One of the first things I do every Monday, is eagerly peruse the list of new beers we are expecting to grace our fridges throughout the week to come. Last Monday was particularly awe inspiring, seeing our master-sheet include industry heavyweights and personal favourites alike, such as Marlobobo, Tilquin, Arpus, Alchemik, Stone, Saint Mars of the Desert, and many more cracking producers. Having a personally uneventful week coincide with such a mental list of incoming brews meant one thing: sticking around post-shift for casual beers with friends and co-workers. The following are my standouts from a sensational week of jaw dropping arrivals!
MARLOBOBO – BA BUMFUZZLE
Mead is yet to have featured in my weekly lists of Raycommendations, that is until the mighty Marlobobo returned to the shop. It’s no question as to why these guys are listed in the top five of worldwide producers on UnTappd… Everything they produce is magical. They encapsulate the true meaning of ‘craft’, championing high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients from their home in Norway, and always pushing the boundary with experimentation, whether that be with barrel-ageing or innovative ways of infusing the most flavour possible into their fruited meads.
Their ‘Bourbon BA Bumfuzzle’ comes encased in a gorgeous, wax-sealed bottle similar in its tall, sleek shape to what you’d normally see olive oil sold in. Its contents pour with a sticky viscosity, and a deep purple colour attributable to the blackberries it is conditioned on. The sweet honey provides a syrupy body that feels like liquid velvet on the palate, while 11 months in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels adds an elegant complexity. I sat on my pour for hours, as I simply didn’t want it to end.
From a packaging perspective the wax seal, artistically printed cork, and unique graphic design are a spectacle, while the liquid inside pure gold. The attention to detail inside and out is stupendous, making them a true example that the craft beverage industry is an intersection of science and art. Lucky for you, this is available for 60ml pours at each shop while the bottles last!
SAINT MARS OF THE DESERT – XX ABBEY BRUNE
Saint Mars of the Desert becomes the first brewery to be Raycommended twice, with this delightful Belgian brown ale. As mentioned in my first edition, when their hoppy wheat beer ‘Weizenfelder’ featured, few UK breweries tackle underrepresented styles as well as Saint Mars. They were founded and currently operate by an American couple with a rich history working in the craft beer industry in Boston, who emigrated and created a new home for themselves in Sheffield, bringing with them the experimentation common in American craft beer, that now results in some of the best and most unique British-made beers going. They’ve become one of those breweries for me that, no matter what style of beer we receive from them, I have just got to try it.
Their ‘XX Abbey Brune’ is yet another example of them effortlessly executing a style which I, in my time in the industry, haven’t seen another UK brewery attempt. It’s malt-forward, evident in its chocolatey, light brown colour, with flavours of brown sugar, dried fruit, and a pleasant nuttiness. Belgian yeast is used, which I spoke at length about in an edition last month, tickling the taste buds with its distinctive dry, ester-y characteristics. It is quite punchy at 7.3%, but without noticeable booziness. All in all another example of Saint Mars’s incredibly impressive brewing range.
PRESSURE DROP – DOUGHNUT SHOP
Outside of the more hype-y arrivals of the past week, was a top-up from the ever-so-reliable North London staple, Pressure Drop. One of our best selling breweries since inception, they are a dependable stalwart of the 👻🐳 fridges. Despite being primarily known for their always-enjoyable hop-forward brews, this ‘Doughnut Shop’ Imperial Stout remains one of my favourite dark beers I’ve had this year, since the first time I tried it in May, for intimately personal reasons.
From the first moment this hit my palate, I was transported back in time to my childhood home, watching SpongeBob Squarepants with my little sisters and snacking on Entenmann’s chocolate frosted doughnuts. Oh, to be a kid again cracking up at Saturday morning cartoons, with chocolate icing on our cheeks and not a care in the world. Somehow, Pressure Drop has perfectly concocted a liquid version of my family’s favourite, go-to breakfast treat. Full-bodied, slightly savoury, and an all-out chocolate bomb. Saving one of these to bust out at the Christmas table and share the nostalgia.