Remember back when I spent the day at Brew Toon in Peterhead, and they were brewing up a beer with the Peterhead Lifeboat Crew? Well, that beer has finally been released, and that beer is Mayday. I was extremely excited when I found out what kind of beer we were brewing up that day, as it is easily one of my favourite beer styles. Mayday is a 3.8% ABV NE IPA, and here's what Brew Toon have to say about it:
"Peterhead Lifeboat Station has been safeguarding mariners along the North East coast of Scotland since 1865. With the help of the Lifeboat team we have brewed up a sessionable NEIPA with waves of citrus fruit flavour, made from the very best of new American hops."
All the flavour of a banging NE IPA, whilst being sessionable enough not to knock you out after a few bottles? Great! On top of making an absolutely excellent sounding beer, 20% of all profits from this beer will be donated to the charity - which is pretty awesome if you ask me!
Mayday pours from the bottle a hazy, murky golden colour, leaving around a fingers width of a frothy white head at the top. Initial aromas are refreshing, citrus, slight tropical fruits, some light floral notes and a hint of that familiar hoppy goodness that you are so used to with NE IPA's. These familiar flavours continue in the flavour, with refreshing citrus up front and combine with floral flavours - and if I am being picky, maybe slightly too much floral notes here for me. There's then an ever so slight dose of bitter hops, that rounds everything off, to remind you that you are in fact drinking an IPA.
This beer is so easy drinking, and the flavours all come together great. For such a low ABV beer, Brew Toon has done a fantastic job in packing it full of flavour. Like I said, my only gripe was that it was perhaps maybe slightly over floral, but that didn't stop me enjoying it at all and I would happily sit and enjoy a few of these in one sitting.
Overall, Mayday was another really enjoyable beer from Brew Toon. We're only four months into the year and these guys have been killing it with their releases so far - I'm super excited to see what they have planned next. I find it hard to imagine anyone disliking this beer, it is so easy to drink and for that reason, you should 100% give it a try - plus, it's supporting a great local cause... so what are you waiting for?
Mayday gets 3.75 out of 5 from me 🍻
Back when I was busy brewing up a storm with Brew Toon, I hinted that hey had a beer in the pipeline that I was incredibly excited about. Well, that particular beer has now been released, and it is Dark Nite, a 4.3% ABV Nitro Vanilla Milk Stout. This beer is quite special for a few reasons; firstly it is Brew Toon's first stout, secondly, it is a nitro stout, and thirdly it is the first bottled nitro stout available anywhere in Scotland. Now, that is quite a feat for a little old brewery in Peterhead don't you think?!
As I said earlier Dark Nite is a 4.3% ABV Vanilla Milk Stout, that has been infused with nitrogen. Here's the official description from Brew Toon:
"The 70/30 split of Nitrogen and CO2 in this one has a dramatic effect on mouth feel and when poured properly, creates an amazing cascading effect inside your glass. Roasted malt and vanilla flavours create the foundation of this velvety smooth milk stout."
I've already tasted this beer - I know how good it tastes, and I couldn't wait to find out how it had developed since I had my first sip. Head over to Brew Toon's website and read all about it.
Before we get in to the beer itself, a quick word on the label - Brew Toon have supplied instructions on how to get the optimal pour from this beer, they've even cleverly included a QR code that you can scan to watch a video of "the perfect pour", which is pretty handy if you ask me!
So, now that you've popped the bottle open, and followed the pouring instructions, you are now ready to drink this beer! Dark Nite pours from the bottle a deep black colour with a beige head that cascades all the way from the bottom of the glass to the top, as it settles (think Guinness). It is a really cool effect, and one you need to check out for yourself. There's LOADS of of vanilla in the initial aromas, followed by those roasted malts and a hint of sweet chocolate - mouth watering stuff!
One sip and you know you are in good hands with this beer; silky smooth, sweet vanilla and chocolate combine with the roasted malts and touch of coffee to make this one incredible tasting beer. It's not too sweet, too rich, or too boozy either...making it almost sessionable - I would happily sit and have a few of these in one go.
This is one of the tastiest milk stouts I have had in some time, it's certainly one of the best locally produced beers I have had recently. I would also go as far as to say that it is a better example of this style of beer than Jet Black Heart by Brew Dog.
Brew Toon has done a fantastic job here with Dark Nite, and I really urge you to go out there and try it. This is the first of three new beers in three weeks, and if the quality of this is anything to go by - I can't wait to try the others.
Dark Nite gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
As much as I love beer, my knowledge of how beer is actually made is very limited and I had no real idea of how a typical brewing day went. So when I was invited along by Cameron Bowden, Managing Director at Brew Toon in Peterhead, to join them for a brew day - I jumped at the chance. It just so happened that on the brew day in question, they were brewing up a very special beer, with an exceptional bunch of lads. Brew Toon had joined forces with the guys from the Peterhead Lifeboat Crew, to brew up a very sessionable, New England IPA.
The brew was due to kick off at 9am, and what better way to start the day with one of my favourite Brew Toon beers - M'ango Unchained. Seriously, I love this stuff, the smell is unreal! If you haven't tried it for yourself, then I assure you that you are missing out. Beer in hand, we began to learn about the brewing process from Head Brewer Trevor (more on him later), and what the schedule for the day was.
We (Trevor) kicked things off by starting the long process to create the mash*, which involved adding the malts to the water, and then basically waiting around until it's ready.
*mash - the hot water steeping process which hydrates the barley, activates the malt enzymes, and converts the grain starches into fermentable sugars.
While this was happening, it gave us all a chance to have a chat, find out a bit more about the brewery and how it worked, as well as what was going on at Brew Toon in general. This involved getting to sample one of their latest beers, directly from the fermentation tank - I'm not going to say anymore until Brew Toon reveals it, but I can confirm that it is a very special beer, that I am incredibly excited about!
When the mashing process was over, the wort* was then transferred over to the boiling tank for the boil to take place. This was another two part, lengthy process that involved a lot of waiting for things to happen. The first part of the process was the transfer between the two tanks, which was a relatively slow process as not to spoil the brew. The second part was the boil itself, which is also the part of the process where the hops are added - more on that later.
*wort - the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer.
When the wort was transferred into the boiling tank, and the boil began, it was time to start cleaning up - Trevor told us that 60% of the brewing process is actually waiting around and cleaning up after yourself. The first part of this task was cleaning out the mash tank, by removing the malts. One of the great things about brewing is that there is very little waste; all of the leftover malts (loads of them!) extracted from the tank are given to a local farmer to be used for feed, and used bottles are washed, cleaned and given to local home brewers.
While this was happening, we also used this opportunity to break for lunch, and whilst I was enjoying myself so far, it was good to get outside for a walk, and some fresh air. Once lunch was over, it was back to the brewery and it would then soon be time for probably what I'd been most excited for all day - THE HOPS! As soon as I arrived at the brewery, I'd been looking forward to the hops. The smell of hops in a beer, is one of my favourite smells, so I was incredibly excited to have the chance to smell fresh hops in my own hands, and whilst they are brewing.
Trevor measured out all the various hops that were to be used in the brew (again, I'm not going to say to much, and let Brew Toon reveal it themselves), letting us feel them in our hands and smell them, before bagging them up to be added to the boil. The way that the hops are added, is pretty much like adding a tea bag to tea - they are tied up in a muslin style bag and steeped in the boil for various intervals to add aroma and flavour to the brew. They can be added at different stages throughout the boil to change the intensity of the aroma or flavour.
Just a quick word on Trevor - I'm pretty sure he much be one of the most knowledgeable guys on the planet when it comes to beer! During each stage of the process, he took his time to explain it in detail to us, as well as a bit about the history of it too. He was also more than happy to answer any questions that we had during the day - and would always give the most detailed answer he could. He was a highly eccentric character, but obviously extremely intelligent - he was a bit like a non-drug lord, non-murderous, version of Walter White from Breaking Bad...
The aromas that filled the brewery whilst the hops were in the boil were unbelievable! I don't think I've ever smelt anything like it before. It was like the smell of baking filling your house, but even better!
Whilst we were waiting around a local home brewer by the name of George turned up. George helps Brew Toon out by brewing up small scale batches of any potential new beers that they may be trying to perfect - he is in the process of helping them out with one at the moment. George also brews his own beers under the name of Bold Brewing (check him out on Instagram), and he very kindly brought along a selection of samples for me to try. As you can see from the picture below, they are no ordinary beers, and I can confirm from what I've tasted so far - he really knows what he's doing! George then headed back home, to get to work on his latest batch for Brew Toon.
With the hops in the boil, me and Cameron took a trip to visit George at home, and check out his home brew set-up. When we arrived, I was quite amazed to see what George had done in his garage - he'd build himself a room for his own little brewery in the garage. Whilst it was on a much smaller scale of what I'd just seen at Brew Toon, the principles were the same - and I left highly impressed at what I'd just seen. It's amazing what George is doing in his garage, and it must be so helpful for Brew Toon having such a knowledgeable guy close by who is happy to help out.
When the boil came to an end, it was time to transfer the beer to the fermentation* tank, where the yeast would be added, and it would then stay for around four weeks. And with that, we were done for the day. The beer would require further hopping during fermentation, a process known as "dry-hopping", this is in order to further enhance the flavours and aromas, but this wouldn't happen for another few weeks.
*fermentation - the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
After the brew was finished, I got the chance to accompany Cameron and Brew Toon's PR intern, Shaun down to Peterhead harbour so they could get some shots of the lifeboat crew on their boat to promote the collaboration. Now whilst this was pretty cool to see...IT WAS FREEZING, and I was more than happy to get back inside - although it did allow for some quite spectacular views of the harbour as the sun was going down.
I had a great day in Peterhead with Brew Toon. I can't thank Cameron enough for inviting me up, thanks to the guys from the lifeboat for letting me gatecrash their brew day, and thanks again to George for the beers! For as much as I claim to be such a beer fanatic, I'd never really taken the time to learn about how it's made - so this really opened my eyes, and educated me quite a bit!
I'm really excited for this beer to be released - I can't wait to taste it! I'm also equally excited for some of the other beers that Brew Toon have in the pipeline, I really think that they are going to do some big things this year. If you haven't already been along to check them out, then what are you waiting for? 🍻
Following on from my review of Liberty APA by Reids Gold, I'm keeping things local again with the latest beer from one of my favourite local breweries - Brew Toon. I'm a massive fan of these guys, especially their Mango Unchained and Purple Reign offerings. I originally planned to have this beer over Xmas, but for whatever reason, I just never got round to it. The beer in question is Ship Launch, a 6.2% ABV Brut IPA - an interesting style of beer that grew in popularity over the last year. Here's the official description from Brew Toon:
"Ship Launch is a new style of IPA which originated in San Francisco, fermented down to a bone-dry gravity using champagne yeast (and some glucoamylase enzyme), to create a hop-forward IPA that is crisp, sparkling and full of flavour. We’ve filled this one up with a full tank of hop fuel, so expect big citrus grapefruit aromas when you let this ship launch."
It certainly sounds like a very interesting beer and I was curious to see how it turned out.
Ship Launch pours from the bottle an almost crystal clear amber colour (the picture really doesn't do it justice), leaving about two fingers width of a lively white head. The first whiff of this beer was huge champagne aromas - it was quite a weird sensation actually... expecting beer and getting bubbly! This is followed up by some melon, a touch of biscuit and some floral notes. The first sip is again champagne, followed by a combination of grape, melon, and a touch of biscuit. The flavours are crisp, dry and come together excellently alongside the light carbonation. For being 6.2% it's a real easy drinking beer, and one I really enjoyed drinking.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer - it was jam packed full of interesting flavours, and it was something different from what I usually go for, which made it more enjoyable in my eyes. If you are looking for something a bit different, then I definitely suggest giving this one a go.
Ship Launch gets 4 out of 5 from me 🍻
The Final Fling
Over the past weekend, North Hop descended on the AECC to celebrate its final fling as we know it. I was lucky enough to get invited along & attended the opening session on Friday night.
Having been to North Hop previously, and its sister festival - The Spirit of North Hop last year, I was super excited for this. The list of breweries, food vendors & everything else made for such an awesome lineup.
There were loads of great beers at North Hop this year. There were beers from great local breweries I'd already had plenty of experience with like Brew Toon, Beer Story & Fierce Beer and then there were breweries that were new to me such as Out of Town Brewing & Top Out Brewery. It was great to have such a range of beers to enjoy throughout the night and also being able to chat to the people from the breweries themselves - they were all extremely friendly, sharing stories about the breweries & the beers.
Overall, the beer of the show for me was Fierce Beer - Very Big Moose (Tonka), their 12.5% ABV imperial chocolate stout. This beer was immense...I had one sip of my friends beer & knew straight away I had to get one for myself. Unfortunately this was towards the end of the night, so my photography skills had greatly diminished, and I wasn't able to get a photo of the beer. Keep an eye out for a full review of this one in the near future.
Other highlights for me included M'ango Unchained by Brew Toon, the new Outsiders IPA from Beer Story, Orange Pale Ale & Property IPA from Out of Town - I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from these guys. A quick note on the creme brulee doughnut crush from Out of Town - I didn't get much doughnut taste in the beer, I would definitely be interested in trying this again to see if it is just a gimmick or if you can actually make out the flavours.
My only regret is not taking my glass home! Every time I have been at North Hop I have headed out afterwards so on each occasion I have unfortunately had to leave my glass behind.
There was also some top notch food on show at North Hop with Aberdeen favourites Melt on hand with their epic cheese toasties. I opted for the classic mac & cheese with Kerry going for the haggis one. As always, they were awesome, and the perfect way to kick off the night. My only regret was not buying one of those cream egg brownies (seriously, what was I thinking?!).
Aberdeen restaurant So...were there showcasing their "On Fire" street food menu. For me, the food highlight of the evening was their Firecracker loaded fries - they were EPIC. Perfectly seasoned crispy fries, topped with cheese, chillies & coriander. So... is a restaurant that I have crazily never actually visited. They often hold pop up events with their street food menu, and for whatever reason - I have never actually gone along. However, this will definitely change following my experience with these fries...they were SO damn good!
Aside from the awesome beer & food, there was plenty else to enjoy at North Hop including an array of awesome music throughout the night. Ranging from a piper in full highland dress kicking things off, a host of acoustic acts, before things being rounded off by the electric "Sweet White" who put in an excellent performance full of energy.
Along with the fantastic beer selection there was also the first ever North Hop bar, which showcased a bunch of really cool cocktails served up by a team of local barmen. These cocktails were expertly made & looked great and whilst I never had any myself, Kerry had one and assured me it was great.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at North Hop and I would like to thank the North Hop team again for putting on such a great event & for inviting me along. While it's a sad farewell for now, I'm incredibly excited to see how the next chapter looks - and if this is anything to go by, then I will be first in line 🍻