Is It Worth It?
The premise is simple; three brand new, experimental small batch beers delivered to your door every fortnight, all for £11 including delivery (UK prices). Pretty straightforward right? But is it worth it?
That's the real question here. I've been pretty hot and cold when it comes to new BrewDog beers this year, so with six new beers every month...could we start to face some BrewDog fatigue? I certainly hope not, because I do love BrewDog - Elvis Juice & Hazy Jane remain two of my favourite beers to date.
I sceptically decided to sign up. I think FOMO (fear of missing out) took over me - BrewDog really have nailed it here with the marketing strategy. I imagine there will be loads of people out there like me, purely signing up because they don't want to miss out. Time to find out of these beers were worth signing up for.
The beers themselves arrive neatly packaged in a typically BrewDog branded cardboard box. Inside the box, the beers come with a tasting card that details all the tasting notes. As far as branding & packaging goes, it's definitely all pretty cool & eye catching & certainly does the job of making a good impression.
First up is Jet Trash (v1), a 6.9% ABV West Coast IPA. Here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"A quintessential and super-fresh India Pale Ale flying the flag with a huge payload of US hops on both aroma and flavour backed by a toffee-forward malt base"
Jet Trash pours from the can a deep amber colour, leaving a foamy white head. Aromas are citrus; orange, lemon & grapefruit with a backbone of hops & malts. Taste wise there is loads of grapefruits, prominent malts & a good splash of bitterness rounding it all off.
I enjoyed this beer, it's a like a baby brother of Jackhammer & I certainly enjoyed it more than Native Son, their West Coast DIPA released earlier this year.
4 out of 5
Next up is Zephyr (v1), a 4.6 ABV Citrus-Infused Session Sour. Here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"Brewed with pale malt, wheat, Perle hops and a healthy addition of citrus, Zephyr is a tangy session pale with a pronounced aroma of grapefruit and lime and a juicy acidity on the palate"
Zephyr pours a clear amber colour leaving a foamy white head. Aromas are mainly grapefruit & sherbet lemon. Taste is prett much all tangy lemon up front before an overpowering soapy flavour takes over - for me, it really wasn't that nice.
I really didn't get on with this beer. Initial flavours were OK, but I found the aftertaste quite unplesant - like washing up liquid or something.
1.5 out of 5
Finally we have Nebula, a 10% ABV Russian imperial stout and here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"A brand new imperial stout brewed to be a decadent beast – packed with flavours of chocolate, coffee, cinder toffee and roasted malt."
Nebula pours a deep oil black, leaving a foamy beige head. Aromas are coffee, brown sugar & some forest fruits. Flavours are quite similar to the aromas - big coffee & chocolate flavours combine with sweet brown sugar & toffee before a jolt of bitterness rounds it all off. For being such a heavy hitting beer, I found it rather smooth & easy to drink.
Overall, I found Nebula to be another decent beer. Full of interesting flavours that work well together.
4 out of 5
Overall, I still remain slightly skeptical if Fanzine will prove to be a worthwhile long term investment; whilst Jet Trash & Nebula were decent beers, I really didn't like Zephyr. But I guess I can't be too quick to judge, the premise is they are experimental beers - they aren't going to be perfect. It's certainly a solid start and I look forward to seeing how this subscription evolves.
I've actually paused my subscription after the first week, a combination of Hop Shop Aberdeen having an insane beer haul last week and going on holiday this weekend meant there wasn't enough room in my bank account for all those beers. I do plan to reactivate it after my holiday and seeing what comes next.
I'll be sure to keep you updated of future Fanzine releases when they arrive.
Have you signed up to Fanzine? What did you think?
Fierce Beer x Brew York / BrewDog x Fierce Beer
Over the last couple of weeks I've had two versions of Very Big Moose. Initially brewed as a collaboration with BrewDog as part #COLLABFEST2017, it has since been re-released as a collaboration with Brew York using Tonka beans & again with BrewDog in celebration of #PUNKAGM2018.
Since I had both these versions just days apart, I decided to review them together. Hop Shop Aberdeen again delivered the goods in getting these two awesome collaborations on the shelves in no time at all.
Very Big Moose: tonka - fierce Beer x Brew York
First up we have Very Big Moose: Tonka edition, a beer that was my beer of the show at #northhopabz recently. VBM: Tonka is a 12% ABV imperial chocolate stout that has been brewed using Tonka beans in collaboration with york based brewery, Brew York. If like me, you didn't know what Tonka beans were...here's a quick explanation from Google:
"Tonka beans are a somewhat exotic ingredient that is becoming more and more common in home cupboards. The beans are about an inch long and look similar to raisins in texture and are actually seeds from a type of flowering tree found in South America. They are often used as a substitute for vanilla in recipes and have their own vanilla-like flavour – but with fruity, spicy notes. Tonka beans pair well with chocolate as well as sweet fruits such as strawberries and is often used in puddings and in ice creams."
So, now that we're all educated, here's what Fierce beer had to say about this beer:
"When deciding on what beer to make with the amazing guys from Brew York,it really was an easy decision. Taking our multi-award winning Very Big Moose, and using their expertise in the use of Tonka beans has produced something superspecial. A robust stout with a velvety mouthfeel, cacao notes and – wham! – Tonka awesomeness."
I'd heard very good things about this beer, so naturally when I seen it on the Fierce Beer tap list at North Hop, I had to try it - and wow, it blew me away. The flavours were incredible! So much so, that the very next morning, I got myself round to Westhill Service Station to pick up a can.
VBM: Tonka pours a deep, oil black colour, leaving a thin brown head that disperses pretty rapidly. The aromas from this beer are incredible; sticky, sweet toffee, combined with loads of chocolate & vanilla are rounded off with a touch of coffee - almost like a sticky toffee pudding in a glass! Unsurprisingly, the flavours do not disappoint either - huge vanilla flavours are combined with bitter chocolate, sweet treacle, roasted coffee & a warming alcohol finish. Wow. This beer is so good. For being 12% ABV, it is extremely drinkable too, very slick mouthfeel with little fizz.
Overall Very Big Moose: Tonka gets 4.75 out of 5 from me 🍻
Very Big Moose - BrewDog x Fierce Beer
Unfortunately for me, I missed out on last years collaboration between Fierce Beer & BrewDog. So when I heard from Hop Shop Aberdeen that it was being released again to celebrate this years #PUNKAGM then I made sure I wasn't missing out again. Very Big Moose is again, a 12% ABV imperial chocolate stout and here's the official lowdown from BrewDog:
"Not only did crew from BrewDog Aberdeen assist in the brewing of this beer for #Collabfest2017 - but it came out on top as the winner, beating 33 other beers for that top spot!
Together they brewed up a super-imperial version of Fierce Beer's session chocolate - Moose Mousse. They used the best Colombian Cacao and Madagascan Vanilla. It drinks really well at room temp, chilled, or with an ice cream float.
We brought this one back by popular demand for #PunkAGM2018!"
Yeah, this is going to be something special...
Very Big Moose pours from the awesomely designed bottle a dark black with a thin tan head that doesn't hang around very long. The aromas here are again awesome - roasted coffee, sweet brown sugar & marshmallow are combined with loads of vanilla. Flavours are out of this world - rich milky chocolate combine with vanilla, brown sugar & roasted coffee to create almost the perfect imperial dessert stout. For a 12% ABV beer there also isn't too much sign of the alcohol either, which is pretty dangerous! The mouthfeel is excellent too - luxurious, silky smooth, slightly creamy & very little carbonation make this extremely enjoyable to drink.
It's understandable why this beer has a 100 overall rating on RateBeer. Wow. For me, it just pips the Tonka version. Overall, Very Big Moose gets 5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
So overall, these are two incredible versions of the same beer & one that I'm glad I finally got round to drinking. Hopefully we can expect to see more awesome collabs between BrewDog & Fierce, especially with them being practically neighbours now!
For my next beer review BrewDog are back with their first wildcard release of 2018 - Kamikaze Knitting Club, a 7.5% ABV maple stout. BrewDog have history with releasing some pretty awesome wildcard beers throughout the course of the year with 2017 giving us Nine to Five Wizard & Pump-Action Poet. Those were some damn good beers, and combined with my ever growing love for stouts - I was pretty hyped for this beer. Here's the official word on it from BrewDog:
"A 7.5% maple stout, Kamikaze combines dark malts with a classic Canadian export - maple syrup, adding to the warming malty and smoky character. The maple sweetness is balanced out by a healthy dose of Sorachi Ace, resulting in a herbal and coconutty hop character against a backdrop of chocolate and roasted maltiness."
Sounds good right?
Since writing this post I notice that you can no longer find this beer on the BrewDog website - you are met with an error message. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the news article regarding the apparent backlash to this beer label in Asia.
Let's get straight in to the incredible can art - it is so freaking cool! It's certainly one of the most eye catching beer cans that I've seen, right up there with the best of Beavertown.
Kamikaze Knitting Club pours a dark, oil black, leaving a foamy beige head. Initial aromas are those roasted malts, coffee & a hint of bitter chocolate. These are then rounded off with the slightest sweetness of the maple syrup. On taste you get the rich roasted coffee first with a hint of sweetness - I guess from the maple syrup. There is a really sharp hoppy bitterness at the end, which certainly caught me off guard. It is a tasty enough beer, but for being labelled as a maple stout, I really didn't get much of the maple syrup in the flavour - only the slightest hint of sweetness.
Overall, Kamikaze Knitting Club was a decent, yet unspectacular beer. From the name & the packaging you expect a beer that is packed full of exciting flavours, however what is left is a pretty ordinary stout. That's a few beers in a row now from BrewDog that have left me slightly underwhelmed, however I'm not going to write them off just yet as I know they have incredible beer in them...I'm looking at you Hazy Jane.
Kamikaze Knitting Club gets 3 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Following the crushing disappointment of Indie Pale Ale earlier this year, BrewDog are back with a new addition to their Core range (which includes Elvis Juice & Jack Hammer). Native Son is a 8.5% ABV West Coast Double IPA that is now in full production following a successful prototype period last year & here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"Our latest Amplified beer, Native Son is now in our core range and is now fully available.
The brainchild of our Head of Production Jason Pond, and one of his first two recipes after joining the good ship BrewDog, it is one of the truest representations of a classic American IPA that we’ve brewed to date.
Dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Centennial, it has a superb combination of tropical and citrus fruit, with huge fresh grassy notes, and a big savoury smack of dank hop. Native Son clocks in at double IPA strength, but has effortless drinkability, with crystal malt providing light complexity and a shred of sweetness – no big chewy toffee notes. Bittered with Columbus and Chinook, there’s a driving bassline of pine; both sticky resin and cut wood – a building presence that melds beautifully with the green hop notes."
Indie Pale Ale definitely wasn't for me, however I have a feeling that Native Son could be right up my street. It sounds like an absolute banger! Although is it going to be worthy enough to stand alongside Elvis Juice, Jack Hammer & Cocoa Psycho?
First up the can art is signature Brewdog, this time opting for a royal blue colour scheme. Native Son pours a clear golden amber with a small white head that disperses very quickly - there seems to be little to no carbonation present. Aromas are initially malts, lots of hops & pine before being followed by some citrus/tropical fruits; orange, grapefruit & mango mainly.
On taste, the first thing you notice is the bitterness - it smacks you right in the face. It's backed up by loads of pine & oily resin. I didn't get too much fruit flavours - there was certainly citrus grapefruit in there, but it's the overpowering bitterness that really takes hold of this beer. There is almost no carbonation in the body, and the texture is very oily. While the sheer bitterness of this beer may overpower almost all the other flavours, it's not to say I didn't enjoy it - because I did. I'm a huge fan of DIPA's & while this may not be the best one I've ever had, the flavours did work well together, and it was enjoyable & easy to drink.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid beer & whilst it's certainly no Elvis Juice or Hazy Jane, it is a massive improvement on BrewDog's first offering of the year. If you are partial to a DIPA, then I encourage you to give Native Son a go.
Native Son gets 3.5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Hello & Happy New Year. A new year means lots of new beer & for my first post of 2018 I will be going back to where it all began; BrewDog, with a review of their latest beer - Indie Pale Ale.
Indie Pale Ale isn't just a new beer. It is a new headline beer. So this puts it alongside Punk IPA, 5AM Saint, Dead Pony Club, Jet Black Heart & Kingpin. Indie Pale Ale is a 4.2% ABV pale ale & here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"Indie Pale Ale is an icon of independence, destined to live independently. This is Craft Beer for the People.
A 4.2% pale ale for the 21st century; stripped back and sessionable, this beer is designed to be accessible.
Indie Pale Ale delivers a profile of tropical and citrus fruit set against a caramel and biscuit malt backbone. It is suitable for any drinking occasion and ready to go when you (or anyone else) needs it."
BrewDog are serious about this one...let's see what it's all about.
Well I don't know what else to say, other than that was a extremely disappointing.
Indie Pale Ale pours a clear, golden straw colour leaving a foamy white head. There is not much that stands out in the way of aromas for me; biscuit malts with a minor whiff of tropical fruits.
On the taste front there isn't really much more to report. It is crisp, dry & very bland tasting; mainly comprising of biscuit malts & only the slightest hint of tropical flavours - certainly not what you'd expect from a pale ale. It really doesn't taste much like a pale ale to me and instead, far more like a cheap lager. BrewDog already make a lager and it is a much better beer than this.
I'm struggling to understand why this beer has been added to the headliners range; it just seemed really sub-standard to me & a lack of judgement on BrewDog's part. In their first new beer of 2018 BrewDog have left me massively disappointed. It is a rare miss for them & here's hoping they can come back swinging with their next beer.
2 out of 5 hops from me 🍻