Brewdog Collabfest 2016
Date visited: October 2016
Despite this being its fourth year, this was the first year we'd heard about Collabfest - Brewdog's annual brewery/bar mash-up event. In summary, all of Brewdog's UK bars each collaborate with a brewery to make a beer that is then available for a 3 day period (or until they run out!) in all UK Brewdog bars.
27 bars equals 27 beers. The likes of Cloudwater, Siren, Weird Beard, Wiper & True, Brew By Numbers and Fourpure were just some of the UK breweries that took part this year. This coupled with an inadvertent free weekend meant that our attendance was all but inevitable.
We settled on the Shepherd's Bush branch - what with it having 40 taps, we knew we were guaranteed the opportunity to try each one. Fear not, dear reader, we were not planning on chinning 27 pints over the weekend; Brewdog offer beer flights for the very occasion. Essentially a wooden paddle that houses four 1/3 pints, it made the prospect of getting to try them all a little more manageable and a lot more affordable.
Ordering a beer flight is not something I'd ever considered doing before but it's absolutely something I will be doing on my next visit - as someone that loves to try new beer as often as they can (all about dem Untappd stats!) this is the perfect option for me. In short, I am a moron for not opting to do this sooner.
Anyway, back to Collabfest and my thoughts on the beers. Arriving at the bar early afternoon, we had decided we would try and see how many 1/3 pints we could get through and chose to simply start at the top of the tap list and work our way down. Slightly misjudged, we ended up with three of the first four beers being pretty big stouts - no issue to me as I'm a big fan but others in attendance found them a bit of a chore to get through first thing.
We managed to get through 20 of the 27 beers on the Saturday, retreating home after some of us had 'had their fill'. I would've liked to seen it through but fear that if I had, I'd likely not have remembered the last ones as the last few we did have are a little hazy. I decided to return to the bar on Sunday with a different cohort of beery chums to try and tick off the final seven. Annoyingly, two of the seven I was looking for had sold out so my final innings stands at 25/27. The two elusive ones being the offerings from Leeds x Rooster's Brewery and Sheffield x Abbeydale.
So which ones were good? Which were bad? Well, none were bad, per se. Some were excellent, some were quite average and some I don't remember fully so it's a little unfair on me to pass judgement. I was a little surprised with some of the 'twists' not really standing out - for example, the chocolate orange stouts on offer weren't as chocolate orange-y as I would've liked (although I still enjoyed them) and I would've liked to have seen a bit more variety in beer styles but these are minor quibbles in what was a great weekend of beer.
What follows are my top 5, in no particular order:
- Bristol x Wiper & True - Don’t Get Lemon (9.5%) Double IPA
I'm a sucker for a DIPA and this one was fantastic. I didn't get a whole lot of lemon but what I did get was bags of hops and a very refreshing beverage. Shame it had sold out on Sunday as I would've definitely had another.
- Camden x Howling Hops - Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream Pale Ale (5.5%) Lactose pale ale with raspberries
Despite looking very unappetising (check the picture above), it was anything but. It genuinely tasted like raspberry ripple ice cream - lots of fruit coming through and a lovely creamy finish (oo-err!) made this one of the stand out beers.
- Aberdeen x Fierce Beer - Black Flagship (6.5%) Bramble and chocolate stout
This was actually the first beer of the weekend and what a way to start. An interesting stout with deep chocolate flavours leading to an excellent fruit aftertaste from the bramble.
- Stirling x Fallen Brewing Co. - Malibru (4.1%) Pineapple and coconut sour
A sour beer making the list? Whodathunkit?! This was a very pleasant surprise and my only complaint was that it really didn't need the coconut. The level of sourness was great and the freshness from the pineapple made this an excellent beer.
- Shepherd's Bush x Siren - Ten Dollar Shake (6.6%) Fruit smoothie IPA
Bags of fruit here - it smelt delightful. Mango, papaya and passionfruit. The slightly lactose finish made this stand out from a standard IPA. I've seen that they've bottled it so I'm hoping I can pick up a bottle!
Overall, a great success all round and something I'll be pencilling in to do again next year.