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! 🍻
Manual Brewing Co.
It's always exciting when a new Scottish brewery pops up, especially in the rather mysterious way that Dundee based Manual Brewing Co. did. Cryptic posts from their social media accounts started popping up all over the place, showcasing their rather awesome sounding beers. It was all very exciting, and intriguing, and I was looking forward to getting my hands on some of their beers.
Hop Shop Aberdeen was on the ball as usual, and I managed to pick up Tickets, Please - which is an 8.5% ABV NE DIPA (my favourite style of beer), coming in a 440ml can, and here's the official description from Manual Brewing:
"Dry-hopped with Mosaic, Amarillo and Azacca, fermented with a blend of London Ale III and Burlington yeast strains = tropical, stone fruit, pine, wheat, haze. Suitable for vegans."
I was really looking forward to this beer. There was a lot of hype surrounding it, and naturally, I was hoping it lived up to it.
First up, starting with the pretty cool looking can art. I don't know why, but the rather minimalist style of their designs instantly remind me of Cloudwater for some reason...nothing wrong with that however - I like it.
Tickets, Please pours from the can a hazy, bright, golden orange colour, leaving a finger of a foamy white head. Aromas are huge, sweet, juicy fruits; peach, mango and pineapple combine with a slight creaminess and a hint of pine to leave your mouth watering! Flavour wise, this beer does not disappoint either - those juicy stone fruit and tropical fruit flavours are at the forefront with lashings of peach, pineapple, mango and orange before a touch of bitterness from the pine rounds it all off - lovely stuff! This is a full-on NE DIPA, if maybe only ever so slightly lacking in the bitterness for me. The beer has a slight creaminess to the texture, and the alcohol is well hidden amongst the fruit flavours, making it extremely drinkable and I certainly enjoyed every single second of it.
Overall, I really don't think I can fault this beer, and it's almost everything I look for in a NE DIPA. It's certainly a promising start for Manual Brewing, and I now look forward to working my way through their other beers, and of course what comes next for them. I highly recommend checking them out, and this beer, in particular, is absolutely worth your money.
Tickets, Please gets 4.75 out of 5 from me 🍻
Magic Rock Brewing
If you have any kind of passing interest in craft beer on Instagram, then you will probably be fed up of seeing these beers by now - everyone has been drinking them! I've been keeping mine aside for a special occasion - in celebration of finishing the BrewDog Summer Run, however staying in BrewDog afterwards made sure that never happened as planned...
The Cannonball Run is a yearly event by Magic Rock Brewing that celebrates one of it's core beers - Cannonball by releasing bigger, meaner variants of it. The past couple of years has seen Human Cannonball, and Un-Human Cannonball take centre stage, but this year sees Neo-Human Cannonball enter the picture. So the beers we have this year are:
As a side note, I didn't bother picking up the core Cannonball as part of this year - I know it's a good beer, and I'd already spent a small fortune on these three beers as it was.
These beers have been picking up so much hype - they have been all over Instagram. It was so hard to not drink them and keep them aside for as long as I did. So, without further ado...
Human Cannonball 2018
First up we have Human Cannonball, the 9.2% ABV DIPA. I have crazily never tried tried Human, or Un-Human Cannonball, however last year I spoke very fondly of another DIPA - Half Cut, which was brewed with Other Half, so I was unsurprisingly looking forward to getting stuck in to this one. Here's the official description from Magic Rock:
"Meet Cannonball’s big brother; we used more malt, more hops and more magical conjuring to crank up the flavour of our explosive IPA ‘Cannonball’. Get your taste buds ready for massive pine and candied orange aromas combined with bitter/sweet grapefruit and mango flavours all complemented by a deeply composed, satisfyingly malty base. Ever wondered what it feels like to be shot out of a cannon? Here’s what it tastes like."
Human Cannonball pours from the can a murky golden orange colour, leaving a big foamy beige head. Initial aromas are incredible - huge amounts of mango & pineapple combine with a massive dollop of piney resin to leave you gagging for more. And the taste certainly does not disappoint either...from the off it's massive fruit flavours; juicy mango, sweet bitter grapefruit and a hint of orange are followed up with a massive piney bitterness - this beer makes no attempt to hide it's alcohol, that's for sure. It was great to drink, and everything a proper DIPA should be.
This beer was awesome, and hopefully a sign of things to come for the rest. Human Cannonball is up there with the best of the DIPA's that I have had.
4.75 out of 5
Un-Human Cannonball 2018
Next up we have Un-Human Cannonball, the monstrous 11% ABV triple IPA. Now, I have only had a few triple IPA's in my time, and they are usually quite a mind-blowing experience, so I'm not expecting anything less from this beer. Here's the official description from Magic Rock:
"Once a year we receive the latest crop of hops from the US, intensely aromatic and bursting with potential they’re begging to be put to work. With three times the quantity of hops of our explosive IPA ‘Cannonball’ and even more than our flagship Double IPA ‘Human Cannonball’ we’ve created a fitting tribute to the new hop release with this our annual homage to the hop.
‘Un-Human Cannonball ‘takes IPA to another dimension-balancing massive citric aroma, deep tropical fruit flavour and gravity defying drinkability to deliver a hop experience that is out of this world. We’ve done our best for the hops, don’t let them down by ageing this beer: please drink as soon as Un-Humanly possible!"
Un-Human Cannonball pours a murky golden orange colour, similar to Human Cannonball, but with much less of a head. Initial aromas are LOADS of hoppy resin, with a slight splash of tropical fruits. Taste wise, this beer is unforgiving from the off - huge hoppy, bitter flavours are laced with some slight tropical fruit bombs; orange, pineapple & mango. It is slick smooth, with loads of alcohol burn to go with it...serious heavy hitting stuff!
This beer is great...it blows your head off, but it is great. As much as I enjoyed it, I did find the levels of alcohol a bit overpowering - however I just took my time, and savoured it.
4.5 out of 5
Neo-Human Cannonball 2018
And finally we have the beer I was perhaps most excited about - Neo-Human Cannonball, the 9.2% ABV NE DIPA. NE IPA's are usually my favourite beer style (when done right), so a DIPA version using loads of oats sounds absolutely out of this world. Here's the official description from Magic Rock:
"A New England update on our Double IPA Human Cannonball, this DIPA uses a high percentage of oats and wheat in the grist for a creamy smooth mouthfeel. We eliminated the bittering and moved the majority of whirlpool hops over to the dry hopping to maximise aroma. Fermented with London Fog yeast for an estery aroma and sweet finish the beer is served way more hazy than the original to maximise the flavour expression."
Neo-Human Cannonball pours a hazy golden yellow, leaving a thin bubbly white head on top. Aromas are quite similar to those of Human Cannonball - mango, pineapple and grapefruit alongside a splash of pine, however there is a creamy backbone to it all from the oats. After the first sip, I knew this beer was phenomenal - you instantly get the creaminess from the oats just as juicy mango & pineapple take hold of your taste buds. There's then a slight bitterness - not too much, just a bit, that rounds everything off. It all works wonderfully, and the mouthfeel especially is excellent - wow.
This beer was incredible, and quite easily in my top 5 for the year so far. Everything about it is perfect, right down to the shiny, glittery can. Do yourselves a favour and grab it while you still can.
5 out of 5
Overall, these were three absolutely incredible beers from Magic Rock. All three of them are probably up with the best beers that I've had this year. It's not too late to give them a go, and I highly recommend that you do. I'm looking forward to next years Cannonball Run already 🍻
Three More Beers Put To The Test
Here we are with Fanzine Week 4. Following Week 3's roaring success, I had high hopes for this one. Week 3 set the bar pretty high with Pulp Patriot, and I am dubious if they will reach that heights again any time soon. Again, if you are reading this then you are probably familiar with how it all works, but if not - refresh yourself here
This week we have the following beers:
Definitely an interesting selection of beers there. Obviously the DIPA immediately catches my eye, because I am a sucker for a good DIPA! I'm also interested to check out the lager, especially how it compares to Kingpin, and Indie Pale Ale to a lesser extent.
First up we have Hop Shop, the 9% ABV DIPA. A good DIPA is usually a go to style of beer for me, and while is was slightly underwhelmed by Native Son by BrewDog earlier this year I had high hopes for this one, especially off the back of Fanzine Week 3. Here's the official description from BrewDog:
"This hop-forward big IPA is intense, dank and resinous, with bursts of stonefruit and citrus. Grapefruit and apricot sit on top of a building bitterness, with a honeycomb malt base followed by a dry yet bittersweet finish."
Hop Shop pours a deep amber colour, leaving a foamy off white head. Initial aromas are stone fruits, caramel malts & resin. Flavours are grapefruit and some slight peach from the off, strong caramel malts are rounded off by a hoppy resin flavour. There's nothing too overwhelming in there for me, it's tasty enough, but it's certainly no Elvis Juice.
Overall, I found this an enjoyable enjoyable enough, yet unspectacular beer. It certainly did more for me than Native Son did earlier in the year, but it doesn't immediately make me want another can of it like Pulp Patriot in Week 3.
3.75 out of 5
First up we have English IPA (Small Batch) which is a 5.2% ABV Retro IPA. I can't say I'm too familiar when it comes to English style IPA's so this was an interesting one for me.
"An old school English IPA brewed with the addition of traditional English hops which bring lavender and bergamot to the front of the beer. Supporting the hops is a light biscuit malt flavour, followed by a dry, bitter finish with a touch of warmth."
English IPA pours a clear amber colour, leaving a foamy white head. Aromas are zesty citrus, caramel biscuit & floral hops. Flavours are pretty much in line with the aromas; citrus up font, backed with some slight biscuit & an overriding grassy earthy taste.
Overall, this was OK. I didn't particularly find it to be anything special. It's not necessarily a bad beer, just not too my taste.
2.75 out of 5
And lastly we have Interstate, a 4.6% ABV Vienna lager. Lager isn't my go to style of beer, and I can't say that I drink BrewDog's flagship lager Kingpin much either. But I was certainly interested to see their take on a European style lager, that's for sure.
"A perfectly balanced Vienna-style lager brewed with subtle spicy German hops over toasty-base malts which bring out bread crust and biscuit in the beer, followed by a bittersweet finish."
Interstate pours a pale golden colour, leaving a big foamy white head. Aromas are slight citrus, malts & biscuit with a hint of toffee/caramel. Flavour wise, it's pretty similar to the aromas; big malty, biscuity flavours are at the forefront before being rounded off with a crisp, clean, citrus flavour. This is a refreshing take on a proper European lager, and certainly enjoyable to drink.
Overall, I found this to be a pretty tasty lager - maybe even more so than Kingpin. If lager is your thing, then this should be right up your street.
3.5 out of 5
So overall, another round of decent enough beers from BrewDog, however, this is going to be my last Fanzine for a while. There is unfortunately just too much good beer to be drinking right now, and I want to be in control of what I drink. Drinking craft beer is an expensive hobby, and I don't want to take the risk that I end up paying for three beers where I don't enjoy two of them.
Whilst I'm not trying to discourage anyone from Fanzine - quite the opposite. I think it's a great service. I just don't think it's quite right for me - someone who wants to handpick the best beer out there, enjoy them, and then review them on here for everyone 🍻
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 🍻