Reids Gold Brewing
I'd like to kick this post off by saying Happy New Year, and wishing you all the very best for 2019!
For my first review of the year, I'd like to start by keeping things local - I like to try my best and show as much local beer on this blog as I can. So, featuring for the first time on this blog is Reids Gold Brewing, from Stonehaven (they really should have appeared before now, but I never got my hands on any of their beers until just before Xmas - my fault!).
Liberty APA is a 4.5% ABV american style pale ale, that has been brewed with grapefruit. The first thing that springs to mind here for me is Elvis Juice. Now I highly doubt that this beer has been brewed as an imitation of Elvis Juice, but if it's at all in anyway similar - then I'm sure I'll like it. Here's the official line from Reids Gold:
"Liberty APA 4.5% ABV: (American hopped pale ale with pink grapefruit) This beer is an American pale ale. It only has hops added that are grown in America, these are Amarillo, Mosaic and Sorachi ace and it is not as highly hopped as an IPA so it has a more malty character. This all American bad boy is a smooth, easy drinking session ale, it has some pink grapefruit added to give it a fresh twist and something different that seems to work well with this beer. This beer is suitable for most foods and is a good all rounder, this would work well with most meat dishes, seafood and deserts."
I was looking forward to this beer. I love trying new beer from local breweries, and the Sonehaven Fireballs Beer had wet my appetite for more.
When Reids Gold first appeared on my radar, their branding was completely different - but ever since their re-brand, the beers all have a distinct, clean and modern look - they really do stand out. Liberty APA pours from the bottle a hazy, dark amber colour, leaving behind a lively off-white head - so lively in fact, that when I popped the cap I had to deal with some beer escaping from the bottle! Near disaster over...initial aromas are citrus grapefruit, biscuit malts and toffee - so far, so good. Flavours are slight bitterness up front from the grapefruit, with a hint of citrus. These then combine with some floral notes and some slight toffee flavours to round everything off quite nicely - an easy drinking beer overall, with quite a decent amount of carbonation.
Overall, I found this to be a pretty enjoyable beer and along with the Stonehaven Fireballs Beer - it has good me quite excited about what's to come from Reids Gold. Whilst it didn't blow me away - it was easy drinking, and full of flavour. Do the right thing and support this local brewery by checking out some of their beers!
Liberty APA gets 3.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
I feel like I've been neglecting BrewDog quite a bit on this blog as of late. Sure, I love going to their bars, and drinking their beers - but they haven't actually featured on here much recently, not since I cancelled Fanzine anyway. So I thought it was time for them to make a return! I'd read a lot about this beer online, on Instagram/Facebook etc and it's been in Hop Shop Aberdeen for a while now so I thought I would check it out.
Cybernaut is a 4.5% ABV New England style Session IPA and here's the official lowdown from BrewDog:
"Our new seasonal beer is upon us! For the first time we have brewed a pale and hoppy beer to fill this special slot - a tuned New England Session IPA! This beer has been lightly filtered in line with our core range, giving this beer less haze than most New England styles, but retaining the tropical and juicy profile we know and love to give it that twist!
If you love a tropical fruit salad, you’ll love this beer! The mango, peach and apricot flavours, layered with strong grassy and pine dust notes, give this beer a smooth, juicy and light finish. Soft in bitterness with a mango juice character create a hoppy freshness!"
All sounds great right? And I'd read nothing but good things about this beer, so I had high hopes for it...
Cybernaut pours from the can a bright, hazy gold colour, leaving behind a big lively, foamy, off-white head. There’s loads of big fruits in the aroma, with grapefruit, pineapple and mango all in there alongside a hint of pine – so far so good, with this smelling like a very tasty beer. Flavour wise, this beer continues to impress with those fruit flavours at the forefront of it all again - loads of pineapple and mango, with a hint of grapefruit all come together with a hoppy bitterness, combined in a slight creamy, oat texture. This beer is very easy drinking , with it maybe only being ever so slightly too fizzy for my liking. Also, for being a session beer, at a relatively low ABV, it tastes surprisingly much stronger than it actually is, almost bordering on a full on NE IPA - but it all works really well.
This is everything you want from a session beer – easy drinking, not too heavy and absolutely jam packed full of flavour. I would quite happily sit and work my way through a six-pack of these.
Cybernaut was a thoroughly enjoyable beer from BrewDog and at around two quid a can, it is an absolute steal! A session beer, that packs a whole load of the flavour of a full on NE IPA is something I can truly get on board with, and I certainly hope it becomes a staple in their seasonal releases. For me, in terms of quality and price, this is one of BrewDog’s best releases recently and I would highly recommend that you try it for yourself.
Overall Cybernaut gets 4.25 out of 5 from me 🍻
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 🍻
This weekend past saw the 2018 Scottish Beer Awards take place in Edinburgh, an event celebrating the best Scottish beer has to offer - and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. Now in its third year, the award ceremony was held at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange on 27th September 2018, and I was invited along by Edinburgh based PR agency KD Media to cover the event as a blogger. I was among the near 400 other beer fanatics who descended on the Edinburgh to find out the results of the 296 beers that had been blind tasted back in February.
Upon arrival at the Corn Exchange, we were treated to a drinks reception featuring beers from Harviestoun Brewery, gin & tonics and some highly entertaining live music. After some brief mingling, it was time to take our seats for the evening. My table consisted of a good mixture of people; ranging from fellow bloggers, beer industry people, various Scottish professionals and Gayle Mackail from KD Media - our table host. I must admit, that prior to the evening, I was slightly nervous that I might feel slightly out of place amongst some of the other guests, but everyone was incredibly welcoming and interested to hear my story. It didn't take me long to relax and soon the conversation (and beers) were flowing! It was a great, interesting mix of people and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their stories and thoughts on the industry.
It was soon time for the food! We were treated to a rather fantastic three course. beer paired, gourmet meal - and it did not disappoint! The starter was twice baked Isle of Mull cheddar soufflé, pickled grapes, spiced tomato salsa and celery which was paired with Chimera (IPA, 5.9% ABV) by Drygate Brewing Co. Whilst perhaps maybe being slightly too "cheesy" for my taste, it was enjoyable and worked well with the refreshing, citrus IPA.
The main course consisted of venison and Stornoway black pudding meatballs, creamed potatoes with horseradish from the Isle of Bute, charred tender stem broccoli and crispy fried onions. This was paired with Jet Black Heart (Milk Stout, 4.7% ABV) by BrewDog. The main course was incredible! The meatballs, in particular, were delicious...I could have happily had a second helping! The Jet Black Heart worked brilliantly with them also - it really is one of BrewDog's best core beers.
And finally for dessert, we were served raspberry cranachan with whisky infused berries, whipped cream folded with toasted oatmeal. There was only really one beer this dessert could be served with - Cranachan Killer (Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV) by Fierce Beer of course! Sadly my appetite got the best of me, and the desert was the only course I remembered to photograph...check out how fantastic it looks below! Rest assured that it did actually taste as good as it looked, and of course it was made even better with the beer.
The award ceremony was again hosted by Hardeep Singh Kohli, who was back for the third year running, and Catriona Shearer who joined him in presenting duties for the second year in a row. From the off, it was clear why the pair had returned to host - they are an extremely charismatic pairing, with great chemistry, constantly bouncing jokes off each other throughout the evening...it's safe to say I laughed a lot! Their enthusiasm for the industry was there for all to see, and it really makes a difference when the hosts have a passion for what they are presenting.
There was a total of 49 awards to get through on the night and each category was contended by some amazing breweries, brewers and beers.
Edinburgh's Stewart Brewing took home the main award of the night, winning Scottish Brewery of The Year following a phenomenal business year for them. I must confess, however, that Stewart Brewing are a brewery that wasn't really on my radar this year, but I guess that this has made me sit up and take notice, as I am clearly missing out on some great beer! I did actually feature some of their beers way back when I started this blog, so I know there is quality there. Stewart Brewing also picked up the Growth Business of The Year award alongside a silver and bronze medal in the flavour categories.
Beer of The Year went to Belhaven Brewery and their Twisted Grapefruit IPA. I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised by Belhaven claiming this award. Although, again, this another beer that has passed me by this year so I can't be too quick to pass judgement. I am pretty sure it is readily available in the supermarket, so I'll be sure to check it out and share my thoughts.
The big award of the night may have stayed in Edinburgh, however, it was Aberdeen based breweries that really shone on the evening, taking home a combined total of TWELVE awards in the flavour categories. The big winners on the night were Fierce Beer who picked up an amazing FOUR gold awards, taking home the gold in the Best Barrel Aged Beer (Very Big Moose), Best Amplified Beer (Very Big Moose), Best Porter (Dirty Sanchez), Best Sour Beer (Tangerine Tart) along with a silver medal for Split Shift in the Best IPA category. Beer giants BrewDog also enjoyed great success with a total of six awards, including gold and bronze in the Best IPA award for King of Eights and Hazy Jane respectively. A special shout out must also go to local favourites of mine, Brew Toon, who picked up bronze in the Best Lager/Pilsner award for their Weekend Hooker lager - an amazing achievement to round off a fantastic year for them. Aberdeenshire based Sixº North also picked up Beer Bar of The Year for their Glasgow location.
You can find full details of all the winners over on the awards website.
And with that, the evening was over. There was an official after party being held at Sixº North in Edinburgh, that was scheduled to go on until 3am. However, having indulged in quite a few of the beers on the table over the course of the evening, my judgement got the better of me, and I decided to call it a night and head to bed.
Overall, I had a thoroughly fantastic evening at the Scottish Beer Awards, and I can't thank Gayle and the team at KD Media enough for inviting me. Just being in the same room as some true Scottish beer royalty was an incredible experience, and one I feel privileged to have been part of. Congratulations again to all the winners on the evening, especially those hailing from the North East - it really has been an amazing year of beer for Aberdeenshire.
I'm looking forward to next year already 🍻
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 🍻