Drunk in... October

It was a jam-packed month of travel for Beer Voyage so this month's round-up of the best beer we imbibed is an embarrassment of riches. Forget Halloween, the only scary thing this month was how much money we spent on beer. 

Here are our favourites for the month of October. 


Hedges

Original Raspberry Meringue Ice Cream Pie - Fruit Beer 6% // Buxton Brewery x Omnipollo

Indy Man Beer Con brought about my first opportunity to sample the new Buxton/Omnipollo ice cream releases served with all the trimmings.

They were pouring a few from the series with various different toppings including meringues, marshmallows and pecans. Bordering on dessert more than beer, I was intrigued to try them for myself to see what all the fuss was about. 

This raspberry meringue ice cream pie number was topped with mini meringues. The beer itself is excellent and does taste like raspberries and meringues - sharp and fruity whilst also being sweet and slightly creamy, I was happy to finally get to try it. 

As for the toppings? It's definitely a massive gimmick and doesn't really add anything to the beer. It generated a lot of buzz and the queues to get into the room Buxton were in were massive. I guess it was something different at least and I'm always pleased to see breweries doing things unorthodox.  

Old Fashioned Barley Wine - Barley Wine 8.5% // Siren Craft Brew

Another from Indy Man Beer Con comes this fantastic barley wine from Siren. I took a total punt on this as it sounded interesting and I was so glad I did. 

Siren's take on an Old Fashioned cocktail using a barley wine base was an interesting premise. I'm a big fan of a barley wine when it has a sweet finish and this definitely did. The mixture of whiskey, citrus, bitters and the base beer lead to a wonderful combination of vanilla, caramel, creamy, woody, sugary, warming flavours that went down all too easy. 

I'm hoping they release this in bottles because I'd love to try it again. 

Also, shout out to the guy at the Siren stand who let me go behind the counter to read the beer list because I broke my glasses the night before (a story for another time). 

(Apologies for the terrible photo - say hello to Friend of the Voyage, Dan. Apparently I take photos like this when drunk.)

Don't @ Me Nicolisa Husk - Imperial Stout 14% // Cloudwater Brew Co.

A third and final beer from Indy Man Beer Con and something of a rarity. Cloudwater in making a non-pale beer shocker. We all know Cloudwater make some of the best pale beers around but their dark beers had always passed me by so I jumped at the chance to give one of their imperial stouts a go. 

Christ alive was this good. After a disappointingly 'too fresh' beer (Big Pump tasted like soap and burning) from them earlier in the day, they totally redeemed themselves with this absolute behemoth of a beer. My tasting notes for this beer on Untappd just say 'yes maaaaaate' which about sums it up. 

This was one of the best imperial stouts I've ever had. Thick, rich and complex it ticked all the boxes for a stout of this stature. Sadly, I didn't get a picture so have a picture of JME as the beer is named after one of his songs. (I totally knew that and didn't read it somewhere because I am super hip and down with the kids.)

NW DIPA Galaxy - Double IPA 9% // Cloudwater Brew Co.

From one Cloudwater to another. Drinking Cloudwater in Manchester is pretty much a given but I did not expect to be able to buy it in Frome, Somerset - a bit of a craft beer black hole. Until now.

Step forward Brewed Boy, a relatively new bottleshop in the aforementioned town of Frome. Back home visiting family, I was told about this place and so engineered a reason to go to Frome, primarily to visit here. It's a fantastic little place and I'm really happy to see somewhere like this exist so close to where I grew up. 

This DIPA is more like the Cloudwater I know compared to the previous beer - I think I'm running out of ways to describe a Cloudwater DIPA but I don't think I'll ever tire of drinking them. Galaxy hops are apparently one of my favourite hops as I tend to rank beers that use them quite highly. I loved this. My Dad did not. (Though he did enjoy Tiny Rebel's Stay Puft on draft. Baby steps.)

Mango Lassi Heathen - American IPA 7.2% // Nothern Monk
 

Look at the colour of that beer. What a beautiful sight to behold. 

This is Northern Monk's regular Heathen souped up with a fuckton of mangoes and some lactose to basically turn it into an alcoholic Innocent smoothie. 

Long-time readers know full well I am a big fan of fruit being added to a pale ale so it's no surprise I am totally besotted with this incredible juice. Not long after this I tried the double dry hopped version but think this just edges it as it's more nuanced and very well balanced. Northern Monk continue to churn out brilliant beers at a steady pace. 

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Cookie Dough - White Stout 7.4% // Siren Craft Brew x BrewDog

This beer was brewed for Collabfest 2017 - an event that I found a little underwhelming this year (hence the lack of review covering it). There were far too many distinctly average beers, a few absolute turds and only a handful of standouts. 

This white stout was the best of the bunch. Vanilla, chocolate, nutty goodness was the order of the day. Rum barrel aged coffee was also added to the beer to give it a lovely warming finish. It did genuinely taste like cookie dough which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. 

Hopefully Collabfest 2018 is a return to form and we get more beers like this mother. 

Galaxy IIPA - Imperial IPA 8% // Stigbergets Bryggeri

When we got to Stockholm we made a beeline for Omnipollo's Hatt, Omnipollo's tap room, like the ardent beer travellers that we are. We were a bit taken aback to find out they were in the midst of a Stigbergets tap takeover - imagine travelling all the way to Sweden to drink draft Omnipollo at their tap room to find out you can't. 

Thankfully this wasn't a problem because Stigbergets are a bloody brilliant brewery and we were in the city for several days so had plenty of time to come back for the Omnipollo goodness. Which we did. Daily. Until we had to come home. 

One of the best offerings from Stigbergets on our first visit was this murky masterpiece. Another beer using Galaxy hops, this was thick and juicy and well earned after traipsing across the city in the rain. Many of Stigbergets beers went down very easily but this being the first made it all the sweeter. A perfect welcome to Sweden. 

Brush - Imperial Stout 12% // Omnipollo x J. Wakefield Brewing

And finally, a beer that took ten minutes to pour but was absolutely worth the wait. I'm not sure if the nitro tap at Omnipollo's Hatt was meant to take as long as it did but it resulted in one of the creamiest, thickest stouts I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. Look. At. That. Head. 

This beer's list of ingredients is an embarrassment of riches; vanilla bean, cocoa nib, hazelnut coffee and ancho chillies. Ordered as a night cap, I took my sweet time savouring every sip of this beautiful beer. Wonderfully complex, each sip uncovered a different taste and the chilli kick at the end rounded out the flavour and gave it a lovely warming finish. 

Thinking back to this beer is making me want to book a flight back to Stockholm just so I can hole up in Omnipollo's Hatt and bankrupt myself drinking beers of this calibre. 


Brand

Vicinity - Imperial IPA 8% // by Trillium

October was a pretty amazing month for me as I headed stateside for an amazing trip through New England to enjoy an American Halloween, the Fall leaves and of course plenty of American craft breweries.

First up on my trip was a stay in one of my favourite cities, Boston, Massachusetts. After a long day of walking in the sun along Boston’s historic Freedom Trail, we were depleted and running on fumes.  Stumbling across the Trillium Beer Garden was therefore like finding an oasis in a desert. A cold one was much needed and I couldn’t think of a better brewery to be supplying delicious refreshment that then ever so popular Trillium.

After braving the queues (or lines as our American friends would say), which thankfully moved pretty quickly, I was spoilt for choice for what to try as they all sounded pretty amazing. I threw an imaginary dart at the menu and ended up going for Vicinity. This big juicy number, packed full of hops, was so moreish it wasn’t long before I had sunk it and was queuing up again for another. A really fruity, easy drinking Imperial IPA. Excellent as expected from Trillium.

Ganache - American Wild Ale 7.5% // Allagash

Allagash was the first proper brewery we made it to whilst Stateside. Located a little way outside of Portland, Maine, it required a taxi to get there but it was totally worth it.

The brewery has an unusual set-up, with a taproom that is restricted to limited drinking on-site so you can only order a maximum number of drinks, checked off a menu card when you order although there is plenty more bottles for takeaway drinking. 

After ordering flights and sampling most of their available beers, I ordered my last from the menu card. In this case I had definitely left the best till last. Ganache is a complex brew, rich and chocolatey whilst also containing cherry flavours with a tartness that cuts through. This is the type of thing you would expect from a rich chocolate-cherry gateau. This really was one to savour and a beer unlike any other I found whilst across the pond. Ganache is highly recommended if you get a chance to drink it.

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Autohelm - American Amber Ale 6.4% // Rising Tide

Portland, Maine is a brilliant city located on the picturesque Casco Bay. It is also blessed with an abundance of fantastic craft breweries. We were fortunate enough to be able to check a good number of them out on our trip to the city.

On a pretty rainy October day in Portland we hiked fo to what felt like the edge of the city to eventually find the welcoming sight of the Rising Tide Brewing Company. Keen to try out as many of their brews as possible I again opted for flights, a returning theme during my trip.

One of the beers I ordered was Autohelm, an American Amber/Red ale. This came out hoppy, juicy but also kind of dry. This is a collaboration with Otto's pizza, a famous local pizza chain that we also checked out on the same night. The pizza was top quality, as was this collaboration. Perfect drinking with a slice.

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Soundings #766 - American IPA 6.4% // Rising Tide

Soundings was another that I ordered as part of my flights at Rising Tide. As I'm not being particularly familiar with the output of the brewery, I was a bit stumped as to what to order. I’m really glad that I opted for this delightful IPA.

Soundings is part of an experimental IPA series brewed by Rising Tide. The brewery describes it as: “With each batch, we take new soundings and explore uncharted territories of flavor.” You can find out more about Soundings on their website. I was lucky to have batch #766, which was brewed with Huell Melon hops and packed full of lovely subtle fruity flavours. I'm a massive fan of melony flavoured beers anyway, I'll be searching out others that use the Huell hops after this.

Unfortunately you're unlikely to sample this version of Soundings if you visit the brewery but I'm sure their other experimental brews are just as satisfying.

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Sip of Sunshine - Imperial IPA 8%// Lawson's Finest Liquids

This was recommended by the very knowledgeable and genrally awesome barman at Foundry On Elm. Foundry on Elm was one of my favourite bars that we discovered whilst staying in Boston, it's based on the Cambridge side of the Charles River in the buzzing neighbourhood of Somerville. 

The barman recommended this as one of the best beers in the local area to try. He also said that it tends to have a very limited run and sells out quick so I was keen to get one in to see what all the hype was about. Sampling this as a part of my flights, I can see exactly why it is so popular and also why it's called Sip of Sunshine. Honestly it was like heaven in a glass. Beautifully sweet, it reminded me of drinking tropical fruit juice whilst being distinctly beery. 

I can’t say I’m familiar at all with Lawson’s but I will be keeping a keen eye out for them from now on.

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Hazelnut Brown Nectar - American Brown Ale 5.6% // Rogue Ales & Spirits

I love these sweet, sickly beers that taste almost like someone has crammed all the flavours of an indulgent cake into a glass.

Hazelnut Brown Nectar is exactly that, it tastes like someone has distilled chocolate cake and hazelnuts into a gorgeous brown ale. Brown ales are definitely a neglected style so it’s great to find one done so well. I’ve not had many like this, the last one I can remember that was a similar style and quality is Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale brewed by Meantime as part of their experimental Pilot Series.

Another brilliant recommendation from the barman at Foundry on Elm. Man knows his beers!

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Pumking - Imperial Yam Beer 8.6% // Southern Tier

Being in America for Halloween was pretty spectacular; the over-the-top decorations, the surplus of teeth rotting candy and the overall atmosphere were all amazing.

Being pretty unaccustomed to the scale of the holiday (UK Halloween sucks, American readers), we were stumped for how to spend All Hallow's Eve to do. Fortunately we saw a flyer for a ‘Flights and Frights’ event when we went to local bar and restaurant, Christopher’s in Cambridge, Boston. We dropped them an email and the awesome manager saved us the last two tickets.

Flights and Frights was brilliant fun, involving pumpkin decorating, food and of course, beer! Our flights consisted of four pumpkin beers from various American breweries and the crème de la crème was Pumking by Southern Tier Brewing Company. We also had a brief guest talk from the brewer from Souther Tier who clearly had a lot of confidence in his product and rightly so, it was excellent.

This imperial yam beer at 8.6% is strong. It has all those classic American pumpkin pie spices of clove and cinnamon and is very indulgent. Almost rum like in quality, one to savour.

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