Beer: Beavertown Brewery buddies-up to Heineken
IT SEEMS you can't pick up a bottle or can these days and not see a minimum of two brewers' logos slapped on it. Yes, collaborations – or collabs, if you like – are everywhere at the moment.
It's great when two or more brewing minds get together to dream up something special, often involving truckloads of hops. However, brewing collabs are one thing – financial collaborations are quite another altogether.
There was much hand-wringing and faux consternation recently when renowned London craft brewers Beavertown announced that they had sold a minority share – worth £40m – to 'Big Beer' behemoth Heineken.
Beavertown were looking to expand and build their new brewery visitor experience, Beaverworld, and Heineken – well, they want to widen their 'craft' interest which already includes Lagunitas in the US and Affligem in Belgium.
The great fear when 'Big Beer' gets into the craft sector is that they'll demand the most popular, core products are mass-produced and pushed while experimentation and ‘specials' are shoved out.
All the noises coming out of Beavertown suggest this will not be the case with their hook-up with Heineken. They hope to retain their existing brewing facility for seasonal brews and special releases after they have moved to a bigger brewery.
Something tells me folks will be still guzzling down gallons of Gamma Ray when all the fuss dies down. And, if their recent collaboration with Galway Bay is anything to go by, then the quality isn't going to be diluted by the shadow of 'Big Beer'.
It was maybe an unfortunate bit of timing, but Polyrhythm, a New England-style IPA, was released in the week following Beavertown's Heineken announcement.
Forget that: it doesn't matter when this beer hit the shelves, it is an absolute belter. It comes in a 440ml can and clocks in at 7.2 per cent abv. It pours a light, hazy straw colour and there's a fair bit of initial carbonation going which contributes to a fluffy white head.
There are lovely fresh, juicy aromas and once that fizz settles down, this beer has a nice soft, but full mouthfeel. Then there's the flavours – it's bursting with them, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, a bit of stone fruit, all smoothly sliding down the palate thanks to the wheat and oat in the malt bill and the use of the now ubiquitous New England yeast.
There a fair few NE IPAs knocking about now, but few get the balance as spot on as Polyrhythm, ticking all the boxes of haze, smoothness and big full-on fruity, juicy flavours.