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Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

Decided to give that bitch a list. Bitches love lists. Here are my five month-end beer recommendations from September.

Siren Craft Brew / To Øl – Ten Toe Discount (Amarillo IPA Aged on Cedar, 7.2%)

IPA? Aged!? Are you out of your fucking gourd?! Drink that shit fresh! That’s what I thought when I saw this series of collabs from Siren and To Øl. Then I figured “Hey, these guys know what they’re doing, right? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Consider me converted. This beautiful single hop IPA pours a burnished copper, edging on ESB colour with a finger and a half of white head. I probably started drinking it a little too cold because as it warmed the flavours just got ramped up and up and up! There’s nothing dominating the show here. No over the top citrus or wrecking bitterness, just a really well-rounded earthy, mellow IPA with a touch of sweetness and just the slightest bit of fresh wood chips which is so subtle you pick it up as more of a perfume than a flavour note. Very tasty stuff indeed.

BrewDog Rip Tide (American Double Stout, 8%)

Not a particularly new beer, this. Instead I’ve gone for one that I have no problem telling you is my all time favourite stout. You see your regular UK stout comes in at 4 or 5% and tends to be a little thin and more than a little insipid. Then you get Russian Imperial Stouts. For me, these bad boys tend to be far too big and heavy. Also, BrewDog has this habit of flavouring just about every Imperial Stout they make with coffee or chocolate or chilli or even all of the above. If they’re not doing that, they’re aging it in whiskey barrels for a year and charging £12+ a bottle for it. That’s where Rip Tide comes in all like “Everybody chill. I got this.”

Clocking in at 8% ABV, Rip Tide is a no nonsense stout right in the sweet spot for alcohol content and, despite not being brewed with any of these, carries a beautifully complex character of roasted coffee, bitter high-cocoa chocolate and mellow vanilla. It’s light enough that you can drink it easily yet special enough to be an end-of-the-night beer you’d be more than happy with.

Bonus: If you go half and half with this and Hardcore IPA to create RipCore, you’ll never look at another black and tan again.

Brew By Numbers 05|03 (IPA with Amarillo and Mosaic, 6.2%)

My first ever beer from Brew by Numbers was this bloody outstanding example of the style. It was on keg at BrewDog Nottingham and tasted as fresh as you could possibly hope for. Amarillo and Mosaic are some favourites of mine and the combination here makes for a razor-sharp, citrus-fueled west coast style IPA that any of the big California breweries would be proud of.

Think of BrewDog’s Jack Hammer but with more depth, more complexity and slightly less mouth-destroying bitterness. Not much else to say about it as, by this point in the evening I was more than a little pickled.

Redchurch Great Eastern India Pale Ale (7.4%)

If you know me, you’ll know I love a big, fresh juicy IPA with loads of grapefruit, orange and lemon notes. The Kernel’s Citra single hop IPA has, for a long time been my all time favourite UK brewed IPA, up there with the likes of Magic Rock’s Cannonball. When my local got this in, amongst a few others from Redchurch I had to give it a whirl.

Holy puckering citrus, Batman! This beer packs a juicy flavour punch you won’t forget in a hurry! Masses of Grapefruit, lemon, lychee, mandarin and a little bit of pine bombard your palette and make the beer dangerously drinkable. This is why I think UK brewers do a better job than US ones.

Buxton Brewery Imperial Black (Black IPA, 7.4%)

I’m fairly inexperienced in the world of black IPAs. I’ve only had a couple, something I’m very much trying to change (Beavertown Black Betty is in my cross hairs next). Recently I placed a small order with Eebria for a couple of beers from Buxton; Their bonkers new double IPA Double Axe and a bottle of Imperial Black. It pours jet black with a two finger latte coloured head. It looks just how you’d want a black IPA to look and it’s obvious just by looking at it that this isn’t a porter or a stout.

Flavour wise, this is the best black IPA I’ve ever had. You find buckets of citrus with an earthy, grassy hop character and some background roasted notes from the dark malts. it’s all perfectly balanced, too. A previous favourite of mine was BrewDog’s Libertine Black Ale which is a Simcoe single hop Black IPA of roughly the same strength. Compared to this, though Libertine is one-dimensional and, because of the Simcoe, a little cat pissy.

So that’s all of my month-end beer recommendations. Let me know if you like this format and I’ll keep doing it.

Cheers!

In the minds of the uninitiated public, modern craft beer tends to be synonymous with lofty ABVs. I’m sure this is probably to do with all the press generated by beers like BrewDog’s Tokyo*, an 18.2% stout or even their End of History coming in at 55% (at one time the world’s strongest beer). While it’s true that the craft beer world features some really boozy delights, and indeed some of the best ones are 7% and up, there’s a lot to be said about low-ABV “session” ales that are becoming more and more popular. It seems like pretty much every craft brewery is now releasing at least one beer in the 3-5% range to fit this purpose.

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Brewery: Buxton Brewery
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 13.6%
Serving: 330ml Bottle

After trying a Buxton beer for the first time just this year (High Tor India Red Ale, in case you’re interested), they have rocketed up in my estimations and have become a contender for my favourite brewery of all. Head Brewer Colin Stronge is a hop-wrangler of the highest order and is churning out great beers with uncompromising, aggressive flavour and unrivaled quality. This time I’m drinking a bottle of Double Axe, which is a double version of their insanely good Axe Edge IPA. When I say double, I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. There is double the malt, double the hops and, craziest of all, double the ABV. This beer weighs in at a colossal 13.6% ABV, easily the strongest double IPA I’ve ever had and only 0.4% weaker than the mighty Anarchist Alchemist TIPA by BrewDog. There’s nothing about this beer that I didn’t like the sound of. As soon as they hit the online shop, I pulled the trigger.

The beer pours slightly darker than Axe Edge with a slightly hazy glowing copper colour. It looks just like you’d want a DIPA to look and just begs for you to dive right in. There was half a finger of white head which vanished almost instantly because of the high ABV. Carbonation was mid to low, again because of the high ABV this was always going to take a hit.

Double Axe

The aroma is sweet juicy tinned fruit like mandarins, peaches and pears. There’s a very ripe grapefruit note there as well. There is also some subtle pine, candied peel and dried apricot. It smells about as good as any double IPA I’ve had. The real surprise on the nose was the lack of much alcohol. It was nearly undetectable among all those sweet citrus and stone fruit notes. At most, it smelled like a 5-6% beer. You can definitely tell this is Axe Edge’s big brother. It has everything that beer has but just… riper. Like two oranges from the same tree but two weeks apart.

Flavour is again dominated by syrupy sweet tinned citrus fruits. I also picked up a very slight medicinal licorice note that wasn’t really bad but not really my cup of tea. The malt backbone is immense here. you get rich, sweet digestive biscuit and sweet pretzel. You really taste all that extra malt. The one disappointing thing in the flavour was the lack of anything sharp to fight against that sweetness leaving the over all flavour ever so slightly dull on the palette. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t as sweet as Williams Double Joker but it’s along those lines. For that reason, I think that Buxton’s Wyoming Sheep Ranch still holds the crown as the UK’s best double IPA in my opinion. As well as all that fruit, you do taste that alcohol on the palette. It’s not a shit load, though, no more than a really good red wine.

The body and mouthfeel are massive! The beer is almost viscous because of all that malt. It coats your mouth like a great single malt whiskey would and leaves a really nice citrus peel bitterness in the finish. All in all, a fantastic DIPA with all the great characteristics of Axe Edge but cranked up to 11 but falling just short of the amazing Wyoming Sheep Ranch.

Verdict: 4.5/5

Brewery: Flying Dog (USA)
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.7%
Serving: 355ml Bottle

I’m a big fan of Flying Dog, more so than a lot of other beer writers are. I’ve had Snake Dog IPA, Underdog lager, Raging Bitch Belgian IPA, Doggie Style Pale Ale and even their Oyster Stout, Pearl Necklace and I have to say, for me, there isn’t a bad one in that selection. So when I saw that they released a session IPA, I was pretty excited to see what they did with the style. Found this in my local bottle shop and really well priced so I grabbed one.

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Brewery: Williams Brothers (Scotland)
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.3%
Serving: 330ml Bottle

Williams Bros. brewery is a name which you may have come across in supermarkets in recent years with their March of the Penguins stout and IPA/Lager Hybrid Caesar Augustus. This is just the tip of the iceberg. A visit to their website reveals the true size of their range and also some of the really inventive things they’re doing with their beer. I picked up a bottle of their Scottish Style Double IPA, Double Joker on a trip to my local bottle shop. I’ve tasted this before, on keg at a BrewDog bar and remember really enjoying it so I couldn’t not review a bottle.

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Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 4.4%
Serving: 355ml Bottle

I’m pretty stoked that we are starting to see availability of a lot more Stone beers in the UK. Bottle shops now regularly stock a pretty healthy range and BrewDog even managed to get a shipment of their ridiculously fresh Enjoy BY 08.16.14 to sell in their bars. Up until now, my only experience of the brewery has been of their sensational IPAs (Stone IPA, Ruination and the Enjoy By) so on a recent trip to my local bottle shop, Hopology, I picked up a couple of their other styles to try out. First up, their session amber ale; Levitation.

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Brewery: Stone Brewing Co. (USA) / Magic Rock Brewing (England) / BrewDog (Scotland)
Style: Saison – Pale Ale Hybrid
ABV: 5%
Serving: Pint – Keg

I’ve had some fantastic collab beers during the course of my craft beer journey so far. I’ve also had some rubbish ones. More often than not though, I find them to be simply mediocre. Often these mediocre brews are simply two beers from different breweries mixed together and, more often than not they aren’t as good as either of the component beers on their own. Prefect example is the BrewDog/Mikkeller collab I Hardcore You which is a mixture of BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA and Mikkeller’s I Beat yoU. Both of those beers are better on their own. When breweries come together and brew something unique, however, that’s when things get interesting. One of the best beers I’ve ever had is the BrewDog/8Wired collab DogWired which is a hoppy imperial pilsner that just rocked! When I heard about Magic Stone Dog; a menage a trois of awesome between three of my all time favourite breweries, I had to get some of that action so on Saturday I stopped in my local BrewDog bar and had a pint.

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I should start this by saying I don’t normally review restaurants. In fact, this will be my first attempt so sorry if it’s not great, I’m just trying something new. Since opening a few weeks back, there have been mixed reviews of Derby’s new gourmet burger restaurant The Forge. Opened by seasoned (pun intended) restaurateur Brad Worley, The Forge promises great artisan burgers made from locally sourced, top quality ingredients served in a non-formal, relaxed atmosphere. Well that sounded just my cup of tea so I had to check it out.

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Brewery: 8 Wired
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.3%
Serving: 500ml Bottle

I got myself a little bit of something special to drink on International IPA Day in the form of a bottle of revered New Zealand brewery 8Wired’s Hopwired IPA. I’ve only ever had one 8Wired beer before – mainly because they can be pretty expensive due to having to be shipped half way around the world – which was their India Red Ale, Tall Poppy. That was a phenomenal red ale, possibly the best I’ve ever had, so needless to say I was psyched to try Hopwired.

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Brewery: Stone
Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Serving: 650ml Bottle

A few times a year legendary California brewery Stone produce a beer with one specific purpose; to make it into peoples’ hands and into their glasses in as brief a window as possible. They take this so seriously that, as well as only giving the beer a 35 day shelf life, they emblazoned this shelf life on the label in the form of the beer’s name “Enjoy By..”

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