Utopian, Full Circle and Lost & Grounded beer.


Utopian, Full Circle and Lost & Grounded beer.

After nearly two dozen editions now, I’m sure Raycommendation readers have come to know that I tend to keep my eye out and reach for the wackiest possible brews. Whether it’s uber-hopped Double or Triple IPAs, mental Pastry Sours, or mega-adjuncted Imperial Stouts, it tends to be the silliest of beers that excite me most. This past weekend, I made my first pilgrimage to Germany, visiting Cologne and Düsseldorf, where I spent the entire weekend sipping almost exclusively German lager. With this in mind I thought an ALL LAGER edition of Raycommendations was in store, to celebrate and spotlight some excellent UK-based breweries who produce cracking lagers. 

Full Circle Lost In Translation Beer


After slamming Kölsch after Kölsch after Kölsch in Cologne, the home of Kölsch, you’d think I’d be all Kölsch’d out, right? Wrong, especially when Newcastle’s Full Circle are making such great iterations of their own. This style is one of few ‘hybrid beers’, because it falls both under the ale and lager category. Top-fermenting (ale) yeast is used, which commonly exudes a delicate fruity character, but Kölschs are then stored in near-freezing tanks, as any lager would be, to clean up and smooth out its flavour profile. Compared to those I sampled straight from the source, Full Circle’s has a slight haze to its appearance, and much more fruit character both in the aroma and on the palate. It also boasts a fuller body than those in Cologne, and more banana-y yeasty esters. All things accounted for, this is delightfully drinkable and will be one I hope to revisit in the sunnier months to come. 

Lost & Grounded The Art Of Being Unique


Flowers are blooming, the sun is *finally* starting to peak out from behind the clouds, and we’re seeing Märzens back in the Ghost Whale fridges. Ladies and gentlemen, spring is upon us. Historically, Märzens were strong lagers brewed in the month of March, and stored in cold caves over the summer for consumption in Autumn, often at Oktoberfest. Today, it is common for modern craft breweries to brew this style in celebration of the return of Spring. Märzens are brewed using a technique called ‘decoction mashing’, in which a portion of the wort (water steeped in malt) is moved to a kettle, and boiled to caramelise its sugars, then returned. This process gives the final beer a full body and rich malt character. Lost and Grounded have operated this method wonderfully, resulting in a sweet, biscuity malt profile, balanced by German Tettnang hops. Happy Spring! 

Utopian Augsburg Export Beer


In recognition of five years of producing incredible lagers, Utopian brewed… an incredible lager. Their celebratory ‘Augsburg Export’ was brewed using the same ‘decoction mash’ technique as described above, but instead of solely removing a portion of the wort, they boiled the entire mash, completely browning all of the sugars in the malty liquid, and resulting in a rich, caramelly-sweet final product. This is immediately noticeable in its deep, toffee-esque colour. Always one to champion the usage of local ingredients, they’ve opted for 100% British lager malt, and hop strain Fuggles, which lends balancing bitterness and overall effervescence. Happy birthday to Utopian – long may they continue bringing a sense of excitement to the UK lager scene.