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! 🍻
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 🍻
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 🍻
Christmas Time Mistletoe and...Beer
Christmas time is all about spending time with your family & overdoing it on great food so I thought that should apply to great beer also. For the past few weeks I have handpicking a selection of beers from Hop Shop Aberdeen and putting them away to enjoy over the festive season. I have managed to get my hands on beers from breweries such as Beavertown, Magic Rock, Amundsen, 6 Degrees North, Siren & Brewdog to name but a few. This includes some new exciting beers alongside some favourites from the past year like Humuloid, Cherry Cola Vice, Pineapple Oceans & a dark twist on Neapolitan Pale Ale.
In this blog post I'm going to take 12 of those beers & run through my favourites by picking a top 5. Some of these beers are pretty heavy hitters & it's not going to be easy deciding a champion, that's for sure.
Well it's safe to say that was an incredible selection of beers. It was hard enough to pick 12 of them...never mind 5! All of these beers were fantastic in their own right; great to drink and full of flavour. But overall, my top 5 is as follows:
Amundsen - Desert In a Can: This beer was INCREDIBLE. Amundsen really have done something special here. The flavours work together so well, it actually tastes like liquid desert. I can't wait to try the rest of the series. PS this is one BOOZY beer, so beer sure to enjoy it in moderation.
Northern Monk - Dark Neapolitan: A close second, I actually think I prefer this to the original. Everything just works so well; all the flavours of the original are there & with the addition of dark forest fruits & some coffee notes it becomes something really special.
Beavertown - Spresso: A beer that I missed last time round, and one I was delighted to finally sample. It is a BOOZY coffee beer. There's not really much else to say. Beavertown have worked their magic here.
Magic Rock - Dairy Freak: This one was great. It is such a sweet & milky beer that I enjoyed every second spent drinking it. Unlike other porters which can feel very indulgent, this is one I feel I could drink a few of in one sitting.
Beavertown - Humuloid: I think almost everyone reading this will know all about this one. The only non dark beer that made the top 5 but Humuloid is probably one of my all time favourite DIPAs that it would be hard not to include. I loved the original version & this was every bit as good, maybe even better?
So there you have it, my top 5 from my 12 beers of Christmas. The others that didn't make the list were still good, they just didn't have that extra special something about them that the top 5 did. They say winter is stout season and they are not half wrong, there is just something about drinking a warming dark stout/porter that just feels right at this time of year.
I'd like to finish this post by thanking everyone of you that has read any of my posts throughout the year. It means a lot & encourages me to keep writing. I'd like to wish you a very Happy New Year & I look forward to sharing even more of my beer journey with you all in 2018 🍻
I love cherry cola. If I'm not drinking a beer, or a gin for that matter then my go to drink would be a cherry cola. Whether it's Cherry Coke, Pepsi Max Cherry or Fentimans...I love the stuff. So when I heard that Huddersfield heroes Magic Rock had brewed a cherry cola beer, I had to get my hands on some.
Cherry Cola Vice, also known as Engine Engine #9 is a 5.5% ABV Berliner Weisse that was brewed in collaboration with J Wakefield Brewing & Slim Pickens. Here's what Magic Rock have to say about it:
"Out of the deranged minds of our lead brewer Nick Zeigler abetted by Floridian flavour magicians J Wakefield and T.Odd Strauss from Slim Pickens comes our third and possibly strangest ‘Vice’ series beer yet. Engine, Engine No. 9 is a cherry cola inspired Berliner Weiss featuring no less than 20 different ingredients to create a unique beverage with that most recognisable of flavours. It erm… tastes like cherry cola, try it, don’t try it… The Choice is Yours."
It's safe to say I had everything crossed that this wouldn't disappoint...
First up, the can art looks awesome with the distinct style that is unmistakably Magic Rock.
You know as soon as you crack the can and start pouring that this beer is cherry cola. It looks like cherry cola, and it smells like cherry cola. It pours a deep brown with a slight red tinge, leaving a tiny beige head. There's no other way to explain the aromas other than cherry cola; that's EXACTLY what it smells like.
Cherry Cola Vice tastes like an alcoholic, slightly more sour version of Fentimans Cherry Cola. There's not really any other way to describe it. It's so easy to drink, and the contrasting sweet and sourness of the cherries works wonders.
If you like a cherry cola, then you will like this beer. Even if not, I encourage you to try it just to experience the pure wizardry that has gone into creating it. Cherry Cola Vice has been hugely enjoyable, and i'm surprised at how much I like it...thankfully, I have another can in the fridge.
5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻