Floc, Alchemik and Coolhead breweries at Ghost Whale.


After taking a week to celebrate all things Lager, a return to the typical chaotic flavour profiles you’d expect in a list of Raycommendations was calling. Not just any return though, this week I’ve decided to really push the boat out, and go for an all-out sweet shop edition because, why not? I’ve still managed to maintain a variety of styles here, but the following are some of the silliest brews we have going at the moment… Sweet tooth? This one’s for you. 


Canterbury’s finest hop merchants Floc weren’t dilly-dallying with anything but the freshest Citra they could get their hands on in this latest Double IPA. Aptly named, Citra is one of the most aromatic hops going, and is known to bring heaps of fruity flavour and aroma. Noticeable immediately is a mega tropical nose beaming up and out of the glass. They’ve brewed this with loads of residual sweetness left after fermentation, meaning it’s both sugary sweet on the palate and full and creamy in body. Citra lends notes of stone fruit and mango, with a slightly floral character as well. All in all, Floc. have made an absolute banger here. 


I’ve seen some very odd flavour combinations in my time as a beer geek, especially as a fan of the most weird and whimsical brews. Few promised combos have made me giggle as much as this salted caramel and lingonberry sour from Finland’s Coolhead. Even just seeing it on our order sheet made me think, “Surely that won’t work…”, so naturally, cracking it open on the day of its arrival was a must. 

When I was in high school, a bubble tea craze hit my local area. ‘Boba’ shops popped up left, right, and centre, and no one fell more into the fad than my little sister, Libby. She would make half hour pilgrimages to her favourite shop every day after school, for her daily dose of salted caramel milk tea with tapioca balls. Randomly enough, the aroma of this Finnish pastry sour filled me with nostalgia, so extremely redolent of the caramel milk teas we used to drink together. To my surprise, this works tremendously well. Sharp, face-scrunching lemony sourness hits you up front, with smooth, sweet toffee goodness lingering through the finish. I promised a sweet shop issue, and this couldn’t fit the bill more. 


Would a sweet shop / dessert edition of Raycommendations be complete without the mad people at Sofia, Bulgaria’s Alchemik? Absolutely not. These pastry brew wizards whip up zany sours and stouts like few others. Equally nostalgic as the previous beer, this is quite literally a liquid S’more, that takes me back to sitting around a campfire with my family in Big Sur or Carpinteria, California, where my dad would patiently toast his marshmallow in pursuit of a perfect golden hue, while I would restlessly hold mine straight in the flames for a bit of char. Comfortably the most viscous beer I’ve had in a long while, as it pours thick enough to tile a roof with or patch up potholes in the street. Chocolate and graham cracker come through in abundance on the nose, with marshmallow and vanilla notes executed to perfection as well. It is incredibly sweet, so far from any balance, but as dessert beers go, this is one fun sipper. The tooth cavity this comes with is well worth it.