I’m gonna throw it out there that Chew Chew by Fallen was one of my favourite Scottish beers…until now. The mouthfeel on this is viscous yet there’s a slight carbonation which lifts the heaviness. It’s dark, rich, sweet and delicious, like a dark chocolate and raspberry ganache. I may have mentioned I love imperial stouts, and this is no exception. I feel very proud to be Scottish when we’re producing beers like this!
This is a beautiful balance of citrus and tropical fruits with bitterness and a resiny pine note just at the end. Oats and wheat are used in addition to barley and lactose has been added too to give a lovely, viscous, almost creamy texture. This is a perfect grown up orange juice. Helps that it’s so hazy that it could pass just on looks too.
A beautiful beer on a beautiful day! Tropical Rumble by To Øl is a session IPA with passionfruit, peach and mango. This isn’t as juicy as some of the tropical style beers I’ve had lately but I like it nonetheless. It’s still got a considerable amount of bitterness so remains firmly in the beer rather than fruit cocktail category. It’s got a nice little sour tartness to it which lifts the bitterness. A lovely thirst quencher on a sunny day.
A delicious exploration of hops by Burnt Mill Brewery in collab with Simply Hops. El Dorado, Ella, Hallertau, Comet and Bru-1 combining together to give a beautiful fruit smoothie of a beer. Peaches, passionfruits, mangoes and oranges. All my favourite fruits with a sprinkle of bitterness and a tiny bit of sweetness coming through from the malt. Summer in a can.
Another new brewery for me. Tonight we have Whiplash and their delicious Bone Machine IPA. It tastes like a tropical fruit smoothie; Mango, orange, peach and apricot. Not very bitter and a very smooth texture. This is verrrry drinkable for 6.2%!
Loka Polly are the new kids on the block and I’ve been dying to try their beers! This is a really interestingly flavoured beer – big, bold hops held together with a very viscous mouthfeel coming from the wheat and oats. It reminds me of papaya; not overly tropical but creamy in texture. This creaminess really balances the bitterness and the whole beer is lifted with a little orange kick at the end. An added bonus is the look and texture of the label – this will definitely be getting used as a vase for some bright tulips!
There’s no denying Beavertown cans look amazing and their beers are pretty solid too but this time, they’ve absolutely blown it out the park. I’m always a bit dubious when a beer sounds too good to be true but this ticks all the boxes. An initial sour and fruity hit from the raspberries developing into sweet vanilla then rounded off with bitter, roasted notes and that kind of ashy flavour I love in an imperial. Brilliant.
My dad first introduced me to Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout years ago, and since then I’ve been hooked on imperials. It was my favourite beer for a long time and drinking it tonight is bringing back such fond memories. It’s a truly sensational beer packed with so many different flavours, all balanced beautifully. Bitter chocolate and coffee, dark berries, treacle, vanilla and almost a hint of smoke or spice.
Four Heriot-Watt masters students will be launching Natural Selection Brewing’s most recent creation, Common Ancestor, at OX184 on Cowgate, Edinburgh, on Thursday 29 June. The launch night will feature guest speaker Roger Protz. This collaborative project, now in its seventh year, is between selected MSc Brewing and Distilling students at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling and Stewart Brewing. These students are tasked with the challenge to trial beer recipes, brand their own product, brew 5000 litres of their chosen creation and sell it across the UK. The name, Natural Selection Brewing, stems from the project’s evolutionary developments which take place each academic year, with the new students adding their own creativity and innovative ideas to drive the project in a different direction.
This year’s beer, called Common Ancestor, is a 5.2% ABV California Common. The style originates from California in the 19th Century, where lager strains of yeast were fermented at higher than normal temperatures due to a lack of viable temperature control options.
Patrick Smith, Project Marketer, describes the beer as “an effervescent ale/lager hybrid, with caramel, citrus and pine notes, thanks to a liberal dosing of Dr. Rudi and Chinook hops. A slight hint of juniper complements this nicely. Our beer has evolved from the traditional California Common style to be fit for modern day consumption”.
Mark Ritchie, Head Brewer for the project, said “A California Common, being relatively unexplored by the craft beer scene, gave us a lot of scope to play around with and add our own twists. It’s a slightly unusual, but still very drinkable style”.
“We wanted to show that lagers can be exciting” adds Philip Sisson, Project Coordinator, “We’ve used a lot of citrusy hops during the end of the boil and fermentation to maximize flavour and aroma. The small addition of juniper also brings an extra dimension to the beer. It should be readily enjoyable by both craft beer enthusiasts, as well as traditional cask drinkers”.
The style works well in both cask and keg format and will be distributed across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle and London in both these formats, as well as bottles.
The beer’s launch night at Cowgate’s OX184 is open to the public to allow people the very first taste of Common Ancestor. Two types of ticket are available for purchase at the Stewart Brewing website. A £12.50 ticket includes a talk with guest speaker and beer journalist, Roger Protz, as well as an intimate evolution tasting of how this year’s beer has developed (doors 6.00pm for 6.30pm talk). Alternatively, a £7.50 ticket provides admission at 7.30pm. Both tickets include one pint of Common Ancestor, a commemorative glass and bar snacks. Keg, cask and bottle formats will be available, as well as access to Natural Selection Brewing’s limited edition sherry barrel-aged Belgian Quadrupel, Aged Ancestor. There will be a raffle in aid of Marie Curie on the night, with various beer-related prizes, including an evolution gift box of each of this year’s trial brews.
Right, let’s not beat around the bush here. I love an innuendo as much as the next person, so I’m not going to write this article and ignore the flower in the room. Yep, a growler also means something very different in Scotland. In writing this, I’ve tried to minimise the innuendos as much as possible but there’s only so much you can do…
So, some of you might be reading this thinking what even is a ‘Growler’ in the beer context??? According to the Oxford English Dictionary website the word ‘Growler’ can mean four possible things:
A person or thing that growls.
A small iceberg.
Historical: A four-wheeled hansom cab.
US informal: A pail or other container used for carrying drink, especially draught beer.
Unsurprisingly, a Growler in beer terms refers to no. 4. However, Grunting Growler don’t use pails to serve their beers in, they have specially designed airtight glass containers all nicely branded up and they look pretty great. You can get either 1L or 2L depending how thirsty you are.
I first met Jehad Hatu, the man behind GG a couple of years ago when he was a pop up in Peckham’s (and I think some other places), so it’s amazing to see that he’ll soon be celebrating his first birthday at the current location on Old Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. Jehad is incredibly passionate about beer and his enthusiasm shines through as soon as you walk in the door. He’s always happy to talk about the beers he has in, recommending things based on your preferences.
In his shop on Old Dumbarton Road he has 4 taps on the go serving a variety of rotating beers to take away as well as a packed beer fridge that’s ever changing.
Here’s an example of the goodies I picked up last time I was there:
From L-R: North Brewing Co – Transmission, Schofferhoffer – Grapefruit, Out of Town Brewing – IPA, Fallen – Chew Chew. Wild Beer Co. – Smoke n Barrels, Tiny Rebel – Clwb Tropicana, Beerbliotek – Hip Hops, Wild Beer Co – Breakfast of Champignons
Particular shout out goes to the IPA by Out of Town Brewery (third on the left), a new brewery based up in Cumbernauld. Jehad recommended them to me so I picked up their IPA to test the hoppy, malty, yeasty waters. I’ve been drinking a lot of super juicy West Coast style IPAs recently so this was a lovely change. It was quite cloudy but don’t let that put you off as it’s unfiltered so still has all the natural goodness left in. It has a much, deeper flavour than your West Coast style, with lots of piney, almost woody tones. I really enjoyed the complex flavours and thought it was a lovely, well balanced beer especially for being so new to the game. The brewery was founded by James Morton (of Great British Bake Off fame), Owen Sheerins and Richard O’Brien. I think we’ll see some big things coming from them over the next year.
So I mentioned earlier that Grunting Growler will be celebrating its first birthday at Old Dumbarton Road soon…well it happens to be this Saturday…April 1st! Out of Town have actually brewed a Blood Orange Fruit Smoothie IPA (so called as it’s been brewed with blood oranges and the smoothie part comes from the added lactose to give it a smooth mouthfeel) for this ceremonial occasion so the guys will be there from 4-10 for a meet the brewer. Get on down to try it and find about more about them, as well as some general fun beer chat.
The idea behind using Growlers is that it means you can take home beer from a keg to drink later. Beer from a keg is much fresher than bottled beer as a keg keeps the beer better by being fully airtight and not letting in any light. A pint of beer always tastes better than a bottle, right? So by filling the Growler, you can take home beers and they’ll taste as close as possible to a freshly poured pint. Once in the Growler, it’ll last for around 6 weeks but to get that super fresh taste, it’s best to drink it ASAP. Once opened, it’ll last for around 3 days…but…I think you can guess what I’m going to say… to get that super fresh taste, it’s best to drink it ASAP. Fresher is better. Plus the beers are too good to leave lying around for ages.
Jehad is extremely passionate about trying before buying as he wants you to enjoy the beer you take home, not just flog you a growler and be done with it. He’s been working hard recently on renovating the space himself and has made a table with seats made from used keykegs (big recycling props). He’s hoping to be able to open it up to the public for tastings as well as using it as a general bar space. I think that’ll be a fantastic addition and a great place to pop in for a wee drink whilst you stock up on beers to take home.
Big up the Growler!
♥Grunting Growler is located at 51 Old Dumbarton Rd, Glasgow, G3 8RF♥