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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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#Collabfest2017 part seven: Southampton, Newcastle, Castlegate, Clapham, Birmingham

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Yes, five, deal with it. We're basically mopping up stragglers by now and don't want to miss out on any.

25. Unity Brewing Co / BrewDog Southampton: Tango in the Night (Black Saison, 6.00%)
It says black saison, and that's basically what you're getting. The BBG thinks there are hints of something from the malts she likes at the end but can't identify, "...possibly sais?" The description says licorice and cold brewed coffee, but we're not really getting either.

26. Almasty Brewing Co / BrewDog Newcastle: Sixteen Letter IPA (IPA, 7.00%)
As someone at the Bush bar was suggesting earlier, "it's called that because there are sixteen letters in the name." Hoppy, but quite sweet and fruity with it, in the style of the East Coast IPAs that are so fashionable these days (though you do get a little bitterness right at the end). Doesn't feel especially boozy, given its ABV.

27. Speyside Brewery / BrewDog Castlegate: Pina Collaba (Pina Colada Milkshake IPA, 5.00%)
Odd mixture of tastes that doesn't really separate out into anything. The BBG's second least favourite behind the WeirdBeard, with an unpleasant slight musty taste - I wouldn't go that far, but to me it's the drink equivalent of the brown colour you get when you mush up all your Plasticines together. Wouldn't be any better with an umbrella in it, says The BBG.

28. The Gipsy Hill Brewing Co / BrewDog Clapham: Dayman (Oatmeal (milk) Pale Ale, 3.60%)
Looks oddly fizzy in the glass compared with the rest of the flight. A floral fruity nose, quite a bit on the palate too, without being as aggressively fruity as some of the ones from earlier today. Definitely the session beer of the 34, one you feel you could drink large amounts of without it breaking you.

29. Burning Soul / BrewDog Birmingham: SoulDog IPA (IPA, 7.00%)
This one sold out literally as The BBG was queueing at the bar at Shepherd's Bush earlier, so we fell on this as soon as we saw it again - hence the five beer flight. Nothing odd going on in the recipe, but this isn't the fruit bomb that 16 Letter was, with a bit more old school IPA bitterness (and I'm getting a bit more of a malty finish at the end than she is).
22nd Oct 2017, 16:49   comments (0)

#Collabfest2017 part six: Glasgow, Camden, Nottingham, Sodermalm

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Brunch at Shepherd's Bush to launch our final day, and the board of available beers is looking a little battered, with gaps indicating that several have been drunk dry. Theoretically, the bars are capable of letting everyone know online in real time which ones are still left: in practice, that ain't happening. Getting hold of our final 14 beers will be a combination of using any information that happens to get tweeted, and pure dumb luck. Wish us the latter...

21. Fyne Ales with Out Of Town / BrewDog Glasgow (Kelvingrove): Fountain Mountain (Lemon Sherbet Grisette, with Lemons, Citra and Sorachi Ace, 4.40%)
A fruity foursome to start the day (apart from the one that isn't). Not overpoweringly lemony, soft rather than sharp, but with enough of a tang to make it interesting, which gets stronger as it goes down. (The BBG discovers that a grisette is a lighter version of a saison originally made for miners. Fancy that.)

22. Brewheadz / BrewDog Camden: Passionate Morning Cuppa (Passion Fruit & Keemun Tea Oatmeal Pale Ale, 5.00%)
The little information we've been able to glean in advance about the bars we're visiting today suggests that Camden has run out of its own beer, so we'll have to drink it here instead. The passion fruit is absolutely there, attacking your nose as you raise the glass and lingering all the way down. The hints of tea in the background add another refreshing layer. Apparently they don't serve brunch at the Camden bar, so I can only assume they've all been drinking this instead - it's a rather lovely breakfast beer. (And dangerously gluggable for a five per center.)

23. Black Iris Brewery / BrewDog Nottingham: Nuclear Nuts (Pistachio White Stout, 4.40%)
Warning! Contains nuts. (Like most people born before the eighties, we assume that nut allergies are all made up because nobody had them in our day, but we'll give you the warning anyway.) The BBG thinks it's a bit like a pistachio cream soda, pleasantly drinkable like the previous one but not as exciting. Loses its flavour as time goes on: by the end it's really just fizz with a rapidly fading nut flavour.

24. Örebro Brygghus / BrewDog Södermalm: Passion Fur Berlin (Passionfruit Berliner Weisse, 3.90%)
Initially smells just like a glass of passion fruit juice: drink it, and it tastes like that too. There's a tiny amount of tingle in there, but only a little. Loses some flavour over time, but still keeps that incredible nose. Nice and zingy. If nothing else, we must have got ?most of our five a day by now, and that's all from a single pub.
22nd Oct 2017, 14:52   comments (0)

#Collabfest2017 part five: Bristol, Dundee, Kungsholmen, Liverpool

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Back to the Bush to wrap up day 2. Hi Pisci!

17. Lost and Grounded Brewers / BrewDog Bristol: Dig That Well Deep (Dunkel Lager, 5.20%)
Sweet toastiness and caramel on the nose, again possibly served a little too cold. A little more interesting than you'd expect from a lager, a bit like a Brooklyn but not as great as the one from Berlin we had earlier. You keep expecting it to get more interesting as it gets warmer, but it doesn't really. Not a particularly exciting beer, not a particularly exciting style.

18. 71 Brewing / BrewDog Dundee: Collaborator (Doppelbock, 7.20%)
Mainly honey flavour (possibly from the malts) with a slight floral note, but not much going on apart from that. Another blandish German style. We've had more interesting and more chewy doppelbocks in Germany this year, I think - "I can't imagine monks living on this," says The BBG.

19. Hyllie Bryggeri / BrewDog Kungsholmen: HyllIPAn (Belgian IPA, 6.50%)
After a couple of bland ones in a row, a proper hop bomb to make up for it. Sometimes all you want is a really good IPA. Slightly different from the usual, not quite sure what the 'Belgian' thing is that distinguishes it - maybe a slight sweetness, possibly from the yeast.

20. Black Lodge / BrewDog Liverpool: The Floor is Java (Black Treacle and coffee IPA, 5.50%)
One of the beers people seem to be talking about this year (we watched it sell out before our very eyes at Soho last night). It's coffee all the way down, the most coffeey beer The BBG can recall since the Abstrakt that was three types of coffee and booze (AB17, apparently). The nose hits you even when you're a good six inches away from the glass. Technically it's our bedtime beer - we're not actually going to bed, but we're on another non-BrewDog social engagement for the rest of the evening - and this would work very nicely in that role.
21st Oct 2017, 18:41   comments (0)

#Collabfest2017 part four: Oxford, Shoreditch, Berlin Mitte, DogHouse Merchant City

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Next stop Shoreditch, where I think I deserve some degree of respect for carrying a flight of four beers down the stairs to the basement bar without spilling any. Except once I got to the table I realised I'd bought Goose Willis for a second time by mistake, so had to go back up for one more beer, which came in the wrong size glass to mess up the photo. Happy now?

13. Lovibonds Brewery / BrewDog Oxford: No Smoke Without Sour (Sour Cherry Porter, 5.00%)
Back in sour land again, though not as aggressively as last night: it's a bit more subtle. It's another one that feels like it needs some time to warm up - there's more cold than cherry coming through on the palate at the start, but the fruit pops its head up a little more later on.

14. Affinity Brew Co. / BrewDog Shoreditch: There's Saison About Mary (Bloody Mary Saison, 5.20%)
I got tomato off it straight off, with a bit of spiciness coming through as time went on, like a deconstructed Bloody Mary. The BBG didn't, but she was in the middle of scoffing a pizza at the time, and just saw it as a rather nice saison. Top tip from her - "if you want to appreciate subtle flavours in a beer, don't fill your mouth with Dalston Chilli immediately beforehand." They should use that on the label.

15. BRLO / BrewDog Berlin Mitte: / Dr Frank's Happy Pils (Imperial Pilsner, 7.50%)
Very nice hoppy and fruity pilsner, emphasising how interesting BrewDog's lagers could be if they weren't just trying to target Fosters drinkers. ("True but slightly unfair," says The BBG - that's what I usually aim for, certainly.)

16. Up Front Brewing / DogHouse Merchant City: Das ist Techno Sex (key lime and passionfruit gose, 5.40%)
Sharp and a little bit salty rather than sour, with the fruit really cutting through in the first few mouthfuls (but dying down a bit as time goes on). Is the idea that the beers with 'sex' in the name are the most gluggable?
21st Oct 2017, 16:40   comments (0)

#Collabfest2017 part three: Clerkenwell, Brighton, Leeds North Street, Stirling

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Saturday lunchtime in Clerkenwell, and you can see why they don't open on Sundays: it's very quiet without the usual scrum of City boys. Still, it's the first bar where we get a flight paddle and a written list of beers. And they bribe drinkers of their Cookie Dough beer with actual cookies (while stocks last), so three cheers for BrewDog's most underrated London bar (not counting Homerton).

9. Siren / BrewDog Clerkenwell: Cookie Dough (Cookie Dough White Stout, 7.40%)
Very nice initially - odd mix of flavours, though you can kind of see how cookie dough is the overall impression from the mashup of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. Mainly vanilla on the nose, with the other flavours mingling as it goes down.

10. Brighton Bier / BrewDog Brighton: Dutch Udder (Flemish Milk Stout, 6.50%)
Quick hello to Gretel, who joined us at the Soho bar last night and had a glass of this while we drank our first flight. She rather kindly offered us a taste, which we refused because we like to keep a structure to these sessions, dammit. It's a rather good milk stout, still fighting the flavours of the Cookie Dough (and, in The BBG's case, the free cookies) on the first mouthful. Thins out a little as it goes on, and may be a bit better if it's been given time to warm up (the keg had literally just gone on when they poured it). The BBG suggests it's more like a Belgian black beer than a stout, really.

11. Northern Monk Brew Co / BrewDog North Street Leeds: Fumin' Lou (Gingerbread Ice Cream Brown Ale with Vanilla, 6.30%)
"It's doing a few things, isn't it?" is her initial reaction. All sorts of crazy spiciness going on here, mainly ginger with a hint of vanilla. It's definitely the combination of the two that keeps it interesting. Stays surprising to the bottom of the glass, too, which is unusual.

12.Fallen Brewing / BrewDog Stirling: Sex out of reach (Peach, Orange and Cranberry Witbier, 5.00%)
Incredibly fruity, hard to believe it's actually beer initially. The BBG feels there's more peach initially, with an aftertaste more like mandarin than just orange. Dangerously easy drinking, managed to finish it without thinking about it.
21st Oct 2017, 14:40   comments (0)

#Collabfest2017 part two: Malmo, Norwich, Shepherd's Bush, Aberdeen

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On to Shepherd's Bush for second and final round of the day.

5. Benchwarmers Brewing Co. / BrewDog Malmö: Captain Coconut (Coconut IPA, 5.60%)
Pleasant IPA with sharp, bitter taste at start, coconut gradually comes through as it goes on.

6. DEYA Brewing Company / BrewDog Norwich: Are You Taking the Peche (Peach Milkshake IPA, 6.50%)
First one that's come through properly on the nose. Slight fight with bitterness of previous beer before peach comes hammering through. Still has East Coast IPA feel to it. Top of the Untappd poll here at the time, and you can see why. Very nice indeed.

7. Weird Beard Brew Co / BrewDog Shepherds Bush: Bring the Long Night (Cocktail Stick Sour Pale, 4.50%)
Local bar and local brewery (we know someone who knows Bryan, you know). Weird notes of cheese throughout, especially at start and end - some pineapple and Pina Colada in the middle, but it's mostly a peculiar sour milk vibe coming off it, and not a nice one like that stilton stout from Brewster's we had once.

8. Fierce Beer / BrewDog Aberdeen: Very Big Moose (Chocolate and Vanilla Stout, 12.00%)
The biggest beer on the board this year, and all memories of cheese are erased from the first mouthful. A proper nightcap beer - we usually use Cocoa Psycho for that, but this tastes like a complex mix of coffee and cinnamon, even though there's no coffee in it. Tastes barrel aged, which is probably the effect of the vanilla.
21st Oct 2017, 00:11   comments (0)

#Collabfest2017 part one: Edinburgh, Soho, Leeds, York

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Once again, it's time for this thing. 34 new beers from the BrewDog bars in the UK, Sweden and Germany, brewed in collaboration with local brewers, and three days to attempt to drink them all before they run out. The Belated Birthday Girl and I start inside the Soho bar, where the flight we're given consists of 1/2 pint glasses rather than the usual 1/3 pint. Hopefully, for the sake of everyone's sanity (ours and yours), this won't be a precedent.

1. Stewart Brewing / BrewDog Edinburgh: Corpse Reviver (Kettle Sour Pale with Lactose and Fruit, 5.90%)
A fairly pleasant one to start off with: slightly sour, with a slight fruitiness we can't quite identify (maybe grapefruit?). Surprisingly tame for the name.

2. Redchurch Brewery / BrewDog Soho: Risk: Cherry Stone (Cherry Sour, 6.00%)
Another sour. This doesn't have much cherry initially, maybe a little later as the sourness diminshes, with some marzipan on the nose.

3. Ridgeside Brew Co / BrewDog Leeds: FUBARB (Rhubarb and Custard Sour, 4.80%)
Now we're talking. Not much sourness to this one: coconut or caramel comes through on the first mouthful, and gradually mutates into something else - The BBG thinks they're more like rhubarb and custard boiled sweets than the actual dessert, while I think they're more like liquid Trebor Fruit Salads. Neither of these is a bad thing.

4. Brew York / BrewDog York: Goose Willis (Gooseberry Fool inspired Sour Beer, 5.30%)
It looks like Soho doesn't like sours: when we came in there were only nine Collabfest beers left, half an hour later it was down to six, and most them were sour beers of one sort or another. There's more of a burnt quality to this one, which takes the edge off the sourness.
20th Oct 2017, 23:18   comments (0)

#Collabfest2016 6: Newcastle, Doghouse, Clerkenwell, Castlegate

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And following an even longer pause...

A quick explanation at this point. They announced the dates for Collabfest2016 shortly after we'd booked a weekend away in Norwich for October 22-23. (Don't look at us like that, it's a fine city, with a terrific BrewDog bar full of excellent helpful staff. More details in a forthcoming BrewDogging blog post, inevitably.)

If you've been reading between the lines, you'll have worked out that our first eight Collabfest2016 beers were drunk in Shepherds Bush on Friday, and the following twelve in Norwich on Saturday. The plan was to mop up the remaining seven in a final sesh at Norwich on Sunday afternoon, before heading back home. Unfortunately, we were unaware of Norwich's strategy for spreading the Collabfest beers across their limited number of taps, which was this: half of them on sale Friday, the other half on Saturday and Sunday. If we'd wanted to drink those seven beers in Norwich, we needed to have drunk them on Friday (or wait throughout Sunday on the offchance that one of them would come on again when one of the Saturday beers ran out).

So, the day after Collabfest technically finished, we're back in Shepherds Bush digging through their dregs to see if they can help us finish this thing off once and for all. Except they can't. The collabs from Aberdeen, Brighton and Leeds are all gone. (Leeds - the spectacularly-named I'm A Lumberjack (And I'm Oak-Aged) - is a particularly sad omission, as it was on at Norwich but they couldn't get it to pour properly.)

So (with thanks to the Shepherds Bush and Norwich bars for at least getting us this far), here are beers 21-24, and if 25-27 ever appear out in the wild we'll let you know...

u) Almasty Brewing Co / BrewDog Newcastle: Morning Wood (brown ale brewed with Modern Times barrel-aged coffee, 6%). A brown ale from the spiritual home of the style. Lots of coffee with a fair bit of evidence of the barrel aging: not so much of what I'd consider to be 'brown' flavour, at least in the early stages. Once it's warmed up, it feels a bit more like a brown ale, getting more brownilicious as it goes on.

v) Fyne Ales / DogHouse Merchant City: Heather Lochbeer (smoked pink peppercorn and heather infused wit beer, 5.5%). It's all there from mouthful one - the heather, the pepper, the wit - and all the twists are nicely balanced (the heather's not so overpowering as to feel odd) with a hoppy bitterness coming in at the end. Thankfully, it's not just a silly name.

w) Affinity Brewing Co w/ Elusive Brew Co / BrewDog Clerkenwell: Brimful Of Masha (coffee and maple American red ale, 7.2%). Looks like a glass of mud initially, very murky. More maple sweetness on the nose and palate, very little coffee coming through at all. Plenty of maple, though, and drinkable enough. Though as with any red ale we drink, the phrase 'it's no 5am Saint' pops up in the conversation eventually.

x) Stewart Brewing / BrewDog Castlegate: They're Coming To Get Rhu Barbra (sour pale ale with rhubarb, 4.5%). One more crappy pun to finish up on. I'm getting 100% rhubarb and 0% sourness (which suits me, frankly), but The BBG disagrees, claiming it doesn't really say 'rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb' to her. That might be a good thing, though. Eventually she says there's more rhubarb coming through, but it's a bit generically sour rather than actually rhubarby.

Best in show (with the caveat that we haven't tried Aberdeen, Brighton or Leeds):
1. Siren/Shepherds Bush
2. Liverpool Craft Beer/Liverpool
3. Wiper & True/Bristol
4. Cloudwater/Manchester
5. Weird Beard/Shoreditch
(Observation by The BBG: most of our favourites - 1 and 5 excepted - have no particularly odd twists in the recipe, they're just standard styles done really, really well.)
24th Oct 2016, 20:10   comments (0)