Ray's Raycommendations - 6th September 2023


Ray's Raycommendations - 6th September 2023

Welcome to the first edition of Ray’s Raycommendations! A weekly round up of my my most loved beers of the last seven days.

Midway through a five and a half hour coach journey, returning to London from my beer pilgrimage to Manchester this past weekend, one of the day’s only meaningful thoughts crossed my very sore, hungover mind: “I sure am lucky to drink as much delicious craft beer as I do”. Staring off into the rolling countryside, I was buzzing about the prospect of telling my friends, coworkers, and fellow beer enthusiasts about the special weekend I had spent at Track and Finback’s collaborative festival. ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’, is where I was lucky enough to enjoy some cracking brews from Manchester and New York’s premier breweries. Scrolling through my UnTappd feed, I realised just how special the beer community I’ve found myself a part of through working at Ghost Whale is, and I became keen on finding another way to reach said community. It was there that the idea for a weekly roundup of my favourite recent brews was born.

Beer-curious people stroll through our doors every day, some of whom are overwhelmed by our eccentric selection and turn to the staff for recommendations. I’m hoping the coming blog posts will serve both them, and my fellow craft beer geeks, in providing additional guidance and opening another route of conversation to the community. With that said, buckle up and enjoy my first attempt at jotting down my beery thoughts!

Unbarred Honeycomb Milkshake Pale Ale.


An incredibly serendipitous start to these recommendations, is UnBarred’s yearly-released ‘Honeycomb Milkshake Pale Ale’. In January of 2022, long before my time at Ghost Whale, I was just beginning to explore the broad world of craft beer, and it was this very brew that caused my eyes to widen and horizons to expand. As a self-proclaimed sweet tooth, I was sold by the title alone, and blown away upon tucking in. Additions of oats, wheat, and lactose provide a wonderfully creamy body, while the inclusion of honey imparts a delightful sweetness, reminiscent of vanilla ice cream, that balances out the bitter hops and results in a delectably moreish sipper. I’ve guzzled hundreds of beers since my first time crossing paths with this pale, but it will always stand out and remain a truly meaningful brew to me. 

Track Marginal Gains


Although they are one of my favourite UK breweries, I intentionally avoided drinking Track for the week or so leading up to this past weekend’s festival, to allow myself the privilege of drinking their newest range on draft, straight from the source. After a whole host of big, hoppy, double and triple IPA’s, my palate was crying out for a refreshing change of scenery, and Track’s blueberry and coconut fruited sour ‘Marginal Gains’ had me covered. The first smell and sip was overwhelmingly nostalgic for me, redolent of a chewy, berry and cinnamon granola bar that I grew up sharing with my mom and sisters. The coconut, vanilla, and lactose adjuncts work in tandem to supply a pastry-esque sweetness that the blueberries and lemon counteract with an elegant tartness. All-in-all, a silky smooth tipple.

Saint Mars Of The Desert Weizenfelder


To round off this week’s list of suggestions is a style quite new to me. The universal craving for hoppier beers, spearheaded by the popularity of the IPA, has led brewers internationally to experiment with amping up the hop bill in recipes of other styles. We’ve seen India Pale Lagers, Hoppy Sours, and now the glorious innovation that goes by the name of Hopfenweisse, aka a hoppy wheat beer. Few UK breweries nail unconventional styles as well as Sheffield’s Saint Mars of the Desert, so seeing this land in our fridges thrilled me. The hefeweizen yeast used was noticeable immediately, as a bouquet of phenolic clove aroma jumped out of the stereotypically-large Weiss beer head of foam. American hops added a pleasant fruitiness, while German hops contributed further spicy and floral notes. The attention to detail from Saint Mars is spot on as usual, making for a refined, complex ale.