How’s everyone holding up in this flurry of *very* late summer sun? Even being from Los Angeles, these inordinate 30° days have been quite a shock to the system, but I’ve found they are best spent with a cold beer in hand.
I write this from the equally-boiling city of Warsaw, where I’ve taken a spontaneous city break visiting old friends from university. Fully understanding my obsessive relationship with craft beer, they’ve very kindly mixed in a “healthy” amount of taprooms and craft bars. A trip to PINTA’s taproom was headlined by my beer of the trip, an incredible wild ale that spent 9 months conditioning on vanilla beans in a Bourbon barrel. Meanwhile, PiwPaw Beer Heaven sent me into a state of euphoria, boasting just the 79 taps of local craft!
Prior to my time away, though, I enjoyed some cracking brews with friends and coworkers alike that I’m buzzing to pass along. Get your hands on these belters before I get back to London and drink the rest of them!
NEWBARNS – STOUT BEER
Step aside Guinness, Newbarns have absolutely smashed it with this Irish Dry Stout, producing what may well be my session stout of the year. Despite being a style that is so often hit or miss, I took a punt on this very randomly on shift late last week, and was immediately taken aback by the depth of flavour achieved. Roasted barley lends a gentle coffee-like roastiness, with huge hits of dried fruit and licorice malt character. Thin and dry as it stylistically should be, but with an astute complexity that keeps you coming back for more.
AUGUSTINER – HELLER BOCK
I’ve been quite lucky to see countless magnificent beers pass through our doors and into the fridges in my time at Ghost Whale. From barrel-aged stouts to complex mixed fermentation ales, juicy dry-hopped IPAs to dessert-like fruited pastry sours, and everything in between, eccentric experimentation continues to be what excites. Despite constantly chasing the newest, most innovative and unique beers, leaving room for tradition is important too, and few beers have thrilled me more than Augustiner-Bräu’s ‘Heller Bock’.’ “Bock” is the word for ram in German, a symbol of strength. Therefore, Bock beers are traditionally brewed stronger than average, evident in this 7.5% Helles-style lager. Established in 1328, Augustiner is Munich’s oldest independent brewery, and a universal hallmark of brewing tradition and class. In layman’s terms, their ‘Heller Bock’ is the big brother to their classic Helles, one of my all-time favourite beers. Similar, honey-esque malty sweetness is immediately present, perfectly balancing floral German noble hops. Brilliantly simple, and one I will be both shouting about and reaching for until it’s gone. Didn’t expect a lager to make my list of Raycommendations did you?
HOLY GOAT – DOOM WITCH
Dundee’s Holy Goat has rapidly become one of the few breweries that, regardless of what they release, I absolutely have to get my hands on. They are my go-to sour producer, so when I saw their name on the London Craft Beer Festival list of breweries, I knew they were a must-hit. They were pouring their ‘Doom Witch’, a blend of a barrel-aged red ales, fermented on 200 grams per litre of fresh, local strawberries, which was my standout beer of the festival, hence the reason we got bottles of this beauty in the shop ASAP afterwards. Sweet strawberry jam shines alongside the acidic, balsamic-esque tartness characteristic of the Flanders red style, with woody barrel character present as well. Just lush.