuade you... persuasion.'"
"DDH Pale... A beguiling double dry hopped pale designed to entice, lure, entrance, seduce and woo the sub tribe hominina into it's plethora of oats, wheat and dextrin. Seductive volumes of DDH Citra and Mosaic swallow up the hordes into fresh pink grapefruit, tropical juiced our foreverness."
Both of these beers sound awesome, can they live up to the hype?
First up is Open To Persuasion DIPA...
Open To Persuasion pours a murky golden colour with a creamy beige head. Aromas are similar of a NE IPA, huge amounts of ripe fruits; pineapple, mango & passion fruit, along with some more traditional citrus aromas and a slight piney backbone. Taste is absolutely fantastic - the big juicy fruit flavours are at the forefront; peach, pineapple & mango along with some grapefruit work wonderfully with the hoppy bitterness that rounds it all off. This beer is insanely drinkable, and the alcohol isn't hidden by the fruits either - this is one BOOZY juicebomb and I love it.
5 out of 5 hops from me.
Up next is Attracting Humans DDH...
Attracting Humans pours a golden yellow with a foamy white head. Aromas are sweet, malty & fruity with a floral backbone. Flavours are quite similar to the aromas; lots of sweetness up front with some citrus fruit, followed by malts and an earthiness. For me, these flavours didn't quite work out and something tasted slightly off. It was still an OK beer to drink, absolutely full of interesting flavours, however they just didn't come together as i'd hoped.
2.5 out of 5 hops from me.
So...if I had to choose a winner then Open To Persuasion would be crowned champion - it was an incredible beer that I highly recommend you try while you can. Attracting Humans was fine, however for me it just wasn't great. Overall, for my first venture into Wylam beers, I have been very impressed 🍻
Brewdog make some fantastic seasonal beer - Hop Fiction, Candy Kaiser & Arcade Nation to name a few. Yesterday they released their last seasonal beer for 2017; Slot Machine, a 5.2% ABV Red Rye IPA.
Designed to bridge the gap between summer beers and winter stouts, Slot Machine is laced with a warming spice that is perfect for drinking as the dark nights draw in. I must give a shout-out to Westhill Service Station for having their shelves & fridges packed with this the exact moment it launched in the bars.
Here's what Brewdog have to say about it:
"Slot Machine is 5.2% ABV and packs a bitterness of 55 IBU from being kettle hopped with Magnum, but also a hit of citrus from Amarillo in the whirlpool and dry-hop. We have also added a third wave; the herbal spice from German hop Callista bringing a nobility to the proceedings. Added with the Amarillo, this new hop (it was first released in 2016) also gives a berry fruit and gooseberry character, so Slot Machine has a series of interlinked hop flavours to unravel!
The beer was also brewed with Pale, Carafa and Crystal malt to give notes of caramel, toffee and bread crust as a baseline, and then layered in we added a generous addition of rye. We love brewing with this ingredient, despite the potential it has to make brewers think twice. In Slot Machine it adds a depth of spice to go with the hops and balance out the caramel from the Crystal malt. In short, as any brewer will tell you, rye holds everything together."
Have Brewdog hit the jackpot with this one? Lets find out...
Slot Machine pours a dark deep red - but not quite brown, leaving a foamy beige head. The aromas are great - the spice of the rye pierces through to the forefront, backed by malts and sweet toffee. The spice is ever present on taste too, but works great with the bread, malts and the slight sweetness of the toffee. There's a touch ot bitterness from the hops showing at the end too, which rounds everything off nicely. The alcohol is well hidden by the flavours, making it extremely drinkable.
Overall, Slot Machine was a very enjoyable beer with interesting flavours - the ever present spice from the rye making the difference for me. Brewdog can be happy that they have rounded off their seasonals for the year with a winner.
4 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Beavertown x Trillium
Following my review of West Side Beavo, the second Beavertown review of the week is Beaverillium - a collaboration with Trillium Brewing from Boston, USA.
Beaverillium is a 7.5% ABV IPA and here's the official blurb from Beavertown:
"This baby drinks like mango lassi transporting you to a lazy hazy Indian summer day on the beach in Goa, pouring like thick mango juice, rich, sticky mango juice. That aroma of tropical overripe mangos and pulped peaches hits your nose a yard from the glass bathing you in sweet fruity sunshine.
Fluffy, moussy, velvety and smooth as it passes your lips the mango and peach is pricked up with fresh, zesty tangerine that lingers to a black pepper bitterness for a bit of exotic spice."
Trillium were a brewery that I'd heard a lot about but never experienced - so with them teaming up with the big dogs Beavertown, it's safe to say my expectations were high.
Beaverillium pours a hazy gold with a thin beige head. There's big aromas of ripe fruits; mango, peach & apricot with some grassy pine. There's a huge amount of sweetness up front; maybe from the fruits, but it's almost too sweet for my liking. That is followed by some bitter hoppyness with a slight amount of spice also. Body is medium, with a nice creamy texture and not too much carbonation.
This was a good beer, however not great. Something just wasn't quite right for me - I think perhaps the sweetness up front put me off a little. In a week of two Beavertown collaborations, I would have expected Beaverillium to be my favourite. However I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by this one and West Side Beavo was definitely my favourite of the two.
3 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Beavertown x Firestone Walker
In the first of two reviews featuring Tottenham giants Beavertown comes West Side Beavo; a collaboration with US based Firestone Walker.
West Side Beavo is a 6.5% ABV IPL (Indiana Pale Lager) that was released last month. Here's the official lowdown on the beer:
"West Side Beavo is a one-off collaboration by brewmasters Logan Plant (Beavertown) and Matt Brynildson, inspired by a friendship forged at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. West Side Beavo was fittingly brewed with hops from the Pacific Northwest and the United Kingdom, most notably Jester. The result is an IPL, a beer that speaks to both breweries’ penchant for brewing hoppy beers with complexity and balance. "
I think that we could be in for a treat with this one...
West Side Beavo pours a clear golden amber colour with a foamy white head, that slowly disperses. Initial hoppy, malty aromas are followed by some citrus fruits; lemon & grapefruit. Flavours are crisp; citrus, floral lemon with a biscuit malt backbone - no where near as hoppy as expected. Mouthfeel is light, slightly oily with medium carbonation - extremely drinkable!
This was a lovely beer, and I must admit, one that was unexpectedly great. West Side Beavo is one of the best tasting lagers that I've had in quite some time, and you should definitely check it out.
Up next is Beaverillium, a DIPA collaboration with Trillium Brewing out of Boston, USA.
4 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Big Fish Brewing
I've already had a pleasant experience with Big Fish Brewing & their Long 14 Blonde IPA. So when I had the chance to sample their porter; 12 Fathoms, I was extremely keen. Porter isn't my usual go to style of beer, but they offer such deep interesting flavours, it is great to indulge in them now and again - Self Assembly Pope & Dirty Sanchez being prime examples.
12 Fathoms is a 9.9% ABV Imperial Porter & I was able to try 3 different versions of it - one that was only weeks old, one from March this year, and one from March last year. I was really looking forward to see how the flavours developed across the 3 different bottles.
12 Fathoms pours a dark coffee brown, leaving a thin beige head that disperses slowly. Consistent across the 3 beers were lovely aromas of deep coffee & chocolate and brown sugar.
The flavours were pretty consistent with the aromas; a mixture chocolate & coffee (although not too intense) with a slight hint of forest fruits giving the whole thing a bit of black forest gateaux about it! The addition of oats in the 3rd version (the youngest) give this beer a lovely velvety body, making it as smooth as silk - and making it the best of the 3 in my opinion. I think the ABV was well hidden by the lovely flavours which is extremely dangerous for a beer that is 9.9% ABV!
Things are looking great for Big Fish Brewing - that's 2 out of 2 very good beers I've had from them now and I can't wait to see what comes next .
4 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
When it comes to small batch releases, anything by Brewdog is usually worth getting excited about. The beer is usually something a bit different and the can art is usually insane; Pump Action Poet, Self Assembly Pope & Neon Overlord are all perfect examples of this.
Nine to Five Wizard is their latest small batch release - a 7.5% AVB Weissbier that was launched a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to try it on draft on the day and found it extremely enjoyable.
Here's the official blurb from Brewdog:
"Nine to Five Wizard majors in the classic German Weissbier aromas of banana and clove, layered with New World hop notes of orange, mango, pine and grapefruit. The combination of the Magnum, Cascade, Mandarina Bavaria and Ariana hops give a rising and refreshing citrus complement to the smooth mouthfeel from the wheat and the fruity esters of the Bavarian yeast. Listen to your inner 9-5 wizard and you’ll do very well indeed."
Sounds like a winner to me.
Nine to Five Wizard pours a deep amber with a long lasting, medium foamy beige head. Aromas are initially musty, with some spice from the cloves and the combination of cereals, yeast and banana giving off a banana bread like smell.
These flavours combine again on taste; spicy clove & sweet banana brought together with by cereal grains - lovely. There's little to no bitterness, little carbonation and the finish is full bodied and sweet.
This is a great beer that is bursting full of flavour and I highly recommend you try to get your hands on some whilst it's available.
4.25 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
A new Cloudwater DIPA is always something to get excited about, so when I stumbled upon NW DIPA Citra Amarillo at a recent visit to Westhill Service Station - I threw it straight in my basket!
NW DIPA Citra Amarillo is a 8.5% ABV DIPA, and here's what Cloudwater have to say about it:
"Our third NW DIPA features the 4820th generation of our local JW Lees yeast. We added Huell Melon and Amarillo to the whirlpool, with Citra, Amarillo, Loral, and Huell Melon in the dry hop. The NW DIPA style showcases yeast from some of Manchester’s oldest family brewers and fresh harvest hops."
One of the previous iterations of this beer; NW DIPA Citra was a 5 out of 5 beer for me, so it's safe to say that I had extremely high expectations for this one.
It pours a murky golden orange, with a thin foamy white head that disperses quickly. Aromas are sweet, juicy tropical fruits; mango, pineapple and some citrus orange with a hint of pine - lovely!
Taste is again sweet, juicy and chewy from the bold tropical flavours. Finish is fresh, with a small amount of bitterness; overall the alcohol is hidden extremely well behind the flavours. Pure juice this stuff!
I loved this beer. I knew that I would from the minute I opened it. Cloudwater continue to outdo themselves with their DIPAs and this is yet again another outstanding beer. I feel like a broken record when it comes to these Cloudwater DIPAs - but it can't be helped, they are just that good.
4.75 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
My last beer from the Norwegian brewing Gods Amundsen was damn near perfect; Pineapple Oceans was absolutely awesome and easily almost as good as any beer I've had this year. So naturally, I was extremely interested to see how they would do with my favourite style of beer; New England IPA.
Hopbliminal Messages is a 5.5% ABV New England style IPA, that Amundsen claim pairs best with your drinking hand - makes sense to me.
Cracking open the yet again, awesomely designed can - you are greeted with big juicy tropical & citrus fruit aromas, backed by some resinous piney hops. It pours from the can a light hazy gold, leaving a thin white head that disperses quickly.
On taste I was met with hoppy bitterness up front, that slowly blended into a fruit bomb; juicy pineapple, mango and orange flavours all round this beer of nicely. This beer pack in a load of flavours for its ABV.
Overall, I was highly impressed with this beer - while it may not quite reach the heights of some of my favourite NE IPA's like Brewdog & Cloudwater's collaborations (V1 & V2), it is still an extremely solid beer.
That's 3 out of 3 excellent beers for me now from Amundsen; they are fast becoming a favourite of mine - and I can't wait to try more. If you're not already, then you should be checking these guys out.
4 out of 5 hops from me
Pineapple beer is something I've not experienced much of, in fact I've only ever had one; Ballast Point Pineapple Sculpin whilst in New York. So when Westhill Service Station dropped a bunch of Amundsen beers last week, there was one in particular that caught my eye; Pineapple Oceans.
Pineapple Oceans is a 6.6% ABV West Coast Pineapple IPA, that according to Amundsen is best paired with a handlebar mustache and a Hawaiian shirt. Hard to argue with that.
My only previous experience of Amundsen was with the excellent Apocalyptic Thunder Juice, so I had high hopes for this beer.
As soon as I opened this beer I could smell pineapple. A little spurted on my hand as I cracked the can, so I tasted it; pineapple!
It pours a slightly cloudy deep copper/amber colour, leaving a medium sized long lasting beige head. The pineapple aromas are in your face the whole way as you pour it into the glass, backed by some super fresh pine.
The taste is much the same as the aroma; huge juicy sweet pineapple fills your mouth before giving way to some bitter, hoppy goodness. It has an extremely thick mouthfeel, with a slight oily texture; all made extremely drinkable by the awesome flavours.
Also let's not ignore the awesome can art on display here - it looks seriously cool! And it seems to be a running theme with all their canned beers; they are instantly recognizable.
I loved this beer. I want to drink more of it. It is so jam packed full of flavour, I think almost anyone would enjoy it. I for one will be trying to get my hands on more of not only this beer, but also many more pineapple beers.
I've got another review from Amundsen coming later this week - so keep an eye out for that.
4.75 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
An enthusiastic lover of all things craft beer from Aberdeen, Scotland.