Is It Worth It?
The premise is simple; three brand new, experimental small batch beers delivered to your door every fortnight, all for £11 including delivery (UK prices). Pretty straightforward right? But is it worth it?
That's the real question here. I've been pretty hot and cold when it comes to new BrewDog beers this year, so with six new beers every month...could we start to face some BrewDog fatigue? I certainly hope not, because I do love BrewDog - Elvis Juice & Hazy Jane remain two of my favourite beers to date.
I sceptically decided to sign up. I think FOMO (fear of missing out) took over me - BrewDog really have nailed it here with the marketing strategy. I imagine there will be loads of people out there like me, purely signing up because they don't want to miss out. Time to find out of these beers were worth signing up for.
The beers themselves arrive neatly packaged in a typically BrewDog branded cardboard box. Inside the box, the beers come with a tasting card that details all the tasting notes. As far as branding & packaging goes, it's definitely all pretty cool & eye catching & certainly does the job of making a good impression.
First up is Jet Trash (v1), a 6.9% ABV West Coast IPA. Here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"A quintessential and super-fresh India Pale Ale flying the flag with a huge payload of US hops on both aroma and flavour backed by a toffee-forward malt base"
Jet Trash pours from the can a deep amber colour, leaving a foamy white head. Aromas are citrus; orange, lemon & grapefruit with a backbone of hops & malts. Taste wise there is loads of grapefruits, prominent malts & a good splash of bitterness rounding it all off.
I enjoyed this beer, it's a like a baby brother of Jackhammer & I certainly enjoyed it more than Native Son, their West Coast DIPA released earlier this year.
4 out of 5
Next up is Zephyr (v1), a 4.6 ABV Citrus-Infused Session Sour. Here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"Brewed with pale malt, wheat, Perle hops and a healthy addition of citrus, Zephyr is a tangy session pale with a pronounced aroma of grapefruit and lime and a juicy acidity on the palate"
Zephyr pours a clear amber colour leaving a foamy white head. Aromas are mainly grapefruit & sherbet lemon. Taste is prett much all tangy lemon up front before an overpowering soapy flavour takes over - for me, it really wasn't that nice.
I really didn't get on with this beer. Initial flavours were OK, but I found the aftertaste quite unplesant - like washing up liquid or something.
1.5 out of 5
Finally we have Nebula, a 10% ABV Russian imperial stout and here's what BrewDog have to say about it:
"A brand new imperial stout brewed to be a decadent beast – packed with flavours of chocolate, coffee, cinder toffee and roasted malt."
Nebula pours a deep oil black, leaving a foamy beige head. Aromas are coffee, brown sugar & some forest fruits. Flavours are quite similar to the aromas - big coffee & chocolate flavours combine with sweet brown sugar & toffee before a jolt of bitterness rounds it all off. For being such a heavy hitting beer, I found it rather smooth & easy to drink.
Overall, I found Nebula to be another decent beer. Full of interesting flavours that work well together.
4 out of 5
Overall, I still remain slightly skeptical if Fanzine will prove to be a worthwhile long term investment; whilst Jet Trash & Nebula were decent beers, I really didn't like Zephyr. But I guess I can't be too quick to judge, the premise is they are experimental beers - they aren't going to be perfect. It's certainly a solid start and I look forward to seeing how this subscription evolves.
I've actually paused my subscription after the first week, a combination of Hop Shop Aberdeen having an insane beer haul last week and going on holiday this weekend meant there wasn't enough room in my bank account for all those beers. I do plan to reactivate it after my holiday and seeing what comes next.
I'll be sure to keep you updated of future Fanzine releases when they arrive.
Have you signed up to Fanzine? What did you think?
Fierce Beer x Brew York / BrewDog x Fierce Beer
Over the last couple of weeks I've had two versions of Very Big Moose. Initially brewed as a collaboration with BrewDog as part #COLLABFEST2017, it has since been re-released as a collaboration with Brew York using Tonka beans & again with BrewDog in celebration of #PUNKAGM2018.
Since I had both these versions just days apart, I decided to review them together. Hop Shop Aberdeen again delivered the goods in getting these two awesome collaborations on the shelves in no time at all.
Very Big Moose: tonka - fierce Beer x Brew York
First up we have Very Big Moose: Tonka edition, a beer that was my beer of the show at #northhopabz recently. VBM: Tonka is a 12% ABV imperial chocolate stout that has been brewed using Tonka beans in collaboration with york based brewery, Brew York. If like me, you didn't know what Tonka beans were...here's a quick explanation from Google:
"Tonka beans are a somewhat exotic ingredient that is becoming more and more common in home cupboards. The beans are about an inch long and look similar to raisins in texture and are actually seeds from a type of flowering tree found in South America. They are often used as a substitute for vanilla in recipes and have their own vanilla-like flavour – but with fruity, spicy notes. Tonka beans pair well with chocolate as well as sweet fruits such as strawberries and is often used in puddings and in ice creams."
So, now that we're all educated, here's what Fierce beer had to say about this beer:
"When deciding on what beer to make with the amazing guys from Brew York,it really was an easy decision. Taking our multi-award winning Very Big Moose, and using their expertise in the use of Tonka beans has produced something superspecial. A robust stout with a velvety mouthfeel, cacao notes and – wham! – Tonka awesomeness."
I'd heard very good things about this beer, so naturally when I seen it on the Fierce Beer tap list at North Hop, I had to try it - and wow, it blew me away. The flavours were incredible! So much so, that the very next morning, I got myself round to Westhill Service Station to pick up a can.
VBM: Tonka pours a deep, oil black colour, leaving a thin brown head that disperses pretty rapidly. The aromas from this beer are incredible; sticky, sweet toffee, combined with loads of chocolate & vanilla are rounded off with a touch of coffee - almost like a sticky toffee pudding in a glass! Unsurprisingly, the flavours do not disappoint either - huge vanilla flavours are combined with bitter chocolate, sweet treacle, roasted coffee & a warming alcohol finish. Wow. This beer is so good. For being 12% ABV, it is extremely drinkable too, very slick mouthfeel with little fizz.
Overall Very Big Moose: Tonka gets 4.75 out of 5 from me 🍻
Very Big Moose - BrewDog x Fierce Beer
Unfortunately for me, I missed out on last years collaboration between Fierce Beer & BrewDog. So when I heard from Hop Shop Aberdeen that it was being released again to celebrate this years #PUNKAGM then I made sure I wasn't missing out again. Very Big Moose is again, a 12% ABV imperial chocolate stout and here's the official lowdown from BrewDog:
"Not only did crew from BrewDog Aberdeen assist in the brewing of this beer for #Collabfest2017 - but it came out on top as the winner, beating 33 other beers for that top spot!
Together they brewed up a super-imperial version of Fierce Beer's session chocolate - Moose Mousse. They used the best Colombian Cacao and Madagascan Vanilla. It drinks really well at room temp, chilled, or with an ice cream float.
We brought this one back by popular demand for #PunkAGM2018!"
Yeah, this is going to be something special...
Very Big Moose pours from the awesomely designed bottle a dark black with a thin tan head that doesn't hang around very long. The aromas here are again awesome - roasted coffee, sweet brown sugar & marshmallow are combined with loads of vanilla. Flavours are out of this world - rich milky chocolate combine with vanilla, brown sugar & roasted coffee to create almost the perfect imperial dessert stout. For a 12% ABV beer there also isn't too much sign of the alcohol either, which is pretty dangerous! The mouthfeel is excellent too - luxurious, silky smooth, slightly creamy & very little carbonation make this extremely enjoyable to drink.
It's understandable why this beer has a 100 overall rating on RateBeer. Wow. For me, it just pips the Tonka version. Overall, Very Big Moose gets 5 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
So overall, these are two incredible versions of the same beer & one that I'm glad I finally got round to drinking. Hopefully we can expect to see more awesome collabs between BrewDog & Fierce, especially with them being practically neighbours now!
For my next beer review BrewDog are back with their first wildcard release of 2018 - Kamikaze Knitting Club, a 7.5% ABV maple stout. BrewDog have history with releasing some pretty awesome wildcard beers throughout the course of the year with 2017 giving us Nine to Five Wizard & Pump-Action Poet. Those were some damn good beers, and combined with my ever growing love for stouts - I was pretty hyped for this beer. Here's the official word on it from BrewDog:
"A 7.5% maple stout, Kamikaze combines dark malts with a classic Canadian export - maple syrup, adding to the warming malty and smoky character. The maple sweetness is balanced out by a healthy dose of Sorachi Ace, resulting in a herbal and coconutty hop character against a backdrop of chocolate and roasted maltiness."
Sounds good right?
Since writing this post I notice that you can no longer find this beer on the BrewDog website - you are met with an error message. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the news article regarding the apparent backlash to this beer label in Asia.
Let's get straight in to the incredible can art - it is so freaking cool! It's certainly one of the most eye catching beer cans that I've seen, right up there with the best of Beavertown.
Kamikaze Knitting Club pours a dark, oil black, leaving a foamy beige head. Initial aromas are those roasted malts, coffee & a hint of bitter chocolate. These are then rounded off with the slightest sweetness of the maple syrup. On taste you get the rich roasted coffee first with a hint of sweetness - I guess from the maple syrup. There is a really sharp hoppy bitterness at the end, which certainly caught me off guard. It is a tasty enough beer, but for being labelled as a maple stout, I really didn't get much of the maple syrup in the flavour - only the slightest hint of sweetness.
Overall, Kamikaze Knitting Club was a decent, yet unspectacular beer. From the name & the packaging you expect a beer that is packed full of exciting flavours, however what is left is a pretty ordinary stout. That's a few beers in a row now from BrewDog that have left me slightly underwhelmed, however I'm not going to write them off just yet as I know they have incredible beer in them...I'm looking at you Hazy Jane.
Kamikaze Knitting Club gets 3 out of 5 hops from me 🍻
The Final Fling
Over the past weekend, North Hop descended on the AECC to celebrate its final fling as we know it. I was lucky enough to get invited along & attended the opening session on Friday night.
Having been to North Hop previously, and its sister festival - The Spirit of North Hop last year, I was super excited for this. The list of breweries, food vendors & everything else made for such an awesome lineup.
There were loads of great beers at North Hop this year. There were beers from great local breweries I'd already had plenty of experience with like Brew Toon, Beer Story & Fierce Beer and then there were breweries that were new to me such as Out of Town Brewing & Top Out Brewery. It was great to have such a range of beers to enjoy throughout the night and also being able to chat to the people from the breweries themselves - they were all extremely friendly, sharing stories about the breweries & the beers.
Overall, the beer of the show for me was Fierce Beer - Very Big Moose (Tonka), their 12.5% ABV imperial chocolate stout. This beer was immense...I had one sip of my friends beer & knew straight away I had to get one for myself. Unfortunately this was towards the end of the night, so my photography skills had greatly diminished, and I wasn't able to get a photo of the beer. Keep an eye out for a full review of this one in the near future.
Other highlights for me included M'ango Unchained by Brew Toon, the new Outsiders IPA from Beer Story, Orange Pale Ale & Property IPA from Out of Town - I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from these guys. A quick note on the creme brulee doughnut crush from Out of Town - I didn't get much doughnut taste in the beer, I would definitely be interested in trying this again to see if it is just a gimmick or if you can actually make out the flavours.
My only regret is not taking my glass home! Every time I have been at North Hop I have headed out afterwards so on each occasion I have unfortunately had to leave my glass behind.
There was also some top notch food on show at North Hop with Aberdeen favourites Melt on hand with their epic cheese toasties. I opted for the classic mac & cheese with Kerry going for the haggis one. As always, they were awesome, and the perfect way to kick off the night. My only regret was not buying one of those cream egg brownies (seriously, what was I thinking?!).
Aberdeen restaurant So...were there showcasing their "On Fire" street food menu. For me, the food highlight of the evening was their Firecracker loaded fries - they were EPIC. Perfectly seasoned crispy fries, topped with cheese, chillies & coriander. So... is a restaurant that I have crazily never actually visited. They often hold pop up events with their street food menu, and for whatever reason - I have never actually gone along. However, this will definitely change following my experience with these fries...they were SO damn good!
Aside from the awesome beer & food, there was plenty else to enjoy at North Hop including an array of awesome music throughout the night. Ranging from a piper in full highland dress kicking things off, a host of acoustic acts, before things being rounded off by the electric "Sweet White" who put in an excellent performance full of energy.
Along with the fantastic beer selection there was also the first ever North Hop bar, which showcased a bunch of really cool cocktails served up by a team of local barmen. These cocktails were expertly made & looked great and whilst I never had any myself, Kerry had one and assured me it was great.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at North Hop and I would like to thank the North Hop team again for putting on such a great event & for inviting me along. While it's a sad farewell for now, I'm incredibly excited to see how the next chapter looks - and if this is anything to go by, then I will be first in line 🍻
STREET FOOD COMES TO THE BLUE TOON
What's better than craft beer & street food? Not much right?
This past weekend saw Smoke & Soul, one of Aberdeen's newest up & coming street food vendors combine forces with Brew Toon at their cafe/micro brewery site in Peterhead for a day of awesome food, quality beer & some great tunes.
The folks behind Smoke & Soul are friends of mine & while I have tried some of Brew Toon's beer before, I'd never visited the brewery - so we decided to head up on Saturday afternoon to check it all out.
First up, the Brew Toon micro brewery & cafe is a great set up. The brewery area itself is very impressive, and the cafe is very well decorated & features a window that looks into the brewery - I can imagine this being awesome on brew days!
They had a selection of their beers & draft with them also available in bottle, along with a selection of coffee's, tea & soft drinks. The food menu also had lots of good looking offerings ranging from cakes, pies & nachos (definitely a reason to come back!).
Having only previously tried the Raspberry Carronade Cream ale, I was eager to try more beers, especially their latest release - M'ango Unchained, a mango IPA. After taking our seats, that was the first beer I ordered and wow, it was awesome! The first thing you notice is the smell - it is pure mango! It doesn't disappoint on taste either, with the sweet juicy mango complimenting the slight bitterness perfectly - this beer is so enjoyable to drink.
Whilst ordering our drinks, I got speaking to Callum from Brew Toon who was a very nice guy & who kindly offered to sort me out with a beer flight so I could sample the range of beers on offer. I gladly accepted his offer & before I reached the end of my M'ango Unchained, the beer flight was brought over to our table. It was a flight of five different beers & the waitress took the time to explain each one of them; Northern Sinner, Purple Reign, Raspberry Carronade, Loose Cannon & Weekend Hooker.
The beers themselves were all very tasty, with each of them offering something different. If I had to rank the beers that I tried on the day, then it would be something like:
I've already spoken about how awesome I found M'ango Unchained, however I just wanted to say a few words about Purple Reign; this beer is amazing, I really don't think I've ever tasted anything quite like it. Whilst I'm not saying it's the best beer I've ever tasted, the flavours are just so complex & they work together perfectly to make this one enjoyable beer.
They have just announced that this week they have started barrel-ageing their Holy Smoke Chilli and Coffee Stout in a Jack Daniels 190l barrel for a small batch release that will be ready in December.
Smoke & Soul
Smoke & Soul are an Aberdeen based smoked meats vendor, ran by two friends of mine. They believe in using locally sourced ingredients to deliver the very best smoked & grilled meats to food lovers wherever they can. They are available to hire for private events, festivals & functions & will bring along a tasty menu of smoked goodness with them.
At their collaboration with Brew Toon, they had smoked pulled pork served in brioche buns, a beef brisket wrap served with sour cream, tomato, feta cheese & coriander and also mac & cheese that could be topped with any of the smoked meats. So, pretty much something for everyone! I opted for the pulled pork topped with South Carolina style BBQ sauce (from Sauce Shop), while Kerry opted for the beef brisket wrap.
The pulled pork itself was awesome; it was tender, smoked to perfection, with the perfect amount of char on the ends and the South Carolina sauce paired perfectly with it, adding just the right combination of spice & sweetness. I don't think you could ask for anything else when it comes to pulled pork? And while I can't speak personally for the beef brisket wrap, Kerry assured me that she loved it & that it tasted fantastic.
They have also recently announced a "Smoke to Order" service where they will prepare, smoke and shred pre-ordered pulled pork meat packs, which can be reheated and enjoyed at home. This sounds like a great idea to me, and take my word for it as a lover of all things pulled pork - their pulled pork is special!
Overall, we had a great afternoon up in Peterhead. Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the live music in the evening but we would definitely hope to go back sometime for another visit. I also look forward to seeing Smoke & Soul pop up at more & more events - street food is a fast growing trend in Aberdeen & these guys are going the right way about making an impact! You can keep up to date with all things Smoke & Soul by following them on their social media channels:
Also, be sure to follow all things Brew Toon to keep up to date with their awesome selection of beers: