Buxton x Omnipollo
Yellow Belly. Potentially the daddy of all beers, it's most certainly considered the daddy of imperial stouts. This beer has been around for years, and yet it's taken me until now to get round to trying it. Why? I'm not sure really. I think when I first started my craft beer journey, it was partly the price that put me off - paying the guts of £10 for a beer seemed outrageous to me. But as I grew to appreciate beer more, and just how complex and incredible the flavours could be, I realised that it might actually be worth it.
Yellow Belly is a collaboration between Buxton Brewery and Swedish giants Omnipollo and is a 11% ABV imperial peanut butter biscuit stout (yes, you read that right). Here's the official description from the breweries:
“Yellow belly” — a person who is without courage, fortitude, or nerve; a coward. To us, one of the most cowardly deeds is to act anonymously, hiding behind a group. A signifying trait of institutionalised racism. This beer is brewed to celebrate all things new, open minded and progressive. A peanut butter biscuit stout with no biscuits, butter or nuts. Taste, enjoy, and don’t be prejudiced."
You may have seen this beer in the press lately regarding an ongoing legal situation regarding the name, and as a result it is actually being discontinued in its current form. You can read the full story behind this beer here. I picked this beer up from Hop Shop Aberdeen, as usual, as part of my Christmas stash, and Christmas Day seemed as good a time as ever to enjoy this beer.
We can't talk about this beer before talking about the presentation. It is striking, potentially unlike anything else on the shelves, and to anyone who doesn't know the full story behind the beer - possibly quite confusing. But when you unwrap the bottle from it's white hood, and read the message on the bottle , then you realise exactly what this beer is all about.
Yellow Belly pours from the bottle a dark brown, almost oil black, leaving a thin tan coloured head. The initial aromas are loads of peanut butter, roasted malts, hazelnut and sweet buttery biscuit. It really does smell incredible! After one sip of this beer then you know you are in good hands; big roasted malts up front combine with peanut butter, some bitter chocolate, butter biscuit and a hint of vanilla. This beer is incredibly full bodied, nice and creamy, with low carbonation. The flavours are faultless, and come together wonderfully to make this everything a great stout should be.
Was this beer worth the wait? Absolutely. Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. I'm just regretting the fact I left it so long to try it out, as I would have loved to have experienced it evolve over the years. I am, however, glad I tried it while I still had the chance - and if like me, you have left it this late to try it, then I urge you to do so before it's gone forever, in its current form at least.
Yellow Belly gets 5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Beavertown x Caravan
We are now well and truly in to stout season and back again this year was one of my favourites from last year - Spresso by Beavertown, which is brewed in collaboration with Caravan Coffee Roasters.
Spresso is a 9% ABV imperial espresso stout and is now in it's third year of release. Here's the official description from Beavertown:
"Made with our pals at Caravan – a big ol’ stout brewed over 160 kg of roasted beans. Full on roasty, bittersweet coffee with hickory & treacle richness."
I was highly impressed with last years effort, so I was looking forward to seeing how this years release matched up. Hop Shop Aberdeen were again on point, get this in the fridges shortly after release.
First up, we can't talk about a Beavertown beer without talking about the can art, and as usual Beavertown have delivered another awesome looking can - I actually think it looks better than last year. Spresso pours from the can an almost jet black, leaving a fingers width of a foamy dark beige head. Initial aromas are pretty much what you'd expect - LOADS of rich coffee, that combine with roasted malts and a hint of hazelnut to leave your senses tingling. Flavour wise, it's pretty much just a continuation of the aromas; loads of silky smooth coffee, which is complimented nicely by roasted malts are both then combined with bitter dark chocolate and cocoa, with a hint of hazelnut. This beer is extremely smooth to on the palate, and there is loads of booze in there. I think the ONLY downside for me, that it was a tad too much on the bitter side for me. It reminded me slightly of like an 80/90% dark chocolate - which isn't really for me, although it wasn't too overpowering and was masked pretty well by the other flavours.
Overall, I really enjoyed Spresso and is an excellent start to my season of dark beer. It is jammed pack full of rich, boozy , warming flavours - everything you want from a beer like this. Do not underestimate the boozy aspect of it though, and I certainly took my time drinking it. If you are a fan of stouts, and if you are a fan of coffee, then this is the beer for you - grab it whilst you still can.
Spresso gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
We're finally starting to see some decent weather in Aberdeen. That calls for summer beers. Thankfully, Aberdeen's own Fierce beer seem to have came up with the perfect beers; two ice cream ales, perfect for a summers day - Orange Scream, a collaboration with Norwegian masters Amundsen & also Melba Scream.
Since these beers are pretty similar in nature, I'm gonna cover them in a single review. I'd heard nothing but good things about these two beers so I was delighted that Hop Shop Aberdeen got them on the shelves so quickly.
First up we have Orange Scream, a 7% ABV orange ice cream ale. Orange Scream has been brewed in collaboration with Norwegian giants Amundsen who are a brewery that like Fierce, are notorious for packing their beer full of flavour. Here's the official description from Fierce:
"We love the beers that Amundsen make. They pack in a lot of flavour. For this collab we wanted to make a beer that transports you back to childhood days, sitting on the beach with an orange and vanilla ice lolly. Smooth, decadent and also refreshing."
Orange Scream pours from the can a bright orange colour, leaving a thin foamy white head. The orange aromas are literally screaming at you instantly...think of something along the lines of one of those Tango Ice Blasts you have a the cinema, and you're just about there. Then on your first sip big zesty, fizzy, sweet & juicy orange flavours are followed up by a dose of smooth creaminess to hold it all together. It is very sweet, but the smooth creamy texture helps it all work nicely. It really is a surreal beer...an alcoholic Fanta ice cream float beer - it's mad, but it works A LOT.
Orange Scream gets 4.5 out of 5 from me
Next up we have Melba Scream, a 6.7% ABV peach melba ice Cream ale. Here's the official description from Fierce beer:
"Peach Melba is a dessert of peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream. The dish was invented in 1892 by the French chef Auguste Escoer at the Savoy Hotel to honour the Australian soprano Nellie Melba. We’re sure both Nellie and Auguste would approve of us making it into a beer..."
Melba Scream pours from the glass a hazy ruby red/orange colour, leaving a foamy off white head. You get the sweet, creamy, fruity aromas instantly - sweet, juicy peaches & raspberries are at the forefront, followed by a vanilla creaminess. The flavours are quite consistent with the aromas; fresh juicy peach combine with the sour tart raspberries to give an almost Skittles like flavour explosion. Again, the smooth creamy texture is there to give this beer an extremely drinkable mouthfeel. As with Orange Scream, it's all pretty bonkers - but it works incredibly well.
Melba Scream gets 4.5 out of 5 from me
These beers are awesome. I'd love them to become a permanent fixture in Fierce's lineup or even just a yearly summer release. There was almost nothing between them in terms of taste and quality, but I think Orange Scream just about edged it for me as I found it slightly more refreshing. These beers are perfect for summer drinking - stock up and enjoy them in the sun while you can 🍻
BrewDog & Friends
Sometimes you just know that a beer is going to rock. As soon as BrewDog announced this beer, I knew it was going to rock. I've been waiting for BrewDog to release an absolute banger of a beer this year, something along the lines of their Cloudwater collaborations...and this may be just the beer. Brewed in collaboration with Northern Monk, Deya, Cloudwater, Magic Rock, Seventh Son, Stillwater Artisanal & The Bruery - Eight-Bit is a 8% ABV New England style IPA. Here's the official description from BrewDog:
"Eight-Bit was brewed in collaboration alongside each of the breweries that joined us at this year's #PunkAGM2018 - Northern Monk, Deya, Cloudwater, Magic Rock, Seventh Son, Stillwater Artisanal, The Bruery and of course - us! Each brewery contributed a different hop to the beer, adding a shed load of hop-forward goodness!
We tapped into a style that several of the collaborating breweries are masters of, and with all those hops in the mix, it only made sense that we brew a New England IPA. Coming in at 8% ABV, Eight-Bit is as soft and juicy as you'd expect from this beloved sub-style, with the several hop additions bringing out stonefruit, tropical notes and a hit of citrus coming through from the addition of orange peel."
I have a good feeling about this one.
Starting off with the impressive 500ml can; jet black with eight silver brewery logos and silver text, it looks seriously cool (although it was a pain in the ass to photograph!).
Eight-bit pours from the can an extremely hazy golden yellow colour, leaving a thin white head. The aromas are absolutely glorious - tonnes of big juicy fruits; pineapple, mango, orange & peach combine with a whack of piney bitterness get your taste buds going before the first sip. There is loads going on flavour wise too; sweet peach flavours are at the forefront, combining with juicy mango, pineapple & a slight grassy bitterness at the end. The carbonation is soft, and it is extremely smooth drinking - part of me was worried that this could be a case of too many cooks, but man was I wrong...this beer is glorious.
This beer 100% lived up to the hype and more. This is what I've been waiting for this year from BrewDog. I know they had a little help from their friends but it speaks to the fact that when BrewDog are good, they can be up there with the best. Try this beer if you get the chance, you will love it.
Eight-Bit gets 5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
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!