It’s almost the middle of March … how did that happen?
We’ll be out of big stout season and into those fruity sours before you know it.
Here’s your latest round up of what’s good on the craft beer scene, including North Hop on the horizon, evil goings on at CASC, a touch of the east at Six°North and who’s got what on.
ODDS AND SUDS …
North Hop is gearing up for its “final fling” in Aberdeen at the AECC on March 30 and 31.
But festival director Michelle Russell says it’s not so much “farewell” as “auf wiedersehen” for the popular food and drink festival.
“We’re looking to reformat how we are doing the festival after doing it for four years and it’s time to change things up a bit,” she said.
“So in the coming year we’ll be doing more in the way of individual pop-ups, smaller scale events, but something a bit different.
“For next year we are looking at how we can take it forward. So this is the last one in it’s current format but North Hop is not over, anything but.
“We have a few exciting things in the pipeline for where we are going with it.”
So for the not-quite-so final fling at the end of the month, there are some great things lined up for beer fans.
Seven breweries will be setting up stall: Fierce: Brew Toon; Spey Valley; Beer Story; Out Of Town; Broughton and Top Out, plus Thistly Cross Cider.
Michelle said: “The breweries have different stuff on for this one and gone all out for the Final Fling.
“We’ll have one-offs, limited editions, collabs and there may be a few surprises.
“Some of these breweries are new to the scene and that’s what we wanted for this final fling.”
Also in the North Hop mix will be a cocktail lounge, food vendors, live music and a special pop-up market place with handcrafted goods, curated by the Aberdeen Etsy Team.
Something evil this way comes
Renowned gypsy brewers Evil Twin are coming to town courtesy of CASC, with eight of their beers in a tap takeover from tonight.
And the bar’s manager Craig Begg says it’s something to be excited about if you like big hitters in your beer choice
“If you’re familiar with Danish brewer Mikkeller, Evil Twin is Mikkeller’s twin brother … or so the rumour has it,” said Craig about the outfit which doesn’t have its own brewhouse but uses spare capacity at other breweries.
“These guys specialise in big flavours, but also in big heavy hitters. The seven out of eight of the beers we have on have big ABVs.”
He’s not kidding, seeing as the Molotov Cocktail checks in a 13%.
Craig said: “Evil Twin are renowned in the beer community for the fantastic product they are putting out, so this takeover is a chance for people to try things they are not going to find on the shelves very easily.
“A lot of these will be first to draught in Aberdeen.”
Can’t believe it’s not Buddha
Stonehaven’s own Six°North has worked with Aberdeen Japanese restaurant to come up with a unique beer that’s proved to be a real winner.
Robert Lindsay, head honcho at 6DN, said: “After a few sakes, exquisite food and a long chat with owner John, we agreed to collaborate and brew a unique beer that would complement the cuisine at Yatai Izakaya.
“We needed a refreshing beer with a strong Asian influence, yet light enough to complement the subtle aromatic spices used.
“We searched our hearts and heads and Yatai – Buddha was born, a light and refreshing Belgian Blond married with our house yeast, noble earthy European hops and infused with Buddha’s Hand, an oriental fruit.”
But bottles of Buddha have been flying off the shelf at the restaurant – the only place it’s available – to the extent Six°North has had to upscale production.
“We’e gone from our trial kit to our full brew length – that’s from 150 litre batch sizes to 1,500 litre batch sizes,” said Robert.
A case of east meets west meets north meets success, then.
Bars aren’t just about beers these days … they even cater for those who are into bikes or sewing
Brewdog Castlegate is hosting the inaugural ride of Brewdog Chain Gang Aberdeen Chapter on Sunday.
Cycling fans are being invited to take part in a 27-mile Mother’s Day loop leaving and finishing from the bar. No doubt there will be beers at the end.
All levels of experience are welcome but you need to join the ride on Strava at https://www.strava.com/clubs/330026/group_events/281120
And over at Brewdog Gallowgate, they will welcome back the Say It Ain’t Sew for 2018 on Wednesday at 6.30pm. It’s a free needlework class with a different theme each week.
This week I have been mostly drinking … Beavertown’s Heavy Water Imperial Stout
Beavertown’s trademark eyecatching cans are always a pleasure, and this beast fairly jumped off the shelf with its neon colours.
Since I can’t resist an imperial stout – especially one that promises raspberries, cacao and vanilla – it was inevitable this one was going home with me.
It pours nicely, sitting in the glass like liquid night, with a nicely laced dark head.
The nose, though, is a bit underwhelming. Sweet, with mocha hints but not a lot going on otherwise.
The same can’t be said for the first taste. It’s unexpectedly tart, but has a good velvety mouth feel with lots of body.
Subsequent sips see it relax into a lingering bitterness which is when the cacao and vanilla notes come through. And then, at the very end, the raspberries join the party.
Not as smooth as you’d ,expect the balance is tipped towards being sharp while the strength of the beer, 10.4%, is front and centre. Still, it gives you that glow you expect from an imperial stout.
It’s all a bit of a confusion, a beer you drink with your head cocked to the side thinking “what” rather than nodding and saying “mmmm”.
For all that, it’s still worth a rattle.
Who’s got what …
A round-up of the new beers you can find where this weekend and some suggestions of what to try.
The Craftsman Company
Garry Russell of the Craftsman is looking forward to welcoming a Fierce beer this weekend.
He said: “We have got a keg of the new small batch Fierce range due in this week and will be putting on the NEIPA Red Rye for the weekend.
“This New England style IPA has a classic low bitterness and full velvety mouthfeel. To make this a little more interesting, rye and melanoidin malts add a little colour and spice.
“A massive amount of American hops are used during whirlpool and dry hop stages to give huge tropical aromas backed up with a juicy citrus finish.
“If this is as anywhere near as good as the cans then we will all be in for a Fierce treat this weekend.”
Also on at The Craftsman:
- Wylam: Macchiato, porter
- Redchurch: Turban Farmhouse, sour
- Beavertown: Neckoil, session IPA
- Tempest: The Old Fashioned, barrel aged DIPA
- Fierce: Cranachan Killer, raspberry pale ale
- Northern Monk: Eternal, session IPA
- Sweet Water: Hop Hash, session IPA
- Left Handed Giant: Sky Above, pale ale
- Burnt Mill: Green Path, IPA
London’s Partizan Brewing are still in residence with a tap takeover that started on Thursday, said the bar’s general manager Kerr Sellars.
Kerr said: “The Cascade Mosaic IPA has been selling particularly well, so if anyone wants that they’ll have to get in quick. My personal choice is the Porter – soft sweet and caramelly very much like a Belgian Brown ale. We had Andy – Partizan’s founder – in on Thursday for a bottle tasting and I was overwhelmed by his impressive range of styles that pretty much covered every facet of Belgian beer styles!”
Also new at Six°North this weekend:
- Red Cat: Adjective Animal, sour
- Pilot: JNR, sub-session IPA
- Wiper & True: Bristol Crush, Grapefruit Pale Ale
- 6DN: Fall, Motueka pale ale
- Dubuisson: Cuvée Des Trolls
- D’Achouffe: McChouffe
Keyholder Kirsty Davidson is enjoying one of Brewdog’s new launches, Emperor’s Blue Clothes, a collaboration with Danish brewers Mikkeller in aid of autism charity, People Like Us.
Kirsty said: “It’s an unfiltered blueberry hefeweizen and it’s just a nice drink. It’s a little bit sweet, but not too much so, you still get that beer taste coming through.
“Because it’s for charity you can do a good thing while enjoying a good beer.”
Guests at BrewDog Gallowgate:
- Tiny Rebel: Didgeridank, Imperial/double IPA
- Weihenstephaner: Hefeweissbier, hefeweizen
- Fierce: Very Berry, sour ale
- 18th Street Brewery: Hunter, milk stout
- 18th Street Brewery: Rise of the Angels. Imperial/double IPA
- 18th Street Brewery: Imperial Blud, Russian imperial stout
The bar’s general manager Craig Fallenstein is looking forward to a beer arriving over the weekend, Staggeringly Good’s Tyrannosaurus Citra.
“This is a cool new brewery from Portsmouth, making some amazing beers at the moment and this will be the first time we have them on draught, so we’re excited about that coming on.
“We also have our own Kamikaze Knitting Club, which just launched last week. It’s an amazing maple stout, one of our small batch beers. It has a little bit of sweetness coming through. It’s quite heavy at 7.5%ABV and is hopped with sorachi ace, a Japanese hop, which gives it a nice unique edge, together with the maple syrup.”
Also guesting at Brewdog Castlegate:
- Greenbush: 1825, Belgian strong golden ale
- Greenbush: Trucker Tussle, American IPA
- Greenbush: Apathy Stout, oatmeal stout
- Brewdog: Emperor’s Blue Clothes
- Brewdog small batch: Dry-hopped pilsener
- Brewdog: Baby Dogma, a baby Scotch ale
Bar manager Craig Begg says he has a welcome addition in the CASC fridge this week with Beavertown’s Double Chin, an 8.5% DIPA
Craig said: “It’s a double version of their first beer Neck Oil. These little cans pack a big punch of tropical hops. Full on pineapple aromas and a sticky bitter finish.”
The tap list pick of the week comes courtesy of Assistant Manager Dan Vegas, with Evil Twin’s Imperial Biscotti Break.
Dan said: “You’d never guess by the nose that it’s11.5% ABV. Once it hits your tongue you get a big burst of lotus biscuit sweetness, coupled with hints of nuts and rich chocolatey goodness.”
Also new on on at CASC this week:
- Evil Twin: Molotov Cocktail
- Evil Twin: Even More Coco
- Evil Twin: Love You Stout
- Evil Twin: Even More Jesus
- Evil Twin: Sumo In A Sidecar
- Evil Twin: IPA Kolata
- Evil Twin: Nasty Trunks
- Tiny Rebel: Stay Puft
- Fourpure: Morning Star
- Fierce: Cranachan Killer
Westhill Service Station (Hop Shop Aberdeen)
Beer guru Chris Proctor says his recommendation comes from the hardest working brewery he knows … Fierce Beer!
“These lovely people sent me a can to try of their super fresh Very Big Moose: Tonka! This is a 12% Imperial Chocolate Stout brewed in collaboration with Brew York. It pours jet black in the glass with a tanned head. The tonka beans bring lush aromas of vanilla, cherry, and almonds. The mouthfeel is thick and velvety and it delivers wonderful flavours of rich cocoa nibs and cinnamon. This is a beer certainly worth shouting about!”
Also new at Westhill:
- Beavertown vs Cloudwater: Do Not Open Until 1985, DIPA
- Beavertown: Double Chin, DIPA
- Cloudwater: DDH Pale Citra El Dorado , pale ale
- Cloudwater: IPA Citra Vic Secret. IPA
- Cloudwater: Small Citra Simcoe Pale, Session pale ale
- Cloudwater: DDH Pale Citra Ekuanot, pale ale
JK Fine Foods
Pete Mackay, JK’s craft beer expert, is bigging up Magic Rock’s Fantasma.
“It’s an excellent IPA, well balanced, punchy and more-ish AND gluten free.
“I’m also liking Yeastie Boy’s Big Mouth, another IPA (that’s my mood this week it would seem) from New Zealand this time. It’s brilliantly sessionable stuff.”
As for new beers, Pete says:“We have a couple of Beavertown specials, one of which is a collaboration with Cloudwater; Wild Beer’s Blend 2017; a pale and a saison from the Kernel, more Nogne Ø, Northerm Monk/Deya/Verdant DIPA, and an offering from Loka Polly.
“This week’s delivery day was fun”.