Seven Beers, For Seven Years
Tiny Rebel, are without doubt one of my favourite breweries in the UK - they make some great beer, have a fantastic core range and they've featured on this blog several times. So when I received the Hop Shop Aberdeen newsletter, advertising their 7th birthday collab pack, I pre-ordered it straight away.
Now, I'm not usually one for ordering special edition boxes of beers, or beer advent calendars; I usually wince at the price, thinking that there's no way I can justify the outlay, but when I seen the lineup for this one (and the glass!) I just had to have it. Tiny Rebel have joined forces with some of the biggest hitters in UK craft brewing to put together a special collection of beers. The 7th birthday collab pack consists of seven collaboration beers with some of the hottest breweries in the UK, and a limited edition glass - all packaged in a rather awesome looking box (that can even be coloured in!). Each can, is a whopping 440ml and is wonderfully designed by the extremely talented Tamsin Baker, with each a interesting spin on a popular style.
Unfortunately, due to a supplier issue, I was a few days late in getting my hands on the box - but when it finally arrived, I didn't hang around in working my way through the beers...
Beer #1 - Citra Session IPA, 4% ABV, feat. Magic Rock
First up was a beer brewed in collaboration with one of the hottest breweries in the UK - Huddersfield's Magic Rock Brewing. The make some of the most drinkable session IPA's around, so that's exactly what they've brewed up - a 4% ABV Citra Session IPA. Magic Rock are a firm favourite of mine, so this was teed up nicely to be a hit.
The beer itself pours a murky dark golden colour leaving a foamy off-white head behind. There's a huge hoppy citrus aroma up-front, just as you'd expect to see from a citra IPA - lovely stuff so far. Flavour wise, there are loads of citrus flavours in there from the off, with grapefruit and a hint of pineapple, before it all becomes a bit of a hop bomb with some sharp bitterness rounding everything off.
All in all this was a very drinkable beer, and a really tasty session IPA, reminding me ever so slightly of Cybernaut from BrewDog. Overall, an excellent start to the collab box.
BEER #2 - DDH Pilsner, 5% ABV, fEAT. Fourpure
Next up, in collaboration with Fourpure was a 5% ABV DDH (double dry hopped) Pilsner. Now, I'm not usually a pilsner/lager drinker, but I do appreciate one when it's made well, and those are both styles that Fourpure have a reputation for. I also don't recall ever having a pilsner from Tiny Rebel, so it was certainly an intriguing prospect.
DDH Pils pours an almost crystal clear amber colour, leaving a fingers width of a foamy off-white head. Initial aromas are notably grassy, hoppy, and some citrus lemon. The first sip, is clean, crisp and refreshing with some nice citrus flavours before being followed up by a harsh hoppy backbone, and a touch of resin - which, if I'm being honest, don't think worked too well for me.
Overall, this was a decent enough beer, whilst not quite suited to my taste. But I'm maybe being too harsh on it as this isn't really my preferred style.
Beer #3 - Tropical Sorbet IPA, 4.8% ABV, Feat. Neonraptor Brewing Co.
The next beer is one that I was particularly looking forward to - a 4.8% ABV Tropical Sorbet IPA, brewed in collaboration with Nottingham's Neonraptor Brewing Co. Neonraptor are a brewery that I've yet to experience first hand, but their beers are always eye-catching, and come with a good reputation. So that, combined with the beer itself - a Tropical Sorbet IPA, things were already looking good.
Tropical Sorbet IPA pours from the can (how cool is it?!) a quite clear golden orange colour, leaving less than a fingers width of a bubbly white head behind. Initial aromas are very pleasant - sharp, zesty, citrus aromas with loads of lemon, grapefruit, pineapple and a hint of mango fill your nose. One sip and you are met with tart, juicy fruit flavours; more lemon, grapefruit, and loads of pineapple all come together nicely to make this very drinkable.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable beer - absolutely jam packed full of juicy flavours and extremely drinkable. The only thing I would say is that I would have probably said it was more a sour than an IPA? But that doesn't take away from how tasty this beer was!
Beer #4 - Dark Chocolate & Cherry Barley Wine, 11% ABV, Feat. Siren
The next beer, is certainly an interesting one for me, as it's a style that I'm not overly familiar with - barley wine. This beer, in particular, is a dark chocolate & cherry barley wine brewed in collaboration with Siren, that comes in at 11% ABV. Siren are usually on point when it comes to interesting flavours, so I was pretty excited about this one.
The beer pours from the can (how cool is this can, by the way?!) a deep burgundy colour, semi translucent, leaving a small beige head, that disperses pretty fast. Initial aromas are very sweet, with chocolate & cherry immediately noticeable, with a hint of caramel running through it. Much like the aromas, the initial flavours are very sweet, with caramel, chocolate & malts, laced with black cherries - it was a bit like liquid black forest gateaux. The flavours all balance out pretty well, and there's a warming boozy finish that packs quite a punch.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this beer - the flavours were complex and interesting, and whilst it wasn't perfect - it definitely left me wanting to try out more barley wines in the future.
Beer #5 - NEIPA, 6.8% ABV, Feat. Deya
Next up is the beer that I was probably most looking forward to in this box - the 6.8% ABV NEIPA, brewed in collaboration with Deya, who are quite the masters of this craft. A particular favourite beer style of mine - there's not much better than a juicy, hazy, NEIPA hop bomb when it comes to beer.
This NEIPA pours from the can, a surprising haze-less dark orange colour, leaving a small foamy white head behind. Firstly, this beer smells absolutely wonderful, with loads of peach, apricot and citrus up front, which is backed up with a piney resin aroma. However, after the first sip - things aren't as great as they first smell. Something is amiss here, sure the peach and apricot show themselves, but they aren't quite working, and I think that there's also slightly too much carbonation. There's a good helping of hoppy bitterness at the end to rescue things slightly, but overall I was left unimpressed - this certainly wasn't what I was hoping for from these two.
Sure, it was a perfectly drinkable beer, it just didn't deliver on the levels that I was hoping for.
Beer #6 - Imperial Mocha Vanilla Shot Stout, 0.5% ABV, Feat. Big Drop Brewing
Next up we have a really interesting one. When I first ordered this box, I thought that this beer was actually 10.5% ABV, and then about a week before it was released, it came to my attention that it actually was 0.5% ABV. Initially I was a bit gutted, as this box was already expensive enough, but the more I thought about it, the more this beer intrigued me. For this one, there was only really one way to do it - join forces with the biggest low alcohol breweries around, Big Drop.
Firstly, I just want to mention the can. It is easily the coolest looking can in the box, featuring an awesome pixel art, video game style - I think it actually could be the coolest looking can I've ever laid hands on. This beer pours from the can, a dark black colour, leaving a thin beige head around the top of the glass. There's not much else to say about the aromas other than vanilla and coffee - loads of it! One sip of this beer, and you think you are drinking a rather tasty iced coffee; lots of sweet vanilla combine with lovely coffee and chocolate flavours to bring this beer together nicely. It is incredibly sweet, silky smooth and the lack of alcohol make it very easy drinking.
I was very impressed by this collaboration. If this is what low-alcohol beers can be, then I am all for it. It is about time we had a bigger, tastier selection on the shelves.
Beer #7 - Pomegranate & Molasses Belgian Strong Ale, 8% ABV, Feat. Yeastie Boys
Finally, we have a 8% ABV Pomegranate & Molasses Belgian Strong Ale, brewed in Collaboration with Yeastie Boys. Yeastie Boys have been part of some of the biggest collabs around over the last year or so (including the epic stout with Vocation), so it only makes sense for Tiny Rebel to team up with these guys to celebrate their birthday. This was another style that I was unfamiliar with, but the flavours sounded extremely interesting, so I was rather keen to check it out.
This beer pours from the glass an amber brown colour, leaving a thin beige head at the top of it. Initial aromas are caramel, orange, sweet fruits with a hint of spices. The first sip is full-on sweetness, with brown sugar, caramel and molasses followed by a hint of pomegranate and some orange. There's then a warming finish from some festive spices to round everything off.
Overall, I found this beer to be...Ok. There was something with it that I couldn't quite put my finger on that didn't work for me. It certainly wasn't horrible, and I drank the whole thing, but I think the combination of all the flavours just wasn't my thing.
And that's it! Although there were a couple of slight mishaps along the way, I really enjoyed working my way through special box of beers. In particular, my favourites were the Citra Session IPA (the first one I had!) with Magic Rock, and the Tropical Sorbet IPA with Neon Raptor, followed by the low alcohol stout with Big Drop.
If you are up for trying some really interesting flavoured beers, along with an awesome glass, all packaged together in a really cool box, then I would highly recommend picking this up whilst you still can. I guess the only thing left to say is happy birthday Tiny Rebel, here's to the next seven years! 🍻
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 🍻
Northern Monk x Deya x Verdant x YCH Hops
Northern Monk, Deya, Verdant...all in one beer?! Yeah, that's what I thought. Well they have come together along with YCH Hops to produce this years Hop City DIPA.
Brewed in honour of Northern Monk's annual celebration of the same name that takes place this weekend (29th-31st March), Hop City is a 8.4% ABV DIPA. Here's the official line on this one:
"A special Double IPA brewed in collaboration with Northern Monk, Verdant and Deya plus Hop City 2018 sponsor YCH Hops, a 100% grower-owned supplier of the finest hops from the US and beyond.
This DIPA combines Citra, Amarillo and Mosaic Cryo pellets in a 20g/hl dry hop. The grist features malted wheat and oats plus flaked wheat to bulk up the body further. The result is a chunky, round DIPA loaded with mandarin notes and tropical fruit character."
With these names behind it, my excitement for this beer was too much.
Let's talk about the 440ml can first of all. The design is awesome, and it has a label that you can peel back to reveal all sorts of info regarding the beer itself - a nice touch.
Hop City pours a nice thick golden orange colour leaving a thin white head & very little carbonation. The aromas from this beer are insane! Juicy pineapple, orange, lemon, peach & melon fill your nose as you pour from the can into the glass - there's some nice earthy pine in there too. Taste wise, this beer is out of this word - huge pineapple & melon flavours are back at the forefront, combining with a thick full bodied mouthfeel making this one absolute juice bomb of a beer. These fruit flavours are then rounded off with a nice piney bitterness that compliments them perfectly. Wow. It's a shame this beer is 8.4% ABV, because I could honestly drink it all day!
This beer is awesome. Without doubt one of the best DIPAs I've ever had. I'm not sure what else I expected to be honest with the level of talent involved. If you see this beer...buy it, drink it, enjoy it & be happy that it exists.
Hop City (2018) gets 5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻