Beer of the week: Fyne Ales - 20th Anniversary Ale
ShortList Recommends: great beers we've taste tested.
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.
- The best craft beer, taste tested
Fyne Ales - 20th Anniversary Ale
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Devil’s Peak - Lucy Goes North
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.
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
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
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
About the brewery
McColl’s Brewery - Let’s eat pies and talk about men’s mental health
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.
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
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
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
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
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
About the brewery
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.
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!
‘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.