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 🍻
The Final Fling
With a little just over three weeks to go, Aberdeen's premier craft beer festival North Hop is nearly upon us. Dubbed "The Final Fling", because it is the last North Hop festival in its current form, this year's North Hop Aberdeen will again be held at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on 30 and 31 March (Easter weekend).
North Hop Festival Director, Michelle Russell, said: “This is our 4th Aberdeen festival and it will be our 12th festival since North Hop began in Inverness in 2014. It has been an amazing journey so far and we have worked with some awesome producers and folk from across Scotland and beyond. But the time has come to take a step back and some time out to come up with fresh ideas for the future of the North Hop brand.”
Michelle continued: “We have always been at the forefront of new trends and like to keep things fresh and unique. Aberdeen has always massively supported North Hop and we love running festivals in the city and that is exactly why we have chosen Aberdeen for our final fling to send the current festivals out in style!”
Having been to the festival a couple of times over the last few years, I can say from experience that festival goers are in for a great time.
As always North Hop will be bringing along some of the best breweries & food vendors that the North East has to offer, with several returning from previous festival years along with some first timers.
Alongside the wide range of beer, cider & street food on offer, there will be a cocktail lounge & a specially designed "North Hop Bar" that will feature five spirits from Berry Bros & Rudd (including a newly-launched London Dry Gin), natural mixers from Lamb & Watt, and the finest ice from Edinburgh Ice Co.
In the cocktail lounge, there will also be a special pop-up market place featuring hand-crafted goods from local creative curated by the Aberdeen Etsy team.
On the music front, the line-up very much echoes the "support local" message with all acoustic acts and bands linked to Aberdeenshire. Sweet White headline the Friday evening session, The 101 will top the bill for the Saturday afternoon session and North Hop favourites The Harmonica Movement headline and close the festival on the Saturday evening session.
As this is The Final Fling, famous bagpiper Spud the Piper has been invited to the AECC to accompany Festival MC Nicola McAlley from STV News to open and close the festival sessions.
Over 2500 people are expected to descend on the AECC across the three sessions for ‘The Final Fling’ & with nearly half the tickets already sold, it really is shaping up to be one hell of a bash.
Full dates & ticketing info are as follows:
NORTH HOP ABERDEEN “THE FINAL FLING” AT THE AECC
Friday 30 March 2018 - Evening Session - 7pm till 12am
Saturday 31 March 2018 - Afternoon Session - 12pm till 5pm
Saturday 31 March 2018 - Evening Session - 7pm till 12am
£16.00 plus Booking Fee per session. Each session lasts 5 hours, and the ticket price includes festival access on the specified days/times, a North Hop glass, festival programme and drink tasters on arrival. Available at http://northhop.co.uk/festivals/aberdeen, via Ticketmaster or locally at DogTap (Ellon), Brew Toon (Peterhead), BrewDog Aberdeen (Flagship), BrewDog Castlegate and Melt.
North Hop has teamed with the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express next door to the AECC to offer festival goers discounted rates for the weekend of the festival. Deals are as follows:
Holiday Inn Express - £45 per night* B&B (continental breakfast)
Holiday Inn - £49 per night* B&B (full cooked breakfast)
*Discounted rate available for Thursday 29th, Friday 30th, and Saturday 31st March 2018.
You can keep up to date with all things #northhopabz on the following channels:
STREET FOOD COMES TO THE BLUE TOON
What's better than craft beer & street food? Not much right?
This past weekend saw Smoke & Soul, one of Aberdeen's newest up & coming street food vendors combine forces with Brew Toon at their cafe/micro brewery site in Peterhead for a day of awesome food, quality beer & some great tunes.
The folks behind Smoke & Soul are friends of mine & while I have tried some of Brew Toon's beer before, I'd never visited the brewery - so we decided to head up on Saturday afternoon to check it all out.
First up, the Brew Toon micro brewery & cafe is a great set up. The brewery area itself is very impressive, and the cafe is very well decorated & features a window that looks into the brewery - I can imagine this being awesome on brew days!
They had a selection of their beers & draft with them also available in bottle, along with a selection of coffee's, tea & soft drinks. The food menu also had lots of good looking offerings ranging from cakes, pies & nachos (definitely a reason to come back!).
Having only previously tried the Raspberry Carronade Cream ale, I was eager to try more beers, especially their latest release - M'ango Unchained, a mango IPA. After taking our seats, that was the first beer I ordered and wow, it was awesome! The first thing you notice is the smell - it is pure mango! It doesn't disappoint on taste either, with the sweet juicy mango complimenting the slight bitterness perfectly - this beer is so enjoyable to drink.
Whilst ordering our drinks, I got speaking to Callum from Brew Toon who was a very nice guy & who kindly offered to sort me out with a beer flight so I could sample the range of beers on offer. I gladly accepted his offer & before I reached the end of my M'ango Unchained, the beer flight was brought over to our table. It was a flight of five different beers & the waitress took the time to explain each one of them; Northern Sinner, Purple Reign, Raspberry Carronade, Loose Cannon & Weekend Hooker.
The beers themselves were all very tasty, with each of them offering something different. If I had to rank the beers that I tried on the day, then it would be something like:
I've already spoken about how awesome I found M'ango Unchained, however I just wanted to say a few words about Purple Reign; this beer is amazing, I really don't think I've ever tasted anything quite like it. Whilst I'm not saying it's the best beer I've ever tasted, the flavours are just so complex & they work together perfectly to make this one enjoyable beer.
They have just announced that this week they have started barrel-ageing their Holy Smoke Chilli and Coffee Stout in a Jack Daniels 190l barrel for a small batch release that will be ready in December.
Smoke & Soul
Smoke & Soul are an Aberdeen based smoked meats vendor, ran by two friends of mine. They believe in using locally sourced ingredients to deliver the very best smoked & grilled meats to food lovers wherever they can. They are available to hire for private events, festivals & functions & will bring along a tasty menu of smoked goodness with them.
At their collaboration with Brew Toon, they had smoked pulled pork served in brioche buns, a beef brisket wrap served with sour cream, tomato, feta cheese & coriander and also mac & cheese that could be topped with any of the smoked meats. So, pretty much something for everyone! I opted for the pulled pork topped with South Carolina style BBQ sauce (from Sauce Shop), while Kerry opted for the beef brisket wrap.
The pulled pork itself was awesome; it was tender, smoked to perfection, with the perfect amount of char on the ends and the South Carolina sauce paired perfectly with it, adding just the right combination of spice & sweetness. I don't think you could ask for anything else when it comes to pulled pork? And while I can't speak personally for the beef brisket wrap, Kerry assured me that she loved it & that it tasted fantastic.
They have also recently announced a "Smoke to Order" service where they will prepare, smoke and shred pre-ordered pulled pork meat packs, which can be reheated and enjoyed at home. This sounds like a great idea to me, and take my word for it as a lover of all things pulled pork - their pulled pork is special!
Overall, we had a great afternoon up in Peterhead. Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the live music in the evening but we would definitely hope to go back sometime for another visit. I also look forward to seeing Smoke & Soul pop up at more & more events - street food is a fast growing trend in Aberdeen & these guys are going the right way about making an impact! You can keep up to date with all things Smoke & Soul by following them on their social media channels:
Also, be sure to follow all things Brew Toon to keep up to date with their awesome selection of beers: