I'm not sure if I have peaked. By that I mean, I'm not sure if maybe I've already had some of the finest beers and now many just don't taste quite the same. Must be what people who have climbed Everest, or Astronauts when they return to 'normal' life, feel like. Just a bit disillusioned with it all. I'm still on the hunt for various beers and as we speak I know there's been a Beer Hawk box delivered and waiting for me to get home. So, I know I still get excited by it all but I don't seem to have been totally blown away by anything since Wildebeest and Valente's Double Espresso. I seem to have had a whole host of run of the mill, relatively unadventurous beers. I'm not going to name and shame though as there's nothing really wrong with any of the ones I've sampled lately. In fact, if there had been any real horror stories I'd probably have kicked an article into touch. As it is though, you have me in this semi-moping narky state.
This of course hasn't at all *ahem* been fuelled by jealousy on seeing Andy troop off to Fyne Fest a couple of weeks ago. I can't mind if he posted the Beer Menu with the extensive (250+) beers on offer from the Who's Who of British Craft Beers and beyond. But he certainly sent it over to me for a wee perusal on the week or so leading up to the event. Like a kid in a toyshop before Christmas I was building a mental wish list to Santa on the one's I'd have been hitting had I been there. My first acquisition would have been the monstrous 9.2% Human Cannonball by Magic Rock. A Double IPA with pine & candied orange vibes. Nom Nom. Or even their 10.5% Bourbon Barrel Bearded Lady Dessert Edition: Toasted Pecan Praline. Luxurious Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels with toasted pecans. Dear Lord. That's surely worth the entry fee alone. Can I just hold it for a minute please mister? Alas, the dates didn't suit and neither did my bank balance. No point in me going there skinty-poo.
I had been subscribed to the Brewdog Fanzine, 3 can offering, for a while, but ultimately I really didn't think it fit the billing or was worth it. 3 new or reimagined beers every fortnight for £11. I mentioned in the Zeitgeist article that I was looking forward to it and I ended up getting 3 of the 1st 4 boxes (as you could opt in and out as required). The 1st thing that royally pissed me off though was that when the 1st box was finally ready to go on this 'exclusive' fanzine sub they announced that they were out for delivery and what beers to expect in the box. All good. However, they then went on to say that the surplus boxes made for the subs would be available on a limited availability to pick up from their doghouse shops. i.e. Right away... so before I could get home to check if my nice new pre-ordered box was waiting for me at home - some random punter could just wander into the Doghouse and pick up one for themselves for the same cost. To add to that; mine had missed delivery and because of Royal Mail policy ended up back at the depot and I didn't get a chance to get it for a further 2 days. Dagnamit.
The 1st box was actually a really good selection.
- Zephyr - V1 Citrus Tart Edition (Pale Ale) - A winning sour/bitter/tangy beer with lots of citrus tones on a semi-flat lager like base.
- Nebula - Russian Imperial Stout - A rich and Silky Stout that packs a hefty punch. Toffee/Chocolate to the nose with a rich caramel head. Chocolate and Coffee throughout with hints of fruit.
- Jet Trash - V1 West Coast IPA - Strong punchy flavour, plenty of hops packed in with a touch of lime or suchlike. Slightly tamer than youd expect from the 6.5% ABV but very nice.
So there you go - I didn't hate the beers. But I did think the set up was a bit naff. There looked to be some system issues with deliveries being delayed and some issues with payments and cancelling. Teething problems like that can happen to anyone I guess, but I think trying to commit to a 3 can sub per fortnight was a brave move. 6 Cans on a monthly sub for £22 would surely be an easier to manage model. But then who am I. I'm just like a commentator telling a pro footballer what boots he should wear to play better. I'm not convinced it has been seen as a success for them but you know, the bottom line is that the beers they created were really good. As I said, I have dropped out after 2 months and I can imagine a similar stat being seen across the sub in general. Instant regret as always though as the 1st box after I cancelled looked to be a belter. Sods law.
"I didn't hate the beers. But I did think the set up was a bit naff."
I think subs in general are vastly over-priced especially for a lot of the generic stuff that you get in them. Maybe not generic as I know they don't fill them with Bud, Miller and run of the mill mass produced stuff, but more just safe and unadventurous ones. They have been a good source for getting some really random finds over the years. Beers I'd be very unlikely to stumble upon in a bar or off license - and probably wouldn't have tried anyway. So they do have their uses. But, from just a quick scan of current prices, Beer52 @ £24 for 8 Beers; Flavourly @ £25 + Del for 10 Beers; BeerHawk @ £28 for 9 Beers. I know there are various deals and discounts and some Beer Tokens etc but I tend to find there is a 30-50% samey samey feel about a lot of it. There's always a couple of interesting ones in there but I'm not all that keen on ordering 8-10 beers in a sub only to find maybe one or 2 interesting ones at a time. Maybe I'm just jaded and a little bit sceptical/cynical in my old age. I don't know. I prefer picking them out more myself now. Building a box on my own from the likes of BeerHawk and BeerWulf (does this Beer + Animal thing just work universally? Can I start BeerGiraffe or BeerTortoise and see what happens?). Both Hawk & Wulf have served me well with an extensive range and snappy service. It's either that or making an effort to go and find a little specialised beer seller. I think you get better value picking yourself in a pick n mix feel than just getting the mystery prize each time.
So, I'll leave my crabbit hat there for now. Just a short article to let you guys know I'm still alive. Hopefully something in the box I've received injects some much needed oomph back in again. There's a big can of Fourpure's Juicebox that I'm looking forward to as well as a big Northern Monk Faith & a rather interesting Weird Beard Brew Co beer called Little Things That Kill. Sounds right up my street. Should be an interesting weekend at least.