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 🍻
Wander Beyond Brewing
As glorious as my two week break in Mexico was, there is only so much Sol and Dos Equis XX a man can drink! So, as a result I decided to make my first beer review on my return a special one - step forward Wander Beyond Brewing. This also happened to be my celebratory beer following Crathes Half Marahon. Having only discovered this Manchester based brewery recently, there was one beer that immediately caught my eye and as ever, Hop Shop Aberdeen had it in the fridges in no time at all (they even kept it back for me whilst I was away).
The beer in question is Sakura Twilight, a 11% ABV cherry chocolate imperial stout and here's the official description from Wander Beyond Brewing:
"This special release of our Imperial Stout was carefully infused with Morello cherries and cacao nibs to produce a highly drinkable cherry chocolate stout"
I've stated numerous times on this blog regarding my love for cherry flavoured things...so a cherry chocolate imperial stout certainly seemed right up my street.
Before we go any further, we have to applaud the can design. JUST LOOK AT IT! Seriously, how pretty (can pretty be used to describe beer cans?!) is it?
Sakura Twilight pours from the can a slightly opaque dark brown colour, leaving a thin tan head. Initial aromas are sweet, floral cherry, some forest fruits, along with dark chocolate malts and a slight hint of coffee. Flavour wise, I got loads of bitter dark chocolate, with a hint of roasted coffee and vanilla before a touch of sweet, tangy, juicy cherry comes in to play and rounds the flavours out perfectly. Very tasty! It's also worth noting that this stout wasn't heavy at all like some can be, it was silky smooth and incredibly drinkable for being an 11% ABV beer.
Overall, I was highly impressed with this beer and it was very enjoyable to drink - it was the perfect beer following my near three week exodus from the craft world! It's safe to say that Wander Beyond Brewing are firmly on my radar now. I already have my eye on a few of their other releases that Hop Shop Aberdeen currently have in stock, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Sakura Twilight gets 4.25 out of 5 from me 🍻
I've been waiting for this.
Ever since the news of their partnership with Heineken was announced, I've been waiting for Beavertown to release a beer to remind everyone just how good they are. As I said in my blog post, as long as they continue to make the same great beer that we've come to expect from them, then I'll be happy to keep drinking it. Sapling is a 7.1% ABV IPA and here's the official description from Beavertown:
"Mellow Raspberry, ripe nectarine and white peach. Super soft mouthfeel masks the 68 IBU’s with a lingering malt sweetness. A heavily dry hopped IPA showcasing two of our favourite Australian hop varieties: Enigma & Galaxy. Fermented with London Fog for fruity yeast notes and gentle sweetness."
Ever since this beer was announced, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and Hop Shop Aberdeen as always, came up with the goods.
First off - I can't talk about a Beavertown beer without talking about the can art. Kudos to Nick Dwyer, who really is at the top of his game with this one - check out how cool it looks?!
Sapling pours from the can a HAZY, pulpy, dark golden yellow colour, leaving a big foamy off-white head. This beer looks incredible! Aromas are fantastic - loads of sweet juicy fruits; mango, pineapple, peach and orange combine with some slight piney bitterness to leave your mouth watering. Taste wise, everything is quite similar to the aromas with loads of juicy fruits up front, then there's some slight bitterness and lingering bread/biscuit aftertaste that I wasn't overly sold on - but it wasn't in anyway off-putting. I enjoyed drinking this beer, it tastes great and it has a nice, full mouthfeel.
Overall, I highly enjoyed Sapling and whilst it's not quite up their with their best, it's another fine example of just how good a Beavertown IPA can be. If you had any doubt in your mind about the quality of their beer dropping - then I urge you to get out and try this one to put your mind at ease.
Sapling gets 4 out of 5 from me 🍻
Fierce Beer have been doing some awesome things this summer - most notably with their "scream" series. Next up we have PBJ (Peanut Butter & Jelly) Riot - a twist on their classic beer 'Peanut Riot' but with added raspberry jam. PBJ Riot is a 6.5% ABV peanut butter & jelly porter, and here's the official description from Fierce Beer:
"Our 'Peanut Riot' is an awesome beer; you’re immediately transported to the confectionery counter after one sip. But we wondered how it would taste as a classic PBJ, with raspberry jam - so we added some in. Try it with toast if you dare!"
Peanut Riot is a pretty damn good beer so the addition of some big raspberry flavours is surely going to make for an interesting beer.
PBJ Riot pours from the can a deep black with a very lively foamy beige head that took quite some time to settle. There's loads of sweet raspberry in the aroma with a slight sourness and some roasted nuts and a hint of chocolate. You get huge sharp, tangy raspberry flavours up front - so much you that you think you're drinking a sour and not a porter. You are then subtly reminded you are indeed drinking a porter with a combination of some roasted peanut flavours combined with a touch of bitter dark chocolate. It all comes together quite well, albeit maybe ever so slightly too sour for a dark beer in my opinion - but that doesn't stop it being enjoyable. There was also quite a bit of sediment in this beer, it didn't bother me too much - but it may bother some people.
Overall this was another pretty awesome beer from Fierce - the mixture of porter and sour certainly turned out to be an interesting one. Whilst it is maybe just slightly too sour for my liking, you can't deny that this beer is jam packed full of flavour. I'd certainly recommend giving it a go while it is still around.
PBJ gets 3.75 out of 5 from me 🍻