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#Collabfest2018 part 9: @BrewDogShepBush

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?Belated mopping up of a few straggler beers in Shepherd's Bush.

34. Merchant City Glasgow / DeadEndBrewMachine: Wit Beer Can’t Jump (Wit w/ White Grape, Peach and Kaffir Lime, 5.0%)
Standard wit beer with typical banana taste, not so much of any of the other things in the recipe. (Even after being told what's in it, The BBG can't detect them, except for a hint of lime towards the end.) Pleasant enough, though. If I said it was up there with Hoegaarden, would they throw me out of craft beer? (It's certainly no Otley O-Garden, which is my favourite example of the style.)

35. BD57 Oslo / St Hallvards Bryggeri: Not Another NEBA (NE Habanero Brown Ale, 6.5%)
A beer from The Bar That Can't Legally Call Itself A BrewDog Bar (Norwegian law says you can't mention a brewery in a bar name, or summat). I didn't realise that NEBAs were such a big thing that this one needed a satirical name, but maybe that's part of the joke. Lovely and peppery: I'm getting actual hotness, but The BBG's Dalston-ravaged tastebuds just register it as a nice taste, while still being very much a nicely balanced brown ale with caramel overtones and good mouthfeel.

36. Stirling / Fallen: Stirlinger Weisse (Berliner Weisse, 3.6%)
More weisse, though as the name implies this one's more like a traditional Berliner, with the fruit and the sourness nicely combined. Clearly citrus fruit involved, but hard to tell exactly what. 

37. Soho / Signature Brew: Radio Java (Coffee Pale Ale, 5.0%)
The BBG quite likes it: she's getting coffee, but I'm getting musty. For me, it's like that time when the flat upstairs from me had a leak that went though my ceiling onto my bookshelf, and it tastes like some of my books did after that. I like coffee beers generally, but I don't think it's a nice coffee beer: she says it's not top of her list, but she's not getting the same negative vibes that I am.

38. Brighton / Cloak+Dagger: Beer Grills (Southern BBQ Stout, 7.2%)
(Ignore all the ones behind it in the picture, they're the current beers in the Fanzine series and nowt to do with Collabfest.) (Also ignore the fact that they've spelt the name wrong on the flight list.) And after three mediocre Fanzine beers, this redeems the entire flight, if not the entire evening. Like the NEBA, it's a spicy beer, but the spiciness isn't the only thing going for it, although the chilli kick at the back of the throat is a major part of it. The BBG hopes BBQ refers to sauce rather than actual burning meat, but isn't prepared to probe that too hard because she likes this too much. Anyway, if we'd had this during the original Collabfest weekend, this may well have bothered our top threes. (The BBG thinks the same about the NEBA, but me not so much.)

25th Oct 2018, 23:22   comments (0)

#Collabfest2018 part 8: @BrewDogClaphamJ

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Our final bar visit of Collabfest - limited, of course, by the requirement to see our last few LFF films either side of it. As we're at the BFI for most of today, we've taken the train Sarf of the river to see what Clapham Junction have left that we haven't drunk already. The answer, irritatingly, is five beers: hence the extended flight pictured, requiring a switch from 4:3 to 16:9. Here we go:

29. Milton Keynes / Blackened Sun: Malfiore (Oatmeal Black Saison, 6.0%)
The blackness (okay, toasted malt) gives it a level of interest above a usual saison. I've mentioned earlier that I'm not a big fan of black IPAs, but I'm quite liking this. The BBG likes how the oatmeal is giving it a bit more mouthfeel, too.

30. Oxford / Tap Social Movement: In The Gateau (Black Forest Gateau Stout, 5.5%)
Terrible pun (though it reminds me of Radio Active's bit where Elvis sings a song about a boy's love for a lizard, Tim The Gecko). Very few of the flavours coming though initially - to me it feels like they're cancelling each other out. There's a little more to it once it's warmed up a bit, but it needs a lot more of everything to be as decadent as they think it is. Also, it's a very odd shade of brown, like someone put a cake in a blender.

31. North Street Leeds / Ridgeside: Spilt Milk (Vegan Milkshake Pale, 5.8%)
Fucking Vegan Beer, as Michael Legge would say/sing. (If I could easily set up links in these posts, I'd point you at the YouTube video for The Last Days, a song written from the POV of his dying dog.) Anyway, this is pretty great: the vanilla and oats give this a properly decadent feel (unlike the previous one), with the latter presumably doing the job that a big tub of lactose would normally do for this style. A lot stronger than you'd initially think, and dangerously gluggable. (The BBG has just Googled the Ridgeside brewery's founder, Simon Bolderson, and is now a bit emotional.)

32. Firenze / Piccolo Birrificio Clandestino: Something Purple (Blackcurrant Berliner, 4.5%)
Ooh! Fruity! Nesquik (almost as much as the actual milkshake beer we had earlier, although The BBG isn't so convinced)! Plus a decent degree of sourness to balance it out.

33. Tallinn / Puhaste: Black Swan (Coffee and Chocolate Sour, 4.5%)
We use our final Collabfest 2018 beer to toast Aimar from the BrewDog Tallinn bar, who looked after us tremendously when we visited there a few months ago, but passed away not too long afterwards. He steered us towards a couple of great dark local beers on our late night visits, and I think he'd have approved of this one. I don't believe 'coffee' and 'sour' are two tastes I've considered as matching, though The BBG points out that as there are actual sour coffees out there it isn't that ridiculous an idea. Plus a little bit of saltiness in there too, as it's a gose.

So, 33 beers out of 52 (well, technically out of 49, as three of them were made by overseas bars and never made it into the UK). For me, it's hard to pick a single overall favourite: I think that Black Swan, Silver Beech and I Tira-Miss-U each have the right balance of being utterly unique while also being drinkable as hell. The BBG would go for Hylliedog, 97 On Ratebeer and Spilt Milk, though she would like it known that it took her ages to whittle a shortlist of ten down to those three. Your own mileage, of course, may vary.

Will Collabfest 2019 clash with LFF 2019? God, I hope not. We'll probably see you back here next year, either way.

21st Oct 2018, 16:08   comments (0)

#Collabfest2018 part 7: @BrewDogSoho

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Well played, The Cambodians, well played (though your first film was better). So, for a quick post-film nightcap:

25. Glasgow / Up Front: The Obvious Choice (NEDIPA, 8.0%)
As the name suggests, another One Of Those (but doubly so). Kind of does everything you'd expect, though the murk is a slightly darker shade of murk than usual. There's a little bit of bitterness that you get towards the end that you don't normally find with these things.

26. York / Turning Point: Chip Hazard (Mint Choc Chip Pale Ale, 7.4%)
Slightly scared of this one from the advance word alone. And it's true, it definitely tastes of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and therefore WITCHCRAFT. 'I like it, but I don't think I'd want to drink it often' says The BBG, and I think I'm with her on that one. Particularly as it tastes nothing like 7.4%: if someone sold this to you as a soft drink, you'd totally believe them.

27. Goteborg / Benchwarmers Brewing Co: Drop The Basil (Basil/Lime Saison, 5.0%)
This one has to battle through the ice cream taste of the previous one before it'll even register. It could do with a bit more basil in it: the herbs are a fairly mild part of the recipe. It's really more of a normal saison where you couldn't tell what the special ingredients were without seeing them written down. Refreshing enough, just not particularly interesting ('isn't that the definition of saisons?' suggests The BBG).

28. Kungsholmen / Hyllie Bryggeri: HyllieDog (Grapefruit IPA, 6.5%)
Treating our last drink of the day as our early morning breakfast juice. Definitely a nice one to finish off: the nice juiciness of a NEIPA, but it has a bit more bitterness and softness, and you can see through it too. It's a very likeable beer indeed.

So, with one day to go, we've got 24 beers still to do: will we complete the set in time? Of course we bleedin' won't, but come back tomorrow to see how we do.

20th Oct 2018, 23:50   comments (0)

#Collabfest2018 part 6: @BrewDog7Dials

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Carrying on at Seven Dials, though we now have a deadline...

21. Clapham / Brew By Numbers: Paddy Cake (Carrot Cake-inspired Saison, 6.7%)
Initially a bit of Carrot cake on the nose, not so much on the palate, though that might just be it coming out cold from the keg. Gets a little better as it warms up, but doesn't change all that much.

22. Nottingham / Black Iris: Prickly Heat (Chilli & Pineapple Black DIPA, 7.0%)
Something a bit odd going on here: all those elements in the description are there, but don't quite come together in a distinctive way. Gets better as it goes on, though, with chilli coming through more on the back of the throat than on the tongue. Nice enough, but doesn't taste like the thrill ride promised in the description.

23. Sheffield / Lost Industry: Eat My Mess (Eton Mess Sour Sundae, 6.0%)
There are TWO Eton Mess beers on this year's slate. How did that happen? Is it like that time a couple of Collabfests ago when everyone was making plum beers - is there a lot of Eton Mess on the market currently, or what? This beer's just a deranged pile of flavours piled on top of each other in a sour beer. Lots of fruit going on, certainly, but too confused to be an actually satisfying beer.

24. Berlin / Motel Beer: Silver Beech (Lichtenhainer, 3.3%)
We've got to rush to our film now, so a weak one to finish off is actually quite a useful thing. The BBG tells me this is a historic German style, a wheat beer defined by its low ABV and use of smoked malt. It's the sort of smokiness you find in German cheeses, and that's a very nice thing to find in a beer. Anyway, we're off for a bit now. Cambodians! Entertain us!
20th Oct 2018, 20:32   comments (0)

#Collabfest2018 part 5: @BrewDog7Dials

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Busy old Saturday night at Seven Dials. Still, we've got a table and a couple of hours before we watch a bunch of Cambodians beating each other up, so let's press on with Collabfest.

17. Manchester / Seven Bro7hers: Dunkel Checks In (Chocolate and Banana Dunkelweisse, 5.5%)
On the nose it has lots of the good stuff, not so much when you actually drink it, though a bit of weisseness at the tail end. Feels to me like a kids' version of an AB beer, in that it's got some of the flavour but not enough of the body. It's actually quite a nice flavour, there's just not enough of it.

18. Seven Dials / Brewheadz: Stairway to Seven (Black IPA, 5.8%)
The beer of the bar, which is always nice to do if you get the chance. The BBG's more of a fan of the style than I am, but I actually rather like this one: there's a bit of floral sweetness rather than the booziness I'd expect (and more than she'd expect, too), albeit with a bit of bitterness at the back of the tongue. Could do with a little more intensity, but not as lacking in flavour as the previous one.

19. Southampton / Wild Weather: Champ. Membrane (Brut IPA, 5.8%)
Brut! It's the new NEIPA: in a few months time everyone will be making them all the time, and we'll be sick to death of 'em if we're not already. This one's all right: neither of us have had enough Bruts yet to really see what they're trying to do, as none of the ones we've had before have the promised bone dryness. It's still got the same flavours as a NEIPA (or as it's referred to in our household, One Of Those) when you get down to it.
20. Brussels / No Science: Psycho (Table Beer, 6.0%)
Only the frickin' Belgians would see 6% as a sensible strength for a table beer. Actually, it's a lot like a typical Belgian blonde with a bit more bitterness to it, and doesn't taste as strong as it claims to be. Maybe they make tables stronger over there.
20th Oct 2018, 20:04   comments (0)

#Collabfest2018 part 4: @BrewDogShored

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One more flight before we call it a night. (As you may be able to tell from the photo, we've had to start racking them up as they're running out of beers here.)

13. Aberdeen / Fierce Beer: 6pm Sinner (Amber DIPA w/ Lime Juice, 8.5%)
Fierce made last year's strongest beer, the 12% Very Big Moose: they've also made this year's strongest beer, which is substantially weaker, but has an amusingly snarky name. Nice, but defiantly double in terms of flavour. Caramel sweetness to it, and the lime's coming through too (more and more as time goes on, cutting through the caramel nicely).

14. Barcelona / La Calavera: Crossover (Berliner Weisse, 4.0%)
Hey, Barcelona. We were there just a couple of months ago (okay, only for one night, but still). Not sure if the lime from the previous beer is initially toning down the weissity of this one: after a couple of mouthfuls it feels like there's more apple to it than your usual Berliner. Possibly a little one-dimensional, says The BBG: a bit less sour than I would have expected, says me.

15. Castlegate / 6 Degrees North: Bringin Zesty Back (Raspberry Sour w/ lemon & icing sugar, 6.0%)
It's all pudding beers for the rest of the day. In practice, I'd only describe it as a sour without the other bits (maybe a smidge of raspberry near the end), and The BBG would even argue with that compared with the cherry bakewell one earlier. Still nice, but not entirely as advertised.

16. Leeds / Wilde Child: I Tira-Miss-U (Tiramisu Milkshake Stout, 6.0%)
We have certain expectations for a nightcap beer - dark, complex, boozy. This hits all those notes except for boozy, but that doesn't seem like a problem at all. There's a fabulous nose to it, with a lovely smokiness (The BBG smells it as a really good cold brew coffee) somehow combined with an unexpected sharpness. This feels more like an end-of-the-night beer than the Fierce boozeathon at the start of this flight. So we'll stop here. Back tomorrow.

19th Oct 2018, 23:15   comments (0)

#Collabfest2018 part 3: @BrewDogShored

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Here's the first of those panic-bought flights I mentioned earlier...

9. Birmingham / Dig Brew Co: Slim Shandy (Wheat Shandy, 2.5%)
Initially panicked about whether we'd got the flight in the right order, but after a decent mouthful you can tell this one's a shandy, albeit one with a decent sharpness to it rather than the sweetness you'd expect.

10. Tower Hill / Hale: Hip Replacement (West Coast IPA w/ Rose Hip, 6.8%)
6.8 according to the bar, 8.6 according to the original spreadsheet from BrewDog control. Which is right? It's got a decently boozy bang off it, but it's also got good floral high tones from the rose hip, and the two make for an interesting combo. 

11. Edinburgh / Stewart Brewing: Resting Beach Face (Cucumber, Seaweed & Samphire Gose, 5.0%)
Just had to explain the term 'resting bitch face' to The BBG, which was awkward. Everything in the beer description is definitely there, so it feels more like two of your five a day than something you'd necessarily want in a beer. But there's a little sweetness to take the edge off the excessive vegetation. You can see how it would be very refreshing on a hot day, and how you could easily knock back several pints of it without blinking.

12. Liverpool / Black Lodge: Wake 'n Bake (Cherry Bakewell Sour, 4.2%)
We've had our vegetables, so now we're allowed pudding. Definitely a cherry sour, with a nice tartness to it, though we're not getting so much of the promised biscuits and almonds. 
19th Oct 2018, 22:39   comments (0)

#Collabfest2018 part 2: @BrewDogShored

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We're in Shoreditch for day 2 of our Collabfest, a few yards down the road from Rich Mix, where we've just seen what might be the best film of LFF 2018. Find out more on tomorrow! In the meantime, beer (though not from Meantime).

5. Lothian Road / Cross Borders: BrawDog (New Zealand IPA, 6.0%)
Nice old-fashioned proper IPA to start, none of that Bretts or Bruts shit: just decent hops pleasantly presented. Funnily enough, it was just the other day (after seeing a Swedish kids' cartoon, look it up) that The BBG and I were discussing how the Scottish 'braw' is obviously related to the Swedish 'bra', meaning 'good', and not 'bra' like you thought. 

6. Shoreditch / Hackney Brewing Co.: Space Coyote (Mango Scotch Bonnet Chilli IPA, 5.5%)
Very much The BBG's thing (she's still got Dalston Chilli on her nose from the hot dog she ate a few minutes ago), but this is relatively subtle - mostly mango with a hint of afterburn right at the end, coming through more as you get further down the glass.

7. Dundee / 71 Brewing: 97 On Ratebeer (Tropical Stout, 7.0%)
Our first cheeky beer name of Collabfest 2018. 'Oooohh' is our initial reaction on actually tasting it: gloriously fruity stout, initially thought it was cherries but it's actually liquorice, cacao and dates all mixed together. 'It's good, not like AB21' is a comment I've heard comparing it to another liquorice-based beer of recent vintage - the liquorice is a contributor to the flavour rather than dominating the whole thing.

8. Sodermalm / Örebro Brygghus: Black Öyster Stout (Oyster Stout, 5.3%)
And now for our first international beer - at least they're not charging Swedish-level prices for it. A very nice stout indeed, with a decently rich flavour for a five percenter. Had to guzzle it once we realised we'd have to panic-buy the next flight or two before they ran out, which is a shame...
19th Oct 2018, 21:54   comments (0)