Everyone knows that October is the best month of the year….. Correct? If you’re still unsure then let me try and persuade you
- An excuse to scare people!
- A socially acceptable reason to eat far more confectionary than you really should
- Oktoberfest – with its origins as a German festival, it has now taken the beer world by storm globally
- You get to sample a wide variety of beers
- Many bars often put on special events for such an occasion
This year, my event of choice was #Collabfest2017. BrewDog, a brewery close to my heart, were putting on a fantastic line-up. Having received an email about this occasion, the date was instantly put straight into my calendar. My partner and I arranged to meet with a couple of good friends for a catch up, over some new and exciting beers at DogHouse in Glasgow.
The collabfest concept has been growing stronger each year and this was BrewDog’s fifth time hosting such an event. This year was bigger than all of the previous years, with their concept as follows: BrewDog has 34 bars across the UK and continental Europe and for collabfest, each bar paired up with a local brewery to create a unique beer. Not only this – all the varieties were available to consume at every single venue! Yes guys, that’s correct – 34 new beers to consume!
Once we had arrived at the bar, I first noticed how busy the place was! With such an event and the substantial social media promotion prior to it, it was unsurprising that people were making the effort to attend. Luckily we found a table, had a quick catch up and then started to investigate the festival’s menu.
The menu was well laid out, in alphabetical order from the bar site. For each beer, it showed the selected-partner brewery’s logo, its ABV % and a quick summary of the drink. Below this was a checkbox allowing the drinker to identify tried and tested brews, with a small section for comments. Alongside the bar itself was a leaderboard – they constantly updated this with the top five beers based on customer feedback (a very nice touch). I think that this collaboration event is a fantastic piece of business for both parties – this was the busiest I’ve ever seen a BrewDog bar and it acts as a way to introduce smaller breweries to new and eager consumers.
Never have I ever seen as many tasting 1/3 pint beer glasses! There were literally hundreds across the bar and nearby tables. Filled with a variety of beers, some pale ale, others were jet black stouts. With so many different varieties to try, very few people were enjoying a full pint of any one brew – it made more sense to have a little taste of a larger assortment. It took a while, but I finally picked a selection of beers to create my custom beer flight. The first selection I went for were as follows:
And this is how they looked in person
- Partnering brewery: Burning Soul
- BrewDog partnering bar: Birmingham
- Type of beer: West coast IPA
- ABV: 7%
- Comments: Great name (combining the breweries together) and great result. Citrusy, and easy drinking despite the strength, with a nice bitterness at the end. I’m a huge fan of West Coast IPAs and always try a new variety whenever I see them.
- Rating: 3.75/5.
Sixteen Letter IPA
- Partnering brewery: Almasty Brewing Co
- BrewDog partnering bar: Newcastle
- Type of beer: IPA
- ABV: 7%
- Comments: For me, this was the best beer of the day. There were similarities between this and SoulDog, as both were IPAs and 7% in strength, yet this had a greater complexity and an initial sweetness that made way to a smooth bitterness. I could have a few pints of this very quickly… before noticing the strength catching up on me. This is a beer that I wish could remain long after the festival is over.
- Rating: 4.25/5.
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
- Partnering brewery: Abbeydale Brewery
- BrewDog partnering bar: Sheffield
- Type of beer: Pale ale
- ABV: 5.5%
- Comments: This beer was inspired by “putting lemon curd on toast”. I actually got the flavour of toast through, but the lemon was limited. I was disappointed, as I was left wanting more on my palate – it was too timid in terms of flavour.
- Rating: 1.25/5.
Sex Out of Reach
- Partnering brewery: Fallen Brewing
- BrewDog partnering bar: Stirling
- Type of beer: Witbier (Belgian inspired wheat ale)
- ABV: 5%
- Comments: Another brewery close to my heart. Completely different compared to anything else I consumed during CollabFest – it was more like a cocktail than a beer! Sour cranberries come through in abundance, with some subtle peach cutting through the sharpness.
- Rating: 2.5/5.
So at the bar, the staff were keen on finding out the feedback of consumers. They also recommended checking the beers in on the Untappd app. Our entire group obliged, though I forgot my phone so I had to check in the beers later that day. Fun fact – my partner managed to be the first global check in on a few of these beers, ridiculously cool, but I’m not-so-secretly very jealous!
I then proceeded to try another couple of tasters of which are shown below
Das Ist Techno Sex
- Partnering brewery: Up Front Brewing
- BrewDog partnering bar: DogHouse Merchant City (Glasgow, the venue we were at!)
- Type of beer: Gose (German Sour)
- ABV: 5.4%
- Comments: A very sour beer with passionfruit coming through; however, contrasting this is a saltiness, which I’m not accustomed to within a drink. It’s a beer that I would describe as “gets better the more you drink”, as I think the Himalayan salt is a flavour sensation that you only get used to with repeated sampling. This beer divided the group the most.
- Rating: 3.0/5.
- Partnering brewery: Stewart Brewing
- BrewDog partnering bar: Edinburgh
- Type of beer: Sour pale
- ABV: 5.9%
- Comments: Another much loved brewery and given that I was recently in BrewDog’s Edinburgh bar, I felt that it was only appropriate to try this beer (not that I needed much persuading to try any of these…). I have found sours variable, though this was distinctly average – mildly sour, not overwhelming, which made this tropical brew quite refreshing. An okay beer, but I know I’ve had others that I’ve preferred from this brewery.
- Rating: 2.75/5.
Then, only because I was offered a taste…… I tried a couple of my fellow consumers’ selections
- Partnering brewery: Siren
- BrewDog partnering bar: Clerkenwell
- Type of beer: White stout
- ABV: 7.4%
- Comments: This was a completely novel beer for me. I’m not a huge fan of stouts, but the thoughts of combining the sweetness of cookie dough and creating a “white stout” intrigued me. It was not as heavy as a typical stout, which I appreciated, but I feel that it lacked the key flavour of cookie dough, so was just a very sweet beer. I only had a small taste though, so it may have developed on further consumption.
- Rating: 2.25/5.
Very Big Moose
- Partnering brewery: Fierce Beer
- BrewDog partnering bar: Aberdeen
- Type of beer: Stout
- ABV: 12%
- Comments: This was a huge beer, not only in strength, but also due to the fact that it was from one of BrewDog’s home bars in Aberdeen. It was consistently at the top of the leaderboards, as it pushed the boundaries of how sweet they can make a stout. Fierce beer are a local brewery that are known for using big flavours – so this complements with BrewDog perfectly. With one of our group currently studying in Aberdeen, this beer had to be part of our line-up. Chocolate flavours dominated and consequently it was really, REALLY sweet – almost like an alcoholic chocolate milkshake. I mean… holy crap, ridiculously sweet, but still complex and a great boozy finish that made it far superior to Cookie Dough.
- Rating 3.25/5.
We had an absolutely great afternoon; drinking good beer with good friends. Though there were only a couple of beers that I would actively want to remain as regular menu items, it was a fantastic way to catch a glimpse of what other breweries out there have to offer. Unfortunately not all of the beers were available at that precise moment, as the event runs over the entire weekend, so different brews are available on different days. Nonetheless, I tried all the available beers that appeared the most tantalising (only in the name of research for this blog and you loyal readers of course…)! I think CollabFest is a fantastic premise and I am already looking forward to future adventures for years to come. A huge ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to BrewDog and all the amazing partner breweries for capturing the spirit of Munich’s Oktoberfest and delivering a small slice of it to people unable to be in Bavaria (though that is definitely on the bucket list)!
#collabfest2017 was a great success. #collabfest2018 anyone??? I know I’ll be there
Let me know if you were involved at all, leave a comment below or email me! What beers were your favourite beers, particularly if wasn’t listed above. Here’s a copy of the menu for those that want to keep an eye out for these epic breweries!