Tag Archives: BrewDog

BeerCast #27 – Beer of the Year 2008

Since our highly enjoyable Beer of the Year Show 2007 where Anchor’s Special Ale 2006 was crowned our first ever BOTY, we have tried and tested all manner of ales here on the BeerCast. Nine different panellists sampled their way through 73 different beers over the course of 2008, spread over 16 podcasts. As tradition now dictates, we ended up with a ‘final four’ – those that scored the highest marks last year – which we then pitted against each other to see who would take Anchor’s crown.

We had intended to record the podcast just before the turn of the new year, but unfortunately a procurement issue meant we had to delay until the end of January. After a few weeks we managed to find all four beers once again, and the BOTY show could take place. The worthy finallists were – Thwaites Double Century, Hop Back Summer Lightning, Theakston XB, and BrewDog Hardcore IPA. As scoring had been done in each individual BeerCast, for the final we re-sampled each one and gave our general thoughts, before going round the panel and simply picking a winner. For this BOTY edition, the panel consisted of Richard, Shovels, Grooben, and the Hopmeister Tom. First up, Thwaites Double Century…

1. Double Century (5.2%abv) 500ml glass bottle
Thwaites Brewery, Blackburn, Lancashire.
BeerCast #12 scored 26/30 (87%) 23rd Feb 2008
Originally tasted by MrB 9; Stuart 9; Richard 8

Grooben – Very dry and bitter at the end
Richard – Great hoppy session beer with a hint of orange
Tom – Really nice but gives you ‘hangover tongue’
Shovels – I don’t get the wow factor but it’s decent stuff

2. Summer Lightning (5.0%abv) 500ml glass bottle
The Hop Back Brewery, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
BeerCast #19 scored 27/30 (90%) 4th Aug 2008
Originally tasted by Shovels 9; Grooben 9; Richard 9

Grooben – It’s a summer beer, maybe a bit incongruous for winter
Richard – Very hoppy and pleasant, but you can’t tell it’s 5%
Tom – I’ve tried this before independently and it’s really quaffable
Shovels – On tap it’s one of my favourites and I always look for it

3. Theakston XB (4.5%abv) 500ml glass bottle
Theakstons Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire.
BeerCast#17 scored 25½/30 (85%) 19th Jun 2008
Originally tasted by Tom 9; Shovels ; Richard 8

Grooben – Nicer than I would have expected, but a bit sweet
Richard – Just one would be very nice, bit molassey and treacly
Tom – No nasty aftertaste, it’s a lovely session ale
Shovels – I really like it, the sweetness isn’t too much

4. BrewDog Hardcore IPA (9.0%abv) 660ml glass bottle
BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Scotland.
BeerCast#15 scored 33½/40 (84%) 27th Apr 2008
Originally tasted by MrB ; Richard 9; Grooben 8; Shovels 7

Grooben – It must be very difficult to make a beer as strong as this but as palatable
Richard – You’d have to savour this one almost like a trappist ale
Tom – This one really stands out because of it’s individuality
Shovels – It’s like an American IPA but tastes less hoppy

So the beers had been re-tried and thoughts given – but only one thought counted, the overall winner of the four. The final step of the Beer of the Year show was to go round the table and pick the one that stood out the most…

“I’ve never had XB and darker sweeter beers aren’t for me, but I really liked it. The Hardcore IPA was a bit much for my personal tastes, and was above the other two, but overall the XB was the best.”

“Hardcore IPA was the only beer that was trying to do something different, and you aren’t going to forget your first taste. The others would eventually become forgotten I think. Hardcore IPA made me stand up and take notice so I vote for that.”

“My favourite was Summer Lightning as of the four I’d drink a lot of it either in the pub or from bottles, it’s a really great session ale – light and refreshing.”

“My favourite had to be Summer Lightning, it’s the kind of beer you can really drink. Hardcore IPA is tremendous but you can maybe only savour it – you can get pleasure from Summer Lightning all throughout the year.”

So that was it. A depleted panel compared with last year maybe, but the responsibility of selecting our beer of the year was still just as great. In the end, our winner was Hop Back’s Summer Lightning, a superb golden ale in the classic English tradition. Congratulations to them, and thanks to all the panellists for their opinions over the course of last year.

We’ll be back soon with another podcast episode. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!

BeerCast #15 – Scottish IPA’s

Every beer drinker knows the backstory to India Pale Ale, and as you’d expect, the UK has many different varieties – most breweries have one in their range. Although it was producers in the south-east of England that originally developed the style, up here in Scotland IPA’s are plentiful. So the 15th BeerCast podcast is a jaunt around four of these from our home patch. We begin very much at home, with Caldeonian’s Deuchars IPA – brewed in Edinburgh and drunk probably at least once a week by one member of the BeerCast or another. Then we move on to one from the islands, Colonsay IPA, produced from a small brewery in the Inner Hebrides. The third beer today is Belhaven’s Twisted Thistle IPA, from sunny Dunbar in East Lothian, and we finish the episode with a bang up north in Fraserburgh with BrewDog’s aptly-named Hardcore IPA.

1. Deuchar’s IPA (4.4%abv)
Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh.
500ml glass bottle

Opened in 1869, the Caley is the only brewery left in the city of Edinburgh out of over 40 many years ago. Sadly it’s now no longer independent either, as at the start of the month (in between us recording this episode and it going out) they were taken over by Scottish & Newcastle. But they produce the most famous beer related to the city, which is now available on cask throughout much of the UK as a guest – presumably even more so now S&N’s distributary muscles will be flexing. Pronounced Joo-kerrs, we’re all incredibly familiar with it here – but that makes for an interesting beer to judge.

What They Say“Deuchars IPA is a fabulous beer. A brilliant blend of malt and hop character and above all a drink with enormous drinkability.” [Roger Protz]

What We Say
Richard – Worse than on cask, but still good and hoppy 7
Shovels – Nice, but there are better bottled IPA’s out there
MrB – Deuchars is the stock beer I go for if there’s nothing nicer 6
Grooben – Your basic after-work-knock-a-few-back beer 6

2. Colonsay IPA (3.9%abv)
Colonsay Brewery, Isle of Colonsay.
568ml glass bottle (1 pint)

We’re all big fans of the Scottish islands here on the BeerCast (podcast 11 was our Northern Isles Special), and off the west coast you’ll find Colonsay. You might have to look hard, mind – it’s only 16sq miles of rock and beach between Mull and Islay. About 120 people call it home, and they are very lucky indeed to have a brewery in their midst. Founded in early 2007 their five barrel plant produces an 80/-, a lager, and an IPA – when the seas allow the ferries to collect their beers for distribution to markets on the mainland, that is. When the seas are too rough, the islanders get their own unique version of a lock-in.

What They Say“What you get with this beer is a pale colour to reflect the malt type, but lots of hop and citrus and character to make this a pint to be savoured.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – Lots of flavours going on but they are very subtle
Shovels – The light tastes grow on me when I have other IPA’s 6
Grooben – Very smooth and ever so slightly peaty aftertaste 6
Richard – You can taste this is from an island – light and airy 6

3. Twisted Thistle IPA (5.3%abv)
Belhaven Brewery, Dunbar.
500ml glass bottle

Thirty miles down the coast from Edinburgh is Belhaven – statistically Scotland’s sunniest place. Home to a brewery of the same name, which is most famous for Belhaven Best, another beer often seen around these parts, they also produce a rather undervalued IPA. I couldn’t find a single mention of it on their official website, but Twisted Thistle comes in a modestly-labelled bottle with few pretentions. Belhaven were founded in 1719, and were the oldest independent in Scotland, until they were bought out by Greene King in 2005 for £187m. We sampled their St Andrews Ale way back in BeerCast #1.

What They Say“The blend of Cascade and Challenger hops combine to produce an abundance of fresh hop aroma that preludes a bitter-dry taste explosion.” [label tasting notes]

What We Say
Richard – Got that characteristic zingy IPA hoppy taste 8
MrB – Bitter hoppy session ale with a bit of fizz, floats my boat 8
Grooben – This is right up my street, very nice
Shovels – Classic IPA but makes me appreciate the subtler Colonsay 6

4. Hardcore IPA (9.0%abv)
BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
330ml glass bottle

Many 25yr olds have drunk enough fizzy lager to wish they could do something about it. Few actually have – but two of those few are James Watt and Martin Dickie, old school friends from Aberdeenshire. They pooled their life savings and bought a ten barrel plant on the Kessock Industrial Estate in Fraserburgh to found BrewDog in April 2007. As you’d expect given their outlook, they produce a wide range of strong beers such as two kinds of imperial stout, one of which is aged in malt whisky casks. They entered some in the 2007 World Beer Awards, and amazingly won two awards – best strong pale ale (The Physics) and best imperial stout (Rip Tide). Today we sample their 9%abv imperial IPA.

What They Say“Maris Otter grains to provide the robustly delicate toffee malt canvas, and hops to ensure your mouth is left feeling punished and puckering for more.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – Suck a duck, if you didn’t know it was 9% you’d end up drinking lots of this
Richard – Alcohol/hops complement eachother, it’s tremendous 9
Grooben – Smells of cottage cheese but it certainly tastes good 8
Shovels – Tastes strong, label makes it look like an alcopop 7

BeerCast panel verdict

BrewDog Hardcore IPA – 33½/40
Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA – 29½/40
Deuchars IPA – 25½/40
Colonsay IPA – 24½/40

Panellists – (from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard



We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another episode. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!