The Garden Brewery
Every so often a beer will come along from a brewery I know little about and blow me away. That's exactly what's happened here with The Garden Brewery and their Milkshake IPA. I'd seen this beer on the shelves in Hop Shop Aberdeen previously, but I didn't know anything about it so when I saw it on the shelves again last week, curiosity got the better of me and I picked up a can. From the look of the can, I thought the Garden Brewery were a small brewery in England somewhere and to my surprise...they turned out to be from Croatia!
Milkshake IPA is a 6.7% ABV well, Milkshake IPA. Here's the official description from The Garden Brewery:
"Sweet creamy and juicy IPA. Super Milky - With 3 times more lactose than we have ever used! Subtle sweet notes of passion-fruit, mango, strawberry, and vanilla. Fermented out with unique White Labs London Fog yeast WLP066."
I'd read nothing but good things about this beer on Instagram, so it's safe to say I had quite high hopes for it.
Milkshake IPA pours from the can a rather hazy golden orange colour, leaving decent sized foamy white head. It just looks like it's going to be great and things continue to get better from there - sweet, juicy mango, strawberry, pineapple and passion fruit aromas fill your nose. It all smells a little bit like an alcoholic fruit smoothie. You realise just how good this beer is after your first sip - those same fruits from the aromas combine with the lactose to create a sweet, juicy and creamy flavour sensation. The lactose does wonders for the mouthfeel of this beer, it is so smooth and creamy that it really is reminiscent of a milkshake. There is a warmth at the end of it all from the alcohol to remind you that you are actually still drinking a beer.
I can't state enough how much I enjoyed this beer. The moment I finished it, I immediately wanted more of it. The can states that this is part of the "experimental series" from The Garden Brewery...well, the experiment has certainly worked on me!
This beer is stunning, and frankly it's one of the best beers that I have drank this year. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on some - you will not regret it. In the meantime, I'm off to find some more beer by my favourite Croatian brewery...
Milkshake IPA gets 5 out of 5 from me 🍻
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 🍻
Three New Beers...Are They Great?
Following my brief break after Week 1, I am back on the Fanzine bandwagon with Week 3. If you are reading this then you are probably familiar with how it all works, but if not - refresh yourself here.
Whilst Week 1 was a relative success for me, I was still slightly sceptical to see whether this subscription turns out to be a worthwhile investment or not. I'm prepared to keep going with it though as there were some real positives for me and surely it can only get better, right?
This time round the beers are:
So a couple of big hitters in there, with the Milkshake IPA sounding particularly intriguing! I'm also interested to see if there's any improvement with Zephyr, as I really didn't get on with it in Week 1.
First up we have Pulp Patriot, the 9.5% ABV Milkshake IPA. This was without doubt the beer I was looking forward to the most. It just sounds like it's going to be good! Here's the official description from BrewDog:
"New England to the power of two. This juggernaut of a double IPA weighs in at 9.5% delivering a payload of big fruit with mango and peach front and centre. Milk sugar builds and rounds out the full juicy notes."
Pulp Patriot pours from the can a hazy golden amber colour, leaving a thin, foamy white head. Aromas are loads of juicy stone fruits; peach, mango & apricot with a hint of pine. Taste is wonderful; peach, mango and a hint of pineapple are combined with slight pine, bitter backbone. It's sweet, and silky smooth, extremely easy drinking for a 9.5% ABV beer - wonderful stuff!
This beer is stunning! For me, it is without doubt the best that BrewDog have done (Eight-Bit aside) since Hazy Jane! I certainly would not be adverse to BrewDog making this more readily available as I would snap it up in bulk.
5 out of 5
Next up, we have Zephyr, V2 - Lime Gose Edition which is a 4.6% ABV sour ale. Now, I was far from impressed with Zephyr from week 1 - I really didn't like it, so naturally I was hoping for an improvement from this one. Here's the official description from BrewDog:
"A zesty gose with a twist of lime and a pinch of salt to crank up the crisp sour character. A juicy, bright beer, with a light acidity resting on a biscuity backbone."
Zephyr pours a pale golden straw colour, with a thin white head that disperses quickly. Aromas are zingy lime from the off, with a malty biscuit backbone. Flavours are huge, refreshing sour lime backed by the slightest hint of salt and a biscuit finish. Imagine drinking a Corona - but 10x tastier & less carbonated...that's pretty much what this beer is. It's not mind-blowing, but it's good.
This was a massive improvement on V1 for me - super refreshing & very enjoyable to drink. I could easy see myself enjoying a few of these in the sun...I'm impressed!
3.75 out of 5
Ten Ton Truck
Finally, we have Ten Ton Truck - Espresso Edition, a hefty 10% ABV porter. Described as an evolution of Nebula from week 1 - a beer that I found pretty tasty, so naturally I was expecting good things from this one. Here's the official description from BrewDog:
"Fruity espresso, bitter chocolate and roastiness on the nose. Followed by a payload of bitter coffee red berry, dark chocolate and some floral notes."
Ten Ton Truck pours jet black, leaving a thin foamy beige head that doesn't hang around. Huge dark chocolate and coffee aromas with a touch of smokiness rounding it all off. There is huge amounts of bitterness from the off - bitter dark chocolate and bitter coffee combine with the slightest hint of forest fruits...this beer packs a punch!
Overall I thought this was a pretty damn good beer. I did feel that the balance was maybe slightly off and there there was maybe too much bitterness to it, however it was still very enjoyable to drink - I just took my time with it.
4 out of 5
Well, it's safe to say that week 3 has been rather impressive, and a massive improvement over week 1 for me. These have been some pretty awesome beers - Pulp Patriot in particular is incredible. I will absolutely be continuing my subscription, and I am counting down the days to week 4 already 🍻
Buxton, a brewery renowned for making some incredible beer including some world class collaborations with Swedish brewing giants Omnipollo, have just released their latest core beer, which is also their first ever canned beer.
Axe^X is a 6.8% ABV IPA that contains Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic hops and here is the official description from Buxton:
"Where X is dry hopping increased by 200%. 20% oats added to the grist for enhanced mouthfeel and character and IBU's significantly reduced."
Axe Edge is a beer that I have a very high opinion of, so my expectations were pretty high for this one & I was delighted that Hop Shop Aberdeen got it on the shelves so quickly following release.
Starting this off with the can - how cool is it?! It features a blueprint like design of various sketches of hops along with various dimensions & scribbles. Coming from an engineering drawing background, I found this label pretty awesome.
Axe^X pours from the can a hazy orange colour leaving a thin off white/beige head. The aromas are instantly citrus & tropical fruits; loads of orange, pineapple & mango are followed by the slightest hint of caramel. Flavour wise, it's full on from the off; the orange, pineapple & mango are at the forefront combining with the oats and malts before being rounded off with a big whack of bitterness. It all worked amazingly for me, it was so easy drinking and the addition of the oats give this beer such a fantastic silky smooth mouthfeel.
This beer is world class. Perhaps one of the best IPA's in the UK right now in my opinion, and easily in my top three beers this year. If you get the chance, then you have to try it - you will not be disappointed.
Axe^X gets 5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Sometimes a beer comes along that is just bat-shit mental. That's exactly what Northern Monk have done here. Teaming up with UK movie distribution company Tribal Films, they have brewed a beer to celebrate the home release of the 5th instalment in the Sharknado movie franchise, titled Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. Sharknado is a 5.5% ABV blood orange & sea salt IPA. Here's the official brief from Northern Monk:
"To coincide with the Home Entertainment release of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, the latest in the comedy-horror-disaster film franchise, UK distributor Tribal Films has partnered with us to produce a limited run of Sharknado themed beer!
A Blood Orange and Sea Salted IPA with milk sugar addition for a smoother mouthfeel."
Now, I have absolutely no idea how this collaboration came about, and it seems utterly mental...but I love it. It will be interesting to see how this beer compares to other blood orange IPA's such as the mighty Bloody 'Ell by Beavertown.
First up, the can looks absolutely awesome - it is basically a movie poster, featuring the lead characters, wrapped around the can.
Sharknado pours from the can a translucent ruby red colour, leaving a slightly pink, foamy white head. The aromas are instantly zesty bloody orange, sweet sugar strawberries & a hint of grapefruit. Taste wise, the blood orange is full on from the first sip; sweet, juicy & ever so slightly sour. It's then all rounded off with the slightest hint of the sea salt - it's there, but it's definitely not overpowering or off putting, it all tastes rather great. This beer is very easy to drink, it has the perfect balance between an IPA & a sour beer that I can imagine would make for perfect summer drinking.
Overall, this was an awesome beer that I didn't want to end. For something that could be laughed off as a marketing gimmick, and whilst their beers rarely disappoint, Northern Monk really have pulled it out the bag here. It doesn't quite edge out Bloody 'Ell as my favourite blood orange IPA, but it is still a damn great beer.
Sharknado gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻