Azvex & Left Handed Giant special edition of Ray's Raycommendations.


To pull back the curtain on my Raycommendation process, I’ll disclose that I have a note in my phone, where I jot down the names of my favourite beers throughout each week, making the selection process seamless when the time comes to get writing. When pulling open my notes this week to pick what to Raycommend, it immediately became apparent that two breweries in particular have been really floating my boat recently: Left Handed Giant and Azvex. Multiple beers from each of them have really dazzled me this past week, so I thought I’d mix things up and do a double issue, shining a much deserved spotlight on these two breweries who are at the top of their game right now. Therefore, this week’s edition is a tad unorthodox, but DOUBLE THE BEERS!


Kicking things off is Azvex’s latest instalment of their mental smoothie sour series ‘Mana’. This line of brews began last summer with a tropical fruit bomb that I loved enough to select as my favourite sipper of the season in our staff Beers of the Summer blog post. After a couple iterations that didn’t particularly work for me, I’m buzzing to see that Mana is back to its absolute best, this time crammed to the brim with passionfruit, guava, mango, and coconut. It boasts a hugely thick, fruit shake body, thanks to being stuffed with enough fruit to be considered one of your five-a-day, and complimentative sharp tartness. Good and good for you, right?


Azvex is no stranger to brewing some absolutely wicked hoppy styles, and this Double IPA ‘Seagull King’ is bang on form. It’s hopped with the delightfully fruity trio of Citra, Galaxy, and Strata, which lend sweet notes of stone fruit and mango, alongside balancing bitter grapefruit and dank hop character. Smooth, full-bodied, and sweet-leaning is my type of DIPA!


Take a break from the wacky, overly sweet pastry stouts we’ve seen become so popular lately, with this rich, cacao and coffee Imperial Stout. Forget an after-dinner espresso, this coffee-heavy sipper provides a smooth drinking experience with deep, bittersweet dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavours. Some can design that is as well… Worth noting how special it is that such a broad variety of styles have been so consistently fantastic from these Scouse superstars. Pick a style and they’ll brew it well! 


On to my favourite of Bristol’s crowded brewing scene: Left Handed Giant! An impromptu Imperial Stout tasting after work last Thursday left me crying out for something that wasn’t dark and 10+%. Insert LHG’s Hazy boi ‘Live Outside’. Yes, I was multiple big beers in, but this was an absolute crowd pleaser. My colleagues and I all rejoiced as American and New World hops Mosaic, Citra, Southern Cross, and Galaxy lit up our palates with an all out fruit assault. This liquid fruit basket enchanted with stone fruit, melon, lime, and bubblegum hop quality. An absolute treat for any hop-head.


Last spring, it was common practice for me to pick up a half dozen or so beers of various styles every Friday, to take home and share with my flatmates throughout my weekends off. One particular Friday, I noticed it was going to be an exceptionally warm Saturday, so I reached for a number of crispy lagers to bring home and drink in the sun. My flatmates and I cozied up on our tiny balcony, in the beating sun, speaker blaring tunes, laughing and splitting refreshing beers. Immaculate vibes. The highlight of our session was this Helles style lager from LHG’s Brewpub. Its full of delicious honey sweetness and bready malt character, with German noble hops used to provide a crisp bitterness that, paired with its prickly carbonation, made it oh, so crushable. I’ll admit I’ve reached for this multiple times since I’ve seen it return to our fridges, so grab one quick before I toss back the rest of them! 


Rounding off an unconventional list of Raycommendations is a place I like to end most drinking sessions: stout territory! As I’ve long established in these blog posts, I am quite the sweet tooth. Reading Left Handed Giant’s description of their freshly-released Milk Stout ‘Bushland Creatures’ had me *im*patiently awaiting its arrival. Crystal and caramel malts? Big fan. Honeycomb? Yes, please. Cacao nibs? Go on…. Lactose? Sucker for the stuff. All used in the same brew? SIGN ME UP! I split this with a couple of buddies, and we were all taken aback by how complex it was for a Milk Stout. Milk chocolate sweetness, a drizzle of caramel, and a hint of balancing roast sung in harmony over the velvety,  smooth texture you’d hope for in a good Milk Stout. So much going on, but so, so deliciously indulgent. Hats off to LHG, who seem to be firing on all cylinders right now.