BrewDog – Love them? Hate them? Ambivalent towards them? Either way, you’ve definitely heard of them. And one of the best things they do is their annual bars and breweries mashup (in more ways than one) – CollabFest.
For the unfamiliar, CollabFest (in previous years anyway) sees each of the BrewDog bars in the UK join forces with a local(ish) brewery. The bar team and the brewers get together and brew a beer they would want to drink. And the results are showcased over a weekend in all of BrewDog’s bars up and down the country, with a best in class loosely chosen via reactions on social media. And it’s going to be even bigger in 2017, with BrewDog’s Berlin bar and Swedish franchises getting in on the action.
The event is great exposure for local breweries and something BrewDog should be commended for keeping going each year. Many beers concocted during CollabFest then go on to become regulars such as: Ilkley’s – Westwood Stout (an aptly named White Chocolate Stout), Fallen’s – Big Raspberry Dog Chew (a Salted Caramel and Raspberry Milk Stout) and Weird Beard’s – Safeword (a Chokeberry IPA) to name a few.
But which from the vast list should you be ordering this coming weekend? Well here’s my guide to two flight boards-worth that are looking very promising indeed.
And if you do get a chance to try out any of the CollabFest brews this weekend (or if you don’t but you like the sound of them), please keep an eye out for other beers from the breweries in your craft beer establishment of choice. They may just become your new favourite.
8. Ridgeside Brewing Co. + BrewDog Leeds – Fubarb (4.8%)
Their Imperial IPA – Hyperion – went down a storm at this year’s Indy Man Beer Con. And now, under the radar Ridgeside are teaming up with BrewDog Leeds to take another crack at wowing beer fans far and wide. This time with a sour beer based on a British boiled sweet classic. The humble Rhubarb and Custard. Will it stack up? Will it crumble? We’ll find out this weekend.
7. DEYA + BrewDog Norwich – Are You Taking The Peche (6.5%)
Alongside Verdant, DEYA’s haze bombs have seen them emerge as the new cool kids on the UK beer scene. So it’s no surprise to see the beer they’ve brewed is an IPA filled with loads of fruit and hops (as well as lactose and more sugar for good milkshake-y measure). And although Cheltenham and Norwich aren’t exactly neighbouring, it’s great to have a brewery like this showcasing at CollabFest. You can almost guarantee two things about this beer. It won’t be see-through and it will be all sorts of crazy-delicious.
6. Affinity Brew Co. + BrewDog Shoreditch – There’s Saison About Mary (5.2%)
Having recently moved to the brew hub of Bermondsey, Affinity Brew Co. are a name to watch out for. Known for generally taking on slightly less conventional twists to their beers, Affinity’s Bloody Mary-based saison with BrewDog Shoreditch is no different. And it’s going to be a kicker. The saison has tomato, tobasco chillis, black pepper, lemon and celery salt and may also be worth taking a growler of home for the morning after.
5. Crafty Devil Brewing Co. + BrewDog Cardiff – Rock Lobster (5.5%)
2017 will be forever known for one beer style. The Vermont IPA. You know, the one that everyone says looks like a pint of orange juice. So I can imagine tounge was firmly in cheek when Crafty Devil and BrewDog Cardiff decided to add orange pulp to theirs. Rock Lobster sees Blood Orange and Mango puree added to a DDH IPA which sounds like both a craft beer bingo house, as well as potential to be the juiciest of juicy bangers.
4. Lost and Grounded + BrewDog Bristol – Dig That Well Deep (5.2%)
BrewDog Bristol and Lords of Lager, Lost and Grounded, are getting autumnal with this one. The dunkel isn’t a style we see a lot of round these part, but when done right, the dark lager is the perfect pint for when it’s starting to get a bit colder. If there’s one thing Lost and Grounded do right. It’s lagers. You may want to get ready to book a flight to Germany, as Lost and Grounded might just make the dunkel your new favourite style.
3. Northern Monk Brew Co. + BrewDog North Street Leeds – Fumin’ Lou (6.3%)
They say we start it sooner every year. And if this somewhat festive number is as good as it sounds, it’ll be Christmas come early. Northern Monk have been ever-present in my beer fridge lately, and 2017 seems to be the year they’ve really hit their stride with such notables as their Patrons Project beers. Gingerbread Ice Cream and Vanilla sounds like an interesting take on the somewhat maligned Brown Ale style. And who knows, if your good (i.e. rave about it to everyone who will listen), maybe Santa can bring some more come December.
2. Fierce Beer + BrewDog Aberdeen – Very Big Moose (12%)
This one is very simple. Early rumblings from those in the know say this could be as good as Cigar City’s unicorn beer – Hunahpu’s. Hard to fathom, I know. And if this is even remotely accurate, it’ll be a tough ask to beat Fierce (Scottish Brewery of the Year, don’t y’know?) and BrewDog Aberdeen’s CollabFest offering.
1. Siren Craft Brew + BrewDog Clerkenwell – Cookie Dough (7.4%)
When Ilkley and BrewDog Leeds served up Westwood Stout in 2014, social media overwhelmingly agreed they were on to a winner. Siren and BrewDog Clerkenwell’s offering has all the potential to top even that with their Ben and Jerry’s-esque brew. This is the one I’m most excited about, even after hearing that we may have our own UK version of Hunahpu’s. Siren’s mastery of the art, coupled with the thought of a beer that tastes like cookie dough ought to be one to remember. This beer may not melt, but Untappd might.
CollabFest will be taking place in all UK BrewDog bars (except DogTap), BrewDog Berlin and all BrewDog bars in Sweden between Friday October 20th and Sunday October 22nd.
You can also view the full beer list and timing plan here.
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