Fierce by name and fierce by nature.
Dirty Sanchez by Aberdeen's very own Fierce Beer (brewed in Dyce) is a 6.5% ABV smoked porter. There is notes of chocolate and wood smoke present which is followed up with a warming, slight kick from the chipotle chili that has been added. The spice isn't overpowering at all and rounds off the flavour nicely.
Their website recommends pairing this beer with BBQ food, I opted for chilli. They complemented each other very well - my only complaint (no fault of the beer) would be that my chilli slightly overpowered the flavours of the beer, so I couldn't properly experience the flavours until i'd finished eating. Next time i'd like to try it with some food that isn't as spicy so I can enjoy the flavours of the beer a bit more. I'm still trying to get into porter beers, but I really enjoyed Dirty Sanchez and has only made me want to try more porters.
They aren't called Fierce Beer for any old reason - their beers are different, they pack a punch and i'd highly recommend that you check them out 🍻
Right the middle of Westhill, you will find a BP petrol station with a Spar store attached. To the naked eye - this just looks like an ordinary petrol station/shop...but take a wander inside to the alcohol section and you find a craft beer emporium!
The first thing you will likely notice will be the entire stall dedicated solely to Brewdog. The selection available is fantastic - not just the headliners (Punk IPA, 5AM Saint, Dead Pony Club, Kingpin & Jet Black Heart), but they stock almost all of the latest releases. If I notice on Facebook or Instagram that Brewdog are releasing some new beers in the bar that night - 90% of the time they will be available in the Service Station on the same day! Unfortunately, I don't live 5 mins walk from a Brewdog bar, so it is great to be able to nip in to the garage and check out the latest offerings on the day they are released.
Alongside Brewdog, they have also recently started stocking Aberdeen's very own Fierce Beer (Dyce) and have a great selection of their offerings. They also stock lots of other local Scottish craft breweries and have a fantastic, wide range available.
You will also find a selection of international breweries - Stone Brewing from Berlin are one of the latest to be stocked alongside Pabst Brewing from USA.
The chilled section boasts some of the most popular beers - which is an added bonus.
I recently spoke to Chris Proctor, one of the supervisors at the store who has been dealing with Brewdog, Drygate & Stone breweries for the last while, and I had the chance to ask him some questions:
I was really curious where the boom of craft beer at the garage came from? Was Darren (store manager) into craft beer and made the decision to start selling it?
The variety of craft beer we offer initially sparks from either individual companies reaching out to us with a desire to work together, or it can be ourselves doing the contacting if a particular brewery catches our eye. Although our craft sales are doing better now than ever, the eclectic range you see on our shelves has been a work in progress, spanning over many years. We had a rather hefty store refurbishment back in 2013, which allowed us to expand our chilled and ambient alcohol sections. This extra space gave way not only to the usual suspects that always sell well, but to also offering new and alternative beers. I believe it was Darren’s aim to go above and beyond what most retailers like ours typically provide, and today, it certainly appears to have paid off!
Is there some sort of connection with Brewdog? I find it amazing that more often than not when there is a new release at Brewdog... It's on the shelf at the garage the same day!
Initially, when we started working with Brewdog, our display was very minimal - a couple different bottles or so at most. However it didn’t take long before our orders started to noticeably increase. Today, we have a separated stand dedicated to Brewdog, and this year we’ve also moved some of the top sellers into their own chilled fridge as well. There’s a Brewdog rep that visits local stores and he’s always blown away by our extensive range. Their Direct Sales Coordinator is someone I speak to pretty much every week and he does a great job to look after us and yes, hook us up with new beers to sell right on the hour they’re officially released. I can only see our relationship with Brewdog growing, and as long as they’re brewing, we’ll be selling!
Do you find that there's a lot of interest in the craft beer selection you have?
Absolutely! It’s hard not to acknowledge the vast amount of craft beer lovers nearby that keep our stock moving. The craft stuff really is one of Westhill Service Station’s strongpoints. I think our passion to bring new and exciting beer to the public, links very well with the simultaneous rise in people’s interests and desires to try out beers new and alternative. Most weekends that I’m in the store, it’s more common than not to see several customers filling their baskets with a mixed selection to taste test. We’ve just recently set up a Facebook page for people to follow what’s new in the shop and what we have on offer in our ever expanding fresh and hot food section. A few posts in, and we’d mentioned some new craft items and it quickly gathered a significant online reach. I believe the next day, our craft sales rocketed! Again, I can only see this interest growing as long as we continue to provide what people already love, along with new things for people to fall in love with!
How do you decide which beers to stock next? For example I noticed in the last week you have started stocking Stone Brewing beers.
I’d say it’s trial and error, but honestly, there’s not much we’ve had error’s with regarding what’s ordered in. Everything seems to shift well which is fantastic. Firstly, when ordering something from a new brewery, we’ll test the water with a small batch on display and then see how it goes from there. The first few weeks of a new beer on the shelf is usually always successful, but what we look for is whether that pace is sustainable overtime. The new Stone stuff we’ve just got in is a prime example of how we let our selection grow. For instance, we’ve ordered in beers with some of the lowest ABV’s that Stone offer, in order to keep the prices lower for the customer to feel happy enough to try them out. If customers start returning to the Stone beers, then we can continue to expand and look at getting in stronger (pricier) options. Another thing we are passionate about is using local suppliers. There’s an abundance of indie craft breweries kicking about in Scotland, and Aberdeen’s very own Fierce beer is one of our latest local suppliers that are doing tremendous things this year.
If you haven't already visited Westhill Service Station and checked out their craft beer selection - I highly recommend doing so. There is a much better range of Craft Beer in there that you will find in most big supermarkets! 🍻
You can also follow them on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/WesthillServiceStation
Westhill Service Station is located on Straik Road, Westhill, AB32 6TJ.
I've now had all 3 beers that I bought from Stewart Brewing and my favourite without doubt was Cascadian East, American Pale. Made with West Coast American Hops combined with citrus flavours and a slight bitterness to it - this is exactly what I look for in a good beer. Coming in 500ml bottles and at 5.4% ABV, there is plenty beer to enjoy here.
The other two beers; Radical Road and KA PAI were also thoroughly enjoyable.
Radical Road is a pale ale made with the different American hops and combines citrus and grapefruits for a refreshing flavour.
KA PAI, a South Pacific pale ale made with New Zealand hops, was surprisingly my least favourite of the 3 - however still and enjoyable beer. Passion fruit, lychee and mango give this beer a great flavour, however there is a resulting bitterness that was too overpowering for my taste.
Overall I was highly impressed by these efforts from Stewart Brewing and would definitely recommend to anyone to pick some up if you get the opportunity 🍻
Whilst on a recent holiday to Italy for two of my close friends wedding, I took the opportunity to try some great Italian craft beer.
Agrado - Ambrata D’Abbazia
I spotted a selection of these on their own menu (which was in Italian). Unable to decipher the menu - I decided to pick this one due to the amber colour of it in the picture, assuming this would be to my taste. When the waitress took it over to the table, it was presented, uncorked and poured in front of me like a bottle of fine wine! The beer was poured perfectly, and upon first taste I was certainly not disappointed. The beer is a deep amber colour and a mix of good malts and a slight orange flavour throughout give a very refreshing taste. I would say that the unfiltered nature of this beer definitely helps with the flavour.
If this was readily available in the UK - I would definitely buy more, I and would be interested in trying their blonde Belgian offerings.
Check out their website below (Google Translate is required):
Birra Ravello - With Limoncello
Now, this was something different! We got this at a local cafe in Ravello Square and what a treat it was. Again, an unfiltered beer that is brewed by combining lemons grown in Ravello with the best craft beer from the Campania region. And the result was awesome - a light, refreshing beer which is slightly carbonated, with a backbone of citrus lemon that is guaranteed to quench your thirst.
This beer can actually be ordered online and delivered to all over Europe.
Check out their website below:
A great way to discover new beer
For a few months now, I have been a member of a craft beer subscription called Beer52.
Beer52 is an exclusive, small batch, craft beer discovery club that was founded in Scotland. Each month you will receive 8 craft beers - hand picked from a selection of over 12,000 micro breweries, a copy of Ferment magazine (which has an RRP of £4.99) and a snack to compliment the beers.
As the months go on, you will start to earn exclusive rewards. For example - I just received a Beer52 bar blade in my 3rd box, and in my 6th box I will receive 2 exclusive free beers. The one I'm really looking forward to is my 9th box, in December - where I will receive 4 exclusive Beer52 glasses.
The website is great. In your subscription section you can do things like manage your taste preferences - do you like dark beers? Or is your preference light beers only? You choose what type of beers you receive... You can even suggest certain beers and breweries that you'd like to see in your next box. There is also the option to add 2 extra beers into your next box, if 8 isn't enough.
The subscription costs between £21/24 each month (the is various levels of subscription), however there is usually a promo code going around that will get you it cheaper - mines costs £19 each month, for example. You can also cancel at anytime (you would be crazy to want to do that!).
This months box included beers from:
If you like what you've read about Beer52 and you are looking to get into craft beer, or even discover some new beers and learn more about it - then I definitely recommend giving Beer52 a go. Check out my subscription link below...it will get you £12 off your first case! 🍻