Sell-outs Or Smart Thinkers?
Beavertown Brewery are one of my favourite breweries around, they are the brewery behind what is still my favourite beer of all time - Tropigamma. So when the news broke today confirming what had long been rumoured - that Heineken were buying a minority stake in Beavertown, I was understandably, initially, slightly worried.
I've long had this notion driven in to me; partly due to the craft beer culture as a whole, and partly due to marketing from BrewDog and general craft beer culture, that all big brewing companies are evil, and any craft brewery that gives up any of its stake to them are total sell-outs. But are they really? Lets look at this realistically before we all jump to conclusions and stop drinking Beavertown. Before I get in to some of the facts and my own thoughts about it, check out the press release from Beavertown here. They also have links to a document with just the facts, and a Q & A with Logan Plant - founder of Beavertown.
“The decision to align ourselves with Heineken was all about their expertise, resource, route to market and most importantly the dynamic of the deal. They want us to continue doing exactly what we do now, and they will be there as a support network if needed.
Lets take a look at some of the facts of the deal. I'm not going to go through everything, just what I think is most important.
It’s a minority deal: Heineken are not going to own Beavertown. They are going to be a minority shareholder. Beavertown's destiny will still be their own to shape.
Logan Plant will remain founder & CEO: He's led Beavertown on this journey until now, and he'll continue leading them with his vision for the company.
Beaverworld will create up to 150 new jobs: What's not positive about jobs being created? And further to Beaverworld, they hope this deal will allow them to open up bars across the UK, which will in turn create more jobs.
There will be no recipe changes: For me, this is key. The beer has always been the key factor when it came to Beavertown for me, and as long as the beer doesn't change, then neither will my opinions of the brewery.
As for my own thoughts on this - sure, I love craft beer and everything that it stands for. But I am not going to lose any immediate sleep over this. I've read the press release, and I've read the facts - so unless Beavertown are straight up lying to us, then things sound like they are only going to get better.
Certainly in my experience there's plenty breweries out there who are either owned or partly owned by large companies and haven't compromised on quality; Ballast Point still make fantastic beer, Camden Town? I enjoy their beer, and even Goose Island to a point still make pretty good beer.
I'm not going to go on and on and make out like I'm some kind of financial expert, or make out like I know what kind of impact this might have on other breweries - I'm just saying things like I see them.
This news is understandably going to upset some people, and I have no doubt they will lose their fare share of customers, and they might have even broken some links with other breweries with this move. For me however, as long as the beer remains great - then I'll keep drinking it.
And who knows, I might even take a trip to Beaverworld one day 🍻
Beavertown x Cloudwater
Recently, to celebrate their 6th birthday. Beavertown invited a bunch of awesome breweries to brew up some collaborations. One of those breweries was the highly decorated Cloudwater, who collaborated on not one, but three beers! Those three beers were:
Do Not Open Until 1985 - 9% ABV DIPA
Big, hazy DIPA with lots of wheat and oats in the grist, fermented with a mixture of White Labs London Fog and Lallemand New England yeasts. Whirlpool-ed with plenty of Ekuanot and Citra, and will be very heavily dry hopped with Mosaic, Vic Secret and Simcoe.
Good Night, Future Boy! - 6% ABV IPL
6% abv, Huell Melon in the whirlpool and fermented with WLP833. Heavily dry hopped with Citra BBC. As we’re doing bigger brews of the DIPA and IPL these will also be available in small pack, not just keg. Rejoice!
Finally Invented Something That Works! - 3& ABV Gose
Classic Gose Recipe, with 50% Wheat with salt and coriander Seed added at the end of the boil. Naturally soured in tank with Lactobacillus Plantarum and fermented with Lallemand New England Yeast to give a 3% beer with plenty of body. We then added Lemon, Grapefruit, Lime and Blood Orange Juice at the end of fermentation before infusing with Grapefruit, Lemon and Blood Orange Zest. Lightly tart, very refreshing, with big citrus notes.
Thanks to Hop Shop Aberdeen, I managed to get my hands on two of these beers; Do Not Open Until 1985 & Good Night, Future Boy! I had heard good things about these beers online, so I was looking forward to getting stuck into them!
Do Not Open Until 1985
First up is Do Not Open Until 1985, the 9% ABV DIPA. This was perhaps the one that I was most looking forward to, because as I've said on this blog many times before - DIPA's are one of my favourite styles of beer, and one made by Beavertown & Cloudwater is one worth getting excited about!
The can art is awesome as always - unmistakably Beavertown, with the two brewery logos merged in to one adding a cool touch. Do Not Open Until 1985 pours a hazy, thick, golden orange leaving a foamy white head. It gives off awesome aromas of orange, peach, melon & loads of pine to entice you straight in to having a gulp. These aromas follow straight through into the flavours too with a huge amount of orange up front followed by more peach & melon, before being rounded off with a hit of piney bitterness - fantastic stuff!
This is an awesome tasting beer. What else would you expect from these two beer gods?! Warning though - it is a boozy one, and drinking a couple of these would go some way towards knocking you out!
Overall, Do Not Open Until 1985 gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Good night, Future Boy!
Next up we have Good Night, Future Boy! - the 6% ABV IPL. I don't have too much experience when it comes to IPL's, with my only other venture being West Side Beavo, Beavertown's collaboration with Firestone Walker (which was great). I'd read good things about this beer online so I was looking forward to it.
Starting off with the can art - it is outrageously minimalist; combining Cloudwater's trademark can layout with a psychedelic colour scheme & the two brewery logos. Good Night, Future Boy! pours a golden orange, leaving a foamy beige head. Aromas are full of citrus; orange, lemon & grapefruit are followed up with a drop of pine. The citrus is heavy again on taste with loads of lemon & orange with some floral notes followed by some grassy hop bitterness. This is a really easy drinking beer with a nice creamy mouthfeel & a smooth crisp finish.
This was another great example of an IPL for me & I certainly look forward to trying more. As far as "lager" goes - you might struggle to find a better tasting one than this.
Overall, Good Night, Future Boy! gets 4 out of 5 from me 🍻
Overall, these have been two pretty awesome beers from two breweries at the top of their game. I look forward to seeing these guys colab more in the future. Do yourself a favour & pick them up if you still can & raise a glass to Beavertown 🍻
Beavertown x Verdant
After the disappointment of my first beer review of the year from BrewDog, I finally got my hands on a beer that I was genuinely excited about. Shut Up and Play The Hits is a collaboration between brewing giants Beavertown & Verdant Brewing. Shut Up and Play The Hits is a 8.8% ABV DIPA & here's what Beavertown have to say about it:
"Fuelled by pure mango petrol this juicy double IPA is a banger. A sneaky but well meaning bitterness luring in the background, with a pleasant fruity sweetness being the main star on stage. Full, round and thick – You are welcome. DRINK FRESH."
This beer sounds like a dream. Beavertown have made so many of my absolute favourite beers & collaborating with another awesome brewery like Verdant is a guaranteed recipe for success. I know I am going to love this beer, the question is just how much?
Before I get in to the aroma & taste, let's take a minute to appreciate the incredible can art on display. It's the same level that we have come to expect from Beavertown time & time again. There really is no one better when it comes to designing cans.
Cracking open the awesome can & pouring into a glass...wow. I was met with a tropical fruit explosion. This beer smelled like pure JUICE; mango, pineapple & passion fruit with the slightest hint of pine left me eager to take my first sip. Shut Up and Play The Hits pours a hazy golden orange leaving a foamy white head - it is one good looking beer. You should 100% try this beer.
The first taste is every bit as good as I expected. Those juicy tropical fruits hit you right up front; loads of pineapple & mango with a hint of orange are then rounded off with a hint of resinous pine. For being a 8.8% ABV beer, it certainly doesn't taste like it & for one that tastes as good as this - it should definitely be enjoyed in moderation. This beer reminds me of Tropigamma which is a helluva comparison - it was the first world class beer I ever had.
This beer is an absolute BANGER! Beavertown & Verdant really have conjured up something special here (not that I expected anything else) & I'll be highly surprised if this isn't one of my top 10 beers of 2018.
Shut Up and Play The Hits gets 5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Christmas Time Mistletoe and...Beer
Christmas time is all about spending time with your family & overdoing it on great food so I thought that should apply to great beer also. For the past few weeks I have handpicking a selection of beers from Hop Shop Aberdeen and putting them away to enjoy over the festive season. I have managed to get my hands on beers from breweries such as Beavertown, Magic Rock, Amundsen, 6 Degrees North, Siren & Brewdog to name but a few. This includes some new exciting beers alongside some favourites from the past year like Humuloid, Cherry Cola Vice, Pineapple Oceans & a dark twist on Neapolitan Pale Ale.
In this blog post I'm going to take 12 of those beers & run through my favourites by picking a top 5. Some of these beers are pretty heavy hitters & it's not going to be easy deciding a champion, that's for sure.
Well it's safe to say that was an incredible selection of beers. It was hard enough to pick 12 of them...never mind 5! All of these beers were fantastic in their own right; great to drink and full of flavour. But overall, my top 5 is as follows:
Amundsen - Desert In a Can: This beer was INCREDIBLE. Amundsen really have done something special here. The flavours work together so well, it actually tastes like liquid desert. I can't wait to try the rest of the series. PS this is one BOOZY beer, so beer sure to enjoy it in moderation.
Northern Monk - Dark Neapolitan: A close second, I actually think I prefer this to the original. Everything just works so well; all the flavours of the original are there & with the addition of dark forest fruits & some coffee notes it becomes something really special.
Beavertown - Spresso: A beer that I missed last time round, and one I was delighted to finally sample. It is a BOOZY coffee beer. There's not really much else to say. Beavertown have worked their magic here.
Magic Rock - Dairy Freak: This one was great. It is such a sweet & milky beer that I enjoyed every second spent drinking it. Unlike other porters which can feel very indulgent, this is one I feel I could drink a few of in one sitting.
Beavertown - Humuloid: I think almost everyone reading this will know all about this one. The only non dark beer that made the top 5 but Humuloid is probably one of my all time favourite DIPAs that it would be hard not to include. I loved the original version & this was every bit as good, maybe even better?
So there you have it, my top 5 from my 12 beers of Christmas. The others that didn't make the list were still good, they just didn't have that extra special something about them that the top 5 did. They say winter is stout season and they are not half wrong, there is just something about drinking a warming dark stout/porter that just feels right at this time of year.
I'd like to finish this post by thanking everyone of you that has read any of my posts throughout the year. It means a lot & encourages me to keep writing. I'd like to wish you a very Happy New Year & I look forward to sharing even more of my beer journey with you all in 2018 🍻
Happy Birthday Byron Burger
Byron Burgers recently celebrated their 10th birthday and to mark this occasion, they brewed up a batch of special beers with some incredible local breweries. My wife was lucky enough to win a Instagram competition to win a box of all the beers...and well, married couples share right? So that means I get to try them out...
The box features beers from:
They vary in style and were brewed to be paired with a specific Byron birthday burger. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of trying them alongside the burgers...so it's beer only.
I'm not going to review every beer from the box, just my top 3 and a runner up.
Now this was a fantastic box of beer full of different styles and flavours. It was hard to pick a top 3, but I just about managed…
You probably guessed this was going to happen. But my favourite beer was absolutely Little Furry Animal by Beavertown. Little Furry Animal is a beer that I found to be absolutely excellent. It is without doubt classic Beavertown; refreshing, hoppy, murky & full of flavour. It’s a shame this was a limited release because I would 100% drink it again.
Close behind in second was Pith & Love by Vocation Brewery; a 4.5% ABV pale ale. This beers was great! It’s actually the first Vocation beer I’ve ever had (I know) – that is definitely going to change though! It was citrusy, light, refreshing & I can just imagine how great it would have been with a burger!
The next beer on the list was Hells USA by Camden Town Brewery, a 4.6% ABV unfiltered lager. Camden Hells is a great beer – anytime I’m out in somewhere like Revolution, it is my go to beer. So I was looking forward to trying the unfiltered version, because well, unfiltered beer is normally better! Safe to say I wasn’t disappointed; Hells USA was a belter of a lager – crisp with a real refreshing, citrusy, distinctive flavour. I would definitely drink this beer again.
And last but not least was Kuro by Camden Town again; a 5.1% ABV black lager. This beer was absolutely FULL of flavours! Distinctive lager flavours, with a hint of a porter about it - I can imagine that this beer would go very well with a spicy burger.
The other two beers; Zehn & Elation were decent, however they just didn't quite match up to the others. All in all, this was a great box of beers from Byron Burger - they definitely celebrated their birthday in style! Also, if you have never checked out their burgers, I highly recommend you do so. I am normally an advocate of trying to keep it local, however Byron's burgers are excellent!
Oh, and thanks again to my wife for winning the competition 🍻