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 🍻
Big Fish Brewing
Aberdeen is pretty spoilt when it comes to local breweries. With Brewdog, Fierce, 7 Brewing, and more recently; Brew Toon Brewery, we have a lot of quality beer to chose from. So naturally, when a new brewery comes along - they have a lot of expectation to live up to.
Step forward Big Fish Brewing, from Stonehaven. I was recently given a couple of bottles of their Long 14 to try. Long 14 is a 5.2% ABV citrus sweet blonde IPA.
Here's what Big Fish Brewing have to say about it:
"They say the legend started in a garage...and that's only a legend. In a sea of craft beers you can always find a 'big fish'.
Long 14 is a homage to a glorious union, created on a special day."
Long 14 pours a slightly hazy gold with a medium foamy white head and medium carbonation. Aromas are fresh, citrusy lemon, grapefruit backed by malts and some hoppy bitterness. The citrus flavours show up again on taste and are very refreshing. There's a slight bitterness to it from the hops, and it is all rounded off with slight malt like biscuit taste. You really get the mashup of the blonde/IPA styles - they work really well together and it's very refreshing.
Overall, I enjoyed this beer a lot. It was a great mix between a blonde and a citrusy IPA that was extremely drinkable. Having a look on their Facebook page it looks like they have a lot of great beers in the pipeline including a DIPA - so I think it's fair to say that Big Fish Brewing are one to keep an eye on.
3.5/5 hops from me 🍻
Fun In The Sun! (with a splash of rain)
This weekend past saw the first Sessions Craft Beer & Gin fesivlal take place at Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen. Over the course of Friday night and Saturday afternoon, into the early hours of Sunday morning hundreds of festival goers got to sample some of the best craft beer, gin and street food that Scotland has to offer – along with some excellent live music.
We went along for the Saturday session, and thankfully it managed to stay dry for the most part.
Many apologies for my lack of photos – my phone died very early on!
The selection of beers on offer was great, with the tap list changing every time one ran out. The highlights for me were New England IPA by Brewdog & Highwire by Magic Rock. The gin bar was excellent too and the tiki bar served up some epic cocktails (I'm looking at you Pina Colada!)
Particular musical highlights included indie lads The Capollos & energetic rockers The Ruckus. Grilled cheese gods Melt were on hand too with their ultimate festival food.
We had a fantastic day at Sessions. The combination of quality drinks, great food and some highly entertaining live music made for a awesome atmosphere. They say they are already planning for next year, so I look forward to see how they can improve on an already excellent addition to Aberdeen's festival scene.
Be sure to keep up to date on their plans for next year by keeping an eye on their website and social media pages:
Until next year 🍻
The Growler Strikes Back
growler: a pail or can formerly used to carry out beer bought at a saloon, etc.
My local hop temple, my beer palace, procurers of the finest beer; Westhill Service Station, has just had a refit.
After a recent review of their licensing, and the go ahead from the owners; the shop will now house a growler filling station. This will consist of two 30 litre kegs that will allow you to fill your growler will the freshest beer!
Also as part of the recent refit, the craft beer section of the store has been totally overhauled with new fridges and shelving in place to house their ever expanding selection of the finest craft beers. The amount of refrigerated beers available in store now is absolutely incredible! There has also been a new coffee station installed in store. Take a look for yourself at the pictures (which Chris from WSS kindly sent me) below, and I think you will agree that it looks amazing.
The plan for the growler station is that they will try to get their hands on kegs of some of the hottest beers at the time, or if they take in a limited stock of cans/bottles of a certain beer, then they may try to supplement this with kegs. I'm really excited about this, as it is a fantastic way to experience great beer at its freshest - I can't wait to see what they bring in first. Also, if you don't already have your own growler, then they will have a range of them available in store.
The guys are hoping to start pouring beer next week, so be sure you are signed up to their Craft Beer Newsletter so you can find out which beer their pouring first, as well as keeping up to date with their latest stock and make reservations.
This is a HUGE step up for the guys at WSS. One that sets them apart from almost every other bottle shop in Aberdeen, except maybe Brewdog Castlegate. For a city that has such a great craft beer scene, that is a fantastic achievement, and one they can be extremely proud of 🍻
Siren Craft Brew
Siren Craft Brew are a brewery that I've seen a lot of, but never had much experience with. A few weeks ago I tried their excellent sour IPA; Pompelmocello and I have more recently managed to get my hands on Comfortable Silence; a glorious sounding Fruit Smoothie IPA, coming in at 6% ABV.
Here's what Siren have to say about it:
"Welcome to the next scene in our fruit smoothie movie! Comfortable Silence is the follow-up to Ten Dollar Shake, and we’ve upped the lactose for an even smoother, even thicker body than before. We’re topping it off with peaches, apricots and sweet cherries for good measure."
I have heard nothing but good things about Siren, and have had a great experience with them so far myself, so I have high hopes for this beer.
Cracking open this bottle, you are greeted with wonderful fruity aromas; tropical fruits mixed with sweet cherries and soft peach – great start! It pours a murky orange leaving a small foamy head. Again, as per New England IPA v2, this beer has quite a lot of sediment in it – so this may not be to your liking. However, I am again unsure if this was just purely my bottle.
The flavours in the beer are fantastic; instantly you are met with glorious sweet cherries & peaches, backed by some citrus orange. There is a slight amount of bitterness at the end rounding it all off, which complements the sweetness perfectly. It has an incredibly thick mouthfeel – which does actually give the impression of a fruit smoothie!
I really enjoyed this beer, and I can’t recommend it enough. This has really opened my eyes to what Siren can do, and I will definitely be looking forward to trying more from them in the future.
4.5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
An enthusiastic lover of all things craft beer from Aberdeen, Scotland.