Ray's Raycommendations 9th November 2023


Vacation… A time to put your feet up, indulge yourself, and relax. While my co-worker Dan spent the last week touring Italy with his wife, I offered to cat sit for them, treating it as a ‘staycation’ of my own as I housed myself in their flat, which is practically up the street from our Putney shop.

A dangerous decision, as my newfound convenient commute, a 10 minute leisurely stroll instead of my usual 40 minute expedition, encouraged longer days at the ‘office’. Feed the kitty, clock in, be productive, share beers with friends, regular customers, and co-workers alike, clock out, dinner time with my feline friend. A routine I enjoyed getting used to! The following are my favourites from a relaxing week as a Putney local.


Last week I discussed my appreciation for breweries who branch out from the normal slew of recurrent, familiar styles, and that is exactly what Track has done here, producing an exceptional take on the unconventional California Common. Despite having ‘common’ in the name, this is a style that is far from ordinary in the modern beer scene. Uh oh… Nerdy jargon is afoot! A California Common is what’s known as a ‘hybrid beer’ meaning it dances the line between a lager and an ale. This particular hybrid beer uses lager yeast, that is known to have a clean fermentation profile, but is left to ferment at a warm temperature, characteristic of ale yeast, which stresses the lager yeast into imparting a mild fruitiness, while retaining its usual crisp drinkability. 

First brewed during the California gold rush to sustain the working class, who could have guessed that a Manc brewery would be looking to recreate said style over 100 years later? Track’s rendition uses rich, caramel-y kilned malt, alongside a bold hop character. Toasty, toffee sweet malt meets slightly piney and citrusy hops. Layers of flavour, yet effortlessly crushable. Certain to raise the eyebrows of craft drinkers, but wonderfully executed.


As a reimbursement for my cat sitting duties, my colleague Dan kindly filled his fridge with some of our latest beery delights. Lucky for me, this included this astoundingly flavourful brew. We were lucky enough to host Alchemik’s founder James at our Putney shop this past summer, when he told us his story of emigrating from England to his wife’s homeland of Bulgaria, and starting a cracking brewery in the capital city of Sofia.

Specialising in wacky, pastry-style sours and stouts, this blueberry and maple, pancake-inspired tipple is well within James’s typical brewing range, and it ticks all the boxes promised on the tin. Berry tartness? Yep. Maple syrup sweetness? Indeed. For a decadent, late-night, stay-at-home-with-one-eye-on-the-kitty sipper, I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything more. Lush.


A frustration I’ve shared with fellow craft beer enthusiasts, is a love for Imperial stouts, but the inability to sit and enjoy many of them in one session. This isn’t helped by the commonality of 440ml cans here in the UK as many breweries will package even the weightiest of their brews in this format, ostracising people keen on trying heavy beers without the commitment to such a bulky amount. Craving the flavour intensity of an 8-12%+ impy, but not being able to sit and stomach an entire can to oneself has become a familiar problem for craft beer drinkers. Burnt Mill and Newbarns must have been a fly on the wall of the conversations I’ve had around this topic, conjuring up the flavour and body of an Imperial Stout, at a sessionable alcohol level of 4.5%. Produced with a thick and full body and riddled with satisfying bittersweet dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavours, this punches far above its weight. Hopefully a profile more breweries will catch on to, for the benefit of drinkers far and wide!