Happy Birthday Byron Burger
Byron Burgers recently celebrated their 10th birthday and to mark this occasion, they brewed up a batch of special beers with some incredible local breweries. My wife was lucky enough to win a Instagram competition to win a box of all the beers...and well, married couples share right? So that means I get to try them out...
The box features beers from:
They vary in style and were brewed to be paired with a specific Byron birthday burger. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of trying them alongside the burgers...so it's beer only.
I'm not going to review every beer from the box, just my top 3 and a runner up.
Now this was a fantastic box of beer full of different styles and flavours. It was hard to pick a top 3, but I just about managed…
You probably guessed this was going to happen. But my favourite beer was absolutely Little Furry Animal by Beavertown. Little Furry Animal is a beer that I found to be absolutely excellent. It is without doubt classic Beavertown; refreshing, hoppy, murky & full of flavour. It’s a shame this was a limited release because I would 100% drink it again.
Close behind in second was Pith & Love by Vocation Brewery; a 4.5% ABV pale ale. This beers was great! It’s actually the first Vocation beer I’ve ever had (I know) – that is definitely going to change though! It was citrusy, light, refreshing & I can just imagine how great it would have been with a burger!
The next beer on the list was Hells USA by Camden Town Brewery, a 4.6% ABV unfiltered lager. Camden Hells is a great beer – anytime I’m out in somewhere like Revolution, it is my go to beer. So I was looking forward to trying the unfiltered version, because well, unfiltered beer is normally better! Safe to say I wasn’t disappointed; Hells USA was a belter of a lager – crisp with a real refreshing, citrusy, distinctive flavour. I would definitely drink this beer again.
And last but not least was Kuro by Camden Town again; a 5.1% ABV black lager. This beer was absolutely FULL of flavours! Distinctive lager flavours, with a hint of a porter about it - I can imagine that this beer would go very well with a spicy burger.
The other two beers; Zehn & Elation were decent, however they just didn't quite match up to the others. All in all, this was a great box of beers from Byron Burger - they definitely celebrated their birthday in style! Also, if you have never checked out their burgers, I highly recommend you do so. I am normally an advocate of trying to keep it local, however Byron's burgers are excellent!
Oh, and thanks again to my wife for winning the competition 🍻
Brewdog know how to market a beer. So when the time came to market their latest release; Make Earth Great Again, they decided make a video dressed like Donald Trump. Along with sending a case of it to the White House and tweeting President Trump about it...it's safe to say they have made an impression.
Make Earth Great Again is (MEGA) a 7.5% ABV saison & here's what Brewdog have to say about it:
"In protest against the potential withdrawal of the USA from the Paris agreement, we've brewed a saison (which ferments at high temperatures) with melted ice caps (glacier water) and cloudberries (an Arctic berry).
Make Earth Great Again is a imperial strength saison, with spicy and bright citrus notes of spiced orange, nutmeg, clove, and caramelised banana, with a dry yet warming body and a hint of acidity to balance the sweet notes.
All proceeds from Make Earth Great Again will be donated to 10:10, a charity lobbying for legislative changes to tackle climate change."
Lets see what it's all about...
Before we open the bottle, lets talk about the label. It features a robot Donald Trump shooting lasers at a polar bear. I'm pretty sure that's a metaphor for something...
MEGA pours a golden amber leaving a tiny white sliver of a head, with little no carbonation present in the body. Big floral aromas are backed by spiced cloves, sweet banana & caramel.
Taste is spiced from the off, from the cloves, nutmeg & spiced orange. That is rounded off with a combination of sweetness, followed by a dose of sourness from the raspberries. Something wasn't quite working for me with this beer...it felt like the flavours were a bit all over the place and the balance was off.
Overall; whilst good, but not great, I definitely enjoyed this beer & recommend that you check it out even if just for its worthwhile cause alone. You can read more about this climate changing polar bear loving beer here.
3 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
I love cherry cola. If I'm not drinking a beer, or a gin for that matter then my go to drink would be a cherry cola. Whether it's Cherry Coke, Pepsi Max Cherry or Fentimans...I love the stuff. So when I heard that Huddersfield heroes Magic Rock had brewed a cherry cola beer, I had to get my hands on some.
Cherry Cola Vice, also known as Engine Engine #9 is a 5.5% ABV Berliner Weisse that was brewed in collaboration with J Wakefield Brewing & Slim Pickens. Here's what Magic Rock have to say about it:
"Out of the deranged minds of our lead brewer Nick Zeigler abetted by Floridian flavour magicians J Wakefield and T.Odd Strauss from Slim Pickens comes our third and possibly strangest ‘Vice’ series beer yet. Engine, Engine No. 9 is a cherry cola inspired Berliner Weiss featuring no less than 20 different ingredients to create a unique beverage with that most recognisable of flavours. It erm… tastes like cherry cola, try it, don’t try it… The Choice is Yours."
It's safe to say I had everything crossed that this wouldn't disappoint...
First up, the can art looks awesome with the distinct style that is unmistakably Magic Rock.
You know as soon as you crack the can and start pouring that this beer is cherry cola. It looks like cherry cola, and it smells like cherry cola. It pours a deep brown with a slight red tinge, leaving a tiny beige head. There's no other way to explain the aromas other than cherry cola; that's EXACTLY what it smells like.
Cherry Cola Vice tastes like an alcoholic, slightly more sour version of Fentimans Cherry Cola. There's not really any other way to describe it. It's so easy to drink, and the contrasting sweet and sourness of the cherries works wonders.
If you like a cherry cola, then you will like this beer. Even if not, I encourage you to try it just to experience the pure wizardry that has gone into creating it. Cherry Cola Vice has been hugely enjoyable, and i'm surprised at how much I like it...thankfully, I have another can in the fridge.
5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
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?! 🍻
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 🍻
Blood, Sweat & Beer
It's been a while since I reviewed a beer movie. Crafting a Nation was great, and definitely worth watching. Next up is Blood, Sweat & Beer.
Blood, Sweat & Beer is a documentary movie, written and directed by Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin, that focuses on the growth of two new American craft breweries; Backshore Brewing (Shorebilly Brewing) & The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company. It also sheds light on the explosive growth of the craft beer industry as a whole across the US, and the many challenges faced by new start-up breweries.
Check out the trailer below, as well as my thoughts on the film:
At the beginning of the movie, Backshore, named Shorebilly Brewing at this point, are already a semi established brewery on the Ocean City, Maryland boardwalk. The Brew Gentleman however, are yet to open their doors in Braddock, Pennsylvania.
Backshore, already being established are more focused on the day to day struggle of running the brewery & trying to expand in to the bigger market. There is also a very ugly lawsuit hanging over the brewery that has the potential to shut the business down, with another company having using trademarked the Shorebilly name for use on t-shirts.
The Brew Gentleman's story is more focused on them trying to the doors open and the struggle they face. Alongside that, we get the story of their background and how they got to where they are today.
Despite the contrast between the two breweries the one thing that is present between them both is their passion for the industry, and their passion for creating exciting, great tasting beer. The contrasting locations work wonders for the cinematography of the film; Ocean City being a picturesque seaside town & Braddock, more of a run down, working class steel mill town that is starting to get back on its feet.
The film makers also check in with more established breweries like Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn, Oskar Blues, Rogue & many more. These guys help give a picture of what the smaller breweries have in store for them on the road ahead, and how they fell about the future of the craft industry.
The other point the movie highlights is how threatened by the craft industry that giant brewing companies such as Ab InBev (Anheuser-Bush InBev) & The Miller Brewing Company are, and all the tricks they will try to squeeze the independent breweries out of the market. It is shocking to see.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Blood, Sweat & Beer. If you have any kind of interest in craft beer, whether it be a passing interest, or you are an enthusiast - I highly recommend that you check this one out.
You can find out more about Blood, Sweat & Beer by visiting the link below, where the movie is also available to stream.
4.5 out of 5 hops from this beer lover 🍻
An enthusiastic lover of all things craft beer from Aberdeen, Scotland.