Sunday, 22 October 2017


Well hello there - it's been a while! I seem to have lost my blogging mojo over the last few weeks, but this weekend was Brewdog's annual celebration of beery cooperation, collabfest, and this is supposed to be partially a beer blog so I'm back.

This year's collabfest was the biggest so far with 34 bars and breweries collaborating to bring us new, interesting beers.  It was also the first to include some of Brewdog's overseas bars with Berlin, Malmo, Kungsholmen and Sodermalm joining the party.

The full list of breweries and bars is here.  I managed 14 out of the 34 over the course of the weekend, though I'll admit 8 on Friday night made for a challenging day on Saturday 😬

Not all mine...

So here goes with the reviews, in chronological order, complete with possibly slightly inconsistent untappd scores....

I kicked off proceedings with There's Saison About Mary from Affinity Brew Co/Shoreditch, and it certainly had a massive kick of chilli. Not so much to mask the slight farmhouse funk of the saison, but I don't think I'd manage more than 1/3 of this. 3.5/5

Next up was Fubarb from Ridgeside/Leeds. This was one of my favourites - a rhubarb and custard sour. Plenty of rhubarb flavour but with just the right amount of sweetness to take the edge off. The untappd reviews describing this as like rhubarb and custard sweets are spot on. 4/5

No Smoke without Sour from Lovibonds/Oxford had to be one of the best looking beers of the weekend. Another high scorer - absolutely laden with sour cherry but with hints of smoke and liquorice, making it a really interesting beer. I'd say the dryest beer of the weekend too, and it would probably pair well with a good dark chocolate pudding. 4/5

The final beer of the first flight was Fumin' Lou from Northern Monk/North Street Leeds, and takes us from the prettiest beer of the weekend to a seriously manky looking beer! Described as a gingerbread ice cream brown ale with vanilla this was the one I was most looking forward to, and it didn't disappoint. A rich, creamy, spicy beer with a slight nod to last year's Christmas offering from Northern Monk, Festive Star, it was the second glass of this later in the night that did for me I think! I'm all for cloudy beers, but maybe not when it's brown to start with...4.25/5
At this point the sensible thing to do would have been to call it a night, but with so many interesting sounding beers to pick from we all went for a second flight. Between the three of us we weren't far off managing all 12 of the first night's offerings.

From murky brown to clear and pale, my next choice was a Passionate Morning Cuppa from Brewheadz/Camden - a passionfruit and keemun tea oatmeal pale ale. The oatmeal gave this light, fruity beer a really smooth finish. The balance of sweetness from the passionfruit and dry tannins from the tea was spot on - very refreshing. 3.75/5
One of the surprises of the weekend was The floor is Java from Black Lodge/Liverpool. This may be heresy for a Brewdog event, but I don't actually like IPAs as a rule. This black IPA had so much coffee in it, along with treacly malt that it almost wasn't an IPA. Yes it was hoppy, but the hops didn't dominate in the way they usually do in an IPA. I'm sure there are debates to be had about these mash up style beers - when does a black IPA become a porter? Is a white stout actually a pale? However, that's a level of beer nerdery I'm not really ready for! 4/5

Next up was the local entry - Collaborator by 71/Dundee, which wins the prize for least imaginative name if nothing else! 71 mostly brew lager type beers so this doppelbock was maybe a gamble for them. It was a solid malty beer you could enjoy after wandering around a Christmas market in Germany, but a bit unexceptional amongst the big flavours of some of the other collabs. 3.25/5

Finally came the big beast we'd all been working up to - a 12% monster from Fierce/Aberdeen in what I suspect is a case of keeping your friends close and the competition closer! Their moose mousse session chocolate porter is fab, and this Very Big Moose is the Imperial version. Sweet vanilla, warm cinnamon and a serious amount of chocolate make for a very special beer, up there with Stone Xocoveza and Tempest Mexicake - delicious but definitely to be enjoyed in small doses...

As Saturday came around I wasn't convinced I'd be ready for round 2, but a lorne and cheese roll for lunch, then lasagne and garlic bread for tea almost sorted me out.
All the same, it seemed like a sensible idea to start with one of the lightest beers of the weekend, Fountain Mountain from Fyne Ales/Out of Town/Glasgow - so a double collaboration. Grisette isn't a style you see very often (yet), and I enjoyed the last one I tried. This one was very lemony, and would definitely make a good summer beer. Quite dry too, so maybe a good one to introduce the prosecco crowd to! Looks darker than I remember. 3.5/5

Next up was a beer aiming at the cocktail market, Sex out of reach by Fallen/Stirling. A peach, cranberry and orange witbier with an almost perfumy taste. Not unpleasant, but definitely unusual. The combination of flavours meant it tasted more like fruit jelly sweets than a cocktail 3.5/5

Dutch Udder from Brighton Bier/Brighton was a bit of an oddity. It was described as a Flemish Milk Stout, and certainly looked like a stout, but was sweet with a fizzy flavour, and not much of the creaminess you'd expect from a milk stout 2.5/5
Last up for Saturday night was a white stout, Nuclear Nuts from Black Iris/Nottingham. I'll admit I took too long to get to this one so it wasn't as chilled as it should have been. Having said that, it was a really interesting beer with the pistachio giving more of a fruity than nutty flavour - fair play though, it did taste like ice cream. Given the chance I'd like to try this ice cold and without the remains of a hangover 3.75/5
Going easy on Saturday meant I was able to round off the weekend with a Sunday afternoon trip to try a couple of the beers we missed on Saturday afternoon (they rotated at 5pm and we didn't make it till closed to 8pm).
Risk:Cherry Stone from Redchurch/Soho was the second cherry beer of the weekend, and this time it was a straight up sour. Bags of sour cherry flavour - this reminded me of the Cherry Gose I had at Howling Hops back in May, and Dave even liked it, despite not being keen on anything that gets too close to being blackforest gateau. 4/5

Finally, another one I'd been looking forward to so was glad they had some left, Cookie Dough by Siren/Clerkenwell. Described as a cookie dough white stout, I was expecting more chocolate and vanilla but mostly got the Rum barrel aged coffee - no bad thing but I don't think the beer quite matched the name. To be fair, any white stout I try has the unenviable task of competing with Westwood by Ilkey which was the collabfest champion beer a couple of years ago and is pretty much my desert island (or should that be dessert Island - it's definitely a pudding beer!). 4.25/5.

So there you have it. I'll be interested to see which beer has 'won' collabfest and whether it's one I tried. There were some crackers and not to many duds, so here's to collabfest 2018 - cheers!

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