There comes a time, where we all pray for a beer that is so bat-shit mental that it borders on ludicrous. Well, I think I may just have found the one. The beer in question is Banana Toffee Chocolate from Swedish giants Dugges Bryggeri - a brewery that I knew had a banging reputation, but a brewery that I'd yet to try any beer from (bar a collaboration with Fierce Beer). I picked this beer up as part of my Xmas stash from Hop Shop Aberdeen, immediately adding it to my basket after reading the label. Banana Toffee Chocolate is a 11.5% ABV imperial stout and here's the official description from Dugges:
"Sometimes you need to go a little overboard. Well, we do at least. Then again… there’s overboard and then there’s overboard. Let’s say we went Dugges style overboard with this one. So, what does that mean? Well, it means that we’ve made an as balanced beer as you can make while getting it to taste like bananas, toffee and chocolate. We felt we just had to try it. Like, could it be done? Turns out, it could! It can!"
After I'd bought it, I'd had it sitting around for about three weeks waiting for Xmas to come around. So I was extremely excited for this beer. I couldn't wait to get it open and finally drink it.
Banana Toffee Chocolate pours a deep, dark brown leaving a thin tan coloured head. Initial aromas are well...banana. There's not really much else to say except banana, and loads of it - it was pretty much like sticking your nose over a banana milkshake. After the first sip, I couldn't believe what I was drinking. This beer is like liquid sweets - Swizzles Banana Skids to be exact. Sweet banana combines with sticky toffee flavours and a hint of milky chocolate to create one of the most bonkers beer experiences you're likely to have. The alcohol is well hidden behind all the sweetness, which I'm not sure is a good thing, considering this is an 11.5% ABV beer! It has an absolutely wonderful smooth, silky body, and there's little to no carbonation, all in all making this a very enjoyable beer to drink. I loved this beer.
Wow. Just wow. This beer was truly outstanding. I think it may have just taken top spot in my beers of the year - it really is that good. The flavours are out of this world and I just wish I had more of it. Seriously, if you are able to get your hands on some of this, then do it, you will not regret it. This has put this brewery firmly on my radar and I'll by trying as much beer from these guys in the future as I possibly can.
Banana Toffee Chocolate gets 5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Buxton x Omnipollo
Yellow Belly. Potentially the daddy of all beers, it's most certainly considered the daddy of imperial stouts. This beer has been around for years, and yet it's taken me until now to get round to trying it. Why? I'm not sure really. I think when I first started my craft beer journey, it was partly the price that put me off - paying the guts of £10 for a beer seemed outrageous to me. But as I grew to appreciate beer more, and just how complex and incredible the flavours could be, I realised that it might actually be worth it.
Yellow Belly is a collaboration between Buxton Brewery and Swedish giants Omnipollo and is a 11% ABV imperial peanut butter biscuit stout (yes, you read that right). Here's the official description from the breweries:
“Yellow belly” — a person who is without courage, fortitude, or nerve; a coward. To us, one of the most cowardly deeds is to act anonymously, hiding behind a group. A signifying trait of institutionalised racism. This beer is brewed to celebrate all things new, open minded and progressive. A peanut butter biscuit stout with no biscuits, butter or nuts. Taste, enjoy, and don’t be prejudiced."
You may have seen this beer in the press lately regarding an ongoing legal situation regarding the name, and as a result it is actually being discontinued in its current form. You can read the full story behind this beer here. I picked this beer up from Hop Shop Aberdeen, as usual, as part of my Christmas stash, and Christmas Day seemed as good a time as ever to enjoy this beer.
We can't talk about this beer before talking about the presentation. It is striking, potentially unlike anything else on the shelves, and to anyone who doesn't know the full story behind the beer - possibly quite confusing. But when you unwrap the bottle from it's white hood, and read the message on the bottle , then you realise exactly what this beer is all about.
Yellow Belly pours from the bottle a dark brown, almost oil black, leaving a thin tan coloured head. The initial aromas are loads of peanut butter, roasted malts, hazelnut and sweet buttery biscuit. It really does smell incredible! After one sip of this beer then you know you are in good hands; big roasted malts up front combine with peanut butter, some bitter chocolate, butter biscuit and a hint of vanilla. This beer is incredibly full bodied, nice and creamy, with low carbonation. The flavours are faultless, and come together wonderfully to make this everything a great stout should be.
Was this beer worth the wait? Absolutely. Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. I'm just regretting the fact I left it so long to try it out, as I would have loved to have experienced it evolve over the years. I am, however, glad I tried it while I still had the chance - and if like me, you have left it this late to try it, then I urge you to do so before it's gone forever, in its current form at least.
Yellow Belly gets 5 out of 5 from me 🍻
Beavertown x Caravan
We are now well and truly in to stout season and back again this year was one of my favourites from last year - Spresso by Beavertown, which is brewed in collaboration with Caravan Coffee Roasters.
Spresso is a 9% ABV imperial espresso stout and is now in it's third year of release. Here's the official description from Beavertown:
"Made with our pals at Caravan – a big ol’ stout brewed over 160 kg of roasted beans. Full on roasty, bittersweet coffee with hickory & treacle richness."
I was highly impressed with last years effort, so I was looking forward to seeing how this years release matched up. Hop Shop Aberdeen were again on point, get this in the fridges shortly after release.
First up, we can't talk about a Beavertown beer without talking about the can art, and as usual Beavertown have delivered another awesome looking can - I actually think it looks better than last year. Spresso pours from the can an almost jet black, leaving a fingers width of a foamy dark beige head. Initial aromas are pretty much what you'd expect - LOADS of rich coffee, that combine with roasted malts and a hint of hazelnut to leave your senses tingling. Flavour wise, it's pretty much just a continuation of the aromas; loads of silky smooth coffee, which is complimented nicely by roasted malts are both then combined with bitter dark chocolate and cocoa, with a hint of hazelnut. This beer is extremely smooth to on the palate, and there is loads of booze in there. I think the ONLY downside for me, that it was a tad too much on the bitter side for me. It reminded me slightly of like an 80/90% dark chocolate - which isn't really for me, although it wasn't too overpowering and was masked pretty well by the other flavours.
Overall, I really enjoyed Spresso and is an excellent start to my season of dark beer. It is jammed pack full of rich, boozy , warming flavours - everything you want from a beer like this. Do not underestimate the boozy aspect of it though, and I certainly took my time drinking it. If you are a fan of stouts, and if you are a fan of coffee, then this is the beer for you - grab it whilst you still can.
Spresso gets 4.5 out of 5 from me 🍻
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 🍻