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

ShortList Recommends: great beers we've taste tested.

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

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.

Previously on Beer of the Week

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.

Previously on Beer of the Week...

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.

Previously on Beer of the Week...

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 Ghost Whale. Exale also has a special Euros beer for all the England fans out there. A lime and sea salt gose, aptly named Gose for Glory!

About the brewery

Although founder Mark is originally from Scotland, Exale is based in Walthamstow, London, with a focus on balance and creativity. As Yaldi! shows, there’s no fear when it comes to experimenting with unusual ingredients or processes.
The brewery also has various side projects to minimise its environmental footprint including grey water sinks that refill the cisterns, and plant based shrink wrap.

Toast’s Oat Pale Ale

Beer of the week: Toast Ale - Oat Pale Ale (Rise Up for Soil)

Saving the planet is pretty high on many agendas at the moment and Toast Ale is one of the breweries leading the way in the beer industry.

Its latest batch was brewed for World Environment Day and celebrates #GenerationRestoration, a global movement to restore ecosystems and transform the earth.

Oat Pale Ale is part of Toast’s Rise Up series of limited-edition collaborations with other B Corps - businesses that balance profit and purpose - with each highlighting a different element of the ecological crisis.

This time it’s with Rebel Kitchen, a 100% carbon neutral business that predominantly makes a plant-based alternative to milk.

The beer has been made using not only surplus bread but also organic British oats, with the aim to raise awareness about soil health and regenerative farming. This method uses modern nature-first processes to support soil systems and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

It reduces food waste, plus the beer has a lower environmental footprint and all profits go to the environmental charity Feedback which supports campaigning in the lead up to COP26, the UN’s climate change conference in November.

This hazy pale ale is super quaffable but with enough complexity to offer your palette a range of flavours. The oats provide a sweet, creamy body and there’s a hint of spice from the inclusion of rye.

That sweetness is balanced with a decent punch of bitterness from the hops - namely Cascade, Azacca and Wai-iti. There’s both soft, peachy stone-fruit flavours and citrus notes of satsuma and lime. It’s a good job it’s only 4% abv considering how drinkable the beer is, and it will suit almost any occasion.

Oat Pale Ale is available at Toast Ale from £24 for a pack of 6. The first 500 orders will get free chocolate from another B Corp, Doisy and Dam. Previous Rise Up beers - including Mango IPA and Baker’s Witbier - are still available while stocks last.

About the brewery

As you’ve probably already gathered, Toast Ale uses surplus bread in all its beers to reduce food waste and inspire change while making great beer.

The brewery has been on the forefront of this way of brewing since 2016 and to date has saved over 2 million slices of bread, 42 tons of CO2 emissions and donated almost £50k to charities along with various other planet-saving stats.

Double-Barrelled - The Big Fruit Heist

Beer of the week: Double-Barrelled - The Big Fruit Heist

Summer seems to have finally arrived in the UK, and boy do we have a beer to go with the fabulous weather. Luckily Double-Barrelled brought forward the release of this fantastic sour brew just in time for the arrival of 20+ degree heat.

The Big Fruit Heist is a kettle sour beer, meaning it’s been soured during the ‘kettle’ stage of the brewing process. More importantly, a whopping 620kg of fruit puree has been added to literally jam-pack it with flavour.

The fruits of choice here are mango and passion fruit and you can tell it's tropical just by pouring it into a glass. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s simply a big glass of juice.

It’s the colour of a Solero, completely opaque, and if you imagine a melted Solero, you’re along the right lines for what this beer tastes like. It’s thick like a smoothie and offers both sweet and tart fruit flavours.

A nice level of tang keeps you going back for more and it’s especially refreshing when sipped out in the sun, sitting in a comfy chair. Be careful though as you’ll be tempted to sink a few cans but it packs a punch at 6% abv.

As soon as the sun is out and you’ve finished work, grab a deckchair, hammock or comfortable recliner of your choice, open a Big Fruit Heist, shut your eyes and you’ll be in a beery paradise.

The Big Fruit Heist is available in 440ml cans for £5 each or can be purchased in 6- or 12-packs providing a discount.

About the brewery

Beer of the week: Double-Barrelled - The Big Fruit Heist

Double-Barrelled Brewing is based in Reading and is named due to owners Mike and Luci’s double-barrelled surname. The couple brewed beer as their wedding favours and after getting such positive feedback, wondered if home-brewing could be taken further.

Cue an 85,000 mile backpacking trip around the globe to all kinds of breweries and beer destinations to learn as much as possible. The pair now have a 24Hl brewhouse and one of the most charming and beloved taprooms in the UK - all after just a little over two years since opening.

Play Brew Co - Tropical Pineapple Fruity Sour Gose

Beer of the week: Play Brew Co - Tropical Pineapple Fruity Sour Gose

Beers are often given names that don’t instantly tell you what style they are, but Play Brew Co must have been hearing echoes of Catchphrase’s Roy Walker whispering ‘say what you see’ with this one.
It’s a bit of a tongue twister but quite fun to say, and on the plus side you know exactly what you’re getting before even reaching for the ring pull. This really is a case of ‘does what it says on the tin’ but that doesn’t mean this is a simple beer by any means.
Close your eyes and give this beer a good sniff and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just pure pineapple juice, such is the intense aroma of the unmistakable spiky fruit. This is unsurprising since the brewery has used real pineapples in the recipe - it’s the star of the show here, no messing about.
This is a sour beer, though, so taste-wise it’s not just like drinking fruit juice. The ‘gose’ (pronounced “go-sah”) style of beer originated in Goslar, Germany where it’s thought the distinctive flavour was due to the saline waters of the Gose River.
Over a thousand years later, salt is added to emulate this and is typically brewed with lactobacillus - a friendly bacteria which, as the name suggests, is often found in dairy products. In this case, it makes the beer sour by producing lactic acid rather than alcohol during fermentation.
History and science lesson over; the combination here results in that sweet, juicy pineapple being balanced out with a nice punchy tartness along with a subtle salty finish. At 4.5% abv it’s also brewed to the historic strength for the style.
If you’re new to sours then try drinking this out in the afternoon sun or with some food - it’ll go with almost anything including grilled meat, seafood and cheese. You might be surprised at how refreshing and quaffable it is.
Tropical Pineapple Fruity Sour Gose is available as part of a 6-pack with other new releases including a west coast IPA and DDH pale ale for £27.
About the brewery

Beer of the week: Play Brew Co - Tropical Pineapple Fruity Sour Gose

Play Brew Co is Middlesbrough's latest craft brewery and taproom, born out of a love of nostalgia and home brewing. Owner, Phil Layton says the ethos is “to make beer that surprises people and makes them smile.”
This is certainly apparent in the bold, eye-catching artwork and while there are plenty of popular styles like IPAs, Phil also has a real sweet tooth and you’ll see this in many of the beers. With examples including a marshmallow and peanut cookie dough ice cream stout, who knows? Perhaps Play Brew Co could be the UK’s answer to Omnipollo.

Previously on Beer of the Week...

Beer of the week: Fierce Beer - Very Big Flapjack
You’ve probably heard of barleywine, an historic beer style (check out #barleywinewednesday on Twitter) but this is an oat wine, a sort of sub-style.
Very Big Flapjack (VBM) has been brewed especially to celebrate Fierce Beer’s fifth birthday, with the Scottish brewery looking back at the journey from brewing in a tiny unit to winning multiple awards at last year’s Scottish Beer Awards.
VBM is part of a set of six birthday beers consisting of both totally new brews and returning favourites, some of which are collaborations with Fierce’s favourite breweries from over the years. The set includes a bourbon maple imperial stout, an imperial orange ice cream ale and a New England triple IPA.
This is Number One of the six and a collaboration with Brew York from, well, York. The brewery first impressed Fierce with its Imperial Tonkoko, a 7.5% milk stout made with tonka, vanilla, coconut and cacao nibs.
Fierce has a great track record of brewing big beers and this is no exception. While Very Big Flapjack doesn’t contain confectionary-like adjuncts, it’s not short on flavour and comes in at an even bigger 11% abv.
As the name suggests, VBM is brewed with shedloads of oats providing a rich flavour and a slightly creamy body, which, combined with the high alcohol content, provide a smooth and velvety texture similar to a liqueur.
‘Flapjack’ really is the best way to describe this beer, with a strong golden syrup flavour and a hint of spice from the inclusion of rye. It’s very sweet and while hops are not something that matter much here, there is a slight acidity to stop it being too sickly.
This is an excellent after dinner beer and you can be sipping on it for £8.25 for a 440ml can.
About the brewery
In the brewery’s own words, Fierce Beer was “Born from a desire of escaping the oil and gas industry,” created by co-founders Dave Grant and Dave McHardy who met on a brewing course.

Since their first commercial brew in May 2016, Fierce Beer has made a solid name for itself in the craft beer world from its bse in Aberdeen, successfully running two crowdfunding campaigns and opening bars in both Edinburgh and Manchester.

Previously on Beer of the Week...

Bet The Farm (Fermata Release)

Beer of the week: Duration Brewing - Bet The Farm (Fermata Release)

Setting up a brewery just before a pandemic is far from ideal but Duration has lasted, well, the duration and we’re all the better for it.

Bet The Farm, an apt beer name from a couple who have put everything into this brewery, is Duration’s core range continental pale. This Fermata Release, denoted by a Fermata over the ‘m’ of farm, is a special version.

Fermata is a musical symbol placed over notes that are to be paused, or held on beyond their natural duration. So for this version, it means the beer has been aged in a foeder, a large wooden vat.

Having spent 13 months tucked away, this beer isn’t amped up like some barrel aged beers but certainly has more complexity compared to the regular edition.

There’s a more vinous but still tropical aroma that already hints to this being a different beast to its counterpart. Although the aroma gives an impression of sourness the flavour is more subtly tart, with dry oaky tannins and hints of vanilla with moderate funky yeast esters.

It pours a straw colour with good carbonation providing a robust head and body with a blend of hops including Cashmere and Saaz offering up fruit flavours including peach, lime, melon and along with earthy and floral tones.

Crisp pilsner malt is accompanied by wheat giving a slightly creamy texture and the 5.2% abv strength is enough to be noticeable without being overpowering.

Well balanced beers are the most drinkable and this is a great example of everything a farmhouse pale should be. Bet The Farm (Fermata Release) is available in 375ml bottles at £7.50.

About the brewery

You’ll find Duration in the West Norfolk countryside in the village of West Acre, run by husband and wife team, Bates (formerly of Brew by Numbers) and Miranda. Both left bustling London lives with the aim to create a modern destination farmhouse brewery.

Literally in an old barn - which underwent significant restoration - the brewery aims to make ‘beers that belong’ with a ‘nod to the past and present’ from a setup with sustainability in mind.

Small Beer - Summer of ‘21

Not all beer needs to blow your head off with high alcohol strength. In fact, it’s great to have tasty low alcohol beers around for the right moment and that’s what Small Beer specialise in.

Alcohol is just one part of beer and let’s face it: not everyone wants to get drunk. They’re also useful if you want to have a couple and still be safe to drive, if you find higher alcohol levels in the hot sun to be a bit much or simply because it’s a school night.

This Summer of ‘21 limited edition is an English IPA and comes in at 2.3% - sufficient alcohol to notice but little enough to be very sessionable. It’s less than one unit per bottle and only 87.5 calories, too.

Alcohol does add body to a beer but this is highly carbonated which balances things out. It just means pouring out from the bottle is recommended if you don’t want to feel bloated.

Pour it into a glass and you’re greeted with an almost clear, marmalade colour beer with a dense foamy head.

Small Beer has used all-organic, locally sourced ingredients for this IPA with hops from Worcestershire, barley from The Cotswolds and oats from Wiltshire.

There’s a lightly sweet and floral aroma from Sovereign, a quintessentially English hop variety that also brings a little earthy herbal tone as well. It doesn’t dominate, though, so you also get a hearty scent of fresh malt.

The most drinkable beers are well balanced and this is a great example with flavours of hobnobs drizzled in a little honey, along with savoury fresh bread. A crisp, dry finish rounds things off and you’ll realise a bottle didn’t last long at all.

About the brewery

Small Beer brews low alcohol up to 2.8% from its site in South Bermondsey. Owners Felix and James call it the “world's first dedicated small beer brewery” and even have a custom brewing kit made for the job.

This allows all the beers to be brewed to strength, avoiding the task of removing alcohol. Perhaps surprisingly, they use twice the ingredients per percentage point compared to a regular strength beer.

You can buy Small Beer - Summer of ‘21 for £55 for a case of 24 bottles (350ml).

Previously on Beer Of The Week...

Torrside Brewing - Erasmus (2021.1)

Torrside is well known for smoky beers, and that flavour often comes from smoked malt, but Erasmus gets its smokiness from something completely different.

Now in its third edition, this Islay IPA is part of the ‘Cats of Chaos’ series as a more middling abv and experimental alternative to the big ‘Dogs of War’ beers, which are typically imperial stouts or barleywines.

They’re all barrel aged and as the style suggests, Erasmus has been given the treatment of whisky barrels from the famous Scottish island. For this 2021 edition, Torrside has taken its flagship IPA I'm Spartacus and transferred it straight from the fermenter into a second use Laphroaig barrel, where it aged for two weeks.

The result is something like a boilermaker, whether you prefer to have the beer and whisky in the same glass or not.

Erasmus pours with little carbonation giving it a cask-esque vibe, and offers a slightly marmalade orange hue. If you didn’t know any better, it would look like a fairly unassuming pint.

On the nose, the peaty Laphroaig smoke is more of a hint as if a neighbour down the road is having a bonfire you can faintly wiff. Really, the aroma of Simcoe hops dominates with an intensely fruity smell of mango, passionfruit, mandarin along with some pine, too.

Take a sip and the peat really hits as if the wind direction has changed and given you a good blast of smoke from a fire pit. However, it’s balanced out with the bitterness and fruitiness of the IPA.

A few more sips and things mellow as the palette adjusts, so don’t judge it too quickly. If it still sounds a bit much, try pairing it with some food such as a steak or cheese. And if this sounds like your kind of thing, the other Cats of Chaos beers for 2021 consist of a Rum Barrel Red-and-Black IPA and a Peated Highland Whisky Barrel Strong Ruby Mild.

About the brewery

Torrside Brewery is run by three long-practicing homebrewers, Chris, Nick, and Peter, and their motto of ‘Hops. Smoke. Monsters’ tells you a lot about what to expect. The brewery gets its name from the Torrs Riverside Park, a 70-foot-deep gorge cut by the River Goyt in the Peak District.

Erasmus was Nick’s cat and is sadly no longer with us, but lives on in the label design of Emma Sidwell, who is married to Peter.

Head to Torrside's official store to grab yourself a bottle, which costs £10 (750ml).

Previously on Beer of the Week...

Northern Monk - Green Heathen

New England IPA (NEIPA) is arguably the most popular beer style of the last few years but the juice bombs can get a little samey. However, this collaboration between Northern Monk and London’s Green Times Brewing is unusual.

This twist version of Northern Monk’s flagship NEIPA is infused with CBD oil. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which along with THC, is one of the main compounds found in cannabis and has various benefits such as relaxation, mood-enhancement and anti-inflammatory properties.

The beer is free of THC, which causes the ‘high’, of course - this is what makes CBD oil legal in the UK - and pours incredibly thick, looking much like many whisky sours we've had in the past.

Each can of Green Heathen contains 10mg of CBD oil which is often a recommended starting daily dosage. Whether you feel any effect will be personal but at 7.2% abv, you’ll likely feel the effect of alcohol more prominently anyway.

As well as CBD, there’s also terpenes; an aromatic compound found in many plants but often associated with cannabis. In fact, hops and cannabis belong to the same cannabaceae family of plants so it’s about how it works with the other ingredients.

The terpenes enhance the heavily dry-hopped NEIPA style which is the classic combo of Citra and Mosaic here. So Green Heathen is incredibly dank and grassy with a strong piney, resinous and herby aroma and flavour.

It’s also possible the CBD oil is adding some subtle orange peel and floral notes, along with bitterness.

Heavily hopped beers that are freshly canned are often described as ‘green’ so it’s a very apt name for this version of Heathen. It’s an intense beer for sure, but it might taste a little more balanced in a week or two when the raw hoppiness mellows a little, giving the tropical fruit and creamy flavours more prominence.

About the brewery

Based in Leeds, Northern Monk has become one of the powerhouses of the UK craft beer industry over the years, with a solid core range as well as countless limited editions covering all styles.

The brewery’s Patrons Project sees collaboration with artists, photographers, athletes and more, with 7 curated beers in each series. Northern Monk also holds its own festivals such as Hop City and Dark & Wild City at its Refectory.

Northern Monk's Green Heathen is available now for £5.30 (440ml cans) from Northern Monk's official shop.

Little Earth Project - Blackcurrant & Rye Sour

This week we travel to rural Suffolk for a beer for the sour fans out there. And we're in towards the deep end of the sour world here with a lip smacker that's made with blackcurrant and rye.

The beer pours a thick, opaque deep purple probably best described as aubergine in colour. A foamy, raspberry pink head quickly dissipates, leaving behind an intense aroma of the juicy fruit and a slight hint of the beer underneath.

If you’re new to sours then this may be a little intense but you can always try pairing it with something sweet - perhaps a creamy panna cotta. There’s long-lasting sourness here with added dryness from the oak barrels the beer has been fermented and aged in.

Little Earth Project initially made a base beer with a decent amount of rye, fermented over many months in the barrel using its own mixed culture. While there’s a slight sweetness of the beer apparent, along with some spice from the rye, the star of the show is the blackcurrant.

It’s like drinking Vimto sour sweets in beer form with subtle funky esters from the yeast. There’s also a pleasant lingering bitterness and the beer is a nicely middling 5.2% abv. It has a best before of 2026 so you could drink some fresh and see how the beer ages over time.

Blackcurrant & Rye Sour will be available from 22 April from retailers including Beer Gonzo and Hoptimism.

About the brewery

You’re unlikely to happen upon the Little Earth Project microbrewery as it’s set deep into the Suffolk countryside between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. Run by Tom and Dani, they specialise in historic, farmhouse and sour beers.

Many of the ingredients used are either grown locally, on brewery grounds or foraged from nearby. The White Horse Inn next door is owned by the brewery and there’s also a campsite and two self-catering chalets which you can visit.

Burning Sky - Recusant

It’s always nice when a former ‘beer of the year’ contender gets a rebrew, but it’s never a given with many lost into the archives never to return.

Luckily, Burning Sky has made another batch of its fantastic wild Belgian style ale called Recusant, meaning to refuse to submit to an authority or to comply with a regulation.

Burning Sky specialises in Belgian styles so you know you’re in good hands and Recusant is stunning. It’s made Pilsner and Vienna malt along with typical ale yeast but is also fermented with Brettanomyces, a strain of wild yeast that is often shortened to ‘Brett’.

It means ‘British fungus’ and although this particular strain, Bruxellensis, is associated with the Senne valley near Brussels, it still gives the beer a moderate but not overpowering funky and earthy barnyard flavour along with a hint of sweet apricot and a crisp, dry finish.

The beer pours a golden straw colour and is one of the closest UK-brewed beers to the classic Trappist beer, Orval. The similarity is very much intentional.

Unusual for a Belgian pale ale, Recusant has been dry-hopped but the New Zealand hops from the previous version are gone. Instead, Burning Sky has kept things simple with a traditional hop variety in Styrian Golding, providing spicy white pepper and floral honeysuckle aromas.

The beer hides the 6.3% abv strength well and while it’s a complex marriage of aromas and flavours, it’s ever so easy to drink.

It’ll taste great alfresco in the warm sun along with copious amounts of bread and cheese. As this version is canned, it’s not designed for ageing like a lot of Brett beers but it doesn’t make it any less delicious.

About the brewery

Burning Sky ‘Artisan Brewers & Blenders’ is nestled in the countryside of the South Downs in East Sussex and led by Mark Tranter, formerly of Dark Star and the creator of the extremely popular and iconic Hophead.

The farmhouse brewery’s first beers arrived in 2013 and quickly started to win awards achieving the 4th Best New Brewery in the World 2014 by Ratebeer and plenty of others since. Burning Sky was the first UK brewery to install oak foudres to age beer in.