Considering that just about everything from make-up to hot sauces can be delivered in advent calendar form then it is no surprise that the beer manufacturers have taken a punt filling your festive season with a little tipple each day. I have never really explored much beyond the traditional chocolate-filled calendar, but this year, courtesy of Rox, my calendar came from the fine-folks at BrewDog, a company born out of Scotland in 2007 that went from a niche drinks producer to one of the most popular in the United Kingdom. The calendar contains a varied selection of beers in 330ml and 440ml form, showcasing some of the classic Brewdog flavours plus a few they made specifically for this year.
Before I dig in it should be said that this is not any kind of sponsored content, I thought the calendar was neat and wanted to breakdown how I found each of the beers. It should also be said I am no kind of beer connoisseur, granted I am a long-time ale drinker and certainly have my preferences (I am quite partial to bitters, golden and ruby beers if that helps gauge what I like in any way), but if you are expecting me to discuss bouquets, aromas and notes you have definitely come to the wrong person! You will probably not find me sniffing, swirling and definitely no spitting! I drink my drinks and enjoy them. This is simply a fun run-down of a cool range of beers.
Scoring shall be kept very simple, I will rate each of the ales with one of the following markers - "Love It!", "Drink It!", "Try It!" and "Avoid It!". Here is how my rating system breaks down:
"Love it!" beers are my absolute favourite, these are the ones I could see myself sitting in a pub all night without ever deviating from! These are those 9 and 10 out of 10 beers I will be ordering again once I have drunk my way through this advent calendar.
"Drink it!" beers are ones you can order with certainty they will be nice and I would probably happily drink these, nearly as eagerly as I would those in the ones I loved. However, when given the choice between these and the ones I loved, the latter would just about win out. These are still amazing beers just not my personal favourites.
"Try it!" beers are perhaps acquired tastes or have really prominent flavours that may not agree with everyone. I am not saying these are bad, and I am not saying I did not like them either, however, they have a really unique or distinct taste that would put some people off. Unlike the "Love it!" or "Drink it!" beers, these ones you should order a taster of first before you dive into a full pint...
Any beer that ends up with the "Avoid it!" badge has to have done something really bad to end up here. I try to be a positive person and always see the upsides, even if one of these beers isn't for me, surely I can see the upside to it? If I give a beer the "Avoid It!" badge then it is entirely possible I accidentally filled a pint glass with gravel or wasps by mistake. The one thing I can guarantee I did not enjoy a second of drinking it, nor would I ever order it again.
It should be said I do not expect anything on this list to fall into the "Avoid It!" category, ultimately I have enjoyed every Brewdog beer I have ever drunk so I am not expecting something to be so abhorrent I cannot stomach it at all. Also, considering the positive attitude I try to maintain on Love Our Adventures, If I find a beer I do not personally enjoy I usually try to see the upsides and understand someone, somewhere will enjoy that beer; all-in-all, the only way I would give out an "Avoid It" would be if the beer tasted like petrol or the bottom of an ashtray.
The classic, probably most people's first exposure to BrewDog products and certainly it was mine. This is one of those beers that I am always happy to see in a pub, bottle or draught, and will order all night without hesitation. This will be the benchmark by which I measure the other drinks today.
Starting off well with a different but still great flavour, this is incredibly light for an IPA, almost lager/pilsner-like. While it isn't going to take my #1 BrewDog beer, this is perfect for what it is and I could spend a night merrily drinking this!
A similar experience to what you would expect from Punk IPA but with a much fruitier hit that comes on surprisingly strong at first. Given time and a few swigs, the fruitier tones settle into a really nice flavour - give this one a chance and I think you will enjoy it.
Cream Soda Lager is a pretty self-explanatory taste, it quite literally tastes like someone made a (strong) shandy using cream soda. I completely appreciate that this is an acquired taste, as is cream soda judging by the response of disgust from my family, but I really ended up liking this in spite of my expectations. I don't see this as an everyday drink, more of a novelty or dessert beer, but the kind you shouldn't knock until you have tried!
Double Punk is Punk IPA turned up to 11! It comes with the full flavour and the huge bite that you would expect from an 8.2% IPA. So does Double the Punk mean Double the love? Not exactly, but it is still a contender for one of my favourites in this calendar! I love stronger beers as a great option to drink with food and this is perfect for that purpose.
BrewDog VS Cloudwater - New England IPA
The more traditional IPAs will always fall within a certain distance of one another in terms of the overall 'experience', so I feel like if I went into too much detail this post would get very samey. With this one, there is a very present orange/citrus hit, nothing too overwhelming and makes for a great overall taste. I didn't love it quite as much as some of the other amazing flavours on offer, but I can appreciate this as a great beer all the same.
As someone perpetually on a diet, I am always excited to see another lower-calorie option; certain American brands have coloured my experience of the lower calorie or light beers so I wasn't expecting too much from this. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by a nicely flavoured beer with the taste of apricots pushing through in a pleasant way. After a while, the apricot flavour started to feel like I was drinking an alcoholic yoghurt - which I am oddly not against. I might be able to justify one or two of these while not exceeding my daily calories, and that is a winner in my books.
Another classic I am pretty sure I have seen around in Supermarkets that I have never tried before. It has a great tangy flavour without being bitter making it super drinkable. Just all-round good beer, no overwhelming flavours and this is absolutely something I could see myself drinking again in the future, many, many times over...
What an odd experience, perfectly drinkable but with an undertone of something milky that I wouldn't expect to enjoy but I think I do? It balances the more traditionally dry flavours of beer quite well. This is a beer I am quite unsure of and would need to (a lot) drink more of to decide whether this is a one-off taster or something I'd drink more often, so it goes into the "Try it!" category and you can decide for yourself!
Hazy and Sour are two absolutely perfect descriptors for this - a seriously tart flavour that unfortunately I seem to have bad memories associated with the fruity/berry flavour of this one - I must have eaten a sweet similar to this in my childhood that disagreed with me. I finished it without too much difficulty but I can say with certainty that this is not for me - however, I can absolutely see someone else loving it. As with many of the other beers that pack a bigger flavour like this, it settles down well as you drink it so don't judge it by the first sip.
A surprisingly smoother and milder taste than what I was expecting with an after-burst of fruitiness. Might be a contender for my new favourite BrewDog beer! If nothing else, I would be equally happy to see this or Punk IPA when out looking for a beverage.
This was one of those beers where off the back of the description alone I didn't think this one would be for me - "Guava and Grapefruit Pilsner". To me, it had a bit of a bread flavour with a citric aftertaste, which is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination but the taste just isn't one for me. Of course, I am sure someone out there will love it all the same and it didn't stop me from finishing it off.
Perfect name - hits hard with a big, sharp taste that lingers a while after every sip. Exactly what you would expect from a higher than average ABV, and this would be the perfect accompaniment to food.
Exactly what you would expect from a beer so simply titled. Just a nice taste that I would happily drink all night without any bolder features that jump out at me, this one probably just missed out on the "Love It" category but that doesn't mean it isn't excellent.
I'll be honest, I don't think orange and beer are two flavours that sit together well. That being said, Clockwork puts out a more subtle orange flavour than I was expecting, meaning I was able to drink and enjoy the whole thing. The only negative I would say is that orange flavour lingers a little while in the back of the throat in a way that does not appeal to me. I am a little on the fence with this one, I can totally see someone loving this but I can also see someone despising it all the same - give it a try so you can decide for yourself.
"Lager as it should be" is a pretty fair description. No major distinct flavours but something I could happily drink and enjoy. This is nice and easy to drink and it is gone before you know it. To sum up, it does a job and it does it well.
This is one of those beers that has a fruit flavour with beer undertones, instead of the opposite. I think this could be a tough sell to a lot of people, and my first sip was a bit of an 'oh no' but it balances out the longer you drink it and I think this is maybe a 'Try It!' that most will end up enjoying.
The big-brother of OG Hazy, but for such a strong beer this has a great flavour that is nowhere near as strong as you would expect. I said before I loved OG Hazy, so its no surprise I love this too - not sure how well I would fare trying to drink this all night on an evening out, but I'd happily give it a go! Probably my favourite of the bigger ABV boys.
Black as night and worryingly described as "Chocolate, Cranberry and Hazelnut sour", I went into this one pessimistically but willing to try it. The taste reminds me of those incredibly sour sweets I used to eat as a child with a mish-mash of other flavours I couldn't pin-point because the hit of sour just dulled the senses. I actually winced slightly with the first sip, I continued to push through and enjoy it but about a quarter of the way in I had to give up. The sourness pushed into my throat and made my ears hurt, if it had a sweeter aftertaste I could potentially enjoy that sensation but I am not a cranberry person so it just couldn't be done. I offered the remains up to the people in my house, everyone hated it...except my girlfriend, who generally hates ales - she loved it. I think this is a great experience in its own regard, grab one and pour a little bit out into taster glasses at a party and watch everyone grimace, then give the remains of the bottle to the one nutter who actually enjoyed it...
After a handful of stranger experiences, it was nice to return to normality with something exceptional. I am trying not to use 'Punk IPA'-adjacent as a descriptor for something good, but a lot of my favourite beers here will fall under that descriptor and I would really like to do a side-by-side taste test with this because I think this may be the better beer for me.
A wonderfully fruity smelling beer that delivers in flavour without being overwhelming. The 'Tropical Milkshake IPA' was a little concerning but I ended up really liking this. An all-around sweet experience without too much of a beer taste, you could easily be lulled into drinking too many. Might not be for everyone but I really enjoyed it.
A cross-over episode between two excellent BrewDog beers, this is one of those beers that hit the back of the throat hard in the best possible way. If I could tweak it I would make the fruitiness from Elvis a bit more prominent and tone down the hammer a little, but I still enjoyed drinking this, even if I think it may be a little too much for some folk.
One last curve-ball in the final run-up to Christmas - I'm not much of a stout lover so I wasn't too excited for this. It is a bit chocolatey, a bit smokey and very weird. Oddly, It reminded me of a trip to a Shisha bar I once took, I'm certain they offered a similar flavour but I didn't quite enjoy it as much in liquid form. It got a little sickly to me after a while but I could certainly see someone loving this. For me, this was more of an experience than something I'd got out of my way to drink again.
Ending on a strong note, Hoppy Xmas is a great IPA with more of those flavours I love from BrewDog and another solid contender for my favourite beer. It puts some of the fruitier tones I'd expect of Punk IPA to the background and becomes more of a subtle experience, but it is one I will happily drink again and again. I really hope this isn't just a seasonal tipple as the name would imply because this is a winner for me.
So what have we learnt? Well, BrewDog makes stellar beer and I am an uncultured swine who has such an unrefined palate that I can only say "Fruity" or "Not Fruity". That said, I have drunk enough beer in my life to know what I like and what I don't, and for a company to churn out 24 distinct (and I do mean distinct) flavours and to have them all be interesting and worth experiencing (if only once) is a pretty damn good achievement. There are certainly some stand-outs amongst the crowd, with my personal favourites going to Hoppy Xmas, Jagged Edge and OG Hazy but I think everything in this box is well worth a shot - I didn't expect to hate any and BrewDog delivered. I do hope this starts more of a trend, I'd like to see smaller breweries teaming up to make a similar product for 2021 so I can have another great excuse to drink daily and still pretend I'm on a diet, but if BrewDog is the only ones next year to offer a calendar I won't be disappointed.