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 🍻
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 🍻
An enthusiastic lover of all things craft beer from Aberdeen, Scotland.