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Beer Me! Epic Brewing’s Hop Zombie

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To continue my journey down under, I sink my gullet next into the tres fashionable Epic Brewing from Auckland, NZ. This is the Imperial IPA of the moment, garnering more social media activity over a “regular brew” than most seasonal or one-off launches. Perhaps the greater availability and freshness has caused this NZ-slide.

Hop Zombie is their BIG IPA. Not a beer for pansies. Apparently. I found it to be more than pleasant.

A delightful caramel warmth and sweetness starts within your olfactory with tropical fruits, pineapple and mango, giving a “Man from Del Monte” kiss to you. It smells of Um Bongo.

You pour and a light fizz gives way to more juiciness, you sip and there’s no overarching bitter kick, it’s a surprise for a beer shouting about how hoppy it is – but NZ hops aren’t there for kicking your tastebuds into touch, they’re there to caress you with juicy tenderness. Oo-err missus.

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It’s so perfectly balanced I can’t quite believe it – it’s reasonable fresh, fantastically so given the distance it’s travelled, peachy and fuzzy.

An amber orange delight, but rather than containing dino-blood sucking mozzies, we have all the hops singing in harmony, not at the expense of your palate and it’s detriment into over bitter pucking mouthdom.

It passes my “wife test” for an IPA – whereas most garner a bit of a gurning “sucking lips inwards” face, this make a small smile happen with a “woah” to add. Fantastic beer, that will be sought after on all future shopping trips – this is a cosmic event of an IPA.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

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Beer Me! Ilkley Brewery Co & Yeastie Boys’ 3.74 Degrees

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Having a spectacularly relaxing few days in the Ilkley moors, It really only felt right to sample some of the local produce – and far be it for me to argue. A spectacular new bottle shop having opened in the heart of Ilkley – Fuggle & Golding have got off to a wonderful start with some essential drinking in stock, and some limited and hard to find rarities. Top that off with a few keg lines with growler filling technology and you’re onto a sure fire winner with me.

Yes, that’s right, that’s a hot tub. That’s just how I roll….in North Yorkshire.

Balmy weather for balmy beer, I do have a habit of making some strange, palate chasing choices, and this is no different.

Ilkley Brewery and Yeastie Boys have collaborated with 3.74 Degrees, apparently the new “degree of separation” from the UK to NZ. The NZ brewing scene has quite recently exploded over here in the UK, and I’m happy to have it’s beery embrace – anything that brings more, better and fresher beer to me, is something I can get behind.

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Initially sherbetty, it gives way to a crashing hit of palma violets, and this one is hard to shake, for the worse i’m afraid. It completely dominates this beer once you recognise it, and the “Belgian blonde” styling is ruined by it.

The only remnants of being a Belgian style relate to it’s dryness, a treacle edge of sweetness that breaks into the palma fragrance.

I’ve tried comparing this to the Stone Green Tea IPA I tried earlier this year, but where that wore it’s adjunct sweetly and innocently, this batters you round the head with it.

It’s earthy and herbal, but like a shampoo commercial, where the woman is clearly faking it. Guava, bubblegum and the methyl benzoate produced by the added dried Feijoa fruit are front and centre, with little else to add. You can have a half of this and no more.

A lingering lemongrass bitterness pervades, but it’s ultimately like a trip to an old-school sweet shop, and drowning your head in powdery bonbons.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

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Beer Me! Wild Beer Co’s Tom Yum Gose

Looking for something to pair with my wonderfully slow-roasted lamb dinner last weekend, I went off the beaten track to try something more savoury…

Dealing myself a Gose (pronounced gose-uh), from Wild Beer Co., but unlike the Westbrook version, this has gone in quite a different direction, but to mixed results.

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Wild Beer Co are pretty much embedded in the craft beer scene as a true experimenter with not only styles and ingredients but with eliciting reactions from their drinkers. It’s not the first beer i’ve had of theirs – Sourdough (review incoming) being a particular favourite of mine, Fresh and Bibble being wonderful examples of their styles, and Cool as a Cucumber being one of my wife’s all time favourite beers.

Tom Yum Gose is quite a departure for them, taking a beer in a “savoury-soup” direction.

You pour that sucker into a glass and its dense aromatic whiff hits you, lemongrass, five spice, coconut and cinnamon – it’s more a soup than a beer at this point. It smells savoury, and not in a beery way. There’s a warming aspect to its smell, something almost medicinal, with a soy/oyster maybe even, ironically, a fish sauce backbone.

It even looks the same as Tom Yum, with gleaming fat-like droplets swimming on the surface…I’m sure I cleaned the glass properly I swear.

You sup it, almost delicately, not knowing what to expect, and there’s a tingly spice, right on the tip of your tongue, leading to a christmassy thai wallop.

The descriptor on the front: “Spices + Sourness + Salt”. I tried to pair this 4% beer with food, but ultimately, it’s a meal in itself.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

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Beer Me! Buxton Brewery’s Red Raspberry Rye

I’m a huge fan of Buxton Brewery – I’m not totally sure they’ve produced a bad beer, or at least one that i’ve tried, yet. From simple and deep beers like SPA, to their glorious Axe and Ace Edges, they’re known for consistency, flavour and having a little experiment. From my point of view, they really knock it out the park with their sours, whether a Berliner Weisse such as this, or a dark sour like Wolfscote.

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I’ve been thoroughly educated on my sour-style beers since my trip to Brussels last year, and visiting the fantastic Cantillion Brewery, as well as spending far too much time and money in Mort Subite and Moeder Lambic. It really was an edifying experience for my palate to discover that there is more out there than US/UK style brewing.

Onto the Raspberry Rye. As soon as you open this up, you have that instant sour aroma hit your nostrils, but there’s more to it – blueberry notes, lingonberry, a lemon citrus zing at the edge of it. It’s great to see far too many people try this for the first time, wonderful in it’s unexpectedness. It smells “Pink” for want of a better word, which is a great association to have in your head – peachy and raspberry (obviously) overtones giving it that colour in your mind.

It looks like a candy nuclear waste dirty bomb, made palatable.

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You sip and instantly a massive dark chocolate laste coats your tongue, moving swiftly to orange (but not chocolate orange) and then a final hit of HUGE raspberry flavourings. I’m reminded of drinking Robinsons cordial after having just brushed my teeth, a citric acid gulp and addictive but in a cold way.

It’s puckering and tonsil exacerbating as it slides down your throat – fetching memories of fizzy sherbet sweets – but then cleansing the palate and leaving swiftly. The aftertaste as it is is like found fruit, an orchard floor, with fruits of the forest.

A fantastic beer, and one i’ll search out again and again.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

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Beer Me! Jaipur vs. Jaipur X – Clash of the Thornbridge Titans?

Jaipur1After the self-harm that was playing the recently released Bloodborne, I needed some form of beery respite to calm the goddamn hell down, and to stop me looking uneasily into every shadow.

Thankfully i’d left a couple of lovely beers in the fridge to top off an incredible Sunday roast dinner (Pork joint, awesome roasties, and proper homemade Yorkshire puddings, just in-case you were wondering….sorry).

An interesting one this – Thornbridge’s 10 year anniversary is upon us, and to celebrate they have brewed an anniversary edition of their first beer – the delight that is Jaipur. Reletively little introduction is needed to Thornbridge, they were one of the first to really kick the UK craft beer scene into action, so they are rightly held with some high regard. I thought it would provide a good opportunity to revisit the classic, and give the “X” a good go, having missed it on draught on release.

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First up is the classic, Jaipur, clocking in at 5.9%. The instant you pour the light flax-like beer, it froths into it’s beautiful cream-ale style head, chilled to perfection.

Quickly, and without having to go near it, your head swims with passionfruit, pomegranate seeds and a hit of lime. There’s this light spiced ale aroma to it, reminding me of a passage from an old Star Wars novel (sorry, nerdcore) where Han orders from a dive bar – amazing memories. It’s Wit-like, but with a bigger bready malt quality, without the coriander.

It slips down the throat too easily – citrus juice explodes like taking a bite out of a breakfast grapefruit, with every part of the pucking aftertaste, big lemony undertones, overplaying the lime aroma.

It’s just made my cat do her typical “Ahmergherd, Alcohol” face. I have not yet posted a cat picture. I may yet. I am thankful she isn’t into beer, for it’s my one vestige of defence of food and drink that she won’t steal. FInally a small alcoholic hit dissolves into the juicy aftertaste and it’s done. Too easy drinking really.

Round 2 – ding ding.

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Onto the “X”. It pours a little darker, as expected, but is unexpectedly light bodied for a 10% beer. It retains a light froth, clinging to the glass like fine lace – beer clean glass? Yes, Sir.

There’s a huge alcoholic punchiness on the nose, yet there’s no denying it’s roots. A lot more strong lime, almost a cordial element – with a weird touch of liquorice that might just be me going crazy.

The first taste overwhelms, and gives a huge toasty caramel sweetness, almost giving a berry tartness. Syrupy. The sweetness is massively overplaying the classic Jaipur bitterness, giving a mandarin or orange squash (from concentrate, natch) swirl to the palate.

There’s no huge aftertaste, but there ‘s more juice in this fruit. The alcoholic warmth is there, only.

“If it ain’t broke” applies to this situation, but as a beer in it’s own right, its…fine? Glowing Endorsement as that is.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

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Beer Me! Westbrook Brewing Co – Gose

Back again, and this time with a beer that’s certainly been doing the round on the hype-train – Westbrook Brewing Co’s Gose. Now, this is a style i’ve never had before, so really have no point of reference, but wow, was I blown away…

Guff on the website:

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4% ABV     5 IBU

This is our interpretation of Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”), a traditional German-style sour wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt. Once nearly extinct, this very refreshing style is making a comeback.


Initially it hits a fine line between musty and fresh but actually, going back to it, it’s incredibly bright and fragrant – just a different style of aroma than I’m used to.

It reminds me of Lemon Ice tea, wheat beer ester-style yeast display – and heavily opaque in colour – it has a light lemon-juice yellow look to it (much unlike the 1000 filter production i’ll inevitably post on here).

There’s a weird Umami beef tomato warmth that hits you – it’s so slight but it underlies the aroma

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Taking that first taste, and it’s all overpowering – Lemon, lime and indian tonic water – almost a gin note to it – I expect from the coriander, but no creaminess that you expect from the wheat.

The effervescent nature of the beer swirls around on the tongue leads it to play with your senses, giving you sparkling cava and sour gooseberry.

WB_Gose2Then as it finishes and falls down your throat, there’s a big lime salsa monster circling around your esophagus, flailing around with his arms of subtle chilli heat but without the spiciness.

It’s a liquid tank of childhood sweets. Sour Haribo tangfastics, with salt highlighting your tongues papillae and making them sing in chorus.

A truly excellent beer that I will continue to search out on the run-up to hot summer drinking nights.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.

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Beer me! Fourpure Brewing Co’s Southern Latitude

I’m a huge fan of Fourpure – they popped up on my radar last year, and their simply designed, minimalist graphic cans grab your attention as you wander the craft beer aisles of your local emporium.

Kicking off with a simple 5 style concept, they’ve since expanded, producing limited runs and seasonal specials, as ever in the world of craft beer, you can’t rest on your simple concept for long, the public demand more and quickly.

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Southern Latitude is probably my favourite of their recent run, although on closer examination, rather than the previous “Mmm….” before chugging its contents into my pie-hole, I’m not quite as big a fan as previously thought.

In my, admittedly patchy, memory, this was a beer with a huge voice, operatic, and ranging through big juicy high notes, to baritone depths. It made me sit up and say “wow” to the hop varietals contained therein – Galaxy, Topaz and Centennial, sweetly playing along with the American Pale Ale vague descriptor – one that is bastardised all over the UK with its variant of innards.

This, however, was nothing of the sort.

I doubt it’s age – it’s only been a couple of months since it’s release, and canning, as we are now starting to wave the flag for more rapidly, is more likely to preserve its inner quality. Maybe, with the squinting eyes of someone trying to subjectively talk about a beer, it’ll affect the palate, purely by focussing on what you’re subjecting it to with magnifying-glass-like focus.

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As you can see, it’s completely opaque. An orange cordial that primary-aged children would make, given half the chance. A huge frothy head clings to the glass desperately, giving off HUGE juicy orange peel aroma. It smells like Umbongo. Not a bad thing at all.

The taste is not in line with its aroma – expectations of sweetness a given – instead swiftly dealing  an initial cold, harsh, possibly even brash initial bitterness that very much belies its light and thin mouthfeel. Watermelon rind. You feel there should be grassy particles, as the aftertaste gives way to an almost chlorophyllic hit right at the back of the mouth.

It’s certainly tangy, and easy drinking, but not as nice as I remember. A shame.


DISCLAIMER: I work for BrewDog and sell BrewDog, Mikkeller and Stone Brewing Co beers into the “North” of England.