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The Unpleasant Moblog Of Spank The Monkey

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Another part of the Spank The Monkey media empire: offending your brain at The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey, offending your ears at Spank's Audio Lair, and offending your eyes right here, right now.

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#Collabfest2020 prologue: Stay Home, Protect The Beer, Save Lives

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Oh, look, he's posting on Moblog again, it must be Collabfest time. And it is, but not as we used to know it. Sure, there are still 80 or so beers that launch this weekend, each one a collaboration between a BrewDog bar somewhere in the world and a brewery that's local to it. But here in London, Capital Of Earth, we have the complication that we're in the middle of a four-week lockdown of all the bars in England. No matter: thanks to the spectacular work of BrewDog's staff, all the kegged Collabfest beers are being transferred to 500ml cans and sent to people's homes to enjoy there.

So here's what's happening at Chateau Belated-Monkey. The BBG and I have got a box of twelve beers that we ordered in advance, randomly chosen by the good people at the Tower Hill bar. We're also calling out to our local bar periodically to get them to bike over any of the remaining beers that sound interesting - we've picked up four more so far, there may well be more. Over the course of Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday, we'll be making our way through these beers one at a time - starting off with taster glasses from the 500ml can, and guzzling the rest of it if we think it deserves it. (As the advance box cost us a ridiculously cheap £2.50 a can, we're prepared to chuck beers that don't work straight down the damn sink if they don't work.) As usual, we'll be writing about the beers as we go, and caring less about spelling and grammar as the nights wear on. Ready? Then let's go.

20th Nov 2020, 18:55   comments (0)

#Collabfest2019 round 12: BrewDog Canary Wharf

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54. Kungsholmen & Unibärsum Bryggeri - Shit Hop Puns (DDH Hazy Pale Ale, 5.1%)
This is our series finale, and it's a good one. My first time in the Canary Wharf bar since its shareholder preview night (a year and a couple of days ago)! Exactly four beers on the board we haven't had yet! A few things we've been searching for all weekend are finally here! And Ricky's here to say hello! Yay! As far as this beer goes, it's not one that was really on my radar apart from the sweary name. It's hazy and hoppy like they say, but not much else apart from that. Nothing spectacular about it, but pleasant enough.

55. Newcastle & Wylam - 6.8 Comeback Special (West Coast Grapefruit & Orange Zest IPA, 6.8%)
One of the ones we've been waiting for. Another fruity one, though it's hard to identify the specific fruit, and there's no indication in the taste that it's as strong as they say. It's no Elvis Juice (despite the hints in the name), but as grapefruit IPAs go it's fine, without having the punch of BrewDog's original.

56. Outpost Manchester & Cloudwater - Original Peak IPA (India Pale Ale, 6.0%)
Quite light for a Cloudwater, but it's up to the usual high standard in all other aspects. Not trying to do anything other than be a good beer - it's not trying any mad shit, unlike a few of the other beers it's been competing with here.

57. Southampton & Vibrant Forest - Tonkaccino (Tonka & Coffee Stout, 4.8%)
One advantage of me spilling every thought I've been having about beer live on the internet: Ricky tells us as soon as we walk in the door 'the Tonkaccino's on'. He also says 'it's like drinking an ashtray, but in a good way,' and he's kinda right. The tonka's mainly on the nose, with the ashy taste coming through on the end: but it works as a progression, without ever feeling weird. And with that, we're done, apart from the Coconut Sinnerman Ricky has bought us as an encore. At some point, we should sit down and collate our favourites of these FIFTY-SEVEN DAMN BEERS from the past four days: but not just yet.

20th Oct 2019, 20:05   comments (0)

#Collabfest2019 round 11: BrewDog Tower Hill

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52. Södermalm & Värmdö Brygghus - Feel My Flower (Berry Rose & Elderberry Sour, 4.3%)
You have to understand, this is the London bars collectively hitting the wall, not us: by the time we get to Tower Hill, they only have two beers left we haven't had yet (it would have been three, but the Tonkaccino literally ran out as we were ordering it). Hence the lack of flight board in the photo, and the big glasses. Anyhoo, we're back on the fruit sours again, albeit with not much fruit or sourness to this one: The BBG is saying it's the closest thing she's had to a disappointing beer this fest, with a faintly soapy taste to it. I reckon that Tower Hill playing back-to-back Muse songs on their PA is having a negative impact on their beer quality.  

53. Tampere & Pyynikin - The Dead Sunshine (Imperial Stout, 9.0%)
It's interesting to note that they stop playing Muse the moment we start drinking this. We've always had a soft spot for the Finnish bars, which have generally had the nicest staff of any BrewDog bars we've visited worldwide. That goes for nearby Estonia too, which is like Finland but with less outrageous prices. Both countries seem to share a fondness for big impy stouts, much like we do after the sun goes down. It's still light outside when we're drinking this, but it's still a fine example of the style, with no funny stuff except for possible hints of barrel aging. It's helped by a generous pour from the Tower Hill staff, who obviously noticed our disappointment at missing out on the Tonkaccino. We follow up with a pair of pizzas and a couple of Punk AFs to set us up for the final stretch, but you don't need to know about those.

20th Oct 2019, 17:35   comments (0)

#Collabfest2019 round 10: BrewDog Clerkenwell

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48. Brussels & Brasserie Surréaliste - Mirror Mirror (Kveik IPA, 6.7%)
Finally we know what a proper kveik tastes like that hasn't had shedloads of adjuncts thrown on top of it: it tastes like this. There's an earthiness to this that makes it different from a saison, which is the other farmhouse style we've had quite a bit of this weekend. I think I feel less meh about kveiks than I do about saisons, so at least that's that cleared up. 

49. Budapest & Mad Scientist - Blackcurrant Trifle (Imperial Pastry Gose, 8.2%)
This has been top of the Collabfest Untappd rating list for pretty much the whole weekend, presumably for being boozy as hell while looking like frothy Ribena. Which is depressingly predictable, in a way: Big Drop's half-a-percenter will never pull the big votes in a poll like this. Having said that, this is indeed lovely. The BBG is thinking it's less like Ribena and more like a really big Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, with initially insane amounts of fruit and body, which then fades into sourness and gose saltiness. Sometimes the mob turns out to be right after all.

50. Clerkenwell & Howling Hops - Hippo’s Don’t Lie (Banana Milkshake IPA, 7.4%)
The Clerkenwell bar is usually closed on Sundays, but they're doing a special opening for Collabfest. They have a history of going that extra mile for the festival: in 2017, for example, their cookie dough white stout was served with actual cookies on the side. This year, their banana IPA has a banana chew precariously balanced on top of the glass, which seems like a fun way to mark beer number 50. Eating it before the beer was possibly a mistake, though: it takes a mouthful or two of the beer to get past the taste of the sweet. By comparison, the banana's quite subtle in the beer, only really coming through towards the end: you're more conscious of the bitterness of the hops and the mouthfeel of the lactose.

51. Sheffield & Saint Mars of the Desert - Shoquaddyquaddy (Belgian Quad, 9.0%)
Now that's a reference that the kids will get. (I'm reminded of The BBG's comments yesterday, which at various points referred to 1970s adverts for Oranjeboom and Kia-ora.) Anyway, yes, this is straight-up booze: not the strongest one we've had this year, but the one where the alcohol content is most front and centre (this could be a proper winter warmer beer), with no quirks added to its basic style. Currently number 5 on the Untappd list, which is no real surprise.

20th Oct 2019, 16:12   comments (0)

#Collabfest2019 round 9: BrewDog Paddington

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44. Paddington & Wild Card - Cashmere IPA (DDH IPA, 5.8%)
Breakfast in the Paddington bar is accompanied solely by coffee - we're not monsters, you know - but it does lead me to wonder why, given BrewDog's long-standing relationship with the company, nobody's ever tried to make a beer containing Dalston Chilli. One to look out for at #Collabfest2020, maybe. In the meantime, we start the final day of #Collabfest2019 with four bars on our agenda and a maximum of 26 beers left to try. Paddington, happily, has exactly four that we haven't drunk yet. First up is the bar's own, brewed in collaboration with Walthamstow's finest for some reason. Good starter to the day - by day 4, we need some hoppy fruity juiciness to kick-start us again, and this does the job just fine.

45. Brighton & Cloak+Dagger - Zestiny’s Child (Blood Orange & Lemon Pale Ale, 4.1%)
Definitely zesty, as advertised: pleasantly refreshing without being spectacular. The BBG thought she could taste lime (even though there isn't any), more so than in the actual key lime pie beer that we had yesterday. Possibly a dangerous alternative to having fruit juice with breakfast, but still a very nice way of working towards your five a day. If you're ever in Brighton, by the way, Cloak and Dagger's taproom The Cloak Room is worth a visit.

46. Le Marais & Brasserie du Grand Paris - Paris Mordu (New England IPA, 5.9%)
'Bitten', in case you were wondering. It's got the soft juiciness of 'l'un de ces', but with a decent bit of bitterness underneath, giving it a good balance. I don't believe we had any of BGP's beers on our recent Paris trip, so they're a name to add to the list for our next one.

47. St Andrews & St Andrews Brewing Co - Hippophae Fife (Sea Buckthorn IPA, 6.2%)
Possibly the best beer name this year? Hippophae is the Latin name for sea buckthorn ('the berry with 15 times more vitamin C than an orange', if you believe the Daily Telegraph, though why on earth would you): the rest is either a direct reference to Rezillos lead singer Fay Fife, or a theft of the joke that gave her her name (she's 'fae Fife'). 'It's different,' says The BBG on her first mouthful: she later upgrades that to 'it's got a tanginess, it's not unpleasant, but it's interesting more than anything else.' I'd be a shade more positive about it, myself, and she admits that it's grown on her by the end of the glass. For me, it looks like orange juice, but the sheer unfamiliarity of the taste is a pleasant surprise. It certainly hides its ABV pretty well.

20th Oct 2019, 14:26   comments (0)

#Collabfest2019 round 8b: BrewDog Seven Dials

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41. DogTap Berlin & BRLO - Sink the Pink (Imperial Pink New England IPA with Bitter Orange Peel, 8.5%)
We're now down to a bar where we only have three Collabfest beers we haven't drunk yet, so between rounds we cleanse our palates with Hawkes Sucker For Pumpkins cider, which we've taken out of the photo. It's so pumpkiny that you could accept that Halloween In Booze Form works in the context of this festival. But we won't, and instead go back to the beer with this absolute monster, and I mean that in the Frankenstein sense. It's partly One Of Those, but with some bitterness under the creaminess and sweetness, The BBG isn't getting NEIPA vibes off it, but it does have the softness of the style without the murkiness, with the bitterness coming from the orange peel. I'm getting something off it that reminds me of malt, which The BBG sees as the combination of the sweet and sour bits.

42. Milton Keynes & Boot Town - Key Lime Pie (Dessert Pale Ale, 5.5%)
In a blind tasting, The BBG finds it soft and light, but not cutting through the beer before. I know what it's meant to be doing on mouthful 1, but it's not doing that. Quite nice, but not doing what's advertised. In subsequent mouthfuls, you can telll it wants to come through but can't, while still remaining a quite nice beer. Someone who'd gone to a bar and bought this purely on the description (looking at you, Brixton) would be sadly disappointed.

43. Leicester & Round Corner - Succumb to Smoke (Bamberg Helles Rauchbier, 5.3%)
As this is only a three-beer flight (curse you running out of your own beer, Seven Dials), this is our last one for Saturday night, which The BBG's talkboard mates have told her tastes like hotdog water. It's certainly a smoky beer, possibly more reminiscent of smoked cheese than hotdogs, so we're not finding it quite as repellent as others. Also, you don't expect light beers to be smoked, it's more of a dark thing, which may be putting people off. It's balanced enough that the smoky taste is not an issue. As The BBG says about films, don't let other people's reviews influence you. (Incidentally, all our reviews of the 2019 London Film Festival can be found here, and they're all perfectly correct.)

19th Oct 2019, 23:06   comments (0)

#Collabfest2019 round 8a: BrewDog Seven Dials

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37. Carlisle & Hawkshead - Costa del Solway (Tart IPA, 7.4%)
One Of Those: works fine in isolation, but we've had too many better ones already this weekend. Possibly slightly more tart than usual, but that's about it.

38. Firenze & Vetra - Vetra Modern Pils (Pilsner, 5.1%)
It's quite a pilsy Pils, and that's about it. I personally can't spot much difference between this and the Holsten we all used to guzzle buckets of in the eighties. Maybe slightly more interest in it than that, but not much.

39. Inverurie & Cromarty - Fight Milk (Chocolate Honeycomb Milk Stout, 6.5%)
I feel I should be keeping the gag going by not talking about this, but I can't do that. The description suggests it'll be Crunchie In Booze Form, and splendidly it's precisely that. It should be our nightcap beer, but we awkwardly have other plans to finish off the night.

40. Norrkoping & Tempel - Jammy Bastard (Fruit Sour, 5.7%)
And before you ask, they're not this one. Hugely sour again, but with lots of fruit attempting in part to counter that. It's okay, but at this point in the proceedings a beer that's just 'okay' doesn't really cut it.

19th Oct 2019, 23:04   comments (0)

#Collabfest2019 round 7b: BrewDog Soho

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33. Canary Wharf & Siren Craft Brew - Orange Boom (Orange Sour, 4.0%)
Fully sated by an inter-flight meal of burgers (Beyond Cheese for her, Hybrid Burger for me), we're having to deviate from our plan of only drinking the bar beers in the bars themselves, as at this point the next four beers you're going to read about here are the only four beers Soho are serving that we haven't had before. For this one, bit sour, says I: too orangey for crows, says her. As we make our way through it, we come to an agreement - yes, it's orange and sour. The BBG is reminded of the 1970s school recorder classic 'Oranjeboom, Oranjeboom, it's a lager, not a tune...'

34. Outpost Tower Hill & Mothership Beer - Deeds Not Words (Dark Sour with Cherries, 5.0%)
Tastes of actual cherries rather than cherry flavour, which sets it aside from the several dozen other cherry beers in this fest. Not especially sour itself, more a beer from sour cherries, especially the nose which reminds The BBG of sour cherry sweets. The more it goes down, the juicier it gets.

35. Leeds & Vocation - Purple Grain (Raspberry & Blackcurrant New England Sour IPA, 6.4%)
Sudden realisation that this flight alone is going to give us our five fruit and veg for the day. Yes it is, shut up. This is, astonishingly, a NESIPA. The BBG goes through a glorious mental process on her first mouthful - 'it's One Of Those, but it's got loads of fruit, but it's also sour...' Lots going on, and surprisingly drinkable with it - it's one of the most interesting beers we've had this weekend.

36. Dundee & Dead End Brew Machine - Dundeath (Raspberry & Passion Fruit Nordic Farmhouse Ale, 6.6%)
Or is it 'Dumb Death'? The Soho boards aren't sure. It'd be a fun Horrible Histories reference if they were right, though we think they're wrong. As promised, lots more fruit, plus something else, presumably along the lines of that weird Scandi yeasty shit we had earlier on. You feel like you should feel healthier after all this fruit, particularly all the raspberry on the palate here.

19th Oct 2019, 20:35   comments (0)