Get your Beer Fix By Supporting Local
We may be going through some pretty tough times at the moment, but for some of us, getting our beer fix is still pretty important. With the rise of quality craft beer available in more and more supermarkets, it's becoming all too easy to grab a few, whilst on your weekly shop and stock up for the weekend. I'm as guilty as anyone for that, it's so handy!
Having an equally tough time of it, or probably tougher in some cases, is the independent local breweries and bottle shops that are still working super hard to make awesome craft beer available to us, despite everything that's going on. With lock-down set to be rightfully extended further (certainly here in Scotland), I wanted to put together this post to highlight some awesome breweries and bottle shops that we can support through these tough times - and you get your hands on some tasty beer at the end of it.
Note, that whilst I'm sure there are loads of places deserving of your support, I'm using this post to highlight places that I love, and have been supporting recently. Feel free to add others in the post comments or re-share and tag them.
I'm sure you all know how much I love Brew Toon - they have featured in many posts on this blog, and that hasn't changed. They have some amazing beers to choose from, with the incredible M'Ango Unchained, an all time favourite of mine, along with others such as Sour To The People, Mayday and Loose Cannon. I ordered from them last week; I placed an order at around lunch time, and it came before 5pm the very same day - incredible service! They have also recently launched 5L mini-kegs, which have been super popular. I got myself a keg of M'Ango Unchained last weekend, and it went down a treat!
Find out more at:
Now, whilst I haven't specifically ordered from Reids gold during lockdown, they are a great small brewery, making great beer, and absolutely deserving of your support. With beers such as Raspberry Sun, North Sea Haar and the award winning Green Monkey Wheat, they have plenty to choose from. They are also currently taking pre orders on 5L mini kegs.
Find out more at:
Dog Falls Brewing
Now, this is a relatively new brewery to me - I only found out about them last week, but I have already since placed an order. Based up near Inverness, these guys have an awesome looking selection of 440ml cans available, something which is pretty rare for a relatively small outfit, in my opinion. Offering free local delivery within a 10mile radius or courier delivery at a very reasonable price for further afar - they are definitely worth checking out.
Find out more at:
Six Degrees North
Again, another brewery that I haven't specifically ordered from throughout lockdown, but they are definitely a local favourite of mine. They have such a great selection of beer, and are offering up a great variety of mixed cased at very reasonable prices, with all orders posted next day via DHL.
Find out more at:
Now, whilst these guys may not be local to the North East of Scotland, they are an awesome Scottish brewery - in fact, I think they might very well be my favourite brewery around at the moment. They make such high quality beer on such a consistent basis, they are absolutely a brewery that you need in your life. I've banged on about them so much over on my Instagram, and I can't wait to see what they brew up next. They have a very decent selection of beer available on their online shop, with free mainland delivery available for orders over £35.
Find out more at:
Hop Shop Aberdeen
Potentially of of my favourite shops in the whole world, and the place where I but 99% of my beer - Hop Shop Aberdeen (also known as Westhill Service Station) are easily the best bottle shop in Aberdeen, and probably one of the top throughout the UK. Stocking such a HUGE range of craft beer, including two rotating taps that can be used for growler fills, along with merch, snacks and glassware - you can get just about anything you need to satisfy your craft beer needs here. They offer free mainland delivery for orders over £50.
Find out more at:
You may have noticed there are a couple of big omissions from this list - BrewDog & Fierce beer. BrewDog are one of the biggest craft beer companies in the world - I don't think they need highlighting. Fierce, whilst not on the same level as BrewDog, are probably one of the biggest craft breweries in the UK, and certainly need no introduction from me - we all know how good they are!
I've also recently ordered from, and received excellent service from two breweries slightly further afar - Pomona Island from Salford & S43 from Country Durham. I've yet to try the Pomona Island beers at the time of writing, but I've read so much about how good they are. S43, for me are making some of the UK's best beer this year, and whilst my latest order has yet to arrive - I'm buzzing to get my hands on them.
Find out more at:
So there you have it, my picks to help support local, independent breweries and bottle shops. Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments below, or re-share this post and tag them.
Now, put down those £3 supermarket cans and go help out the little guys! 🍻
Bringing Belgium To Scotland [AD - GIFTED]
You know...it's not all about those big juicy DIPA's and indulgent imperial stouts - sometimes simple, traditional beers, packed with flavours and brewed locally are just as impressive.
I was very generously sent a lovely care package from the guys over at Six° North, so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about some of the beers, and what they are doing.
Six° North was established in 2013 out of founder, Robert Lindsay's love for Belgian beer. Since then, the brewery has grown exponentially, and now employs over 80 staff across five sites in Aberdeen, Stonehaven, Dundee, Edinburgh & Glasgow. Six° North prides itself on making modern, artisanal beers based in Belgian brewing tradition with a modern brewing spin. Their beers are unfiltered, and naturally carbonated through secondary fermentation. As well as brewing classic Belgian style beers, Six° North produces modern, hop forward beers along with collaborations with many different breweries.
As I said at the very top of this post, I was sent an awesome care package from Sixº North (thanks Matt) containing a bunch of goodies, and more importantly, some great looking beers. The beers included were:
So, all in all, that's a pretty well rounded selection of beers! Rather than talk about them all, I’m gonna pick a few of my favourites that I recommend you go out and try for yourself.
First up we have Omnium, a session IPA coming in at 4.3% ABV, and a beer which I have actually had, and enjoyed previously. Here's what Six have to say about it:
"Generous doses of Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic & Simcoe hops makes Omnium an all round crowd pleaser!"
Now, despite having had this one before, I was interested to get stuck into it because I'd been told that it was fresh off the bottling line only days earlier, and what's better than fresh beer?!
Omnium pours from the bottle a hazy, bright, golden yellow colour, leaving behind a thin foamy white head. Initial aromas are orange, lemon & grapefruit, with the slightest hint of pine. Those fruit flavours are at the forefront when you take your first sip, with more grapefruit, orange & lemon leading the way. At the back end, there's some grassy, floral notes to round everything off nice and smoothly.
Overall, I was impressed by Omnium again, it's a really nice and easy drinking beer, with great flavours, and definitely one I could sit and enjoy a few of.
Next up we have Dynamo, a 6% ABV IPA. Now, I'm not sure if this has any kind of relationship with the Dundee bar, but it certainly shares the same name. Here's the official description from Sixº North:
"Dynamo is a bold, aromatic IPA. A healthy dose of Amarillo and Centennial hops lay the ground for bright, floral and citrus flavours and typically assertive bitterness."
Dynamo pours from the glass a slightly hazy golden colour, leaving a big frothy white head behind. There's a load of citrus in the nose, with grapefruit, lemon and orange standing out, which is combined with a grassy, floral aroma. Flavour wise is much the same as the aroma - with loads of citrus fruits up front, with grapefruit and orange being the most prominent. On the back end, there's some slight floral flavours, alongside a whack of hoppy bitterness.
Overall, this is a pretty solid, easy drinking IPA, pack with plenty of flavour and a nice hit of booze.
Finally, we have Inhale, a 6% ABV Berliner Weisse collaboration with Salt Beer Factory from Bingley. I've been loving the sours lately, so I was looking forward to trying this one out, especially with Salt involved too. Here's the official description:
"This is a light & refreshing Berliner with heaps of lemon citrus & a zingy sour finish."
Inhale pours a slightly translucent golden yellow colour, leaving behind a thin bubbly white head. There's not too much to say about the aroma other than loads of zingy lemon and lime, with the slightest hint of saltiness. Flavour wise, right from the off you get a massive whack of sour lemon and lime, before it dies down and follows through with just the right amount of saltiness and wheat.
This beer is very, very nice to drink - not too sour and perfectly sessionable.
If you haven't already, then checking out Sixº North Aberdeen is an absolute necessity, and one of the main reasons for that, on top of the awesome beer of course, is Smoke & Soul. For those of you who don't know, Smoke & Soul are an Aberdeen based catering company, who specialise in slow cooked meats and have a kitchen residency at Sixº North Abz.
From Smoke & Soul you can expect mouthwatering treats such as the incredible mac & meat wrap, poutine fries topped with beef brisket or pulled pork, loaded nachos and so much more. They also have a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available - so there is something for everyone. I honestly can't recommend the food enough, and urge you to try it if you haven't already.
Thanks again to the team at Sixº North for sending me out beers and merch, it's been awesome drinking them, and the beanie has been keeping my head warm on my walks to work over the last couple of weeks.
Do you have a favourite Sixº North beer? Have you been in to try out the awesome food by Smoke & Soul? Let me know in the comments below. 🍻
Fresh Mex x Brew Toon
Lager and lime. It's just one of those things that seem to go together so well. Whether that's mixed together in a pint, or in a bottle with a wedge of lime - it just seems to work. Aberdeen based TexMex street food company FreshMex recognise this, and they have been working with local favourites of mine Brew Toon for the last 9 months to develop a few flagship beer for their restaurants. FreshMex kindly asked if I'd be interested in trying it out ahead of the official launch. Uh...yes! The beer in question is Lime Lager, a 4.8% ABV lime infused lager and here's the official description from the bottle:
What goes better with fresh food than a cold, refreshing lager? Our Lime Lager is brewed with a variety of malts & fresh ingredients, and left to condition until the perfect moment to ensure a smooth head and a soft, refreshing finish with citrusy undertones.
Fresh Mex director Robbie Moult explained the thinking behind the beer, “Ever since we launched our street food across the North-East at events such as the Banchory Beer Festival or at our food residency in the Adams sports bar, we’ve always known our food goes hand-in-hand with a beer – literally. We wanted to create a beer that matches our need for fresh flavour, so collaborated with the brilliant team in Peterhead at Brew Toon to make a light tasting beer that is still 4.8% ABV. It pairs incredibly well with our menu, but is also great to drink on it’s own.”
Cameron Bowden, Director of Brew Toon, added: “We’ve spent the past 9 months developing the Lime Lager with FreshMex – doing multiple test batches to get the taste spot on and we are very happy with the end result. It’s brewed with a variety of malts and fresh ingredients – including fresh lime, and left to condition until the perfect moment to ensure a smooth head and soft, refreshing finish with citrusy undertones. We’ve had great feedback on the Lime Lager so far, and are excited for the partnership ahead with FreshMex.”
FreshMex Lime Lager officially launches today, Thursday 22nd August, and will be available on draught from the Adams sports bar, FreshMex Schoolhill, Brew Toon’s own bar in Peterhead, as well as a number of local bar venues across Aberdeen and the North East. The lager will also be sold in 330ml bottles with an eye catching design to takeaway from all venues, on Deliveroo via FreshMex, as well as several North East bottle shops & delis, including the Westhill Service Station and JK Fine Foods.
The new beer launch coincides with the reopening of their flagship Burrito Bar on Schoolhill in the next month after being closed for renovations following a fire in February earlier this year. In the meantime, FreshMex are currently still serving up their awesome street food out of their kitchen residency at The Adams Lounge on Holburn Street.
If the quality of their food is anything to go by, then this beer is gonna be good...especially with Brew Toon involved!
Lime Lager pours from the bottle a slightly hazy golden amber colour, leaving behind a foamy off-white head. Straight from the pour you get those awesome zesty lime aromas from the fresh lime juice and kaffir lime leaves that have been packed in this beer. Again on the first sip those powerful lime flavours are at the forefront of it all, combining with a nice malty backbone to make this a really refreshing beer to drink. There's not too much carbonation and it has quite a smooth mouthfeel too, making it all very drinkable and well rounded.
Without trying to oversimplify it - imagine a Corona (I know), but WAY more refreshing, WAY more prominent lime flavours, and MUCH nicer to drink. This is the perfect summer BBQ beer, I could totally imagine sinking a few of these in my garden on a hot day. I can also see why Fresh Mex has gone with this beer as an accompaniment to their food - it is so easy drinking and refreshing, it would be perfect alongside one of their awesome burritos.
I'm not too much of a lager drinker these days - I think you could probably tell that from the lack of lager posts on this blog, but I really enjoyed this beer. I think the fact that it was just so refreshing made it hit the right spot. It's also great to see two awesome local businesses come together and collaborate like this, and I'm looking forward to FreshMex on Schoolhill opening its doors again and getting in to try this out on draught alongside a banging burrito. I would highly recommend seeking this beer out and giving it a go, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't enjoy it!
Lime Lager gets 4 out of 5 from me 🍻
Remember back when I spent the day at Brew Toon in Peterhead, and they were brewing up a beer with the Peterhead Lifeboat Crew? Well, that beer has finally been released, and that beer is Mayday. I was extremely excited when I found out what kind of beer we were brewing up that day, as it is easily one of my favourite beer styles. Mayday is a 3.8% ABV NE IPA, and here's what Brew Toon have to say about it:
"Peterhead Lifeboat Station has been safeguarding mariners along the North East coast of Scotland since 1865. With the help of the Lifeboat team we have brewed up a sessionable NEIPA with waves of citrus fruit flavour, made from the very best of new American hops."
All the flavour of a banging NE IPA, whilst being sessionable enough not to knock you out after a few bottles? Great! On top of making an absolutely excellent sounding beer, 20% of all profits from this beer will be donated to the charity - which is pretty awesome if you ask me!
Mayday pours from the bottle a hazy, murky golden colour, leaving around a fingers width of a frothy white head at the top. Initial aromas are refreshing, citrus, slight tropical fruits, some light floral notes and a hint of that familiar hoppy goodness that you are so used to with NE IPA's. These familiar flavours continue in the flavour, with refreshing citrus up front and combine with floral flavours - and if I am being picky, maybe slightly too much floral notes here for me. There's then an ever so slight dose of bitter hops, that rounds everything off, to remind you that you are in fact drinking an IPA.
This beer is so easy drinking, and the flavours all come together great. For such a low ABV beer, Brew Toon has done a fantastic job in packing it full of flavour. Like I said, my only gripe was that it was perhaps maybe slightly over floral, but that didn't stop me enjoying it at all and I would happily sit and enjoy a few of these in one sitting.
Overall, Mayday was another really enjoyable beer from Brew Toon. We're only four months into the year and these guys have been killing it with their releases so far - I'm super excited to see what they have planned next. I find it hard to imagine anyone disliking this beer, it is so easy to drink and for that reason, you should 100% give it a try - plus, it's supporting a great local cause... so what are you waiting for?
Mayday gets 3.75 out of 5 from me 🍻
Fresh From the Mountains [GIFTED]
There's a new lager in town! Brewed in Insch, Aberdeenshire, under the shadow of the mighty Bennachie comes Torr Lager. Brewed by the team at Beer Story Tor Lager is the latest entry into Scotland's bustling lager scene. The team at the brewery were kind enough to drop off some samples and glasses so I could try this beer out for myself.
Named after a torr rock foundation, it is hoped that this lager will help put Aberdeenshire on the map as a premium lager producer. Here's the official description from the brewery:
"Torr Lager is a Scottish lager made with pure ingredients and a traditional brewing method to create a golden lager with a crisp and refreshing taste. Our yeast is propagated in water from the mountains, taken from a river that begins in the Cairngorms and flows for over 80 miles through Aberdeenshire before entering the North Sea at Aberdeen. Only 4 ingredients are used in our lager. No rice or corn. No chemicals. No fish bladders. No GMO corn syrup. 100% natural, giving Torr a uniquely malty taste."
I've spoken before on this blog about how lager isn't my go to style of beer - but I do appreciate a well made one, and the work that goes into it, so I was intrigued to see what this one was all about.
Torr lager pours from the bottle a crystal clear straw colour, leaving a thin white head at the top. Initial aromas are extremely fresh, and refreshing with notes of malts, bread and some fresh citrus. On the first sip, there is an overriding sweetness there, that I can't quite put my finger on where it's coming from - it's not at all a bad thing though. This is then followed up by some crisp, zesty citrus flavours, ending on a slight grassy taste. All in all this beer is light, crisp and refreshing, and the sweetness really sets it apart from a lot of other lagers.
Overall, in a week where I've drank a few different lagers; including this, Lost Lager from BrewDog, and the lager that was in the Tiny Rebel box, Torr has definitely been my favourite. I don't think that a lager is ever going to blow me away, but Torr lager is different enough to stand out amongst the crowd in Scotland's lager scene. If you are a lager drinker, then I would 100% recommend giving Torr a try, and even if you're not - I'm sure you will appreciate the work that has gone into it.
Torr Lager gets 3.75 out of 5 from me 🍺