Beer of the month – November 2017 – Chubbles by Cloudwater x The Veil

Ten trips out this month, but still not a single beer that I had in a pub. All of these were bought from a pub (in fact the same pub, my local “dealer” The Needle & Pin), but none were consumed there. And all bar one of them is a can. It won’t be long before all of them are in a can I suspect. Let’s kick things off.

Beavertown’s Heavy Water (sour cherry and sea salt imperial stout) is our opener this month, and what a big beast. Richness balanced by sourness makes this scarily easy to drink.

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Staying with fruited stouts, we have an American import, a Blueberry Maple Stout by Saugatuck Brewing Company. I paired mine with apple pie for that all American experience. This beer has super sweetness from the blueberries and maple. Please tell me there’s an imperial version. Sadly, there isn’t, but there is a barrel aged version which I’d like to try.

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Our regular Cloudwater fix next, the DDH IPA Chinook Citra. I think this one has more pineapple flavours than Pineapple (also by Cloudwater Brew Co), a classic piece of Cloudwater murk. I just love it. Awesome with methi chicken. That I made.

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Another regular brewery next, with Magic Rock Brewing’s Grower Owned, a lovely west coast pine fest collaboration with Yakima Chief – Hopunion, a 100% grower owned global hop supplier. More lovely murkiness.

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Something sharp next, a Key Lime Pie Gose by Westbrook Brewing Co. I love lime. I love beer. This combines both of these loves with a little sparkle. Really lovely stuff, and something to break up all of these hop bombs in here. But what can I say, I am a friend of hops.

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So it’s no surprise that our winner is a hop bomb. Chubbles by Cloudwater to be precise. Now, I got a bit of a ribbing on Twitter for drinking it so close to its best before date. This was purely a logistics issue, as I hadn’t been able to get my hands on it as soon as it was released, having to wait until I was able to pick it up. Given its strength, its not one that you can just chug down in a session, you need to pick the right time to drink it, unless you are sharing with friends.

Juicy, thick, citrus and melon notes and more sweetness than bitterness. Drinks way below the ABV, no alcohol burn here. Really lovely stuff. Chubbles is a collaboration with The Veil from New York city, these mad people dreamt up a 10.9% triple IPA with 100% English malt, a ton of flaked oats, fermented with a specific English yeast, and hopped intensely with Galaxy, Citra, and El Dorado.

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A lovely big beast of a beer which deserves its place in the end of year final.

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Beer of the month – October 2017 – Un-Human Cannonball by Magic Rock Brewing

A holiday month often leads to difficult choices when it comes to beer of the month. However, this holiday was to Portugal, and the resort that we stayed in did not score well when it comes to beer. There are two Portugese beers here, but they were both bought at an off licence in Albufeira, the only redeeming feature of a rather horrible place. If I never go to Albufeira again, it will be too soon.

On with the beers. This is another of those months where all of the featured beers are cans or bottles that have been enjoyed outside of licensed venues.

We start with “Born In the IPA” by Cerveja Musa, a small brewery from Lisbon who like a beer name based on a musical theme. As well as the two featured here, I also had “Twist and Stout” and “Mick Lager”. Sadly I didn’t find any “Ale That She Wants” or “Psycho Pilsner”.

After days without hops, hoppy days arrived again in the form of Born in the IPA, which was a delight after so much bland Euro lager.

Next comes a Red Zeppelin Ale also by Cerveja Musa.

Caramel e lupulos. Bom! After 5 days without hoppiness I was starting to worry that I’d never find any in Portugal. This one intrigued some fellow drinkers who have not really strayed into the craft beer world, a slightly sweet red IPA was not something they had encountered before.

We come back home now for the rest of the beers, from three familiar breweries.

Our next beer is Patrons Project 7.01 // SÆSONER // DDH SAISON by Northern Monk. That weird capitalised naming is their choice, not mine. This double dry hopped (DDH) saison is a collaboration with Alefarm of Denmark.

This one is a proper hybrid. Hoppy nose, it looks and smells like an IPA but then turns into a saison on the palate. Very nice indeed.

No surpise to find Cloudwater in another monthly round up. Once again they nail a session IPA, the Spring + Summer Session IPA Citra Mosaic is another cracker, hoppiness but low enough ABV so that you can have more than one!

The same can’t be said of the NE DIPA Simcoe Citra BBC, another strong, thick and hoppy beast. This is what I missed most when in Portugal. Big NE flavours to delight the mouth.

In third place we have something which sounds almost identical, in the form of NW DIPA Citra BBC Simcoe, also by Cloudwater Brew Co.

After a week of largely Euro lager I needed something like a juicy dank murk bomb. Mission accomplished with this one, big bold flavours.

In second place we have something that I should have drunk a while ago, but when you have half a litre of 9.2% double IPA, you have to find the right time to savour it unless you are sharing with friends. Drinking fresh is better, but this one did stand up to being saved for a short while.

Human Cannonball (2017) by Magic Rock Brewing was older than the brewery would like you to enjoy it but was still good. Massive lavender coming through late on the palate and bitter orange flavours. Delightful hops and resin. I just love this style.

Keepting with the theme of very similar sounding beers, we have this month’s winner, also by Magic Rock. Un-Human Cannonball (2017).

Once a year Magic Rock receive the latest crop of hops from the US. Intensely aromatic and bursting with potential they’re begging to be put to work. With three times the quantity of hops of Cannonball and even more than flagship Double IPA Human Cannonball, Magic Rock have created a fitting tribute to the new hop release with their annual homage to the hop.

If half a litre of 9.2% double IPA needs the right time and place, then half a litre of 11% triple IPA needs that even more.

I didn’t drink this one fresh. I don’t care. It was still awesome. Insanely drinkable for 11% but its power reminds you of its heritage. Great stuff, pine and herbs and a worthy winner. Next year I’ll try and buy two and then try and see the difference between fresh and aged a little, just so that I know.

Beer of the month, August 2017 – Stone the Crows IPA by Brewski

Another month almost entirely dominated by beers at home. This is despite several pub trips, a brewery tap trip and 2 visits to a good beer festival. With so many rotating lines on at the beer festival (and the rotations not always synchronised with the availability of the customer who wants to try them) you won’t always find the beer you want to taste.

However, to the beer festival we go first, for a Passionfruit And Blueberry Tart by Thornbridge Brewery. This one beats the standard version of “Tart” hands down. Sweet and sour and delicious. Lovely fruits balanced by sourness.

Everything else is a beer at home. The next one came to me fresh from Brass Castle Brewery. Earlier in the year I was one of their many crowd funders who started their “Crowler Club”. In this context, a crowler is a 990 ml can, filled fresh from the brewery and then sent straight out to customers. The crowd funding campaign enabled the brewery to purchase a special canning machine to make this all happen.

It was certainly worth it. The first beer that I tried was Disruptor, my first crowler beer, full of hoppy, fruity and juicy loveliness. Tropical goodness and super fresh.

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To another favourite brewery for Wyoming Sheep Ranch by Buxton Brewery. This was a little different for Buxton as there was absolutely nothing on the nose but big sweet pine on the palate. It was lovely stuff which made for a gentle sipper.

We now go to the dominant force in 2017’s beer of the month ratings, Cloudwater Brew Co. The Spring + Summer Pale Ale Ekuanot was a great beer for such low ABV. Not everything has to be a 9% monster to have good hoppy flavours and a nice body.

Something a little bit different next, a Peanut Butter Milk Stout by Belching Beaver Brewery. Not the kind of can that you might be able to show to more sensitive members of the family which is how come it was held over a week or so and made it into the August list. It was an utterly delicious peanut butter milk stout. Awesome nutty aroma, smooth flavours.

Who’s next? Well, it’s Cloudwater again, with Tremendous Ideas by Cloudwater Brew Co. A super tasty murk bomb (that’s a very cloudy beer that’s full of flavour). Thick with hops and juicy bitterness with fruitness to balance it out.

However, a new winner this month, on their first ever appearance. Stone the Crows IPA by Brewski from Sweden was full of super juicy grapefruit bitterness. Maximum citrus flavours and really lovely stuff. Very lively and sharp. A worthy winner to mix with all those Cloudwaters at the end of the year…

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Beer of the month – July 2017 – Intensified Barrel-Aged Coffee Porter by Brooklyn Brewery

Another of those months where all the beers in the shortlist for beer of the month were not sampled in a pub, bar or similar. There were a few trips to those establishments, but one of them was so bad I resorted to lime and soda. There is a pub of the month this month, which at least beats May, when there wasn’t an award for the first time.

Several of these beers were sampled at our own mini beer festival, the home-made Hooky beer fest.

Let’s dive in.

First up we have an X-Girlfriend by Weird Beard Brew Co. This beer was specially designed to showcase what hops can do in a low ABV beer. A playful mix of Galaxy, Citra and experimental HBC431 for a fruity vibe. Happiness = hoppiness. Way better than so many so called IPAs.

Off to the camp site next for a Tropic Thunder by Dugges Bryggeri, a joint effort with nomadic brewer Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal. A sour ale with brewed with lactobacillus and fermented with mango, passion fruit and peach. Lilt. The totally tropical taste. In beer form. Bottom centre in this collage.

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To Denmark next, by way of Ulverston (Booths) for Green Gold by Mikkeller, which was full of bittersweet hoppy goodness. Just my kind of thing.

More hops now, with “I Played Trumpet On That Tune” by Verdant Brewing Co (they love an interesting beer name). This was a very good New England/Vermont style IPA, cloudy, smooth, and fruity, with an artfully refined bitterness. Hoppy and dank, and very juicy.

If you’ve been following beer of the month this year, you’ll recall that Cloudwater have already got 4 beers through to the end of year finals. They almost made it 5, but after careful consideration, they take bronze and silver this month instead.

In bronze medal place we have the DDH IPA Citra by Cloudwater Brew Co. DDH stands for “double dry hopped”. Cloudwater has doubled the amount of hops in this IPA to bring us the brewery’s first DDH IPA. Fermented with WLP4000 yeast and dry-hopped with Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Centennial (big name American hops). WLP4000 yeast was isolated from a uniquely crafted double IPA from the the USA and produces a balanced fruity ester profile of peaches and light citrus that complements any aggressively hopped beer.

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to a beer to add more of a hop aroma. As you do not boil the hops, you won’t be extracting any of the oils from them, and therefore will not be contributing to the beer’s bitterness. What you will be adding are hop flavour and aroma. If you are a big hop fan, dry hopping is a must.

Nom Nom Nom. An hoppy juice bomb. Perfect with spicy dhansak. Yes please!

Another big IPA next, in the form of NW DIPA Citra, also by Cloudwater Brew Co. This was a super juicy murk bomb full of relentless Citra bitterness. My taste buds appear to be perfectly aligned for this beer.

So what kept Cloudwater from the top spot this month? It was an Intensified Barrel-Aged Coffee Porter by Brooklyn Brewery. It starts as a big, chocolatey ale, ready to take on super powers. The first power is gained from months of aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The second arises from delectable beans harvested from Finca El Manzano Single Origin Coffee in El Salvador. The final power comes from Blue Bottle Coffee, who roast the coffee to perfection. Brooklyn advise that you brace yourself for complex notes of dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, berries, and dried fruit.

I advise that you seek this out. I’ve finally found out what bourbon barrels are for. Bourbon is not my thing, but it adds a lot to this beer. It’s a super coffee beast. Thanks to regular MOFAD drinking companion Matt for sharing it with us.

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That should spice up the end of year battle a bit!

Beer of the month, June 2017 – Spring + Summer IPA Mosaic Exp 431 by Cloudwater Brew Co

A holiday month often results in some difficult choices for beer of the month, as there have usually been many beer tasting opportunities. This month was no exception. These ones all came from the supermarket, but only one of them actually made it into the top ten or so. That shows what a good month it has been.

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Let’s start with that supermarket beer, which is not a derogatory term in this case. Shameless by Redwillow Brewery has a lovely hop profile, and is a cracking little IPA.

We’re off to Cheltenham next, for a Steady Rolling Man by DEYA Brewing Company, which was full of delicious tropical hoppiness. I didn’t have a copy of 461 Ocean Boulevard to hand, so I couldn’t accompany it with Eric Clapton’s cover of the Robert Johnson song.

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We stay with DEYA for Into the Haze, very chewy, soft and full of fruity hoppiness. Smooth and delicious.

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We stay with hops (as with most months) with a Tap Type APA by Magic Rock Brewing, also full of hoppy juiciness. You may spot a pattern of hops and juice – that’s the trend right now and it’s fine by me.

Psychokinesis by Magic Rock Brewing is next in the round up, very much a herby and fruity IPA with a hint of mint (and lime) in the finish. Very good this one.

A detour to Sours night for almost all of the rest of the best beers of the month.

Dark of Ages Past by Wild Weather Ales (featuring Calculon) was full of awesome blueberry flavours, one of the best sour fruit beers I’ve had for a while.

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Superluminal by Buxton Brewery was one that I was expecting to have massive hoppiness. In fact it was full of enormous grapefruit flavours but no hops. Pucker up buttercup! Mrs MOFAD loved it, the first for any beer labelled IPA.

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We take a quick trip to Newcastle for the next two. Knowledge by Rhinegeist Brewery was sampled at BrewDog Newcastle, and is made from peachy loveliness. The fruit takes over from the hops but it works so well. It took a while to work out what was going on, but it was really nice.

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Just down the road at Box Social I enjoyed this North Brewing and Het Uiltje Double IPA collaboration, full of grassy, hoppy, orangey sweetness. Yum yum!

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Back to sours night. A Vandervelden 135 Oude Geuze Vieille by Brouwerij Oud Beersel was one of our “bonus beers”. I’d already bought one of these, and after our tasting my bottle is going into storage for a large number of years. A wine amongst beers. It might just be rather special in a good few years.

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Once again we find ourselves travelling (metaphorically) to Cloudwater Brew Co. for our winner, the Spring + Summer IPA Mosaic Exp 431.

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Juicy tropical/stone fruit hoppiness is overflowing in this one. This is what a stone fruit IPA should be like. Take note BrewDog! It goes through to the end of year final.

 

Beer of the month, May 2017 – Blacklight Banana by Siren Craft Brew

Another of those months where all the beers in the shortlist for beer of the month were not sampled in a pub, bar or similar. This is partly the reason why there was no pub of the month in May 2017.

Let’s take a look at some of the beers in the running, sampled at home or at a campsite…

First up we have Flat White by Alphabet Brewing Company, a white coffee stout. Yes, white stout. This had a big coffee nose and a very smooth finish. My first white coffee stout and if they are all like this (which they probably won’t be) then it won’t be the last.

Next up, a Heathen by Northern Monk, full of Citra fruity hoppiness. Northern Monk are knocking out consistently good beers, I have several other cans in stock.

Off to pun land next, for a Viennese Cranberry Rye Pale Ale called This Means Nothing To Me by Alphabet Brewing Company. Oh Vienna! Hops, rye, green tea and cranberries. That’s a first. Good dryness and bitter/sourness from the fruits. A very interesting combination that I really liked. Mrs MOFAD was not so much of a fan.

A few Cloudwaters in quick succesion now. Motueka Pilsner had fruity, crisp, sweet bready notes and a nice hop profile. Cloudwater have nailed the lager market with some of their recent output.

Another May favourite was the Session IPA Chinook Mosaic, an all day IPA with hoppiness, bitterness and some resin. The Autumn + Winter IPL Vic Secret Comet had a piney nose, very lagery to start and a minty/lavender herbal finish.

We move to Weird Beard Brew for something a little different next. Out of Office Ethiopian Coffee IPA. Coffee and hops? Yes please!

Back to hoppiness with Fantasma by Magic Rock Brewing. The best gluten free beer that I’ve ever had. Hoppy, bitter, juicy, dank, orange and pineapple flavours. Lovely stuff, really easy drinking. If you have to avoid gluten, you don’t have to avoid enormous flavours.

We go back to the 2016 Rainbow Project for this month’s winner. Blacklight Banana by Siren Craft Brew. Big alcohol, big coffee, big roastiness. Yes, we have no bananas. It’s a really nice beer but I was actually hoping for a big banana flavour from this. If it’s in there, it’s very subtle (some others have tasted it).

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This goes forward to beer of the year, the second dark beer in the pot.

Beer of the month, April 2017 – Cloudwater DIPA V13

This is a rather Cloudwater heavy month. When you’ve got a lot of them, you drink a lot of them, as they don’t keep so well. Cloudwater are very strong with their drink fresh message. As well as those Cloudwaters, there are three “out of the home” beers, including a lovely cask IPA, which is a rarity.

We start as we mean to go on, with Cloudwater Spring + Summer IPA Chinook Vic Secret. Delicious tropical dankness (a word that’s appearing a lot in these monthly round ups). Juicy and fruity and very easy drinking. Cloudwater are dominating this sector of the market.

A trip out next, for a Small Batch: Double IPA by BrewDog at BrewDog York. Big bitter grapefruit flavours! Yes please!

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A birthday treat followed, a DIPA V11 by Cloudwater Brew Co. Vicious bitterness and murky pineapples. Very smooth thanks to the oats. Only two left to go in the DIPA series now…

Staying at home we have a Smac My Brew Up by Arbor Ales. An excellent pint of hoppy American pale ale from Bristol. A good mix of hops and very easy drinking. Good carbonation too. I’m really liking Arbor Ales…

Out out again, for a Green Devil IPA by Oakham Ales (at Ye Olde Nags Head in Castleton). A cracking cask IPA, which is a rarity.

Staying out out, we have an experience as well as a beer. The launch of the 2017 edition of Bloody ‘Ell by Beavertown happily coincided with our visit to The House of the Trembling Madness in York. It’s rare that I get to go to beer launches, particularly not living in London, so it was always on the cards to try this. Super tasty hop and orange flavours.

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Back inside now, for Even Sharks Need Water by Verdant Brewing Co. Hoppy, bitter, juicy, dank, a real murk bomb! Right up my street.

The rest of the line up is all Cloudwater. The Autumn + Winter IPL El Dorado Mosaic is currently the best IPL and best lager that I’ve ever tasted. IPA with a lager finish, and there’s some lavender in there somewhere. Delicious stuff.

To the penultimate in the DIPA series next, with DIPA V12. Heavy alcohol, heavy bitterness and hoppiness. Only one can left until the end of the DIPA journey. Spoiler alert – we’ll be seeing it very soon!

Another Cloudwater IPA, this time the Autumn + Winter IPA Mosaic Exp 431. The DIPA series is dead. But with beauties like this in the range, I’m not crying. Tropical dankness and juicy loveliness.

Back to that dead series. DIPA V13 was like a fruit smoothie with added hops. V3 is still my favourite but the oaty smoothness brings this one into second place in the DIPA list. Au revoir DIPA!

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It goes through to the end of year final. That’s 3 out 4 for Cloudwater now. Getting a bit embarrassing…