Beer With a Story To Tell
Recently whilst browsing Instagram, I stumbled across a post that featured a new Aberdeenshire based brewery - Beer Story Brewing.
I took the time to follow their social media channels & find out a bit more about them & more importantly, their beer. Based in Insch, Aberdeenshire, Beer Story Brewing were formed last year with the goal to make beer that tells a story - using interesting ingredients from all around the globe. Impressed with what I was reading, I decided to contact them to find out where I could purchase their beer to review & spread the word. I was very kindly offered the chance to collect some samples if I made my way out to the brewery, which I promptly did.
When I arrived there, I was immediately taken aback by the size of it. I didn't really know what to expect; but I was thinking it would be something more of a small industrial unit, but it's actually quite a large space. I was greeted by John McKenzie who took the time to show me around, tell me a bit about his background & the company itself. It is a highly impressive setup for a relatively new & small brewery & they seem perfectly positioned to make a name for themselves. I left feeling educated & with samples of their two current beers; Clockwork Zest & On The Road.
On The Road
First up is On The Road, a 5.2% ABV Californian IPA, that is made using American hops & yeast. Here's what Beer Story have to say about it:
"This adventurous IPA explores the kicks and inspiration of floral and citrus hops grown on Uncle Sam's West Coast. Californian ale yeast accentuates these bold hop flavours to deliver big hop aroma and taste."
First up, the bottle is presented extremely well - I was told that the labels were to represent library cards as each beer is telling it's own story, a nice touch if you ask me. Popping the bottle & pouring into a glass, the aromas are mainly citrus; lemon & orange, backed by some light floral notes. On The Road pours a golden amber with a thin white head that disperses quite quickly. Flavours are a malt base with a touch of caramel & some crisp citrus. There is almost no bitterness carbonation was relatively low - I'm not sure of this was just the bottle I had or if it is usually like this. The flavours all work together quite well in my opinion, making the beer very easy to drink & very tasty.
Overall, I found On The Road to be a very solid IPA & an great first beer for Beer Story. It's an extremely easy drinking beer & one that I think most would enjoy - you should check it.
3.75 out of 5 hops from me
Next up is Clockwork Zest, a 5.4% ABV chocolate porter that has been made using African cocoa nibs, coffee beans & oranges. Here's what Beer Story have to say about it:
"Take a dive into the utopian blend of chocolate malt, Madagascan cocoa nibs and very subtle oils of orange and zest. Equatorial African coffee beans round off this red island inspired porter."
Again we have another example of the library card style label that does a great job of telling you that little bit more about the beer. Opening the bottle & pouring into a glass, you are immediately hit with huge coffee aromas & a hint of citrus sweetness from the orange peel. Clockwork Zest pours a very dark, almost black, brown with a thin light brown head. On taste, you are hit with those huge coffee flavours right away before loads of bitterness from the cocoa nibs & some ever so slight sweetness of the orange. It's a great tasting beer & the flavours work well together, however I think that there is just a touch too much bitterness for my liking.
After drinking loads of fantastic porters & stouts over Xmas, Clockwork Zest certainly does not disappoint & it is another encouraging sign of what's to come from Beer Story.
3.5 out of 5 hops from me.
From first impressions I have been greatly impressed by Beer Story & I very much look forward to trying what comes next from them - first up is Outsiders IPA, a 4.17% ABV red IPA. They are also going to be at North Hop Aberdeen later this year, so be sure to keep an eye out for tickets going on sale.
You can keep up to date on all things Beer Story on their Website or by following them on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Beer Story are located at:.
Beer Story Brewing Co
Insch Business Park
Brewdog make some fantastic seasonal beer - Hop Fiction, Candy Kaiser & Arcade Nation to name a few. Yesterday they released their last seasonal beer for 2017; Slot Machine, a 5.2% ABV Red Rye IPA.
Designed to bridge the gap between summer beers and winter stouts, Slot Machine is laced with a warming spice that is perfect for drinking as the dark nights draw in. I must give a shout-out to Westhill Service Station for having their shelves & fridges packed with this the exact moment it launched in the bars.
Here's what Brewdog have to say about it:
"Slot Machine is 5.2% ABV and packs a bitterness of 55 IBU from being kettle hopped with Magnum, but also a hit of citrus from Amarillo in the whirlpool and dry-hop. We have also added a third wave; the herbal spice from German hop Callista bringing a nobility to the proceedings. Added with the Amarillo, this new hop (it was first released in 2016) also gives a berry fruit and gooseberry character, so Slot Machine has a series of interlinked hop flavours to unravel!
The beer was also brewed with Pale, Carafa and Crystal malt to give notes of caramel, toffee and bread crust as a baseline, and then layered in we added a generous addition of rye. We love brewing with this ingredient, despite the potential it has to make brewers think twice. In Slot Machine it adds a depth of spice to go with the hops and balance out the caramel from the Crystal malt. In short, as any brewer will tell you, rye holds everything together."
Have Brewdog hit the jackpot with this one? Lets find out...
Slot Machine pours a dark deep red - but not quite brown, leaving a foamy beige head. The aromas are great - the spice of the rye pierces through to the forefront, backed by malts and sweet toffee. The spice is ever present on taste too, but works great with the bread, malts and the slight sweetness of the toffee. There's a touch ot bitterness from the hops showing at the end too, which rounds everything off nicely. The alcohol is well hidden by the flavours, making it extremely drinkable.
Overall, Slot Machine was a very enjoyable beer with interesting flavours - the ever present spice from the rye making the difference for me. Brewdog can be happy that they have rounded off their seasonals for the year with a winner.
4 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
Beavertown x Trillium
Following my review of West Side Beavo, the second Beavertown review of the week is Beaverillium - a collaboration with Trillium Brewing from Boston, USA.
Beaverillium is a 7.5% ABV IPA and here's the official blurb from Beavertown:
"This baby drinks like mango lassi transporting you to a lazy hazy Indian summer day on the beach in Goa, pouring like thick mango juice, rich, sticky mango juice. That aroma of tropical overripe mangos and pulped peaches hits your nose a yard from the glass bathing you in sweet fruity sunshine.
Fluffy, moussy, velvety and smooth as it passes your lips the mango and peach is pricked up with fresh, zesty tangerine that lingers to a black pepper bitterness for a bit of exotic spice."
Trillium were a brewery that I'd heard a lot about but never experienced - so with them teaming up with the big dogs Beavertown, it's safe to say my expectations were high.
Beaverillium pours a hazy gold with a thin beige head. There's big aromas of ripe fruits; mango, peach & apricot with some grassy pine. There's a huge amount of sweetness up front; maybe from the fruits, but it's almost too sweet for my liking. That is followed by some bitter hoppyness with a slight amount of spice also. Body is medium, with a nice creamy texture and not too much carbonation.
This was a good beer, however not great. Something just wasn't quite right for me - I think perhaps the sweetness up front put me off a little. In a week of two Beavertown collaborations, I would have expected Beaverillium to be my favourite. However I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by this one and West Side Beavo was definitely my favourite of the two.
3 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
My last beer from the Norwegian brewing Gods Amundsen was damn near perfect; Pineapple Oceans was absolutely awesome and easily almost as good as any beer I've had this year. So naturally, I was extremely interested to see how they would do with my favourite style of beer; New England IPA.
Hopbliminal Messages is a 5.5% ABV New England style IPA, that Amundsen claim pairs best with your drinking hand - makes sense to me.
Cracking open the yet again, awesomely designed can - you are greeted with big juicy tropical & citrus fruit aromas, backed by some resinous piney hops. It pours from the can a light hazy gold, leaving a thin white head that disperses quickly.
On taste I was met with hoppy bitterness up front, that slowly blended into a fruit bomb; juicy pineapple, mango and orange flavours all round this beer of nicely. This beer pack in a load of flavours for its ABV.
Overall, I was highly impressed with this beer - while it may not quite reach the heights of some of my favourite NE IPA's like Brewdog & Cloudwater's collaborations (V1 & V2), it is still an extremely solid beer.
That's 3 out of 3 excellent beers for me now from Amundsen; they are fast becoming a favourite of mine - and I can't wait to try more. If you're not already, then you should be checking these guys out.
4 out of 5 hops from me
Pineapple beer is something I've not experienced much of, in fact I've only ever had one; Ballast Point Pineapple Sculpin whilst in New York. So when Westhill Service Station dropped a bunch of Amundsen beers last week, there was one in particular that caught my eye; Pineapple Oceans.
Pineapple Oceans is a 6.6% ABV West Coast Pineapple IPA, that according to Amundsen is best paired with a handlebar mustache and a Hawaiian shirt. Hard to argue with that.
My only previous experience of Amundsen was with the excellent Apocalyptic Thunder Juice, so I had high hopes for this beer.
As soon as I opened this beer I could smell pineapple. A little spurted on my hand as I cracked the can, so I tasted it; pineapple!
It pours a slightly cloudy deep copper/amber colour, leaving a medium sized long lasting beige head. The pineapple aromas are in your face the whole way as you pour it into the glass, backed by some super fresh pine.
The taste is much the same as the aroma; huge juicy sweet pineapple fills your mouth before giving way to some bitter, hoppy goodness. It has an extremely thick mouthfeel, with a slight oily texture; all made extremely drinkable by the awesome flavours.
Also let's not ignore the awesome can art on display here - it looks seriously cool! And it seems to be a running theme with all their canned beers; they are instantly recognizable.
I loved this beer. I want to drink more of it. It is so jam packed full of flavour, I think almost anyone would enjoy it. I for one will be trying to get my hands on more of not only this beer, but also many more pineapple beers.
I've got another review from Amundsen coming later this week - so keep an eye out for that.
4.75 out of 5 hops from me 🍻