There comes a time, where we all pray for a beer that is so bat-shit mental that it borders on ludicrous. Well, I think I may just have found the one. The beer in question is Banana Toffee Chocolate from Swedish giants Dugges Bryggeri - a brewery that I knew had a banging reputation, but a brewery that I'd yet to try any beer from (bar a collaboration with Fierce Beer). I picked this beer up as part of my Xmas stash from Hop Shop Aberdeen, immediately adding it to my basket after reading the label. Banana Toffee Chocolate is a 11.5% ABV imperial stout and here's the official description from Dugges:
"Sometimes you need to go a little overboard. Well, we do at least. Then again… there’s overboard and then there’s overboard. Let’s say we went Dugges style overboard with this one. So, what does that mean? Well, it means that we’ve made an as balanced beer as you can make while getting it to taste like bananas, toffee and chocolate. We felt we just had to try it. Like, could it be done? Turns out, it could! It can!"
After I'd bought it, I'd had it sitting around for about three weeks waiting for Xmas to come around. So I was extremely excited for this beer. I couldn't wait to get it open and finally drink it.
Banana Toffee Chocolate pours a deep, dark brown leaving a thin tan coloured head. Initial aromas are well...banana. There's not really much else to say except banana, and loads of it - it was pretty much like sticking your nose over a banana milkshake. After the first sip, I couldn't believe what I was drinking. This beer is like liquid sweets - Swizzles Banana Skids to be exact. Sweet banana combines with sticky toffee flavours and a hint of milky chocolate to create one of the most bonkers beer experiences you're likely to have. The alcohol is well hidden behind all the sweetness, which I'm not sure is a good thing, considering this is an 11.5% ABV beer! It has an absolutely wonderful smooth, silky body, and there's little to no carbonation, all in all making this a very enjoyable beer to drink. I loved this beer.
Wow. Just wow. This beer was truly outstanding. I think it may have just taken top spot in my beers of the year - it really is that good. The flavours are out of this world and I just wish I had more of it. Seriously, if you are able to get your hands on some of this, then do it, you will not regret it. This has put this brewery firmly on my radar and I'll by trying as much beer from these guys in the future as I possibly can.
Banana Toffee Chocolate gets 5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Buxton x Omnipollo
Yellow Belly. Potentially the daddy of all beers, it's most certainly considered the daddy of imperial stouts. This beer has been around for years, and yet it's taken me until now to get round to trying it. Why? I'm not sure really. I think when I first started my craft beer journey, it was partly the price that put me off - paying the guts of £10 for a beer seemed outrageous to me. But as I grew to appreciate beer more, and just how complex and incredible the flavours could be, I realised that it might actually be worth it.
Yellow Belly is a collaboration between Buxton Brewery and Swedish giants Omnipollo and is a 11% ABV imperial peanut butter biscuit stout (yes, you read that right). Here's the official description from the breweries:
“Yellow belly” — a person who is without courage, fortitude, or nerve; a coward. To us, one of the most cowardly deeds is to act anonymously, hiding behind a group. A signifying trait of institutionalised racism. This beer is brewed to celebrate all things new, open minded and progressive. A peanut butter biscuit stout with no biscuits, butter or nuts. Taste, enjoy, and don’t be prejudiced."
You may have seen this beer in the press lately regarding an ongoing legal situation regarding the name, and as a result it is actually being discontinued in its current form. You can read the full story behind this beer here. I picked this beer up from Hop Shop Aberdeen, as usual, as part of my Christmas stash, and Christmas Day seemed as good a time as ever to enjoy this beer.
We can't talk about this beer before talking about the presentation. It is striking, potentially unlike anything else on the shelves, and to anyone who doesn't know the full story behind the beer - possibly quite confusing. But when you unwrap the bottle from it's white hood, and read the message on the bottle , then you realise exactly what this beer is all about.
Yellow Belly pours from the bottle a dark brown, almost oil black, leaving a thin tan coloured head. The initial aromas are loads of peanut butter, roasted malts, hazelnut and sweet buttery biscuit. It really does smell incredible! After one sip of this beer then you know you are in good hands; big roasted malts up front combine with peanut butter, some bitter chocolate, butter biscuit and a hint of vanilla. This beer is incredibly full bodied, nice and creamy, with low carbonation. The flavours are faultless, and come together wonderfully to make this everything a great stout should be.
Was this beer worth the wait? Absolutely. Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. I'm just regretting the fact I left it so long to try it out, as I would have loved to have experienced it evolve over the years. I am, however, glad I tried it while I still had the chance - and if like me, you have left it this late to try it, then I urge you to do so before it's gone forever, in its current form at least.
Yellow Belly gets 5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Beavertown x Caravan
We are now well and truly in to stout season and back again this year was one of my favourites from last year - Spresso by Beavertown, which is brewed in collaboration with Caravan Coffee Roasters.
Spresso is a 9% ABV imperial espresso stout and is now in it's third year of release. Here's the official description from Beavertown:
"Made with our pals at Caravan – a big ol’ stout brewed over 160 kg of roasted beans. Full on roasty, bittersweet coffee with hickory & treacle richness."
I was highly impressed with last years effort, so I was looking forward to seeing how this years release matched up. Hop Shop Aberdeen were again on point, get this in the fridges shortly after release.
First up, we can't talk about a Beavertown beer without talking about the can art, and as usual Beavertown have delivered another awesome looking can - I actually think it looks better than last year. Spresso pours from the can an almost jet black, leaving a fingers width of a foamy dark beige head. Initial aromas are pretty much what you'd expect - LOADS of rich coffee, that combine with roasted malts and a hint of hazelnut to leave your senses tingling. Flavour wise, it's pretty much just a continuation of the aromas; loads of silky smooth coffee, which is complimented nicely by roasted malts are both then combined with bitter dark chocolate and cocoa, with a hint of hazelnut. This beer is extremely smooth to on the palate, and there is loads of booze in there. I think the ONLY downside for me, that it was a tad too much on the bitter side for me. It reminded me slightly of like an 80/90% dark chocolate - which isn't really for me, although it wasn't too overpowering and was masked pretty well by the other flavours.
Overall, I really enjoyed Spresso and is an excellent start to my season of dark beer. It is jammed pack full of rich, boozy , warming flavours - everything you want from a beer like this. Do not underestimate the boozy aspect of it though, and I certainly took my time drinking it. If you are a fan of stouts, and if you are a fan of coffee, then this is the beer for you - grab it whilst you still can.
Spresso gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻