Ray's Raycommendations, three more amazing beers to try from Ghost Whale.


In the wake of an incredibly eventful week of birthday celebrations, a relaxing, laidback bit of R&R for my liver was definitely in order. To the surprise of just about no one, due to my desire to stay on top of what’s going on in the Ghost Whale fridges and my inability to turn down a good brew, the rest & relaxation was short lived. Some of this week’s choices may catch you off guard, with two breweries making their Raycommendation debut!


A long tube journey after work last Friday meant a couple laps around our centre table on the hunt for the perfect road beer was applicable. When choosing a ‘roadie’ I want something light, flavourful, and refreshing, requirements that usually guide me toward Pilsners or Pale Ales. Phantom had me covered on this occasion, essentially mixing those two styles into one, with this delightful New Zealand-hopped Pilsner. Nelson Sauvin and Motueka provide a bouquet of grape and citrus notes, backed by the bitter punch you’d expect out of a well-made Pilsner. A light and cracker-y malt base really allows these hops to shine with their full-on fruity flavour, aroma, and pronounced bitterness. I’ve had Phantom IPAs, Stouts, and Sours that have impressed me in recent times, and adding a reliable Lager to the list is exciting to see. Their sales representative and graphic designer both pop into our shops every now and again, and are some of the friendliest people around. I truly believe they’re one to keep an eye on this year. Great people making great beer!


A quiet Wednesday shift conveniently aligned with friends coming in to keep me company during a midweek Arsenal match. Although the result didn’t go in our favour, the beers we shared on the evening were true pick-me-ups, none more so than this utterly ridiculous Pastry Sour collaboration between Edinburgh’s Vault City and Yorkshire’s Vocation. It’s no secret that Vault City tends to make promises of big, unexpected flavour combinations on their tins, and just about always hit the nail on the head in execution. This dark chocolate and Morello cherry Sour was no different. My buddies and I took one sniff of this, and unanimously agreed that it would be a mistake for these two breweries to not make a candle with the same aroma. It is so unapologetically pungent, redolent of the cherry Tootsie Pops I enjoyed as a child. It drinks incredibly smooth, with no hints of artificial flavourings, and was surprisingly less sweet than expected. I don’t think I’ve sampled a chocolate sour that works as well as this does. Hats off to all involved, this is so well made.


In the infancy stages of my craft beer enamoration [new candidate for entry to the OED here Ray. Ed.], Leeds-based Northern Monk were one of the first breweries who really got me excited about what beer can be. Their Patrons Project series was a regular feature in our guest fridge at the Br*wdog site I began my craft beer journey out of, making them a brewery I often reached for and commonly enjoyed. After beginning my employment with Ghost Whale, my focus shifted from drinking what I know and love, to making a constant effort to orient myself with the extensive list of high quality breweries that are stocked as mainstays in our fridges. The sheer amount of excellent beer that comes and goes here brought about new favourites, making Northern Monk’s beers something I didn’t consume as often. I’ve only just started to question this circumstance this week, after trying their amped up, Double IPA version of their core classic ‘Faith’. Citra, Mosaic, and Columbus hops bring a wonderful balance between citrus juiciness and dank earthiness. Sweet up front with just enough stabilising hop bitterness. A reminder to me that, amidst all of the up-and-coming, exciting breweries popping up, and seemingly weekly hype releases, there is still incredible beer coming from a long-time, ever-reliable, familiar face.