Tiny Rebel Brew Co.
If i'm not drinking beer, then the chances are that I may well be drinking gin. So when I stumbled across a beer named Gin & Juice, I was understandable curious. From the minds of Welsh brewing wizards Tiny Rebel and inspired by the classic Snoop Dog track of the same name, Gin & Juice is a 4.5% ABV botanical pale ale. Here's the official description from Tiny Rebel:
"The hip hop world has given us loads of ideas, so we thought it was only right we beerify the most famous cocktail rap has given the world. Gin & Juice is a beer that combines the classic pale ale style, the rich, aromatic notes of gin botanicals and sweet fruit flavours that provide the juice for this party. Bucket loads of juniper berries, citrus peel and aromatic spices give the beer a delicious, dry note, which is balanced out by the juicy fruit flavours from some punchy hops. It's like an afterparty in your mouth! Laid back!"
Tiny Rebel are no stranger to making interesting beers with a twist. So I was looking forward to seeing how this one turned out.
Starting off with the bottle art - seriously, how cool is it?! It is unmistakably Tiny Rebel, with their signature graffiti style artwork.
Gin & Juice pours from the bottle a ever so slightly hazy golden amber colour, leaving a thin while head that quickly disappears. This beer is called Gin & Juice for a reason - there is loads of juniper in the aroma giving it that unmistakable gin smell. This is backed up with plenty of citrus lemon, orange and a pinch of spice. Flavour wise, you again get the juniper up front along with some coriander, a bit of spice combined with the citrus lemon and orange. It all works quite well, and it's pretty crisp and refreshing to drink. It didn't quite blow me away, but the mixture of flavours certainly made it stand out.
Overall, I found Gin & Juice to be a really flavoursome beer with loads of interesting flavours. It's definitely something different and worth checking out if you are a gin drinker as well as a beer drinker. Tiny Rebel come up with the goods yet again.
Gin & juice gets 4 out of 5 from me 🍻
The Garden Brewery
Every so often a beer will come along from a brewery I know little about and blow me away. That's exactly what's happened here with The Garden Brewery and their Milkshake IPA. I'd seen this beer on the shelves in Hop Shop Aberdeen previously, but I didn't know anything about it so when I saw it on the shelves again last week, curiosity got the better of me and I picked up a can. From the look of the can, I thought the Garden Brewery were a small brewery in England somewhere and to my surprise...they turned out to be from Croatia!
Milkshake IPA is a 6.7% ABV well, Milkshake IPA. Here's the official description from The Garden Brewery:
"Sweet creamy and juicy IPA. Super Milky - With 3 times more lactose than we have ever used! Subtle sweet notes of passion-fruit, mango, strawberry, and vanilla. Fermented out with unique White Labs London Fog yeast WLP066."
I'd read nothing but good things about this beer on Instagram, so it's safe to say I had quite high hopes for it.
Milkshake IPA pours from the can a rather hazy golden orange colour, leaving decent sized foamy white head. It just looks like it's going to be great and things continue to get better from there - sweet, juicy mango, strawberry, pineapple and passion fruit aromas fill your nose. It all smells a little bit like an alcoholic fruit smoothie. You realise just how good this beer is after your first sip - those same fruits from the aromas combine with the lactose to create a sweet, juicy and creamy flavour sensation. The lactose does wonders for the mouthfeel of this beer, it is so smooth and creamy that it really is reminiscent of a milkshake. There is a warmth at the end of it all from the alcohol to remind you that you are actually still drinking a beer.
I can't state enough how much I enjoyed this beer. The moment I finished it, I immediately wanted more of it. The can states that this is part of the "experimental series" from The Garden Brewery...well, the experiment has certainly worked on me!
This beer is stunning, and frankly it's one of the best beers that I have drank this year. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on some - you will not regret it. In the meantime, I'm off to find some more beer by my favourite Croatian brewery...
Milkshake IPA gets 5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Aberdeen's Fierce Beer blew my mind earlier this year with the release of their first two ice cream ale's - Orange Scream & Melba Scream. They were seriously phenomenal beers. So when the latest in this series was announced as Pina Colada Scream...I was extremely excited (who doesn't love a Pina Colada?!). Kudos again to Hop Shop Aberdeen to getting this beer on the shelves super pronto.
Pina Colada Scream is a 6.55 ABV ice cream pale ale. Here's the official description from Fierce themselves:
"Pina Colada Scream is the third in our series of Ice Cream beers. This one is jammed with pineapple and coconut, heavily influenced by the cocktail-making antics of the Caribbean. Best served with a cherry, a paper umbrella and a crooning Mr. Manilow..."
So yeah...this sounds awesome, right?
Pina Colada Scream pours from the can a HAZY dark orange colour with a big foamy beige head. There's loads of pineapple in the nose, along with some coconut, peach and a creamy lactose aroma. Flavours are unsurprisingly similar to the aromas - sweet juicy pineapple, and loads of vanilla creaminess but for me the coconut seemed to be slightly lacking. Don't get me wrong, the beer still tastes great - it's so quirky and unusual and the creamy pineapple flavours make it extremely drinkable.
Overall, this was another excellent beer from Fierce. These guys seriously know what they are doing when it comes to summer beers! Whilst it didn't quite top the other two for me - it was still very enjoyable to drink, and a Pina Colada inspired beer is something that must be tried to be believed. If you liked either of the other two, then you will 100% like this.
Pina Colada Scream gets 4.25 out of 5 from me 🍻
Beer Story Brewing
Wimbledon starts today and local brewery Beer Story Brewing are back with what very well could be one of the beers of the summer. I remember when they first told me about the plans for this this beer at #NorthHopABZ earlier this year, and I was understandably excited about it. It was also due to be one of their first canned beers - and we all know canned beers are best, right?
The beer in question is Strawberries & Cream - a 4.5% ABV cream ale, that has intentionally been brewed with hot summer days in mind. Ice cream/cream ales are becoming quite popular this year, and it's understandable why - they are perfect for drinking in this kind of weather.
Let's see what this one is all about.
Strawberries & Cream pours a dark golden orange colour, leaving a thin, foamy, off white head. One sniff of this beer and you are reminded of one thing - those strawberry & cream Campino sweets from when you were a kid. Glorious! On your first sip, you are instantly greeted with loads of sweet, juicy strawberry flavours, and you also get a lovely creamy texture from the lactose too. There's low bitterness, but there's also a slight wheat flavour to it too. This beer really is what it says on the can - it didn't quite blow me away, but it was very drinkable.
Overall, this was a pretty damn good beer, and whilst I never drank it in the glorious sunshine - I am keen to get more of it and experience it that way. It's another solid beer for Beer Story, who have a pretty good track record with their beer now. Now I need to get my hands on their Lemon Wheat...
Strawberries & Cream gets 4 out of 5 from me 🍻
Time For a Change
The College has been an Aberdeen nightlife staple for over 20 years now - it has certainly been somewhere I have frequented over the years. Situated at the top of Union Street on Alford Place, it has been a constant stop for the people of Aberdeen to enjoy drinks, partying & live sports.
However eventually all things change and evolve to keep up with the times, and that's exactly what The College has done. Now known simply as "College", the bar has gone under a total refurbishment - promising to bring “an inclusive and metropolitan venue to Aberdeen City with something for all”.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the relaunch event on Friday evening before the doors were officially re-opened to the public.
Firstly - College looks absolutely stunning. I cannot believe the difference that has went in to the transformation of the bar. I would go as far to say that College is now probably one of the nicest looking bars in the city. The first thing you will notice is just how light it is compared to how College used to be, which I always thought was quite dark. The hanging lights scattered throughout the bar, along with the large windows which allow an abundance of natural light, makes such a difference.
The overall attention to detail is incredible, and it's hard not to be instantly drawn to the huge copper beer tanks situated behind and to the side of the bar (more on them later). The bar, as it did previously, takes centre stage - a large U shape, surrounded by stylish green stools and ample seating in the many booths.
There are two large screens at either end of the bar, meaning it will be hard for you to miss any of the live sporting action. Each booth has a small screen, along with a "press for service" panel - meaning you don't have to miss any of the match to get a drink! College have also taken inspiration from American sporting arenas by installing a custom built perspex "viewing cube" above the bar. Whilst it wasn't active on Friday, it looks like an awesome centrepiece and will instantly draw attention. There is certainly nothing else like it in Aberdeen.
Around the back of the bar, there is plenty more seating along with a stage for live bands and a well sized "dance floor" area. The toilets are upstairs as they were before, and finished to a very high standard. If I was to have any criticism, it would be that the cubicles seemed to be a tight squeeze - but you spend minutes there compared to hours in the bar.
Whilst the emphasis seems to still be on College being a sports bar - it’s clearly much more than that. For me, it looks like the perfect spot to come and watch the football, but in a luxury setting that anyone can enjoy.
Now lets talk about the big copper tank in the room - Tennent's Tank Lager. Whilst I'm not usually one to wax lyrical about Tennent's Lager, I'm also not one to diss it. I like Tennent's Lager - it’s perfectly fine. So when I heard that College were going to be the first bar in Aberdeen (and only the third in Scotland) to have Tennent's Tank Lager, it seemed like quite a big deal. And understandably so - it tastes great!
For those unaware, tank lager is unpasteurised and unfiltered lager that is straight from the brewery to the tanks. The lager never really sees the air until it hits your glass, meaning it is essentially as fresh as it comes. Not to mention the tanks themselves are an absolute standout feature for the bar itself - they look absolutely stunning, and are a welcome addition to the city.
You can just tell that it looks like a good pint! And it certainly is; crisp, and full of flavour, much more so than your standard pint of Tennent's. It's also a lot less gassy, meaning you won't get that bloated feeling that usually comes with drinking lager. I definitely recommend giving it a go, and I guarantee it will surprise you.
Beer wise, College has an awesome selection of draught beers available, including the aforementioned Tennent's tank lager, their own house City Lager, two dedicated Beavertown (haters gonna hate) taps and a Cloudwater rotational tap - now that in paricular is huge for the Aberdeen beer scene! There is also a wide range of bottled/canned beers such as a variety of Beavertown, Magic Rock and BrewDog.
They also have a vast selection of spirits and cocktails available - they have even crated a signature "PB" (PB Devco) range of cocktails that will be available across their venues in the city.
I just want to end by saying thanks to College for inviting me along to the launch event - we had an absolute blast and we will definitely be back soon. I encourage you all to go along and check it out for yourselves - I guarantee you will be shocked at the difference.