Is It Worth It?
The premise is simple; three brand new, experimental small batch beers delivered to your door every fortnight, all for £11 including delivery (UK prices). Pretty straightforward right? But is it worth it?
That's the real question here. I've been pretty hot and cold when it comes to new BrewDog beers this year, so with six new beers every month...could we start to face some BrewDog fatigue? I certainly hope not, because I do love BrewDog - Elvis Juice & Hazy Jane remain two of my favourite beers to date.
I sceptically decided to sign up. I think FOMO (fear of missing out) took over me - BrewDog really have nailed it here with the marketing strategy. I imagine there will be loads of people out there like me, purely signing up because they don't want to miss out. Time to find out of these beers were worth signing up for.
The beers themselves arrive neatly packaged in a typically BrewDog branded cardboard box. Inside the box, the beers come with a tasting card that details all the tasting notes. As far as branding & packaging goes, it's definitely all pretty cool & eye catching & certainly does the job of making a good impression.
First up is Jet Trash (v1), a 6.9% ABV West Coast IPA. Here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"A quintessential and super-fresh India Pale Ale flying the flag with a huge payload of US hops on both aroma and flavour backed by a toffee-forward malt base"
Jet Trash pours from the can a deep amber colour, leaving a foamy white head. Aromas are citrus; orange, lemon & grapefruit with a backbone of hops & malts. Taste wise there is loads of grapefruits, prominent malts & a good splash of bitterness rounding it all off.
I enjoyed this beer, it's a like a baby brother of Jackhammer & I certainly enjoyed it more than Native Son, their West Coast DIPA released earlier this year.
4 out of 5
Next up is Zephyr (v1), a 4.6 ABV Citrus-Infused Session Sour. Here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"Brewed with pale malt, wheat, Perle hops and a healthy addition of citrus, Zephyr is a tangy session pale with a pronounced aroma of grapefruit and lime and a juicy acidity on the palate"
Zephyr pours a clear amber colour leaving a foamy white head. Aromas are mainly grapefruit & sherbet lemon. Taste is prett much all tangy lemon up front before an overpowering soapy flavour takes over - for me, it really wasn't that nice.
I really didn't get on with this beer. Initial flavours were OK, but I found the aftertaste quite unplesant - like washing up liquid or something.
1.5 out of 5
Finally we have Nebula, a 10% ABV Russian imperial stout and here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"A brand new imperial stout brewed to be a decadent beast – packed with flavours of chocolate, coffee, cinder toffee and roasted malt."
Nebula pours a deep oil black, leaving a foamy beige head. Aromas are coffee, brown sugar & some forest fruits. Flavours are quite similar to the aromas - big coffee & chocolate flavours combine with sweet brown sugar & toffee before a jolt of bitterness rounds it all off. For being such a heavy hitting beer, I found it rather smooth & easy to drink.
Overall, I found Nebula to be another decent beer. Full of interesting flavours that work well together.
4 out of 5
Overall, I still remain slightly skeptical if Fanzine will prove to be a worthwhile long term investment; whilst Jet Trash & Nebula were decent beers, I really didn't like Zephyr. But I guess I can't be too quick to judge, the premise is they are experimental beers - they aren't going to be perfect. It's certainly a solid start and I look forward to seeing how this subscription evolves.
I've actually paused my subscription after the first week, a combination of Hop Shop Aberdeen having an insane beer haul last week and going on holiday this weekend meant there wasn't enough room in my bank account for all those beers. I do plan to reactivate it after my holiday and seeing what comes next.
I'll be sure to keep you updated of future Fanzine releases when they arrive.
Have you signed up to Fanzine? What did you think?
Evil Twin Brewing
"...If you like Piña Coladas..."
Someone at Evil Twin Brewing clearly does, because they have gone and made a Piña Colada inspired beer; IPA Kolata is a 8% ABV IPA brewed with lactose, pineapple and coconut. I spotted this beer on Instagram a while back & and been wanting to try it ever since, so kudos again to Hop Shop Aberdeen for getting it on the shelf.
Here's what Evil Twin have to say about it:
"Inspired by an iconic tropical cocktail with a twist of what a modern beer should taste like. An IPA shaken up with lactose and with coconut and pineapple added. It’s creamy, fruity, comforting, annoyingly good and basically the epitome of poolside drinking."
I love a Piña Colada & I love a good beer, so this should be interesting.
First up, the can looks so cool - I'm a huge fan of what Evil Twin do with their can designs, they are usually so simplistic, bold & eye catching. IPA Kolata pours a cloudy golden orange with a foamy white head that disperses quite quickly. Aromas are mostly pineapple & citrus hops along with a touch of coconut & sweetened milk - very interesting aromas.
Taste wise, this beer is pretty much as advertised - loads of pineapple, coconut & lactose alongside more tropical fruits & a touch of bitterness. This beer tastes great, and it is extremely drinkable! It is so smooth & creamy, with very little carbonation - it goes down so well.
Overall, this has been one awesome beer. The flavours work so well together, and the creaminess from the lactose makes it so drinkable. I'm hoping to feature more and more beers from Evil Twin Brewing on here as they are such an exciting brewery - the Danish born company are set to open their first every brewery/tap room later this year in Queens, NYC.
IPA Kolata gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Next up we have Peaches and Cream IPA by the kings of Wales, Tiny Rebel Brewing Co. I've previously reviewed two of their beers on this blog - Captain Insano & Clwb Tropicana, with both gaining very favourable reviews. So when Hop Shop Aberdeen dropped an issue of their newsletter a couple of weeks ago & I seen the words "Peaches", "Cream" & "IPA" together, I knew this was a beer I had to try.
Peaches & Cream IPA is exactly what it says on the label - a 5.5% ABV Peaches & Cream IPA and here's what Tiny Rebel have to say about it:
"Does exactly what it says on the tin! Peach flavours from, you guessed it, peaches! The cream comes from sweet, smooth lactose and the IPA from the bucket loads of Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe that compliment the sweet fruit flavours."
Tiny Rebel certainly have a reputation when it comes to jamming their beers full of awesome flavours, so I was looking forward to this one.
Before we go any further, lets talk about the bottle. Seriously, how cool is the label?! It features "Princess Peach" doing some spray painting and the signature Tiny Rebel Logo.
Peaches & Cream IPA pours a hazy orange colour leaving a creamy white head. The aromas are predominantly loads of sweet, juicy peaches with a touch of citrus. This is without doubt a beer that does exactly what it says on the bottle - on your first sip you are met an awesome juicy peach flavour & load of milky creaminess before coming to a every so slight bitter finish. Wonderful stuff! This beer is extremely easy (and enjoyable!) drinking & could easily see myself enjoying a couple of these in one sitting.
Overall, this has been another extremely enjoyable beer from Tiny Rebel. These guys are without doubt one of the most exciting breweries in the UK right now & I can't wait to see what comes next. Peaches and Cream IPA gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Fierce Beer x Brew York / BrewDog x Fierce Beer
Over the last couple of weeks I've had two versions of Very Big Moose. Initially brewed as a collaboration with BrewDog as part #COLLABFEST2017, it has since been re-released as a collaboration with Brew York using Tonka beans & again with BrewDog in celebration of #PUNKAGM2018.
Since I had both these versions just days apart, I decided to review them together. Hop Shop Aberdeen again delivered the goods in getting these two awesome collaborations on the shelves in no time at all.
Very Big Moose: tonka - fierce Beer x Brew York
First up we have Very Big Moose: Tonka edition, a beer that was my beer of the show at #northhopabz recently. VBM: Tonka is a 12% ABV imperial chocolate stout that has been brewed using Tonka beans in collaboration with york based brewery, Brew York. If like me, you didn't know what Tonka beans were...here's a quick explanation from Google:
"Tonka beans are a somewhat exotic ingredient that is becoming more and more common in home cupboards. The beans are about an inch long and look similar to raisins in texture and are actually seeds from a type of flowering tree found in South America. They are often used as a substitute for vanilla in recipes and have their own vanilla-like flavour – but with fruity, spicy notes. Tonka beans pair well with chocolate as well as sweet fruits such as strawberries and is often used in puddings and in ice creams."
So, now that we're all educated, here's what Fierce beer had to say about this beer:
"When deciding on what beer to make with the amazing guys from Brew York,it really was an easy decision. Taking our multi-award winning Very Big Moose, and using their expertise in the use of Tonka beans has produced something superspecial. A robust stout with a velvety mouthfeel, cacao notes and – wham! – Tonka awesomeness."
I'd heard very good things about this beer, so naturally when I seen it on the Fierce Beer tap list at North Hop, I had to try it - and wow, it blew me away. The flavours were incredible! So much so, that the very next morning, I got myself round to Westhill Service Station to pick up a can.
VBM: Tonka pours a deep, oil black colour, leaving a thin brown head that disperses pretty rapidly. The aromas from this beer are incredible; sticky, sweet toffee, combined with loads of chocolate & vanilla are rounded off with a touch of coffee - almost like a sticky toffee pudding in a glass! Unsurprisingly, the flavours do not disappoint either - huge vanilla flavours are combined with bitter chocolate, sweet treacle, roasted coffee & a warming alcohol finish. Wow. This beer is so good. For being 12% ABV, it is extremely drinkable too, very slick mouthfeel with little fizz.
Overall Very Big Moose: Tonka gets 4.75 out of 5 from me 🍻
Very Big Moose - BrewDog x Fierce Beer
Unfortunately for me, I missed out on last years collaboration between Fierce Beer & BrewDog. So when I heard from Hop Shop Aberdeen that it was being released again to celebrate this years #PUNKAGM then I made sure I wasn't missing out again. Very Big Moose is again, a 12% ABV imperial chocolate stout and here's the official lowdown from BrewDog:
"Not only did crew from BrewDog Aberdeen assist in the brewing of this beer for #Collabfest2017 - but it came out on top as the winner, beating 33 other beers for that top spot!
Together they brewed up a super-imperial version of Fierce Beer's session chocolate - Moose Mousse. They used the best Colombian Cacao and Madagascan Vanilla. It drinks really well at room temp, chilled, or with an ice cream float.
We brought this one back by popular demand for #PunkAGM2018!"
Yeah, this is going to be something special...
Very Big Moose pours from the awesomely designed bottle a dark black with a thin tan head that doesn't hang around very long. The aromas here are again awesome - roasted coffee, sweet brown sugar & marshmallow are combined with loads of vanilla. Flavours are out of this world - rich milky chocolate combine with vanilla, brown sugar & roasted coffee to create almost the perfect imperial dessert stout. For a 12% ABV beer there also isn't too much sign of the alcohol either, which is pretty dangerous! The mouthfeel is excellent too - luxurious, silky smooth, slightly creamy & very little carbonation make this extremely enjoyable to drink.
It's understandable why this beer has a 100 overall rating on RateBeer. Wow. For me, it just pips the Tonka version. Overall, Very Big Moose gets 5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
So overall, these are two incredible versions of the same beer & one that I'm glad I finally got round to drinking. Hopefully we can expect to see more awesome collabs between BrewDog & Fierce, especially with them being practically neighbours now!
For my next beer review BrewDog are back with their first wildcard release of 2018 - Kamikaze Knitting Club, a 7.5% ABV maple stout. BrewDog have history with releasing some pretty awesome wildcard beers throughout the course of the year with 2017 giving us Nine to Five Wizard & Pump-Action Poet. Those were some damn good beers, and combined with my ever growing love for stouts - I was pretty hyped for this beer. Here's the official word on it from BrewDog:
"A 7.5% maple stout, Kamikaze combines dark malts with a classic Canadian export - maple syrup, adding to the warming malty and smoky character. The maple sweetness is balanced out by a healthy dose of Sorachi Ace, resulting in a herbal and coconutty hop character against a backdrop of chocolate and roasted maltiness."
Sounds good right?
Since writing this post I notice that you can no longer find this beer on the BrewDog website - you are met with an error message. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the news article regarding the apparent backlash to this beer label in Asia.
Let's get straight in to the incredible can art - it is so freaking cool! It's certainly one of the most eye catching beer cans that I've seen, right up there with the best of Beavertown.
Kamikaze Knitting Club pours a dark, oil black, leaving a foamy beige head. Initial aromas are those roasted malts, coffee & a hint of bitter chocolate. These are then rounded off with the slightest sweetness of the maple syrup. On taste you get the rich roasted coffee first with a hint of sweetness - I guess from the maple syrup. There is a really sharp hoppy bitterness at the end, which certainly caught me off guard. It is a tasty enough beer, but for being labelled as a maple stout, I really didn't get much of the maple syrup in the flavour - only the slightest hint of sweetness.
Overall, Kamikaze Knitting Club was a decent, yet unspectacular beer. From the name & the packaging you expect a beer that is packed full of exciting flavours, however what is left is a pretty ordinary stout. That's a few beers in a row now from BrewDog that have left me slightly underwhelmed, however I'm not going to write them off just yet as I know they have incredible beer in them...I'm looking at you Hazy Jane.
Kamikaze Knitting Club gets 3 out of 5 hops from me 🍻