After a quick fish supper at Hook in Camden, we're on the Overground to the other side of town to wrap up our Collabfest 2015 at Shepherds Bush. Sorry to the bars at Brighton, Dundee, Leeds, Newcastle and ShuffleDog - we just didn't have time for your beers this year. (Maybe in 2016, by which point the number of BrewDog bars working in CollabFest will be even more ridiculous.) In terms of the picture, we're working from right to left this time, for reasons which will eventually become apparent.
1. Safeword (Shepherd's Bush/Weird Beard, 6.6%)
Chokeberry IPA. Nice flavour, and a cheeky name in the circumstances. I found it a bit thin, but The BBG disagrees, finding it reminiscent of BrewDog's own Hello My Name Is... series of fruity brews. I didn't dislike it, but I've come to expect more from this brewery.
2. Red Mist (Birmingham/Salopian, 5.5%)
American amber. Much darker than I'd expect an amber to be, to the extent that we initially thought the staff had mixed it up with the red rye IPA. (Still not 100% sure, but the next one tastes more like what you'd expect from a rye IPA.) Nicely malty, which sets it apart from most of the beers we've tasted today.
3. Little Red Rye (Liverpool/Liverpool Craft Beer Co, 6.7%)
Imperial red rye IPA. Assuming this is what it says it is... Lots more bitterness, quite a good mouthfeel to it, with that lightness I tend to associate with rye beers. Not much more to be said apart from that, but pleasant enough.
4. Big Raspberry Dog Chew (Glasgow/Fallen, 10%)
Raspberry salted caramel imperial milk stout. The biggest ABV value on the card, and the one that seems to have been generating the most online chatter today, probably for the same reason. As The BBG said, "it's all there" - raspberries, salted caramel and stoutiness, all coming together beautifully without ever advertising how strong it is. We always thought BrewDog's own ten percenter Cocoa Psycho went down too easily for safe drinking, but this is even easier. Though The BBG thinks that like Cocoa Psycho, one at the end of the night is just enough. Looks like we timed this just right, then.
I think Big Raspberry Dog Chew just about wins for me, with I Am The One Who Equinox and Kenya Kick It? not too far behind. The BBG takes a similar tack, saying Dog Chew is probably the best beer overall, and Equinox is the one you'd most like to drink in bulk - but there are plenty of others here she'd be keen to revisit, like Not Another Eurovision Beer. Some of these should stay hanging around your local BrewDog bar for a few days after Collabfest, so give them a go for yourself.
31st Oct 2015, 22:20
Stop three of four on our CollabFest 2015 crawl, and we're at what is still our favourite London BrewDog bar. Sorry, all other London BrewDog bars (and pre-emptive apologies to the Soho bar that opens later this week). Your flight this time:
1. 16|04 (Camden/Brew By Numbers, 6.5%)
Coffee & chocolate red ale. Both notes coming through strongly, with chocolate winning in the end. (Usually in these cases it's coffee.) Nice enough, but the best beers we've had today - e.g. the Eurovision rye IPA and the Cardiff cascara - have had more of a balance to them: you don't feel the need to immediately have another one with this one. It got sweeter for The BBG as time went on, not so much for me.
2. Absolem's Alt (Leicester/Mad Hatter, 5.4%)
Autumn-spiced altbier. They're not lying about the spices - very alty on the nose, but I wasn't getting much of the spice until I got it in my gob, and then you couldn't get away from it afterwards. Nice and Christmassy rather than autumnal, more the sort of spice combination you associate with mulled wine.
3. Plumdog Millionaire (Doghouse/Fyne Ales, 4.7%)
Black plum gose. Welcome to Doghouse, the second Glasgow BrewDog bar, which opened in the Merchant City district today. (We already have a date scheduled for our BrewDogging visit, and two additional things to do while we're in town. You have a few months to guess what they are.) As for the beer they're using to announce their arrival into the world, they're one of three beers in this year's fest based around plums - we'll probably have to miss out the other two. Very, very sour on the initial taste, but the plum's coming through quite late on, less so for The BBG than for me. Again, nice on its own, but you wouldn't want to make a habit of it.
4. I Am The One Who Equinox (Sheffield/Bad Seed, 6.2%)
White IPA with Sorachi Ace and Equinox. Does the terrible Breaking Bad reference mean anything? Possibly in the sense that initially you're not quite sure, but once it hits it hits hard. Gloriously complex mix of flavours - BBG suggests 'sweetness, butteryness, almost like a butter toffee'. Gluggable as hell: you could definitely imagine doing a few of these back to back for fun, rather than the quasi-scientific experiment that's going on here. (Which is still fun, in case you were wondering. Will it stay that way? We'll let you know in an hour or two...)
31st Oct 2015, 19:19
Second of the London bars we're hitting for BrewDog CollabFest 2015, and we're in the part of town where it's hardest to tell who's in Halloween costume and who isn't. Our selections for this flight:
1. Tarte Aux Pommes (Shoreditch/Redchurch, 4.7%)
Wild apple sour. Fairly good example of a sour beer, with fruit gradually coming to the fore. Not hugely powerful flavours, but they're there. Lightest/weakest we've had so far - could do with being a little punchier.
2. Blueberry Quaffle (Manchester/Blackjack, 6.0%)
Blueberry and cherry wheat beer. Good long fruity hit with a tail end of bitterness. The BBG notes a heavy fruity nose as well, like cherry bubblegum but not as sweet. Fabulous colour, too. Not something the BBG would want to drink a lot of ('not enough beeriness'), but one works just fine.
3. Honey, Jamaican Me Ginger (Edinburgh/Tempest, 7.1%)
Honey and ginger Scotch ale. First wow of the day. Spicy, without obviously being gingery (The BBG suggests cloves?), with the honey giving it a nice roundness. Stouts do this sort of thing all the time, and it's rare to see a Scotch ale playing around with spice to this degree. The BBG declares this is the nicest one she's had in this style ever.
4. Kenya Kick It? (Cardiff/Crafty Devil, 6.2%)
Black coffee IPA with cascara berries. So the Edinburgh beer was my favourite for about 30 seconds, then this happened. Huge fruitiness coming through, with the coffee as a bassline rather than the highlight it would be in a stout (but getting louder as time goes on). I always think of cascara as a laxative, although Wikipedia suggests that's the bark rather than the berries - also, that in the Chinook region, it's known as 'chittem bark'. Arf.
31st Oct 2015, 17:22
For this year's Halloween pub crawl, we're going in our Craft Beer Wanker costumes. Yes, it's the awkwardly-scheduled BrewDog Collabfest 2015, in which 21 of their bars have teamed up with 21 local breweries to produce 21 limited edition beers, on sale today. The Belated Birthday Girl and I, for the sake of mathematics and liver health, are only going to be sampling 16 of them today, and reviewing them as we go, with all the implied hilarity that should arise once we start hitting double figures. To start, we grabbed a flight of four of the weaker (i.e. approx 5%) ones at Clapham Junction BrewDog.
1. Laika (Clapham/Orbit, 5.0%)
Dry-hopped dunkelweisse. Okay as a start, but a little characterless, possibly due to its straight-from-the-tap low temperature. A bit of weiss on the nose, and a bit of hops at the tail end, but that's about it.
2. Ghost Writer (Aberdeen/Cromarty, 5.1%)
Baltic porter with cocoa, mulatto chillies. "That's more like it," says The BBG, though the combination of cocoa and chilli will always push her buttons. The chilli has the effect of making you think it's got more body, rather than actually contributing measurable heat. It's a subtle overtone, coming through more strongly as you drink more, unless it's some sort of reaction to the Scotch eggs we were eating alongside it. BrewDog are currently talking about 'streamlining' the food offerings across the bars: keep yer hands off Clapham's Scotch eggs, James, or there'll be trouble.
3. Perfect Storm (Nottingham/Black Iris, 4.9%)
Black California Common. It's a steam beer, but that shouldn't really explain why it initially came out of the tap looking like water. It's quite bland for the first few mouthfuls, with a little bitterness but not much else of note. Initially I think it's just battling against the aftertaste of the Ghost Writer, but Perfect Storm's a bit too one-dimensional in this company.
4. Not Another Eurovision Beer (Bristol/Moor Beer, 5.3%)
Rye IPA. Lovely: on the first taste, there's an almost floral sweetness in the nose and fruitiness on the palate. A bit more bitterness on subsequent mouthfuls, but nicely balanced throughout. A surprisingly large amount of stuff going on in this one: after the disappointment of the previous beer, it's like my tastebuds have been turned back on again. Good to not be leaving the bar on a note of disappointment.
31st Oct 2015, 15:03
29th Aug 2015, 15:24
6th Jun 2015, 18:04
6th Jun 2015, 13:02
6th Jun 2015, 12:02