Next up for review is Pulp - a 8% ABV DIPA by Verdant, who are undoubtedly one of the hottest names in UK craft beer right now. Whilst I wasn't too hot on two of their pale ale's Headband & Lightbulb, I had high expectations for this beer after seeing some of the buzz for it online. As always, Hop Shop Aberdeen delivered the goods & I secured my can as soon as it was available. Here's what Verdant have to say about this one:
"This double IPA is bigger in every way but still retains a dry finish that hides its strength. Massive fruit aromas and flavours combined with hazy golden looks and chewy body really do make this beer a stone fruit pulp fest!"
It sounds like an absolute winner, and I have a feeling I may just be right...
Pulp! pours a hazy tangerine colour from its bright purple can, leaving a foamy white head. The aromas are quite typical of this style of DIPA; big juicy tropical fruits of mango & pineapple along with some peach and a helping of piney hops. Wonderful stuff!
The flavours are just as exciting as the aromas themselves; huge juicy flavours up front - orange, pineapple, mango & peach are then balanced out with a crisp, bitter finish. This beer is quite similar to a NEIPA style, however not quite as thick & pulpy. It really is great to drink
This has been an awesome beer that has got me even more excited about Verdant. Between this & their excellent collaboration with Beavertown, I can't wait to see what comes next & hopefully sooner rather than later, I can get my hands on the elusive DIPA called Putty.
Overall Pulp! gets 4.25 out of 5 from me 🍻
The Final Fling
With a little just over three weeks to go, Aberdeen's premier craft beer festival North Hop is nearly upon us. Dubbed "The Final Fling", because it is the last North Hop festival in its current form, this year's North Hop Aberdeen will again be held at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on 30 and 31 March (Easter weekend).
North Hop Festival Director, Michelle Russell, said: “This is our 4th Aberdeen festival and it will be our 12th festival since North Hop began in Inverness in 2014. It has been an amazing journey so far and we have worked with some awesome producers and folk from across Scotland and beyond. But the time has come to take a step back and some time out to come up with fresh ideas for the future of the North Hop brand.”
Michelle continued: “We have always been at the forefront of new trends and like to keep things fresh and unique. Aberdeen has always massively supported North Hop and we love running festivals in the city and that is exactly why we have chosen Aberdeen for our final fling to send the current festivals out in style!”
Having been to the festival a couple of times over the last few years, I can say from experience that festival goers are in for a great time.
As always North Hop will be bringing along some of the best breweries & food vendors that the North East has to offer, with several returning from previous festival years along with some first timers.
Alongside the wide range of beer, cider & street food on offer, there will be a cocktail lounge & a specially designed "North Hop Bar" that will feature five spirits from Berry Bros & Rudd (including a newly-launched London Dry Gin), natural mixers from Lamb & Watt, and the finest ice from Edinburgh Ice Co.
In the cocktail lounge, there will also be a special pop-up market place featuring hand-crafted goods from local creative curated by the Aberdeen Etsy team.
On the music front, the line-up very much echoes the "support local" message with all acoustic acts and bands linked to Aberdeenshire. Sweet White headline the Friday evening session, The 101 will top the bill for the Saturday afternoon session and North Hop favourites The Harmonica Movement headline and close the festival on the Saturday evening session.
As this is The Final Fling, famous bagpiper Spud the Piper has been invited to the AECC to accompany Festival MC Nicola McAlley from STV News to open and close the festival sessions.
Over 2500 people are expected to descend on the AECC across the three sessions for ‘The Final Fling’ & with nearly half the tickets already sold, it really is shaping up to be one hell of a bash.
Full dates & ticketing info are as follows:
NORTH HOP ABERDEEN “THE FINAL FLING” AT THE AECC
Friday 30 March 2018 - Evening Session - 7pm till 12am
Saturday 31 March 2018 - Afternoon Session - 12pm till 5pm
Saturday 31 March 2018 - Evening Session - 7pm till 12am
£16.00 plus Booking Fee per session. Each session lasts 5 hours, and the ticket price includes festival access on the specified days/times, a North Hop glass, festival programme and drink tasters on arrival. Available at http://northhop.co.uk/festivals/aberdeen, via Ticketmaster or locally at DogTap (Ellon), Brew Toon (Peterhead), BrewDog Aberdeen (Flagship), BrewDog Castlegate and Melt.
North Hop has teamed with the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express next door to the AECC to offer festival goers discounted rates for the weekend of the festival. Deals are as follows:
Holiday Inn Express - £45 per night* B&B (continental breakfast)
Holiday Inn - £49 per night* B&B (full cooked breakfast)
*Discounted rate available for Thursday 29th, Friday 30th, and Saturday 31st March 2018.
You can keep up to date with all things #northhopabz on the following channels:
Garage Beer Co.
You know sometimes you get a beer & you just know it's going to be great?
Soup IPA by Garage Beer Co. from Barcelona is a beer I've seen doing the rounds for a while now & a beer I've been extremely keen on getting my hands on. So when Hop Shop Aberdeen delivered the goods a couple of weeks ago, I made no mistake on getting my hands on a can.
"A big, juicy IPA from Spain's hottest new brewery. This New England style beer is loaded up with hops to give you a burst of juicy, tropical fruit, then as with their US cousins, a delicate malt base makes this silky and delicious on the finish. 6% ABV."
It sounds like an utterly fantastic beer...if only I'd known about these guys when I was in Barcelona...
The moment you open this beer you are transported to beer heaven. Wow. The aromas are incredible - HUGE pineapple aromas along with mango & orange are backed by the slightest hint of hoppy bitterness. Soup IPA pours a thick, extremely hazy golden yellow with a foamy white head - it looks almost exactly like boozy mango juice.
If pineapple flavoured beer soup is a thing...then this is it...and it is glorious!
This beer is outstanding, and one that you simply must try. Garage Beer Co. are well & truly on my radar now, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Overall, Soup IPA gets 4.75 out of 5 hops from me
You can check out the latest updates from Garage Beer Co. on their social media channels:
STREET FOOD COMES TO THE BLUE TOON
What's better than craft beer & street food? Not much right?
This past weekend saw Smoke & Soul, one of Aberdeen's newest up & coming street food vendors combine forces with Brew Toon at their cafe/micro brewery site in Peterhead for a day of awesome food, quality beer & some great tunes.
The folks behind Smoke & Soul are friends of mine & while I have tried some of Brew Toon's beer before, I'd never visited the brewery - so we decided to head up on Saturday afternoon to check it all out.
First up, the Brew Toon micro brewery & cafe is a great set up. The brewery area itself is very impressive, and the cafe is very well decorated & features a window that looks into the brewery - I can imagine this being awesome on brew days!
They had a selection of their beers & draft with them also available in bottle, along with a selection of coffee's, tea & soft drinks. The food menu also had lots of good looking offerings ranging from cakes, pies & nachos (definitely a reason to come back!).
Having only previously tried the Raspberry Carronade Cream ale, I was eager to try more beers, especially their latest release - M'ango Unchained, a mango IPA. After taking our seats, that was the first beer I ordered and wow, it was awesome! The first thing you notice is the smell - it is pure mango! It doesn't disappoint on taste either, with the sweet juicy mango complimenting the slight bitterness perfectly - this beer is so enjoyable to drink.
Whilst ordering our drinks, I got speaking to Callum from Brew Toon who was a very nice guy & who kindly offered to sort me out with a beer flight so I could sample the range of beers on offer. I gladly accepted his offer & before I reached the end of my M'ango Unchained, the beer flight was brought over to our table. It was a flight of five different beers & the waitress took the time to explain each one of them; Northern Sinner, Purple Reign, Raspberry Carronade, Loose Cannon & Weekend Hooker.
The beers themselves were all very tasty, with each of them offering something different. If I had to rank the beers that I tried on the day, then it would be something like:
I've already spoken about how awesome I found M'ango Unchained, however I just wanted to say a few words about Purple Reign; this beer is amazing, I really don't think I've ever tasted anything quite like it. Whilst I'm not saying it's the best beer I've ever tasted, the flavours are just so complex & they work together perfectly to make this one enjoyable beer.
They have just announced that this week they have started barrel-ageing their Holy Smoke Chilli and Coffee Stout in a Jack Daniels 190l barrel for a small batch release that will be ready in December.
Smoke & Soul
Smoke & Soul are an Aberdeen based smoked meats vendor, ran by two friends of mine. They believe in using locally sourced ingredients to deliver the very best smoked & grilled meats to food lovers wherever they can. They are available to hire for private events, festivals & functions & will bring along a tasty menu of smoked goodness with them.
At their collaboration with Brew Toon, they had smoked pulled pork served in brioche buns, a beef brisket wrap served with sour cream, tomato, feta cheese & coriander and also mac & cheese that could be topped with any of the smoked meats. So, pretty much something for everyone! I opted for the pulled pork topped with South Carolina style BBQ sauce (from Sauce Shop), while Kerry opted for the beef brisket wrap.
The pulled pork itself was awesome; it was tender, smoked to perfection, with the perfect amount of char on the ends and the South Carolina sauce paired perfectly with it, adding just the right combination of spice & sweetness. I don't think you could ask for anything else when it comes to pulled pork? And while I can't speak personally for the beef brisket wrap, Kerry assured me that she loved it & that it tasted fantastic.
They have also recently announced a "Smoke to Order" service where they will prepare, smoke and shred pre-ordered pulled pork meat packs, which can be reheated and enjoyed at home. This sounds like a great idea to me, and take my word for it as a lover of all things pulled pork - their pulled pork is special!
Overall, we had a great afternoon up in Peterhead. Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the live music in the evening but we would definitely hope to go back sometime for another visit. I also look forward to seeing Smoke & Soul pop up at more & more events - street food is a fast growing trend in Aberdeen & these guys are going the right way about making an impact! You can keep up to date with all things Smoke & Soul by following them on their social media channels:
Also, be sure to follow all things Brew Toon to keep up to date with their awesome selection of beers:
Verdant Brewing Co.
Verdant Brewing Co. are a brewery that are relatively new to me. The only beer I had previously tried by them was their out of this world collaboration with Beavertown. That's not to say I haven't heard of them, because I had seen PLENTY off buzz about them on social media. So when Hop Shop Aberdeen took delivery of two of their latest beers; Light Bulb & Headband - I did not hesitate in getting my hands on them.
I was extremely excited about trying these two beers and following the Beavertown collaboration, I was more than confident that they would not disappoint.
First up is Light Bulb, a 4.5% ABV extra pale ale that is described as a mash up between a session pale ale & a dank juicy IPA. Here's what Verdant have to say about it:
"As pale as a 100W light bulb but as juicy as an IPA. Sessionable, quenching and totally addictive. Biscuity malt base with a hint of sweetness all drenched in fruity/dank hops."
Light Bulb comes in a extremely cool designed 440ml can & it pours a hazy golden colour with a big foamy white head. Aromas are quite subtle; very hoppy, with wheat, citrus & a touch of tropical fruits. Taste wise - I found Light Bulb to be not as full of flavour as I was expecting; some slight citrus with a splash of hops & little to no tropical fruits. Tasty enough, however I found it to be slightly bland.
Overall Light Bulb is a solid, yet unremarkable pale ale that gets 2.75 out of 5 hops from me.
Next up is Headband, a 5.5% ABV pale ale. I had higher hopes for this beer than I did Light Bulb - I was hoping this beer would be more in the vein of a big dank, juicy IPA than the previous effort. Here's what Verdant have to say about it:
"Glowing orange colour. A beautifully balanced beer where the pale, crystal and Munich malts really help amplify the hops juicy qualities. Layers of flavour: tropical fruit, citrus fruit, stinky cheese, caramel - all working together. Bitter and sweet. Lush."
Headband features another cool can design from Verdant. It pours in to the glass a slightly hazy golden amber colour leaving a big foamy beige head. Aromas are grassy hops, malts, caramels & loads of citrus grapefruit. Taste is quite similar to the aromas; citrus grapefruit along with some peach up front, before being rounded off by some herbal grassy hops that leaves a lingering bitterness. This beer was a lot more bitter than I was expecting & tastes a lot more boozy than it actually is.
Overall Headband is a really solid & easy drinking pale ale that gets 3.5 out of 5 hops from me.
Overall, this has been a pretty good entry into Verdant Brewing for me. Whilst not particularly being blown away by these efforts; I am very excited about potentially getting my hands on Putty & Pulp - two beers I have heard nothing but amazing things about