Friday, September 16, 2016

Fierce Beer have the right attitude

Fierce Beers' new range of beers.
There’ve been wave after wave of new breweries opening over the past five or so years. Established newcomers such as Fallen, Tempest, AlechemyBlack Metal Brewery and Top Out and a good few others don’t seem like the babes on the block anymore. Not by a long shot. 

And in their wake another wave. This past year we’ve done well. Up Front Brewing, Dead End Brew, Camper Van all making a mark in the past 12 months or so. Most of these have been fairly lo-fi breweries, taking the leap from homebrewer to professional, or a professional brewer going their own way in the case of Up Front, and most cases using word of mouth to push their popularity rather than a PR budget. 

And there’s Fierce Beer, a bold brewing outfit from Dyce, near Aberdeen, who officially began life last year but who have clearly been impressing the right people for longer because they’ve just upped their game substantially with new premises and new brewkit, and have just recently released ten beers. 

Ten. All with nicely made up labels with Photoshop montages and jaggedy, edgy writing. And they’ve also had the budget to hire a PR, who in her, err, wisdom saw fit to send me some beers in the hope I’d write about them. 

And so here we are. 

First off, I was skeptical. Fierce is one of those words that Tyra Banks owned on America’s Next Top Model. (That clip is bonkers by the way.) 

Or maybe it was the logo. An angry looking hop that made me think of wee Banksy stencilling an radge strawberry onto a wall somewhere. Or maybe an alien silhouette with a beard, and a jaggy beret. Or Shaggy meets Paul from the film Paul. Anyhow it’s stuck in my head and done its job. So well done Fierce, a striking bit of branding there. 

Fierce also colour-code the angry hop-berry to help you know what you’re drinking. Green for porter, purple for IPA, blue for pale. Red is fruit beers, obviously. I think that’s right ... Maybe check the site first.

And then there were the names. Ginja Ninja is neat, though it’s a spicy beast not a ginger beast which is what I was looking for. Eskimo Joe is a cool coffee and vanilla pale. Works. Day Shift, a lovely, big hopped pale. Granadilla Guerilla is big fruit basket IPA of beautiful passion fruit flavours. I loved it. Juicy, packed, heavy bodied and solid. 

And then there was Dirty Sanchez. Maybe that phrase means something to you. Maybe it doesn’t. But for god’s sake don’t look it up on Urban Dictionary at work. A touch of chilli gives you a wee burn at the back of the throat. The beer. I’m talking about the beer here. 

A few others also had that chilli thing going on too. Fuego Feroz chief among them. I wasn’t mad on it, but a couple of my pals liked it a lot. Certainly different, and, err, fiery. Which is kinda fierce. Check the Tyra clip if you still need persuaded. 

Peanut Riot (great), Cranachan Killer (ok), clues in the name both helped position the brand character and gave you a hint of what you were about to be consuming. 

I’m assuming that WAS NOT the case with Sanchez. 

For me, the Cafe Racer porter was standout. Solid, thick, rich, it was like eating a rich chocolate pudding at your granny’s after she’s just been polishing the furniture and has made herself a cup of coffee (and she likes it black). 

So as an opening salvo from this souped-up brewery, I can’t wait to see what Fierce Beer will bring out next. And if you’ve not yet tried their beers do try them out, they make some cracking, interesting beers.  

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Another Craft Beer Festival for Scotland

Dan Quille (left) and Richard Servranckx of Craft Beer Revolution Beer Festival
Wow. Another craft beer festival comes to Scotland. This time from a couple of blokes called Richard Servranckx and Dan Quille.

Richard and Dan hail from Leith in Edinburgh, and this November they plan on putting on the Craft Beer Revolution Beer Festival in the city's Assembly Roxy.

The line-up's sweet. Pilot, Howling Hops, Top Out, Spey Valley, Six Degrees North, Up Front Brewing, Panda Frog Project and its sister Mordue, Fallen Brewing, Northern Alchemy, Tryst, Fyne Ales, Alechemy, Parisis and Arbikie Gin & Vodka.

Brilliant, huh? Oh, and it's a three-day bash. From November 24-26.

Food will come from Scoff, The Buffalo Truck and the Babu Bombay Street Kitchen. Cleaver & Keg Charcuterie Trollies will meander around the festival offering cured meats to pair with the beers available. Hmmm, maybe not one for vegans and vegetarians then ...?

But what I also like is that these guys are putting a bit of social enterprise into the mix, too. Brewgooder - who donate a share of profits to clean water projects in the majority world countries - are both sponsors and beneficiaries of the Craft Beer Revolution's charity pitch.

Clearly, this is likely to be another great addition to a busy calendar of beery events in Scotland. So I was a wee bit bemused when I read the following in the boys' press release, quoting Dan as saying:
"I recently visited America and was blown away by how popular craft beer was there. Here in Edinburgh it’s still the norm to go into a bar and order a pint of one of the big brands, so we decided to put our love of micro-brewed beer to good use and organise a festival that will introduce people to the amazing range of craft beers that are produced here on our doorstep and support the craft beer industry."

I'd like to think that ordering a pint of Big Brand isn't so much the norm nowadays, but maybe that's me and the pubs I infrequently visit and the few mates whose company I rarely get to enjoy. I also think that the brewery list is going to excite those folks who've already been introduced to craft beer. But hey, how many beer festivals have I organised? Still, the quote irked a wee bit as it suggested Scotland as a good beer-loving nation isn't that far down the road of craft. I'd suggest it is. But then I haven't been to America either.

Since moving to Edinburgh, I've been frankly blown away by how many pubs sell good beer from good breweries, and also how far Glasgow still has to go, though it's no wasteland. Having said that, my wee local in the East has a better range of beers than most of the pubs along Byres Road.

Big money is being invested in wee breweries. Expansion, rebrands, upgrades and launches are continuing. That there's another beer festival being launched just shows how turned on people are to good beer. So good on you Dan and Richard. I hope it's a big success. I'm looking forward to this one.

Tickets are a tenner though you can get them for £8 if you buy in the next couple of weeks.

See for tickets and more info, and see the graphic below for the breweries involved. Belter!