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 🍻
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 🍻
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 🍻