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Beer of the week: Fyne Ales - 20th Anniversary Ale

ShortList Recommends: great beers we've taste tested.

Beer of the week: Fyne Ales - 20th Anniversary Ale
19 November 2021

Craft beer has now solidified its place in the world of drinks and there are now, according to some sources, over 3,000 breweries in the UK alone. While we have various lists dedicated to beer, much of the scene revolves around constant new releases.

These are often one-off or annual brews that, in the case of some beers, sell out on launch day. Some craft breweries don’t even have a core range of regulars, instead preferring to make something new each time the kettle is fired up.

Craft beer has become, to some extent, a Pokémon-esque world of trying to catch ‘em all so there’s little point in adding those beers to our main shortlists only to find you can’t go and try them.

So, our Beer of the Week is a chance to keep up with the latest releases as they come and go. It’s all aboard the hype train - and this is our choice this week.

Fyne Ales - 20th Anniversary Ale

Beer of the week: Wild Beer Co - Echo

Any brewery approaching its 10th birthday (like Wild Beer Co last week) has been around the UK craft beer scene a long time, so the fact that this week’s brewery is celebrating double that milestone is a significant achievement to say the least.

Fyne Ales, as its beer name subtly hints, has reached its 20th anniversary and to mark this special occasion have released a suitably big beer. This barrel aged barleywine has been launched as a “tribute to the art of brewing”.

It’s a lot more than just that because it also showcases the skill of blending, as the beer is made up of several vintages that have been separately ageing in first-fill port, madeira and sherry barrels.

The beer pours dark mahogany with an evaporated milk coloured head. The complex aroma which is like a warm beery hug means you’ll want to dive right in.

Fyne’s description of “decadent and indulgent” is no word of a lie as the flavour is extremely rich and sophisticated. Strong notes of dates and other dried fruits, winter spices and caramel really hit the spot and, with the malty backbone, creates the illusion of a sticky toffee pudding in liquid form.

Those barrels provide additional layers of flavour with delicate hints of the fortified wines the barrels previously held interlacing with the beer. The sherry comes through most prominently as if that sticky toffee pudding has been soaked - you’ll want to light it like a Christmas pudding.

At 8.2% abv, it’s certainly boozy but avoids knocking your socks off before you’ve finished a bottle. In fact, an incredibly smooth and creamy body combined with low carbonation make it extremely drinkable.

20th Anniversary Ale is available now in 375ml bottles from Fyne Ales priced at £7.95. It’s best before December 2024 so you can see how it develops over the years.

About the brewery

As we’ve already discovered, Fyne Ales have been brewing for two whole decades and have been doing so in the Scottish highlands north of Glasgow. You’ll find the brewery at the head of Scotland’s longest sea loch, Loch Fyne.

The brewery is most well-known for its award winning flagship session blonde ale, Jarl. Fyne also runs an annual festival, Fyne Fest, which combines beer, food and music.

Previously on Beer of the Week...

Wild Beer Co - Echo

Beer of the week: Wild Beer Co - Echo

Sour beers are great in the summer but as we learned from Vault City a couple of weeks ago, they can be just as good in the colder months. This week we have another cracker and it’s from one of the most esteemed sour breweries in the UK, Wild Beer Co.

Echo started its life way back in 2017 and was aged in Sauternes sweet wine barrels after being brewed. After two years of maturation, Wild then blended the beer and transferred it to Islay barrels and added fresh plums.

Those barrels were previously used for Pilton Cider’s ‘Smokey Plum’ and Wild’s own Modus 5. It sat in these barrels for a total of 18 months before being bottled. The name Echo comes from the way it’s taken on flavours from the previous brews.

While barrel ageing is a key process in the resulting profile of this beer, its original ingredients are also important. The base beer was made with barley, aromatic malt, crystal rye and oats for depth and body.

Mandarina Bavaria hops don’t factor too much but Wild has added orange zest and rock samphire, too. It’s perhaps no surprise that a beer four years in the making is hugely complex, in both aroma and flavour.

While the smell only offers hints of the smokiness from the Islay barrels, the taste is prominently peaty. However, it’s not dominant and the beer is balanced, with a symphony of sweet white wine, tangy plums, balsamic sourness, earthy spices, toasted malt and more every time you take a sip.

It’s reminiscent of the Flanders red style and one of the most complex and bold sours we’ve ever tasted. It can be drunk fresh or aged and Wild Beer suggests mince pies as a food pairing.

Echo is available now from the Wild Beer store in 300ml bottles priced at £7.99. Alternatively, you can get it as part of a barrel aged set alongside Big Buck, a barleywine, and BABS 4, a blended imperial stout. It’s £29.99 and also comes with a notebook and Teku glass.

About the brewery

Wild Beer Co have been brewing in the heart of the Somerset countryside since 2012 - a long time ago in the craft world - and came out of founders Brett and Andrew’s love of wild fermentation and barrels.

Now they have established themselves as one of the leading and most innovative breweries in the country with a house wild yeast captured from a neighbouring cider orchard.

Moonwake Beer Co - Rye IPA

Beer of the week: Moonwake Beer Co - Rye IPA

Continuing our run of seasonal beers, we have a fresh Rye IPA and, in fact, we’re staying in Edinburgh for a second week running. Moonwake is located in Leith, a short 3.5 mile drive up the road from Vault City.

The brewery is one of the newest in the UK and this beer is their first collaboration, with none other than Fierce Beer who we featured back in May.

As the name suggests, the brew includes rye (a hefty 150kg) as well as the usual barley, and the Fierce influence on this venture is the inclusion of dried orange peel which has been added during fermentation.

The rye not only brings a darker colour to what would otherwise be a typical looking IPA - a deep marmalade orange in this case - but earthy and spicy flavours that make it very autumnal.

A complex malt backbone is complimented and contrasted by generous hop bill of Calypso, Ekuanot and El-Dorado. There’s a firm yet balanced bitterness, aided by that orange peel, giving a punchy citrus grapefruit tone alongside rich tropical aromas of pineapple and stone fruit with a herbal edge.

It’s 5.5% abv and very smooth making it just about sessionable enough to enjoy a few with the fireworks. Also watch out for a reciprocal at Fierce where the same recipe will be amped up in abv, adjuncts will be included (other than rye and orange) and dry hopping will include more than just hops.

Rye IPA is available now from Moonwake’s online shop priced at £4.40 per 440ml can. You’ll also find it pouring on draught from the brewery’s taproom and Fierce bars in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester while kegs last.

About the brewery

Founders Fin and Vinny started off their beer careers on opposite sides of the globe, the UK and New Zealand respectively. And although Moonwake is new - less than two years since securing a premises - the pair bring over a decade of brewing experience to the table.

Sarah, who is in marketing and events, plus Wesley working in sales round out the small team with the brewery aiming to “create an open, creative space and culture where we can brew impressive beers with precision”.

Previously on beer of the week

Vault City - Blueberry Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Beer of the week: Fuller’s - Vintage Ale 2021

Thanks to the innovation and experimentation of the craft beer industry, pumpkin beers needn’t just be brown ales with fruit and/or spice added - as our beer of the week proves

With Halloween taking place this weekend we thought it fitting to put a pumpkin beer to the test, even though they are pretty rare compared to the US.

Vault City is no stranger to throwing bold flavours at a beer and this is a great example. The Scottish brewery has made one of the more unusual autumnal options.

This has no actual pumpkin involved so, as the name suggests, it’s just the spices you’d expect to find in a traditional pumpkin pie.

There is fruit in the mix though: blueberry, a fruit known to work particularly well with Vault City’s house mixed-culture. This is a sour beer but the addition of creamy lactose sugar is where the ‘Latte’ part of the name comes in, although there’s no coffee flavours.

Pouring a rich, deep purple colour with a thick light pink head, the blueberry is prominent in more than just flavour. At 8.8% abv, it’s nicely boozy and has a lushious, silky mouthfeel.

The tart fruitiness and mixed-culture is balanced with the vanilla sweetness of the lactose and the pumpkin spice mix brings a mulled cider vibe. It’s like drinking a tart fruit crumble with some sweet vanilla ice cream on the side. Who knew a sour beer could be so cosy?

Blueberry Pumpkin Spiced Latte is available from Vault City in 375ml bottles priced at £7.75. You’ll also find it from various bottleshops, and if you’re looking for more pumpkin beers then look to breweries such as Elusive, White Hag, S43, Werewolf Beer, Bridgehouse Brewery and Abbeydale, who have no less than two to choose from.

About the brewery

You’ll find Vault City in the Portobello suburb of Edinburgh, one of the UK’s most booming cities in terms of craft beer. They are one of a handful of breweries in the country that specialise in sour beer, although dabble in other styles on occasion.

They have only been around since 2018 and typically make fruit-forward beers with anything from Peach to Honeyberry - some even have glitter in! Vault City are currently constructing an on-site tasting room and bottleshop.

Fuller’s - Vintage Ale 2021

Beer of the week: Fuller’s - Vintage Ale 2021

From one vintage ale to another, and although this week’s beer hasn’t been aged for six years that doesn’t make it any less delicious.

Fuller’s is one of the most well-known breweries in the UK and 2021 represents a big milestone for this iconic beer which is now in its 25th year. The London brewery makes it annually and calls it the most special beer to leave the grounds.

This barley wine style strong ale is a limited edition with each bottle carrying a unique number on the label. Each year the recipe is also different meaning each expression has its own character.

At 8.5% abv, Vintage Ale brings a boozy warmth perfect for this time of year as the nights draw in. If you don’t have a log burner to drink this by then you’ll no doubt start saving for one next year.

Though boozy, it drinks very smoothly and has rich autumnal flavours. This year Fuller’s have combined pale ale, Caragold and DRC (double roasted crystal) malts to provide a robust backbone of biscuit, fresh bread and sweet toffee flavours.

When it comes to hops, the brewery has decided to showcase a range of newer varieties from the UK in the form of Olicana, Endeavour and the experimental CF182. Aromas of strawberry lace sweets and citrus rind lead to flavours of plum and blackberry jam, brandy-soaked cherries and hints of tropical fruits and spices.

While the flavour is delicious right now, Fuller’s has made Vintage Ale to be kept. It’s bottle conditioned and the profile will mature over time. This beer is also a potential investment as the value increases after just one year.

A 2015 Vintage Ale on the Fuller’s store, for example, will set you back £50 but you can grab the new 2021 edition for £6 a bottle. It comes in 500ml bottles in a smart presentation box.

About the brewery

Though one of the beers, 1845, denotes when Fuller, Smith & Turner officially founded the Fuller’s brand, the site in Old Chiswick has been making beer since the 17th century.

It was in 1816 when the Griffin Brewery and emblem was acquired while it was under the ownership of Douglas and Henry Thompson. They snapped up the chance after the brewery on Liquorpond Street went under.

Innis & Gunn - Vintage

Beer of the week: Innis & Gunn - Vintage

It can often be only a matter of days between the brewing of a beer and its consumption, but today’s beer has been no less than six years in the making. So it’s more than worthy of the name Vintage.
The Scottish brewery is well-known for barrel ageing, and this particular beer has spent a total of 100 days in 183 first-fill American Bourbon casks. It’s then been bottle conditioned for a further six years making it the oldest beer Innis & Gunn have ever released.
With such a long time to mature, the beer is quite lively due to secondary fermentation in the bottle so be careful when you open it. Once it’s in the glass it’s a deep brown verging on black, although if you hold it up to the light Vintage is ruby red.
This strong ale weighs in at a hefty 9% abv and has strong chocolatey, biscuity aromas similar to an imperial stout - the booze very much making itself known before you’ve even taken a sip.
It’s no surprise that a beer of this age and strength offers up a complex and rich experience starting with a silky sweet and boozy hit. This develops into a cacophony of brandy soaked Christmas cake flavour: plenty of dried fruits, spices and molasses.
Although that’s the dominant flavour, keep taking sips and you’ll get something new each time - vanilla, oak, orange zest, coffee, caramel and more are all mingling.
It’s rare to find a beer that’s been aged this long before release and it’s also a limited edition with only 1,000 bottles available. To this end, it’s priced at £25 for a 500ml bottle and comes in a presentation tube.
With six years under its belt, it’s ready to drink now - we enjoyed it with beef shin casserole - but you can age it even further if you wish. We’d be surprised if you can keep it past Christmas, though.
About the brewery
Innis & Gunn was founded back in 2003 by Master Brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp and is now the third biggest craft beer brand in the UK-off-trade having been one of the breweries to pioneer cask maturation.
The company is currently building a new brewery in Edinburgh and will be the first large-scale brewery to be built in Scotland’s capital for 150 years. For now, the 20,000HL brewery in Perth continues to operate.

Pastore Brewing and Blending - Colazione Abbondante

Beer of the week: Pastore Brewing and Blending - Colazione Abbondante

From the pudding beer of last week we move to a breakfast beer for this week’s tipple. Colazione Abbondante is a mixed culture breakfast sour but you don’t have to drink it with your toast or cereal, of course.

Especially when you consider that it’s 7% abv. It’s been brewed in collaboration with Nottingham’s Neon Raptor who are no strangers to unusual sours. We love the artwork humorously depicting the respective mascots dueling over a bowl of cereal with spoons.

Colazione Abbondante translates from Italian as ‘abundant breakfast’ and is a fitting name for this brew. For starters, the brewery has used actual breakfast cereal in the mash in addition to flaked oats, wheat, rice and maize, plus oat milk added during the boil.

The cereal adds sugar to be fermented later and the oat milk provides silky texture and mouthfeel.

Pastore (pronounced ‘pas-tor-ray’) have then fermented and soured the beer with their house mixed culture of Hornindal Kveik and Lactobacillus before conditioning it on vast amounts of fruit puree. There’s blueberry, cherry and raspberry.

And we’re not done yet as almond, hazelnut and vanilla extracts have been added, too.

As you can see, the beer pours a deep aubergine colour with a vibrant pink head, smelling of tart fruits. The trio of fruits are the stars of the show in the flavour with the vanilla providing a bit of sweetness to balance the acidity with hints of nuttiness on the finish.

If you like the idea of a breakfast fruit parfait smoothie in beer form, although understandably not as thick, then Colazione Abbondante is the one for you. You can grab it from the brewery on its own or via the web store in mixed packs, as well as via bottleshops including Beer Merchants and Premier Hop.

About the brewery

Founded by father and son team Ben and Chris Shepherd, Pastore is fairly new on the UK craft scene with Colazione Abbondante being one of their 2nd anniversary beers.

Pastore means Shepherd in Italian and the team specialises in fresh and aged sour and wild beers from their 10BBL brew kit in Waterbeach, just outside Cambridge.

Tempest Brewing Co - All The Leaves Are Brown

Beer of the week: Tempest Brewing Co - All The Leaves Are Brown

Following on from the Marzen from last week, we have another seasonal beer that’s released annually especially for autumn.

As the name suggests, All The Leaves Are Brown is a brown ale, but not of a traditional 4%ish English style - not by a long shot. At 11% abv, this is well deserving of its imperial status and wouldn’t feel right in a pint glass.

Brown ales allow malt - one of the often unsung heroes of beer making - to shine, but Tempest hasn’t just tripled a basic recipe to reach the alcohol content. The beer has been aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon casks from Kentucky for an entire year.

Furthermore, it has undergone refermentation using A-grade Canadian maple syrup.

The result is an exquisite looking beer that’s the deepest mahogany brown colour you can get before the liquid would be black, with a golden brown head.

All The Leaves Are Brown tastes just as exquisite as its appearance with a silky smooth body that’s somehow glossy. And the flavour offers bags of toasty malt which develops into a complex journey of slightly burnt brown sugar, maple sweetness and oaky whiskey goodness.

It leaves a boozy warmth in your chest that feels oh so comforting as the temperatures drop and the nights draw in. A hug in beer form if ever we tasted it.

It’s one of the best beers we’ve had at ShortList this year and you can try it for £5.50 with the beer coming in 330ml cans. If this sounds tempting then make sure you check out Tempest’s other dark beers including a Bourbon barrel aged chile and chocolate imperial stout.

About the brewery

Gavin and Annika met in Canada and after travelling the world, settling down in New Zealand and homebrewing in the garage, the pair decided to move back to Scotland to found Tempest Brewing Co in Kelso.

What was once a small brewery in a disused dairy in 2010 quickly grew and moved to a 30HL brewery in Tweedbank in 2014. And in 2019 Tempest became the first UK brewery to join the 1% for the planet program where 1% of sales is donated to environmental non-profit organisations.

Braybrooke - Harvest Festbier 2021

Beer of the week: Braybrooke - Harvest Festbier 2021

Some beers are available all year round while others are seasonal. It being the beginning of autumn means it’s time for Oktoberfest (yes, in September), the iconic German beer festival held in Munich.
While the event itself isn’t going ahead for a second year running due to Covid, you can get a taste of it at home thanks to Braybrooke. They brew a Festbier based on the classic Märzen served at Oktoberfest every year to celebrate the occasion.
Having been served at Oktoberfest for almost 200 years, the style is steeped in history. If you know a little bit of German, you’ll realise that Märzen essentially translates to March - a bit confusing when it’s served at a festival that means ‘October’ but takes place in September.
A 1553 Bavarian brewing law dictated that brewing only take place between 29 September and 23 April meaning the Märzen was one of the last beers made before the summer break. With the brewing process requiring high temperatures to boil the wort, it was thought too dangerous during the hotter months.
The beer was brewed to a slightly higher abv than other styles to help it last the summer months and was lagered (or stored) in caves or cellars where it was cooler.
Harvest Festbier 2021 hasn’t been in a cave for months, but its 45-day-long maturation period is much longer than many lagers on the market. And in true German tradition, it comes in a bottle rather than a can - unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated.
The Märzen’s autumnal release is perfectly in keeping with its golden amber colour, mimicking the changing colour of leaves. Being a darker colour than your typical lager, it has a fuller and richer flavour, which just feels right for this time of year.
Malt is really the star of the show here with comforting bready flavours - one slice of fresh and one slice toasted - with a hint of digestive biscuit, too. Enough hops keep things balanced, providing a bitter finish to follow the sweet malt while bringing delicate herbal and floral aromas and flavours along for the ride.
Harvest Festbier 2021 is available from Braybrooke at £3.20 for a 330ml bottle. Braybrooke suggests pairing it with roast pork and we’re not inclined to disagree.
If you like this then look out for other Märzens from the likes of Lost and Grounded, Anspach and Hobday and Duration.
About the brewery
Braybrooke arrived on the UK beer scene in 2017 after a visit to Mahrs Brau in Bamberg, (founded in 1670), for some tips and contacts for authentic ingredients.
The brewery was set up on a working farm in the Northamptonshire countryside with a single aim: to make excellent lager. It’s still one of the only specialist lager breweries in the country along with the likes of Utopian and Donzoko.

Devil’s Peak - Lucy Goes North

Beer of the week: Devil’s Peak - Lucy Goes North

For this week’s beer our protagonist Lucy looks to bring the flavours she’s discovered down south and in the tropics to the North. This is South African brewery Devil’s Peak reintroducing its ‘AfroFunk’ beers to the UK after a hiatus.
Lucy Goes North is the little sister to long time favourite IPA, Jucy Lucy. This is a pale ale, though, and comes in at a slightly more sessionable 5% abv rather than 6%.

It’s still just as juicy though, and will be a big hit with fans of the modern hazy pale beer trend. The beer pours thick and opaque, almost like a smoothie, with a rich orange marmalade colour and foamy white head.

As the pour suggests, Lucy Goes North offers a rich and luscious mouthfeel synonymous with the New England style. London Ale III yeast leaves the beer slightly sweet with a soft balance, allowing the generous abundance of hops to really shine.

A combination of Citra and Amarillo provide bucketfuls of juicy fruits including peach, pineapple, mango, melon, grapefruit, orange and more. Although there’s a hint of pithy bitterness, it’s mild and this beer is extremely drinkable.

A third hop, Sabro, is a fairly new kid on the block and comes with a divisive flavour profile often presenting coconut, although that’s not a note we detected here.

Rather than export the beer all the way from South Africa, increasing cost and risking the quality of the beer, Devil’s Peak has partnered with Fierce Beer as a contract brewery. You may remember the Scottish brewery from a few weeks ago when we featured Very Big Flapjack.

Lucy Goes North is available from today for £3.95 in a 440ml can from the Fierce Beer store where you can also order Juicy Lucy or a limited edition 'The Round The World Pack' featuring beers from both breweries.

The two beers will also be available from selected bottle shops across the UK, as well as on keg.
About the brewery
Devil’s Peak is named after the famous mountain in Cape Town and has sat at the base of said peak since 2021, leading the craft beer charge in South Africa.

As well as a range of premium, non-alcoholic and ‘Expression’ beers, the AfroFunk series includes barrel aged delights such as a wild sour beer aged in french oak on blackcurrants and cherries.

Quantock Brewery - ‘Ava Goes On This

Beer of the week: Quantock Brewery - ‘Ava Goes On This

The pandemic has been a tough time for the craft beer industry but a silver lining for Quantock was the chance to install a canning line and broaden the scope of styles that could be packaged into the popular format.
Cans are the current choice for the craft industry due to things like more efficient transportation as well as minimising or getting rid of potential issues such as oxidation and light strike.
Following on from ‘Rob Doesn’t Like Sours’, ‘Ava Goes On This is only their second kettle soured beer but it’s a barnstormer of a brew.
As the name gives away, it’s a gose - a style originally from Germany. While it’s traditionally brewed with ingredients like coriander, Quantock has gone in a different direction giving it a modern craft twist by introducing fruit.
This triple fruited gose uses over 200 litres of peach, pineapple and mango puree along with the conventional use of wheat in the malt bill.
The result is a thick fruit smoothie of a beer that is bursting with delicious fruit flavours from all that puree, as advertised. This is balanced out by tart sourness and a delicate tang of saltiness on the finish.
At 6% abv ‘Ava Goes On This is a lovely sipper in the sun while there’s still some summer sunshine left to enjoy. It is available from £4.50 per 440ml can from the Quantock Brewery store.
About the brewery
Originally established in Wellington, Somerset, Quantock Brewery now resides in Bishop's Lydeard. It gets its name from the surrounding Quantock Hills - a recognised area of outstanding natural beauty - and the brewery and taproom sits beside the West Somerset Railway.
Head brewer Rob (he who doesn’t like sours) is a former nuclear engineer and built his own homebrew kit from scratch because his first one from Boots simply wasn’t good enough.

Wander Beyond Brewing - Pod

Beer of the week: Wander Beyond Brewing - Pod

Don’t let the simple name fool you because Pod is one of the most eccentric beers to arrive recently, although it’s not remotely a surprise from a brewery like Wander Beyond.

The brewery is no stranger to big beers, with most of its selection at any given moment coming in at over 10% abv.

Pod is 11% but there’s far more to it than just boozy alcohol warmth, although it has that in spades. This is a Rum and Raisin Black Ice Cream IPA, but you could add ‘imperial’ to that given the strength.

Now you’ve had a second to get your head around a style you’ve possibly never heard of before, we can attempt to describe what it tastes like.

Like any decent Black IPA, there’s a familiar hoppy aroma but even with your eyes shut, you wouldn’t be tricked into thinking it was a hazy pale. It smells very boozy with a slight smokiness, along with the distinct aroma of raisin and vanilla.

The flavour is along similar lines, but with lactose providing a silky body and a sweetness that you’d expect from something billed as ‘ice cream’. It’s a clever use of ingredients which also includes Peruvian cacao nibs and rum barrel oak chips.

The trick with a beer as crazy as this is to keep everything balanced and Wander has managed to do that here, although you might want to share the 440ml can with a friend.

Pod is available from the Wander Beyond store priced at £6.75 per can.

About the brewery

Wander Beyond has been around since 2017 and is nestled around the corner from Manchester’s Piccadilly train station.

With a love for the outdoors and adventure, the brewery set about to create a tiny universe where adorable hop people could roam and animals represent the flavours found in their beers.

As you can see, Pod depicts a pod of whales (or are they swimming raisins?) as well as scuba diving hops and ice cream jelly fish.

Siren - Nitro Pompelmocello

Beer of the week: Siren - Nitro Pompelmocello

Craft beer names come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes it doesn’t matter if you can pronounce it or not, it’s what’s in the can that really counts. And you’re in for a treat with this special version of Pompelmocello.

It first arrived back in 2015 soon after Limoncello and was one of the more interesting grapefruit IPAs around with a kettle soured base, balanced with lactose and both juice and zest of grapefruit.

It wasn’t a runaway success to begin with, but Siren stuck with the beer due to its popularity at beer festivals and the Tap Yard. Skip forward to 2021 and the brewery has made four different versions of Pompelmocello to celebrate this zingy, offbeat brew.

‘Nitro’ might be synonymous with Guinness and is typically used for dark beers outside of Dublin with Siren embracing the tiny bubbles in 2020. However, a nitro IPA is a rare thing indeed, let alone a sour IPA like this.

With the beer being infused with nitrogen, you need to hard pour it, tipping the can immediately upside down and dumping the contents into a big enough glass. This gives you a cascading effect and a big, thick foamy white head as a result - although it’s not quite as dense or creamy as the one you may be used to from Guinness’ widget.

Some beers can be a little lively with carbon dioxide, so the substitution for nitrogen gives the beer a feeling of being served on cask rather than keg. It’s not flat, but much easier going in this respect.

The flavour, as expected, is much the same as regular Pompelmocello: that kettle sour bite of acidity along with a zingy wave of grapefruit while hints of lactose sweetness and citrus hops linger in the background.

It’s Pompelmocello, but even more smashable than normal, which is a little dangerous at 6% abv.

Nitro Pompelmocello is available now at £4.20 for a 440ml can or you can buy it with the other special editions - DDH Pompelmocello, Pompelmocello Radler and Pombango (barrel aged) - in a gift pack for £17.

If you want to go all out then a 10 pack including two of each version, plus two originals is available for £38.

About the brewery

Berkshire-based Siren has only been around for a short eight years but is firmly one of the leading craft breweries in the UK.

Having built a solid following around its core range beers such as YuLu and Soundwave, it now produces an impressive range of styles covering the whole spectrum, along with an impressive barrel ageing program.

Lakes Brew Co - Session NE IPA

Beer of the week: Lakes Brew Co - Session NE IPA

‘Drink fresh’ is a phrase you hear a lot in the craft beer world and we’ve got hold of the first core range of beers from a brand new brewery - introducing Lakes Brew Co.
All three canned beers the brewery has made so far are fantastic and were packaged just days ago, but the NE Session IPA is particularly interesting. Note that, unusually, these beers don’t have names but simply state the style instead.
NE stands for New England, a hazy pale beer that’s been all the rage for some time now. It hails from the east coast of the US but is typically, like a lot of American styles, brewed to a high abv.
While this beer is brewed in a similar way to others, to find it at a session strength (4.7% here) is somewhat against the grain. It means, for starters, that after a pint, you can go back for another.
It also allows the ingredients to shine with the familiar inclusion of both wheat and oats creating a soft body and plenty of texture. This beer is really about the yeast and hops, though, with bags of fruity flavours coming from both.
Fruit-forward esters of peach and apricot are joined by huge aromas and flavours from five different hop varietals: Ekuanot, Citra, Mosaic, Eldorado and Amarillo. The beer is bursting with tropical fruits like mango, pineapple and papaya along with citrus and subtle floral notes, too. Overall, though, it’s a smashable juice bomb.
Lakes Brew Co beers are so fresh they’re not available on the online store just yet (they should be arriving 22 August), but look out for them at your local bottle shops and bars.
However, if you happen to be near the brewery in Kendal you can visit to collect cans, including the recent collaborations, including beers made at Siren and Salt Beer Factory.

About the brewery

Lakes Brew Co is the third brewery we’ve featured on Beer of the Week to have launched in the midst of the pandemic and there’s even more of a story here. The team - Matt, Michelle, Paul and Steve - were all made redundant from Hawkshead Brewery at the beginning of lockdown, March 2020.
“Out of adversity comes opportunity” says the website proudly and this group have come together to create something special from an incredibly tough situation.
The aim is to be one of Cumbria’s progressive, sociably innovative breweries and they are certainly well on the way already.

McColl’s Brewery - Let’s eat pies and talk about men’s mental health

Beer of the week: McColl’s Brewery - Let’s eat pies...

The names of craft beers are often witty jokes or silly puns but this week’s beer has a deeper meaning and it’s not just long for the sake of it.

Let’s eat pies and talk about men’s mental health is probably one of the most literal beer names you’ll come across. McColl’s has teamed up with Men’s Pie Club who, as the beer’s name suggests, aren’t just a pie appreciation society.

The organisation has various weekly meets around the Newcastle area and while their activities certainly include making and eating pies, the main aim is to encourage men to talk openly about mental health and tackle social isolation.

What better to go with a pie than a traditional English Best Bitter? Although this one has a twist as the beer is made with both white and black pepper. You wouldn’t know by looking at its inviting pale orange marmalade colour.

The flavour is subtle due to a blend of crushed black and white pepper being used to cold filter the beer through, rather than being added as an ingredient during brewing or fermentation.

This gives it a delicately savoury hint, with the aim being that it should pair nicely with a pie of your choice.

Ingredients such as caramalt and rye in the malt bill provide slightly sweet and spicy flavours while Admiral, Centennial and Fuggles hops add earthy and citrus tones. Even if you don’t have a pie to hand, the taste gives the impression of drinking your pint of bitter alongside a packet of peppery crisps At 3.6% with low carbonation it goes down very nicely.

Let’s eat pies and talk about men’s mental health is available in 440ml cans for £3.50 with 10p going to Men’s Pie Club for each can sold.

About the brewery

McColl’s Brewery can be found in Evenwood near Bishop Auckland and Darlington, offering a range of beers including Belgian style blondes, modern IPAs and even a French style made with beetroot.

The recently renovated taproom, made possible by crowdfunding, is open every few weeks on Fridays and Saturdays with free parking, bike racks and food, and is family, wheelchair and dog friendly.

Vibrant Forest - Red IPA

Beer of the week: Vibrant Forest - Red IPA

A beer with no name is unusual but this Red IPA is part of Vibrant Forest’s 10th birthday box. Six beers to celebrate reaching double digits, which in the UK’s still young craft scene is a big milestone.

While the special mixed pack contains a number of popular styles, it’s also a good chance for the team to showcase styles they themselves love to drink. One of those is the red IPA, which Vibrant quite rightly says is often misunderstood.

Some fans request a rebrew of an old favourite called Nether, an imperial red IPA from all the way back in 2015. This 2021 brew is an homage to that beer, albeit at a more manageable abv of 6.4%.

As Vibrant says, a red IPA can be incredible when done right, and that’s certainly the case here. Don’t let the russet colour put you off - the addition of crystal and carafa malts brings sweet yet bitter cinder toffee flavours, along with a hint of spice and a smooth body.

Classic American hops will keep IPA purists happy with Centennial and Simcoe offering punchy aroma and flavours of citrus, grapefruit, earthiness and pine. It’s an amazingly well-balanced, sweet-spot beer, not to mention how great the artwork is.

Along with the Red IPA, the birthday box includes Imperial Pupa, Talus IPA, West Coast IPA, Cucumber & Mint Sour and Kveik Nelson Pale Ale as well as a 20 page history of the brewery. Three lucky boxes have “WINNER” stamped on the bottom of the Talus IPA for the prize of a £50 online gift voucher.

The birthday box launches 7 August at Vibrant’s 10 Year Gathering festival and although the event is sold out, you can buy it online for £37. However, if you’re lucky, you can find Red IPA on tap at various bars in the south and the taproom.

About the brewery

The clue is in the name here because Vibrant is located in the New Forest near Southampton, UK. The aim is to “brew modern beers packed with flavour” whether they’re in cask, keg, can or bottle.

With 10 years of brewing under its belt, the brewery can turn its hand to any style from IPAs to sours and barrel aged imperial stouts.

Big Drop - Waterslide

Beer of the week: Big Drop - Waterslide

Beer doesn’t require alcohol to be tasty and Big Drop has well and truly proven that. The brewery features in our best alcohol free ShortList, and Waterslide is yet another solid AF brew in the ever expanding catalogue.
Before we even tell you about the flavours here, Waterslide is not only free of alcohol but gluten-free, vegan and only 53 calories per can giving it wide appeal.
Like Big Drop’s other beers, Waterslide is 0.5% so is low enough to be considered alcohol free, although 0.0% beers are available. At 0.5, it’s still only around the same alcohol content as a ripe banana or a slice of bread.
With temperatures passing the 30 degrees celsius mark recently, and possibly again very soon, having alcohol free beer in the fridge is very handy indeed, making for a great way to stay hydrated and avoid the headache that’s so common from boozing in the heat.
Part of the brewery’s annual Summer Series, Waterslide is a straight-up IPA. By that we mean it’s crystal clear rather than hazy, unlike many modern examples of the style.
It’s a nod to early West Coast American IPAs, but not just with hops from that area. Alongside Calypso and Ekuanot there are Southern Hemisphere varieties including Wai-iti, Motueka and Victoria Secret from Australia and New Zealand.
Fans of hoppy, bitter beers will enjoy Waterslide greatly. Some alcohol free beers can be on the sweet side but this has a real punch at 60 IBU (international bittering units) and the blend of hops brings a huge range of aromas and flavours.
As well as a decent hit of lime, there are notes of tropical fruits such as papaya, peach and pineapple with more delicate floral and herbal touches in the background.
Waterslide is available now priced at £16 for a pack of 4 cans (440ml) or a 12-pack for £29.50.
About the brewery
If you hadn’t gathered already, Big Drop is a specialist alcohol free brewery and has been leading the charge to change the perception of the category since 2016.
Its new #BigDropSundays campaign is challenging people to try something new, invite friends round or simply go for a walk before the week starts. Post what you’re up to on Instagram along with the hashtag for a chance to win prizes.

Amity Brew Co - Chorusses

Beer of the week: Amity Brew Co - Chorusses

Despite everything that’s happened since the beginning of 2020, Amity Brew Co has reached its first birthday this month. Like Duration, who we featured a few weeks ago, setting up a business in a pandemic is no mean feat so it’s a doubly special celebration.

Chorusses is a collaboration with neighbours Northern Monk and named as such because both breweries have a Russ on the team. It’s also a celebration of Amity pouring beer at Hop City, Northern Monk’s beer festival that focuses on, you’ve guessed it, hopped up beers.

A double IPA (aka DIPA) is a perfect candidate then, and comes in at a hefty but not head blowing 8% abv. Still, be careful with this one as it hides that alcohol rather well.

While some DIPAs are all about the hops, Chorusses has a complex malt bill including two types of oats, pale rye and wheat. These add flavour, but mostly combine to create a rich and creamy texture.

The hops haven’t been forgotten though, no chance. Idaho 7 and Simcoe have been used for bittering and a heavy hit of dry hopping consists of the former along with Mosaic and Strata.

It means there’s a really nice blend of piney resinous flavours, along with deliciously ripe fruitiness with flavours of passion fruit, peach, mango and a rounded citrus bitterness, too. Overall, one of the more well-rounded DIPAs we’ve tasted.

Chorusses is available now for £6 a 440ml can from the Amity webstore and you’ll be able to try it on keg at Hop City which takes place on 6th and 7th August.

About the brewery

Beer of the week: Amity Brew Co - Chorusses

As mentioned earlier, Amity was set up during the pandemic and with its brewpub opening in Farsley, on the outskirts of Leeds, in December 2020. Due to restrictions, the brewery was only able to sell online and collection to begin with, finally pouring the first pint to an on-site customer in mid-April 2021.

Amity’s ethos is about community, friendship and good beer and the team has formidable pedigree with a collective CV including the likes of North Brewing, BeerHawk and Northern Monk.

Chimay - 150

Beer of the week: Chimay - 150

New Authentic Trappist beers are a rare thing at the best of times but to have three in the space of nine months is unprecedented. Following in the footsteps of Trappist Rochfort and Westmalle, Chimay has a new tipple for you.

However, like Westmalle, it’s not a brand new beer. The clue is in the name, as 150 was originally brewed back in 2012 to celebrate the brewery’s 150th anniversary. It was limited to 150,000 bottles but almost a decade later is back and now part of the core range.

To give you an idea of how rarely these breweries create new beers, the forefather to Chimay Rouge was created in 1875 and Blue arrived in 1956. Since 1966, the brewery has only added two beers to the core range in the form of White and Gold editions.

Like last week’s featured beer 150, aka Green due to the label, is 10% abv but couldn’t be much more different to Imperial Bueno Shake in profile.

It pours a bright straw gold colour and the high level of carbonation offers that quintessential foamy head associated with Belgian beers. This gives it a medium body with a luxurious mouthfeel. As well as boozy warmth - this is now Chimay’s strongest core range beer - this beer is all about the complex yet delicate flavours from the malt, noble hops and Belgian yeast.

In aroma there’s high levels of spice with a big hit of clove and ginger with mingling notes of herbaceous mint, dancing with floral fragrance. The spice continues in taste, with a hint of honey sweetness, balanced by medium bitterness while citrus flavours round things out nicely. It’s an intricate beer with new flavours to discover with every sip.

Chimay 150 is available now in 330ml bottles with larger 750ml sharing bottles arriving in August. It costs around £4-4.50 and can be found at retailers including Beer Sniffers, Beer Merchants and The Belgian Beer Company.

About the brewery

As alluded to at the top, Chimay is one of a handful of Authentic Trappist breweries meaning the beer is brewed within the surrounding area of an abbey, overseen by monks and with profits going to charitable causes.

Authentic Trappist Products can also include other goods like cheese which Chimay still makes alongside beer and says the whole range pairs very well with 150.

UnBarred Brewery - Imperial Bueno Shake

Beer of the week: UnBarred Brewery - Imperial Bueno Shake

‘Back by popular demand’ are the words craft breweries long to say and that’s the case for this beer from UnBarred. A recent batch sold out so fast that the brewery decided to brew another straight away.
As you might be able to work out from the name, Imperial Bueno Shake is based on the popular chocolate bar and is an amped up version of UnBarred’s regular milk stout.
It normally comes in at a decent 6.4% abv but this is all the more boozy and worthy of its imperial label thanks to it reaching 10% abv.
UnBarred has also increased the amount of adjuncts such as cocoa nibs and vanilla giving it a flavour to match the punch of alcohol.
The beer pours jet black with tangible thickness and a pillowy tan head. You needn’t even get close to the glass to get huge wafts of hazelnut and vanilla with mingling chocolate, too. It really does smell like the chocolate bar.
While there’s plenty of lactose (milk sugar) giving the beer sweetness and adding to the smooth silky texture, the high alcohol level and nice background notes of roasted malt stop it becoming sickly.
You might want to try it poured over ice cream to make a float or if that sounds too sweet then grab a bar of bitter dark chocolate to nibble on between sips.
If you can imagine going to an ice cream parlour and ordering a luxurious milkshake made with delicious vanilla ice cream blended with Bueno, that’s what you have here in beer form. A true pudding beer if ever we tasted one.

About the brewery

You’ll find UnBarred in the heart of Brighton on the coast of Sussex just a short walk from the train station. The taproom is open Wednesday to Saturday.
While core range beers like Joosy satisfy the popular taste for anyone looking for a hazy pale, the brewery loves to experiment with styles and unusual flavours such as lemon meringue, ginger, cranberry and granola - just not in the same beer, mind.

Abbeydale Brewery - Independence

Beer of the week: Abbeydale Brewery - Independence

This week’s beer is just as much about the cause it has been brewed for as it is the beer itself. The aptly named Independence, with its stunning label, is one of three national collaborations put together for Indie Beer Shop Day.

Much like Record Store Day, it’s an annual celebration to highlight independent craft beer retailers, aka ‘bottle shops’. Indie Beer Shop Day builds on a collaboration that took place last year between 40 retailers and Donzoko Brewing to create a special beer called Indie Graft.
After an unfathomably tough year for the beer industry, the inaugural Indie Beer Shop Day will take place on 17 July with over 100 retailers participating. More than just a day to visit your local stores, it’s a chance to reflect on what they uniquely offer, appreciate the in-person shopping experience and practice supporting their existence.
For every £1 that’s spent locally, between 50- and 70p goes back into the local economy. That’s around 10 times more than the same £1 spent out of town or online, so by taking part your support reaches even further than the individual shop you’re spending in.
“Indie Beer Shop Day’s goal is to aid a coordinated recovery and revitalisation of each local high street up and down the UK,” says one of the organising committee, Jules Gray from Hop Hideout in Sheffield.
The beer itself is one of the best selling styles, a pale ale which comes in at a very sessionable 4% abv and it’s both gluten free and vegan. Independence has been dry hopped with Idaho 7 giving an aroma abundant with stone fruits, and being a single-hop brew, it’s also used for bittering. So, while the beer is fruity and soft to start, it packs a bitter punch at the finish with notes of pine and pink grapefruit.
Alongside Abbeydale’s contribution, there’s a tropical sour made with Pilot, based in Leith, and an IPA brewed with former ShortList beer of the week recipient Double-Barrelled. Look out for local collaborations, too, and there’s an online tasting event with beer broadcaster and writer Pete Brown at 8pm on the official Instagram.
Independence, along with both other Indie Beer Shop Day beers goes on sale today at participating stores, including Brew Cavern in Nottingham, Beer Central in Sheffield, Beermoth in Manchester and Hop Burns & Black in London.
You can find a full list of shops taking part here.
About the brewery

Beer of the week: Abbeydale Brewery - Independence

Sheffield’s Abbeydale Brewery is a stalwart of the beer industry and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. From 19 July until the end of August, the brewery will be releasing special beers weekly starting with Celebration, a 2.8% Mimosa inspired quarter IPA.
As well as brewing traditional british ales, Abbeydale has embraced modern craft styles and even has its own experimental project called the Funk Dungeon which plays around with barrel ageing, souring, mixed fermentation and more.

Unity Brewing - Fuzz Pedal

Beer of the week: Unity Brewing - Fuzz Pedal

Amber beers are rarely popular enough to be core range beers in the UK these days, but as Unity says on the can, they were a huge part of what started craft beer in the first place. Much like the fuzz pedal for rock music, hence the name of this beer.

Their rarity is a crying shame because they offer a real sweet spot between traditional malty ales and heavily hopped bitter IPAs, providing the best of both worlds and a truly delicious drinking experience.

The style is a darker version of the American pale ale, which in turn took inspiration from English pale ales. The darker colour comes from using caramel and crystal malt, which also adds sweetness and body to the beer.

High levels of hopping with American varieties balances that sweetness with bitterness - Unity has used a combination of classic C-hops. The hop blend called Falconer's Flight is likely to contain hops like Citra, Cascade and Centennial, providing a combination of tropical fruit, pine and tangy grapefruit.

While the bitterness is pronounced, it’s lower than an American pale ale. The malt bill also provides a toffee biscuit backbone and slightly creamy texture, and the abv is middling at 4.8%. All of this amounts to a drinkable, approachable beer especially suited to those accustomed to traditional styles like best bitter.

Unity aimed for ‘maximum smashability’ and this has well and truly been achieved. With amber ales getting increasingly rare, grab a can of Fuzz Pedal while it’s still around from Unity at £3.80 each.

About the brewery

You’ll find Unity Brewing down in Southampton, UK, where founder and head brewer Jimmy and team run the community owned brewery. The taproom is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays if you’re in the area.

The focus is on innovation, creativity and positivity and you’ll find a wide range of modern styles, often with a Belgian influence.

Exale Brewing - Yaldi!

Beer of the week: Exale Brewing - Yaldi!

The Euros probably make you think of pints of lager while watching the game but Exale Brewing has created a beer that couldn’t be much further from the humble lager.

‘Yaldi’ is Scottish slang for excitement and has been brewed to celebrate Scotland making it back to the tournament for the first time since 1996.

Exale has brewed an amped up version of its core range Iron Brew sour, Krankie - based on, of course, the iconic Scottish soft drink. It’s particularly fitting as founder Mark hails from Cumbernauld, the home of Irn-Bru.

To make Yaldi!, Exale has taken Krankie and blended it with a whisky barrel aged beer at a ratio of 50:50. Whisky and Irn-Bru is likely a dream combination for many (or all?) Scots, although it’s the latter that stars here, starting with the bright orange colour of the beer itself.

A spritely aroma will conjure up memories of your childhood with zingy fruitiness and a whiff of the sourness waiting for you. However, this isn’t just a lip-smacking sour beer like some. Although there’s plenty of tang, sweet malts bring balance, much like the experience of eating an Irn-Bru candy bar.

The Islay barrels add subtle complexity, grounding the beer with a nice oaky dryness along with hints of smoke and vanilla that grow as the beer warms.

In the brewery’s own words, “This is a beer to have in your hand while you cheer the tartan army to glory, but best enjoyed with an overwhelming sense of injustice and glorious failure.”
As well as being a fantastically bonkers beer, it has one of the best labels we’ve seen this year depicting Scotland’s famous win over England at Wembley in 1977.
Yaldi! is sold out on the official store after flying off the shelves but you can still find stock at bottle shops such as Caps & Taps and