- minute forty four -

Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

BrewDog are known for pushing boundaries with their brewing. From brewing beer under the sea, or ice distilling IPA to make the strongest beer in the world they put a lot of stock in the value of experimentation. Each year they produce a range of prototype beers, each with their own little (or perhaps not so little) twist and let the customers decide which one is best and should be turned into a permanent fixture.

Some amazing beers have come of this process, including probably the best IPA BrewDog make, the mighty Jackhammer! So this being the first time I’d been able to try all four entries I was pretty excited to see what the team had produced. On Saturday I popped over to the Nottingham bar and racked up a flight board of the four offerings and got stuck in. Here’s what I thought…

IMG_0054


All Day Long | English Style Mild | 2.7% ABV

The aroma is woody, grassy hops with some orange pith and a digestive biscuit sweetness from the darker malts. Flavour follows suit with more citrus and a lot more body than I was expecting for a super-sessionable 2.7%. A pleasant dry bitter finish makes it extremely drinkable.

Oddly, its closest kin is the 0.5% Nanny State however it is much better. There is more balance from the extra malt presence and a much fuller body from that modest alcohol content. Good beer.

4.5/5

 

Alt Amber | Altbier | 5.2% ABV

This one was always going to be the oddball of the bunch. You hardly ever see this style come through from a modern craft brewery and if anyone was going to make it great, it would be BrewDog. On the nose you get buckets of sweet caramel, fresh bread and a little bit of spicy, yeasty funk. There are notes of orange peel and something like nutmeg or a warming allspice.

Flavour is more of that lovely caramel and soft pale stone fruit. You also get big biscuity malts and just a little bit of hop character in the background. There is a lovely amount of body and just the right amount of carbonation. Very wintery, very moreish!

5/5

 

Vagabond Pale Ale | Gluten Free American Pale Ale | 4.5% ABV

As it happens, this is the entry that was chosen as the favourite this year. It’s true, the beer has a lot going for it; big hop-forward citrus flavour, sessionable strength and best of all gluten-free, making it a slam dunk for celeacs or people with other gluten-sensitive dietary conditions.

On the nose it is quite a standard American pale ale with notes of grapefruit and orange with some piney resin, similar to something like Beavertown’s Gamma Ray, though slightly less juicy.

Flavour delivers more of the same with intense grapefruit and refreshing hop bitterness but what really surprised me was what the beer *lacked*. I’m going to guess that something in the process of making a gluten-free beer means that you lose some body. There was a certain thinness in the beer, the kind of thing you usually find in alcohol free beer or at least those with really low alcohol. It tastes okay, but left me wanting.

3.5/5

 

Hop Fiction | India Pale Ale | 6.5% ABV

Ah, the inevitable IPA. If there’s one style that pretty much defines what BrewDog is all about, it’s the IPA. Massive amounts of flavour and aroma from the aggressive use of hops represent why they’re all about. This IPA is different, though. The only addition of hops is in the boil. No late hops or dry hopping is used at all which seems, especially in modern IPA to be totally against everything we know to make a good beer. But did it work?

Sadly, for me, it did not. No dry hopping has meant there is little to no hop aroma, just the faintest bit of ripe orange comes through if you really want to smell it. Similarly, the lack of late hops means there is almost none of the classic pithy grapefruit or pine flavour you want in an IPA instead you get a slightly metallic flavour with a bit of a nondescript trailing bitterness from the initial use of hops in the boil. Definitely the weakest of the four and a surprising miss from BrewDog.

2/5

 

So there you go. The actual winner wasn’t my personal favourite but you can’t really fail to see why if did win. For me, that Alt Amber was an absolute show stopper. I hope this style gets more attention from BrewDog and indeed other brewers in the future.

Cheers, y’all!

Brewery: Buxton Brewery
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.3%
Serving: 330ml Bottle
Price: Around £3

My first venture away from mass produced shitty lager was into the world of Belgian beer. Duvel, Chimay and the like were regulars for me and I was always up for trying new ones when they appeared at my local. As such, I’ve always had a lot of love for Saison as a style. The spicy yeast and lively carbonation are always winners for me. Trouble is, I’ve had a few average-to-poor examples from otherwise great non-Belgian craft brewers. Since Buxton always kick ass I just had to give their dry hopped, New World Saison a shot.

(more…)

Brewery: BrewDog
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 15%
Serving: 330ml Bottle
Price: Around £10

It’s that time of year. Winter coats are on, central heating goes on timer and Ant and Dec start selling Christmas stuff on every channel. That’s right, it’s Stout Season! I’ll admit, this is the first year I’ve really been fussed about switching to stout as the weather gets colder, mainly because I love hops so much I tend to drink IPA all year round. This year, though I’m finding myself drawn to the toasty, smooth, sweet, warming characteristics of a great imperial stout. The last couple of times I’ve visited my local BrewDog bar I’ve had RipTide, or even the legendary RipCore (Black and Tan made with RipTide and Hardcore IPA). I’ve also had a couple of stouts from the likes of Thornbridge and Buxton that have really hit the spot in the colder weather.

Last Friday, again in my local BrewDog bar, my good buddy Marc decided to toast the occasion by presenting both myself and another friend of ours, Kym with a bottle each of Paradox Heaven Hill, a massive 15% Imperial Stout aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon casks. He’d had a bottle some weeks before and said nothing but good things about it. Massive thank you to him for hooking me up with this epic beer!

Paradox

Lets get right into it, shall we… The beer pours with very little carbonation and only creates the slightest suggestion of mocha-coloured head which vanishes almost immediately due to the high ABV. It is black as night, how a good Imperial Stout should be and almost stains the glass. Again because of the high alcohol the beer leaves definite legs down the side of the glass as you swirl it around. It looks glossy and somewhat oily, in a good way. You can just tell this is going to be luxurious.

The aroma is incredibly powerful! You get sweet caramel and banana from that bourbon straight away, followed by a pretty hefty punch of alcohol. You also pick up black treacle, bonfire toffee, a little smoke and a woody character from those bourbon casks. There is also some vanilla and a boozy fruit character that reminds me of those cherry brandy chocolates you get at Christmas.

On to the flavour. Pretty much all of the notes you pick up in the aroma are there in the flavour as well. You get that alcohol but it’s slightly less powerful. The one thing that really shines through is the flavour of that Heaven Hill Bourbon. It’s decadently sweet with burnt caramel, dates, candied banana and vanilla. The flavours are super intense and this is definitely a bottle of beer you want to take your time over. I drank mine over about a two hour period and as it warmed the flavours became even more intense and new ones even developed, the most prominent of which was the flavour of Riesen (remember those!?), a dark caramel coated in milk chocolate. A flavour that didn’t make an appearance was any kind of coffee or espresso note. Personally, I’m glad of that. BrewDog make some great coffee stouts but it was nice to get some variety in this one.

Body was big but oddly not as big as you’d expect from a 15% beer. I can only think that some of it had been lost in the aging process. Still, there was plenty to go around and I certainly wasn’t left disappointed in that department. The mouthfeel is just epic. Smooth as silk and, in the same way the beer clings to the glass, it coats your mouth and lingers allowing the flavours to keep going and going. I’d love to get a second bottle of this and cellar it for a year or two. I can only imagine how good it will be when left to mellow out.

Verdict 5/5

Brewery: Knee Deep Brewing Co.
Style: Triple India Pale Ale
ABV: 11.25%
Serving: 650ml Bottle
Price: Around £12

Every so often I like to treat myself to a beer that’s a little more expensive than I would normally go for. In August, for my birthday I treated myself to a couple of these; 8 Wired’s Hopwired IPA and Stone’s Enjoy By 08.16.14. Both were in the £10-15 price bracket. This month my treat beer was one that Rob from HopZine raved about during his recent trip to America, Knee Deep Brewing’s Simtra. This triple IPA weighing in at 11.25% ABV certainly has a lot going for it on paper, not least the inclusion of one of my top three hop varieties; Citra. When I saw a local bottle shop had this, I didn’t hesitate, even with the £12 price tag.

(more…)

Hey guys! I hope you all had a good weekend filled with amazing brews! This weekend I payed a visit to the always-reliable Beer Central in Sheffield to pick up a bit of a haul of craft beer awesomeness. The main feature in this haul is my absolute favourite brewery of the moment; Buxton Brewery. I picked up FOUR of their beers, none of which I had tried before. I drank three of them over the weekend so here’s a mini-review of each.

Buxton Madness

(more…)

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

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Brewery: Buxton Brewery
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 13.6%
Serving: 330ml Bottle
Price: £4-6

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.

(more…)

Brewery: Flying Dog (USA)
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.7%
Serving: 355ml Bottle
Price: £3-4

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.

(more…)

Brewery: Williams Brothers (Scotland)
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.3%
Serving: 330ml Bottle
Price: £3 – 4

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.

(more…)