Siren

#HBBAdvent Beer 5: Siren Craft Brew/Garage Project Blacklight Banana Imperial Stout (Finchamstead/New Zealand)

Siren/Garage Project says: For this year’s Rainbow Project collaboration with Garage Project we drew the colour indigo. After much research on both sides the idea that excited us all most was that of the Blacklight Banana. Ripe bananas uniquely glow bright indigo under UV lights, one possible reason for this being that it identifies them as a food source for animals that see in the UV range, like bats. Molasses, caramelised bananas, banana purée and bourbon barrel aged coffee beans elevate this beer to something special.

We say: We always look forward to Rainbow Day, where the collaborative efforts of the seven participating UK breweries and their international counterparts are released. The 2016 project had special interest to us as it featured seven (or six, as it transpired this year) New Zealand breweries, including Garage Project, probably the most hyped Kiwi brewery never to make it to UK shelves. Jos and his team are doing exceptional things in the Aro Valley, as we discovered during an infamous 22-beer tasting session when we were back in January, and we can't wait until they decide to export over here. In the meantime, this lush impy stout, brewed with Siren, helps to ease the pain of Garage Project's absence. And who said you can't drink a 9.2% stout on a Monday? You've earned this. - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find Blacklight Banana in store or via our online shop.

New stuff in store: 11 December

Deck the halls... with shedloads of beer. Here's what's in your Christmas stocking this week.

  • Glorious new 750ml sharing bottles, including Anspach & Hobday's White Coffee Milk Stout, Wiper & True's Winter Ale Abbey Rye and Vocation's Naughty & Nice Chocolate Stout (also now in can too).
  • We went a bit overboard on Bristol breweries this week, knowing how much you love them. From Arbor, we've got their Grifter APA, Breakfast Stout and Basta Rosse, a red ale brewed with Italian brewery Mezzo Passo. We also see the triumphant return of their Yakima Valley IPA, one of the most-requested beers we've ever had. From Wiper & True, we've got Amber Simcoe Steam, Small Beer #13 and Sorachi Ace IPA in addition to the 750ml Winter Ale Abbey Rye. Be quick, these won't hang around.
  • On a South-East London stylee, we've got Partizan's delicious 300th Brew, Don Biere de Garde, as well as Late Knights' roasty Penge Porter and the return of the ultimate shirk, rest and play beverage, Deserter IPA.
  • Also from within the M25, say hello to Big Smoke Brew Co's sublime Underworld Milk Stout and the return of Weird Beard's Duke Of Dank Red IPA. (The clue is in the name.) A little further out, Siren's Pompelmocelo is a delightfully tart grapefruit IPA that will definitely put a pucker in your pint.
  • Brewdog has launched its annual Prototype series, where you get to have your say on which beers should make it onto their core line-up. We've got two this week: Milk Stout (see a theme here?) and Black IPA
  • One final Christmas beer joins the ranks: Rogue Santa's Private Reserve, a hoppy, sprucey, malty amber ale.
  • And finally - because: Star Wars - we've re-upped on Northern Monk's It's A Trap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 9: Siren Craft Brew Blue Sky Blue Sea Seaweed & Cloudberry Gose (Wokingham) 5%

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Siren says: “We drew Surly Brewing in this year’s International Rainbow Project with the colour assigned to us being blue. In the spirit of the transatlantic collaboration we’ve linked the two breweries by sea and sky; our British Isles surrounded by water and Minnesota admired for its skyscapes. Seaweed provides the ocean air and salty gose depth while cloudberries represent the skies above.”

We say: We reckon the Rainbow Project - created by former Siren head brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew - is just about the most exciting event on the UK brewing calendar. If you get the chance to make it to one of the launch day venues, such as Beavertown in London or Magic Rock up north, take it - it’s a great day out with great people and, most importantly, amazing beers. For the 2016 Project, seven UK breweries have been matched with seven New Zealand breweries, something we’re naturally looking forward to very much. But we digress…

We usually have at least 10 different beers from Siren as they make great beer and love pushing the boundaries - like Pokemon, we gotta drink them all. The beer you’re opening tonight is this year’s effort from Siren and Surly in the US, and it might just split opinion. Some will love its salty tartness (we do), others may need more persuading, and for some it might even be the first sour they’ve had. Never say we don't like to keep things interesting here at HB&B...

New stuff in store: 12 November

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. We'd argue there has never been a better selection of beer in the shop. Possibly even the country. Fighting talk? Check out our new arrivals for yourselves (on top of all the awesomeness already on the shelves)...

  • Magic Rock cans. They're here, at the time of writing. Whether they'll still be here by the end of the day... We're expecting more soon but in the meantime, stocks are ridiculously small so get your skates on and slide on down to ours. Limit of one can per type (Salty Kiss, High Wire Grapefruit, Cannonball) per customer, first come, first served.
  • Beavertown Heavy Water returns! Stocks of this 9% sour cherry and sea salt imperial stout are also sadly limited so be quick. If you miss out on this, keep an eye out for when we put the Beavertown/Other Half Brewing collab, Duel of the Fates IPA, on flagon-fill...
  • New Siren klaxon! (Is that a tautology?) Two super Siren seasonals return this week - the 2015 Caribbean Chocolate Cake, a "tropical stout with cacao nibs, cypress wood and lactose", and Ryesing Tides, a rye IPA bursting with tropical fruits and berries. If your mouth isn't watering right now, then you're dead inside.
  • Our first Christmas beer hits the shelves and it's a corker - Weird Beard's Black Christmas is a cranberry Christmas stout, subtly roasty, slightly tart and with some gorgeous coconut and vanilla notes from the Sorachi Ace hops. We bought up the last four cases of this from the brewery so that you can share the love (or reward yourself).
  • More Christmas beers due in on Friday from Brewdog (Hoppy Christmas) and Mikkeller (Hoppy Lovin' Xmas). Good to see some creative thinking going on with those beer names.
  • Two new cans from one of our all-time favourite breweries, Moor! Smokey Horyzon is another rye seasonal making its return right now, and we know it's going to taste amazing in Moor's exceptionally-produced can-conditioned cans. Dark Alliance, a hoppy 4.7% coffee stout originally brewed with those other Bristol superstars, Arbor, also makes its debut in cans. NB: someone at Moor really likes Star Wars.
  • Want milk stouts? We've got two of the best - Wild Beer Millionaire salted caramel milk stout and Wiper & True Milkshake.
  • Fourpure Southern Latitude joins its Northern cousin on the can shelves. Compare and contrast its juicy summery sunshine with the rich wintry rye of its Scandavian-inspired counterpart, Northern Latitude.
  • London Beer Lab's Simcoe & Rye IPA comes in to replace its much-loved Mosaic IPA. A change of hops is as good as a holiday - you're going to like this one. A lot.
  • We welcome London Brewing Company to HB&B for the first time. Their gloriously Art Deco cans of Upright Session IPA taste as good as they look.
  • Last but not least, Pressure Drop's Freimann's Dunkelweisse, a lovely smoky wheat beer, returns at the perfect time for pairing up with autumnal dishes. It's a great foodie beer, this. Great with cheese too - right, Ned Palmer?

Such a goddamn line-up. Who's your daddy?

New stuff in store - 24 September

  • Jen had a fantastic day at Beavertown Brewery for Rainbow Day last weekend - seven UK breweries collaborating with seven US breweries to create some incredible brews. We've been lucky enough to get our hands on three of the Rainbow beers this week - Siren & Surly Brewing's Blue Sky Blue Sea seaweed & cloudberry gose, Partizan & Prairie's Real Time Saison and - arriving Friday - the beer that won the day for Jen, Hawkshead & Crooked Stave's stunning Key Lime Tau. Be really, really quick to get your hands on these beers (three-beer selection packs available from Friday). They won't last long.
  • We've also brought in a bunch of Omnipollo beers which were the hit of the recent London Craft Beer Festival. HOW good do these sound - Noa Pecan Mud Pie Imperial Stout, Bianca Mango Lassi Gose and Smoothie 411 IPA brewed with wild strawberries. rhubarb, vanilla and lactose?! Best believe they taste as good as they sound.
  • Hail to two new local heroes on the pale/session front - Brick Brewery's Peckham Pale Ale and Gipsy Hill's Hepcat Session IPA. Hepcat has been going gangbusters in both bottle and on flagon-fill so you'll be pleased to hear we've stocked up on another keg to keep you going over the next few days. The Brick pale has just turned up while writing this - looking fly in jaunty orange...
  • From Bermondsey way, Kernel's London Brick Red Rye Ale was so popular on flagon-fill last week that we've brought in 330ml bottles. You're going to love this beer.
  • Oh yeah, and Gunnamatta's back!

Sweet and lowdown

We were chatting with one of our customers on Twitter yesterday about his need to find great lower-ABV (<4%) beers, and the sheer range of great-tasting low or no-alcohol beers out there made us think it would be a great topic for a blog post. Voila!.

We started getting a lot of requests for low/no alcohol beers from people in the final days of 2014 as they prepared to put down the pint glass for Dry January. (The fact most of them were back on to the 8% DIPAs by mid-Jan is naturally of no consequence here.) We duly expanded our range, assuming it'd be a January thing but we continue to see huge demand.

For some, such as our Twitter friend,  it's medical reasons; others are expectant mums after a refreshing drop, runners in training for a marathon, or folk who want to sink a few and still remember how to get home. But you don't need a reason to go low. Here are some of our favourite beers from the smaller end of the scale. 

 

  • The Kernel Table Beer, 3.2% - The ABV of this classic varies slightly according to the recipe but always hovers around the 3% mark. It's a much-lauded, truly outstanding beer that almost beggars belief as to how they continuously pack so much flavour into such a small beer. One of our best-selling beers and deservedly so.
  • Wiper & True Small Beer #10, 2.6% - We love this great Bristol brewery, and try to ensure we always have one of their Small Beers on shelf. Currently we're showcasing #10 - a hop-packed pale ale with citrus, papaya and floral notes.
  • Siren Craft Brew Half Mast Quarter IPA, 2.8% - Last summer, before we had a shop, when we still had a social life, we drank this glorious seasonal from the moment we discovered it until the day we drank it dry. Our "I can't believe it's not 6%" beer. It is possibly the perfect summer drink - lashings of grapefruit and mango in a beer so refreshing you could drink it all day, and at just 2.8% you probably could. (In moderation, natch.)
  • Gipsy Hill Beatnik Pale Ale, 3.8% - We couldn't not mention Beatnik in this line-up. This "iconoclastically fruity" drop is our best-selling beer on flagon-fill and a fantastic proof point of Gipsy Hill's mission to create sessionable beers that don't skimp on flavour.
  • Weird Beard Black Perle Coffee Milk Stout, 3.8% - Another great beer proudly belying its <4% status. Massive amounts of flavour in this extremely drinkable light stout. A beer to be enjoyed with breakfast, lunch, dessert or any time really.
  • & Union Der Graf Von Bavaria, 0.4% - OK, so this probably won't be the best beer you've ever drunk, but we'll wager it's one of the best alcohol-free beers you'll try. The makers of this Bavarian wheat beer claim that its isotonic properties also make it the perfect sports drink, something we can't corroborate as we don't do any sports. Regardless, it's an extremely worthy contender for what should go in your basket "when you care but you can't drink beer". 

Apologies to the other wonderful low-ABV beers out there we didn't have room to mention. We've got many more in store - ask us to point them out to you next time you're in.

New stuff in store: 20 May

Somebody say MOTHERLODE? Hold on to your hats, beer lovers - this week is a veritable gold rush of new and exciting brews. (They're being delivered today and tomorrow, so all should be on shelf by end of play Thursday unless something goes horribly wrong.) 

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. 

  • On the South-East side of things, we've re-upped in time for the Bank Holiday on all your favourites, as well as recent additions from Brew By Numbers (their White IPA has all the beer geeks talking), Kernel (their Black IPA = likewise), a brand new Single Hop Citra from Hop Stuff, Orbit's ever-popular Nico Koln-style lager in cans, Weird Beard's Little Things That Kill, plus the entire One Mile End range is back on shelf, spanking fresh from the brewery.

  • Looking further afield to the rest of the UK, good tings agarwn here too:

    • Three new barrel-aged beauties from Siren Craft Brew - BA Day Dream, Siren's Mikkeller collab, an imperial white stout aged in bourbon barrels; BA Shattered Dream, an imperial stout brewed with coffee, vanilla and cocoa nibs aged in banyuls and bourbon barrels; and Long Forgotten Journey, a golden barley wine aged in Grand Marnier barrels for more than two years with added orange peel. Never say we're not good to you. Never. 

    • You loved the beers from new Manchester brewery Cloudwater so much that we simply had to get more. We've got their IPA in bottles, with their Session IPA set to hit flagon-fill soon. (See what else we've got coming up on flagon-fill here.)

    • Our love for Tom Oliver's miraculous way with cider knows no bounds - we've been gorging ourselves on samples of his Fine Dry Perry over the past couple of weeks and now we're finally sharing it with you. Think you don't like pear cider? Think again. We'd pick this 750ml beauty over most champagnes any day of the week.

  • And, arguably saving the best for last, looking even further afield to Europe and across the pond it's time to get very excited indeed:

    • From the US, we've nabbed a case each of Founders' Blushing Monk, brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberries and Belgian yeast, and the infamous KBS, an imperial breakfast stout brewed with massive amounts of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year. Are you visibly salivating in an embarrassing fashion yet? We are. 

    • We also welcome new beers from Prairie (their Funky Gold Amarillo, a mix of tropical fruit and sour Prairie funk); canned heaven from Ska (just how cool are the Rudie Session IPA cans?), the exotically hopped Two Roads Li'l Heaven, made with Azacca, Calypso, Mosaic and Equinox, and Evil Twin's gloriously tart Nomader Weisse; plus Yankee classics in the form of Laguitas IPA and Brooklyn Sorachi Ace in 355ml bottles!

    • From Denmark, we've got three newbies from To Ol - F*** Art, The Heathens are Coming saison, Friends With Benefits APA and another impressive addition to our already-impressive gluten free range, Reparationsbajer GF Pale Ale. That GF shelf will surely be groaning under its own weight soon... Plus we've loaded up on more Mikkeller cans and added the Spontandryhop Citra to the top shelf.

    • Finally, last but not least etc, from Belgium, we say goededag to Rodenbachs in big bottles - the Vintage and Caractère Rouge - and the much-vaunted Straffe Hendrik Wild.

Is that enough for you? If you can't see any of these on shelf, just ask - we too are wondering where the hell we're going to put all of it. See you soon.

New stuff in store: 16 April

Another motherlode of the good stuff. Drums, please:

  • Brand new to our shelves is the excellent One Mile End brewery, based beneath Mile End Road at the White Hart Brew Pub in Whitechapel. This brewery is getting kudos from all quarters and we know you're going to love these beautifully crafted beers: Salvation Pale Ale, Snakecharmer IPA and Hospital Porter.
  • Moor, Moor, Moor! SoHop, NorHop, BritHop... all your hops are belong to us. Grab all three of these spectacular ultra pale ales and vote for your favourite.
  • Ahead of our Anspach & Hobday brewer showcase on the 29th, we've stocked up on their new Pale Ale plus got a re-up of their excellent Table Porter. Expect more special treats on the night...
  • Firm flagon-fill favourites Gipsy Hill add another string to their sessionable, full flavoured bow with the Yuzu Japanese Pale Ale, a zesty number brewed with Kent Brewery.
  • We loved Siren's quarter-IPA, Half Mast, last year - this tasty 2.9%-er packs a flavoursome punch for such a low ABV beverage. Get it while it's cold!
  • Also on the session front, Weird Beard's Little Things That Kill is your ideal summer ale. Hopped and dry-hopped with Centennial and Nelson Sauvin (from Jen's hometown), with an addition of Cascade, we predict this will fly out the door if these sultry temperatures continue.
  • If, like us, you love the refreshing cidery tartness of Wild Beer's Somerset Wild and Ninkasi beers, then you'll adore Zintuki - a skilful blend of both. We put this to a taste test on Wednesday over lunch outside the shop in the sunshine and can confirm it's perfect summer drinking. Hey, it's a hard job, but someone has to do it...
  • Wiper & True's beautiful branding is an accurate indicator of the sophisticated contents inside in the bottles, the result of which is that we can never keep this Bristol brewery's beer on the shelf for long. Two new additions this week: Blossom Amber Ale and Southern Cross Pale Ale.
  • Lastly, Founders All Day IPA. Our best-selling US beer now in cans!

There are probably some we've missed off - best to come in store and see for yourself. And don't forget to check our flagon-fill page for all the deliciousness coming up on draught too - only the best for you...

New stuff in store: 9 April

A quick round-up of all the AMAZINGNESS that's new on shelf this week. It's been a bumper week.

  • The stunning sours from Chorlton Brewing Co have been such a hit that we've extended the range - you definitely need to check these bad boys out.
  • Orbit's new seasonal, Peel (named after one of HB&B's heroes, the late great John), also hits the shelves - a delicious session blonde.
  • Siren's delectable peaches and cream IPA Life Is A Peach sold out in record time both times we had it on flagon-fill - don't miss it in 330ml bottles.
  • Three very special new releases arrive from Buxton Brewery - one we weren't allowed to name until it launched on Friday 10th, the mighty Two Ton DIPA,, plus two exceptional barrel-aged numbers, Very Far Skyline, a Berlinerweisse aged in chardonnay barrels, and BA Dragon Tips, brewed with maple syrup, chilli and "dry-baconed" with actual bacon.
  • Plus - hold on to your hats - we've got Burning Sky on flagon-fill AND bottle. Burning Sky was named one of the world's top five breweries by Ratebeer this year and is always incredibly popular at HB&B.
  • Be quick... Also on flagon-fill - Magic Rock, Tempest and Beavertown Gamma Ray and Bloody Ell (!!!). We're also now doing cider fills - first up, the delightfully dry Oliver's Gold Rush #3.
  • Oh, did we mention new bottled beers from superstar breweries Stone and Mikkeller?

It's a wonderful time to be alive, people.

Celebrating the chocolate beers...

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With Easter (and our beer and chocolate pairing event) on the horizon, our thoughts have turned to chocolate. More specifically, chocolate beers.

We'll be revealing the amazing beers we've paired with the creations of chocolatier Isabelle Alaya from Melange Chocolate Shop after Wednesday's event. In the meantime, here are some of the more overtly chocolatey numbers currently gracing our shelves. NB: most of these are BIG beers. Handle with care,

Siren Bones of a Sailor III Imperial Porter (UK) 9.5% - A limited edition imperial porter with cacao, vanilla and raspberries aged in Pedro Ximenez barrels. Not sure there's much more we can add to this - it tastes as remarkable as it sounds.

Wild Beer Millionaire Salted Caramel & Chocolate Milk Stout (UK) 4.7% - When this beer first arrived in store a couple of months back we dropped everything, ripped open the case and downed a bottle at 10am. Shameful, yes, but we weren't disappointed. A beautifully balanced milk stout with a long chocolate finish (and by no means over-sweet), we could drink this all day. But we won't. We've got work to do.

Chocolate Marble (UK) 5.5% - This Manchester beer flies out the door when we're lucky enough to have it in (which we do right now, thanks to a tasty new shipment). Deeply chocolatey without being heavy, it features coffee and liquorice notes, and is sublimely drinkable.

Stone Stochasticity Project Master Of Disguise Imperial Golden Stout (US) 9.7% - The culmination of an April Fool's joke, the marketing materials for this beer read "Brewed with coffee beans, cocoa and coffee beans (not a typo)." This is a golden ale made with sheets of pure cocoa and one heck of a lot of coffee that drinks like a stout. (Or a frappé if you shut your eyes.)

De Molen Heaven & Hell Imperial Stout (Netherlands) 12% - A monster of an imperial stout full of chocolate, caramel, roasted, brown and pils malts and topped off with bitter hops, this is suitably big on roasty chocolate and molasses with woody vanilla and floral notes. No one does dark beers quite like De Molen. This one is so good it's sinful.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (US) 10% - Quite simply, chocolate in a bottle. A blend of six malts and many months of ageing gives this imperial stout its massively rich chocolate aroma and flavour. 

Harbour Chocolate & Vanilla Imperial Stout (UK) 8.7% - We first tried this at Craft Beer Rising, fell in love and sought it out in bottle. A Ronseal beer, this absolutely does what it says on the tin, rammed so full of cacao nibs and vanilla pods you'll never need to buy pudding again.