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 🍻
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 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 🍻
We're finally starting to see some decent weather in Aberdeen. That calls for summer beers. Thankfully, Aberdeen's own Fierce beer seem to have came up with the perfect beers; two ice cream ales, perfect for a summers day - Orange Scream, a collaboration with Norwegian masters Amundsen & also Melba Scream.
Since these beers are pretty similar in nature, I'm gonna cover them in a single review. I'd heard nothing but good things about these two beers so I was delighted that Hop Shop Aberdeen got them on the shelves so quickly.
First up we have Orange Scream, a 7% ABV orange ice cream ale. Orange Scream has been brewed in collaboration with Norwegian giants Amundsen who are a brewery that like Fierce, are notorious for packing their beer full of flavour. Here's the official description from Fierce:
"We love the beers that Amundsen make. They pack in a lot of flavour. For this collab we wanted to make a beer that transports you back to childhood days, sitting on the beach with an orange and vanilla ice lolly. Smooth, decadent and also refreshing."
Orange Scream pours from the can a bright orange colour, leaving a thin foamy white head. The orange aromas are literally screaming at you instantly...think of something along the lines of one of those Tango Ice Blasts you have a the cinema, and you're just about there. Then on your first sip big zesty, fizzy, sweet & juicy orange flavours are followed up by a dose of smooth creaminess to hold it all together. It is very sweet, but the smooth creamy texture helps it all work nicely. It really is a surreal beer...an alcoholic Fanta ice cream float beer - it's mad, but it works A LOT.
Orange Scream gets 4.5 out of 5 from me
Next up we have Melba Scream, a 6.7% ABV peach melba ice Cream ale. Here's the official description from Fierce beer:
"Peach Melba is a dessert of peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream. The dish was invented in 1892 by the French chef Auguste Escoer at the Savoy Hotel to honour the Australian soprano Nellie Melba. We’re sure both Nellie and Auguste would approve of us making it into a beer..."
Melba Scream pours from the glass a hazy ruby red/orange colour, leaving a foamy off white head. You get the sweet, creamy, fruity aromas instantly - sweet, juicy peaches & raspberries are at the forefront, followed by a vanilla creaminess. The flavours are quite consistent with the aromas; fresh juicy peach combine with the sour tart raspberries to give an almost Skittles like flavour explosion. Again, the smooth creamy texture is there to give this beer an extremely drinkable mouthfeel. As with Orange Scream, it's all pretty bonkers - but it works incredibly well.
Melba Scream gets 4.5 out of 5 from me
These beers are awesome. I'd love them to become a permanent fixture in Fierce's lineup or even just a yearly summer release. There was almost nothing between them in terms of taste and quality, but I think Orange Scream just about edged it for me as I found it slightly more refreshing. These beers are perfect for summer drinking - stock up and enjoy them in the sun while you can 🍻