Monthly Archives: March 2016

What’s that noise? It’s the Yeastie Boys!

The Yeastie Boys of New Zealand have been around for a little while now with their multi-multi-multi award-winning Pot Kettle Black Black IPA, but have recently become a lot more prominent, due to a nice little agreement with Brewdog to brew three of their most popular beers for them up in Aberdeenshire (the rest are still coming out of New Zealand -it will say on the bottle). The Scottish beer-lords have previously done something a little similar with Mikkeller, but gained exclusive import and distribution rights rather than a brewing arrangement. While the demand of Mikkeller rose sharply, no doubt because of the massive publicity that any association with Brewdog brings, I can see this partnership being even more lucrative.

Prior to 2015, Yeastie Boys’ Digital IPA was a highly rated 7% beer. It’s now been taken down a notch or two to a more widely-palatable 5.7%. It’s probably a smart business move, and I could see it becoming the “new” Punk IPA. To have a commercially-viable beer is a good way to gain ground, especially if you’re putting it out there in somewhere like Brewdog -a place that you know will have decent beer, but also has something to cater for your Heineken-drinking mates. Yes, it’s a nice little IPA, but there isn’t really much else to say about it. Something of a decent quality to have a few of and not pay much attention to.

Stairdancer is their 4.4% Pacific Ale. I don’t want to be lazy, but it’s a little more of the above. The label describes it as a “lawnmower beer” and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s got a good malty flavour to it, and is very refreshing, but it falls a little flat at anything more.

I always like a bit of an odd beer, and so I was looking forward to having Gunnamatta, their Earl Grey IPA. I’ve always been interested in teaspired beers since Fyne Ales did a limited edition green tea beer, which was lovely. I don’t recall ever having had Gunnamatta, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s got a lovely floral, fruity flavour, which develops into the tea notes at the end. I don’t think it’s one for everyone, but I like that. Not everyone has to like everything you brew.

A few years ago, around 2011, Dark Star ran their anti-Hophead campaign. It was to encourage people to not drink their own beer, because they had so many other fantastic, not-just-another-IPA beers. I can’t actually find anything pertaining to the exact logic behind it and I’m just relying on my own memory, because it seems to have been deleted from their archives. On one hand, I feel like something similar should be encouraged against the overload of 4-5.5% pales currently that are often indistinguishable from one another. On the other, the influx of DIPAs from the likes of Cloudwater v2 and the upcoming v3, the aforementioned Beavertown Double Chin and Skull King and BBNO 55/01 are more than making up for it. I guess I’ll settle.

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The Beaster Weekend.

I’ve been a little busy of late and haven’t seemed to have the time to sit down and properly write about anything. Here’s a little of what I’ve been drinking, and what this long Easter weekend will consist of (lots of beer)…

  • Ginspired IPA – Siren x Magic Rock collab on tap at Bison Beer Crafthouse. Being the first ever gin and tonic beer I’ve ever heard of, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was lovely, but I thought that the gin notes were quite subtle. Maybe that’s just an indication of how I take my G&Ts… Good stuff, though. Highly, highly doubt there would be any left now.
  • Rakau – BBNo also at Bison. Hoppy, bitter, and exactly what you want from an IPA. Excellent.
  • Wheat Purple – Dark Star on tap at the Shakespeare’s Head. Blackberry wheat beer. Sounded promising, even if it was a wheat beer. Turned out to be a rare Dark Star blip. It was like a slightly alcoholic, weak Ribena. Didn’t try it anywhere else, so if someone has had a better experience, please let me know. It was only 4.2%, but I drank it like it was Ribena, and it therefore lasted about 10 minutes. The stout on (Idle Bo by Bartleby’s) was better with a lovely chocolate/burnt coffee taste, but the (famous) sausages and mash were the best thing about the pub. (PS: Shoutout to whomever used to drink my Ginbena (self-explanatory) with me on Fulham FC away days. When in Rome Sunderland.)
  • Craft100 returns to Craft Beer Co. Clapham on Thursday for the duration of the Easter weekend. It’s a handsome beer list, and I will be sampling many of these delights. Making a beeline for: Molotov Cocktail (Simcoe Edition) (DIPA 13%) – Evil Twin. I’m not sure anything could sound more appealing. Orange Haze (Orange IPA 6.4%) – Dugges. Interesting to see how it compares to Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell. BA Bearded Lady (Grand Marnier Edition) (Imperial Stout 10.5%) – Magic Rock. Every damn year I try to get to this before it sells out. This year, it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine. Peated Soul (Scotch Ale 8.4%) – Northern Monk x Soul Rebel. Whisky + beer = win.
  • Bison are celebrating their 1st Birthday this weekend, and are doing so by having the outstandingly gorgeous aforementioned Bloody ‘Ell on tap, and in cans. EXCITED.
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Tinnies – Part Two.

 

Beavertown recently celebrated their 4th birthday. They threw a much discussed birthday bash, and brewed their latest addition to their Barbarian Series – a collection of limited edition double and triple IPAs. A collaboration last year with Boneyard resulted in the first beer of this collection, Power of the Voodoo: an outstanding triple IPA, and one of my favourite beers of 2015. Naturally, I was very excited to get hold of Double Chin, a double version of Neck Oil, their very first beer.

I know I’ve said it several times, but the can is literally a piece of art. It’s a beautiful vessel for a beautiful beer. The complex blend of 7 different hops lends it a tropical, fruity flavour and at 8.5%, it packs a punch. It’s a wonderfully balanced brew, and I’d highly recommend it, if you can get hold of a can. Two wishes for Beavertown: 1) Make this is a permanent addition. Actually, throw Voodoo in, too, while you’re at it. 2) I want this as framed artwork.

Fine. I’ll stop talking about the damn can now…

Moving on.

Mosaic hops are my favourite, and so I chose a can of Bibble by Wild Beer Co. purely for that. It’s a session IPA, coming in at an easy 4.2%. “Bibble” apparently means “to drink regularly” in Somerset, and I can see where they’re going with that. It’s not a statement beer by any stretch, but one you could knock back without trouble.

Grapefruit. Seems to be everywhere. I tried the Magic Rock offering in the form of High Wire Grapefruit a little while ago. Lovely, as can be expected from Magic Rock, but subtle. I picked up a bottle of Siren‘s Pompelmocello, which was nice, but the grapefruit lending more of a sourness to the IPA than really hitting home. I’ve always liked Brewdog, and so was intrigued by their take on it: Elvis Juice.

My God. The smell of the stuff. It’s amazing. There’s certainly no question about the grapefruit notes. I personally like it, but then I love grapefruit. It’s more about the fruit than the beer itself, which I think is where it would be unfavourable to some beer drinkers. It’s certainly refreshing, and stupidly easy to drink. At 6.5%, that could start being a problem for some. As for the name? Who knows.

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East Street Tappin’.

Something always seems to be changing in Brighton, and East Street is no exception. The Bison Arms will soon be opening, Geishas has become Dirty Blonde (where I recently had the weirdest Negroni ever), and The Fishbowl is now the East Street Tap. I decided to check it out on Saturday night.

It promised to be an East Coast American influenced craft beer joint. While it was a generally great bar, I’m not sure it’s really hitting the mark with its identity. I mean, the 8 kegged craft beers on tap included three from Brighton alone. The only American brews were the magnificent Falco by Evil Twin (unsurprisingly and unfortunately totally sold out), and a Brooklyn APA. Thinking about it, I’m not sure Evil Twin can even be classed as that, seeing as they’re originally Danish. Sure, they had a decent bottle selection, but from what I could see, aside from the pretty varied Flying Dog selection and the ubiquitous Brooklyn Lager, it was mostly British. As a side note, these are all in fridges behind the bar, and I don’t think there were any bottle lists, which would’ve been a good addition. There’s some fantastic stuff coming over from America at the moment, and I feel that they’re doing the Land of the Free a little disservice. No lite beer in sight which is, y’know, absolutely fine.

What I did have:
Two Tribes Nitro Milk Stout (5%) – I wanted to give this a go straight off, partly because I was drinking their Island Records Session IPA the other day, and partly because I love a good milk stout. Or stout in general. This was beautifully smooth.

Two Tribes Weekender Pils (5%) – Again, because of the brewery. I wouldn’t normally go for a Pilsner, but the honey notes of this make it very drinkable.

Bison Beer Beast Street IPA (5%) – solid IPA from the guys across the road. Hoppy, citrus notes, dry finish.

Time and Tide Calista IPA (6.1%) – Super-hoptastic! Haven’t ever had anything from these guys in Kent, but I would definitely keep a look out in future.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch (8.3%) – Belgian style IPA. The only American beer I had. Fantastic stuff from these guys as usual. Dangerously easy to drink.

Northern Monk New World IPA (6.2%) – This was a lovely, safe bet to end the night with. It’s made with some American hops. Maybe that half counts. Leeds is a long way from NYC, though.

I’d go back, for sure. The bar had a great atmosphere, the beers that were on were decent, the staff were lovely and it’s open til 4am. But it’s another nice beer place, not an East Coast homage.

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Tinnies -Part One.

It seemed almost revolutionary when Beavertown started putting their beers out in 330ml cans back in 2014. “What’s that decent stuff in a little blue can with the spacemen?”, I was asked at a festival. That description absolutely does not do Gamma Ray the justice it deserves, but it was amusing all the same. Now, everyone seems to be canning. Not least, because it’s a great idea. I recently picked up two cans from two local breweries I hadn’t yet come across: Island Records Session IPA by Two Tribes, and Project Babylon by Gun Brewery.

The story behind the Island Records brew isn’t particularly straightforward, as I found out while trying to find out more. If you want to, you can read the whole story here, but basically, Robin Pearson, creator of Soundwaves Brewing, was asked by Island Records to create a beer for them back in 2014, and this is the new batch brewed with Two Tribes. It’s a very drinkable 4.5%, typically citrusy, tropical IPA with a decent amount of hops. What is very cool, though, is that it’s the world’s first Shazamable can. Mine didn’t want to play, literally, but the Spotify playlists are available on beer’s own website. First craft beer to have it’s own website too, maybe? Either way, veritable party beer.

So, Gun Brewery, of Gun Hill. The logo means “Man With Gun Lives Here”. I’m going to attempt to avoid any gun-puns, because they really don’t deserve that. Project Babylon is a lovely 4.6% APA. It mentions on the can that it’s vegan, which I’m sure will go down an absolute treat in Brighton. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a classic brew. It’s refreshing, hoppy and a little grapefruity, with a bitter finish. I will absolutely look out for the other beers they’ve got going on, particularly if there’s any of the Small Batch Imperial Whiskey Stout left…

 

 

 

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Beer in Brightontown.

img_7836All across the UK, the craft beer industry is blossoming: the number of breweries is currently at the highest it’s been since the 30s. I had been living in London since 2012, spoilt for choice with the incredible breweries and dedicated craft beer pubs. I remember a couple of years ago, dragging my friend up to North London to the Queen’s Head near King’s Cross (one of my absolute favourites in the city, do visit if you’re up that way) because I’d heard on the hopvine that they were selling Dark Star’s Hophead. They were, and the pint was beautiful. It is, of course, found all over the place now. The same friend was also my drinking buddy for the many nights I spent at Cask in Pimlico, the subsequent visits to all the other Craft Beer Co. pubs, and then to many other pubs we liked the look of. I wondered how Brighton was going to compare.

Brighton does, of course, have it’s own Craft Beer Co., and the fairly recently opened Brewdog, which I still haven’t paid a visit to. It also has the birthplace and home of Dark Star, and another of my all-time favourites, The Evening Star. Nearly every pub across the city has at least a few cask ales on, but I’ve found plenty of decent places to stock up on bottles. The long-established Trafalgar Wines down on Trafalgar Street has been selling bottles of the good (and hard-to-find) stuff for years. The unassuming exterior is home to a plethora of beers from all over the world, including a large selection of locally sourced brews. I’d recently been recommended to try out Bison Beer, a bottleshop (with four draught taps for in-house sampling and takeaways), who in less than a year since opening, have Crowdfunded to open the Bison Arms just across the road from the shop, beating Burger King in the process. I popped in today to restock my beer supplies, which I’ll talk about another time. Directly opposite, renovations are underway for the East Street Tap to open on Thursday 3rd March: a homage to NYC with mainly American breweries on the bar.

Brighton has always been a great place to go out, but it looks like it’s only going to get better, and I’ll drink to that.

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