“Achieve the Exceptional”
Last month it seemed many folk had turned their backs on alcohol in favour of an increasingly popular Dry January, whilst I’m all for freedom of choice ‘dryanuary’ isn’t something I can see myself volunteering for anytime soon. Drygate January, on the other hand, is something I did have some fun with, eagerly working my way through a mixed case of the Scottish experiential brewers Studio Brews. And I thoroughly recommend it.
Just before Christmas I took delivery of these beauties:
they were kindly sent to me from ‘The Bottle Master’. I was an instant fan from the bottle designs alone; the artwork on the labels is stunning; such is the detail, photos just don’t do them justice. On the side of most of the bottles is written:
“The contents of this bottle are the product of select ingredients, raw passion, boundless opportunity and unbridled creativity. Who knows, this could be the work of a new craft beer hero.”
I started with the collaboration espresso stout, Gordon Street Coffee Glasgow Roast, including it in my line-up for the #12beersofxmas series. If you like, you can see in depth what I thought here. In short, I really bloody liked it. I have a weakness for espresso stouts and this is a fine example; bold and bitter with the coffee blend working in perfect harmony with the stout profile, it even imparted hints of mince pies. I can taste it now. Yum.
Next was the first in a run of various IPAs, Mean Green IPA, brewed on the kit by Chris ‘Bottle Master’ Moriarty. I got it pre-label, but a quick Untappd search reveals its new wrapping and it looks fantastic.
It poured with an excited fizzing head, amber in colour and with a huge floral and pine hop oil-like aroma. Smooth over the palate, this almost ‘thick’ tasting brew coated every inch in juicy pineapple, peach, mango, lime and pine atop a solid biscuit malt base. Bitter throughout and far too easy to drink at 6.1%. A slight drift of flavours in the finish before the bitterness crashed back in bringing a touch of spice with it. Mean Green turned out to be one of those beers that has a flavour profile so memorable that the mouth waters just thinking about it.
Next up was Forelsket, a 4% Session IPA brewed by Alessandra. Releasing the swing top produced a loud pop and allowed some of the aromas to escape; fruit; berries and citrus. Pouring with a massively foaming white head which never quite gives up as it clings to the side of glass, the beer is a translucent orange-amber. Another hit of that fruity aroma reveals a herbal edge. The palate delivers a dry pithy bitterness, in fact this is all about that pith, it’s almost like licking the inside of a grapefruit skin. In a nice way. That prickly bitterness over the tongue carries a nuttiness and a slight peppered spice with a sweetness that waves in towards the end; red berries.
Another collab, this time Hedrun Brew Co team up with Chris Williams and Jake Griffin to create Vestan, a 6% unfiltered West Coast IPA. I think just a bit more body would’ve benefited this one and would’ve made this beer just right for me, but it remained on the thin side over the palate with transient, teasing tropical and citrus fruits wisping throughout. There was juicy tangerine and pine upfront, a peppery finish and a sweeping nuttiness but just needed a bit more backing it up to make it perfect.
And so onto the 6.9% APA, Crossing the Rubicon.
This one pours with a frothy white head which dissipates into a fine halo over a dark hazy orange. I stuck my nose in the glass and the aromas were damn near perfect; a mouthwatering, juicy aroma bringing to mind fruit candy; pineapple and raspberry dominate. There’s a woodiness in there too. It’s like standing in an old fashioned sweet shop.
It turns out to be a more balanced brew than Forelsket in terms of bitterness as the pithy edge is really dialled down but it’s by far the most complex brew here. Candy-like berry hits and juicy pineapple upfront, drenched in toffee sauce, topped with hazelnuts. An earthy, woodiness has a hold all the way through carrying those fruit accents. A dry finish with a prickly spice urges another sip for that initial fruit hit but not before leaving you with a lime and orange syrupy aftertaste.
Abanusa, a Black IPA, continued the IPA variants and damn, this was a lively one. Half the bottle turned to froth, filling the kitchen with a heady scent of pineapple, orange, grapefruit and peach. It may have been impatient, but what made it into the glass was delicious. Smooth over the palate, initially a little thin upfront, it stalls with a pause before transient orange and grapefruit swing by, towing a huge pine hit that grows and leads into the finish that is all sticky syrup. Wisps of toasted chocolate malts play, but remain ghost-like. The pine really is a big hitter here – maybe a tad too much for some palates.
7.4% Yaldi finished up the IPAs, unlike the other beers in the range, there is no POP when opening and the pour is nearly flat, but it tastes very good; coating the palate in sweet candy like fruit notes, sticky marmalade, wisps of pine, and a mellow warming finish.
and 8.8% Rin Stout completed the whole set. Brewed by Jake Griffin and Ed Evans, this was a robust beast. It poured dark with a thick, creamy head and a cola brown streak to the edges. The aroma was a deep roast with dark fruits and a hint of coffee. The taste was a quick succession of creamy coffee, milk chocolate, dates, figs, a warming oakiness and a dark, bitter chocoalate & drying roast in the finish. Smoke breezes throughout and, could that be a soy note?
“the work of a new craft beer hero” ?
Although a couple of these beers needed a tweak here ‘n there, in the most part they were really bloody good. When these brewers get their flavours dialled in there’s a wonderful complexity to the brews and actually, they are FUN. I know that’s not a word often used in beer reviews, but it’s a lasting vibe and a word that springs to mind when I see a Drygate beer or think back over the Studio Brews that I drank. Drygate may describe their beers as experiential, but to me they are memorable, and for this they are craft beer heroes.
Check them out for yourself here: drygate.com
(although these beers were free to me I don’t believe that has affected my views of them)