Big Fish Brewing
It's shocking that it's taken me so long to get round to reviewing this beer. Firstly, Big Fish Brewing are a great local brewery that make awesome beer and secondly, the beer itself - an NE IPA (New England IPA) is is one of my favourite beer styles. This beer has been on the go for a while now, Hop Shop Aberdeen have had it on their shelves for ages, and it's even started popping up on tap in bars, but for whatever reason I've just never got round to it, until now!
Division 1 is a 6.7% ABV NE IPA, and is also Big Fish Brewing's first beer to come in a can. NE IPA's are typically packed with big, juicy flavours, so I was curious to see how this one turned out.
Division 1 pours from the can a hazy amber orange colour, leaving behind a lively off white head - it actually started escaping from the can as soon as I opened it! There's an initial sweetness in the aroma with a touch of orange and grapefruit before being rounded off by some grass/pine at the back end - so far so good. And flavour wise, it's all pretty good as well; those sweet, juicy fruit flavours are there from the off before combining with a piney bitterness that you are so used to in this style of beer. There is almost a slight creaminess there too which gives this beer a really nice mouthfeel. The alcohol is also well hidden for the ABV, making it extremely easy drinking - almost session like. This was a very enjoyable beer to drink, not perfect - but still pretty damn good!
Overall, I really enjoyed this beer and it's another solid release from Big Fish Brewing. As far as NE IPA's go - it certainly can't rival some of the greats, but for a small, local brewery like Big Fish Brewing it is excellent and a great addition to Aberdeen's beer scene. I'd definitely recommend giving this a try. Big Fish Brewing are doing some big things, including soon releasing their own gin - I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Division 1 NE-IPA gets 4 out of 5 from me 🍻
What? Supermarket beer is evolving!
We're all used to being able to pick up good craft beer at our local supermarkets. The shelves at Tesco, Morrison's, Asda, Aldi and Lidl's are all packed with good beer - with beers from the likes of BrewDog, Northern Monk, Brooklyn Brewery, Camden Town, Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada all readily available on their shelves. However, if I am being honest, I can't remember the last time I bought a great beer in a supermarket - that is until recently.
Out of nowhere, social media was flooded with posts of these new beers from Vocation Brewery that were available in Tesco. Naturally, I had to see what all the fuss is about and I picked up their Breakfast Club collaboration with Yeastie Boys, and Love & Hate - the focus of this review. Love & Hate is a 7.2% ABV New England Pale Ale, and here's the official description from Vocation:
"Traditionalists love beer that’s crystal clear, with restrained hops, and a delicate flavour. They’re going to hate this… Love & Hate is our juicily crushable, unapologetically murky, New-England pale ale. An authentic Vermont yeast strain and a big dose of oats work together with our triple dry-hopping process to create beautiful aromas and a silky mouthful. Unconventional. Uncompromising. We love it."
There was so much hype around this beer, but could it live up to it?
Love & Hate pours from the rather cool looking can a hazy, murky, golden yellow colour, leaving less than a fingers width of a foamy off-white head behind. As you'd expect from this style of beer, there is loads of tropical/citrus fruit aromas as soon as you crack the can; juicy pineapple, mango and orange fill your nose from the off along with a hint of resin - so far so good! One sip of this beer and I know that it's a winner. Just as you get with the aromas, those sweet, juicy fruits are right there at the front of it all and then there's a bitterness, maybe a touch too much, to balance everything all out. This beer is silky smooth - those oats really do their job of binding everything together and making it feel great in the mouth. The alcohol is there, but not too overpowering, which could be quite dangerous considering this beer comes in at 7.2% ABV!
Overall I really enjoyed drinking this beer and I'll definitely be buying more of it, providing there's still some left on the shelves! This beer is great, really great. And the best part? It costs three quid.
You're going to see a lot more from Vocation Brewery on this blog - they are fast becoming a firm favourite of mine and their Life & Death IPA is one of the best core beers you can pick up in the supermarket. For £3, this beer is an absolute no brainier. £3 might seem like a lot to some people for one beer, but in my mind it is incredible value for what you are getting in terms of flavour - and a in 4400ml can no less.
Love & Hate gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
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 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 🍻